This week Sydney, Sienna and I had our group teach for Gymnastics, which was specifically designed for Grade 2 students. Our gymnastics lesson plan primarily focussed on teaching students to balance. We executed this through the use of two warm-up activities followed by a three-station circuit, which required students to practice using both static and dynamic balances. For someone who enjoyed participating in Gymnastics during my childhood, it sure brought back a lot of memories and nostalgia when devising this lesson plan. Some teachers dread teaching gymnastics due to the safety precautions they must adhere to, the time it takes to set up and take down equipment and the fear of having students injure themselves on equipment. However, after devising this lesson I learned that gymnastics can easily be taught in a safe and positive environment with minimum equipment needed. I believe Gymnastics should be included in every Physical Education curriculum because it is most effective in teaching students fundamental movement skills, for example, balancing, rolling, jumping and so on.
One factor that worked effectively in our lesson was that each of the activities including the warm-up activities involved some type of balancing movement. Having students complete each activity in the sequence we implemented enabled them to gradually build their understanding and further develop their balancing skills. All the activities were linked in that students were required to balance; however, the range of creative activities we developed enabled students to reflect on the many different ways we use balance in our daily lives. Moreover, we highlighted to students that gymnastics is often focussed on the individual and involves less teamwork. However, we believed that collaboration in gymnastics is necessary and important. Therefore, we included a collaborative activity in our circuit. We instructed students to work as a team and rearrange themselves on a bench from number one to eight. This was a great team building activity and one in which students were required to work together while developing their individual balancing movements.
If I were to replicate this lesson again in the future, I would re-evaluate whether I would include a circuit with only one teacher supervising and circulating the three stations. During our circuit, Steve had my partners and me to try and teach from standing in the center of the gym and from a birds eye view perspective. He posed the question of how we would manage this circuit on our own? I realized this was much more difficult than I had originally envisioned because of the inability to focus my attention on one station without having the other two stations attended to at the same time. This was especially difficult when students were instructed to switch stations and in need for the teacher to repeat instructions. In the future when teaching Grade 2 students I will break up the three-station circuit into one activity per day. Once the students have mastered each station, a circuit would be included at the end of the unit. Furthermore, instructions could be provided at each circuit for students to read over and remind themselves of the responsibilities for each activity.
Another thing I would do differently in the future is to demonstrate each activity at the designated station. This provides students with a better visual to remember the instructions and strategies for the activity before they are separated into groups to do the activities themselves. As a group, we decided to demonstrate all three activities at one of the stations. Also as a group, we agreed that in order to save time it was best to not have the whole class move from station to station for the demonstration. However, after consideration we decided this was not the most effective way to demonstrate the stations to students.
Overall, this experience was very enriching and rewarding. I learned that it was important to be flexible and not to be afraid of making changes in order to enhance or challenge the various activities. I hope to develop and implement a similar lesson that includes the modifications addressed above during my practicum this year!
This week, I decided to use the guiding questions for my movement journal:
How do I approach gymnastics with limited resources?
The group that taught gymnastics did a fabulous job of this. They used very few resources: some mats, benches, and beanbags. I think that when most of us think of teaching gymnastics in class, we picture the full set of equipment: the climbing ropes, the trampoline, the balance beam, the parallel bars, etc. During the last class, I learned that none of this equipment is necessary to teach gymnastics. I also learned that for the most part, teaching gymnastics for elementary school would involve teaching fundamental movement skills. Using less equipment is also advantageous in that it would be easier to monitor safety. Fewer injuries would occur with balancing with beanbags than climbing ropes, for instance.
How can gymnastics foster creativity and enjoyment in movement for my students?
All of the activities we did in class fostered creativity and enjoyment. The first activity our group did required us to stand on a bench as a group and rearrange ourselves. Getting from one side to another without falling or causing someone else to fall involved some creativity and teamwork. The second activity involved doing different kinds of movement to get from one end of the bench to the other. We used creativity in this activity by varying the types of balances we did at the end. In the last activity we decided to play a game of tag while balancing the beanbags on top of our heads. With Steve, we were asked to create a routine using a few types of movement: a rotation, a traveling movement, and a balance.
What ideas are used to create a safer, inclusive and respectful environment?
One way of making the class inclusive is to allow students the option to not participate in activities that are more challenging, or offering them the option to do an easier movement. When Steve asked everyone to do cartwheels, he gave us the option of walking across. My cartwheels are fairly bad, so I was glad to have this option, especially as everyone was watching the procession of people doing perfect cartwheels across the floor. In terms of creating a respectful environment, I think it would be a good idea to do this from the beginning of the school year. I would engage students in a dialogue about it and bring it up from time to time.
