Time For a Conceptual Understanding in Physical Education

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We enjoy educating, we embrace challenges and most of the time we do spread the positive around us. We are looking for inspiration in our quest for making the difference and often we  surpass ourselves.

We enter the students’ world and we explore mistakes in our lives. We allow ourselves to fail, often, and we are comfortable with not knowing what is about to happen.

We are vulnerable but we step outside the comfort zone. We believe we can learn anything starting by questioning everything.

We dream big.

According to Erickson (2014), ‘children need to grapple with the content, knowledge, and skills they are learning in order to reach conceptual understandings’.

Join me in this workshop to explore together how conceptual understanding will help students decode life and adapt their learning to different situations.

Time For a Conceptual Understanding in Physical Education

Reference:

Erickson. H.L. 2014. Transitioning to Concept-Based Curriculum and Instruction. How to bring content and process together, p. 55. Corwin.

Building Communication and Trust Towards a Powerful School Culture

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Under the 4 Generations 4 Education generous agenda of events I have presented a workshop that focused on communication and trust as successful elements to construct a powerful school culture.

Hosted by the the Swiss International Scientific School in Dubai, this event was an excellent opportunity to identify, explore and broaden the perspective over the settings we are activating as educators and to share strategies that give results.

We have inquired over various concepts such as constructionism, trustworthiness, listening, Activity Theory, assessment, Zone of Proximal Development and scaffolding, school culture, vision and mission, learning environments and most of all we had fun in a group of dedicated educators.

We examined the characteristics of elevated communication and we have identified challenges of how communication is shaping relationships. Investigating conceptual understandings for constructing a positive learning environment and reviewing the purposes of assessment were areas that often positioned us out of our comfort zone.

The time will prove the success of this event, as when returning inspired to our schools we will empower students and colleagues towards continuing this learning adventure that started on the 28th and 29th of October.

As educators, I believe  we are seeking more for learning in adventure  than adventure in learning! This workshop has been an adventure where learning happened at a high level and I’ve felt inspired by the professionals I worked with!  Thank you!

When looking for valuable opportunitie to develop professionally, 4 Generations 4 Education takes this mission beyond expectations and sets a high standard in international educational services.

 

Games Are Serious Fun! What About Gamification?

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In gamification elements of computer gaming are applied to non-game context with the purpose to increase motivation and engagement of students. “Gamification tends to take the use of game outside of a defined space and apply the concepts to items like walking up steps, tracking the number of miles run, or making a sales call” (Kapp, 2012).

From Kapp’s point of view, gamification is not the same as games. We tend to associate it with badges and leaderboards, but it should be more about fun and play into the experiences we create. Zombies, Run for example is a game that motivates runners to train harder and do more miles. Experienced educators introduce games and play into their strategies, and digital gamification is an extension of this practice.

Gamification provides a context where students can apply their knowledge and skills which focus on a learning objective. In this context, games should have a clear goal for the players, as well as a learning outcome.

On the other hand, as an educator, you really have to take time and plan the lessons introducing gamification very throughly, because you don’t want your students to take it as an invitation to play video games, but to understand that they need to withdraw strategies from them and apply them in real life, trying to free themselves from conventional ideas and find that special feeling that any idea can be possible with the right twist. As an educator, you always have to have in mind both sides of a story and take in consideration also those who see the downside of a subject, like Selwyn (2014). Selwyn has a more critical view over gamification, mentioning that there is a risk of promoting short-term engagement in tasks, with an increased risk of longer-term disengagement.

With this in mind, this year I have built a website for my grade 5 students that was intended to maximize their physical activity throughout the two sessions a week we spent together. As an element that motivated their actions I have included Sworkit, a fitness app that influenced their behaviour in an active way. They encouraged each other based on their results, they built on the skills they were practicing during the unit and they acquired knowledge. All these outcomes were highlighted in the Slack chat they performed, showcasing the drive of innovation they have faced. These outcomes were closely linked to the central idea of the unit: “We can develop and maintain physical fitness by applying basic training principles”.

