TGfU – The first date

In my last blog I talked about my renewed vigour for all things TGfU (Teaching Games For Understanding). 5 Weeks into term 1 and I’m pleased to report things have been running smoothly.

Firstly, my brave Head of Department allowed me to completely reshape the year 7 practical curriculum for 2012 for all Year 7 classes. Secondly, my fellow year 7 teachers are on board and lastly, a couple of lessons into the program the pupils have been fully engaged and having fun whilst learning key concepts.

In this post I will try and share the basic framework for the curriculum I have designed for my school.

The practical curriculum that we have used in previous years has been based mostly around single sports and the learning of skills needed to participate with success in that sport. Those sports have often been placed in curriculum timeline in accordance with the season they are played in. For example Year 7 would typically start the year with a Fitness Unit then move onto a ‘summer’ sport such as tennis. Then move into winter sports such as football and finally move back to a summer sport at the end of the year e.g. softball. ( non games units such as  gymnastics / dance and athletics tacked in somewhere along the way).

To follow a TGfU curriculum model you have to throw ‘seasons’ and specific sports out the window. Instead your starting point is with game categories. All games fit into 4 distinct categories – Target Games, Striking and fielding games, Net / Wall Games and Invasion games. The idea of the TGfU model is that you teach concepts of like games before skills of specific sports. As pupils begin to develop conceptual understanding and e.g. how to move your opponent around a court in a net game to exploit space to score a point. So to will they begin to embark on a problem solving journey e.g. which shot do I need to play when my opponent is at the net. As this process occurs then skills can be taught within the relevance of the game. This model of teaching (developed by Bunker, Thorpe and Almond 1983) is constructivist in nature and (to me at least) makes much more sense than the traditional skill based method of teaching, where skills are taught in isolation and then placed into a game situation. Take the Year 7 volleyball lesson where you spend 30 mins perfecting the dig or set in pairs or in lines and then when the pupils look like they have mastered it you place them in a game only to see the skill break down completely.

So for this year the year 7 PE curriculum looks like this:-

Term 1 – Target games (unopposed moving to opposed).

Term 2 – Striking and Fielding Games

Term 3 – Net Games

Term 4 – Invasion Games

The order the categories are taught in is very important – Target games have the simplest concepts to understand, with Striking and Fielding being more complex and so on until Invasion Games which are the most complex. This way the pupils are not hit with complex tactical concepts at the start of the year, rather complexity is built upon each term.

So far I am half way through the Target Games unit. The emphasis, as the title suggests, is on playing games at all times and building understanding of key concepts through them. It is important to note that the ‘games’ are all minor or modified games which allow for maximum participation and time on task. My year 7 class this year has a range of abilities (including a pupil with physical disabilities) and I am pleased to report that because of the nature of the lessons all pupils have been included and achieved success. This has led to high pupil engagement and learning outcomes have been achieved.

I will endeavour to write more specific posts about lessons in the very near future. I also have a very rough draft of the Target games and Striking and Fielding games units that I will share when I have trialled the lessons.

TGfU – a rekindled love affair

When I did my teacher training at The Chelsea School Of PE @ the University of Brighton back in 1998 I remember quite vividly the module we studied called ‘Teaching through the Game’.

Although I have tried to use that model of teaching in all my classes I have still found myself using the same old lessons and even reverting back to old skill /  drill format! Then my passion for the genre was reignited by a professional development day run by Greg Forrest from the University of Wollongong. Greg is a keen advocate for TGfU or Game sense as it is branded in Australia and delivered a thoroughly enjoyable course, including some essential new practical tips and ideas!

Then no sooner was I back into the throes of  developing new lessons around the TGfU model I had to take a forced sabbatical back to Blighty due to family illness. So when I saw a tweet from @MichaelAayres from St Mary’s University College, Twickenham outlining a free seminar on  ‘Revisiting  TGfU’ (Teaching Games For Understanding) with Professor Len Almond a couple of weeks ago I jumped at the chance to continue my development.