First and foremost I’d like to say that Cristina, Lisa, Christine and Audrey did a fantastic job on their lesson. I loved how we were put into clans and was then used as a way to keep us organized for the rest of the lesson. I also really appreciated the prey-predator game they chose and immediately I could see how it could be applied to a science lesson- I will most likely be using it!
Another big thing I took away was the realization that we really don’t have to go far when taking our students outside. We are so lucky to live in a city that is surrounded by beautiful green spaces and parks and you don’t need to always plan an extravagant field trip to Stanley park, deep cove or cypress to reap the benefits of an outdoor lesson. Those outings may not always be possible so in the mean time- JUST GET OUTSIDE! It seems kids are spending less time outdoors and I find this really unsettling. I spoke to my sponsor teacher about this and he told me that many of his students have never been to the beach before. They’ve never experienced the smell of fresh salt air, the sensation of wet sand between their toes, the excitement of gazing in a tide pool and finding tiny little creatures and I wonder, if they’ve never experienced these things, why would they care to learn about it? Why would they care if it were no longer there? How could they understand the importance of reducing our carbon footprint? How would they ever learn to respect and care for the natural world? And what would all of that mean for the future of our world?
I really enjoyed this week’s lesson on outdoor education. I’ll admit that I came into this class at the beginning of the term quite apprehensive about the prospect of teaching PE, let alone teaching it outside with all the extra layers of considerations and complications! However, I thought the group did a great job with their lesson, helping us all understand more about alternative environment and outdoor education and how it doesn’t have to be such a scary thing. I love how Audrey’s knowledge of Gitxsan dance was incorporated into the transition to bring us outside for the lesson. I also appreciated the review of safety protocols and ensuring that we have plans in place for situations that could arise from being in open, public spaces (e.g. if a child gets lost, injured, etc.). The team did their due diligence by scouting out the location for potential risks and safety issues the day before teaching. In practice, we should also gather support from parents, volunteers, and other teachers, as well when organizing outdoor activities. There is so much we can learn from different environments, and we should provide opportunities for our students to experience this.
In our small group review of the readings, we discussed the components to planning a lesson. Christina pointed out the importance of organization and having a “Plan B”, especially when it comes to outdoor education where conditions can be unpredictable or uncontrollable (e.g. weather). We also talked about how outdoor education is not limited to physical education. There are many cross-curricular connections that can be made – to art, to science, to math, to social studies – the possibilities are endless.
First off, thank you to the group who organized the group teach this week. If we had gotten Gymnastics I would have felt extremely daunted by the task. Which is funny considering I loved Gymnastics in PE growing up and was always unbelievably excited when we came into the gym and saw the full apparatus pulled out from the wall. I guess I just couldn’t wrap my head around coming up with inclusive activities for something I have always thought to be quite independent. I think the group who taught did an excellent job not only of coming up with exercises that were great for large groups of students, and of explaining things slowly, carefully, and authentically as if we were actually young children.
I also thought it was great that the teachers were flexible with us coming up with new games or versions of how to do things at each station. We’ve learned time and time again how important flexibility is to being a good teacher, so them being okay with letting us tweak games as we got better at the fundamental movement skills was awesome.
I also liked that their games involved a lot of teamwork and positive reinforcement, and will most definitely be activities I use in my classroom with my students one day. Great job Sienna, Sydney, and Maria. Loved your teach!
My kye7e (gramma) used to tell us that everything that we need is outside, whether we want entertainment, food, clothes anything and everything is out there for us to share. However i think as a society we have moved away from that philosophy to the point where it has become harmful for some which is in regards to the unhealthy desire to just stay inside always.
Some will say that everything we need is inside, how could we possibly need to or even want to go outside. I even saw a movie based in the 2000’s about a group of newly graduated twenty somethings employed in Calgary having a bet to stay inside for one year, only using the plus fifteens to get back and forth from work and to entertainment and for food. I thought to myself that i would lose immediately that I couldn’t handle not going outside.
I love being outside so much and I would enjoy the chance to share that with my students and anyone who would care to listen. In fact in my community a man has started up a group where they drive out into the forest once a week for an afternoon and just spend the day, whether it hunting or just hiking they spend the day together and for their health. The benefits have yet to be measured but I bet they will be good in the long run.
