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. 


Another marginal gain: Augmented Reality

There’s been some outstanding posts recently on marginal gains (@BebbPEteach, @learningspy, @fullonlearning @huntingenglish) and the small things we are doing as teachers to contribute to the success of developing and enriching our students. The infectious ‘marginal gains’ which is daily banded around the Twitter teaching community is exciting, motivating yet intriguing at the same time.

In 2003, Clive Woodward and his band of merry men went down under and won the World Rugby Championships. A few years later, I read Sir Clive’s book, titled Winning and was amazed at the small details, Sir Clive went to, to win the Webb Ellis trophy. For example, re-designing the rugby jersey to reduce the opponents grip on his players, using technological software to track decision making and bringing in specialist people to enhance the players psychology, nutrition and strength and conditioning. Ring any bells?  It is no secret now that the dynamic and innovative leader Dave Brailsford and the GB cycling team had heated pants maintaining the temperature of the leg muscles similar to a  Formula 1 car warming the tyres pre-race to increase traction. After the inspiring success of the Olympics, Dave Brailsford openly talks about the importance of the accumulation of the 1% gains.

The use of technology and marginal gains leads me to one of my AFL applications within theory lessons. Augmented Reality (AR). For those who do not know what AR is, it is using an iphone, ipad or ipod with the loaded Aurasma App , pointing at an image and bringing the image to life.




I have been using AR to implement AFL in GCSE PE and A Level. For example, I had an exam question for A2 physiology relating to fatigue. To gain access to the mark scheme, they would use Aurasma which would bring to life an image below the question. In this particular case it would be a videoscribe of the mark scheme and a link to a website for further reading leading to lactate threshold, the main learning objective. See link below.


The engaging factor is a real strength. I think it is important to state that I don’t think “oh I will do an Aurasma lesson”, I am actually trying to embed the AFL process within the lesson. As Hattie states in Visable Learning, “the use of computers is more effective when there is a diversity of teaching strategies” and “there was an advantage for computer work to be a supplement (d=0.45) rather than a substitute or replacement for teacher instruction.  The magic 0.4 hinge point relating to achievement. And that is exactly what I am trying to achieve by using Aurasma. To help diversify my own teaching strategies. As you know this is successfully being achieved thanks to Twitter CPD!

There is so much conceivable uses for Augmented Reality in Education. I will end this post on the list I have created for potential uses of AR.

1). To present student work

2). To show clips of events, fixtures, plays, drama productions without the need for TV screens or projectors.

3). Create instruction cards (E.g. Circuit training cards show real life video for correct technique)

4). Create instruction cues to help solve complex equations. AR could show how to solve such problems.

5). Use as a quiz, starter or plenary

6). Be part of your learning wall

7). C3B4Me – Include AR in that equation

8). Use to Media Studies/English to show video clips of Shakespeare for review

9). Your school letter/bulletin could use AR to inform. A good way of protecting confidential/sensitive information

10). Use as a teaching resource – Be part of reciprocal teaching, cooperative learning,

Thats it (so far), Im sure you can think of other ways to be creative in the use of AR (feel free to share) but remember its just another way to diversify your teaching, engage the learner and even allow the learner to take control.


Twitter Power CPD


Twitter Power CPD

Twitter, Tweets, Tweeting. As my wife moans ” aaargh you’re a tweeting geek!”, what she doesn’t realise is the vast enormity of this unbelievable CPD tool. I started Twitter only last May and I can honestly say in the wise words of @davestacey it has “rebooted my teaching”. It really has. Here’s a reflection how and what I’ve learned and developed so far.

The power of twitter as a CPD tool for me is great. @stand_out_in_pe recently shared a comfort, stretch, panic curve idea.


