We like to Move: Creative Dance Unit

We wrapped up our creative dance unit last week.

It was incredible to see how much improvement happened in a few weeks. Students learned how to move their bodies to the beat of the song. They were able to count the beat till 8 ( slow) or 16 ( fast) and based on that create all sort of movements and dances.

The SPAH turned out to be a very happy place for everyone just dancing and being active.

Students learned different elements in dance such as SPACE, ENERGY, TIME and BODY, and based on those elements they created their own dances.

We created a bulletin board to help them understand better all the new vocabulary words they were learning. You can see a picture below.

Then, we had students getting in small groups and creating their own dances with a very basic structure:

Every dance would have to have:

Beginning with a static movement repeated 8 times

Main part. Where students had to create 4 different movements ( each movement repeated 8 times) In this case we had students thinking of SPACE, levels, directions, pathways and shapes, ENERGY, and BODY, different parts of their body should be involved in the dance.

Ending with a static movement repeated 8 times

We used this structure for our upper elementary grades.

In second grade, students invented 4 movements dance with a partner. We really stressed the idea that every student had to create/invent a movement.

Kindergarteners and first graders moved their bodies graciously when we played the music. They were not afraid of expressing themselves throw different dances.

It was a truly wonderful experience for all learners.

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Net Games Part 1

This year I decided to start teaching some of my units with a new approach called TGFU (Teaching Games for Understanding)

This is not really a new approach but it was for me, so I decided to do some research, learn more about it and I started my invasion games unit teaching modified games, focusing more on the tactics than on the skills. I was learning along with my students as I taught it. I got support and ideas from amazing educators and gurus in this kind of approach, such as Mel Hamada, @mjhamada, and Jorge Rodriguez, @PhysedNow, who shared their resources with me.

In March, we started our “ Net Games” unit with Volleyball and I didn’t feel like I did a great job using the TGFU approach. Our school is great in many aspects, however, one of the big detail is the lack of facilities. We do have some, just not enough for the number of students I would say. As a consequence of that, my partner and I need to co-teach quite often, which is sometimes great, and sometimes challenging.  We ended up having students working on improving their skills, tracking the ball activities, and small games situation.

As part of this unit we also teach other net games, such as tennis and badminton. This year, I started teaching tennis and since I had one single tennis court for twenty plus students, I had to be quite creative with the activities I was teaching my students.

Being by myself though, made it easier to adapt my class into what I thought would be more of games than pure skills work, although, I again had students working on skills as well as games in a stationary or center set up.

An example of some of the games and  activities I had my students working on

Wall Games

I had students working on improving their forehand and backhand skills playing against the wall. Eventually, they started playing against a partner, so they took turns hitting the ball against the wall, which made it more exciting and challenging.

Cooperative Tennis Game

Another group playing with a partner what I called “Cooperative Tennis Game”, trying to pass back and forth as much as they could using both, forehand, and backhand skills.

Bouncing the ball up and down and all sort of tricks you can practice with a tennis racket and a ball.

In this activity, learners had to practice a variety of ways of bouncing a ball with the racket and do all sort of tricks to challenge themselves.  Since we live in the south of China and it gets really hot out there this time of the year, that was also one station where learners could take a water break.

“Challenging” Tennis Game

On the other side of the net, the other half court, I had students playing a challenging game to their partners, making them work on their backhand skills, and practicing different shots.

Finally, I had a group serving underhand or overhead to the fence.

That way I had my class divided into groups of 4, maximum 5 students and they were really involved in the activity. Students played for about 3 minutes, then rotated to the next activity.

After a few sessions, I decided to introduce other games. I thought of how to maximize students’ learning in a single tennis court and which games would make sense to have them exposed to. I ended up having them playing:

  • 4 square tennis
  • 1 vs 1 on the hitting the ball against the wall
  • Beginner Hoop or SpikeBall Progressions ( Thanks to Jorge Rodriguez @PhysedNow and Mike Ginicola @PhysEdDepot for inspiration) Here is a video from Jorge Rodriguez and below you can see the progression for “Spikeball” with a hoop and a ball
  • Spikeball with the actual game

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In my humble opinion, one of the most important parts of this approach is to have students understanding the “what and why” of their actions and “how” they can work on achieving something they are not doing yet.

