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Sport Education

Defining Features, Roles, and Lesson Zero

Sport Education (Siedentop, 1994) is one of several innovative, well-researched, and well-developed pedagogical models that can be used in Physical Education for students achieve a wide range of educational outcomes.

In this blog, I will be focussing on the following: what is included in Sport Education; the purpose of roles within a Sport Education unit; and how you might introduce Sport Education in your class (e.g. Lesson Zero).

I will be referring to various articles and also this very important text:

Siedentop, D., Hastie, P. A., van der Mars, H. (2011). Complete guide to sport education (2nd edition). Human Kinetics.

What is Sport Education? What are its non-negotiable features?

There are various PE pedagogical models to choose from to achieve a wide range of educational outcomes for school-aged children and youth (Kirk, 2013). For example, Teroka et al. (2016), examined 26 peer reviewed pedagogical studies of PE programs and found that pedagogical models were commonly associated with positive affective outcomes (e.g. motivation, enjoyment, satisfaction, self-concept, and resilience).

One of these pedagogical models is Sport Education (Siedentop, 1994). Sport Education was created to promote a positive sport experience for all students by simulating the key features of authentic sport (Siedentop et al., 2011). It promotes fair play and knowledge of appropriate etiquette, respect for opponents/officials/rules, knowledge of traditions, and accountability and responsibility for fulfilling team roles (Kirk, 2013). Sport Ed is a student-centered model that heavily promotes student ownership of learning as students stay in teams for the duration of the unit, which can be longer than "normal" PE units (e.g. 12-20 lessons) (Sinelnikov, 2013). The model has six key characteristics or features:

1) Seasons

2) Affiliation

3) Formal Competition

4) Culminating Event

5) Record Keeping

6) Festivity


Within each Sport Education unit, there are a variety of roles for students to fulfill (Siedentop et al., 2011). Students are places in positions of responsibility that contributes to the overall success of their team and of the season(s). All students are provided equal opportunities to play in the sport/activity (e.g. track and field, volleyball, swimming, etc.). Each team also has required team duty roles which often includes referee/umpire and scorekeeper. All students need to learn to perform these two roles well to ensure a successful and well-run unit (Siedentop et al., 2011). These roles must be properly scaffolded by the teacher to help guide students to perform these roles effectively. There are also non-playing roles that need to be fulfilled within in a Sport Ed unit. There can be a wide range of skills, which can be co-constructed with students, and

these may include any of the following: fitness instructor, coach, captain, journalist, fashion designer, etc. Year-to-year, this might look different based on student interests - personal relevance and student choice is important! Each role needs to be defined, taught, and practiced (Siedentop et al., 2011). Students often take on role responsibilities seriously and exhibit minimal off-task behaviours (Hastie, 1996).

For all the PYP/MYP PE teachers out there - this model is an excellent pedagogical approach to provide opportunities for students to develop and showcase learner profile attributes (e.g. caring, thinker, risk-taker) and approaches to learning (learning to learn skills) such as research, social, self-management, thinking, and communication skills.

Getting Started with Sport Education/Lesson Zero

New to Sport Education? Here are some tips outlined by Siedentop et al. (2011) when introducing Sport Ed:

1) Start with only one class of students - this will allow you to gain comfort and confidence before getting more year levels involved.

2) Choose an activity/sport you are familiar with. This cuts down on planning as there is often a lot of it especially when initially setting up a Sport Ed unit.

3) Early on, consider using only team-duty roles such as referee and scorekeeper as well as the team roles of coach, manager, and fitness trainer. Keep it simple and add-on more creative/complex roles as you and the students gain more comfort with the pedagogical model.

4) Co-create with students a fair play system to help students cooperate, behave responsibility, and put forth a good effort. Many students may not be used to behaving responsibly in PE without constant supervision by the teacher (remember that ownership tends to shift to students using this approach).

5) Keep point system simple. Fair play points, competition points, and team duty points are most important. Student behaviour in each of the aforementioned areas will make or break the success of the season.

6) If choosing to use games (think traditional game types such as target, invasion, net/wall, and striking/fielding), develop simple, modified games. Don't overwhelm players, scorekeepers, and referees with too many rules.

7) Plan for time, especially early in unit, to explicitly model and teach each of the roles. Have students identify what's expected/criteria for a good referee, scorekeeper, fitness instructor, etc.

8) Plan for a festive culminating event. It can create excitement for the next Sport Education unit and this could be the only "award" students receive in a PE/sports context. Oh yeah... make sure every student gets an award. Be creative!

9) Include a lesson zero to "kick off" the Sport Education unit. Lesson zero explains what the unit is about (e.g. how Sport Ed works) and prepares students for what they are going to experience throughout the unit (Dyson & Casey, 2016). Lesson zero can be the time to establish clear expectations regarding behaviour, roles, responsibilities, and sportspersonship. Teachers and students can co-create the rules and guidelines for participation, fair play, and respect for others. By clarifying these expectations from the beginning, lesson zero helps create a positive and inclusive learning environment. Other things that might take place during lesson zero are: students selecting their roles, teams being created, and initial assessments being completed (to identify skills levels within each team).


Want more information on Sport Education? Check out the these two vlogs by Dr. Goodyear: 1) Sport & Sport Education and 2) Sport Education: Planning a Unit

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Thanks for reading! Good luck rolling out your Sport Ed unit(s)!

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