This week Klara, Elissa, Jessica and I taught our P.E. lesson on Gymnastics. We aimed our lesson towards a Grade 5 class with all different athletic abilities. I felt as though the class went a lot more smoothly than I was expecting. We decided to start off with some warm-up instant activities that were associated with Halloween and gymnastics since it was the day before Halloween. It as a way to have the class be more involved. During the whole class, the students were given a Halloween character, and were supposed to act like that character throughout the class. When it came to teaching the gymnastics movements and activities, we decided to teach in a circuit rotation format, breaking each station down with different challenges and ways of making the stations either easier or more difficult depending on the students abilities. I was in charge of the jumping stations, and there were also a balance, rolling and bear walk stations. At my station, I started everyone together breaking down the steps of how to jump with single legs as well as two foot jumps and how to land. I talked about the importance of using your arms to help create more upward movement, as well as ‘loading/activating’ your leg muscles, and how to land best without harming your knees and the rest of the body through ‘soft landing’ and lowering your center of gravity. We practiced our jumping, and then worked on jumping forwards and backwards and side-to-side. After I felt the majority of the students were fully able to jump with proper form, I allowed the students to go to the small stations within the jumping station. We had hula-hoops to practice two feet and single foot jumps. Then there were vaults at different heights where the students were able to jump off of and focus on their landings. I emphasized that they did not have to do anything they did not feel comfortable with, so some of the students did not jump off of the highest vault.
One of the questions we focused on this week was how are teachers suppose to teach activities was limited equipment? When teaching this week, we used very limited equipment as well, using only mats, benches, cones, hula-hoops, and then the vaults which we didn’t have to use. These are all pieces of equipment that is most likely found in most Elementary and High school gyms. Although the students may think that these activities are not equivalent to attending a gymnastics facility, these are a lot of the same movements being done in the school gym.
The main topic in the readings for the week talked a lot about the connection between law and teaching, including TORTS law. Being a P.E. teacher, there is a great deal more injures that occur compared to all other classroom settings. Therefore as a P.E. teacher, as well as all other teachers, we have to be more aware of the surroundings and possible situations which could occur, and how to avoid any negative situations. Torts law is not very well defined in a few words, but it is pretty much any situation that could have been avoided while a teacher is responsible, that teacher can been seen as guilty. We must treat all students as if they are our own children.
The two group teaching teams from last class did very well. I like how the gymnastic team included Halloween theme into their activities, and I thought it was very neat. As well, I thought the four stations were broken down nicely, and giving the instructions while we were all at the middle instead of explaining it four times at each station was very smart. As for the summary and discussion, our discussion in terms of how to create a safe and inclusive environment was rich and helpful for the practicum. For the dance team, I liked the warm up activity where we had to act like eggs, chickens and dinosaurs. It was fun playing and watching other people, and I think they did a great job using the scaffolding technique. In addition, I loved how they not only taught us certain moves but also gave us the freedom to create dances close to the end of their lesson. All presenters from both groups were enthusiastic and have clear, loud voices! Good job girls, I loved it! 🙂
I really enjoyed the gymnastics and dance this week, both groups did a fantastic job!
I was super impressed that the dance group incorporated technology into their group-teach. I had never associated physical education with digital literacy, so to see how it was used both through a headset when running an activity (made listening much easier) and when sorting us into groups through an iPad app, was very cool. I am not very tech savvy, so I think I will definitely start looking into some of the apps they shared with us on the hand-out and consider how I could better incorporate technology into lesson plans. I really liked the sorting app as it was much faster than counting out teams of 4.
I enjoyed the group discussion for gymnastics. Our group talked about liability and safety because gymnastics can be a riskier unit to run as there is more equipment and chance for injury. As a future teacher, I have to really consider the environment I am choosing for the lesson and how I want to best set up the activity so that it is inclusive and adaptable for all of the different students’ capabilities. Some examples include setting up the gym in a way that you can observe all of your students (using half a gym), and using padding on the floor around balance beams and equipment where there is a chance someone may fall.
I also liked that both groups focused on scaffolding and building up to the different movements in step by step processes that allowed us to practice and feel comfortable before moving on.
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.
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.
Class this week caused me to reflect on my own experiences with gymnastics and how much I loved it. It was always my favourite unit of PE throughout elementary school. It was always an exciting time walking into the gym and noticing the gymnastics equipment set up. I think the main reason I liked it is because it really felt like simple play. In my experience, gymnastics never had a distinct set of rules to follow, unlike other units such as basketball or volleyball. Of course we had to stay safe, but we were also able to explore new movements and positions our own way. We usually worked through stations and tried different moves. We were also given the opportunity to create our own gymnastics routine. I remember this being a highlight in Grade 3.
