Special Play Holiday

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Weeks ago, my friends asked me about computer games or applications that I would recommend for children. Without using any searching engine, I do have my favourite ones, as an educator and parent.

Usually, our children ask for the iPad to see a movie or cartoons. I do my best to distract their focus so I created a “Special Play” folder, that is designed only for gifted children who want to experiment the ultimate games. If you have children, you know what I mean.
When they ask for the iPad to play, we mirror it on a big TV screen. Interesting enough, they take turns, encourage each other and compare their results. After 20 minutes, my son would be sweating like a marathon runner and my daughter would run to the kitchen, screaming for water.
One solution for rainy days, that can save money and time. Ladies and gentlemen, Special Play list of apps:

Bit Breaker

Dungeon Run

Pop Flux

Bird Up

Sport Search

Brain Jump

Ned the Neuron

Have fun this holiday!

Building Communication and Trust Towards a Powerful School Culture

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We are striving when we interact and face the challenges of working in a group. Getting out of our comfort zone is not an easy task. At the end of the day, who likes it? Well, this attitude can be educated and transformed into a habit. 4 Generations 4 Education thinks ahead and offers fantastic opportunities for educators. If you plan on leadding the  students to meaningul learning paths, sign in for these great workshops. Early bird tickets available.

It will be my pleasure to meet with like-minded educators from all over the world, this October, in Dubai. See you there!

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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.

 

The Great Chopstick Hunt

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A while ago, we found ourselves in trouble when thinking about how to celebrate our son’s 7th birthday. It didn’t take very long until we got it: “He is going to enjoy it with his classmates, in the gym!” And what a blast it was! They have played their favorite games and towards the end they had the “cherry on the cake”: The Great Chopstick Hunt! Overcoming obstacles with the aim to find precious candies that had to be picked and taken back to their team, with wood chopsticks. Using fine motor skills to perform various  precise and refined movements was never so rewarding!

The Great Chopstick Hunt Video

As June is approaching we have to find another way to involve children in physical movement, before they will indulge with savory chocolate or sweet cupcakes. If you have any amazing ideas to share, your comments are much appreciated.

Pelota in Physical Education

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Inspiration

One of these days my son was reading in a Romanian book about an ancient game named Pelota. The meaning of Pelota in Basque language is “ball”. The game is dated back in the 13th century and it was declared an Olympic sport and demonstrated in the Summer Olympics, Barcelona, 1992.

Rules

Two players or two teams are facing each other and they are separated by a line on the wall or ground. The player can use his hands, a racket, a bat or a basket! There are various ways to play Pelota which can be found on the official website of this sport.

Now Days

Perfect Net and Wall game, I said. Luckily we are in the middle of such unit in grade 3. We use Superscoops and the students play it individually or by pairs using their underhand or overhand motion to send the ball to the wall and catch it with the Superscoops before the returning action.

Rallies
At the beginning we focus by pairs on managing as many rallies as possible in a given time. One of the players sends the ball to the wall and the opponent will try to catch it before it bounces twice. imageThe students decide the boundaries and mark them. It is a constructivist approach with the players collaborating towards the same goal.

Decision Making
In the next step they decide how to score: some decide to score points every time they catch the ball with the scoops before the second bounce, others are using mathematical concepts such as angling to deceive their opponents. Creating game boundaries is a challenge for some but is fun to assist little disputes and tension is part of the learning cycle, isn’t it?

Next Level
The last stage comes with a change: in teams of two design boundaries, agree on the scoring methods and enjoy the game. It is interesting to see that a few teams alternate their turns on returning the ball to the wall while others use communication between its members before deciding on who returns the ball. An original version is introduced by two teams who decide to number their players and call the desired number before hitting the ball. Maximising the attention skills was one of their strengths and goals, apparently.

Final points
We enjoyed ourselves by inquiring into how different versions of how Pelota game can be played. The players owned this process which required little modelling and mostly firm safety rules at the beginning. Their practice was centered on the skills of the unit while constructing a better understanding of how rules and safety are preparing the ground for a meaningful experience. Achieving all of these and being active makes this activity a must in this unit. If you don’t find the Superscoops in the store, make sure you order some.

How do you make your lessons meaningful and memorable? Leave your thoughts here.

See here an interesting movie about how a version of Pelota can be played.