He used it to try and stretch the students out of their comfort zone and enhance learning. In a discussion with a colleague, this can also be applied to us as teachers. We used the use of PowerPoint as an example in A Level lessons. I’m not knocking the use of PowerPoint don’t get me wrong, it has a place but I’ve been highly guilty in the past as have many others of death by PowerPoint. Why? Because of the comfort factor and I would say that I would have been the ‘sage on the stage’ many a time. Since I’ve been “rebooted” I’ve not even had to go near a PowerPoint. Thanks Twitter.
My love of teaching and learning has gone through the roof, I endeavour to strive to teach engaging lessons, visible learning and provide quality feedback and I feel that I can now give valuable support and richly develop my colleagues as Head of PE.

So what I have I learned in such a short space of time.

The Flipped Classroom

Some people like it, some people don’t. I came across this concept through @pauldavidmac. I must admit, I did try to use other videos off YouTube first but the learning was affected considerably and after more research, I used my own screencast app (Explain Anything) to which I really enjoy using as it allows deeper learning within the classroom and obviously stretches the students learning and understanding.


This leads me on to SOLO Taxonomy. I first came across this through the innovative @davidfawcett27 and on deeper reading came @totallywired77 who has been described as the guru of SOLO. SOLO in conjunction with other strategies like the flipped classroom for example has taken my teaching to another level because of the way it maps out the learning pathway. We use it in both A Level and GCSE and the learning is so visible that the time and effort it took to learn and develop the concept and the language was certainly worth it.

I could go on all night about what I’ve learned and from who but there has been other ways Twitter has been influential.


For example, there has been a fascinating debate on Twitter. PE teachers can use the social media as a forum. This week was a discussion surrounding the use of responsibility in learning. #pechat. Another way of collaborating and sharing innovative ideas. The popularity of “chats” is increasing. There is an interesting #SLTchat by @teachertoolkit and @bennettscience has started #flipclass both of which is an opportunity to share outstanding practice.


Another way my teaching / leadership has improved through twitter is the recommendations of various books. I’ve never read so many! But I’ve enjoyed reading them. Two teachers who have guided me in the right direction are @davidfawcett27 and @bebbPEteach. Without these tweachers, I would not have known about the power of critique ( Ron Berger) and the significance of 0.4 in measuring learning influences (John Hattie).


I do enjoy using technology and since I have started using my iPad, Twitter has guided me to using specific PE Apps. For me, the main person is @mrrobbo. His blog is detailed with apps and websites which can specifically be used in the classroom and out in the field.

Following Blogs

There are some outstanding blogs and websites which are both highly informative and reflective. When I was searching for a Gifted and Talented resource, I came across @leading_in_PE. Simon Scarborough is hugely influential in the way he has adopted and developed the Accelerating Learning programme in PE. His blog is detailed, honest and informative and is extremely open in helping me develop a similar sort of programme. I do find writing this blog helpful in reflecting the practices that I have used. It does actually make you more reflective in the class and this can only be a good thing for the students.

And it’s not just teachers, there are PhD educationalists who are using social media to support and develop current pedagogy. @vgoodyear has been extremely helpful in administering feedback to some of the cooperative learning structures I have been exploring.

My final praise for twitter is the learning network I have developed. There are an abundance of innovative, open, professional tweachers who are selfless, sharing and forward thinking in their profession. I certainly feel welcomed and completely energised by the fact that I can now communicate with such people.

Since starting Twitter, I have:
– started Edmodo
– Using Augmented Reality in lessons
– Use Evernote
– Developed flipped classroom
– Read books,
– Enhanced the use of critique
– Use IPad/apps in lessons
– Screencast lessons
– Use SOLO taxonomy
– Develop cooperative learning
– Discovered more Apps
– Watched Teachmeet seminars
– Learned about current teaching standards/issues
– Read some more books
– Write my own blog
– Developed my teaching
– Enhanced students learning and school experience
– Use Twitter as a revision tool
– Met many dedicated and like minded professionals

Through Twitter, there are other people who could easily be mentioned but is obviously impossible to mention everyone. If you’re reading this, I hope it has inspired you to set up an account and explore this amazing world of tweachers.


