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Activities With Purpose

A Closer Look at Activity Sheets

PE lessons are filled with a variety of different activities. Down With PE has created a variety of "Activity Sheets" that can be included within a school's diverse Physical Education curriculum. You can find a free activity sheet here. This blog is going to outline the thinking behind our "Activity Sheets" taking you through each of the sections found on these resources and why it might be purposeful for teaching and learning.

Balanced Curriculum

Currently in our Activity Sheets section of our membership site, we have promoted a balanced curriculum. We have activity categories that include: Movement Composition, Health-Related Fitness, Chasing & Fleeing Games, Target Games, Net/Wall Games, Invasion Games, Striking & Fielding Games, Adventure Challenges, and Fundamental Movement Skills. PE experiences can achieve a wide range of learning outcomes for our

students (Kirk, 2013). A balanced curriculum includes different learning engagements to expose students to different movement experiences in various contexts. Games (chasing and fleeing, target, net/wall, invasion, striking and fielding), movement composition (gymnastics, dance, yoga), adventure challenges (team building, cooperative tasks), individual pursuits (track and field, swimming, cycling), and health-related fitness (goal setting, components of fitness, nutrition, body systems) all contribute to a balanced curriculum.


Taking a look at what is included in each Activity Sheet (see below)...


Objective

What do we want students to understand? This is written (see below for example) as a generalization that can transfer across contexts and situations. In the "Puzzle Pieces" example below, the objective is written as "students will understand that communication with others can happen in a variety of ways." We will use the identified concepts (see below) to make connections and gain a deeper understanding of what we want students to understand.

Concepts

Concepts are mental constructs that come from a topic or process and transfer to new situations and contexts (Erickson et al., 2017). They are big ideas that are not constrained by a particular origin, subject matter, or place in time (Erickson, 2008). Concepts exist at different levels of generality and can be micro or macro concepts.

Macro or "broad" concepts are the most transferable to new situations and contexts (Marschall & French, 2018). When you think of the Primary Years Programme (PYP) framework, macro concepts are similar to the key concepts (form, function, perspective, responsibility, connection, change, and causation) in that they facilitate planning for a conceptual approach to transdiciplinary learning (IBO, 2019). Macro concepts provide the most breadth and represent interdisciplinary concepts as well as the broadest concepts that exist within a a subject area (Marschall & French, 2018). A macro concept might be pattern which can effectively transfer across multiple subject areas (e.g. rhythmic patterns in music; mathematical patterns; dance patterns in movement composition; repeating shape, line, and colour patterns in visual art). In a PYP context, change or causation might be used as the macro concept that helps drive the learning engagements in regards to patterns.

Micro or "specific" concepts represent the conceptual knowledge of a specific discipline (Marschall & French, 2018). They provide depth and help students to develop expertise in the subject area. Micro concepts in PE for pattern or change or causation might be: locomotor movements; travelling; non-locomotor movements; sequences; movement patterns. In the game "Puzzle Pieces", respect and communication are the micro concepts. There is an unlimited number of micro concepts that can be drawn from your school/state/province's curriculum.

Depending on the the context and past learning experiences/knowledge of your students, you might begin by investigating micro concepts first before moving to the macro concept(s) of the unit (Marschall & French, 2018). For example, you might have a macro concept of strategies or space but in order to better understand this concept, inquiring into a variety of offensive and defensive strategies in an invasion game might be helpful for student understanding (depending again on prior knowledge/experiences of students). Micro concepts might be zone defense, person-to-person defense, off the ball movement, etc.

Circling back to the "Activity Sheets," we have included micro and macro concepts. Because it is only one activity, one macro concept (PYP specific in this example) and two micro concepts are included. Remember that we use these concepts to deepen understanding and drive the learning experiences.

Dispositions

Dispositions contribute to individual's lives, as well as the wider community and world. Dispositions are the patterns of behaviour that are often consistent across different contexts; these dispositions can develop over time. Some examples of dispositions are curiosity, perseverance, caring, empathy, procrastination, and pessimism. In a PYP context, think of the ten Learner Profile attributes. These are the human capacities and responsibilities that include intellectual, personal, emotional, and social growth (IBO, 2019). We can strategically plan our lessons/units to help students develop these dispositions through multiple contexts/subject areas. Essentially, these are the attributes that we want children to develop and maintain for their lifetime so that they can contribute to a peaceful world.

