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.