Silent Card Shuffle – Cooperative Learning

This post follows on from the Jigsaw structure in Personal Survival.

The Learning Objective was to design and create a scenario within Personal Survival using skills developed from the previous week. We talked about how Personal Survival was relevant in real life and discussed some of the practical situations the skills could represent. E.g. A surface dive represents swimming under an obstacle and out to safety on a sinking ferry.

After the warm, groups of 4 collected some cards. There were 9 cards. You could add some cards which would be deemed red herrings.

The cards were: surface dive, feet first dive, entry into water, climb out of pool, tread water, H.E.L.P, 5m underwater swim, floating star position, 50m swim.

Task 1)
In groups of 4 without talking shuffle the cards to make a sequence of 7 cards with 2 cards being omitted. Absolutely no talking. You can rearrange as necessary.

Task 2)
As a group, discuss and collaborate on a sequence of events. At this point it was strongly recommended to ask each other questions why group members put certain skills in a particular order. The start of questioning.

Task 3)
Once the groups were happy with their sequence of events, one group member was asked to remain seated with their scenario. Their job was to justify and defend their sequential order.

Meanwhile the other group members went around to analyse other group’s sequences and ask questions on the inclusion and ordering of skills. E.g. Why did you put a surface dive followed by the H.E.L.P position? and what was the thinking behind the inclusion of a floating star position?

At this point, the dialogue was exactly what I was after. Good interaction, good use of questioning for their understanding and the use of thinking skills. One problem which I came across, those that were shy would walk around the groups and hide behind those that were comfortable with asking questions. The other thing I noticed was that students would be content with asking the same questions. In future, I would add that students would only be allowed to ask the same question twice.

Nevertheless, in the space of 5-10 minutes, they were using their thinking skills, creativity, social skills, and questioning techniques.

It doesn’t end there.

Once students made their way around everyone it was time to go back to their own scenario and debrief their findings as a group. This was their last chance to make any rearrangements before entering the water to test out their sequence.

The remainder of the lesson was spent performing their own and others scenario and giving feedback.

This was the first time I tried the silent card shuffle and its certainly one that I will be using more often. Again one of my colleagues was teaching gymnastics at the same time also using the technique and had similar positive effects.

Final Thoughts

* This technique is highly effective with tasks involving sequencing and classifying.
* Some coaching on questioning might be useful.
* Creates a good classroom environment when students are moving around asking questions.
* Some of the quieter students may need to be encouraged as there is potential to hide.
* There is an element of critiquing on each others sequence. Therefore the 3 rules of Be Kind, Be Specific, Be Helpful can be applicable.
* Reinforce the need to rephrase questions or ask questions based on what is observed and not to repeat questions for the sake of it.

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Health and Fitness COG

Health & Fitness

Over the last 5 weeks, the PE department is really doing a good job, exploring, trialing and sharing successful ways of embedding the Accelerating Abilities cogs within our revised curriculum and lessons. One thing is for sure though, and that is that our culture shift is starting turn. Over this last week I’ve heard some fantastic responses through the use of independent learning one of which I will provide later. But in truth, the work and effort in planning from the PE staff is admirable and I can only praise them for their drive, open-mindedness and effort of working outside their comfort zone. However, as you will read later I think that they have been rewarded and inspired with the way students have responded to the change in philosophy.

One experience which I would like to share is a fitness unit (Year 7). In our 5 week block, the Year 7 boys started the term with fitness under the watchful eye of Mr Mosley. Previously, we would have done a wide range of fitness tests etc and got the students to experience various training methods. The first 2 weeks involved information at a multistructural level to be gathered. This included components of fitness and definitions, characteristics of health related and skill related circuit training and how the heart can be used as an indicator for intensity. The final 3 weeks focused more on applying and evaluating the Health & Fitness cog within a specific sport. In this case it was football. From an earlier pilot study last year, this was trialed on a smaller scale, Swimming. In the SOLO world this would be the beginning of the relational and extended abstract learning journey.

