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.

Teaching and Learning Forum, May 9, 2015

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I so excited to continue the collaboration with my colleague, Carmen Fernandez. This time we will present together at the Teaching and Learning Forum, hosted at Qatar National Convention Centre. Our presentation – Digital Technology Tools and Strategies – is scheduled to start at 2.00 PM. Keynote speech by Sir Ken Robinson.

Teaching-and-learning-forum-2015-Qatar

My First IB Article : Technology and PE in the Early Years

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I am very honored and happy  to have this article published in the IB Community Blog. This is the result of a fantastic collaborative work with my students, teachers, teacher assistants and a very supportive PYP Coordinator.

http://blogs.ibo.org/sharingpyp/2014/12/18/tech-and-pe-in-early-years/

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The use QR codes with KG students in a stand-alone Adventure Challenge unit in Physical Education is a breakthrough experience at such age and I am very proud of their achievements.  They were able to scan codes, play a movie and perform the exercise shown in the movie. All of this was part of a scavenger hunt which was meaningful and fun for them. They learned how to cooperate in a team, share the same goal and use technology while still performing various physical activities.

 

 

 

The Journey To My First Innovation Award

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I thought I should celebrate my award with a quick reflection about the steps that brought me here.

  •  2012 I receive an e-mail from a colleague and I sign up for a PE technology based workshop in Dubai. I have no clue about technology in PE but this looks interesting.
  • I buy an iPad and tomorrow I travel to Dubai. Still figuring out the basic functions of my new gadget.
  • The workshop is led by Jarrod Robinson. Now understand why he calls himself The PE Geek. I am blown away about the amount of innovative skills and strategies he uses to improve learning.image
  • Back to school with no Wi-Fi network. The challenge starts here.
  • Celebrating my successes and failures becomes a new way of improving myself. I am introducing various tools in the planning process as well as new assessment strategies. It is hard to share my work with the students and parents so I design a website, on a free platform but with limited space to use.
  • I am in a brand new school and the Wi-Fi is covering even the outdoor courts.
  • I introduce iPads in the PE lessons in the Early Years. My students are scanning QR codes and they participate with their own reflection during the individual video analysis assessment in the Adventure Challenge unit.
  • We are creating resources (videos, digital portfolios, assessments) and the feedback from students and parents is enthusiastic.
  • Signing up for a life membership and mentorship at www.thepegeek.com. I am attending webinars and online courses on how mobile technology can be integrated in the PE lesson.
  • My first presentation at the Qatar National Convention Center during the Education Forum, April 2014. I share successful practices with my colleagues from all around the country.DSC_0559
  • My first PD session with the school staff, presenting various digital tools and strategies to improve learning.
  • October 2014. After two years it is time for another PE Geek workshop, in Dubai. Great experience and a good chance to connect with other educators.
  • November 2014. I am awarded for The Best Work of Educational Innovation and Best Educational Practice in Preschool, among all SEK schools from Spain, France, Ireland and Qatar. I guess my Christmas gift arrives earlier this year.

I am already lucky to be awarded by my students on daily basis. They ask questions, they are not shy to express what they like or don’t like about what we do. We experience a climate filled with their creativity, enthusiasm and energy. Their knowledge is an inspiration for me.

This special award is topping up the daily reward I get from my students. This is why each and one of us is still in this game. It is the game of change. We influence them, inspire them and shape a future that we’ll probably not even see.

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7 Concepts to Sparkle Student Creativity and Learning

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“You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself.” Galileo

Two days filled with creativity have pushed me out the comfort zone and they have made me re-evaluate my tools and strategy when approaching the learning process. Within a group filled with passion and enthusiasm for this awesome profession we have influenced each other and came up with ideas, skills, and ways that shaped into awesome products through creativity driven processes.

Anne-Marie Evans is responsible for putting up this great concept of a workshop that pulls the best out of you. Thanks for the inspiration, Anne-Marie!

Some interesting concepts were completely new for me and they are getting a well deserved attention in my planning and day to day activity. The students response was nothing but enthusiastic when I started to apply some of the ideas taken from this workshop.

Tinkering. “Tinkering is fooling around with phenomena, tools and materials. It is thinking you’re your hands and learning Tinkering 2through doing. It’s slowing down and getting curious about the
mechanics and mysteries of the everyday stuff around you.”
Interested already? Read more about it here:  http://tinkering.exploratorium.edu/. Tinkering typically blends the high and low tech tools of science along with a strong aesthetic dimension that supports children’s and adults self expression.

Convergent Thinking. It Is the process of finding a single best solution to a problem that you are trying to solve. It is about judging options and making decisions. A convergent thinker is logical, objective, intellectual, realistic, planned, structured, and quantitative.

Divergent Thinking. It is the process of generating many unique solutions in order to solve a problem. The divergent thinker is intuitive, subjective, emotional, imaginative, impulsive, holistic, free-wheeling, and qualitative.

Design Cycle. The design cycle is fluid, the process is the destination.  There are four major components in the design cycle:photo

  • You come with ideas for the project and how you can put the project together.
  • Implement the project.
  • Develop prototype, test it, refine it, and hone it.
  • You reflect on what you have done.

Constructivism. It is described by Piaget as being the process whereby students constructed their own unique systems of knowing. The teacher should focus on this individual process of internal construction rather than standing at the front and spouting their own models. The learner is and information constructor. The information is linked to the prior knowledge, thus mental representations are subjective. The learner brings past experiences and cultural factors to a situation.

Constructionism. It is seen as a social process whereby constructs emerge from ongoing conversations and interactions.

Zone of Proximal Development. It is the difference between what a learner can do without help and what he or she can do ZPD 2with help. It is important how we can assist best that child in mastering more advanced skills and concepts.

I went back to my students and we have experienced various form of tinkering when inquiring into basic movement skills during the Individual Pursuits stand-alone unit. The outcomes quickly amazed me with an increased potential of creativity shown by our students.

How is your classroom creative? That was the starting point of this workshop and this is one of the questions that keep me excited about the ways learning shapes into unexpected student explorations of what we don’t have the courage to explore sometimes. I am totally motivated to keep finding the perfect answer to this question in the upcoming units of inquiry. The good thing about it is that I know it will take a while and it will keep me for sure out of my comfort zone. The zone where my students own their learning and they are connected.