Monthly Archives: October 2014

Student Voice in Physical Education

Do your students have a voice in your class?

For years I would stand up in front of my classes telling them exactly what they were going to to do and when, never giving any consideration as to whether it was of any interest to them.  After all, I’m the teacher and I know best, right???  Until about 2 years ago when my current teaching environment changed.  I went from teaching K-4 to teaching K-6, which was a welcomed change, but one I wasn’t quite prepared for.

After struggling to engage my 6th grade students in my lessons I realized I needed to make some changes.  And almost out of desperation I asked my students what they were interested in.  I used a quick Socrative survey to ask my students what units/activities they were interested in participating in.  So I used the data that they provided and started to plan my future lessons.  For the remainder of that year I would offer 2-3 different activities for the students to participate in.  All activities were aligned with the standards, curriculum and objectives.  As I reflected on my teaching I realized that my students had a greater insight into their learning than I ever gave them credit for.  To this day I continue to collect data, now through Google Forms, as to their interests and plan my lessons based upon this data.  This “ah-ha” moment opened my eyes to a new way to approach teaching.  Ever since, I’ve made a conscious effort to utilize my student’s ideas, interests, and abilities to develop more meaningful lessons and activities that promote a more engaged learning environment.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still the “teacher”, but my role is more of facilitator.  I allow my students to display their understanding and knowledge of concepts and skills in multiple ways.  This may be as simple of giving them the option to work individually, with a partner or in a small group.  I also provide choices for activities/games, allowing students to choose an activity based upon their perceived ability, not mine.  We must meet our students individual learning styles by providing them the optimal opportunity for learning and who better to know what that is than our students.  I challenge you to examine your teaching style and ask yourself this question:  Do my students have a voice in their learning?  When you provide opportunities for your students to be heard, it’s amazing as to what you (the teacher) can learn!

Below are this weeks questions, thanks for sharing your thoughts!

1- Do you feel it is important to promote student voice in physical education? Why or why not?


2- In what ways do you promote student voice in your classes?

in wgat

3- What benefits can student voice provide our classes and student learning?


4- What barriers/challenges do you see in incorporating student voice into your classes?


5 – What tools, activities, and strategies do/can you utilize that promote student voice?



Assessments in Education

 “Assessment is the process of gathering and discussing information from multiple and diverse sources in order to develop a deep understanding of what students know, understand, and can do with their knowledge as a result of their educational experiences; the process culminates when assessment results are used to improve subsequent learning.”  (Learner-Centered Assessment on College Campuses: shifting the focus from teaching to learning by Huba and Freed 2000).

The first thought that pops into my head when we talk about assessing our students is standardized testing.  There should be no argument that standardized testing does not show the full learning and understanding that occurs throughout the year.  The Onion, a satirical website, has a video and an article that hammers home why standardized testing is less than stellar when assessing our students. (video has foul language) Standardized testing is only one kind of summative assessment.   There are many other ways to assess students without having them fill in bubbles for three hours at a clip.

Another major problem with summative assessments are that they only show what you learned, or didn’t learn, at the end of the unit or year.  It is too late in most cases to have the students learn or relearn the material after the year or unit.  However, they do show if the standard has been met which is one purpose of teaching.  We need summative assessments, just not standardized testing as the only summative assessments to assess our students.

The other type of assessments are formative assessments. These are the assessments that can change the way students learn.  They find out where the students are during the unit and help them either catch up or propel them forward to the next lesson.  Formative assessments can be quick hitters or more in depth.  The point of them is to find out are the students where they should be during the unit and where should they go from there.

Both assessments are needed to make sure the students are understanding, and can demonstrate the standards.  The job of the teacher is to make these assessments fun and exciting while still collecting the data needed to identify the needs of the class. My hope is that this week we will hear about assessments that are engaging to the students as well as interesting to the students.

Q1. What technology do you use to help you assess students?


Q2. What assessment do you use that does not need any technology?


Q3.  How much do assessments factor into modifying your units?


Q4.  How does standardized testing effect your teaching or observations?


Q5.  Is it possible for formative assessments to tell if the students have met the standards? Why or why not?


Q6.  How do you keep abreast of the new assessment tools that are constantly being introduced?


Gender Equality in PE


The most important, and overlooked, part of teaching is reflecting.  It is a step that requires time, a growth mindset, and the ability to look at an event with clarity and objectiveness.  This week was the first week of #slowchatpe.  I decided to come out of the box swinging and discuss the object of gender equality in Physical Education.  My heart was in the right place but my execution was lacking.  The questions did not elicit the passionate responses I was hoping for. In some cases the questions had the opposite effect of what I had intended.  It was the first time that I ever thought that I had made a huge mistake.   The professional learning community I was striving to impress and fit in with did not seem enthralled with my angle on things.  I wondered whether I lost the respect of some of these people.  Did they think I was some kind of Neanderthal who thinks that men are superior to women?  It bothered me so much that I went back and changed one of my questions after I posted it because the reaction I received made me feel so down.

I have to accept responsibility for the fact that I tackled a hard subject and did not put enough thought into the questions I was going to pose.  They made sense to me but fell flat when people did not read my blog and understand where I was coming from.  If we approach every opportunity as a learning one, than I need to learn from this. I have come up with a system where I write the questions and then have someone else read them and give me feedback before I post them.  Another change that needs to be made is that the questions should be written a couple days prior to the post.  This way I could reword the questions after I have some fresh perspective and feedback from my peers.  I apologize to any professionals who feel that I didn’t approach this with the reverence and respect the subject deserved.  I will fail forward just like I expect my students to!

