How We Express Ourselves, Dancing

As part of the transdisciplinary theme, “How We Express Ourselves”, G1 learners are starting an inquiry into the movement composition, most specifically, dance.

Last week, first graders shared their wonders about this unit and they chose if they wanted to write them down on the board or if they preferred me to write them down for them.


After addressing a few questions together we started our warm-up following some dances from Coach Pirillo and getting really energized for the lesson.




The focus of the lesson was to inquire and learn about one of the elements of dance: Space.
We talked about the big, medium, and small space and the concepts of pathways and directions.
G1 learners drew imaginary straight, curved, and zig-zag lines on the air to show their understanding of pathways. They also thought of the possible directions they could go to, forward, backward, sideways.
After a few minutes picturing their pathway and drawing an imaginary map on the gym, learners started to move their bodies as they listened to the music and used the whole space (big) of the gym.
They understood that space is an important element of dance and the differences of using a small, imaginary square, space and the big, whole gym, space. It was great to see students being curious about how to move and where to go next, exploring the new spaces in a totally different way.

Meet an Athlete Virtually

A couple of weeks ago, a class of G5 learners was very lucky to interview Pablo Sotoca, a Track and Field Athlete, specialized in the high jump.

As we were doing an Individual Pursuits Unit, Athletics, I thought it would be a good idea to learn more from an athlete.

Pablo Sotoca, @pablosotoca, is a Spanish athlete based in Madrid. He has taken part in a number of competitions in Spain and moved to the Canary Islands for a few years to join a team and compete there. Now he is back with his team in Madrid.

During our unit, students had the opportunity to work with a partner, give a go to different track and field events and eventually choose one they wanted to get better at, master it and teach their partner.

I teach PYP PE, inquiry-based learning and at the beginning of the unit, students wrote down their wonders about the unit on a sticky note.

After that, students started to practice different events and shared their wonders and their thoughts on SeeSaw, an online platform that builds a portfolio and where learning can be shared immediately with parents.




During the unit, students had opportunities to investigate and find out more, create new knowledge and discuss with each other. They had access to a series of athletics videos that they could watch to improve their understanding and knowledge about the different events.

As these young athletes practiced high jump some questions and wonders raised so we put them together to build an interview for Pablo.

Below you can see the questions we jotted down for Pablo:

  • What did you do to become an athlete?
  • Why did you want to be an athlete?
  • What inspired you to do the high jump?
  • Did you have a hard time when training?
  • What is your record?
  • How long have you been doing this?
  • How are you able to jump so high?
  • How old were you when you started?
  • How much time did you need to train to become professional?
  • Which athlete do you look up to?

The interview was in Spanish as Pablo preferred to share his knowledge in his mother tongue so I was translating back and forth for students to understand but it worked well. I have to say that we were very thankful for Pablo to meet us at our PE time, 7:30am in Cambodia, 1:30am in Spain on a Tuesday morning.

He told us that he got his inspiration from his PE teacher, who was also a high jump athlete. 

One of the things I really liked from the interview is that he told students that Track and Field is a sport where everyone can find something they like. If you are fast, you might like to compete on sprints, if you are strong, you might choose shot put, if you are agile and have power, you might opt for high jump and so on, there is always space for anyone to join and give it a try, and I think that’s beautiful.

Pablo brought some trophies, and some other items such as his favorite shoes that were signed by popular athletes, his first bib, and a small sculpture showing the Fosbury.

He also told learners that while competing, high jump athletes are a real example of sportsmanship, they always respect and support each other. Here you can watch him jumping 1.90m.

Click on the link to watch a video of Dick Fosbury surprising the world and revolutionizing the jump with his “Fosbury Flop” at the Olympic Games Mexico City 1968.

After the interview, our students got excited and kept practicing to improve their high jump skills.

Thanks, Pablo for taking the time to talk to our students, share a bit of what you do from the other side of the world and inspire them!

Wrapping the Invasion Games unit in G3

Next week we will be wrapping up our invasion games in grade 3. There has been so much learning happening during this whole unit.

The central idea for this unit was:

In a game, we must learn how to move into space with or without a ball.

As we played different small-sided games, students asked questions, wondered about the best ways to create space and let their teammates know when they were ready to receive the ball.

We played a variety of invasion games such as “benchball”, basketball, or “prairie dog pick off.” During those games, students were able to use similar strategies to attack or defend the opposite team. They became more aware of what to do when they had a plan rather than just running towards the ball.

In order to provoke students’ thinking, I had different materials for them to use and play with. They could choose between using a foam ball, a rubber bouncy ball, a basketball, a frisbee, and a foam rugby ball. We also had bowling pins and hoops.

The scoring area had also some options for them. This kind of set up led to wonders and fostered curiosity and inquiry.

We had hula hoops hanging from the basketball hoops and small goals underneath. Before playing, learners would decide on how to score. For instance, they played a modified ultimate frisbee where they could score by throwing the frisbee into the goal, 1point, or up into the hula hoop, 5 points.

We talked about the importance of being good winners and good losers and to celebrate others successes as well.

