Friday, 16 December 2016

From my reading, creating word walls is often listed as a strategy to help ELL students, which makes sense. However, I have questioned the value of creating a word wall for PE, especially when we often teach a class in a different location each week, and inside the gym, there is no space for displays. We have a shared portable white board which we have used to wheel out to classes and post words and concepts onto it, but this is not the most practical solution for creating even a semi-permeant word wall.

In the last few weeks we now have an Elementary PE notice board, placed outside the gym, next to where many students eat their morning snack. On this board we are creating a word wall. However, as it is not in our teaching environments and short of walking the students over to the board every time we want to point out a word, this particular wall requires the students to independently look at it. I wonder if just a list of words will really help ELL students in this situation?
One solution might be to make the wall more inviting to look at. Rather than just a list of words, for our athletics unit we are experimenting with a more images on the word wall. We are doing this by taking a photo of the equipment or the student performing an event, put the name the picture and underneath one teaching point that we have been using with the students. Hopefully as the students enjoy looking at pictures of themselves performing, they will go over to look at it. The next stage will be try to evaluate if the students are going to and looking at the wall.

Encouraging talking to help understanding in Individual Pursiuts

In PYP PE, Individual Pursuits are one the areas that should be offered to the students in a balanced curriculum (IB PYP PSPE Scope and Sequence).In our Elementary PE programme we offer Individual Pursuits through Athletics and Swimming.
Individual Pursuits are defined "activities in which participants work individually with their own equipment and monitor their own behaviour, movements and physical expenditure." (Playsports, OPHEA). Looking at this definition it might seem that they are not the best activities to encourage talking. Personal experience of teaching these activities over many years have shown that when teaching them it is often easy to fall into the mistake of relying on a command style of teaching to teach everyone the same thing and having too much teacher talk, as highlighted by Fisher, Krey and Rothenburg (2008).  Student talk is used only to check comprehension as opposed to develop thinking.
To encourage talking to help develop thinking in swimming and athletics I have used collaborative tasks. In swimming this has been achieved through reciprocal teaching. Students have worked with a partner and been asked to look at one aspect of a stroke and then provide their partner with feedback highlighting what they were doing well and one thing that needed to be improved. Before this happened students were given a demonstration and we talked through what makes a good stroke, in order to provide them with the language.
This year in athletics for G4 I took this further, using this unit outline. Working in twos and threes, students became experts in one event. In the first couple of lessons they were provided links to websites and short videos to help them develop their understanding, and they spent time practising the event and working out between them how they could teach it. After they had become the expert, they then had to teach it to the rest of the class through leading the rest of the students through the process of how to perform the event and then providing feedback to individuals as they practised the event.
G4 students providing instruction and feedback
The result of these approaches was that individual pursuits have become activities where there are lots of opportunities for students to talk and develop their language.

Friday, 14 October 2016

PE, ELL students and SPELTAC

It seems that there has been discussions outside of the PE department about how PE should be engaging in SPELTAC. It seems these views are pretty polar and range from ‘PE has nothing to do with literacy’ to ‘PE should be doing lots more written work and helping the students in the writing process’.
When we as a PE department created our inquiry question, it was focussing on how we could develop strategies that would enable English Language Learners (ELL) students to access our unique curriculum and associated physical outcomes.
Physical Education classes are according Clancy and Hruska (2005), in a great position to help ELL students to develop as they potentially they can support ELL students in their language development. Some of these characteristics include:

– Lots of interaction with other students – our students are and playing with others most of the time and talking in class is actively encouraged.
– There are many ways in which information is presented – we talk, physical demonstrate, as well as offering visual reminders.
– Students physical interact with language
-ELL students can succeed in our class independent of their ability to speak English
-Students can physical demonstrate their language comprehension
-Play situations often create lower stress environments for ELL students to practise their emerging language

Our goal as a department is keep looking for and developing strategies to help ELL students reach success in PE.

Clancy, M. & Hruska, B. (2005). Developing Language Objectives for English Language Learners in Physical Education Lessons. Journal of Physical Education Recreation and Dance, 76(4), 30-35.  – See more at: (

Implementing Gibbons Intellectual Practices during Invasion Games

The older students in Elementary PE have been participating in an Invasion Game Unit, which involves many of Gibbons (2009) intellectual practises being implemented.
One of our culminating activities involved the students taking the knowledge that they  have already developed, regarding moving into space to receive the ball, built up in previous sessions through different types of games and use it to develop a simple attacking strategy that their team could use in a game of half court basketball. The students were undertaking a planning task, just like a coach would, rather than just being a player.

Students were asked to complete this task in small groups. This creates a situation where students are having to engage with each other in a substantive conversations. They would make a suggestion and have to justify it to others in the group. They also asked questions of one another. From the noise level in the gym, it was apparent that this task creates a great deal of discussion between the students.

Planning a strategy and communicating it to others, is not always easy. To assist the students in this process we use the coachnote app on ipads – which is not too dissimilar to the technology you see TV analysts using to talk about professional sports! This app allows students to make their thinking visible by being able to draw out the game and move players and ball around on the court, record the moves and then play them back.
An area to improve for future units will be to try to encourage the students to use the correct terminology, when explaining their strategies. The app, does let them become a little over reliant on just using simple language of “this goes here, this one here and that one goes here”. Watching back the animated moves that I had produced earlier in the unit to demonstrate some simple games they also fell into this category! Having said this, it was evident that the coachnote app really allowed many of the emerging language learners in the class fully demonstrate their ideas and not be restricted by their lack of language.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Video Feedback

One of the more challenging aspects of teaching high jump to Grade 4-5 students is helping some of the students work out which is their take-off foot. This year, we set up the High Jump in the gym and next to one of the high jump beds was an ipad on a tripod, connected to a projector. The ipad was using BAM app, which videos the action and then plays it back with a time delay chosen by the user.

Students performed their jump, got of the back of the mats and went to watch their jump. One of the students who had a broken arm, was there to help them work out if they were jumping off the correct leg, leaving me to work and provide feedback to other students.

This simple method dramatically increased the amount of feedback students received in a lesson!