Little did I realise that Len Almond is one of the 3 Loughborough University professors who invented the whole model in 1982 which is now used in more than 58 countries around the world. (Just incase you are wondering – Spain apparently does it best). The seminar was a fantastic experience and completely rekindled my love affair with this style of teaching PE. Luckily the whole thing was recorded and will appear as a podcast in the near future (check back here for links in the next couple of weeks).

So now with the fire roaring in my belly and my continued ‘bit on the side’ with technology integration in PE my holiday challenge is to draft a KS3 program and scope & sequence which centre’s wholly around the TGfU model – and off course will incorporate the use of technology whenever possible / appropriate.

For those interested in learning more about the TGfU / Games Sense model here are 3 videos from Ausport.  Plus a paper from Greg Forrest et al @ UOW

They think, therefore they’ll blog

I’ve been reading a lot of material on paperless classrooms and engaging students in meaningful and reflective work through ICT. Most of what I read happens to be on blogs which is starting to make me realise how powerful blogging can be. Surely I can harness that power and turn it into engaging pedagogy.

Therefore, I have decided to trial a [almost] ‘digital classroom’ with my year 7 class next term.

I am currently in the planning stages:

Step One – Set up a class blog (

After a fair bit of research on the value of blogging and how to use blogging in the classroom I get the inherent feeling that this is a good idea. There are a lot of scaremongerers around me who talk of the ‘darkside’ of publishing anything on the internet but from what I read and my own beliefs I can see nothing but positivity for this sort of activity. I know that certain precautions should and will be taken –  but the whole venture will be an exercise in 21st Century citizenship. The benefits around the learning of copyright issues, privacy and safe online presence will surely be worth the experiment…ands that’s before we add in the syllabus content. Being able to publish to a potentially global audience and receive real-time feedback for their efforts seems to me to be a highly motivating tool as well.

So I had a search for the most user-friendly blog space I could that would be intuitive enough for year 7’s to find their way around and I settled on I have started the page myself but intend to hand the reigns over to the class fairly quickly.

My only quandary now is whether to keep to just an overall class blog or to let the pupils free with individual blogs? – I think I will let the pupils decide.

Step 2 – Find an audience

Being connected and being read is, I guess, not the only point of a blog – it also has its obvious merits as a reflective tool and an online eportfolio. However, I know only too well how satisfying it can be to view your blog stats and see that people have visited, read and even commented. So I am in the process of setting up a twitter account ( @7pdhpe02 ) and have entered the  @creativeedu classblog challenge .

Step 3 – Engage the pupils

So far I haven’t told the pupils of my cunning plan but hopefully by putting steps 1 and 2 in place before next term I will be able to open the blog and show them the twitter account and from there we will discuss all the ways in which we can use these tools. This is the ‘unknown’ for me – hopefully they will roll with it and think of far more creative ways to use these resources than I could ever hope to do. But then that is the gamble isn’t it?

And I suppose rather fittingly our next PDH topic is Risky Business (exploring risk taking). By the end of the unit (irrespective of this digital experiment) they would have hopefully learnt that some risks are worth it – hopefully this will be the perfect case in point.

Download overload!

This may only be my third post but as I mentioned last time this is more a time constraint than a nothing to say constraint!

What is taking up most of my time of late?………technology!!! Or at least trying to keep up with technology.

So this all started with the goal to incorporate more technology into my lessons. This, I am happy to report, is going pretty well. However, my main problem has been the sheer amount of technology that is available to do this.

It seems that on any given day I stumble across an article or blog that has, what on the surface appears to be, a must have idea for my technology integration locker. Most ideas are spawned through my twitter network (thanks #pegeeks) but then one blog leads to another which leads to another and to another. By the time I’ve checked out one tweet suddenly half an hour has passed chasing and soaking up the flow of information that is available.

The problem is I’ve developed a real thirst for these ideas. I simply feel compelled to find out more and more which generally leaves me with a complete information overload. Obviously it’s not possible to trial every idea in the class, but which ones are the best ones?? Well I guess that is the whole point of this journey. Trial and error has always been my learning style of choice and so I shall continue in that vein.

Maybe you can help……..I’d really appreciate knowing what has been your favourite / most successful use of technology in the PDHPE classroom??

