After taking a break from teaching for two years to solely concentrate on developing the role of a School Sports Co-ordinator for the Campsmount Pyramid, I decided it was time to return to the classroom in September of this year. Whilst I had been missing from the classroom, there had been quite a few significant changes to the Secondary National Curriculum Framework, particularly within the subject of Physical Education.
The main changes to the National Curriculum for Physical Education were the removal of programmes of study that followed the traditional routes of activity and the introduction of new programmes of study, whereby students are taught a range of activities that run concurrent to a theme. Examples of this are where students follow a block of work on outwitting opponents across a range of games activities, the main aim being to develop an all rounded games player who can transfer a range of skills across different activities.
The Campsmount Physical Education Department have decided to be forward thinking in the new approach to learning and have therefore developed their curriculum to meet the demands of new ideas that account for the needs of all learners. In 2008, a new key skills block of work was introduced in year 7, aimed to give students the opportunity to experience a range of different activities, integrating personal learning and thinking skills across all of these activities. This proved to be hugely successful and has now been adopted in the new academic year.
After returning to teaching it was apparent that the use of 3 learning objectives for all students was a thing of the past and the idea of personalised learning, showing an awareness of differentiation within the set objectives, needs to be apparent in all lessons now delivered. I therefore decided that I would trial this new approach to begin with, starting with my year 7 class from the onset in September.
An example of how I have achieved this in my year 7 lessons are as follows: First of all I use the first few lessons as a baseline to assess my students physical ability, then for each of the different key skill activities I set the students into 4 groups, consisting of 3 different levels. These groups consist of a top set, two middle sets and a lower ability set. Then for each lesson I set three different learning objectives, which are differentiated into levels, so each student would know what level they are at. Each objective is explained so all students are aware what I want them to achieve in the lesson, however also what they need to do to progress to the next level. These are demonstrated to the students as ALL, MOST and SOME.
Within the lesson all students work in groups of students with similar abilities working on core tasks appropriate for them to progress at a level according to their ability. Throughout the lesson the students are constantly observed to ensure they are grouped accordingly for the activity they are working on during that lesson. If this isn’t the case they are adjusted up or down. Running in line with this I always give an opportunity for the students to comment on their own and others progress and discuss what they need to do to progress to the next level.
I feel that what helps the students’ progress using this approach is effective structuring of the lessons, which always demonstrates clear learning objectives. Delivering an appropriate starter activity which relates to the main activity in the lesson (which can also be used to assess the groupings are correct), a good main activity section, which in the main consists of skills and techniques and application to a game or performance, integrating evaluation and discussion into this. To complete the lesson a thorough plenary to assess students knowledge and understanding in relation to the objectives set ensuring all students contribute accordingly and they demonstrate where effective PLT’s have been used in the lesson.
I am now actively following this approach in all of my lessons and I feel that the difference in learning and progression is immense. All students progress at their own level. They know what is required from them and what they need to do to progress to the next level. Assessment for Learning is a clear focus this year within the Campsmount Physical Education Department and this method of approach is a great tool for assisting in the Assessment Process at the end of every module of work. By no means have I come out of every lesson, where things have always worked really well, it has been a learning curve so far for me, however I have taken on board what hasn’t worked and then considered how I would change that next time – The world of teaching!
C.Knowland (Campsmount School Sports Co-ordinator)