Team Shake App

This is a great app for creating teams in PE lessons or learning groups in your classroom. One of the powerful functions of this app is the ability to group students based on strengths. It can also be set up so that:

  • certain students will never be in the same group
  • certain students will always be in the same group
  • groups can be all male, all female or a mix
  • the teacher can randomly select one student.

These two videos provide a good overview of the app and its functions.

What are the connections between physical activity and learning?

Teachers generally acknowledge there are benefits of allowing our students to be physically active. To varying degrees we understand there are physical, mental and social benefits provided by physical activity but what about the contribution physical activity can make to our ability to learn?

Dr Nick Riley from the University of Newcastle explains the link between physical activity and academic performance in students.

A small Dutch study showed that students involved in maths and language lessons that also incorporated physical movement during those lessons outperformed students who did no physical activity during lessons. This improvement was seen in maths and spelling but not in reading.

The Guardian (Australian) website recently published an article discussing how physical activity can contribute to academic improvement.

The Western Australian Department of Sport and Recreation commissioned a review of the literature examining the relationship between participation in organised sport or physical activity and academic achievement. An article in 2010 (updated 2015) by Dr Karen Martin from the The University of Western Australia outlines the positive impact of physical activity on student cognitive function. These benefits included:

  • Improving memory
  • Behaviour
  • Concentration
  • Academic achievement

“The W.A. Department of Sport and Recreation review concluded that encouraging participation in organised sport or other strategies to increase children’s physical activity opportunities could result in improved health and academic outcomes.”

There are a number of traditional ways that schools provide opportunities to be active at school.

  • Recess and lunch – this does not garuntee all students are involved in physical activity but at least they have to get out of their seats.
  • Lunch time sports – for a select few the intensity and amount of activity on those days increases dramatically.
  • Physical education – regular physical activity approximately twice a week.

How though do we get students to be active at other times? What about those subjects where students traditionally sit for 50 minutes at a time?

Physical activity as part of a students school day is important and something we should take into account to improve our students ability to learn.

Using Book Creator to record student learning

Learning Aim

One of the focus areas for my Year 3/4 PE class in the first half of term 1 is preparing for sports day. My aim for the students is to practice and refine the skills needed to participate confidently in our upcoming sports day. In Australian Curriculum language – “Practice and refine fundamental movement skills in a variety of movement sequences and situations”. The year 3/4 students do a 600m run, shot put, long throw (vortex), long jump and a sprint race. We will also be practising discus even though this is not a required event on the day.

Recording student learning

To record student learning I have decided to use the app Book Creator on my iPad.


The book I created has one page per student which includes their name, a space for personal reflection and two spaces for video. To simplify the process I selected shot put as the event I would video for every student. Video one was taken last week (week 2) while the second video will be taken in week 6 or 7 allowing students to demonstrate their improvement over time. The “I have learnt …” section of the page will be completed by the student. Their task will be to reflect on all the other learning they have achieved in the events other than shot put. How have they improved? Which events did they make the most progress in? What advice did they get from the teacher that helped them improve? Did they persist?


Process (I have completed up to part 2 – inserting video 1)

1. Firstly we discussed the focus and aim of our lessons leading up to sports day.

2. Collecting video in the book

  • In our week 2 lesson the class was divided into 3 groups – long throw (vortex), 300m run then long jump and shot put.
  • I worked with the shot put group recording their efforts directly into the book in Book Creator. No instruction (other than some safety tips) was given so that the first video reflected the student’s current level of knowledge. Once I had finished with a group all groups rotated to the next activity.
  • This process seemed to work smoothly and was easily completed in one lesson with 24 students. The process was made smoother by having the groups match the order of student names in the book. Group 1 were the first 8 names of the book and group 2 were the next 8 names etc. This meant I didn’t have to spend time finding student names in the book I just started at page 1 and worked my way through to the last page.
  • The Book Creator app allows video to be taken and inserted within the app so I did not have to go between the camera and Book Creator apps.
  • The second video will be added in week 6/7.

3. Using the video to learn

  • We will go through a process of examining the correct technique for shot put (images/video/me demonstrating).
  • As a class we will watch everyone’s video (5 secs each) and give feedback as a class to that person. We will have strict protocols around reacting to others performance and the type of feedback we were allowed to give. Showing videos to the whole class will be voluntary (hoping for 100% though – I will be convincing them through discussion about growth mindset and learning from others).

