In preparation for an invasion game unit with Grade 1 students we have been practising throwing and catching skills - basic fundamental skills. I had a look through some of my resources and they all have some pretty dry catching and throwing activities, that are not the most motivating, but they involve students doing lots of throwing and catching which is what I want the students to do. With older grades I do lots of 'Games for Understanding' activities, but here I wanted lots of skill practise without the added pressure of a game.
So I decided to do a bit of gamification of this basic skills. "The gamification techniques are intended to leverage people's natural desires for socialising, learning, mastery, competition, achievement, status, self-expression, altruism, or closure"1. It should also involve some kind of reward - points; badges; or levels.
In the catching and throwing challenge students worked in pairs. They started at one end of the gym with one of them sat on a trolly board holding a large foam ball. The other person pushed their partner to the throwing zone. Once there they had to complete one of two throwing and catching challenges. If they dropped the ball they had to start the throwing again. When they completed this they jump back onto the trolly board and went back to the start and switched over. When they had both completed level one, they could then progress to the next level, with a smaller ball. There were a set of levels to work through, each progressively harder, with the final level involving the students creating their own catching challenge.
My observations from this activity, was that the use of levels to work through really motivated the students to work hard and the use of the trolly boards to get between the levels was also big hit! My aim was to get the students participating in lots of throwing and catching in an enjoyable way, which was certainly achieved. I feel that the use of levels also really encouraged the students to push themselves. In previous lessons, I felt that some students, despite the same choice of balls being available, were not really challenging themselves and were staying with what they knew they could achieve. This was definitely not the case in this lesson, where they wanted to work through the levels.