Exit Permits to Encourage Students’ Agency

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Students’ Notes for a Balanced Emotional Environment

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Murdoch (2015) emphasized that constructing the emotional environment is key when educators aim to nurture quality relationships. When feeling trusted and part of a connected community, our students feel safe and take risks in their learning.

I write student notes and put them in their cubbies, lunch boxes, or their bags; I leave them on their tables when they’re not in the room or simply pass them directly with an additional feedback.

‘It is worth putting time into. Like all relationships, the connections we have with our students needs regular attention – it’s not just something to attend to at the beginning of the year’ (Murdoch, 2015).

References: Murdoch, K. 2015. Power of Inquiry. Seastar Education. Australia

PE Display Ideas

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Physical Education is not the easiest subject to organize boards, but is definitely attainable with dedication and  clear purpose in mind. 

This year I moved to a new school and thanks to the principal’s vision we have a display policy in place that regulates the way we communicate students’ learning, actions and outcomes. The PE department has allocated a generous corridor with plenty of pin boards where we have the opportunity to showcase and advocate for the quality of our programme. In this post I will share some examples of displays that fit best our learning context.  

Grade 3 Health Related Fitness

I want to start with a display where grade 3 students express their suggestions and actions that they will take as a result of their knowledge, understanding and skills acquired in the unit. Inspired by Kath Murdoch’s book – Power of Inquiry – I have deepened the questioning empowering students to communicate their thinking effectively. To be concise, I will just point out what we have displayed, mentioning that some displays are work in progress, as they are part of a learning continuum that we aim to illustrate.

Essential Agreements

This is a practice that I enforce at the beginning of each year with the cohorts of students that I teach: we discuss together what makes our PE environment safe and enjoyable for learning. We reach consensus, then students write down their group statements and we all sign the poster. We define ourselves as a team of learners and we often go back to our agreements to refresh or highlight their importance. 

Approaches to Learning

We post the approaches to learning in both English and Arabic, and we add relevant pictures for each of the five skills categories. We have a similar display with the IB Attitudes .

Play with Purpose

This is the core of our activity and the posters communicate and illustrate snapshots of the Teaching Games for Understanding approach that we employ in our school. I created collages that evidence students’actions and the intended learning outcomes.

PE Assessments

On this board I choose students’ reflections, games creation outcomes and learning  continuum, that evidence the formative and summative assessments of various units. As other displays exemplified in this post, this is a dynamic one that gets refreshed on unit basis. 

Wonder wall

Finally, I got to organise the Wonder Wall and give it the attention it requires. I made a poster with each grade and the name of the unit. Our students write their questions on post-its during or after group inquiry, pre-assessments, provocations and exit permits. We answer all the questions and we encourage students’ agency by informing our planned and taught curriculum.

Exit Permits

By using the white board we invite students to communicate how they feel about their learning, through Smiley Faces and Traffic Light tools. I find these tools effective at the end of the sessions: some students help organizing the equipment while others communicate their learning. I also encourage social and communication skills by asking them to share their learning with a peer (Think. Pair. Share.) or by letting them justify their reflection. 

Ideas and suggestions

I would be happy to hear about your ideas and suggestions, or even more, to see how you advocate for the quality of the PE programme at your school. 

In my next post, I will be sharing a personal reflection following Kath Murdoch’s workshop that I attended last month. I intend to share some of the pedagogic approaches, strategies and tools that can enhance our activity in the PE environment. 

Have fun and keep it simple!

Writing a conceptually transdisciplinary unit

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Great professional development opportunity with 4 Generations 4 Education.

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The Becoming Gift

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No man ever steps in the same river twice.’ (Heraclitus)

In the sixth century BC Heraclitus said that nothing in the world around us is constant except the change and becoming. Far away from trying to be philosophical I just had one of the greatest opportunity to experience both concepts today, with physical education teachers and a cohort of students. Taking in consideration that I am an international educator for the past thirteen years and that personally I don’t favor gifts, I have to be honest and say that this is one of the best gifts in life; one of those small ‘essences’ that motivates you, keeps you smiling and on your toes, when some others will need coffee or boosters to keep you going

During a job-alike session, I visited my former school, SEK Qatar, where we had to interact and collaborate with a group of international educators and two classes of grade 5 students. In its big majority the group was made of the same students that I taught when they were in KG2 and grade 1 levels at the same school. So, not only that I could see the physical transformation of these students for the past four years, but I have also experienced the questioning, understanding and hands on activities of their learning process. I smiled when recognizing them by their faces, gestures or even more interesting, by their walk, which in turn reminded me their names. How rewarding and how grateful one can be!

 

I have reflected and reached one conclusion that is connected with my previous posts: as educators we hold a great responsibility over what we instill in our students and how we empower them, always with a purpose in mind. Once they grasp meaning from the learning we plan for them, we are, then, artisans of memorable learning experiences that last for a life time. With a bit of luck, one day we could witness with our own eyes the outcomes of their becoming process. And what a day that would be!

Are these some of the ‘every morning thoughts’ that may keep us engaged and motivated as educators, on the long run? Have I stepped in the same river again?