Maximize Engagement: Sport Ed. & TGfU Hybrid Units

This blog post by Adam Metcalf was a feature on the Gopher P.E. Blog

The best way to learn is to do. The worst way to teach is to talk.” –Paul Halmos

We all know that student-centered, authentic learning experiences are crucial for cultivating the type of learners who will be best prepared for success in the modern world. The incessant battle for weak attention spans has unearthed how incredibly important it is to design learning experiences that allow for student choice. At the same time, we must foster the development of social interdependence in a safe, supportive environment where gaining perspective through a shared journey is the objective. Alas, knowing that something is important and figuring out a practical way to do it is the ongoing challenge of our profession. Taking risks, giving up control, and stepping outside of our comfort zones as teachers can be daunting.

My physical education department has been using a Sport Ed/TGfU hybrid model for nine years in our middle school curriculum (Grades 5-8). Although it may seem intimidating, the shift away from the traditional sport units and instructional methods to a student-centered approach has been more fulfilling than we could have ever predicted! In this approach, the teacher acts as the facilitator for learning rather than the traditional “sage on stage.” We have seen amazing engagement and growth in our students through adapting and combining elements from the Sport Education and Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU) instructional models.

While an “event driven” unit can be exciting and memorable, an overcomplicated unit can result in an enormous amount of planning and management; this may lead to teacher burnout and a decrease in student engagement. We have found that adapting some simple elements from the Sport Ed model and using the themes and structure of the TGfU model can help provide a framework for engaging and repeatable units without teacher burnout. We have tried many variations and continue to tweak the unit structure, but have found the most success using the basic guidelines below:

Unit Planning:
Begin your year establishing expectations, building relationships, cooperative skills, etc. Then plan and sequence your units according to the TGfU Game Categories:

Invasion Games (Soccer, Rugby, Basketball, Ultimate, Floor Hockey, etc.) will be the most prevalent sport category. Begin with a sport unit that is simple and/or one with which students are familiar. Skills and strategies will transfer from one sport to the next (i.e., maintaining possession and creating space in soccer will also be applicable in basketball). Grouping these sports together will create a deeper understanding and an increased familiarity with how to react to and solve the in-game problems and situations.

Sequencing Net/Wall Games during the winter months work well with the indoor space and equipment available at our school (Volleyball, Badminton, Pickleball, etc.).

As the weather warms up in the Spring, we prefer to finish the school year with Target (Golf, Archery, Bowling, etc.) and Striking/Fielding Games (Kickball, Softball, Cricket, etc.).
Each sport unit (within the TGfU category) is typically eight to twelve 45-minute sessions. Our students have daily P.E. so each unit spans approximately 3 weeks. We usually complete 6-8 sport units per school year:

2-4 sessions of preseason practice
3-4 sessions of regular season games (team records count toward tournament seeding)
3-4 sessions of post season tournament (usually double elimination)

Keep It Simple
Limit the number of roles and responsibilities. In our units, everybody is a player and some people have additional roles. Each team has a coach (who volunteers prior to the start of the unit). Once balanced teams are determined, all members meet to sign the Team Contract/ Fair Play Agreement as well as determine who will take on the additional responsibilities: assistant coach, equipment manager, fitness trainer, publicist. By structuring simplified Sport Ed units, repeating the model will allow several students the opportunity to experience the various roles.

Facilitate Learning
Rather than giving the students skills and drills, we allow them to come up with their own practice plans. We encourage them to take the focus of the day and play a modified game that will allow players to develop an understanding within a dynamic, fun setting. Using the TGfU model structure, we encourage and assist coaches with implementing small-sided games to emphasize the strategies and skills needed to achieve success. When we are focused on offensive strategies, modifying the number of defenders and/or restricting movement will allow for more meaningful practice on the offensive side.

Example: Preseason Learning Outcome: Maintain possession by creating space using pivots, fakes, and jab steps.

Scoring: Offensive players score a point every time they complete 3 consecutive passes within the prescribed boundary. Take turns playing offensive and defensive positions where the defensive team is outnumbered (i.e. 2 vs 1, 3 vs 2, 4 vs 2, etc.)

Ask Lots of Questions
Kids playing volleyballThe authentic nature of this format can heighten the potential for group dynamics to get messy. It is important for the teacher to make sure that a safe classroom culture is paramount. Giving up control to the students is undoubtedly difficult, but this is the best way for them to learn. Your students need to know that you are there to support them and need you to remain firm and consistent with what is expected from every member of the class. If a practice or game isn’t going or didn’t go well, ask questions of the coaches that will advance a more reflective, open mindset. Allow students to express themselves in daily class discussions, or in private as needed. Be willing to make adjustments based on the feedback and needs of the class.

