Making Learning Visible

This post is inspired by and combines some of my thinking around play, sport, physical activity, physical education, and making learning visible.  It is not going to be lengthy or detailed, I may come back to that at a later time; it is just an attempt to publish some thoughts as part of the #29daysofwriting challenge.

Day one I wasn’t able to transfer the ‘writing in my head’ to a medium where it could be published, partly because I overthink things and they become too complicated and then I put off trying to make them more concise and publishable.  Day two I finally completed the January #Edublognz challenge and wrote about my #oneword2016.

Today as I browsed my Twitter feed I discovered that it is #GSPD2016 – Global School Play Day.  This was thanks to Kerri Thompson sharing what she is doing in her classroom today.


I can’t wait to see what her learners filled the board with by the end of the day!  Whatever they come up with will be awesome and VISIBLE!

I am a huge advocate for the skills that young people learn through play, sport, physical activity, and in physical education.  What frustrates me is that this learning is not always made visible.  I have often asked my sons while they were/are at primary school about their school day, what they have learnt etc.  The PE teacher in me is often very curious about what they have learned in PE, and then more often than not I am dismayed that they cannot tell me.  A fairly standard response is that they ‘went out for a game’, to which I will often reply ‘great, and what did you learn?’ to which I get a blank look.  It seems that Health and Physical Education is not always visible to students as a curriculum learning area.

I am a ‘cricket Mum’, my 12 year old son lives and breathes cricket, and so I spend most of my weekends and summer watching him play and supporting him.  It is a cruel sport at times, but I tell you what it builds resilience!  We had a conversation last week during our drive home after a particularly tough day, but one of great learning.  The previous day his batting performance had seen him score 54 runs not out; that day he had gone out for a golden duck.  In his mind, hero to zero in 24 hours.  We talked a lot about the positives from the day – he took three great catches; other members of his team batted well and high scored.  We talked about what went wrong and how he could learn from his mistake, which was more a mental performance error than a physical performance error.  The next day he turned up and captained his side, performing well with the bat and the ball.

I watch him and his team mates as they strategise and think about how they will set the field, as they make decisions and negotiate and problem solve with regards to who will bowl how many overs, and what the batting order will be, as they learn how to communicate with each other to form a batting partnership and not run each other out, as they demonstrate sportsmanship towards the other team, as they learn to look at the positives from their own and the team’s performance when the result has and hasn’t gone their way, as a captain they learn how to articulate these last two points in front of an audience.  They learn that the umpire does not always get it right!  So yes they all learn the physical skills of striking, bowling, catching, throwing, running – but also much more in terms of leadership, team work and interpersonal skills, and resilience!  Good coaches, as with good teachers, make this learning explicit and encourage their players to be reflective; they provide opportunities for decision making and encourage players to justify their decisions.

I salute you Kerri Thompson for allowing your learners to play today and for making their learning visible – and look what they came up with!

kerri 2

How have you made learning visible to your learners today?

How might you make learning visible to your learners tomorrow?






2 thoughts on “Making Learning Visible

  1. Hey Celia,
    I feel humbled that my ‘play day’ for #GSPD2016 has inspired you to write. I think we sometimes get lost in a forest of standards, achievement outcomes, learning intentions, levels…etc. that we forget to provide kids and ourselves with time to just ‘do stuff’. The kids today learnt SO MUCH MORE than was written on the board….they just didn’t realise it. The other outcome of today was all the things I learnt about my kids!


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