I have been listening to quite a few podcasts and reading blog posts about professional development models. Several schools are going to a professional learning model where teachers have choice in what sessions they attend and what they learn. I always thought that PE teachers had it rough with professional development because most of the content in these conferences or training focused on the academics in the classroom. I felt bad that they had to be there when it had very few benefits for their instruction. When it came to technology, I thought it was even worse. Who was going to use a computer in gym class?
However, with advancements in the technology available and the tools that have been developed, there are plenty of uses for it in a gym or PE setting. I was inspired to think about these uses a bit more after listening to the most recent episode of The EdTech Takeout – PE and Technology. Mindy and Jonathan interviewed two PE teachers, Kari Bullis and Ryan Gotto, to discuss technology in the PE classroom. I want to list a few ways with some suggestions and examples.
1. Introducing New Skills
How much PE class time is wasted demonstrating and talking about the skill before actually trying it? By curating some videos for students to watch, students will come to class with a basic understanding of the skills. The teacher can then immediately begin working with students and making the technical corrections. These videos could also be played during class so that students have a model to follow while the teacher can assess.
Take this a step further by putting these videos into EdPuzzle. With EdPuzzle, you can make a video into a lesson by pausing and asking questions for assessment. Want to know check to see if students understood that key piece of information in performing a serve? Pause and assess.
2. Introducing New Games
Besides developing a skill, students might need to be introduced to the rules of a game, whether an individual or team activity. Often times, the rules might be explained very clearly on a website, where the structure of the game is broken into sections along with diagrams. Take a website like this and turn it into a lesson with InsertLearnng. Highlight important information that students will need to know for the next class period. Insert questions to check for understanding. Create discussion on a certain section. Plus, embed other content into the site, such as a YouTube video or Padlet.
It can be very difficult for students to improve on physical form if they cannot see what they are doing wrong. When you write down your work in math or create a sentence in English, the teacher can walk you through those steps and help you find the errors. But that becomes more difficult in physical activity when you aren’t actively looking at yourself doing the process. This is where video recording comes in.
I see a bunch of kids posting their max weightlifting reps on social media, so many kids are already familiar with this. Students can record themselves demonstrating a skill, lift, or other physical activity. They can review this video and work with their teacher to get feedback.
Students can also take this videos to demonstrate understanding. Using a screen recorder like Screencastify, Screencast-o-matic, or a native screen recorder, students can provide narration to their video, pausing at key moments and annotating. Students could then upload this reflection to a Flipgrid or post on YouTube.
4. Formative Assessment
Part of providing a grade for PE requires assessment of skills. Students should be able to know what they need to improve on right away. Apart from the previously mentioned self-assessment, teachers can also provide feedback on a variety of skills for a great number of students through the use of technology. One way to do this is to use a Google Form with some pre-filled data (See this post from Alice Keeler on how to create a pre-filled form for each student). As you assess students, make changes to the form on areas that need improvement. After the form is filled out, students will be able to get the feedback immediately after class.
Another tool for formative assessment is GoFormative. You can create assessments by uploading images, diagrams, creating questions, etc. Want to see if students know the dimensions of a tennis court? Upload a diagram and have them annotate it. Want to see if students can explain whether a soccer play will result in offsides or not? Insert a diagram of the play position with the ball and have them explain the rule. This type of assessment can get your students critically thinking. Elite athletes are able to understand their sport beyond just the physical aspect. They can think about how the sport works and understand situations.
5. Student Choice
How do you reach all of your students? Sometimes you will have athletes who excel at team sports, while you may have other students who prefer individual sports. Some students might not feel comfortable doing activities as a whole group. One great way to provide student choice is through stations. Break your gym into quadrants and prepare activities for each quadrant. Find some videos to help introduce skills. Students can practice the first skill until they feel comfortable moving on. You as a teacher can move from quadrant to quadrant working with students in each area.
One way to get this set up very easily is through the use of QR codes. Hanging QR codes in your quadrants will allow the students to bring their device and easily scan the code to access the content.
I hope you found some of these ideas useful. I am sure there are plenty more ways to integrate technology into your PE class, but I hope you have something that you can try right away! If you try or have tried one of these suggestions, please leave me some feedback on how it worked. I would love to hear back from my readers. If you have some additional suggestions, please drop a comment!