Learning is....
Planting a seed in our brain... learning to water, nurture and grow it.... so we can live on the fruit of our learning and plant more seeds.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Essentials and Basics for Physical Education in the Classroom

I am no physical education expert or super sporty person.  I was the kid at high school that could forge my mum's signature to get out of PE.  I was unco and usually the person who played goalie, was last to bat or was sent out to field in left right out position. 

However, I loved playing netball and played it well into my 30s (until a crippling ankle injury made it ridiculous), touch rugby (always questionable if I made metres), tennis (worst player in the club) and cricket (I scored a high of two runs for the season).  What really was my downfall was the fact that I was pretty blind as it turns out and being able to see the ball to catch it or hit it is a major plus in sport.

I am not the most sportiest teacher, but I recognise the value in physical education in developing the fully rounded student.  Because I knew this wasn't my favourite subject at school, I choose PE as a curriculum option when training to be a teacher so that I could turn a weakness into something I was confident to do as a teacher.  I think my unco-ness and distaste for running and high jump makes me a more empathetic teacher when it comes to PE.

The purpose of this post is to support those of you who lack confidence in their ability to plan and execute PE in their class programme and want to know some solid resources you can rely on.

Daily Fitness
I personally believe that at least 15 minutes a day is essential during class time.  Most kids will get out and run around like a crazy thing during morning tea and lunch times, but there will always be some that don't and they need you to make them move it during class time.

My fitness bible is the KiwiDex (Dex = Daily Exercise).  I got mine at university twenty odd years ago when I was training (I think) from Sport Waikato and you can still get them.  It is fabulous because it has sooooooo much in it.  I recommend getting a hard copy (currently $15) so you can take it out into the playground with you (mine is spiral bound so it is easy to manage and is A5 in size), but here is a link to the Sport New Zealand website where you can download each section of the KiwiDex to your device as a PDF.  The sections are:
  • Intro
  • Warm Up
  • Partner Activities
  • Relays
  • Games
  • Running/Walking
  • Balls and Hoops
  • Circuits
  • Music (mine does not have that.... must download now...)
  • Activities in Water (something else mine doesn't have....)
  • Conclusion
Live action of Jump Jam
Sometimes you can not get outside to do fitness so there are a couple of inside options.  Many schools have Jump Jam, an aerobic dance fitness programme.  If your school has that, I recommend using it as it is an expensive programme and you want your school to get their moneys worth.  Once a week is good for regular use, but it can be pulled out when required on a wet day if you are well organised.  One school I relieve at has it on the server, and with a computer attached to an ActivBoard in most classes it means it is accessible to relief teachers too.

At the end of last year, Robyn a teacher I relieved for, introduced me to GoNoodle.  Fabulous for more dancing aerobic videos!  You do need to sign up to this website.  It is the kind of place you need to explore to find what will work for you, but ZumbaKids is great for the "fitness inside the classroom when it is raining" kind of day (find it in Channels).

You can also go onto YouTube and find fitness activities to do in the class.  One search I tried was pilates for children and there was lots.  I recommend though that you pre-check these out so that you know it is achievable and appropriate for your class.

The Sports Energizer who comes to your school regularly (well they do in the Waikato - wonderful, lovely people) will also be able to help you out with some cool ideas and to do an assessment on your students with their base fitness and movement skills so you can see how they improve throughout the year.

Fundamental Skills
I often see people on the Teachers Facebook page wanting to know how to teach soccer or cross country or swimming... and they really should be looking in their central resource cupboard for a copy of the Fundamental Skills book.  But if your school's copy is in high demand or disappeared, you can download it from this link to Sport New Zealand

The categories here include:

Locomotive Skills
  • Walking
  • Running
  • Dodging
  • Jumping
  • Hopping
  • Skipping
  • Additional Activities
Stability Skills
  • Landing
  • Balance
  • Rotation
  • Additional Activities
Manipulative Skills
  • Throwing (1 of 2 - because there is lots of throwing stuff)
  • Throwing (2 of 2 - told you)
  • Hands
  • Feet
  • Implement (this is like for hockey and similar)
  • Additional Activities
Learning shot put from the expert.
There is also and Introduction and Conclusion to download.  You can get hardcopies for $22.50 plus GST and postage.

Whenever I am planning a unit on any specific sport or skill, this is my go to resource.  It has instructions on the physical movement as well as practice activities and mini games.  I can teach pretty much every sport and the skills required from this book - even gymnastics (another horror from my childhood).

Don't be afraid to bring in experts either.  At Sport Waikato, for example, there are experts in each sport who can come out and run coaching workshops with your students on aspects of athletics, netball, league, basketball, golf.... pretty much any sport.  When these fabulous people come I use it as an opportunity to take photos and videos of the correct techniques and make teaching notes for what I need to do in follow up activities (you have to love smart phones for helping you to do this).  I count these people coming in as PLD.  They can also do PLD with staff to upskill them as well after school on request.

I believe it is essential for every child to learn to swim in New Zealand.  We have so much access to water - the sea, lakes, rivers, ponds, streams and creeks, pools, troughs, baths and even a shallow bucket of water are all possible places to drown.  I despair at the number of schools that no longer have swimming pools and have to use town pools and swimming teachers for their swim programmes as these are expensive and you don't have many opportunities.

