Over the summer we have been developing some pedagogical cases, where our main purpose is to showcase what meaningful experiences look like or could look like in physical education classes. The cases are not meant to be interpreted as ‘ideal types’: like those in two texts of pedagogical cases (Armour, 2014 and Casey, Goodyear & Armour, 2016), they are based on composites of real situations, data, and excerpts we have experienced or accessed.

Beyond providing snapshots of meaningful experiences in action, we also hope that teachers or teacher educators might find the cases useful for certain types of professional learning. For example, you might want to access the cases by yourself, to think about ways in which the case resonates with or applies to certain pedagogical situations you have faced. You may be teaching a course for pre-service teachers or facilitating a workshop for practicing teachers, in which instance the cases could be used for small group activities or similar. Whatever takes your fancy, you are welcome to use the cases to fit your purposes. We have provided some suggestions on the main Pedagogical Cases page. We just ask that you acknowledge the work, and if you are up to it, please provide us with some feedback so we might get a sense of how the cases were helpful or can be improved.

We hope to add more cases every few weeks until we have built about a dozen or so. Three have been posted as a starter. There are cases representing primary physical education, youth sport, and physical education practice in a general sense. Some have been developed based on posts from friends and colleagues (which we acknowledge), and who have helped us think about new and different ways to promote meaningful experiences in physical education. Others are from situations one or more of our team experienced or observed, and others have been inspired by things we have come across in our reading of texts or online.

You can access the Pedagogical Cases page by clicking on this link or by accessing it through our main menu on the website.


AIESEP 2018 In Review

The LAMPE team has been on hiatus for the last few weeks of the summer, but with a return to classes and regularly scheduled programming, we hope to post more regularly about the work we have been and are doing at the moment.

To provide an update of our most recent work, we returned not too long ago from the AIESEP World Congress in Edinburgh, UK where we had the privilege of presenting in numerous sessions.  Links to the slides from these presentations as well as the accompanying papers can be found on our Presentations and Publications pages or by clicking on the links below.

We kicked off the conference by hosting a workshop at the Primary Physical Education Pre-Conference through which we provided a general overview of the MPE approach, shared some examples and insights from our own work both within teacher education programs and primary physical education classrooms, and invited participants to engage with some pedagogical cases to consider how the MPE approach might be applied to each. We hope to refine these cases to share on the website in the coming weeks. The slides from this presentation are available here.

In a symposium entitled Being a self-study researcher in Physical Education: Exploring the interplay of practice and scholarship, Dèirdre shared some of our insights from a study in which we synthesized and reviewed data across five of our previously conducted self-studies to help us understand how Meaningful Physical Education has served as a vision for our practices as both teacher educators and classroom teachers.  In this presentation, we shared the ways our visions have developed and continue to change over time in terms of their range, focus, and distance.  Slides from this presentation are available here.

In addition, Stephanie shared some insights on using the features of meaningful physical education to guide teaching and planning decisions in primary physical education.  In this presentation she shared about the importance of the role of reflection both in and on action in prioritizing meaningfulness in her classroom.  Further, she shared about the ways students themselves experience the features of meaningful experiences in both the short term and long term and how this realization has influenced her own perceptions of meaningfulness.  Slides from this presentation are available here.

Of course, no conference would be complete without a little sight seeing.  In addition to a busy conference schedule, we managed to find time to scale Edinburgh’s Salisbury Crags.  It’s safe to say the LAMPE team climbed to new heights this summer!


Funding award: Meaningful Physical Education in Primary Schools

Before Christmas the LAMPE team (Déirdre Ní Chróinín and Ciara Griffin, Ireland and Tim Fletcher and Stephanie Beni, Canada.) received some good news that we were awarded €3,300 by the Teaching Council in Ireland as part of their Research Support Framework. Déirdre Ní Chróinín and Ciara Griffin attended the award ceremony on January 18th 2018 at the Clayton Hotel, Liffey Valley in Dublin. The LAMPE team is delighted to receive this funding which allows us to expand our research programme in primary schools.

Why this research? The premise of our application was that promoting personally meaningful engagement is one way that teachers can provide students with transformative experiences that will influence their commitment to lifelong physical activity (Ennis, 2017). Over the past four years we have developed an evidence-based framework of pedagogical principles and strategies that help teachers to foster personally meaningful experiences for young people in primary physical education (PE). We call this innovation ‘meaningful PE’ (MPE). The MPE framework is built on the following features: social interaction, fun, challenge, motor skill learning, delight and personally relevant learning. This research will provide new insight into how teachers can use these features to promote meaningful physical activity experiences for children in physical education.