The third week involved getting the students to watch a live performance of 8v8. The remaining students was on the sidelines armed with clip board, pencil and paper making notes. The task was to observe  and identify the health related and skill related fitness components throughout the 8v8 game. For this, students needed to use the knowledge gained from the first 2 weeks worth of lessons.

The fourth lesson was based on specificity of football. In small groups, students had to design and plan a drill which was aimed to develop a fitness component identified in the game from the previous week. A very open ended task and resourced with balls, cones, ladders, hurdles and poles, this was the start of them creating and evaluating (high order task) whilst making connections. What impressed me was the energy, collaboration and enjoyment. If football is involved, usually, we would expect questions such as… “Can we have a game?”, which all teachers must have had at some point in their career, “when are we going in the pool?” and “it’s too hot, can we go inside?”. We had not one of these questions asked.



The fifth and final lesson of the fitness module was focused on positional needs. Mr. Mosley wanted them to think even more specifically and apply their leadership, knowledge and analytical minds to key football positions. Facilitating and activating the students, I could sense that the majority of students were outside their comfort zone and starting to stretch themselves. I was blown away with the general level of detail that the Year 7 boys responded with and so I decided to record a discussion with the first group of students that I approached. There were no prompts or suggestions that I was going to conduct a mini interview but as you will hear, the enthusiasm, knowledge and understanding and the correcting of each other is impressive. In fact it was quite funny to watch them jostle between them to give me their answers. This was certainly inspiring and satisfying. You can hear the mini interview below:

Yr7 Fitness Cog discussion

Part of the planning stage involved homework where students had to provide plans of the sessions that were to be carried out along with statements of the fitness components that were being developed with short descriptions of specificity within football. Thinking about it now, this would have been a great opportunity to go through the process of critique as superbly described in Ron Bergers book, An Ethic of Excellence, and allowed the students to ask questions of themselves and of others enabling them to re-draft acting upon the use of feedback. Note taken for next time.

General thoughts

The cog provided motivation for the lower ability to achieve not in the execution of football skills but in the attainment, development and knowledge of Health and Fitness.

One student asked “sir, does it matter that I can’t head the ball properly in this drill?” Response, “No, as long as you try that’s great but you need to be concerned more about applying your health and fitness knowledge to improve others.” With that he happily turned around, and eagerly ran off to continue setting up his session. I think this demonstrates the student wanting some security of the fact that the shift in PE philosophy of assessing the life skills (cogs) rather than performance still stands.

I had what John Hattie calls a teaching conversation with Mr Mosley (we have quite a lot of them) about his perspective on the impact the cogs has had thus far. Interestingly he said that certainly the middle and higher ability students just accelerated and took off but the lower ability struggled. When he explained this, it turned out that they had at least achieved their target grade but not necessarily at the same rate. Here’s some possible questions as to why.

1) Would the result be different if we had used a different sport within the fitness unit.
2) Did the differentiated tasks target/favour and stretch the upper tier more?
3) Did the makeup of the groups affect the output. They were aloud to choose their preferred working party.
4) Were they effectively assessed. There was a range of peer/teacher formative assessments but were they reliable and valid?
5) Had we used a more traditional national curriculum level, what would have been the outcome?

All these questions I’m sure we will discover throughout the year. But for now, facilitating a Year 7 practical lesson to a standard where they could probably answer a GCSE question on fitness components with specific terminology is definitely a step in the right direction and a further step in shifting the culture within PE.

The use of the Health & Fitness cog in a fitness module obviously goes hand in hand. But there were ample opportunities to develop different ones. For example, students had the chance to show off their creativity, social and cognitive skills which you can identify in this post. Over the next couple of weeks, I feel a real need to seek different ways to maximise the implementation/recording of the various skills within lessons/units as I feel that students are missing out on opportunities to develop these cogs.