I was listening to a PE Geek Podcast the other day and came across a great resource for junior primary teachers that gets kids moving using stories as a basis for those movements. The stories are produced by BBC School Radio and posted to their website. The idea is that students listen and as part of the story the narrator instructs students on different movements that connect with the narrative for example, stomping through a forest, sneaking into a dragons cave or clanking around in a knights suit of armour. I tried one with my R/1 PE class today and they absolutely loved it! The story we listened to was called Knights, Castles and Dragons.
Knights, Castles and Dragons – the students loved it!
Click here to view all the available BBC Let’s Move podcasts. Each podcast can be downloaded to your computer so internet access is not required when you play the file.
Keep in mind that these are just audio files. The next time I use one of these with a class I am planning to make up a slide show of images that relates to the story so the students also have something to look at while they are moving and listening to the story.
“After a high profile career as CEO, Pierre Pirard decided to redirect his focus and became a teacher. Working in Brussels’ most disadvantaged neighbourhoods, he discovered that these children — usually portrayed as troublemakers — are able to rise above this negative image. He believes that these kids are the future of our society and that we should care for their education, no matter what their socio-cultural and economical background is.”
Being open to improvement and accepting feedback is an important part of being a teacher. There are a number of ways we can do this:
Peer observation: Meet prior to discuss a focus and meet after to discuss what was observed and how it can be used to develop practice.
Video observation: Video a lesson to watch and reflect on practice. You could also sit with a peer and discuss your reflections and ask for their input.
Observe a peer: Sit in on the class of a peer you respect, has the same subject area or a similar year level to you. Have a focus for your observation and spend time discussing what you observed with the teacher.
Student feedback: Ask your students what they think of your teaching. Have a focus and be specific with your questions.
All feedback can be valuable but student feedback provides a type of feedback that the others cannot. What your students think is important, it will impact directly on their attitude towards you as a teacher and how much they are willing to listen and therefore learn when they are in your classroom.
Be open with your students about what you would like to improve. For example let them know that previous feedback has identified that you talk too much during lessons and you would like help to reduce teacher talk and increase student engagement.
Give students time to develop their ability to provide feedback. Clearly explain the purpose of the feedback understanding that it may take some practice on their part and continued explanation on yours to ensure the feedback is useful. Provide students with clear and specific questions. This will support them in providing you with quality feedback. For example:
What’s one thing I should keep doing [during instruction, when giving directions, etc.]?
What’s one thing I should stop doing [. . .]?
What’s one thing I should do differently [. . .]?
What’s the most annoying thing I do [when lecturing, when assigning homework, etc.]?
What’s the best thing I do to help you learn [. . .]?
What could I do to give you better feedback [on your writing, on your quizzes, etc.]?
What did you like about the assignment I gave last night?
What did you dislike about the assignment I gave last night?
“When you ________________________, I usually stop paying attention.”
Use the feedback provided by students. Ultimately this is why you asked for the feedback in the first place. Try to look at what students say without justifying or explaining away the feedback. Try to find patterns in student feedback to match your own reflections or feedback from peers. Future feedback will be taken more seriously if students see you have used previous feedback.
The Grattan Institute acknowledge student engagement is a problem in Australian schools and while the causes of that disengagement are varied and debatable they identify that an immediate solution is to build the capacity of teachers to create classrooms that improve learning. By asking for and using student feedback we are utilising a powerful resource to make this happen.