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Power Your Brain

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Stimulate your brain with physical movement to enhance its activity. I enjoy seeing my son hopping on the waveboard every morning. The school encourages this practice by providing students with a special park. Extensive research about the connection between the phsysical activity and the brain can be found here.

 

A New Level of Thinking

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Our character is a big mix of habits. “We are what we repeatedly do”, as Aristotl said. Breaking a powerful habit is an expression of our strong character, takes discipline and it can’t be obtained easily. The truth is that as long as we learn them, they can be unlearned, too. Start small, see how it works and then build up!

For one day a week, choose to focus on your students and your colleagues first, then your family and yourself, second. Start the day with a book related to your profession that helps you connect to other educators. If it’s not a book it can be an inspirational video or a lesson provocation. Maybe an early workout? You are shaping your day, remember!

Read and reply school e-mails first. As a rule of thumb if someone has something important to communicate, they will plan it and do it early in the day. For this day try to keep aside social media and personal e-mails. It’s a good exercise to practice control over things that are meaningless and eat up a lot of your quality time. Prioritize your growth mindset and do things that are challenging you! Don’t worry if you’re falling behind with what’s happening in the world! If there’s fire on your hair someone will stop and tell you!

So, what do you do differently? What are the outcomes? Do they bring more efficacy in your professional and personal life?

Prioritize the most important task. Today I finished working on a summative assessment for grade 5. They have to use their knowledge and skills to adapt movements and create a gymnastic routine with a twist of Parkour elements. It took me quite long but I am happy with the results. While teaching this grade, my student Catherine told me that she wanted to be acknowledged. She made me smile so she shared her routine accompanied by another colleague in front of the entire class.

Increase your student contact time. In grade 2, Joe told me that he aims to bat the ball where there are less fielders. He would swing his arm horizontally taking it back to produce more power. A few grade three students designed their own rules before starting a modified volleyball game. It was tempting to join them, seeing them having fun, although their idea didn’t sound amazing at first. We had time to inquire about the purpose of the game’s structure or rules and great answers were revealed there.

Pay attention to details and take decisions. The basketball practice was interesting since Saturday we have a game and our point guard will miss it. Thomas has never been a leader. He was surprised to learn that he is going to have different responsibilities and leading the team is one of them. For the whole session his positive attitude helped him to produce an energising atmosphere.
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Establish greatness. I left the school with a good vibe, as no media impacted my performance, and it was time to meet my kids. If you are a single educator, you might have friends awaiting for you and I suggest do not waste your time! Take them out of their comfort zone for one day. Be a game changer!

With my daughter, Mihaela, who’s 3, I have learned that for a mouse the forest is the perfect home. The mouse loves to eat the seeds that fall from the trees. I read the book 4 times for her and I had to role play all the animals. Try this, please. You will laugh for sure. If curious, you can find more information in the book Baby Animals In the Forest.

Since she was late to bed for an afternoon nap, I have managed to squeeze in a workout using just dumbbells and stretching bands. This activity came at the right moment and energised me.

It felt good to be flooded with serotonine. Enough to have a new start with my son, Alex. He is 7 and he woke up with refilled energy. The skateboard and the wave board were our favourite tools for the next 45 minutes in the park. We took a different route when returning and we have learned that big trees grow powerful roots that can even break the concrete. Did you know that? Alex also talked about a Spanish game. He read about it in a Romanian book and I thought this was a great idea to be shaped for my grade 3’s in the net/wall unit.

Tap your potential. Our left hemisphere is logical while the right hemisphere is more creative. We use both sides of the brain but one tends to be dominant. It will be great to dominate with both and shift anytime between them according to our needs. But we love to stay within the habit of the dominant one. Unfortunately this is a left-brain-world we live in. This is a hardwired problem with our brains. We will naturally gravitate towards easy ideas (even if they are stupid), despite the fact that a better option may exist, but that takes a little more effort to search out and comprehend.
The take here is to be aware of our potential and consciously use our minds to become more effective in using our strengths to meet various needs.

I went to sleep early and luckily there was time to read. E-mails and social tech can wait until tomorrow while I am re-charging and being productive looking back at this day. It is possible that next days will be difficult ones, but it is very important that I can find the essence of my profession when I want to tap into it.

Expand your perspectives What is important for you? Why are you doing what you are doing? How will you shape your personal and professional life? What one thing could you do that would make a huge positive difference for you?

Start with a new level of thinking. Compare yourself to no one and turn a new page in your life.