What will we do? This research will provide an opportunity for five primary teachers from the Munster region to work together in a community of practice to try out the MPE framework of pedagogies and share the experiences of children in their classes. Goal-setting and reflection processes will help the children to make sense of their physical activity experiences grounded in personal and everyday realities (Ennis, 2013). The teachers will complete a reflective diary entry each week about their teaching and the children will complete a workbook about their learning in lessons. A member of the research team will observe some lessons and conduct interviews with the teachers and children at the end of the physical education unit.

What will the outcomes be? Findings will help us understand how to help teachers use these pedagogies so they can be shared and implemented more widely at the national and international level. Ultimately we hope that meaningful physical activity experiences for children in physical education can positively influence commitment to physical activity participation.

To learn more about the project, be sure to follow the LAMPE blog.

Using metaphors to think about the features of meaningful experiences

The LAMPE team has been away from the blog for a while but that does not mean we have stopped our work in unpacking and articulating pedagogies that promote meaningful experiences for learners. We have expanded our work to involve other teacher educators who work in universities in Canada and Ireland, as well as exploring what pedagogies that promote meaningful experiences might look like for teachers using them in schools. In discussing LAMPE pedagogies with others, the features that we have explained at length seem to resonate strongly with others: social interaction, challenge, fun, motor competence, delight, and personally relevant learning. However, they resonate in different ways.

One of the things we have tried to argue for in some of our work so far is to avoid using the features as a checklist as we feel this can limit the potential of promoting meaningful experiences. Instead, we suggest that the features are integrated, with each working off the other. A metaphor can be a useful tool to explain how at least some of us think about the integrated nature of meaningful experiences.

Tim likes the metaphor of a watch or clock mechanism, where each of the features is represented by the different wheels that work together inside the casing.

The watch mechanism metaphor allows different features to be emphasized in different ways: the larger wheels represent features that take on greater significance for the teacher or teacher educator. For example, Tim tends to prioritize relationships in his philosophy of teaching, and so the feature of social interaction represents the largest wheel in the mechanism. When positive social interaction occurs, it can drive learners to challenge themselves more because they may feel they have the support and help of their friends or peers, and feel safe to make mistakes in the classroom. Increasing the level of challenge can produce more competent movement, which in turn may lead the learner to have more fun, and see greater relevance in physical education. Importantly, no matter the size of the wheel, they all play a part in making experiences meaningful.

This is one example and we are interested to hear if others have similar or different metaphors that may help explain they way they think about the features of meaningful experiences.

PHE Canada Research Forum in Review: Part 3

By Stephanie Beni

While other members of the LAMPE team have been busily investigating meaningful experiences and LAMPE pedagogies in the context of teacher education, over the past year, and in follow-up to our recent review of literature, I aimed to examine my own experiences of enacting pedagogies designed to promote meaningful experiences in elementary physical education.  Working in a small school-based setting that combines privately and home-schooled students, I taught a unit of sixteen striking-and-fielding game lessons while planning toward meaningful experiences through the use of the six features outlined in our previous posts (social interaction, fun, challenge, motor competence, delight, and personally relevant learning).  Through personal reflections, responses from a critical friend, and student questionnaires and interviews, I was able to identify a number of ways my pedagogical decision-making was being influenced by my prioritization of meaningful experiences.

For example, I found that my ability to prioritize meaningful experiences hinged upon my commitment to adopting the philosophy underpinning the importance of meaningful experiences, as well as a solid understanding of each of the six features.  For instance, I allowed my decisions related to the role of competition in the meaningfulness of students’ experiences to be guided by this philosophy.  When I noticed that many of the features were being compromised when winning became students’ top priority, I chose to eliminate certain elements of overt competition (such as score-keeping) to favour positive social interactions and opportunities to engage in personal challenge instead.  Even students commented that this reduced emphasis on competition enabled them to focus on other important things including skill development.

The study also offered support for the role of autonomy-supportive strategies in facilitating meaningful experiences.  I aimed to offer students opportunities to make their own choices at times and be involved in decision-making processes by, for example, allowing students to design their own games and skill development activities in select lessons and to make modifications to their level of challenge through, for example, altering the equipment they would use or choosing between striking from a tee or a pitcher.  Students responded favourably to this level of autonomy.

While readers should be mindful of the unique context in which the lessons were taught as well as their games-based nature, I suggest these findings offer preliminary insight for other physical education teachers (and PETE educators) on the use of these six features to plan toward and facilitate meaningful experiences in elementary physical education.

