Lee Garrett

A teaching and learning journey through PE


QFT makes it’s debut

Ever since I read @taitcoles’ blog post on the Question Formulation Technique here, I have been intrigued as to the power of students generating their own questions through this method. More information and resources on the use of QFT can be found at rightquestion.org

So here is my attempt, thoughts and findings.

STEP 1. Create a question focus.

My learning objective was to “devise questions to learn the effects of CO2 on the respiration system SO THAT you know how the body controls breathing rate”

The prompt which I used was a simple statement:

The brain uses CO2 to control breathing rate

STEP 2. Produce your own questions.

The students had to write down as many questions as they could and write them down as it was said. Any statements were changed to questions.

After a quick example, the students produced their questions. Once they got to a point where progress on the questions slowed, we related back to the idea of SOLO Taxonomy and the use of the multistructural building blocks to build up knowledge and understanding. This short discussion gave a few more ideas.

STEP 3. Improve your questions

The students then categorised each question either open or closed and then discussed as a group the advantages and disadvantages of each type of question. What was realised was that the majority of the starting verbs of the questions began with What making it a bit too vague. This gave me the cue to relate to Blooms Taxonomy and the associated verbs for questioning. They began to scribble out the what and write explain, describe, recall etc. It was evident that this helped with catergorising the questions and they were then asked to change the open questions to closed and visa versa.

STEP 4. Prioritise your questions

The 3 most important questions had to be chosen and again discuss why the questions were chosen. Responses here centered the use of carbon dioxide, the use of the brain and the mechanics of breathing.

STEP 5. Next Steps

How are you going to use the questions? How will it make you learn more? How will it make you learn better? I must admit at this stage, I felt a little apprehensive about this method. Yes the students were generating some great questions but it almost felt like they were walking into a room, pitch black with no lights on. I allowed the students to use a text book to extract the answers needed for their questions. One response was, “Sir, is this right?” When I looked at the work, was it right? Indeed, absolutely bang on! All the key terms were used, and it was very concise and accurate. When I looked at another students work, again, very good but through discussion with him, he was still unsure.

I had an activity ready and waiting which was to rearrange some cards in a sequential order to test if learning had occurred. This formative assessment was useful because those that succeeded could move onto an exam question and those that were still unsure, I very briefly went through a flow chart of the control of breathing. If anything, this was to confirm to those students that what they had questioned themselves and written was actually correct. You could see the relief on their face. Now it was my turn to pounce on the students with questions. I suppose I wanted to make sure no stone was left unturned. I was not disappointed. Independent learning had definitely occurred.

STEP 6. Reflect

There was mixed feelings to start with. A bit slow? Maybe because it was the first attempt at using QFT. Was the question focus too vague? Could I have made it easier by providing some other resource to supplement the statement? Could it be that the students were highly stretched and used unknown thinking skills? Have they ever had to use so much thinking power? After all we do know that spoonfeeding does occur to try and get the best results. Spoonfeeding, I would like to add is not in my vocab!

Questioning is certainly powerful and the QFT provides a helpful structure. This lesson provided a huge amount of independent learning and masses amount of thinking power. There was visible learning, group processing and higher order thinking skills.

Next time :

1) Be more creative of how students will use their questions (make more use of the group processing factor)

2) Consider the use of a more informative question focus to help lead the students into questioning. (A very basic screencast maybe?, an article?)

As a teaching tool goes, this one is powerful if used correctly. I can see how this is used for enquiries and PBL but with a bit of tweaking and reflective feedback from the students this teaching method is one to keep.

I would be more than happy to hear of other examples of QFT in learning new information and any suggestions to progress my use of QFT.



I recently read an article written by @bennettscience on the concept of Flipped Classroom and he described it as, “a hybrid of direct instruction and constructivism”.

Now being quite a keen golfer, the term hybrid refers to a club with a combination of an iron and wood characteristics. (These are type of clubs for the non-golfer). But all week the term hybrid has just stuck in my head travelling to and from work and then I started to make analogies of golf clubs and teaching and learning strategies. Don’t know why – Just did.

The Driver – Questioning: The BIG POWER hitter. When used correctly can give you big advantages. When used incorrectly (hook/slice) can slow down progress.  

The Golf Pro – Marginal Gains: An instructor who can make minor changes to improve performance. May use technology, practical drills, and video analysis. Anything to improve performance. Will make minor changes for BIG gains.

The Club House – The Ipad: The club house is a place where you can organise yourself, make bookings, and arrange instruction even order food.

