When we (the Wellington Play.sport team) are planning our PLD sessions with teachers we are always mindful of the concept of a good ‘takeaway’ – something that might be new to teachers that they haven’t seen before, or a reminder of a strategy or a tool that they haven’t used in a while. Something that they can take away and use with their learners tomorrow, or next week, or in planning their next unit of learning. These might be a digital tool, an active education strategy, a ‘theory’ activity, or a practical physical activity – or if we are lucky and have time all of the above!
A couple of weeks ago, we ran a day long workshop for our Play.sport schools. We were stoked that all 16 of our schools, across primary, intermediate and secondary, sent at least two people to attend – all up we had 34 teachers, DP’s and Principals come along.
The objectives for the day were to explore the following:
- What does a Physically Educated student look like?
- What does visible learning look like in HPE? How might I collect evidence of learning?
- What might my practice look like?
- What does this mean for my school?
Plus also have fun, and build and strengthen connections across the Upper Hutt Cluster.
On arrival to the venue we provided a large variety of sports equipment out on the turf and encouraged people to drop their bags inside and come out and PLAY. They didn’t take much encouragement, as it was a beautiful February morning. Play mostly consisted of throwing around a frisbee, and some backyard cricket.
After our karakia and waiata we introduced our key note speakers – two Year 13 PE students from Heretaunga College. It is important for teachers to listen to and reflect on student voice, and later on in the day we also used a video of a collection of student voice from Year 1 students through to Year 13 students. This served to remind us all why we are here – that we are trying to improve outcomes for our young people and to help us understand how to do this we need to hear from them. The Year 13 students spoke about their experiences of PE across primary, intermediate and secondary; about what they valued, and about what they felt needed to be challenged. They valued teachers who made learning in PE fun and encouraged everyone to participate. They valued lunchtime and after school opportunities to be physically active, and also the opportunities these provided to build and strengthen student relationships and teacher-student relationships. They felt that many of their experiences in primary PE were about “running around and letting off steam rather than learning skills… it was all about getting fresh air”. One said that for her, primary school PE was either a game or fitness. For both speakers their biggest challenge to teachers was to consider how they could structure PE to be more inclusive of all learners. One spoke of her experience through Years 7/8 and having to undergo operations which limited her mobility; she asked that teachers think about how they can include kids who are injured rather than leaving them sitting on the sidelines. The other said that as a ‘sporty kid’ she had never stopped to consider ‘how demoralising it must be for kids if half the class is bragging about winning and you are on the sideline feeling responsible for your teams loss’. She said that games that were very fielding and batting based did exclude those less able or less interested, as it was very easy for them to just stand to the side and be overlooked.
Next up, as a bit of an ice breaker and a way to start unpacking the Health and Physical Education Curriculum, we introduced our first Active Education strategy. This was a quiz and traditionally we might have got people in groups, then sat them together in their groups to answer the quiz ‘How well do you know your HPE curriculum?‘ (Thanks to Rochelle Keown for the quiz!) Instead we sent them out with a map to find where each question was, and then at each station before they were given the question they had to complete a physical activity, literacy, numeracy or problem solving challenge. (‘Minute to Win It‘ provide great ideas for physical activity challenges).
Next we pulled out the good old Y-chart. Teachers were asked the question “What does a physically educated student look like (what do we expect them to be able to do), sound like (what language are they using), feel like?” They completed this brainstorm in groups of 4 in their sector groups – primary, intermediate, secondary. The feedback generated great discussion and was a valuable opportunity for teachers across the different age groups to hear from each other. Does being successful in NCEA Level 1,2 and 3 Physical Education align with the messages we give our young people about their level of success in PE in Years 1-10? Does what we have brainstormed align with what we are explicitly planning for and teaching in PE in Years 1-10?
At the end of this teachers were asked to consider the questions:
- What does this mean for me and my teaching practice?
- What small change might I make as a result of this mornings activities and discussions?
Following on from this we did the ‘HPE Curriculum Traffic Light Activity’. Teachers were each given a copy of the HPE AO’s from Level 1-5 across the four strands. They were asked to reflect on their own practice, in regard to the planning and delivery of PE and in doing so, highlight AO’s they were confident their students are learning and also areas which are not currently being targeted explicitly. Green – very confident. Orange – somewhat confident. Red – not confident. Once they had completed this they were asked to look again more critically at the AO’s they had highlighted green and ask themselves:
- How do you know your students are learning the ‘green lights’?
- What evidence do you have of student learning and achievement?
This was when the really rich discussion and ‘lightbulb’ moments happened. Teachers noticed that for many of the AO’s that began with ‘participate’ or ‘experience’ or ‘develop’ they could highlight the first half of the AO green because they were providing the opportunities to do the ‘active’ bit, but the second half that might start with ‘describe’ or ‘identify’ or ‘discuss’ they could only highlight orange or even red because they were missing the ‘reflective’ bit. They noticed that Strand B: Movement concepts and motor skills contained a lot more ‘greens’ than the other three strands.
From this we segued into choosing one AO – Positive Attitudes.
- What might this look like at different levels of the curriculum?
- How will we know if our kids are learning? What evidence might we look for?
We modelled a range of learning activities including play, creating your own games, ‘role play’ during physical activity (how do others respond when you give someone the role of being a ‘disruptor’?) But most importantly we modelled the reflective questioning that needs to take place to make learning visible for our learners in HPE.
The last part of the day was for teachers to be reflective; to begin to process their learnings and think about their ‘next steps’. What does this mean for my school?
- Challenge – with your school buddy identify a challenge related to planning and implementing quality PE experiences in your school.
- Problem solve – buddy up with someone from another school. Have a solutions focused kōrero to move forward with your challenge.
- Support required – identify what internal and external support is required.
- Reconnect with school buddy and share ideas generated from conversations. Access Google+ Community and document your challenge, solution, support, and…
- Next steps – what are your next steps? What are the next steps you require from Play.sport?
- Comment on one other schools post.
The Google+ Community (modelling the use of a digital tool for collaboration) will provide an ongoing platform to discuss ideas and share resources.
Since the workshop it has been inspiring to go into schools and see the small but effective changes that teachers have made to their practice.
- “My students are really enjoying the varied approach to fitness. We are focusing on the behaviours and skills that are required to play and participate in a group and they are experiencing more success, which is making them feel more confident in all areas of the school day.”
- Teachers that attended the workshop have run whole staff meetings using the Curriculum Traffic Light Activity
- One principal who attended has run a whole staff meeting using many of the activities that we ran on the day of the workshop.
- A teacher has created a space on her classroom wall and has put the HPE AO they are focusing on – around it students are unpacking what it means and what it will look like. They use this as a reference for learning conversations.
- A teacher did the Y-chart with her Year ⅚ students – what did they think that a Physically Educated student looked like, sounded like, felt like? This generated some fantastic discussion.
- A teacher has been trying working in small groups with his class in PE – sometimes he lets students choose groups, sometimes he picks the groups to encourage working with others of different abilities etc. He is making the learning of interpersonal skills explicit and allowing time for reflection. He has found that allowing the kids to make up their own games and work with others they wouldn’t normally has been great for setting up class culture.
I applaud all of these teachers who are so willing and enthusiastic about improving outcomes for their young people, and I thank them for their time and energy in learning how to improve the planning and delivery of quality PE experiences for their learners.
“The most valuable resource that teachers have is each other. Without collaboration our growth is limited to our own perspectives.”
– Robert John Meehan