I found that stopping the games briefly and asking learners single questions, really helps them to go through that process of understanding.

 

Be Prepared, Be Mindful, Be Inspired

A couple of years ago I met Andy Vasily, an international physical educator at APPEC, a PE conference in Hong Kong.

In his keynote, Andy told us some personal stories and how these events in his life changed the way he approached life, personally and professionally.

I totally relate to these statements. They are all equally important to me.

Be Prepared

As a physical educator, I am aware that my lesson can change dramatically just because of the weather, the students in that class or the mood I might have because of stress, lack of sleep, or any other thing. Just because of all that we have to be prepared and plan our lessons thoughtfully and accordingly. That doesn’t mean that it might not change last minute…

A few days ago I wanted to introduce my students the SOLO Taxonomy in order to make their learning more meaningful and make sure they were aware of what they knew or not in our Net Games unit, more specifically in the tennis skills. I guess I wasn’t exactly prepared myself and it really made me consider my teaching skills and abilities…

Be Mindful

How many times have you started doing something and moved on to something else before you were actually done? We live and work in busy worlds where there are continuous distractions. We always to achieve more and sometimes we put too much on our plate. I remember a teacher I use to teach with used to tell me, “If you are adding something into this, just think that you will have to take something off. We only got this much time, no more.” I like to say that I am an innovator and I consider myself quite creative, but that means that sometimes I get way too many thoughts on my mind at the same time, too many goals I want to achieve, too many challenges, and I end up not focusing. One of my goals this year is to work on being more mindful and focus on one thing at the time. I ended up putting my phone in my drawer and my iPad away and both of them in silence, so I would get no interruptions as I work on something.

Reflecting is another goal of mine, and it is, somehow related with being mindful. Just dedicating some minutes to think and write about my practices, what went well and what do I need to work on, change or adapt.

Be Inspired

As a life long learner, I like to find different sources of learning in my journey to become a better educator. I follow amazing teachers and leaders on twitter who inspire me every day. I work with incredible educators who are always trying to think out of the box to bring the best to their learners. I attend several conferences every year where I always learn something I like to apply right away so I won’t forget.

I listen and participate in conversations in “voxerpe”, more listening than participating though.

I read books with new approaches, such as the Cooperative Learning in Physical Education.

I do MOOCs and webinars.

I share my teaching and learning ideas to hopefully inspire other in twitter.

Thank you all who inspire me in any possible way, so make me every day a better teacher!

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Field Day

Recently, we celebrated a couple of Field Days in the Elementary School. We were extremely lucky with the weather and students had a blast.

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Field Days are structured in a way that there are ten different activities led by our teachers. Games vary in each station as students are expected to not only have fun but to also get exposed to new opportunities to practice different skills. This year’s stations included play with parachutes, a variety of relays, hoop on a ball, and a couple of jungle gyms.

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The goal of Field Days is to have students playing with each other rather than competing. Although some of the games might look a bit more competitive, the ultimate goal is to have students being active and having fun in different environments. One of the favorites is “Tug of War” and, even if there is some competition during the game, as students finish playing, they run happily to their next station.

In addition, Field Days is a wonderful opportunity for students to demonstrate their ESLRs (Expected, Students, Learning, Results) as they are in teams with other students from different classes and grade levels. It is always great to see older students supporting the younger ones in their teams, being complex thinkers, collaborators, and global citizens.

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Each color team has a Teacher Assistant in charge of the team and they rotated from game to game till they completed the whole circuit. This is also a great opportunity for the Teacher Assistants to go around, learn new games, and play with the students.

This year we also had one of the Learning Innovation coaches flying a drone to get an aerial view of the field.

Thanks to our PSA, all of our students were treated to fruits and natural fruit ice cream. It was great to see them enjoying their healthy snack as they walked off the field.

