In this unit, students will undertake a number of challenges in pairs, small & large groups whilst being blindfolded or physically restricted in some way.
Central Idea: Being physically restricted requires us to be more creative in our problem solving
Key Concepts: Function, Responsibility Related Concepts: Safety, communication
Lines of Inquiry: 1. Contribution/strategies to group challenge. 2.Decision making process in connection to challenge. 3. Committing to team/group in order to achieve task.
Before beginning this post, I would like to once again thank Mr. Andy Vasily who is always happy to share ideas regarding learning experiences, these are some I’ve borrowed and adapted from him. You can find out more on his website: http://www.pyppewithandy.com
To begin the first session, I asked the students to simply make a perfectly shaped square in the middle of our room that is joined together by hands. I left the students alone and simply observed. After a minute or so, the students got themselves motivated to create their square but discovered they would have to make a rectangle instead due to their numbers. Once they were in position, I handed each student a blindfold and instructed them that we would create our rectangle again but this time with a blindfold on.
Above: Students starting in square without blindfolds & our first attempt with blindfolds
I simply asked the students to walk backwards from their position until they were leaning against a wall, this would be their starting point. When I learned this activity from Andy Vasily, he used a rope that the students could hold on to and the challenge was to create the rope in to a perfect square or rectangle. Once the students were against the back wall, I instructed them to put their blindfolds on and try to re-create their rectangle that they had created before. The video below shows their first attempt to do this which actually went smoother and quicker than I thought, I have seen groups take much longer to get this close
Following this attempt, I asked the students what could be done to try and complete this challenge more efficiently and there were a variety of suggestions that were debated over the next few minutes. The actual decisions that the students made and agreed to try are listed as follows:
- All the people starting on the same wall should join hands to begin and walk in together.
- Students will start in their rectangle to start and walk backwards to count their steps.
- For each wall, only one person in the group should do the talking.
- The students on the end of the lines are the corners who need to reach out for the other cornet=r.
Here is a video of the second attempt which as you can see, took no time at all.
For the final attempt, I asked the students to come back to the centre of the room and start in their rectangle. I informed the students that we would try this activity one more time but this time they could not speak normally and had to use forms of non-verbal communication to help them complete their challenge. The decisions that the students made and agreed to try are listed as follows:
- The students will use the same plan as they had before but substitute talking for other sounds.
- When a group against the wall thought they were ready, they would simply make their way to the middle of the room to try and look for the corners.
- When a group thought they were in position, they would stomp their feet.
- When a group thought they were all connected, they would let go of hands and clap then look!
Here is a video of their efforts, which although a little rushed, went according to plan
Before beginning, we held a short discussion regarding the previous session and tried to list and discuss the factors that led to success for each of the challenges. From this discussion, two areas seemed to be of the most importance: Planning and communication. The students discussed their planning: joining hands to begin counting steps, limiting the number of people communicating etc. The details regarding communication focused on giving clear instructions (or sounds during non verbal exercises) to ensure there was understanding between students.
The second session was conducted in a similar way to the first session, with a number of indoor blindfolded challenges. As the previous session focused on a whole group challenge, this session would change to students working in pairs and small groups. The first challenge for the students was for them to simply guide one-another (one blindfolded, one as a guide) around the room in any direction they like but making sure they were safe while moving. If needed, they would physically stop their partner for a collision.
The second challenge progressed to students guiding one-another around the room but this time only using their voices to instruct their partner to move. If however there was about to be a collision, the guide (who can see) must intervene and physically stop their partner from crashing.
The next progression for this session was for the students to move from verbal to non-verbal communication in order for them to move, stop and turn. Again, the guide was instructed to physically stop their partners from any possible collision to ensure the safety of all students.
The final challenge was a little different and one that I would like to thank Andy Vasily for once again. I learned this activity from him and every time I have used it, the students thoroughly enjoy themselves. To begin, the students work in pairs to guide one another like in the first challenge. However, this time they cannot keep their hands on their partners permanently, they must tap and turn their partners on their shoulders for them to move. I tell my students to pretend they are touching something hot, so they cannot leave their hands there for any length of time.
Once the students are moving, it is fairly easy for the guide to move their partner around the room avoiding collisions. The challenge therefore is for the guides to try and swap partners with another guide without being detected, To do this, guides must try line up walking next to one-another and then try to switch sides while continuing to poke and push on the shoulders of the blindfolded partners. If the blindfolded students feel something strange and believe their guide has changed on them, they can call out “Change” and have a look to see if they were correct.
