Lee Garrett

A teaching and learning journey through PE

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Blended Learning? I’d call it diverse teaching!

Ive recently been observed by senior management. I tried to keep the lesson as routinely normal as possible without dressing it up, so I opted for SOLO stations. why not? Students have already experienced the benefits and the challenge of progressing and seeing their own visible learning, they know and understand the language and the process involved. Done!

These are some post obs reflections.

Briefly, each station had a different activity. To start, Socrative was used to generate a hinge question and find a starting point for the students to begin working. There was a Flipped Classroom approach integrated with cooperative learning, there was peer critique on another station and finally hexagons for the Extended Abstract which was planned but not used. Students needed to pay extra attention on the relational stage.

Some may call the above a Blended Learning approach, who cares, I would just simply call it diverse teaching and learning to engage the students into personalised learning. The great @learningspy recently posted a blog called Is there a right way to teach? in which I totally agree with his sentiments. Direct Instruction has been found to be extremely effective in terms of student achievement (Hattie – 0.59 effect size). Just reflecting back to my lesson observation, did I exercise Direct Instruction? Most definitely because it was easy for me to create a success criteria through the use of SOLO levels, the students knew what had to be achieved and as the teacher I set clear learning intentions (cheers WALT) AND from time to time I was checking progress. This does not mean I used didactic teaching methods which is sometimes confused with the term Direct Instruction. No way. In fact did I mention that cooperative learning was used, the great Think-Pair-Share strategy pops up again (reciprocal teaching).

William Glasser

There were times that as a teacher, I felt that my expertise needed to interject some of the conversation. As much as I felt it would be right to allow them to explore various avenues and allow them to make the mistakes in order to learn, there are some restrictions which prevent me from allowing this to happen. Mainly TIME. We have an even shorter academic year due to the cultural environment this school is located in and time is tight to finish off the syllabus. Fortunately, formative questioning steered them back on course and the students themselves questioned me and others for their own understanding (these were duly congratulated).

Hattie’s Visible Learning is not predictive, it is evidence based on many millions of students and a synthesis on over 800 meta analyses and if you want to know what impacts on student’s learning this should be a good starting point.

The lesson showed visible learning. Students achieved set learning intentions. They demonstrated the use of various skills, interdependence, accountability, formulated questions to consolidate understanding, and made mistakes which they learned from. They received feedback in order to feedforward. They gave me feedback in order for me to gain an understanding of their actual learning.

The use of teaching strategies are an important contributing factor (0.6 effect size). One thing Ive learned is that with my expert personal learning network via Twitter and the professionally written blogs being shared, diversifying the strategies has been made easier to use and explore. The Blended Learning (BL) approach is an interesting one in that it combines face to face interaction (teacher) and online learning (screencast).

The use of the SOLO stations fitted in well with the BL model Station Rotation with a few variances to make the lesson work. I would certainly use this model again as it allows more effective use of the teacher within the classroom in other words, there is more student-teacher time making effective use of feedback. Part of the reason why I used SOLO stations was that as a whole school, we are having a drive on differentiation. Students can start at any stage and their decision can be guided by the hinge question. Students then progress forwards or backwards (consolidate) at their own pace. During the flipped approach students could watch the screencast as many times as they wish (self paced). As highlighted, the BL model allows for differentiation.

Call it what you want but this lesson was filled with a variety of different tasks and activities pinned against learning criteria. The fact that I used a potential BL model is irrelevant. Diverse, specific and engaging teaching and learning tasks for me is a successful recipe in the classroom. I will however pay a little more attention on Blended Learning to see exactly what it can offer.



Physical Literacy

As a PE teacher and indeed any teacher you are continually thinking about behaviour management, progression of activities, questions for effective feedback, AFL strategies, warm-up, cool down, differentiation. The list goes on. But physical literacy? This is a term that I’m well aware of but never really gave it much thought. Why? Probably because there is so much we have to consider to incorporate within a lesson that specific physical literacy tasks is put to one side and left to develop over time through day to day experiences. Until now!

physical literacy

I recently attended a course on developing physical literacy by CreateDevelopment delivered by @creatorronnie and @cretorjohn. This is not a sales pitch for CreateDevelopment although they did deliver an outstanding course but my thinking and reflection from that day has ignited some thought as to the future of my PE units of work and lessons.

When we talk about physical literacy, we essentially are talking about the basic fundamentals of skill and movement. Some call it multi-abilities or A,B,Cs (agility, balance, coordination) but it is all very much the same. The analogy which really stuck with me is that the sport specific skills / the complete execution of a task is referred to as a sentence of movement. I will use triple jump as an example.

But what about the letters and words that make up these sentences? Without the letters, you get mis-spelled words, incomplete sentences and a paragraph that does not make sense. The letters are the so called physical literacy skills needed to execute the skills. For example in triple jump the words run up, hop, skip,  jump, flight and landing make up the sentence (the complete execution of the triple jump). Within the words are letters. These letters are the fundamental physical literacy skills, balance and coordination, and don’t forget these skills need to be transferred bilaterally. Generally the multi-skills which act as a foundation for movement are by and large overlooked.


– How could physical literacy be embedded? As part of the warm-up/cool down, integrated within the lesson? We have the resources to do this but department planning and sharing good practice is key.

(Next question refers to our school which starts from Foundation Stage 1 to Post-16)

– Could we do INSET training to Primary staff and encourage/guide them to set aside 5-10 every day of physical literacy exercises as part of 5-10min motivator break? There is actually another learning benefit by doing this.

– Physical literacy was largely developed through “play”. With the ever increasing technological society, is it possible to educate parents about the value of physical literacy and the various ways that home support can contribute. We constantly get asked by parents what they can do to support their son/daughter although many rely on school as their only provision of physical activity.

– How can we get staff to support PE and offer physical literacy ECAs?

– Would Secondary students benefit from an intervention of physical literacy? or is it too late by then.

We have already took a big step since September by redesigning the curriculum to focus on developing 6 non performance skills (cognitive, physical, creativity, social, personal, health and fitness) and have already seen higher attainment, an increase in a positive attitude towards PE and visible learning. But if 75% of students are switched off PE by the age of 16, questions have to be asked as to why. Is it because they do not have the physical literacy skills developed enough to participate AND ENJOY sport, peer group pressure and other external factors, inflexible curriculum, or some other complex reason.

Whatever the reasons, PE teachers have to try and eliminate as many factors as possible. For me right now, the development of physical literacy is important especially in the environment I work and live in. Culturally, the students I work with do not have opportunities to develop the basic fundamental skills and this can be observed in the quality of their own body movements and coordination.

Like I said earlier, I always knew about multi-skills and abilities but it was never in my radar until now. I’m pretty sure that just a minimal amount of time spent developing some aspect of  fundamental skills will go a long way. Some would call this a marginal gain.