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This year’s Field Days were once again very successful and students had a great time!

What does a Good PE Lesson Look Like?

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As teachers we constantly ask ourselves how are we doing with our teaching, what we supposed to be doing and what are our goals. We are always looking to find ways to best support student’s learning.

A couple of days ago, I came across this infographic and it got me thinking about my own practice. Blogging helps me to reflect on what I am doing, why I am doing it and how I do it.

I like how is structured in three different bends:

What makes a good lesson?

What can I do as a teacher?

How can I engage students?

The infographic touches on many things we do daily in our lessons. It is always a good reminder and a way to start including some of those things in our daily routines so they become natural.

A few days ago I signed up for an online course called ” Outstanding PE Classes” and that’s supposed to be really good. Here is the link

Hopefully all these tools will help us, physical educators. in our pursuit to teach outstanding physed lessons.

 

 

Necessary and Sufficient

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For many PE Teachers the end goal of a high quality PE curriculum would be to ensure we have produced competent (even skilful), life long participants in physical activity. That the children we have taught leave school and take responsibility for meaningful and purposeful physical activity for the rest of their lives.

Therefore, based on my curriculum, I’m proposing that:

Physical Learning + Social Learning + Affective Learning + Cognitive Learning = life long participants in physical activity.

There are four key elements to our curriculum; Physical, Social, Affective and Cognitive Learning.If an element is necessary then without that element you could not have the thing in question, in this case life long participants in physical activity.However a necessary element isn’t always enough to have the thing in question though.When you have enough necessary elements to guarantee the thing in question then these elements are called sufficient.

Is physical learning…

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Yoga and Storytelling

After attending a Physical Education Conference and learning from a specific presentation, I decided to include some yoga sessions with the lower grades as part as our “Body Management Unit.”

The cool part of doing this activity was that students were learning different yoga posses as we read the stories. Some of these stories came from  the Cosmic Kids site.

We also read a book called “I am Yoga” by Peter Reynolds and students followed up with the posses very well.

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Tactical Problems

Yesterday I decided to start my lesson with a provocation. We are in the invasion games unit and this year I am really focused on using this new approach called teaching games for understanding. It really makes a difference when students understand the tactical problems and think of solutions for them.

As we started the lesson I had written this sentence on the board.

What is the Other Team Doing to Keep the Possession of the Ball?

Some students shared their thoughts and we had a little bit of a discussion before starting the warm-up and the actual games.

During the small games 3v3, the students who weren’t playing had to observe the others and think of the inquiry I had written on the board, get a marker and write down something they observed.

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I told them not to worry about writing their names, I didn’t want to stop them from sharing their thoughts.

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Most of my students wrote down something. It was a quick way of reflecting on what they saw and also a way of thinking what they should do to support their team.

I just wanted to share that EAL students might need more time to understand what they are being asked to do. Allowing enough time for them to think helps. Their writing might have spelling mistakes, but the concept they want to share is there, and I think visuals and time can be very powerful.

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Swimming

It’s been another great unit of swimming in grades 1-5!

Students are already showing great progress in their strokes.

Learners have been already exposed to front crawl or freestyle, back crawl, and breaststroke. Students learned about their body position, leg and arm action as well as the importance of breathing.

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This year we used an underwater camera and took several videos to see the progress of children and work on areas of improvement.

We practice several drills using kickboards and full strokes without using any flotation aids.img_3224-1dw7pcd-1024x765

Physical Literacy, Fitness, and Feedback

As part of our physical education curriculum, we teach health and fitness all year long to our students.

This week we introduced the “Health Components” to our learners. Please ask your child what are some things to consider in order to be healthy. They should be able to name at least four different components.

Learners shared their thoughts and after a short warm up, they worked on developing their fitness. In order to do that we had students divided into small groups working for a minute in different stations focused on strength, balance, cardiovascular fitness, etc.

This year we decided to have instant feedback in some of the stations. Students could see themselves in the iPads, check their body position, and correct it right away if necessary.

 

 

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