The engagement and enthusiasm fostered through this model is unparalleled. We have also found that once students have experienced autonomy and authenticity of this type of unit (i.e., peer-lead activities and the use of teams that stay together through a preseason, regular season, and postseason), they overwhelmingly prefer a “Sport Ed” unit to a traditional unit. I highly recommend giving it a try and seeing for yourself!

For a more extensive look into TGfU and Sport Education hybrid units, check out a recording of my webinar, Maximize Engagement: Sport Ed. & TGfU Hybrid Units.

Streamline Standards Based Progress Reporting: SHAPE America Template + Google Apps

The first thing that went through my mind when I saw the new SHAPE America Standards Based Progress Report Template was “This is awesome.” The second thing that went through my mind is that I have to put this into a Google Doc and create an accompanying Google Sheet so that these can reports be sent to my students and parents as a supplemental report using the Autocrat merge add-on.  The great thing about this template is that it gives P.E. teachers a clean template that is relatively easy to customize.  Whether your school uses Standards Based reporting or not, this template and Google Apps merge system will allow teachers to communicate progress aligned with teacher-selected Grade Level Outcomes.

Here is a video tutorial that will show teachers how to use the Google Doc & Google Sheet to run an Autocrat merge that will create and email the Student Progress Report document.

Here is the SHAPE America Standards Based Student Progress Report created by
Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 9.03.58 PM

Here is a link to the  Google Drive Folder that includes the Google Doc Template, Google Sheet Template, and some samples.

SHAPE America Grade Level Outcomes PDF

SHAPE America Grade Level Outcomes Crowd Sourced for Google Sheets (ThePhysicalEducator.com)

 

 

Do More with Peer Assessments: Google Forms + Autocrat

Quality Physical Education teachers know that we should be using self and peer assessments to gather evidence of learning during our lessons and units.  We also know that providing timely feedback to our students can be a daunting task given our large class sizes and limited class time.  I used to use paper/pencil peer and self-assessments with my students, but by the time I was able to process the data into something accurate and reliable, the unit was over.  I have solved this problem with GoScreen Shot 2015-11-17 at 9.01.31 AMogle Forms, Google Sheets templates, and Autocrat (add-on script).

 

By setting up a individual “grid” style google form entries, the observer can assess as many (or as few) classmates as prescribed during or after a performance in very short amount time (1-2 minutes).  This data can be processed by the teacher quickly to determine evidence of learning based on central tendencies of the observers (I use mode).  Through the use of autocrat, data is merged with a Google doc template and feedback is customized and sent directly to students (via email, or print to distribute).  This can all be done for hundreds of students within 15-20 minutes.  Here’s how:

 

The PHYSEDagogy Podcast – #Physed Showcase – Edition #3

PHYSEDAGOGY

 Current Episode:

Edition #3 Cover PhotoThe PHYSEDagogy Podcast – #Physed Showcase Edition #3

Here is the third edition of the #Physed Showcase Podcast.  In this episode we will wrap up the #PhysedSummit 2.0.   You will hear Adam Metcalf talk about how to create a sustainable system for sport education units.  Learn about the Burp It On program and hear them talk about how they are raising awareness for physical activity. Listen to Matt Guth and Jonathan Jones talk about how they have got their students connected through a Pen Pal Program. 

Listen on Podomatic Listen on Podomatic

Subscribe Button Subscribe on iTunes

View original post

What I Saw & What I Learned: An American P.E. Teacher’s trip to Melbourne, Australia & Singapore (Blog 3 of 3)

This is the third of three blog posts in my attempt to summarize and piece together some of the major takeaways from my professional development trip to Melbourne, Australia and Singapore. This trip was conceived and designed with the help of my personal learning network (PLN) from the #PhysEd and #PEgeeks community on Twitter. During this trip, I spent a school day with each teacher as they conducted physical education classes as well as any other additional duties throughout the course of the day.

At its core, this trip allowed me to experience the type of learning I hope my students strive to obtain. What better way to model experiential learning than to pack my bags, get on a plane, and fly half way around the world to visit people I’ve never met in places I’ve never been: all while thinking, I really hope I planned this right!

Day 8: Monday March 31, 2014
Teacher: Mike Gilmour (Twitter @Gilmour_Mike)
Overseas Family School (Singapore)
http://www.ofs.edu.sg/

The streets of Singapore are lined with enormous shopping centers, multiplexes, and skyscrapers. New construction and renovations are ongoing in nearly every part of the city. Public transportation systems (trains, cabs, and buses and buses) are exceptionally affordable and easy to use. My first full day in Singapore begins with a 10-minute cab ride to Overseas Family School to visit Mike Gilmour. Having arrived a bit early, I take advantage of my free time to walk around the surrounding neighborhood as well as observe the morning traffic.