We also co-created an Invasion Games Success Criteria:

  • I can explain what invasion games are and give some examples
  • I can demonstrate the skills to play the game
  • I can create space in attack
  • I can create space in the defense
  • I can send a ball to my teammate
  • I can receive a ball
  • I can help my team to create a plan to play the game
  • I can follow my team’s plan
  • I can positively and respectfully interact with others
  • I can describe what’s going well and not so well


Below you can see some pictures of students in action.


G5 Invasion Games Inquiry

G5 students are in the middle of their “Invasion Games Unit.” Using the “Teaching Games for Understanding” approach, we started exploring basketball throughout small sided games.

The learner profile items we chose for this unit are:

  • Inquirers: “We nurture our curiosity, developing skills for inquiry and research. We know how to learn independently and with others. We learn with enthusiasm and sustain our love of learning throughout life.”
  • Communicators: “We express ourselves confidently and creatively in more than one language and in many ways. We collaborate effectively, listening carefully to the perspectives of other individuals and groups.”

This year, we are focusing on inquiry and one of our goals in physical education is to nurture the student’s curiosity by providing more opportunities for student-directed inquiry in PE.

Yesterday, after the warm-up, I wrote down a few provocations for learners and asked them to add their thoughts.

This is what I wrote:

“A Closer Look at Invasion Games”

Good Decision Making Is:  Good Running Is:    Good Defending Is:  Good Attacking Is:

I had several markers and learners stood up and started adding their thoughts. We also looked at the modified small-sided games and talked about the importance of respecting the rules.

The PYP Attitudes for this unit are “Respect, Commitment, and Cooperation.

We made a big deal about them before starting the small sided games.

Learners got together in groups of 7 and divided into 2 teams and one person filming the games.

They changed roles during the games so everyone would get a turn to play and a few to film the games.



Before they started playing, G5 students took a look at what was written on the board, their ideas and other thoughts I had added and created a strategy with their teams. As they played, questions raised and students wondered.


I walked around, observed the games, stopped them and asked them questions about their strategies.

We ended up our unit using a great tool called “Plickers” that gets me instant feedback about every single student.

Ask More, Talk Less

One of my goals as a teacher is to become more of a facilitator in my lessons and be able to step back and let the learning happen while students are in charge. That sounds wonderful, but it is not always easy or simple to achieve.

I feel that giving agency to students is not enough, they need to have the tools and the skills to be successful. And then, I find myself wondering and asking all these questions.

What are those tools? What are those skills? How can I start? Where do I start?

We just had a couple of days of PD focused on inquiry and something we talked about was “The Inquiry Five Strategies” If you want to learn more deeply about this, check @inquiryfive on twitter and her website

I was energized and inspired by the new ideas and strategies I learned during the PD and I decided to apply a couple of them that I feel they are somehow related, “Ask More, Talk Less and Stay Curious”

One of the ways to foster curiosity is with provocations and having learners inquiring into something by asking questions. If learners are the ones asking those questions, they become owners of their learning, student agency happens, and as a consequence of them asking more or, talking more, I talk less.

So yesterday I asked grade 5 learners to turn and talk to a partner to share how was their long weekend and if they were able to do something active during that time. I would say that everyone was involved in conversations, which is great to see, listen, and observe.

After warming up with a game, students started reading something I had written on the board to provoke their thinking and hopefully inspire them to formulate some questions.

I had written something like this: The game agreements and the title of Attack and defense.



In addition, I started jotting some questions with the hope that would inspire learners into further inquiry.

A couple of students wondered a couple of things, a few more stood up and wrote some more questions but nothing else happened.

My idea was to foster some curiosity about this “new game,” provoke their thinking and support their conceptual understanding. It didn’t really happen with this class, or if it happened, it wasn’t what I was picturing.

Students were engaged in the games and when I stopped their small sided games they were keen to keep playing and support their team with the different strategies they were coming up with.

I wonder how I could have learners inquiring more during the games rather than me being the one who is most of the time asking those questions.


I wonder if it’s necessary during our PE lessons to try to have learners asking questions or if the fact that they are involved in the tasks and understand the concepts is enough. I feel that for them to ask questions I need to be the one who initiates those conversations. I wonder if other physed colleagues have the same wonders and questions.

Grade 3 is also doing a unit on invasion games and we started playing “Benchball.”

To my surprise, many learners stood up, grabbed a marker and started to write their own questions and wonderings and also the ones from their peers who didn’t want or dare to stand up, which, by the way, was totally fine with me.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.



They played small-sided games in half court and I was able to stop the games to talk about them, listen to their feelings, frustrations, and concerns, and also to their successes.


Healthy Lifestyle

Last Friday we wrapped up our “Healthy Lifestyle” UOI

During this unit, G1 learners became aware of the importance of physical activity in their daily life.

Throughout a variety of physical activities such as running, playing tag games, wall climbing and practicing yoga, G1 students started to recognize basic changes that occurred in their bodies.

Hopefully, you have been able to watch and listen to your child in Seesaw as they shared what they learned during this unit.

The unit is now over and we would like to ask you to keep inspiring your child to be active and practice different physical activities as well as maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

Thank you!