Some of the successes I have had include:

  • Using google docs and one note for collaborative learning
  • Setting up a facebook page for my HSC class (view)
  • Using mobile phones for feedback in practical classes (specifically with cricket coach app)
  • Using QR codes
  • Using dropbox for file sharing

Some I’m looking forward to incorporating in the near future include:

  • screenr
  • Dartfish

Nice Tweets

6 months down the ICT in PE track and here is only my second post……..not for lack of wanting, more from lack of time – have you come become time poor in your teaching life over the past few years??

Anyway, I digress. So what have I done for the last 6 months? Have I actually integrated any ICT into my lessons? Has it been any good?

Throughout the summer holidays and the beginning of term 1 I found a very close friend in the form of twitter. My first thoughts…….how can reading people’s inane babbling about their lives possibly help me improve my teaching.? It didn’t take me long to find out that my twitter assumptions were way off the mark.

What I was introduced to was a small community of PDHPE teachers from across the globe who were freely sharing excellent resources that could be immediately applied to my lessons. In fact, I would estimate that I had something new to try in my classroom or add to my teaching at least once a day. So to that end I would like to thank and recommend the following  tweeters who have all provided me with new ideas and resources.

 The list is not exhaustive but is a good place to start.

 @benpaddlejones,@clarindabrown, @pdhpedotorg, @jaytrevaskis, @jonesytheteacher, @janice_atkin, @mrrobbo, @pipcleaves, #pegeeks, @TESconnect, @RO_teachers, @sport_ed

So what have I been doing in the classroom? Well, in the interests of keeping this post short and readable I will list some highlights with a view to write in more detail about them at a later date.

  • Using Prezi – for presentations for myself and with the pupils
  • Cricket coach iphone app for immediate split screen video analysis in PE lesson
  • Introducing a Facebook page for my 2unit HSC class (search HSC pdhpe)
  • Using flip camera’s regularly for analysis, marking and parent teacher interviews
  • Using the runkeeper iphone app for movement analysis and the beep test app for…..well the beep test
  • Using the interactive whiteboard to present notes, save and add to moodle
  • Using moodle quizzes for exams

……and so much more which has escaped my immediate memory!

Before I sign off I do have one ICT related question………….In a recent assignment for a year 8 PDH class we asked pupils to build a website through exe learning. However, this software seems archaic and outdated even to me. So my question is

What website building software do you use with your pupils?

So long and thanks for all the tweets!

In the begininng

So……..having recently been ‘switched on’ to the world of technology integration in PE I thought I would chronicle the journey I’m about to embark on.

Basically I’m a PDHPE teacher living and working in Sydney but hailing from Brighton in the UK. I qualified back in 1998 when I vaguely remember doing a computer literacy module and being introduced to this thing called ‘the internet’. Since that point I’ve been a very occasional user of ICT and mostly just for personal usage or maybe a bit of power point here and there.

Recently I was lucky enough to go to the PDHPETA conference and realised that my small morsels of ICT use in PE were ok but way behind the eight ball in terms of what others were doing. So thats when I decided to take this a bit more seriously and see just how technologically savvy a technophobe can become in a couple of years.

So the goal is this…….learn and integrate useful ICT innovations into my lessons to make them more engaging, productive and of course educational!!!

So far I’m getting to grips with QR codes, moodle, trialling different iphone apps, using GPS and accelarometers, twitter and instant video feedback. Hopefully the list will expand 10 fold as the next school year progresses but for now the holidays will be my play ground!

I should mention at this early point that a lot of my inspiration has come from a few forerunners in this area – notably – Mr Robbo- the PE geek, Jonseytheteacher, Whats Mr T thinking and Benpaddlejones. All of whom I will give links to when I have learnt about the correct ‘blog ettiquette’.

Personally, I’m all about sharing. So if you happen upon this blog and find it useful then feel free to pass it on!

Therefore I should probably sign off with something that I have been upto that might be of interest:

This term I trialled using QR codes in a softball lesson. I made up some really simple laminated cards (see link) with QR code links to videos of specific elements of softball. The pupils used their phone to view the videos then went away and practiced the skills. They found it easy to use and fun. I’ll try and post a video of it in my next post.

Year 7 – Softball Lesson with QR codes final