You can also see in this video and in one of the others that my teaching assistant Mr. Pany also helps to change with students and/or run intereference with partners to challenge them further.
This week’s theme continued with a blindfolded challenge but this time with some changes. Instead of actual challenges, I decided to introduce the students to Visually Impaired Soccer, a sport played at the Paralympic Games. To introduce this, I shared the following video with the students,
We then had a short discussion as to the tactics and techniques that was demonstrated in the video that enabled the players to be able to successfully play the game. The key points that were discussed related to safety and communication from guides as well as being able to listen to the bells inside the ball. To begin, we held a little session where the students were blindfolded and practiced kicking a ball (with bells inside) to begin getting some practice.
For the first attempt at an actual game, the students were actually interested in trying the game without guides. To do this, we agreed that this would be a walking only game so the students wouldn’t crash in to one-another, the game would be small (3 vs 3), no other students could talk so the bell could be heard easily and our PE assistant Mr. Pany would be on court to stop students from colliding. Also, the non-playing students in this round would surround the court to keep the ball in play and keep the bell ringing if the ball had stopped. The video below shows one of the first attempts.
Whilst the students said it was hard and that they often felt they were going to collide, they all agreed they still enjoyed themselves but would naturally prefer to play with their eyes open, this led to a quick discussion related to the attitude of appreciation. In the second round of games, we decided to use guides to verbally communicate and physically control and stop their blindfolded partners if needed. Again we would try small groups to ensure there weren’t too many people clashing.
Upon finishing the match, the students shared their reflections and gave feedback to one-another. Most of the students actually indicated that they preferred the first version of the game where it was quieter, even though they had a guide helping to control them in this version. The main concern was that of the noise level while the game was being played and the students indicated that they felt distracted and a lot more confused and displaced with so much information being verbalised. We unfortunately ran out of time to try another version which we hope to fit in later in the unit and in the version, the students agreed that it would be good to try and non-speaking game (by anyone again) with a guide to physically stop them and help change direction towards the ball. Also, if we were able to get a larger ball with bells inside, it might be easier to make contact with the ball when kicking.
To change directions a little, I decided to move away from blindfolded activities and consider other ways that people face the concept of being handicapped in sport. Rather than immediately choose another physical disability, I decided to explore the concept of deliberate handicapping in sports as a way to even out a competition. I wanted the students to run a simple race which was timed and then run a second race where the students who finished last had a head start over the winners as a way to even out the competition. So before discussing the concept of deliberate handicapping, we warmed up and divided in to small groups and ran an initial race where the students had to listen out for their times as they crossed the finish line. Unfortunately, I have lost the video footage of the initial runs so I cannot show these.
I reminded the students to remember their times and following the first round of races, we held a discussion about the ways in which the students had been handicapped in the previous weeks. I then asked whether or not anyone had heard about deliberate handicapping in other sports and some students immediately said they knew about this concept due to the game of golf, hearing it from one of their parents. I decided to initially explain deliberate handicapping in relation to horse racing and how different horses can carry different weights to slow them down a little, otherwise the same horses will always win the races. We then discussed other sports that have some sort of handicapping system and the students were more knowledgeable than I thought, bring up examples from motor car racing, track and field events, golf and bowling.
I then informed the students we would be competing in our small group races once again but this time using a simple handicapping system. For each race, the students had to recall their times from the first round so we could figure out the order for the second race and how much of a head start each person should get. The last placed person would begin and then the 3rd place person would start 1 or 2 seconds after that, the gap depending on how much they beat that person from the first race. The second place would start and try to chase down the other two and finally the winner from the first race would start and see if they could catch up.
Returning to the theme of physical disabilities, being handicapped and playing sports, we decided to explore another team sport this week, this time wheel chair basketball. We recently had a presentation at school from a group of wheelchair basketballs who live, work and train in a nearby rehabilitation centre. Knowing this was fresh in the students minds, I decided to begin our lesson with a discussion and reflection on that recent presentation. I then directed the discussion by challenging the students to think of a way which they could copy that sport here at school and they immediately thought of the scooter boards that we often use for Adventure Challenges tasks. So we got out the boards and basketballs and allowed the students to simply try it out.
After about 5 minutes, I asked the students to return to the centre of the court to discuss their initial thoughts and feelings about their first attempts. They agreed that whilst it was hard, it was a fun challenge and it was clear they wanted to keep trying. Before doing so, I asked for some students to demonstrate their techniques so that others could try some different methods if they wanted to. The videos below are some of the main examples students came up with.