What I Saw:
The school buses arriving at OFS would be what Americans would call charter buses. Buses and cars entered the manned security gates while traffic was directed by a large number of yellow vested individuals to help coordinate the morning drop off.
Overseas Family School is a for-profit IMG_1980K-12 International Baccalaureate Curriculum (Primary Years, Middle Years and Diploma programs: enrollment is approximately 3600 students from 73 countries).

Mike Gilmour (Primary Physical Education) and his wife (2nd grade) have been teachers at OFS for 4.5 years. Mike is originally from South Africa and absolutely loves the international school circuit. The facilities and logistics of all of Physical Education were fascinating to see in action. With only outdoor facilities, I was able to witness 6+ P.E. classes (of various grades and areas of campus) going on at the same time. I was astounded at the level of focus and maturity of the students, who were able to follow instructions and remain engaged in a myriad of activities while numerous potential distractions were so close (noise from other classes, construction equipment, etc.).

Mike’s personality and teaching style makes for a very exciting learning environment. During his grade 4 adventure education lessons, his instructions were clear and concise:
IMG_2009students transitioned quickly through 4-5 team challenges with very little down time. With the consistently hot and humid weather (95 F, 35 C), the students took frequent water breaks throughout the course of the hour-long P.E. class.

In addition to seeing many adventure challenge activities, I was also able to see how the P.E. teachers implemented their first Sport Education (SEPEP) unit through the Swiss sport of tchoukball. Teams were lead by student-player/coaches through a round robin regular season. The teams that won their respective class seasons competed in the “Exhibition” games during lunch/recess (where hundreds of students could watch as they ate lunch in and near the canteen).

What I Learned:
I had never had much exposure to International Schools and had many questions about how the various schools were funded, teacher contracts, student contracts, etc. Mike and his teaching colleagues were extremely helpful in explaining how the various types of international school systems operate (for profit, nonprofit, etc.). As far as what I’ve gained as a teacher, I could not have been more impressed with Mike Gilmour (as well as his teaching colleagues). The best way to truly get an appreciation for how tal
IMG_2012ented and passionate certain people are is to see them in their element. I was absolutely blown away by the efficiency with which Mike was able to deliver immensely dynamic lessons in a variety of settings. I have a new appreciation for what students can handle when the teachers plan units and lessons to maximize content and activity within all available spaces.

Day 9: Tuesday April 1, 2014
Teachers: Josh Symes (Twitter @JSymes77) & Anne Wenstrom (Twitter @AWenstrom)
Singapore American School (Singapore)
http://www.sas.edu.sg/

A 30-minute cab ride out to Woodlands (suburban setting) to Singapore American School to spend the day with Josh Symes (Australia) and Anne Wentrome (Minnesota, U.S.A.). The
transition from city to suburb was definitely a shift in the amount of space available. TheSAS courts campus of Singapore American School is progressive, beautiful, and vast. A student- SAS cricketcentered design is extremely apparent with the amount of integrated outdoor social courtyards,
open-air walkways, and areas available for play. This nonprofit international school is built to support up to 3900 students with a college campus type feel with primary, intermediate, middle, and high schools.

 

What I Saw:
I spent the first part of the morning with middle school Physical Education teacher, Josh Symes (friend of Andy Hair who I had visited in Geelong, Australia the week IMG_2025prior). Josh’s inquiry-based teaching approach is the perfect fit for the P.E. department philosophy of exposure to sport. As part of the core curriculum, P.E. classes meet for either 70 or 90 minutes every other day! Throughout the course of the school year, 18 different sport units are covered within 3-day allotments. I witnessed a “day 2” volleyball lesson where students were recording and viewing video of setting and forearm passing through the use of iPads (Bam Video IMG_2030Delay and Coach’s Eye apps). Small groups worked productively to perform practice tasks and reflect upon improvements that they could make based on what they just observed. Josh was able to visit the groups and provide additional feedback to the students.

As a teacher, Josh is extremely reflective and well read. His laid back demeanor (teacher/learner equality) could be misinterpreted by a “traditional” (direct instruction style) teacher as aloof. Through an afternoon and evening of conversation, it was apparent that his teaching approach is exceptionally calculated. Allowing students to experiment and discover the best way to approach sport skills and strategies provides a
IMG_2061richer, more meaningful transfer of knowledge. Josh explained how his entire middle school P.E. department (9 teachers) has or is transitioning to more student centered. The basic model is to have the student start each sport with a personal goal, then explore how to reach it. The traditional focus on skill (grip, positioning of feet, hands, etc.) is thrown out the window, students learn by doing.