This week was not all negatives though.  @mrlebrun had a great point this week:

Ross LeBrun @MrLeBrun


A5: Don’t know this is an education Q. We can model gender equality all we want. Society needs to have some major shifts. #slowchatpe

Cassie Brooks shared one of her best practices with this tweet:

Cassie Brooks @Brooks01CL

@SchleiderJustin A2 Have coed w many girls more athletic. Like 2 offer choice of competition level not single-gender games #slowchatPE

Cassie is right. It is not about gender but physical literacy.  It is about our students learning skills that they will use throughout their lives.  It is not about the game but how the games refine their skills.  It is not about how fast you are. It is about how you can improve your physical skills to maintain wellness.

I felt this week was a success;  however, it was not the home-run that I was hoping for.  My purpose was to show that gender should never be a factor in what or how we teach.  Gender doesn’t make any difference.  What matters is the mindset of the student, the content presented to them, and the teacher removing any gender bias from their pedagogy.

Original Post

I like to discuss the things that resonate with me.  Twice in the past weeks there have been discussions about gender equality in schools.  The first discussion revolved around whether girls and boys should have equal rules in school.  (#totallyrossome)  I took the literal approach and stated that boys and girls have to go different bathrooms.  That right there shows that there are different rules for boys and girls.  As asinine as that statement appears on the surface students do know the difference between girls and boys as early as kindergarten.  I am not arguing if it is taught to them through societal values and norms or whether they naturally sense things are different between the sexes.  Bathrooms are the earliest knowledge taught to the students about gender differences.

The part of the conversation that made me question gender equality was when someone asked was it different for a boy verse girl fight than and a boy verse boy fight?  Immediately the answer was apparent to me.  In my opinion a typical boy verses a typical girl would be a physical mismatch in favor of the boy.  That statement opened a heated discussion with @SJBates as well as @mmecushmore. They challenged my assumption was wrong.

My counter to that argument was that every record in the Olympics is owned by men.  Before you attack me I go and research the dumb things that I say after they come out of my mouth. (I realize that is not the best approach but either way I am still learning.)  I was wrong. I found out that, “The equestrian events are the only Olympic sport where men and women compete against each other on equal terms. At the 2004 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, women captured the gold, silver and bronze awards in the individual event category, a four-day contest involving cross country, dressage and show jumping that until 1952 was only open to military men.”

This was only one Olympic event though and the physical output was done more by the horse than by the rider.  In every other event men are objectively faster or stronger.  My mind was still set that men were physically superior to women.  The next moment I came across a statement that put a crack in my gender philosophical foundation.   Eileen McDonagh, author of Playing With the Big Boys, dropped this mind bomb, “These things, to some degree, are self-fulfilling prophecies,” she says. It does hurt women to exclude them. Just the process of discrimination stigmatizes women as inferior.” This immediately brought about thoughts of Roger Bannister’s historic dismantling of the thoughts that no human could break the sub four minute mile record.  As soon as he broke the record it became commonplace among athletes.  No woman has ever broke the 4 minute mile.  Is psychology playing a part in this?

Our heated discussion took a wild turn when I was told females were not in professional sports solely due to gender.  This blew my mind! If a woman could throw a hundred mile per hour fastball she would be a starter on the Yankees.  Whenever I search for answers I attempt to find experts and ask them questions.  In this scenario my expert was Dr. Amanda Stanec. (@movelivelearn)  She definitely thinks that female hockey goalies could compete at the same level as men.  My brain was being challenged and wouldn’t let this issue rest. Could I be wrong? Are males only superior due to societal norms?

The final thought that sent me over the edge was when I saw this photo on twitter. On the list of dos and don’ts are some great ideas. Physical education teachers should not “girl pushups” or segregate teams based on girls against boys.  I am all about having girls demonstrate skills that may have been thought of as male dominated. (pushups, pull-ups, throwing a football etc.)  What really got me thinking was when the list included saying ladies and gentleman or calling the defensive position of first base a first basemen under the don’t column.  It reminded me of the George Carlin standup when he asked where does it end? Do we call manhole covers people hole covers, or David Letterman David Letterperson?  Does the gender gap that I see exist because of what adults present as norms to females?  Why is it ok for girls to be on boys teams but not vice versa if we are really worried about gender equality? These are questions that are really starting to bother me.

I have a daughter that is two years old.  I want her to feel that she is being raised in a house of yes. A house where the only obstacles to doing what you want are safety and planning. She shouldn’t feel that gender would hold her back from anything.  What worries me is that I may be unconsciously stifling her ability to choose based on my thinking and actions.  Will telling her go be the first basemen make her think that only boys can play first base? If she is called lady will that make her feel inferior to my son?

This week I would like to engage in an open and honest dialogue about gender equality.  The questions below that will be posted daily on #slowchatPE.  #slowchatPE is a new hashtag where moderators will present a subject a week that pertains to physical education.  Each day a new question will be posted and people from all over the world can interact and discuss best practices for students.

Q1. What phrases should we stay away from in school or PE class that create consciously or unconsciously gender inequality?


Q2. Is segregation of gender in physical education classes furthering the gender stereotypes?


Q3. Why do you think there has not been a female that has broken the 4 minute mile?


Q4.  Are there any areas where females are physically superior to men? Does that send the wrong message to males?


Q5. How far left do we have to go in education for gender equality?