4. Collecting and inserting student responses to “I have learnt…”

  • In a PE lesson (week 6/7) all students will be given an iPad. Using the Pages app they will record their responses to the reflection questions. Doing this as a group will allow for some class discussion and sharing which will hopefully assist those students who are finding the reflection process difficult.
  • Students will airdrop their document to me and I will copy and paste their text into the book.

Teacher observations

  • Throughout the topic I will keep my own notes and observations on my iPad separate to the book. When assessing students I will use a combination of what is in the book as well as my own notes.

Using video as a starting point in practical lessons

Video 1 also provides me with a starting point for shot put i.e. what do the students bring? What knowledge do they already have? Taking video in the first week or two of a practical topic provides the opportunity to closely examine where students are at and therefore, starting points for future lessons. Using the iPad camera and photos apps can be powerful formative assessment tools.

Using this process with other subject areas

Use the same process to record student learning over a series of lessons, a term or semester in:

  • Reading
  • Handwriting
  • Speaking to the class
  • Explaining a math concept
  • Word pronunciation
  • Creating a hypothesis (video/text/audio) and then conducting an experiment (video) to prove or disprove the hypothesis.

There are four ways to add student evidence to a book – video, photos, text and audio. All of which can be done within the app.

Teachers are always looking for ways to record evidence of learning and Book Creator is a simple and efficient way of doing this. Once my book is completed I will share the book as a video to my MacBook and also place it into iBooks on my iPad. My goal is to end up with a document that provides me with evidence of student learning that I can reference against my own observations.

Formative Assessment using BaM Video Delay app in PE


BaM Video Delay is an app that records video and then delays that video for a specified time allowing the athlete to look up after their performance and watch themselves performing a skill or movement sequence.




There is no need to press record or play back the video. The app continuously replays what is happening in front of the camera on a delay (set by the student or teacher). The app allows you to delay the video being shown so that the student can complete the skill and have time to view their performance. Students then use this feedback to adjust their performance.

The examples in this post are receptions students practicing their overarm throwing technique and year 9/10 students practicing a forehand topspin drive in table tennis.

Below is the process I used for the Receptions and the Year 9/10 students. Part of both processes was to ensure students knew what they are looking for so corrections can be made.

Receptions (overhand throw)

  • Discussion about the importance of the opposite foot stepping forward when throwing.
  • Discussion about what opposite meant and how this related to our hands and feet.
  • I gave a demonstration which was recorded. We played it back on the big screen discussing if I had used my opposite foot and how did we know.
  • The class watched each other perform the skill and then turned to view the big screen and decide if the student had used their opposite foot. Ideally this would be done in smaller groups but as we were learning how the app worked we did it as a class.
  • The Receptions were only looking at one thing: Was the opposite foot used? This was easily visible from watching it live. However the chance to re-watch it and confirm their decision was useful. The app becomes more powerful the more areas of focus you have. If the Receptions had to make multiple decisions, for example, look for the use of opposite foot, standing side on and pointing in the direction of the target after the throw then the delayed video becomes more valuable.
  • While throwing in front of the camera was voluntary no one opted out. In fact, they were pushing each other out of the way to see themselves on the big screen.

Year 9/10 (table tennis – topspin forehand)

  • We viewed a video of a correctly performed topspin forehand. Four major points were taken from the video and written on the white board for students to have as a reference point.
  • The video was viewed twice and the four points discussed before students had a go.
  • Students then watched their performance, had a discussion with me and then had a go at using that feedback to improve.
  • While not all students improved in the limited time available a couple of students surprised themselves with a dramatic improvement in the amount of topspin and power they achieved using this process.

The app allows for a single screen or 4 screens. the receptions used a single screen as they didn’t require multiple views to make their decision. The Year 9/10 students used 4 screens, each delayed slightly more than the other (7 second intervals) allowing each shot to be viewed 4 times one after the other.

This is the first time I have used BaM Video Delay. The app has great potential to be used on a regular basis in physical education classes as a formative assessment tool.

Technology, PE and Assessment for Learning

Dylan Wiliam presents 5 Key Strategies as part of Assessment for Learning.

  1. Clarifying, sharing and understanding learning intentions & success criteria.
  2. Eliciting evidence of learners’ achievements.
  3. Providing feedback that moves the learning forward.
  4. Activating students as instructional resources for one and other.
  5. Activating students as owners of their own learning.

These key strategies underpin a wide range of techniques that can be explored in Dylan Wiliam’s book, Embedded Formative Assessment.

