Teaching Using Ideas from Meaningful PE – Jo Bailey

Jo Bailey is a secondary physical education teacher in Weston, Wisconsin (US). In the following post she briefly reflects on both her own and her students’ experiences participating in a badminton unit where she used ideas from Meaningful PE. Jo tweets from @LovePhyEd.

As a high school physical education teacher, I am always cognizant of the responsibility I have in doing everything I can to equip young adults with the knowledge, skills, and desire to be active for life. My professional practice goal for the 2019-20 school year was to assess the extent to which I was providing a meaningful physical education experience for my students: Was I delivering content that was personally relevant, challenging, fun, that involved social interaction and delight, and improved motor competence? More importantly, how would I go about assessing how meaningful a unit or experience had been?

I chose a badminton unit to begin the process. At my school we spiral concepts through a variety of activities, meaning that while one focus might be to improve motor competence, specifically in badminton, we were also applying goal setting and stages of learning knowledge to badminton. We were also exploring how each individual could demonstrate and build on teamwork, respect, cooperation while experiencing a variety of challenges. I nearly always teach a specific activity unit on a spectrum that is from a standardized, rule-oriented approach (e.g. formal singles and doubles) to an exploratory approach where students are the directors of the learning experience or activity (e.g. street badminton – students create and play to their own agreed set of rules).

At the end of the badminton unit, I asked all of my students to provide me with feedback, explaining the why and how behind the meaningful physical education framework. My aim was to create statements that encompassed each element of the meaningful physical education framework and to have students respond to what degree they agreed or disagreed with the statements. The statements were:

Jo Bailey Image

I took time to preface this reflection with the students by verbally reviewing the different experiences they had had during the unit. Statement 1 referenced improved motor competence. Statement 2 referenced personally relevant learning. Statement 3 clearly refers to fun. Statement 4 and 5 refer to challenge. With statement 6, I was attempting to encapsulate what delight might look like – I found this element difficult to create a worthy statement for because delight is so different for everybody. I am not sure if I succeeded.  Statements 7 and 8 both refer to social interaction. I was particularly interested in the results of Statement 8, because creating and promoting an environment that models and recognizes positive social interactions is always a work in progress, yet critical to a positive experience in physical education.

The feedback was positive: 74% of students felt their skills improved (scored the statement as a 4 or 5 for the purpose of these results), 60% found the content personally relevant, 82% of students had fun, 67% experienced different levels of challenge while 65% of students reported the challenge level being “just right”. 70% of students reported that they experienced delight (as I had tried to define it), 77% indicated they had the opportunity to socially interact with their classmates and 81% stated that their social interactions were positive. On the last statement, no students rated their social interactions as less than a 3.

Additionally, I asked for feedback on anything the students had especially enjoyed or if they had any recommendations for improvements. Street Badminton proved to be very popular and many students also mentioned the social interaction they experienced. It is worth noting that I grouped students in each class rather than allow students to pick groups, with the exception of street badminton.
My take on the results: I feel like I am on the right track. Taking a few minutes to gather this data from my students was immensely valuable and the individual conversations I had with students in gathering their opinions were also very valuable. I had planned to repeat the process during the semester but unfortunately, COVID-19 hit and we were thrown into an at-home learning situation. However, my goal for at-home learning has been to make it as meaningful as possible for my students and I will be gathering feedback from them at the end of the semester. I plan to continue with this process next year.

To see Jo’s #PhysedSummit webinar about her journey towards meaningful physical education click here.

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