Building The Physical Education Experience
Build the physical education experience by taking the time to plan with purpose. Consider how much time is available and what is most important for students to learn. Set connecting threads, design units, and craft lessons. Using backward design consider standards, big ideas and essential questions. Build in rituals and routines for the most efficient use of time. Attend to developmental appropriateness, student needs and interests, differentiation, and how the brain learns best to achieve the most neural connections possible and learning that will stand the test of time. This is the process that works for me.
Consider Time First
Considering how much time there is available must to be the first step in planning anything. There is an amazing community of physical educators on twitter. These are individual professionals from all over the world dedicated to sharing ideas and resources for the good of the whole. With the click of your mouse you can find webinars, podcasts, images, videos, etc. to help you in your mission to better serve your students. There are many leaders in this area and one that I will mention here are the members of the Physedagogy team. By visiting their site you can gain access to all the video archives from each #PhysEdSummit, a 24 hour global online professional development opportunity that has taken place for the past 4 summers. On days that I can't get outside for my workout I will often workout inside while watching a session or two from one of the archived summits. This is where I found a session titled "Teaching Less & Learning More - Effective Planning for Assessment & Evaluation" PhysEdSummit 3.0 presented by Bernie Holland that really gets to the heart of the importance of considering the amount of time that you have with your students as you begin identifying what is most important to include. I highly recommend watching this session.
Weave all learning together.
Learning threads that can be connected to all learning in physical education can be set up at the beginning of the year and revisited during each unit. Memory circles are one of my favorite ways to set a connecting thread. Like units they are built using the backward design process and are connected to the standards. Think of it as a unit that lasts all year long with the intent of weaving everything together. Setting up threads takes advantage of how the brain learns over time, creates more opportunities for review, and creates a connection between all other learning. Possible categories include health and skill related fitness, personal and social interactions, habits of mind, a specific skill etc.
Building assessment into instruction creates a way for students to have access to feedback on a continual basis which is essential to learning and improved performance. Teaching students to seek feedback from a variety of sources and to make small changes based on that feedback, helps them become self-directed learners.
Know your target, what it will look like when you arrive, and the path you will take to get there.
Using the backward design process begin with the standards (national & state), grab attention and involve students in the process by identifying big ideas and asking thought provoking questions. Hook them immediately by using emotion, decide how to weave in the connecting threads, identify the learning targets (what they should know, understand and be able to do). Decide how they will share their growth toward the learning targets. THEN plan a pathway of learning experiences. This involves much more that jotting an activity down in a plan book. In these pages I outline the process I have used over the years as I plan and design units.
As you can see in this image my lesson format has 3 sections that consist of routines and rituals (enter, connect & reflect). I cue them with those terms and the kids know exactly what to do which creates a very efficient use of our time. Each routine/ritual takes a limited amount of time and serves a specific purpose. The first set of question marks indicate a section of the lesson dedicated to activating prior knowledge, fitness development, a foundation skill builder routine or a combination of the 3. The second set of question marks indicates the activities that will be included in the main part of the lesson.
Visit the Brain Basics & Beyond pages and look for this symbol for questions that can guide the unit and lesson planning experience with a focus on brain compatible learning principles.