Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Using Technology to Test in P.E.

                When you think about physical education, what do you imagine students doing?  If you are like the majority of people, the first thing that comes to mind is some type of team sport such as basketball, or students running around the gym playing with various equipment.  While these types of activities may sometimes happen in my future P.E. classes, one of the goals I have as an educator is to teach elementary school children how to properly perform movements that they will use throughout the duration of their lives.  What most people don’t realize is that the skills students are supposed to learn in elementary P.E. are ones in which they use every single day.  Walking, running, skipping, galloping, hopping, jumping, sliding, and leaping are all movements you are more than likely familiar with.  Something you may not know however is that these movements have a name: they are referred to as locomotor skills.  Students are supposed to begin learning these skills as early as kindergarten, and by the end of third grade, they should be able to offer a verbal explanation as to what your body does during each of these movements. 

            While formal testing isn't frequently used in the physical education setting, it is important to find a way to test what your students know about movements.  Since properly executing the eight basic locomotor skills is a big first step in participating in sports and other activities later in life, this is a good area to test students knowledge.  Because the main goal of any P.E. class is to keep students active, testing is an area that can be tricky, but with all of the advances in technology, the idea of testing in P.E. has become a bit more realistic.  If I want to assess students’ knowledge on locomotor skills using technology, there are several options available.  In order to make my assessments as clear as possible, I have broken them up below.

Pre-testing- Using a classroom website is an awesome way to gauge students’ knowledge in P.E.  One of the ways that I could do a pre-test is to construct a “padlet wall” on my classroom webpage.  For those of you who may not be familiar with padlet, it is a free online tool that allows for easy communication between individuals.  On this wall, I could ask the questions: What are the eight different locomotor skills? What questions do you have for me about locomotor skills?  Students could go on to my webpage and respond to the questions.  The answers they provide, and the questions they ask would help me to determine where I should begin my lesson. 

During-  During my unit, after I have at least covered what each of the skills are, I could have students watch a short dance video during class and identify what locomotor skills are present in it. They could write down their responses on note cards before leaving class and hand them to me as their exit ticket out the door.  This would help me to see what I need to focus more heavily on during the second half of my unit.   

Post-testing- After my unit is complete, I could have students take a short quiz on socrative (a free test-making website) that asks questions about locomotor skills.  Socrative can be easily accessed by students using only a room number that I would provide them.  I could make the questions true/false, short answer, fill in the blank, or multiple choice.  The quiz would not need to be long; rather, it would just need to make sure that students knew what each of the eight locomotor skills are and how to define each.  If I found that students did not fully understand locomotor skills, I could go back and revise my lessons. 

It may take a little extra planning to use technology to test students’ knowledge in P.E., but it would completely be worth it if the students are learning something new!  If you are interested in any of the technological tools I mentioned, the links to what I would use is below!

This is one example of a dance that students could watch and be able to pick up on locomotor skills:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Using Technology for Differentiation

In every classroom, there are a variety of students who bring forth multiple learning styles, learning speeds, and learning abilities.  While some students are able to catch on to things quickly no matter the method of teaching, other children need extra practice and need to be taught using creative methods.  Incorporating technology into a classroom may assist in meeting the needs of all students if implemented properly.  Technology can be used to facilitate differentiation and better meet the needs of the students. 

If you have ever stood in front of a classroom, with what seems to sometimes be a sea of students staring back at you, you probably know how challenging it can be to make sure that the needs of all those students are being met.  It isn’t possible to make one lesson plan using one learning style, and every student in the class grasp what you are trying to teach them.  Instead, with each lesson plan, you have to ask yourself, “Now, what all learning styles do I need to incorporate into this lesson so that all of my students will understand?”  Even when you plan what may feel like the “perfect” lesson, when it comes time to teach it, the students seem to be stuck in this realm of misunderstanding.  In order to combat this, many teachers are starting to switch gears in their classroom.  More and more educators are finding that the most effective way to reach all students is to bring technology into the classroom.  When doing this, teachers can find a plethora of resources that will cater to the needs of every student.  Instead of an entire class all focusing on one lesson, they can be learning about the same idea using a variety of tools. 

Many times one class is made up of students who are all at very different academic levels.  The classroom makeup may include students who are considered academically gifted, developmentally delayed, ADHD, or ESL learners.  While this may seem overwhelming, technology offers a way for students to learn the same content while moving at their own pace.  Sure, finding the appropriate technology may take a considerable amount of research on the teacher’s part, but if the students are learning, it is time well spent.  Finding resources is not as difficult as it used to be.  Social networking websites like Twitter and Pinterest are excellent places to find tools to use in the classroom.  One resource I have found focuses on using technology to address the multiple intelligences.  The link to this site is listed below:

            On this website, there are links to many different resources to use in the classroom.  All of these websites are categorized under the appropriate learning style.  Having this website in a teaching toolbox, and implementing it in the classroom, will assist teachers to meet the needs of each learning style.  Almost all of the websites can be used for multiple subject areas or lessons. Also, beside each link there is a description of what can be done on each website.   If students feel as though their teacher is trying to cater to their needs, and is using a creative approach to learning, they will be more likely to learn in their classroom.