Systematic Observation Part 1: Time Analysis
Over the coming weeks I will be sharing several ways to use systematic observation as a reflective tool in your teaching. Last year I completed the process of applying for the National Board Certification, and during this time I realized how important video analysis is for Physical Education teachers. It reminded me of graduate school when I regularly used systematic observation.
During the #pechat this week, we discussed instruction time and how it relates to practice time. Systematic observation is a great way to take a close look at this. Systematic observation uses video analysis to observe and reflect on different aspects of one’s teaching. This can range from teacher delivery skills, how time is managed by the teacher and how students are using time during class. This is often used at the university level to assist teacher candidates; however, I plan to use this weekly during my teaching this fall to help me find ways to better engage my students.
The forms I am including in this series are all courtesy of Dr. Hans vanDerMars who is a significant contributor to Physical Education and someone I was lucky enough to have as a professor in graduate school. The forms related to this post can be found here.
The first type of systematic observation I’m going to discuss is time analysis. If you’re unfamiliar with time analysis or haven’t done it since undergraduate or graduate school here are some steps that will help you to get started.
Videotape a Lesson
First, if possible find wireless microphone to wear during the lesson. This will allow you to hear yourself teaching throughout the recording. Secondly, it is very helpful to find a colleague or administrator to record you. Having a colleague record your lesson also helps encourage/teach them how to use systematic observation. Having an administrator record a lesson is great advocacy for your Physical Education program. However, for this particular type of systematic observation it is not crucial for the video recoding device to follow you or your students closely. It is possible for you to put the recording device in a corner where the whole gym view is captured on the screen. Make sure to prep your students and let them know that they will be videotaped. Sometimes it helps to do practice videoing so students are used to having the video recording device in the classroom.
After you have recorded a lesson you are ready to print out the time analysis form. If you have never recorded a time analysis or it has been awhile I would recommend using the first form as it is more simplistic. There are three main time episodes to pay attention to during recording: management time (M), activity time (A), and instruction time (I). I have a very detailed description of each of these categories. Feel free to contact me and I can send you the information in an email.
For a more detailed time analysis check out the second form. Activity time is broken down into specific categories: warm-up W), fitness (F), practice time (P), and game (G). Depending upon what you desire to assess you could make your own category. For example, if you desire to assess a very specific type of management episode, such as students’ ability to quickly retrieve equipment, you could make a category for that. Make sure to not confuse yourself by adding too many categories.
Once you have printed out your form, grab a stopwatch and your recording. Push play on your recording device and at the same time start the stopwatch. Start recording your data by placing an M for management time, I for instruction time or A for activity time at the zero mark depending on what time episode you started your lesson with. Each smaller line on the form signifies 10 seconds of time. As soon as this specific type of time episode ends and another begins, immediately mark the new time episode (denoted with an M, I, or A) at the time on the form at which this new time episode begins. Continue noting when you switch time episodes and what type of time episode you have switched to until you have come to the end of the lesson. Once you have completed the form, you can record the total time for each category and calculate the percentage of time you spent within each category.
Implementing Technology Within Systematic Observation
If you are a person who would prefer to use an app while assessing time analysis as opposed to pencil and paper I would recommend the Easy Up/Down Timers app. This app allows you to create up to 25 different timers. Each timer can have a customized name and picture if you desire. Just simply stop or start each different management episode as you review your video. After you review your video you will need to convert the minutes to seconds in order to see your percentages for each category.
One option for making your filming easier is the Swivl. I have yet to test it out but I have heard great things about it and plan on purchasing one to help with my systematic observations this fall. The Swivl is an amazing device that uses an iPad or iPhone for the camera and through wireless technology follows you around the gym, recording your teaching. There are various Swivl models depending upon which device you prefer to use as the camera. Other great features of this device is that it has a wireless microphone that you wear and it has it own cloud. Checkout their website for more details.