I think opportunities for kids to create their own routine or game is very important. My practicum class created their own game and the kids were very engaged. For the Pro D Day I attended a “5 steps to a happy classroom” workshop with Scott Hughes and he discussed the importance of play in the classroom. Creative play is an opportunity for kids to engage in their own learning and feel a sense of ownership over what they are doing. I think this can be applied to gymnastics and many other subjects. It allows students to be creative and to contribute to their own learning environment. I hope to bring many experiences like this to my future classroom!
This week’s gymnastics lesson was my first group teach experience and I think it went quite well! Maria, Sienna and I put together a very in depth, detailed lesson plan, and I think that helped in our delivery of it. The very descriptive lesson plan that we created could easily be followed and implemented by another person who was not part of the planning process because we put every single little detail we could think of into it!
Steve posed a very good question to us during our lesson which was along the lines of, if you were one person, how would you be able to control the circuit from the middle of the room? Little changes could have been made such as leaving instructions at the stations to remind students of what they are supposed to do as well as larger lesson changes. Another option was to focus on just one of the three stations per class with the circuit occurring in the fourth class, after everyone had experienced the activity together. With the grade level we were “teaching” (grade 2) it would have been beneficial to do everything together and move through the activities as a class as it would have really solidified the instructions for the students.
It was also suggested that should have done our demonstrations at each of their respective areas in the circuit. This was a discussion we had prior to our group teach and we decided with the time frame we had and the logistics of moving “grade 2s” to and from each station, it would just eat up too much of our time. With a real class of grade 2s and a longer amount of time to teach the lesson, it would be very beneficial to demonstrate at each station since it would help the students remember which balancing activity instructions were associated with which station.
It was important for us to remain flexible during this activity. Although it was designed for grade 2 students, in reality it was adults doing the activities and the activities were obviously quite easy and quick for our group to complete. Because of the lack of difficulty presented for our adult students, we modified our activities, adding in different variations. For example, the activity where we asked students to balance bean bags on their head and walk along the gym floor lines was changed so students had to move quicker, dance, and play tag. These changes were made with the intent of keeping students involved and engaged.
With our lesson plan at least, I don’t think teaching gymnastics will always be scary. Once you start introducing more complex activities and gymnastic structures such as high beams, then no doubt the risk factor will increase. I hope my experience teaching this lesson is indicative of future gymnastic lessons in that it had little risk and no injuries!
Thank you all for being such great students despite the repetition and easiness of our activities!
This week’s gymnastic lesson was great! I thought it was very well executed, and I enjoyed that the group aimed to integrate a collaborative portion (the number-beam) exercise into a sport that is often individual.
This week’s lesson as well as our little excursion to the gymnastics centre really created a sense of nostalgia for me. Gymnastics was one of my favorite units in PE both in elementary as well as high school, and being with the gymnastic equipment brought back memories of my extracurricular gymnastics lessons as a child. That being said, I was never really very good at gymnastics, but I enjoyed it and thus have fond memories of it. Its quite unfortunate that gymnastics is one of the programs that schools or teachers feel uncomfortable including, for fears of safety and liability, which were addressed in last week’s readings. This is not to say that I don’t understand the rationale behind it, because I too would be worried about all the potential safety issues and legal issues that could arise as a consequence. Nonetheless, this is a shame because I think gymnastics is a popular aspect of PE, and one that children (especially in elementary school) are quite excited and enthusiastic about! I’m not sure why gymnastics in particular causes more concerns about safety or injury in comparison to other sports – perhaps it is because it can involve a lot of large equipment (at higher grades)? I am also unsure whether these concerns are valid, as I think there is a potential for injury with any sort of activity in PE.
On a different note, I just wanted to add that having these activities prepared and taught by our peers has resulted in a wonderful toolbox of ideas that we can use during our practicums (and into the future)! In my case, last week in my class’ PE block, the children were playing tag and running games and my SA asked me if I had any ideas to contribute. I immediately thought of the previous groups’ “animal run” activity and proposed that to my SA. We modified the game so that no one was “it” but solely had students moving around the gym as different animals until the whistle blew, at which point they had to organize themselves into groups of a certain number within a hula hoop. The children who did not find a group in time then got to choose the next animal movement. This activity worked extremely well and the Grade 2s loved it! So, thank you to the Outdoor Ed. group for this great idea 🙂