Physical Education Global Enrichment: Enhancing Student Experiences through Dynamic Instructional Strategies and Technology

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Through the power of the #physed professional learning community on Twitter, I’m about to embark on an extraordinary opportunity.  Here are some excerpts and details from my grant trip proposal. 

Lucia Burton Morse Teacher Grant Proposal
Submitted to: The Avery Coonley School

Summary

The main objective of this collaborative visit is to meet, observe, and gain a deeper appreciation of a global Physical Education community by building relationships with some of the most dynamic Physical Education teachers on the other side of the world.

My goal is spend 5-7 days in the Melbourne and 4-6 days in Singapore.  During my time in these communities, I would schedule visits to several schools and teachers (any and all levels: prep – University) to gain a better understanding about:

What instructional models/strategies are used?
What types/methods of assessment are incorporated?
How is technology incorporated and integrated into Physical Education?
What role does sport/Physical Education play in the community?
How can we learn from one another to improve as a global Physical Education community?

Statement of Need

My experiences on Twitter, as well as video conferencing (through Google Hangouts, Skype, and YouTube), have sparked several questions as to how to create a more dynamic Physical Education experience for the students at The Avery Coonley School.  I have come to realize that although Twitter and video conferencing are very beneficial and can be a great way to establish connections with educators all over the world, it could never deliver the experience of actually spending time in their learning communities and seeing these teachers in action.

When I was informed about the opportunities for Avery Coonley teachers through the Lucia Burton Morse Teacher Grant Program, I sent out a brief survey to the PE Geeks community to see who and where would be the best teachers and schools to visit.  It was evident that in order to maximize this grant opportunity for enrichment of our students’ experiences, the best places and teachers to visit are in Australia and Singapore.  There is a high concentration of teachers in these areas who are on the cutting edge of technology, curriculum, instructional models and strategies for Physical Education.

Justification for targeting schools in Australia and Singapore lies within the strengths of their educational systems.  The Australian culture and educational system place a high importance on sport and an active lifestyle.  Instructional strategies, such as Teaching Games for Understanding, Fitness Education, and Sport Education, are prominently used at various levels in Physical Education.  The educational system in Singapore consistently ranks among the top in the world in terms of math and science. The implementation of a variety of formative and summative assessment tools are prominent in Singapore Physical Education programs to complement the inquiry-based instructional models.  Furthermore, Australian and Singaporean schools place a high importance in the integration of technology, such as iPads, into the curricula to better address the various learning styles of their students. 

The ACS philosophy is supported through a variety of Physical Education experiences and challenges for all students to foster a life-long appreciation of dance, physical fitness, and human welfare.  The Avery Coonley P.E. Program provides activities that challenge and keep young minds and bodies active.  As students move through the elementary and middle school grades, goal setting, problem solving, and teamwork are emphasized.  As a Physical Education department, we strive to continuously nurture the students’ experiences with fresh and creative challenges that maximize the use of Avery Coonley’s unique campus.  Over the past five years, ACS students have gained new exposure to a variety of multicultural activities such as tchoukball, rugby, cricket, jai alai, netball, dance, and poi spinning.  These new experiences will continue to stretch their mental, physical, and cultural boundaries.

In addition to gaining a better understanding of the differences Physical Education is implemented within the learning communities in Australia and Singapore, perhaps the most valuable byproduct that a collaborative visit like this will bring comes from the perspective gained from being outside one’s own comfort zone.  I feel that it is important to note that in alignment with the Avery Coonley School’s mission and philosophy, students as well as teachers must strive to reach out for opportunities to become independent, life-long learners.  As an introvert, one of the major hurdles I must overcome in order to improve as a teacher is my lack of confidence as a public speaker.  By taking risks and gaining confidence through the expansion of my comfort zone, I hope to overcome some of my apprehensions as a public speaker to better serve the Avery Coonley community as a model and a leader in the field.