PHE Canada Research Forum In Review: Part 2

By Déirdre Ní Chróinín

Tim and I have recently published a paper outlining pedagogical principles of Learning about Meaningful Physical Education (LAMPE) we have developed in our physical education teacher education programmes. At the recent Physical and Health Education Canada conference Tim and I presented on our experiences of implementing LAMPE pedagogies. We identified critical incidents from across a one-year period of implementing LAMPE pedagogical principles in our PETE courses from data sources including teacher educator weekly reflections, critical friend responses, non-participant observations, and student work samples developed in lessons. We shared decision-making moments that illustrate how we drew on LAMPE pedagogical principles in our teaching to support our students learning about meaningful physical education.

The first incident we shared occurred during a station-based teaching activity when some of the students in Tim’s class started playing around with the hula hoops in unintended ways during the transition between stations. Tim drew on LAMPE principles to help him and his students reinterpret what might be perceived as being off-task activity and positioning participants as co-constructors of an activity they were finding value in (i.e., they were having fun, interacting positively with each other, challenging themselves and developing some skills.

In the second incident Tim’s students were struggling to implement the rules of a games-based activity which they described as ‘boring’. Tim drew on the LAMPE principles to direct students to make changes to both the challenge and social interaction elements of the activity to better align with features of a meaningful experience.

In the third incident Déirdre developed a peer observation activity in response to student uncertainty about the practical implementation of meaningful physical education. Déirdre drew on LAMPE principles to develop an activity in which students engaged cyclically in planning, teaching, observing and reflecting on how to teach physical education framed by the features of meaningful physical education.

These examples of moment-to-moment and day-to-day decision-making illustrate the value of LAMPE pedagogical principles in guiding our decision-making to support student learning about meaningful physical education. Drawing on LAMPE principles resulted in a shared language of learning and a more coherent learning experience for our students.

PHE Canada Research Forum in Review: Part 1

Meaningful physical education pedagogies: Enacted, refined, and consolidated by novice and experienced teacher educators

By: Caitlin Price

As mentioned in the previous blog post, Tim and Déirdre used pedagogical principles that prioritized learning about meaningful physical education (LAMPE) within their own practice. To inform future engagement with these pedagogical principles they wanted to understand how other teacher educators might enact them in their Physical Education Teacher Education (PETE) classes. Therefore, the focus of this pilot study was: What are novice and experienced teacher educator’s experiences of planning and enacting PETE classes using LAMPE pedagogies?

This presentation highlighted six experiences from planning and enacting the pedagogical principles of LAMPE in our PETE classes. One of the experiences involved responding to situations of delight as they arise. More specifically, I found that in my lessons using music was key in motivating my students at early times in the morning, and I often found the students asking me to put the music on during the lesson when they were playing. The literature review that was presented last year at the AIESEP Conference did not find much evidence of delight in the literature, and the LAMPE team has found it difficult to pin it down, therefore this work leads to at least one idea of how to foster delight. A key insight is that delight is difficult to plan for, but teachers can be aware of it and respond as it arises. Furthermore, another experience highlighted that social interaction was foundational to create meaningful experiences for students, and many of the other features of meaningful physical education stem from positive social interaction. If we did not know what students needed or if our students did not feel comfortable with each other, then fostering meaningful experiences for them would be quite difficult.

In the conclusion of the presentation, it was important to note that as this pilot study took place in mainly a games context, we hope to conduct future research using the pedagogical principles of LAMPE in other content areas such as, dance, gymnastics, etc. Feel free to visit the Presentations page to view the slides from this presentation to read about more of the experiences from planning and enacting the pedagogical principles of LAMPE in our PETE classes. Take care for now!

AERA 2017 in Review

The LAMPE blog and twitter feed has been fairly silent recently and this is partially due to our team travelling and presenting at several national and international conferences. Tim travelled to San Antonio, Texas to present at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual meeting, and Déirdre, Tim, Caitlin, and Stephanie all went to the PHE Canada National Conference in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador to present in the Research Council Forum. We learned a lot from attending these conferences and heard many excellent presentations that have pushed our thinking in new directions. We were also lucky to meet many new friends and colleagues and catch up with some older ones too. In the next few posts we will provide synopses of the presentations we delivered at these conferences, and interested readers can access some of the slide decks on our Presentation page.

The first presentation was by Tim at the AERA conference on a study he, Déirdre, and Mary had conducted, which was titled: Teacher educators’ experiences of accessing and responding to students’ engagement with pedagogies of teacher education. In the study we set out to be more intentional and systematic in how we sought out students’ perspectives about their learning as a result of the approaches we used to promote their learning about meaningful physical education. We felt that too often we relied upon our own observations (mainly of their body language) to gauge students’ engagement with their learning and wanted to change that so that we heard from students directly.

