It was so great to be back in PE class. I never really was a fan of track but I was into field. However, this class made me change my mind and helped me to understand some ways to make running fun. Thank you very much Devon, Michelle, Megan & Jen for a great concept and class! The main activity was my favorite and it made me want to run more! I could see myself using that exact lesson plan for my practicum class. The group did an amazing job and made us work hard, I was super tired after!
The chapters this week were very interesting and the talk about disability and inclusion in PE class intrigued me the most. It is so hard to include every child, as every child’s interests are different, so adapting a lesson of PE in track and/or field is a challenge in itself. As we are learning, classrooms are a safe space and PE class is no different no matter where you are. As teachers, we must try to make our lessons as accessible as possible and include all types of learners. The main activity was a great example of that, for the most part you were either walking or skipping, or even doing a light jog. When it came time to sprint, it was short, and the concept made it fun. The movement skills and techniques involved were useful and helped with the main activity.
This week’s reading summary was particularly interesting to me – in modern society, so many things are taken for granted and normalized, that certain topics such as diversity can so easily be overlooked in the PE classroom. Notions such as “Bob can’t participate in class today because the activities involve running and he is in a wheelchair” or “Liam is a strong and healthy 17-year-old male Caucasian student, he should be on the football team” are so ingrained into our culture that we rarely stop and critically assess them.
I still remember experiences from school, when boys were expected to play soccer outside and girls were expected to participate in quiet activities, when a Sikh boy couldn’t participate in roller blading because the helmets didn’t fit over his turban, when a boy with a physical handicap never participated in our PE classes. I recall recognizing the injustice of the situations, but never stopping to think about or address the issues.
Throughout the week, diversity seemed to be a common discussion in our classes. Racism, gender biases, stereotyping – these are just a few of the epidemics that have taken over society. These epidemics are not spreading through loud or visible means however. They are silent killers, deeming us mute and seemingly ignorant of the discrimination and segregation happening all around us.
In all of our class discussions, the solution spiraled down to something fairly simple – awareness. Simply by speaking out loud about an issue, or educating people so they could learn more about something that was previously ambiguous, can bring topics out of the darkness and demystify and de-normalize them. Yesterday, Sheena did a wonderful job of leading our group discussion and helping us to identify what we should be aware of (in regards to diversity) as educators. I hope that as a cohort, we can continue to question and build on each other’s thoughts and ideas, and push each other forward on this amazing learning journey!
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.
Going to P.E. for the first time this term I rushed through the unfamiliar landscape of UBC, hoping that I’d make it on time. When I arrived I was surprised to see everyone at “free play” and instantly joined in the self-guided fun. Being free to do what I enjoy and feel comfortable with was a welcoming experience. As we moved to more directed activities, that comfortable feeling continued. I appreciated how this free, fun learning environment was created, and would like to replicate it in my own practice. I have a lot to learn as my experience is very limited. One thing I’d like to know is how to differentiate my teaching in PE to reach all kinds of learners. I’d like to create this fun, inclusive environment for children of all backgrounds.
This week I became overwhelmed with the idea of creating my own lesson plan (something I have never done before). But after watching today’s groups execute their lessons so flawlessly, they helped me realize sometimes the best form of learning is to “do”. Like our peers today, I can be creative and unafraid to try new things in front of our classmates and instructors. Our time at UBC is really a chance to hone our own styles or ways of teaching (without judgment) and realizing this has helped me settle my own anxieties about our future assignments.
Regarding our own PE experiences, growing up I actually had only positive experiences. I always loved the physical, teamwork and competitive aspect of physical education. However, today’s class did put things into perspective; I realized that some of the things I might have enjoyed in my PE experience may have negatively affected or excluded my classmates in the past. The fact that Steve recommended setting benchmark goals to improve students’ individual results shed light that there has been a clear shift in teaching physical education. Teachers today want to create positive experiences and attitudes towards physical activity within their students by considering inclusivity and personal growth. These are important values that I want to instill into my own teaching.