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.