So how would this fit into any teaching or lessons that i would develop in the future? well I will try to go outside as much as I can and even bring some of the lessons outside too, cross curricular stylez, YO! Like my Kye7e once said, everything that you could ever need is outside, you just have to go out there and look.
This was an interesting class for me because I have been struggling with the sacred space that gymnastics seems to hold in the PE curriculum. Since the beginning of our course I have been wondering about whether gymnastics should feature so prominently in PE education. My concern is that gymnastics is not really an activity that many people continue to engage in, after leaving school. I think that in terms of preparing children to be physically active adults , it is important that we expose them to sports and activities that they can continue to enjoy when they are adults.
I can see that gymnastics is a good way to teach fundamental movement skills but I wonder if the same skills could be taught just as easily with activities like dance and yoga, which don’t have the same age and equipment limitations that gymnastics does. I considered this with my own daughter and I have steered her into dance classes instead of gymnastics, because I that a passion and some competence with dance will serve her better in the long term.
All that being said, I had forgotten how fun gymnastics is until our class last week. There is something about gymnastics that seems perfectly suited to the temperament of elementary school aged children. And while few people go on to be professional gymnasts, class last week reminded me that gymnastics skills, such as cartwheels, round offs and handstands, do stay with you your whole life and can provide a lot of fun, even if only while mucking around at the beach or in the park.
What ideas are used to create a safer, inclusive and respectful environment?
There are many more opportunities for injury in the gymnasium and therefore, PE teachers must be very thoughtful and careful and ensuring the safety of all students. The use of space and equipment should take into consideration and possible risks for injury and how they can be addressed. The space should be able to accommodate all students and the activity they will be engaged in. If the space is too small, the teacher should either adapt their activity or the area of participation in order to create a safe, inclusive, and respectful environment. The equipment used should be appropriate for the students’ age/abilities (plushy balls as apposed to medicine balls in elementary grades) and the use of helmets, padding, and other safety equipment should be used whenever required.
Furthermore, teachers should have a zero tolerance policy for bullying and aggressive behaviour. When game play becomes too competitive then the activities not only fail to be inclusive, but there is an increased risk of injury. Therefore, teachers must provide close supervision in order to monitor students’ behaviors.
Overall, paying attention to details and developing thoughtful, carefully planned activities are elements in creating a safe space for students. Knowing what to do in case of injury is another crucial detail for learners’ safety. Teachers should always know emergency procedures and have quick and easy access to first aid care/equipment.
What are legal responsibilities of educators in a range of movement contexts?
The “law of torts” concerns educators because it “is concerned with the compensation of losses suffered by private individuals” (Robinson & Randall, p.179). Therefore, if a student sustains injuries under the supervision of an educator, the teacher may be responsible for the financial compensation of the losses incurred. This can occur when a student sustains injuries on account of a teacher’s negligence. Therefore, it is the educator’s responsibility to predict any potential harm that may occur under their supervision and take any/all steps necessary to avoid (or in the least, minimize) these risks. One way for teacher’s to avoid unnecessary risks in PE is by educating students on the safety and rules involved in class activities. Ensuring that all students have a firm understanding on how to properly and safely utilize the equipment and space of the class should be a pre-requisite for student participation. Furthermore, it is the teacher’s responsibility to store equipment in a safe and secure manner so that it does not pose a threat to anyone’s wellbeing.
As discussed in the previous guiding question, it is also the teacher’s responsibility to monitor students’ behaviours in order to ensure the safety of all. If students have a history of unsafe behaviours, measures should be taken in order to ensure that the student does not pose a safety risk to themselves or the others in the class. As well, activities should be safe and appropriate for the students’ physical and mental abilities.
How do I approach gymnastics with limited resources?
Although the use of specialized equipment can enhance gymnastics in PE, there are many activities that can still be done without the use of equipment. For example, running, jumping, rolling, and balancing require very little (if any) special resources. Other equipment such as balls, hoops, ropes, and ribbons are inexpensive and easily acquired. In this sense, if a teacher is able to think, “out-side the box” and take a creative approach to gymnastics, the curriculum should be easily adapted to the use of limited resources. For example, most schools or public parks have playground equipment that can easily be adapted to fit in with a gymnastics lesson.
“Body control is the major objective of gymnastics; efficient movement is necessary in a variety of situations, both on the floor and when using an apparatus” (Robinson & Randall, p.214). This statement helps to convey the idea that assuming specialized equipment is needed for meaningful gymnastics is a misconception.