Our main findings showed the value of using self-study methodology – a form of practitioner research – in helping us become more intentional in seeking students’ perspectives about their engagement. In particular, Déirdre and Tim found the collaborative nature of their inquiry, relying on each other as critical friends, helped to deepen their respective understandings of student engagement. We found that by choosing to focus on student engagement our reflective practice was much sharper in that regard. Interestingly, Déirdre tended to have student engagement shape her reflection on-action (guiding her analysis of lessons taught and helping her to plan future lessons) while Tim used it to guide his reflection in-action, influencing the decisions and actions he made moment-to-moment in the lessons he taught. Our main takeaway message is that there is tremendous value in being very intentional and clear in talking to students, seeking their feedback (particularly in writing), and asking carefully designed questions about their learning. It has prompted us to place more emphasis on learning about our students’ learning in response to our teaching about teaching.

In the next few posts we will hear from Déirdre, Steph, and Caitlin who will provide some quick snapshots of their research presentations at the PHE Canada Conference.


Delightful Physical Education

In our last post, we introduced the role of delight in meaningful movement experiences.  In this post, guest blogger Dr. Doug Gleddie from the University of Alberta offers his thoughts about paying explicit attention to delight in the planning and teaching of physical education. The following post, and others on the topic, are also available on Doug’s blog.

The Role of Delight in Physical Education – By Doug Gleddie

In this post on delight and physical education I raise the question, how might a physical education teacher lay ‘groundwork’ for delight (Kretchmar, 2005)? Before getting directly to some thoughts on that topic, let’s back up a bit and explore this notion of delightful or joyful movement just a little more.

I was fortunate to be boarding in the Rockies on a day where a foot of fresh powder had just fallen.  As one of the first people up the lift, it was awesome to hear – from all across the mountain – spontaneous cries of joy from those revelling in the snow.  As Scott Kretchmar writes:

“When movement is experienced as joy, it adorns our lives, makes our days go better, and gives us something to look forward to.  When movement is joyful and meaningful, it may even inspire us to do things we never thought possible” (2008, p. 162).

Imagine the two kids (mine) in the picture at the beginning of this blog having the following conversation:

“So, I was thinking of increasing my cardiovascular fitness by paddling these buoyant tools in the ocean.”  “Great!  I’ll join you, I need to work on my core strength anyways.”  “Yup – lookin’ to reduce my co-morbidity”  “You got that right – I don’t wanna get diabetes.”

Bwahahahahahaha! I know it sounds funny to say it out loud, but this is often how we treat movement and physical education.  The fact is, kids (and adults!) are motivated by joy and will work / play extremely hard to find it.  As a bonus, they’ll also get health, social, and academic benefits – among others.  If you want to see an example of this ethic in action, go visit a skate park.  There you’ll see people finding joy in learning, intrinsic motivation at it’s best and not a trophy or rubric in sight!

As teachers of physical education, one of our main goals or purposes should be joyful or delightful movement. So how can we ‘look for’ this in our practice? Going back to Kretchmar (2008), he posits:

“Children are built to move; they want to move. Almost anything can be turned into a grand adventure—catching, throwing, running, touching, enjoying rhythmic activities, and discovering ‘fundamental movement concepts.’ A teacher who has a gift for make- believe can, without much difficulty, become something of a Pied Piper of movement. Delight, excitement, intrigue, and usually considerable noise permeate the physical education setting” (p. 166).

So, how do we ‘bring the skatepark to the gym’, so to speak? First of all, movement must be honoured, not just used (Kretchmar, 2000). We want to move past a utilitarian or functional approach to movement (which does have its place) and help students appreciate and experience learning as potential sources of joy/ delight. Examples include (Kretchmar, 2005):

From mechanically correct to expressive movement
From effective to inventive to creative movement
From movement as obligation to movement as part of your own story
From fear and avoidance to accepting and overcoming a challenge
From thinking to spontaneity

I believe that we can encourage these types of shifts by providing a rich learning environment for students to play in, creating a culture of honoured movement, reflecting on our own practice and, perhaps most importantly, having students reflect on their practice and journeys of joyful movement.

Look for sweaty, smiling faces.
Look for grim-faced determination followed by quiet satisfaction.
Look for meaningful social interaction.
Look for focus – the ‘tongue out of the side of the mouth’ kind.
Look for failure, then some more failure followed by overcoming a realistic challenge.
Look for joy.