After this experience, I am thinking that we can use various insights and creative ideas to design our own, interactive learning experiences. Games and gamification are everywhere nowdays, and games are created much easier than before. Google Glasses or Nike+ are products that became common, therefore the need to build on adding gamification to our learning environments.
Looking back, children were learning through simple play, whereas, with the present mobile technology, they have the world at their fingertips.

Turning game based into knowledge is challenging, but not impossible. Gamification brings the consequences of not reaching the next level and puts the learners into an emotional state where they have to take action, to reach a certain number of points or a different level, and this drives in them a behavioural change. When thinking about the most effective learning moment in our lives we remember the frustration and hardness of the tasks and then the “Aha!” moment. In these cases, over time, gamification reinforces learning and changes behaviours.

Kapp (2012) evidences three core elements of gamification:
First, a visual notification of the progress is visible, and learners like to see progress. Students interact with each other, asking about a tough question or a task. There is an excitement of knowing something from the whole topic, and this is the second element. Third, students are learning at their own pace, so a personalisation of learning is allowed and amplified by the feedback that keeps motivation at high levels.

Before we develop gamification to better foster learning, I believe that is important to ask ourselves these questions:
What are the three reasons driving this game or gamification?
Is the emphasis placed too much on fun aspects of the game and not enough on the learning?
Does the game play include an opportunity for reflection of the learning?
Having these aspects in mind may enhance the quality of the learning experiences we create.

How do you enhance your students’ learning through gamification? Many of us are already integrating it in the experiences we design, but do we always keep the educational purpose beyond the positive effects that gamification offers?

I enjoyed watching this two videos that highlight Kapp’s vision over gamification:

References:
Kapp, K. M. (2012) The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Case-Based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education.
Selwyn, N. (2014) Chapter 5 of Distrusting educational technology : critical questions for changing times.

Let the P.E. continue…

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The modern Olympic Games are showcasing the best athletes from all over the world, every four years.

The new academic year has just started and we will continue to engage, empower and experience for another year, nurturing future new stars in Physical Education.

We’ll take each day and make the best out of it; come and be part of our team! Let the PE continue…

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Encouraging Collaboration and Brainstorming

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I have been using Padlet for a while, but this year I am really fortunate to be in a school with a 1:1 iPad ratio. This enables any educator to explore the knowledge and understanding of students in so many useful ways. It takes just a few minutes to record students’ thoughts and to have evidence of their learning!

Padlet in PE can be visualized in this short clip.  Its efficiency is really high, since the discussion is left open on the wall and the students can comment, provide a learning source or consult various viewpoints. In a formative assessment, student can create a wall and brainstorm relating to a certain topic. All of this can happen synchronously, in the classroom, or asynchronously, after the session is over.

 

Concepts Bingo

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It was towards this end of the teaching year when I had the thought of a rehearsal. Some of my students still asked questions about concepts, so I came with the idea of a bingo game thinking it is a playful way to revise them. I have chosen especially the Concepts Bingo with Physical Education related concepts of the units done throughout the year.

The cards were done online with a bingo card generator program that any educator can easily find on-line. When the prints were ready it took only three to five minutes to go through it. It is interesting to do it at the beginning of the session since it will influence it but it’s up to you!

With the younger students (grades 1-2) we call one concept at the time and if they have it on the paper they colour it. I let them play longer so a few of them have the chance to call “Bingo!”. They have to provide an explanation of the concept and come up with a practical example.
With the older ones (grades 3-5) we only provide a clue and they have to come up with the name of the concept. They are so excited to experience it this way! These students will be asked to make connections beyond the gym.

For me this is a good way to asses their conceptual understanding at the end of the year while still engaging them in the lesson.
What’s your way of using this tool in PE or in the classroom? Any more ideas about how to spark student’s interest?

Enjoy teaching! Starting soon!

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