As my final blog post I thought I would try to revisit what I have learned over the past few months, what I have enjoyed and what I am looking forward to.
Let me start with the basics. I have learned that P.E. can be fun. That may sound obvious but for me it was a huge learning that has evolved since September. As a child I wasn’t a huge fan of P.E. I was athletic and enjoyed a variety of sports but they were always solitary activities. I enjoyed swimming, dance, and gymnastics but I tended to shy away from group or team activities. I strongly disliked the competitiveness of team sports and dreaded participating in sports that I felt I wasn’t very good at. So, this course was a wonderful opportunity for me to revisit P.E. and gain a new, fresh perspective. I greatly enjoyed all the activities we participated in and was particularly surprised to find that I thoroughly enjoyed activities I hadn’t in the past. I think it made all the difference that as a cohort we made the effort to make the activities enjoyable, cooperative, inclusive and attainable. It seemed that we could all participate in the activities and didn’t feel we were being judged as the activities were manageable for everyone. I also liked how we designed activities so that no one was ever in the performance spotlight, it was team effort, that was supportive at all times.
I also greatly enjoyed learning about physical literacy as a concept. As an adult I do not participate in any of the activities that I did as a P.E. student. It is unfortunate as I am sure I would still enjoy dance and gymnastics in-particular, but my lifestyle doesn’t seem to afford these activities at the moment. Rather, I now participate in hiking, pilates and spinning classes. Also, I am also much more concerned as a adult about my complete wellness. For example, I am careful in selecting what I eat, I try to get as much exercise as possible, although it is increasing difficult in such a busy program, and I take time for myself to get outside and get some fresh air. When I was a student in P.E. we never talked about wellness as a concept and what it meant to live a healthy lifestyle. It was more about how many laps you could run in ten minutes. I am happy to see that there has been a shift towards physical literacy, in that there is a focus on teaching children how to live a balanced lifestyle and why that is important. I am also excited to see that there is room now in P.E. to teach activities which will realistically be a part of a student’s life. Not many of us will become professional soccer or basketball players but we might go hiking, biking, or to a yoga class and it is nice to see how we can incorporate those activities into our P.E. lessons.
I am grateful that I have learned a variety of activities that can be applied to my practicum class and future classes. I feel I am leaving this course with practical hands-on skills and improved confidence that I might be able to teach this subject. I look forward to my years ahead in the gymnasium and outside in teaching students about what it means to live a well-rounded lifestyle. I hope to design lessons that are fun and inclusive for all. I will rest assured that there are plenty of resources available for my information and colleagues who I can share ideas with. I look forward to continuing my P.E. education and vow to never make another child run the ten minute mile again!
Thanks for a great class!
First of all, hats off to the Outdoor Education Team Teach last week. What a great job at taking our learning outside and having lots of fun getting active in the fresh air and sunshine!
I have been thinking a lot about outdoor activity lately. I have my practicum at an elementary school in West Vancouver and have been assigned to the kindergarten class. As the “little ones” at the school they have an assigned playground where there are several swings and climbing structures and such traditional items. However, I have noticed that every time they are excused for recess and lunch they run off to the area of the playground that borders a natural forest. It has lots of trees and a more rugged terrain and the students always spend their free play time there collecting rocks and swinging from tree branches. No one seems to be interested in playing in the structured playground area.
It led me to think about how much kids just love to be outside! Rain or shine they want to naturally explore and engage with others and the environment. So, I have been thinking about others ways that I could engage the kindergarten class in outdoor learning. What first came to mind was group mini hikes, as West Vancouver has lots of beautiful easy nearby trails, that would be good for younger children. There are also beaches and small lakes and waterfalls too. What a great way to also incorporate some learning about ecosystems and sustainability. But, while these ideas seem fun I am still unsure how I can organize transport and extra adult supervision and what types of legal formalities I am required to complete. As this task seems a little daunting, I will require clarification from my school advisor. Perhaps, these types of hurdles are what inhibit some teachers from planning outdoor education excursions?