Getting Out of My Confort Zone

As a wrap of the Adventure Challenge, Cooperative Games, UOI, I had students designing their own games and sharing them with the class.

I have done this before but I guess this year it really hit me starting a lesson where I had no idea of how things were going to end up.

Last week I posted an activity for learners to complete using their digital portfolios, Seesaw.

I told them to find a moment in class or after school to think about a game and gave them clear expectations. As I said, this was a wrap of our unit, so that means that these G5 learners have been inquiring, learning and playing a variety of cooperative games.

Below you can see what I shared with students:

Design a Cooperative Game

1. Think of the goal of the game. What do you want people to achieve?

2. Explain how to play. Rules.

3. Organize the game. Students will be playing in teams of ____ students.

4. Think of what materials you need. You can use PE equipment but be sure to ask if we have it.

5. Name your game

I also added an example for students to better understand what to do.

To my disappointing out of three classes, only one student had completed the activity before our lesson. I learned, later that students do not have any home learning anymore and they didn’t really get much school time to work on this kind of stuff.

At the same time, I had told the G5 learners that if they didn’t do the activity outside of the PE lesson, we would have to use 20 minutes of our lesson to complete it.

I gave them the choice to work by themselves, with a partner, or in groups of three.

Students had an iPad and they used their seesaw accounts to design the games. Some preferred to type, other to video themselves while explaining their games, and I also had a few learners who drew some pictures and typed a few extra explanations on their game.

And so we have had two days of pure “not knowing” what will happen in class, which have been quite different, stressful somehow and filled with student voice choice and agency, and teacher inquiry.

Since last year I have been using a site called Flippity to create groups quickly and randomly. There is an option of a wheel, and so I had used it this week to choose the students who would be running the games for others. I had 4 groups of students getting their equipment ready with the TA while the rest of the class started to do a warm up.

What I found out by doing this activity, it’s that many learners still don’t understand what’s a cooperative game and when they have to design one, they just come up with anything that really interests them or seems fun.

Some students, though, were quite creative, explain their games well to the class and were really on task.

I guess, what I found more stressful about doing this kind of activity, was to have so many students at the same time going to get equipment, not being really sure about their games and managing two courts and two completely different games at the same time, trying to support everyone, the ones who were in charge, and the ones who had a hard time understanding the rules, because, as I mentioned earlier, several times those games made little sense and it was challenging to find the cooperative part of them.

It really made learners think about their games and how they didn’t meet the expectations. At the same time, other students were wondering about each other’s games and learning in a completely different way.

I ended up my session using plickers, plagnets, and having learners assessing themselves. This is the question I asked them, which is one of the benchmarks for interactions, one of the big strands for PSPE in the IBPYP.

Have you demonstrated the ability to perform and function as an effective member of a team?

I actively participated in the team activities, shared my ideas and respectfully interact with others
I participated in the team activities and respectfully interacted with others
I sometimes participated in the team activities and tried to interact with others
I did not participate in any team activity or interact with others







Meaningful Experiences in PE: Guiding Principles


‘Principles are fundamental truths that serve as the foundations for behaviour that gets you want you want out of life.’ – Ray Dalio

Guiding Principles of Meaningful PE

Movement has the potential to enrich human existence and Physical Education can be a site that contributes to this by creating meaningful experiences of movement. Meaningful experiences are those that hold ‘personal significance’ to the learner. PE Teachers who subscribe to the creation of meaningful experiences, are influenced not just by the achievement of learning objectives but by the value the learner attributes to all forms of movement and to PE itself. If teaching is seen as problem finding, problem defining and problem solving in a complex environment to assist the individual or collective to flourish, then we need guiding principles for our professional judgement and decision making. Ultimately we want children to become physically educated, to see how habitual daily…

View original post 705 more words

G5 Adventure Challenge: Human Hungry Hippos

G5 learners are doing an Adventure Challenge unit (Cooperation games) in PE.

Our central idea is: Working together results in change.

One of the key concepts we are studying this year is “perspective.” Students understand that others might have different ideas to solve a problem.

We have been playing several cooperative games where students had to choose between different jobs or roles.

Last week we played Human Hungry Hippos.

For this game, learners got together in small groups and everyone had a role. They had to choose a different role than the one they chose before in a previous session and game. Roles/jobs were: reader, cheerleader, video recorder, and helper/getter.

The idea of choosing a new role was to be able to see things from a different perspective and have learners reflecting on how they worked with others and supported their team in each challenge.

Learners had written instructions and the reader had to read it out loud for their team. Once they knew what to do, they could get started. The video recorder had to make a short clip and add it to their Seesaw to build their portfolio. Everyone had to be featured in the video, also the video recorder being in action ( playing the game) and reflecting on their game and role at the end.

Below you can see some pictures and videos of G5 learners in action:

In addition, we worked on co-creating success criteria. Below you can see what we came up with:

G5 Cooperative Games Success Criteria

I can be open-minded to work with anyone

I can be principled, respect others

I can communicate with the team effectively

I can give it a go, participate!

I can be safe

I can think positively

I can share the equipment

I can share the workload, choose a role: leader, cheerleader, helper, mediator, reader…

I can have fun!