This article was written by guest blogger, Jon Szychlinski M.Ed. After earning his B.S. in physical education from Western Illinois University, he entered the teaching world to explore his passion for collaborating with children to help improve their lives and sharing his passion for health and wellness with them. In addition to his primary job functions, he was recognized by his administration for his commitment to building relationships with all his students and technology integration in his teaching. For more discussions on education, follow Jon on Twitter.
Do you want to enhance your Physical Education program? Let’s explore how to take best practices and amplify them with technology. The result is an evolved next level PE experience!
As teachers, we want to equip our students with a variety of resources that provide guidance and knowledge to assist them in their learning journey. One resource that goes untapped is our students perspective and their resources. Our students possess insight that provides us a valuable look into what is working for them and what is not. They also will unveil resources that we do not always gravitate to or even know exist. Let’s explore a few examples specific to physical education that provide you with a clear and concise way to harness and display student created resources to work in concert with the resources you already have provided.
The collaboration activity is straightforward using a Google slide presentation for your students to work synergistically in creating a student-driven resource. Our students are not only a valuable resource and sounding board for us as teachers but also for each other. First, open a new Google slide presentation and title it however you would like. I find putting collaboration in the title makes it easier for the students to find it amongst all the resources we provide them. Here is an example of the slide I used for a collaboration activity during my physical education and technology presentation at the Illinois Computing Educators (Now known as IDEA) conference this year. Feel free to utilize any format you would like. Remember to keep it simple and functional!
An important question that needs to be answered is why? Why would we utilize this activity, and how does it benefit our students? First and foremost, as I mentioned earlier we want to provide our students with a plethora of resources to guide them on their learning journeys. A student perspective is another way. Our students possess a viewpoint that we cannot fully grasp and that is okay. Lastly, learning together is something we already know is a catalyst for growth. When students share their learning tools, it creates dialogue and camaraderie amongst and across the class.
Vocabulary integration is a best practice that empowers our students with not only a cognitive understanding of fitness terminology, but a chance to apply them in PE class. In other words, the students have the opportunity to make them come to life and experience it on a physical level creating a mind muscle connection. This is a powerful, personal, and authentic learning experience.
In the creation of this activity, I amplify what could be a pedestrian vocab activity into a meaningful and choice filled experience. I use Otus to create my lessons. Within Otus’s lesson structure, I embed/integrate the authentic learning experiences I create in Quizlet to provide students with a multitude of learning opportunities. The students can access and engage the Quizlet activities without ever leaving Otus.
PE Journals & Goal Setting
My students are, for the most part, on the move in PE class. This is PE, and I love it! However, this class structure does make it more challenging to get a clear picture of where my students are at in their learning journey. After reflecting for a time, the idea of creating a PE journal popped into my head. I utilized google sheets to create a PE journal that would capture and give me a perspective of where my students were at. The journal also allows them to set personal goals to achieve throughout the quarter. The ability to harness and analyze our student’s mindset/perspective is paramount to delivering authentic feedback and give our students a voice.
The PE journal building process was very straightforward and can be customized to fit your students’ needs. I want my students to be able to share where they are in their fitness journey and what their mindset is. When students have ownership in their learning, it is very powerful. I want my students to know I value their voice and want to partner with them to create the best learning journey possible. I want authentic data/feedback to make student-focused decisions to increase my student’s knowledge and increase their health.
Next year, I’m going to explore using the blog feature in Otus for our PE journals. Each student’s blog would be accessible by me and allows us to keep a running record/journal of my students’ fitness journey. The best part is that we’ll have all of this information available in one spot, Otus, and students could even add a blog post to their portfolio!
Using Video for Analyzing and Assessing Skills
“There is something about seeing myself improve that motivates and excites me.” Jackie Joyner-Kersee
We can use technology to watch ourselves on a video and analyze our progress in a matter of seconds. This is such a valuable tool in physical education. To create this learning opportunity, I use Otus and WeVideo. Students have their partners record videos using WeVideo. The videos are loaded up to Otus where I provide a rubric to share what constitutes mastery, as well as criteria that share what developing skills look like.
In PE, my goal is to impart fundamental skills to all my students so they can confidently participate in a variety of activities to improve their health. When developing and analyzing skills, we take a few videos to show the growth process. Students can reflect on their growth over time. They can also see what they need to work on as well as celebrate the skills they have already mastered. Students thrive when they have a focused goal and learning opportunity to make them better.
Remember Your Why
Learning approaches for physical education are evolving, and it is vital that we offer a variety of opportunities that allow our students to share learning and improvement in their health. Technology allows us to deliver many different learning opportunities. Remember to explore and always answer why you are using a particular learning approach, and do not forget to include student feedback. Technology amplifies best practices and levels up your physical education class.