For the past 2 years I have continued to develop and trial the use of technology in my PE classes. During term 1 this year I tried to incorporate the use of iPads and an app called Easytag to create an process that allowed Assessment for Learning to occur.

During my 7/8 volleyball and 9/10 badminton classes in term 1 this year I decided to use the iPad app Easytag to allow students to record data relating to their performance. The app allowed the class to record statistics relating to student performance. My 7/8 volleyball class collected data on successful digs, sets, serves and unsuccessful shots with the purpose of creating ratios of successful to unsuccessful shots. This occurred at various points throughout the unit to analyse if performance was improving and in what area. My 9/10 badminton class recorded where their badminton shuttle was landing in their opponents court during a game (front L/R, middle L/R and rear L/R). The purpose was to improve the spread of shots played i.e. not hitting all shots into the mid court. Both groups had to use this data to try and demonstrate improvement over the course of the unit.

9/10 Badminton – The Easytag panel was used by a partner to record a students shuttle placement during a competitive game. The example below is one of four panels recorded during the unit. This data was transferred to a proforma in the student’s PE book allowing for easy comparison. The data shows the student was able to improve their spread of shots to the front and rear of the court during the course of the unit.

Note: The data from the Easytag panels and student proforma below are not from the same student.

Panel (ignore the numbers in the far right column)

Seb set 1

Data from the Easytag app was collated on a single sheet. The aim was for students to improve the spread of shots, not having all shots in one area of the court.

Tiana badminton7/8 Volleyball – Students created panels in the Easytag app that displayed the information seen below on the recording proforma. Data was transferred from the app to this proforma so students could see improvement (or not) over time. The student below could see significant improvement from a ratio of approximately 1 successful to 1 unsuccessful shot at the beginning of the unit to a ratio of 4 successful shots to every unsuccessful shot near the end of the unit.

Cooper Volleyball


How has this use of technology helped me to address Dylan Wiliam’s Assessment for Learning Strategies?

Strategy – Eliciting evidence of learners’ achievement

The data was accessible to me on student iPads or in their HPE books for me to view. This information gave me starting points to have discussions with students about what could occur next at a lesson by lesson level. The data provided me with evidence of student learning at three different points during the term.

Reflection – I would have students complete at least one more set of data (most collected 3 data sets) to provide a more constant flow of evidence giving me a better picture of student learning and progress.

Strategy – Provide feedback that moves learning forward

The data was taken at varying points during the unit. The first set of data was taken at the beginning of the unit giving students a starting point to improve on. The second set of data gave students a further reference point indicating if they were heading in the right direction. Explicit teaching, lesson by lesson feedback about how to improve, student commitment and collaboration with peers was required to enable students to successfully use the data.

Reflection – As I have already mentioned I would try to include at least one more set of data during the unit. This would allow students (and me) to access more feedback about their progress at more regular intervals.

Strategy – Helps activate students as instructional resources for one and other

Students showed the data to their partner at the end of each game and quickly discussed strengths and weaknesses. There is no way that I could have assisted all students to collate and receive this amount of data over the course of the unit. Students became resources for each other providing data to move learning forward.

Reflection – I would strengthen these discussions. I did not monitor them closely and suspect that these were not as effective as they could have been. In the future I would include a more formal process of analysis to help students focus on the data more effectively.

Strategy – Activate students as owners of their own learning

Students had concrete data to work with. They could see areas of weakness i.e. I have no successful serves (7/8 volleyball) or I have not been able to hit any shots into the rear court (9/10 badminton). Students were encouraged to use this information to focus on how they could improve (own the learning).  It was entirely up to them to demonstrate through the data their learning over the course of the unit.

Reflection – While students were required to take ultimate responsibility to use the data to try and improve I needed to get around to students more regularly and have conversations about their data to help them direct there own learning.

QUESTION NUMBER 1 – How do you address the following key strategies of assessment for learning?

  1. Clarifying, sharing and understanding learning intentions & success criteria.
  2. Eliciting evidence of learners’ achievements.
  3. Providing feedback that moves the learning forward.
  4. Activating students as instructional resources for one and other.
  5. Activating students as owners of their own learning.

QUESTION NUMBER 2 – What techniques do you have at your disposal to address the 5 key strategies of Assessment for Learning?

1. Click HERE to read more about Assessment for Learning and access a range of techniques to help improve your ability to formatively assess your students.

