Balancing Instructional Time with Practice Time: the story of Volleyball Bingo
Last night while moderating the last session of #pechat, this anecdotal part of the discussion sparked a reflection from earlier in the school year. To give context, last nights #pechat focused on the balance between effective use of instructional time (IT) and practice time (PT). Much of what was discussed centered on things such as: effective planning, limiting teacher talk, purposeful practice vs. physical activity, questioning, and interspersing instruction/checking for understanding throughout a solid lesson with high levels of practice opportunity. One of my biggest professional goals this year was finding ways to give timely, specific feedback as efficiently as possible–this was imperative for me because of the rather large (45 students) classes I encountered on a daily basis.
Much of what I was speaking to last night with small group, differentiated instruction was what you see above (go ahead and click/tap the picture, it will take you to the actual document). I drew the inspiration for instructional bingo from Jo Bailey (@lovephyed) and taught several units throughout the year using this strategy. Driven by my desire to differentiate instruction; provide challenging tasks that were developmentally appropriate; allow for student choice; have built in remediation for students who needed it; and allow me to have a continuous video feedback loop setup, volleyball bingo achieved it’s goals. However, I learned quite a bit from my students through the process and I thought I would share them.
- Students really enjoyed learning this way
This was evident through all of the self reflections I collected and read regarding students learning this way. Students really enjoyed being able to work at their own pace, have choice over who and what they learned, and a level of autonomy not usually enjoyed in physical education classes. Over 95% of all the feedback I received was positive towards learning like this. The people who did not lamented the fact that they did not have more structure. They voiced a desire for having more direct instruction and being told exactly what it was I wanted them to do and showing them how to do it. An additional piece of feedback I received which was even more overwhelmingly positive than the volleyball bingo was that students thought the video feedback loop was essential to their learning. Being able to see themselves, watch example videos of an activity (oh Hi there #flippedclass) and seeing their progress was very helpful for them. If nothing else, I felt reaffirmed in my use of video in the classroom from that feedback.
- Organized Chaos
Leveraging technology in the physical education classroom can be a scary endeavor sometimes. Especially, when you add in equipment and objects flying around at the same time. It looks chaotic and that’s because it is! That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing. One downside of teaching like this is I spent a ton of time at the video feedback station giving feedback to students. While this 1 on 1 interaction was terrific, it did not come without its sacrifices. Stepping back and seeing the big picture was just not possible with how engaged I was working with students. Frankly, this made me feel pretty uncomfortable. I always like to step back during practice time and get a wide angle view of what learning is really happening. Being so focused on one task (facilitator of feedback) meant that I had to trust that my students were staying on task. For some classes, no problem. For others… well… not as much. In the future, I have some ideas on how to mitigate this problem.
- It’s not all about MVPA (Moderately to Vigorous Physical Activity)
This is another truth when leveraging so much technology with students in the classroom. If you have a significant amount of technology in the hands of students while learning, physical activity is absolutely going to decrease. If somebody tries to tell you otherwise, they are lying. This is a scary proposition for some people when so much of physical education today focuses on getting students active. Naturally, I could conduct a #PhysEd lesson that had an incredible amount of activity, but will they have learned anything? Therein lies my point. If technology use in a physical education classroom is purposeful and it enhances a student’s ability to learn a concept, then so what? So what if we lose a little bit of physical activity? Isn’t the idea that learning should be meaningful and relevant everything that physical literacy is about? As Stasie Veinotte (@stasieveinotte) put it succinctly last night, we are teaching not leading a health club fitness class.
- Now about those Outcomes
Throughout this entire process, I felt that I learned a lot. To be perfectly honest, I am uncertain whether students were any more successful in achieving the learning outcomes we aspired to at the start of the unit. Truthfully, that is the final judge of whether any pedagogical approach is worth considering and I did a poor job with evidence collection. Next year, I plan on making several adjustments to how I lead instruction in this way. One thing that I would eliminate would be giving student choice in the Jedi warm up. In my overzealousness in giving student choice, I felt that students weren’t getting properly warmed up physically or mentally (with what the lesson objectives of the day were). I also feel I need to do a better job of systematically collecting student evidence of learning. While bingo was a good method of instruction, the way I attempted to check for understanding, assess or have students demonstrate knowledge at the end of a class period was poor. Adjusting how I go about that is something to consider moving into the next year. Like with most teaching, I will use bingo again next year in a variety of units–and it will undoubtedly look different than it did this year. That’s the beauty of the art of teaching.