To begin this year, we decided to do something a little different and run a school wide unit focusing on Who we are.
Central idea: Our choices and actions as individuals define who we becomes as a community.
Key concepts: Perspective, Responsibility, Connection Related concepts: Sportsmanship, communication
Lines of Inquiry:1. How we play games, share equipment and treat others when we are learning and competing.
2. How we can enjoy playing/competing socially as well as competitively.
3. How we work and interact in groups/teams in a variety of settings: Competition, challenges, games
The idea to begin the year with every grade undertaking the same unit is a trial in which we are aiming to begin the year focusing on who we are as people: as individuals, friends, teachers, as a community of learners and to try and develop a strong sense of positive spirit. In PE, I decided to reflect on the areas which often caused negative energy in order to highlight them and set goals for overcoming these hurdles throughout the year. These areas are reflected in the lines of inquiry above and I decided to use a variety of learning engagements that acted as provocations to highlight these issues. The videos showing these lessons were recorded from various year levels.
Over the last three weeks the students have experienced a number of different sessions beginning with a simple stations/circuit type activity where students worked in groups of 3-4 but each station contained limited equipment and the students had to find a way to share the equipment so they could play together. In the video below, we can see the students enjoying the game of Striker ball, followed by a fun race, Shoe Mountain. In this game, all students take their shoes off, place them in a pile 10-15m away and race shuttle relay style 1 at a time to put them back on, first team with all their shoes back on wins. We discovered that even though we played some simple fun games and races, we still became quite competitive.
In another session, I wanted to really provoke the students to see how they would respond under pressure and thought of invasion/stealing type games, where the object of the game is to steal from the other team. Both games are fairly old and well known, ‘Rob the nest’ where teams initially take bean bags from a central location before stealing from one another and ‘Tails’ or ‘Steal the tail’ where students wear easy to remove waist belts to see how many they can gather for themselves.
After playing the first game we reflected by watching a recording of parts of the game to physically see how they reacted and responded. The students quickly noted how they were organized at first, running one at a time to take bean bags from the middle. But after those bags were gone, the students started running all over the place to steal from one another, not following the rules of one at a time. Students also began to take more than one bag, started to defend their bags and push others away. This highlighted the fact that as the game became more competitive, their behaviours and actions changed, some in a negative way. Following this reflection we played the second game and the students were all much more aware of what was happening, that the games asks you to steal from one another and to not react negatively but instead to go and try and find a new one for yourself.
Another learning engagement we undertook focused on the way we team up, interact and respond in different team groupings. I began the students off in pairs where they played handball together for about five minutes before I grouped the students into a larger team of 4-5. We had four teams and held a simple egg & spoon race using a large plastic spoon and egg. I started the groups casually, at different times telling them to just practice but it was son evident that teams started racing one another. We then held a proper race and the level of competition started to heat up, with groups encouraging and cheering team mates on, even jumping up and down as they waited for their team mates to finish. Finally, I grouped two of the teams together so there were two large teams racing each other. The students had to work in pairs to use a noodle and balance a ball in this really and again, the competition and excitement increased throughout the race.
Many of the students wanted to reflect following this relay and were able to highlight the focus of the lesson, that as the teams grew larger, the level of competition increased. When they began playing against a friend in handball, it was all very casual before it became a bit serious. Then it became competitive and the students were more eager to win than earlier in the lesson. We discussed how being competitive in itself is not necessarily a bad attribute, but it is the way we conduct ourselves in competition that is more important. I immediately linked these statements back to our central idea for the unit, Our choices and actions as individuals define who we becomes as a community.
In the following sessions, we watched the video recordings of each of our sessions, trying to reflect on the feelings, attitudes and actions that were present in these situations. I then asked the students to work in small groups and discuss their suggestions for this years PE Essential Agreements, a series of rules if you like that we ask all students to agree and follow in order to buy in to a positive culture in our lessons this year. These are being printed into posters for each year level and we will ask all students to physically sign them before displaying them in our PE teaching areas. I will photograph and post these pictures next week.