My last post was a confessional about how poorly I had approached planning when it came to being a Physical Education Teacher. This post will begin to lay out the path I’ve chosen to take when planning for my new school year.
I’m learning that I must have a map laid out. I also know that it needs to be a fluid document, ready to adapt to whatever unknown events the school year brings. It will not be a dictatorial document, only allowing for whatever my mind comes up with. There will be appropriate areas for student choice. And there will always be room for Student Voice.
I’ve researched other teacher’s plans and have been sorely tempted to ask them for copies of it so I can adjust it to meet my school’s needs. Thus far, I have refused to ask anyone for a copy to edit. I have found that actually participating in the long and detailed process has been most helpful to my growth as a professional. I think there are times when it’s OK and beneficial to adapt another person's work or activity to your own needs (as long as permission is granted), but this is not one of them. If you don’t do the work, you won’t be in tune with your program and know its deepest needs. And if you aren’t in tune with your program, you won’t be in tune with your students as much either. You see, as I’ve been working through the standards, activities, and assessments, I find myself thinking of the students more and more, not the activities. It seems counter-intuitive, but it’s true. I know who I’m doing this for. It’s for the learners who will be coming into my gym this fall.
The SHAPE Standards
I am beginning with the standards before I even look at an activity. I had encountered a great series of blog posts from Joey Feith on his website. Here is a listing of great blogs from his site about utilizing the SHAPE standards in your teaching.
The entry I read first was “Unpacking the National Standards: Backwards Design in #Physed.”
The second, mentioned in that post, was “Physical Education Curriculum Mapping.”
The first blog entry also tells of a Voxer podcast interview Joey gave about this topic. It is an excellent podcast, and I recommend it to anyone. This post is probably the most detailed and concise description of how to utilize the standards in planning. Please read and review the whole post!
The first step was looking at the GLOs (Grade Level Outcomes) for the standards in each of the grades I would teach. I started with 2nd Grade. Using the SHAPE GLO Google Sheet started by Joey and edited by others, I grouped similar or related standards into potential unit blocks. Some standards could potentially belong in two different units, so I bold/italicize them and include them in both.
Second, I decided what major theme or activities could best help those standards be achieved by the students.
The third step involved getting my school calendar on paper, so I could see what events would impact my class time. I used Time and Date to create a personalized calendar for this step. My gym is used for assemblies, as well as the High School Play and Musicals. Add the early dismissals, vacations, in-services, and you get a lot of missed days! And that doesn’t even come close to accounting for any snow days (or fog delays here in Indiana). Once I had a basic understanding of the calendar year, I came up with an estimated amount of days I will have for that grade level. Then I decide how many lessons I will need for each unit.
Now here is where I veered off a bit from the blog post. At some point in the past 6 months, I became convinced to change the way I handle my units. I used to do a single unit only once in a year. If a unit had 10 lessons to it, it might take 4-5 weeks to finish one unit (grades K-4 meet twice a week, and grades 5-6 only once)! And then we would never revisit those skills or concepts again. Through conversations with other teachers and reading articles about the Looping or Spiraling curriculum design, I decided to change how I handle my units.
Looping or Spiraling plans revisit skills and concepts more than once each year. I haven’t read all there is to this yet, but I plan to. There is a book by George Graham, Children Moving, that explains the concepts very well. I am hoping to purchase this book this fall.
My fourth step involved listing all the movement/skill themes and deciding where they would best fit in the school calendar. For example, I choose gymnastics and tumbling to coincide with our HS play because of the spotlights they temporarily hang in the gym. As best as I can, I placed the units where they could complement one another or use the combined skills in application. If you notice locomotor only once, it is because it is mainly for review and we will use those skills throughout the year in all of our units.
My last step up to this point is to place them on the calendar. I say “up to this point” because the final step never gets completed! That final step contains endless revisions based upon reflection of the whole process. If I am diligent and take the time to reflect on the school year and how my map is working (or not), then changes will need to be made.
Keep in mind that this process is brand new to me and I’m sure I’ll make some mistakes. But I’m ready to be successful, which means I’m ready to fail and learn from those failures. And I hope I can teach my students the same.
If anyone reads this and sees any errors or better ways to do this, I’m all ears! Please tweet (@HDPhysed) or leave a comment below!
I'm Cliff, an elementary Physical Educator to a ton of awesome students! Here is where you will see my thoughts and activities regarding #physed here at Blackhawk Christian School. Some will be what we're doing at school, and others will be thoughts from my wandering brain.