The Score Card – The Exam paper: Summative assessment at the end of the round. Often used to reflect on performance, where improvements can be made.

The Caddie – Cooperative Learning: The caddie (not that I ever will need one with my skills) is used to HELP make decisions, group process and contribute to overall performance. 

The Putter – Feedback: The saying in the golfing world is “drive for show – putt for dough”. Good putting can be the difference of winning and losing. Putting is essential for golfing as feedback is for effective teaching and Learning.

The Golf Bag – Twitter: The golf bag gives you all the tools you need. You can use any club (@follower) you wish depending on the shot you want to hit.

The Golf Course – Project Based Learning: Golf course come in all forms of difficulties, features, environments. To get around the course requires careful shot selection, engages the player, requires problem solving, critical thinking, failure and success.

The Flag/Hole – Learning Objectives: The flag/hole is the target. To get there in the first place requires some criteria. Do you have to avoid bunkers, hit over water, and keep out of the woods.

The Driving Range – Critiquing: Used for practice. Once you receive feedback in the sense of intrinsic, extrinsic, augmented, knowledge of performance or knowledge of results. Allows you to re-draft and shot and tweak.

Feel free to add any more crazy golf analogies.

That’s it, that’s what whizzes around in my head after I go through my daily duties that need to be fulfilled. Just going through this list it occurs to me that teaching and Learning has taken big strides forward. I really enjoy the flexibility of teaching and learning within a student centred environment where they themselves are guided to be creative, inquisitive, reflective and responsible. Now that I have got this off my chest and written, perhaps I can move on to think of something more purposeful. Who knows?




Simple but effective – Cooperative Learning


Just recently I’ve been focusing on group processing in theory and practical lessons. We have started a new unit, Handball, and it was time to explore some more cooperative learning structures. Round Robin and Numbered Heads Together.

These structures were recommended by @VGoodyear. Check out the PE Practitioners Reseach Network here where there is an excellent community for developing PE peadagogy.

All videos are examples of 2 of the structures and the consultation work done by Ben Dyson and Vicky Goodyear.

Numbered Heads Together

Each team had approx 5/6 players. At half time, I asked them to sit in their groups facing inwards. The task was to discuss 3 positive aspects of the team’s performance and 2 targets for improvement. It was evident that immediately the conversation was going in the right direction and with everyone facing the inner circle it provided a nice little breeding pot of ideas. Once I sensed that conversations were beginning to go off task, I asked each person to number themselves. I then reiterated that every member of the team needed to know the 3 positive aspects and the 2 targets for improvement.  After another 2 minutes I then asked number 4 to stand and come to either member of staff where they would share their  discussions.

Round Robin

After another couple of games, it was the turn of the Round Robin structure. So back to the seated circle and this time, discussion was guided around the effectiveness of the team’s attacking ability. The round robin structure means that each team member  makes a response in consecutive order. The advantage of this is that each person HAS to provide at least one response that is different from the rest of the group. In Kagan’s terms this is positive interdependence and accountability.

My personal preference would be to merge the 2 structures together by using the round robin to engage everyone but then number players off and randomly call a number to feedback the responses.


The third and final group structure I have been experimenting with is the Think-Pair-Share. Again with a LG twist of intuition. This time, I was on a PE cover for a colleague (Yr 9 rugby). During the student lead drills of improving handling (developing the Social Cog), I wanted them to reflect on the progress of their mini coaching session. So in pairs, I asked them to sit back to back. For me this helps isolate and avoid distraction. After 60 seconds the pair turned to face each other and share opinions on their groups progress. After 2/3 minutes I then asked the pair to join with another pair (in the same group) and collaborate on ideas and seek way forward. Great discussion and certainly an improvement in the performance of the leaders and their organisation. (These are the times when I don’t mind being called for cover)

In summary

I have to say that this is still unfinished business as there are many little variations that could be included. The main positive of the above structures is the depth of group processing is creates. The round robin almost forces everyone to contribute (even the quieter ones) and if they’re lucky enough to be called during numbered heads together  then they even have to represent their group’s responses. One thing I felt as a teacher was the reduced questioning from myself as most of it was being done within the circle.

I think the danger could be too much dialogue and not enough activity. In a one hour handball lesson I used Numbered Heads Together and Round Robin only once. I think I may have had an opportunity to include perhaps one more group processing task but that would certainly be it. Nevertheless, the quality of engagement produced thoughtful responses and high levels of reflection.

3 very simple structures which can be used in a wide variety of environments and promotes a boiling pot of discussion.