Inquiring in Individual Pursuits

This week we started a new unit of inquiry in grade 5.

Our central idea is quite simple but really easy for students to understand.

“We use our bodies to run, jump, and throw further.”

I decided to make the unit as student centered and relevant as possible for the learners.

Before I met with students, I sent them an email with the overview of the unit and how it was going to be outlined every week.

The first week, learners will be able to try out different events on their own, with a partner, or with a small group. They could choose to spend as much time as they wanted on a single event and try only one, or several ones in the same session.

Below you can see a table of the different events learners could choose from: 

Screen Shot 2017-11-09 at 8.51.28 PM

After the warm up I sent learners off to explore and inquire on what skills they wanted to improve.

It was really interesting as well as hard for me just to observe what they were doing and how they were using their time. Since I teach three different grade 5 classes, I repeated the same lesson and observed quite similar behaviors amongst learners.

Some students were very enthusiastic and eager to get better. They were quite competitive as well, in a healthy way. They created a game and started throwing foam rockets far, further, and further, learning from each other and getting in a total level of engagement. It was wonderful to see that happening, those students had ownership of their learning.

On another hand, some learners were spending their time chatting, throwing a foam rocket or a rubber chicken here and there, quite bored and without any sort of motivation.

There were students who chose to do long jump and again were measuring their marks and trying to beat each other or themselves. Some other learners choose to go over the small hurdles as fast as they could, and practice some sprints.

Since we live in Cambodia, the weather is quite hot all year round and now is the best time to be outside, although it can be a little hot too. Learners do quite some water breaks and again, as I was observing them, I noticed students going to have a drink and spending more than 5 minutes there.

At the end of the lesson I shared my thoughts with them and told them:

“ Today I decided not to teach you anything in the same direct way I many times do. Instead I let you explore and just wander around asking you questions of how could you throw or jump further to get you thinking and acting. Some of you created your own games, challenged yourselves and had fun. Some of you chose to be lazy and pretended to do something when I looked at you.

Hopefully you are starting to learn that you own your learning, is not what I ask you to do, is what you want to achieve that will make you get better by failing, trying again and not giving up.”

I am looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully seeing learners engaging each other and trying new events out.

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Old Habits Die Hard

Making Good Humans

I haven’t always been the type of teacher I am today. When I think back to my first few years in education, I can admit that I was a super ‘teachery teacher’. Behaviour charts, staying in at recess, rewards&punishments, worksheets, tests… you name it, I did. If you walked by my class you would have seen students silent and on-task – not because they were engaged, because I used me authority and control to illicit compliance.

Over the years I have learned, unlearned and re-learned and as a result transformed into a teacher who now values student agency above all else.

… but every now and then, the old me creeps back in.

Yeaterday was a perfect example:

We are smack dab in the middle of a Unit of Inquiry about how scientific thinking can help us understand humans. At this stage in the unit we were using an “unconference”…

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Showing Understanding of Concepts in Invasion Games

Learners in Grade 5 have been exposed to new concepts in invasion games.

They played small basketball games where they learned that in order to keep the possession of the ball, they had to:

 Run into space

– Create space

– Use safe pass lanes

– Use the correct pass

In addition to playing the games, G5 students showed their understanding of the new concepts by recording their thoughts using a free app called CoachNote (basketball) on the iPads.

Below you can see an example of a couple of students sharing their thoughts on passing and creating spaces.

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Creating Success Criteria in Grade 1

Students in Grade 1 have started a Cooperation Games unit this week.

Together we developed a “Success Criteria” for students to know the learning targets for the lesson.

We came up with many I can statements:

 Success Criteria

  • I can help my friends to unfold the parachute
  • I can use my hands to hold and shake the parachute
  • I can work with my friends to make a tent
  • I can listen to others while playing a parachute game
  • I can collaborate with my friends to have the balls “pop up” on the parachute

Learners went through an inquiry process by unfolding the parachute and realizing that it was upside down.

After a few minutes, and after trying out different ideas, Grade 1 learners were able to flip the parachute, unfold it completely, and start playing with it. They learned that in order to play with the parachute, they had to work together.

 

Invasion Games in Grade 5

This week we started an Invasion Games unit in Grade 5.

We played a couple of tag games to get learners thinking the best strategies to really support their partners in the games. As they played, they realized what worked well and what didn’t. That made them think of new strategies to be successful.

As you know, invasion games are games where teams score when they move an implement into the opposing team zone and successfully attack that team’s goal or target area. Examples of invasion games include soccer, basketball, football, hockey, etc.

Today’s learning intention was:

To Create Space in Invasion Games by Using Fundamental Movements

We played several modified games where students, playing 3vs 3 or 4vs 4, had to keep the possession of the ball by moving into open spaces.

These games can be as simple as “Pass the ball five times to get a point”

Learners had to come up with the best tactics to keep the possession of the ball and they scored by passing the ball five times. As soon as the other team intercepted the ball the had to start again from zero.