Live Heart Rate Data

I have just purchased a set of 10 Polar H7 heart rate sensors to use with my PE students. These heart rate sensors bluetooth to the Polar Team app on my iPad which I project onto a big screen via an Apple TV. Everyone can then see what is happening to each students heart rate as they participate in the lesson. The display shows the name of the student, their heart rate and also the percentage of the students maximum heart rate they are working at (maximum heart rate is found by subtracting your age from 220).

Check out the video below showing the heart rate sensors in action. I have also included some screen shots of data captured by the Polar Team app. This data provides a great source of information for students to analyse.

Individual detailed results including the percentage of time spent in each training zone.

IMG_4070 IMG_4071

I am looking forward to using the app to help my year 11 and 12 students develop their knowledge of acute responses to exercise and how the energy systems interplay with each other during a sporting activity. If anyone else at PBAS is keen to use them just ask. A great way to get students interested in their hearts and whats happening when they exercise while generating “real” data for a maths lesson.

Was videoing my own teaching useful?

Recently I published a post titled Ever thought of videoing a lesson? This motivated me to video a lesson of my own and watch it back and reflect on aspects of my teaching.

Using an iPad and tripod set up in the gym I videoed my Year 1/2PE class. I was very aware of not making this lesson any different to what I would normally do and once the lesson began I forgot about the iPad altogether.

Year 1/2 PE Lesson Review – Focus use of time

45 minute Lesson: Just Dance, Humans and Crabs (cooperation/teamwork) and 4 v 1 throwing and catching activity.

My focus was to use the video to determine active v inactive use of time during the lesson.

Below is my breakdown of the lesson with time and activity listed.

Activity 1
2:30min – Time spent starting lesson/role/setting up
3:30min – Just Dance
Activity 2
5:22min – Explanation Humans and Crabs game, student discussion around themes used in the game – team work, tactics and safety.
1:25min – Playing Humans and Crabs. Start of game 1.
2:16min – Stopped for a chat (tactics/use of space/cooperation/how to improve).
58 sec – Playing Humans and Crabs.
1:02min – Stopped for a chat (tactics/use of space/cooperation/how to improve).
50 sec – Playing Humans and Crabs.
1:13min – Stopped for a chat (tactics/use of space/cooperation/how to improve).
30 sec – Playing Humans and Crabs.
1:47min – Stopped for a chat. End of game 1.
56 sec – Human Crabs start of game 2.
20 sec – Stopped for a chat (tactics/use of space/cooperation/how to improve).
1:04min – Playing Humans and Crabs. End game 2.
Activity 3
6:16min – Setting up and explanation of 4 v 1 throwing and catching activity a game we had not done before.
2:17min – Playing 4v1 activity
1:05 – Stopped for chat (questioning/use of space/importance of moving into space).
1:42min – Playing 4v1 activity.
30 sec – Stopped for chat (questioning/use of space/importance of moving into space).
1:57min- Pack up.
  • Active time – 13 min (29%)
  • Inactive time (teacher talk/setting up activities/packing up activities) – 24 min (53%)
  • Other – 8 min (18%) (this involved picking up the class from their room ensuring students had water bottles and walking over to the gym and other incidental tasks i.e. students going to the toilet at the beginning of the lesson)

Observing that students were active for only 29% of my class was a little demoralising and has made me rethink how I go about structuring this class in the future. Unfortunately as teachers we often speak too much which impacts in two major ways:

  1. We don’t give students enough time to learn/practice independently or with peers.
  2. Students switch off and don’t listen or take in what we say because we are giving them too much all at once.

Class discussion, having students put forward ideas and sharing solutions is all important but should not outweigh students learning through being physically active during a PE class.

So what do I take from all this?

Inactive time (teacher talk/setting up activities/packing up activities, 24 min 53%) – It is my “interrupting” of activities that I need to modify so that I do not take up so much of the students “active” time. From the video I noticed that I interrupted games at regular intervals to discuss how things can improve and question students. These chats went longer than the active game periods! This is something I know that I do quite a bit in practical lessons (particularly the younger students) and is certainly something I could limit therefore increasing the amount of active time available to students. I need to develop my ability to get my message across to students clearly and succinctly.

This lesson was fairly typical in terms of structure. Without knowing for sure I believe I spoke more during this lesson than I normally might because I reintroduced a game we had not done for a while (Humans & Crabs) and introduced a new activity the students had had no experience with (4v1 throwing and catching).