I spent the late morning through the midafternoon with Apple Distinguished primary (K-2) P.E. teacher, Anne Wenstrome. The primary P.E. area(s) of the school was a technology dream come true. Cart-mounted flat screen TVs (equipped with AppleTVs and Microsoft Kinect consoles) and iPads were plentiful.
IMG_2038The gym for Anne’s classes was set up into floor hockey game and skill stations to maximize student activity.   Two stations incorporated gameplay tasks, one station allowed for partner passing, and one station was dedicated to visual feedback. A tripod-mounted iPad on Bam Video Delay allowed students to practice, then view their own grip and shot execution. After a few attempts each student would then reflect on his/her skill development by filling out and submitting a Google Form (which included images of correct hand position/follow through to reference).

What I Learned:
Witnessing Josh’s inquiry-based teaching style and Anne’s organization and creativity was a delight to see in person. Seeing how both teachers were able to
IMG_2053purposefully integrate technology for student-directed feedback produced a stream of ideas for ways in which I could replicate these routines into my own classes.

 

 

 

Day 10: Wednesday April 2, 2014
Teacher: Nathan Horne (Twitter @PENathan)
ISS International School (Singapore)
http://www.iss.edu.sg/

My final school visit began with a 10-minute cab ride to ISS International School to visit Nathan Horne (Tasmania, Australia). Meeting Nathan Horne was one of the primary IMG_2072 objectives of my trip to Singapore. Having followed his work on Twitter and the #PhysEd Podcast for over a year, I treasured the opportunity to see him teach and have professional conversations about best practices in Physical Education.

ISS is a for-profit International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program (IB PYP) that has students from over 50 nationalities. The aims of PYP schools are to connect the curriculum content to a series of desired attributes and attitudes that characterize successful students (Inquirers, Thinkers, Communicators, Risk-takers, Knowledgeable, Principled, Caring, Open-minded, Well-balanced, Reflective).

What I Saw:
Nathan’s P.E. classes were beginning of a 6-week swimming unit where each class was bussed to the public pool. Normal P.E. classes are scheduled twice per week for 45 IMG_2075minutes, however, during the swimming unit, scheduling is adjusted to allow for one 90
minute session per week (due to the 10-minute bus ride at the beginning and end of class). P.E. teachers and swim coaches work with groups of 5-7 students at a time to progress through various levels of swimming challenges and tasks. Younger students focus on introductory swim concepts (breathing, kicks, arm strokes), while the more experienced students (up to grade 5) worked on advanced techniques in the 50M lap pool. Nathan’s inquiry-based teaching style helps the students discover how to improve their level of comfort in the water. Throughout the course of the swim unit, student motivation to IMG_2088improve upon personal goals of lap-time in the various swim strokes was to culminate in the all-school swim carnival.

The technology integration at ISS is remarkable (Apple Macbooks, iPads, and Google Apps for Education). Nathan shared several examples of student projects, digital portfolios, and even K-2 students video explanations of their work (much more efficient that having the students type). Nathan and I spent a good portion of the afternoon discussing sharing the various types of workflow data collection systems that we use. I was especially impressed with his use of Google forms to track behavior and skill development (“Ages & Stages” motor development by age). We talked at length about successes and challenges we’ve had in Sport Education and Teaching Games for Understanding instructional models.

We continued our conversation throughout the course of the evening as we went out for dinner and were joined by Mike Gilmour. The three of us spoke about how powerful
IMG_2095collaborating with like-minded educators on Twitter can be. It was incredibly refreshing to discuss and welcome different perspectives in order to further enrich our own teaching practice.

What I Learned:
There are certain moments in life that feel profoundly different, and the day I spent with Nathan certainly one of them. Meeting and establishing a friendship with Nathan is the start of what I believe will be something special for years to come. Having the conversations (both personal and professional) throughout the day and evening with Nathan have me feeling truly inspired to do more and share more of all of the good we are doing as educators.

I had an extremely rare opportunity (provided by The Avery Coonley School’s Lucia Burton Morse Grant) to build real professional relationships with some of the most reflective and progressive teachers on the other side of the world. I feel an enormous obligation to take what I’ve learned from this experience, and figure out how I can pay it forward. I am eager to share my newly shaped perspectives to improve my own teaching as well as inspire other teachers to step outside of their comfort zone, think big, and never stop learning.