In addition, as the games went on, we started to add challenges to some teams, such as no passing back to back, pass ten times, these student has to be receiving the last past, and so on.

We recorded some of the games, so students can get feedback of how they are creating space in order to keep the possession of the ball.

 

 

Scanning and Noticing

drowningintheshallow

“when you are a step removed from the fray, you see things that come as surprises – and its important to allow yourself to be surprised.”

One stand out moment in my career to date is when I was looking at some promotional pictures an outside company had come in and taken to use for a new school website. Each department had set up exciting lessons so that the photographer could take some action photos. Chemistry decided on explosions, drama had designed a pupil led play, history acting out a famous Roman battle. We just got down to teaching rugby as we usually do. When the pictures came back we were given the chance to pick the best ones to use. As I was looking through them I saw something I hadn’t seen at the time of teaching,  there wasn’t one smile on either the children’s or the teachers faces…

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A Models Based Approach to PE: Cooperative Learning

drowningintheshallow

A Models Based Approach to PE: Cooperative Learning

Cooperative Learning within PE is a models based approach that focuses on students working together in small groups to master subject matter content. This essentially gives the students the joint responsibility of both learning the content and also ensuring that their peers learn it as well, moving the role of the teacher towards a more facilitatory role. Dyson and Casey in their recent book Cooperative Learning in Physical Education and Physical Activity put forward five key elements of the model as guidelines for successful implementation within the curriculum. They are:

Positive independence Success is only achieved when students work together in teams and rely on each other to complete the task. One students cannot succeed unless all students do.
Face-to-face promotive interaction There is time within lessons for students to talk to each other, working out common problems, coming up with solutions, identifying…

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Adventure Challenges in Grade Three

Grade three learners, in their unit of inquiry, “How We Organize Ourselves,” are studying the importance of making decisions together to cooperate and get organized.

In Physical Education they are learning new ways to communicate as well as organize themselves while having to solve a problem or to complete a challenge.

Learners had to guide a peer who was blindfolded and couldn’t see, by coming into an agreement of sounds that would help their partner to be aware of the space and where he could or could not go to.

Most of them chose to clap or click their fingers to have their partners moving and use some key words to have them stop moving. Safety was a big deal while doing this activity and students did a great job helping their partners to feel safe while moving into different spaces in the gym.

Their last challenge of the lesson was to lay down on the floor, put the blindfolds on and together create a human square. It required lots of communication and wasn’t an easy task. After the lesson, we quickly reflected on the importance of listening to others as well as being a risk taker and trying their best to help their team to achieve their goals.

 

New Country, New School, New Opportunities, New Challenges Part 1

My family and I recently relocated to Cambodia. This is not the first time we move to a new country. We have lived in several countries and several continents already, but moving means adventure, fun, discovering and learning new things, meeting new people and making new friends as well as adjusting to a new job in a new school and a different country.

Our transition has been quite smooth thanks to the support the school has given us. We were able to find a place to live just before I started to work and slowly started to get settled.

The school is great, I love the PE team and most of the staff seem to be quite friendly and approachable. It is an international school, so there are many different nationalities, not only within the student population, but also the staff.

The facilities are also something I want to mentioned in this post. I feel very thankful to have all those spaces to help me in my daily practice with my students and also to be able to use them for my own practice before or after school.

Here in Phnom Penh the days starts early. There is already some light around 5:30am and the sun rises before 6. I like to leave early and so I can ride my bike to school without feeling with the motorcycles, tuk-tuks, cars, trucks and all other vehicles you might find on the roads of Phnom Penh. At 6am there is not a traffic jam and, even if there are already so many people on the road, you don’t have the feeling of “controlled chaos” that I first experienced here sitting on the back of my tuk-tuk and just crossing my fingers when the driver would cross a very transited road.

The Khmer people, the people from Cambodia are lovely and always have a smile on their faces which also helps, especially when you feel stressed or overwhelmed with other things.

I started this as a series of posts I want keep on writing of my adventures in Cambodia.

Hopefully the next chapter will be on soon. I have so many things to write and reflect about.

Tuk-tuk ride

 

Towards the Deep End

drowningintheshallow

Do we teach for joy and delight? These words from Scott Kretchmar have been ringing in my head since I first heard them on Andy Vasily‘s podcast with him a few weeks ago. Fun and Delight are two human experiences which can be realised through movement. To Kretchmar fun is a shallow and fleeting distraction, a way of overcoming boredom. Delight provides a deeper more memorable experience that keeps people coming back to movement. Rugby was both fun and delightful for me. Fun was what got me into rugby, but it was delight that kept me returning week in and week out for 25 years. Since hanging up my boots I have engaged in many other physical activities that I have found fun, but nothing that offers me the delight that rugby did. My search for it in something else remains elusive. As Kretchmar says delightful experiences…

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