If your school is lucky enough to have a pool, get your students in there at every opportunity to gain water confidence and skills.

If you are not confident in your ability to teach swimming, buddy up with a teacher who is.  But I also recommend that you do the Swim Safe Teacher Professional Development.  I've done this twice with Wendy and it was awesome.  I found I was teaching many of the skills as she would, but I also learnt a few more awesome teaching techniques.  Wendy also joined my class on camp and did a beach safety swim with them.

Swim Safe also has fabulous manual for teachers to use.  It covers the following:
• Empower and support teachers to deliver ‘swim and survive’ education to ensure that New Zealand children receive the aquatic skills they need to be confident and safe in the water.
• Develop students’ water confidence, swimming ability, water safety, survival techniques and beach safety skills.
• Provide students with opportunities to practise and transfer their swimming, survival skills and beach safety skills into the natural environment.
• Create classroom units of work integrated across learning areas.
• Link to the New Zealand Curriculum (2007).
• Prepare students for education outside the classroom (EOTC) experiences at the pool or beach.
• Support the national State Kiwi Swim Safe achievement certificate.
• Establish an aquatic pathway that can lead to other aquatic sports such as competitive swimming, flipper ball, water polo, snorkelling, underwater hockey, surfing, surf lifesaving, kayaking, boating and diving.

I can not stress enough how important it is to teach children to swim.  It is a life long skill.

Some of the things you really need to remember to teach:
  • blow bubbles out under water so when your face comes out of the water you breath in.
  • fingers together, and they dolphin into the water with the elbow slightly bent for over arm.
  • point those toes, straight knees and kick from the hip for kicking.
  • fingers together and pull those arms back even with the nipple for breaststroke.
  • when doing backstroke, put your head back and push your bottom up so you do not sink.
  • your hand needs to cut the water like a blade for backstroke.
I have a check list of skills that I go through with my class at the beginning and end of the swimming season.  I video each child completing the tasks and I get them to view the video and self assess.  This way they will set goals on what they know they have to achieve.

You can download a copy of this self-assessment here.

I will group children and have them in the water for short stints to practise specific skills.  But I always make sure that I have plenty of whole class opportunities for water confidence play and group games and relays.

I find that I can make great improvements with skills by getting in the pool with my students.  Please check with management first and ensure you have another adult observing from outside of the pool (parent help for example).  I demonstrate how to, for example, do over arm completely wrong - open fingers, slapping hands, straight arms, no blowing bubbles, head going up instead of to the side, no breathing in, bent knees and floppy feet.  I ask the children to tell me how to improve - fingers together, dolphin diving fingers, slightly bent elbow, blow bubbles, head to the side, breath in, straight knees, whole leg kicking with pointed toes.

Between my personal demonstration and videos of themselves, the students soon see what they are doing wrong and how they can improve their technique.  I've seen students go from 'drowning spider' to 'race winners' in a year.

Cross Country
Cross counry (along with high jump) was the bane of my life as a child.  It's something that I have struggled with as a teacher too, because there has been the odd occasion where I could not train my students my way and I did not agree with the way the syndicate was doing it, particularly when it leads to children in hysterical tears and hyperventilating.

Your KiwiDex and the Fundamental Skills books have some great stuff on walking and running to get you going. 

I believe in starting the children off slowly and building each day.  I alternate running and walking around the rugby field sides.  I will set different courses to keep it fresh.  I will walk the course and give points to students who lap me and don't cut corners.  Create incentives and goals... but do not make it traumatic.

Always know who your asthmatic students are too.  Ensure that they take their inhalers before running (if appropriate) and take the inhalers out with you.

Most schools will do the Jump Rope for Heart/Heart Foundation fundraiser at least every second year as well as for the skill of skipping.  Sadly, the Heart Foundation has ended the programme last year. 

Yet despite the hardcopy resources being in the teacher resource room of each school I continue to see pleas for units up on the Teachers Facebook page.  Look at your resource room first and look at the resources for your inspiration.

I have found a simple resource for teachers to teach skipping at the Australian Heart Foundation's Jump Rope for Heart page.  You may download it from here.

Doing a Google search of Jump Rope for Heart also brought up a number of American resources and others from elsewhere.  Check them out and mix and match to suit your students.  Don't assume that a prepackaged unit will meet their needs or challenge them.

To finish...
I hope this was helpful for the BT or PE adverse teacher.  As usual, if there is anything I should add, please let me know.

1 comment:

  1. Hi. There is some good information here about the contexts that PE can be taught. It is great that you have mentioned the regional trusts, as they do have a wealth of knowledge about sports, and are often more than happy to offer PD to help with Zone days or school events. It may also be worth noting that the physical element is only one part of hauora, and that through PE, we need to be developing the mental/emotional, social and spiritual skills that are essential to making our students holistic learners. The NZC puts equal emphasis all 4 of the strands: Personal Health and Physical Development Movement Concepts and Motor Skills; Relationships with Others; Healthy Communities. All too often we concentrate on how to get our students to move, but don't allow them the time to think about how they are also learning about themselves, their peers and their wider communities.