Therefore, I thought I would start small. We have a beautiful field at my practicum school where I thought we could do some fun activities, but also perhaps some lessons. What about literacy outdoors? Reading and drawing outside incorporated into some type of physical activity that pertains to the literacy might work. For example, reading a story about the environment and then finding leaves and flowers from a scavenger hunt around the field that the students can then draw or paste into scrapbooks. I also thought that in an effort to support the inquiry learner a community garden outside the classroom might be a fun project which marries physical components with lesson plan initiatives. Of course, as the weather worsens with the arrival of winter this might become a little tricker, but I think more simplistic outdoor concepts might be a good place to start.
I look forward to working towards these outdoor initiatives and engaging my students in finding out what they would like to do and what they would like to learn. I think there are many ways in which we can incorporate outdoor learning into our classroom teachings and I hope to do lots of it soon!
There are a couple things I wanted to share about last week’s discussion group and team teach.
Firstly, I greatly enjoyed learning about the difference between formative and summative assessments. I really think formative assessment is an excellent tool and one that I hope to implement in all my classes. I’m not sure if my elementary or high school P.E. teachers did any formative assessments, as I do not recall them ever discussing them in class. If they did, I am sure they were loosely based on performance standards only. That being said, I think one of the most effective tools of formative assessment is transparency. We have all heard the saying “no secret teacher business” and I think this really applies here. I think it is very helpful to students to let them know what you are looking for and what you will be assessing so there are no surprises. It also allows students to give their feedback and an assessment of their teacher too. These discussions can also be a great opportunity to talk about physical literacy as you can explain that formative assessment will be based on more than performance alone. In this way I hope students can ask questions and not feel so intimidated by the grading process.
I also wanted to mention how much I enjoyed the striking game activities this past class. What a fun and active class, the team teachers thought of everything! From stretches to the field to fun warm-up games and an inclusive new edition of California Kickball, I had my heart pumping and my feet moving. I really enjoyed how the team teachers made sure everyone was included and moving at all times. I also wanted to highlight how the games were FUN! It sounds simple but Chuck the Chicken is loads of fun and still gets students to practice their skills. Also, the adaptation of California Kickball was inclusive and I liked how no one was ever caught out. I have terrible memories of playing baseball and heading up to the plate nervously waiting to have the ball thrown to me. I rarely hit it and always felt terribly embarrassed. This wonderful game eliminated all those feelings and brought out great team spirit and comradery.
Great Job! I would love to use your entire lesson plan in a future P.E class!
In reflecting on today’s class what really stood out to me was the list of Hall of Shame activities. At first I was shocked to learn that activities such as Tug of War, Capture the Flag and even Duck Duck Goose made the list. I have fond memories of playing those games with friends and classmates and found it difficult to believe that these simple childish games could in any way be damaging to the children who played them. It was sure an eye opener!
However, as we talked more about the feelings of exclusion, inactivity and, in some cases, fear that children may experience while playing these games I had to take a moment and rethink what these games really prioritized. It became clear to me after our discussion that these games, as harmless as they may initially seem, can be socially and emotionally damaging. In fact, I learned that many of us, myself included, have memories of experiencing all of these emotions at some point in our P.E. history.
I left today thinking not only about the games that made the Hall of Shame list but all sports and how they might affect the children who play them. As soon-to-be teachers I feel it is our responsibility to create a safe, supportive and inclusive environment of learning for our students. This philosophy certainly lends itself to P.E., a subject that many students dread to participate in and many teachers dread to teach. So, the challenge becomes making P.E. a fun, fulfilling and enjoyable class for students of all ages and abilities.
Moving forward I will certainly look at each activity and its outcomes before I suggest it for any class with the benefits and potential drawbacks in mind. In this course, I look forward to learning how to better equip myself with the knowledge and tools to better serve my future students.