Program Description

The way teachers currently do our jobs did not exist six years ago.  It is increasingly difficult to keep up with how various instructional strategies and assessments are used to motivate the upcoming generation of students.  Technology has and will continue to be a monumental part of our educational system.  It is my goal to see how to incorporate the most innovative instructional strategies along with the implementation of instant and ongoing feedback through the use of technology in a Physical Education setting from teachers who are already doing it in their own schools.  By seeing the most inventive and prominent teachers in person and observing how they are able to implement technology and instruction in a way that maximizes student participation will allow for a deeper understanding of how I can apply what works in our community about the importance of an active and healthy lifestyle.

The achievement of the goals of this grant opportunity will be focused according to the strengths of the teacher and his/her learning community.  Logistics will be finalized in the months to come so that of budget, time, and knowledge gained will be maximized.   Below are some of the teachers who have already granted permission for the collaborative visit:

Ashlea Mills – Elementary Physical Education @AshleaMills
Physical Education and Sport Coordinator in an IB PYP School
Website: http://www.healthybodies-happyminds.com
Area(s) of Strength: Technology, Curriculum
Melbourne, Australia 

Dale Sidebottom – SEDA and Cricket Australia @DaleSidebottom
(Private Company – High School)P.E. Teacher, Fitness, coaching, work skills and literacy.  Class room 2.5 days a week, and the other days at primary schools conducting cricket clinics and also on work based training.  Creator of Teaching Educational Break Apps, Entrepreneur, Sports Development Facilitator for Cricket Australia
Website: www.mysportbuddy.com.au
Area(s) of Strength: Assessment, Sport/Athletics
Melbourne, Australia

Corey Aylen – Elementary Physical Education @Mr_Aylen
District Coordinator & Communications Leader (Website, iPads, Photos, IT maintenance)
Area(s) of Strength: Sport/Athletics
Melbourne, Australia

Ross Halliday – Elementary Physical Education @FizzicalEd
Teacher and Learner. In endless pursuit of the things that make our #PhysEd lessons ‘FIZZ’
Website: www.makingpefizz.com
Area(s) of Strength: Technology, Instructional Strategies
Melbourne, Australia

Andy Hair – Elementary Physical Education @MrHairPhysEd
P.E. Teacher, Carnival Coordinator, Coach, Triathlete.
Website: www. mrhairphysed.weebly.com
Area(s) of Strength: Instructional Models/Strategies, Sport/Athletics
Leopold Victoria Australia

Nathan Horne – Elementary Physical Education, Consultant @PENathan
Founder of iPhys-Ed.com, #PhysEd Podcast Host
Innovation & Technology in #Physed Coordinator for Physical Education Professional Learning Community (PEPLC)
Websites: www.iPhys-Ed.com    http://about.me/nathan.horne
Area(s) of Strength: Assessment, Technology
Singapore

Josh Symes & Anne Wenstrom – K-8 Physical Education @AWenstrom
RPCV-Benin. PE Teacher/Coord. Apple Distinguished Educator. A life-long learner interested in helping students to become healthy compassionate global citizens.
Area(s) of Strength: Instructional Models/Strategies, Assessment, Technology, Sport/Athletics
Singapore

Mike Gilmour – Elementary Physical Education @Gilmour_Mike
Passionate Leader, Physical Educator & Progressive Thinker
PYP International School.
Area(s) of Strength: Instructional Models/Strategies
Singapore

Description of Grant:
The Lucia Burton Morse Teacher Grants program is designed to enhance our current professional development structure by adding an additional level of financial support for opportunities that require a significant amount of time, travel, or expense.  Workshops, conferences, and other continuing education activities will continue to be funded as in the past.  But now ACS faculty will also be able to apply for a Morse Teacher Grant for activities that go above and beyond routine professional development. Specialized research, unique teacher training, significant collaboration with fellow educators here or around the globe – the possibilities are limited only by our imaginations!