Today I woke up so excited. In fact jumping out of my pants excited. I don’t think I have been this excited since lining up with my good mates Azza Gardiner and Nathan Weaver to get into Disneyland this past March. You see for the past couple of months I have been working really hard to find the ‘inner-lining’ of my Physical Education Classes. I love teaching FMS and I love connect students with Games Sense modules but I felt that I was also letting them down even with high-quality learning experiences. I needed more from myself. Differentiated practise is a passion of mine and I truely work my the understanding that if a child has to make an effort to while attending my class then I have make a greater effort to make sure their individual experiences meet the needs of their expectations. I hear some of you out there laugh and dismiss what I am saying but personalised education ‘STICKS’ in the memories of children more than playing a game.
Lets step back for a minute so you can understand my thinking around this. I am a gamer from an early age. Many hours have been spent trying to achieve the next level on a game so that I can feel that self empowerment that I have gone better than the time before. I have also had some serious dummy spits. Some even resulting in the need for new computer screens….. ooopppssss. I just get caught up……. Anyway this self empowerment for a brief moment allowed good endorphins to run through my body and made me feel unreal. Fast forward today and I still love games but not as much as my Mario Kart addicted son. I have watched him for many years burn up the track and today is ranked inside the top 20 Mario Kart players in the world. He is unbeatable whenever I try and play him. His addiction to this game made me reflect on the way I teach and that we now live in a generation of device gamers everywhere and anytime. The need to beat the next level or collect just one my cherry or shoot one more bad guy is in nearly every shop, every line, every car, every bus, every household and dinner times and unfortunately it is true but toilets and restrooms as well. The desire to be better is no different to how we need to teach in PE. We want children to get to that next level of their learning, to take their learning and apply it in a meaningful way to make their life better. As they pass ‘EACH LEVEL’ in Physical Education, they can run faster, jump higher, shoot further, hit more direct and strike with more power. This then allows for them to be more successful in multiple outcomes creating a rush of endorphins that empower students to feel good about their performances. Rather than play a whole grade game, we create small sided experiences and guide them through the game with tasks that create high success even if your team is destroyed on the field. It brings back a classroom teachers favourite, KICKBALL…. Around the world this game is the go to game of many classroom teachers. Now set it up with achievement cards from Striking and Fielding and the classroom teacher without knowing too much about PE can add so much depth to the learning experiences of each child. They in-fact can create multiple layers of success within the task for students while developing their understanding of the essential triggers that make the physical domain of learning tick for children.
My theory exists under this model. (Now I want you to keep in mind that in 2017 I have been employed as an Instructional Coach to increase the education of all teachers through Physical Education). The study that I was conducting this year on behalf of the University of Canberra saw my ability to influence good teaching to become excellent teaching. After laying the foundation of solid teaching practises and understandings of Physical Education I then personalised the experiences of every teacher with some reaching the Gamification mode in which I present here and have spoken about with the EPEW PhysEd Summit. I proved the theory and our results would be published in journals shortly…. (There is so much more that goes into the research but this was just a small part of what we achieved)………. Ok onto my theory– Here lies the issue, and I am no exception to this observation. Often teachers and me included engage students in awesome Game Sense lessons. We teach them a deep understanding and appreciation of concepts and attach them to meaningful learning experiences. Last year I created a unit called DUDE PERFECT in which I challenged the boundaries of student thinking centred around Target Games. It was exciting but focused on collaborative practices centred around two or three grade objectives or focuses. I wanted to go deeper into personalised learning….. Along comes the middle layer!!!!!!
The middle layer I refer to as the custard in a vanilla slice…. the sweet spot as you would……. I challenged my class to try and play a game within the overall game. For instance- A game of cricket can be quite boring waiting in a fielding position for the ball to come to you so you can stop it and return it. Lets face it you might stand there for 30 minutes before touching the ball once. This, when self-assessed, may result in the child not having a rewarding experience in Physical Education and may, in fact, result in a child withdrawing from the sport. The Gamification model I introduced to teachers and students then allows each child or team to focus on a set of outcomes that they have some control over and no control over. The challenge is to try and achieve those aspects of the game within the game before the game finishes. For example: Your students are playing a game of Volleyball as part of your net and wall games. One of the middle layer focuses requires a team to pass the ball three times, twice in a row within the same point. This then can be ticked off on the game card and the team can then focus on achieving another pre set skill. Upon achievement of all six tasks within the game students can celebrate success regardless of whether they win or lose. In fact from the work that I have done with students testing this I have found that in particular that child or children that often do not touch the ball or engage as much as your classes more skilled students are more engaged in achieving the challenges within the game than actually playing the game. The focus then becomes largely around simple goal setting and collaborative work (in teams) or trial and error practices.
It is truly exciting and adds an element of success orientated Guided Discovery and Inquiry based teaching.
My favourite part came just the other day when I had a group of students that were already past the levels that I had created. I created them a blank template in which they needed to write their own goals. This was such a proud moment to watch.
Anyway legends- Feel free to download your free resource right here. I encourage you to and keep an eye on this page. With my summer here I am going to have some more free time to add so much more depth to these cards to be able to cater for levelled learning and progress students accordingly. After all we are not teaching Grades in Physical Education, we are teaching individuals.