Other (8 minutes 17%) – I should be able to tidy up this use of time. I can become more efficient at getting students from the classroom to the gym and then dealing with the “Can I go to the toilet?” question. Quite often we do a Just Dance activity to get the lesson going and maybe having this set up to run while students are going to the toilet and while I do the role is a way of getting students active quicker.

This reflection is based on a single video. I intend to video a range of lessons to get a more accurate picture of my teaching and how I might continue to improve.

This process was:

  • easy to set up
  • non invasive
  • helpful for me to view and reflect on my own teaching in my own time
  • not dependant on another teachers time (although I would like to bring in my line manager as part of the process).

I encourage others to consider the following questions:

  • Have you ever seen yourself teach before?
  • What would you find if you videoed your lessons?
  • Could this method of classroom observation assist your teaching?

Why is movement important in a child’s development?

I found these series of posts by Valarie Strauss in the Washington Post via @SirKenRobinson (on Twitter) promoting the work of pediatric occupational therapist Angela Hanscom. They make a very interesting read about how inactivity and a “full” curriculum is contributing to a lack of basic muscle strength, underdeveloped sensory systems, poor posturing, and inefficient sensory processing of the world around them due to the amount of time spent sitting. Below are some quotes from the posts to give you a taste of what is in the articles.

If you are interested in reading the full articles the links are provided at the bottom of this post.

“A perfect stranger pours her heart out to me over the phone. She complains that her 6-year-old son is unable to sit still in the classroom. The school wants to test him for ADHD (attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder).”

“I recently observed a fifth grade classroom as a favour to a teacher.The teacher was reading a book to the children. I’ve never seen anything like it. Kids were tilting back their chairs back at extreme angles, others were rocking their bodies back and forth, a few were chewing on the ends of their pencils, and one child was hitting a water bottle against her forehead in a rhythmic pattern.”

“We quickly learned after further testing, that most of the children in the classroom had poor core strength and balance.”

“They need hours of play outdoors in order to establish a healthy sensory system and to support higher-level attention and learning in the classroom.”

“Shortened recess times, cutting gym classes, and other specials (i.e., music and art) means we are no longer respecting the needs of the whole child. Our system of testing is failing our children.”

“In fact, none of our bodies are made to stay sedentary for lengths of time. This lack of movement and unrelenting sitting routine, are wreaking havoc on their bodies and minds.”

Admittedly these posts are directed at the American culture and schooling system where curriculum is often more focused on “high stakes testing” than in Australia and where some schools eliminate recess, P.E., the Arts etc to find more time to focus on “core” curriculum. That being said we can take a lot of important messages from these articles about how we parent and school our children in Australia.

Schoolchildren bored in a classroom, during lesson.

Post 1: Why so many kids can’t sit still in school today

Post 2: The right – and surprisingly wrong – ways to get kids to sit still in class

Post 3: A therapist goes to middle school and tries to sit still and focus. She can’t. Neither can the kids

QR Codes

This year I have created posters covering the major body systems relating to Year 12 PE using QR Codes. These posters are designed to go up on the walls in the Year 12 room as well as be used in the students private study spaces at home. They will act as a constant reference point for what is essentially a rote learning task. Each poster has at least one QR code that links to an online video explaining the body system in more detail.

QR codes are extremely easy to make and there are many sites that allow you to generate them. I used the web site

There are many uses for QR codes in the classroom and limited only by your imagination.

  • send a QR code home on a parent letter or piece of student work linking parents to some extra relevant information.
  • Put a QR code in the school newsletter that provides extra information for parents on a relevant topic.
  • Provide a QR code(s) on student assignments linking students to key resources.
  • Create a walk around the school using QR codes to hide clues that allow students to move to the next clue in the walk.
  • Create revision tasks/questions with the answers (or possible answers) in the form of QR codes. These could be in the form of text, links to websites or You Tube videos.
  • Put QR codes up around the classroom that take students to websites or information that enhances the learning of a current topic in the classroom.

Below are screen shots of each poster that I have created. If you would like to access the posters the links are provided below.

Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 7.27.33 pm Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 7.27.59 pm Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 7.28.27 pm Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 7.28.51 pm

Body Systems QR Posters

The Shadow Game

The concept of making something move using a motion path in a Power Point is fairly simple. The concept of projecting it up on a wall and having students interact with it physically, problem solve and share their solutions helps develop basic movement skills and promotes collaboration.

Here is a game given to me by @matulisj who created the Power Point you will see projected on the wall in my video. The second video shows two of his students in October this year using a computer and motion capture technology to create their own game. Pretty cool stuff!