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.