The complex nature of PE can contribute to the learning of a wide range of educational outcomes (Kirk, 2013). This includes not only physical skills like throwing and catching but dispositional skills like being a caring teammate or being open-minded to others' viewpoints when creating a movement routine. As a teacher, model the dispositions to your students and provide opportunities for students to develop, demonstrate, and reinforce these dispositions in lessons & units.

Learn How To Learn Skills

These are the skills we want students to use to get to the final destination (e.g. understanding the big idea of the unit). The development of these learn how to learn skills, or in PYP terms: approaches to learning (ATL), does not happen through osmosis. We need to plan learning engagements that allows for explicit teaching and learning of the skill(s). These skills are transferable across contexts (inside and outside of school) and set the foundation for lifelong learning. Consider using these skills as criteria when assessing your students. In the "Activity Sheets" we provide a teacher action to help model the skill and have also included what lifelong learning skill the students are focused on. In the "Puzzle Pieces" activity, the learn how to learn skill is focussed on communication/exchanging information.

Differentiation

It is our teaching responsibility to ensure that learning engagements cater to the skills and abilities of each student we teach. PE, however, represents a complex and unique learning environment due to a significant difference in: the developmental level of learners (Whipp et al, 2014); their stages of learning (e.g. initial to proficient); and the diversity of tasks included in the curriculum (Yerg, 1983). If we do not differentiate and individualize PE for our students then it is more likely that there will be reduced activity time in class (Silverman, 1991), less proficient performers ignored or overlooked (Goodwin, 1997), and little progress in all domains of learning in PE across their school year (Kirk, 1995).

In the "Activity Sheets", we provide modifications that can differ the challenge (less or more challenging) to suit the needs of the students in your class. Saying that, a one size fits all modification will not suit the needs of all students so if possible, it may be beneficial to have multiple small-sided games going on with the different modification included to ensure an appropriate challenge is possible for each student. Optimal challenges can motivate children to participate (Fletcher et al., 2021) and can positively excite students to be successful in the task(s) (Mandigo & Holt, 2006).

When modifying games (e.g. chasing & feeling, target, invasion, etc.), you can use the CHANGE IT formula (Schembri, 2005) by eliminating, refining, or adding to game rules and playing conditions.

C - coaching style

H - how scoring occurs or the scoring system

A - area or dimensions of the playing area

N - number of players

G - game rules

E - equipment

I - inclusion by modifying activities for learning needs

T - time of the game/time allowed in possession

Additionally, consider modifying activities and/or making learning accessible to all by following the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework (mentioned below).

Questions

Teacher questions can help students move from current understandings to new and deeper understandings. It is important for educators to ask their students different types of questions to engage students in thinking, promote classroom discussions, and appreciate others' viewpoints all whilst providing additional cognitive opportunities for students (McDougall & Ross, 2004).

Included in the "Activity Sheets" are three questions - each question (colour coded) relates back to the macro/micro concept(s), disposition, and/or learn how to learn skills. The conceptual questions are often inquiry-based and open-ended and are framed/asked with the macro concept in mind. For example, in "Puzzle Pieces" the macro concept is Function: how does it work?

The question about the disposition communicator is how we communicate/be a communicator (e.g. how can be express ourselves?). The learn how to learn skill is again around communication with others. How do we communicate with others in this particular activity? but also adding/promoting transfer to get students to think about how they communicate with others outside of the gymnasium walls/courts/pitches, etc.

Although not always included on these activity resources, questions you ask students are not always conceptual. They can also be:

Factual - What is it? (e.g. What is communication?)

Debatable - Questions that provoke discussion and often have 2 more sides. (e.g. What would happen if someone was not respectful when communicating in this activity?).

Universal Design for Learning

Also included on the "Activity Sheets" is a link to the UDL visual found below.

This UDL visual serves as a reference point to ensure you are making learning accessible for everyone in your class. If you want more information on UDL in PE, please see this blog.

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