By: Mark Banasiak @MoreThanGym
PE teachers do a lot of observing. During large group activities, we are taught to stand with our “backs against the wall” so we can properly observe students while they participate. If we see a need, we swoop in to correct it. Otherwise, we stand back to make sure we can see everything that is going on.
On the flip side, when we are guiding the students through a skill progression, we are standing right there with them. As we check in with each student, pair, or group, we are constantly observing and assessing.
Using data allows you to meet the needs of your students. This data will inform you exactly where each student, pair, or group is in the skill development. It will identify those that need to be challenged with enrichment activities and those that need additional practice (remedial instruction).
The data I use is either collected via teacher observation or is student reported.
In previous posts, I have shared how I plan and implement the Student Progression Model of Instruction. In this post, I will share how I specifically use this data to inform my instruction. I will primarily focus on jumping rope; however, the tactics described here can be used in most skill progressions.
In the fall of each year, our 1st graders work on the basic jump with an individual jump rope. I set a goal for them to be able to successfully execute 3 jumps. I don’t dictate the speed of those jumps. I count it as long as they do not have to completely reset the rope. I will demonstrate the critical elements as well as the common mistakes. After providing this basic instruction, I turn on some music and let them practice. Meanwhile, I walk around observing and assessing each child. If I see them successfully meet the goal, I will then place a half cone by them and progress them to a challenge like jumping backwards or on one foot. After assessing each student in the class, I can turn around and see the presence or absence of a cone and know exactly where I need to focus my attention. If it is only 1-2 students who do not have a cone, I will then leave them in place and go to them. If it is more than two, I may move them into a small group to focus my attention on them while the rest continue to try the challenge. Does everyone make it on the same day? No. If someone has not met the goal at the end of class, I record their name so I know exactly who to focus on when they come back.
This process allows me to teach each child. It allows me to differentiate my instruction to meet the needs of all students.
As you are probably aware, teaching jump rope can be both awesome and frustrating! We use a similar process with the older students; however, each grade level has a slightly higher goal.
Student Reported Data
I really enjoy teaching long jump rope skills to the younger students. We have found success in our school by bringing in older peers to turn the ropes for the younger students.
Due to our large classes, we have 17 jump rope stations going on at the same time. If possible, we have 3 older peers at each station who take turns being either a turner or a recorder.
To help keep everyone on track, we have painted floor markings to assist with long jump rope. There are two purple handprints for the turners to stand on. There is also a red heart for the jumper to stand on. In the past, we used pieces of floor tape.
If possible, we try to secure enough helpers so there are only 3-4 jumpers at each station. When it is their turn, they come up and stand on the mark. The turners will tap their ankles three times and then begin turning the rope. If they get less than 5 jumps, they get a second turn. We place a maximum of 15 jumps so the line can keep moving.
The recorder is given a long jump rope log (FYI – I have attached a copy of one at the end of this post). Their job is to record the number of jumps each jumper achieves. This is not a cumulative number; it is a record of how many consecutive jumps are achieved at each turn.
After a few minutes of jumping and logging information, I can move from station to station and quickly identify who needs assistance based on the recorded data.
I then call the student who needs attention to the rope, and I take over turning one side of the rope. Sometimes, all it takes is adjusting the speed of the rope to match their jumping rhythm. Other times, we put the rope down, join hands, and practice jumping up and down versus up and out.
Any data that is recorded while I am assisting is circled so I know that when I look back at the info.
My instruction is better because I can look at the real time data and help exactly where it is needed. I can also review the data after class and adjust the groupings of students by placing those that need help with better turners.
I have found that second semester second graders through fifth graders can complete a jump rope log for themselves. That is, I place them into groups of four where they take turns being the jumper, turner, and recorder. With them, I have taken it a step further to include opportunities for them to report other types of data. For instance, I inquire if they can run into a moving rope, or I ask them how they rate their jump rope turners?
One year, I was curious about their perceived skill level. As a result, I asked each student to report how they rated their short rope jumping. Surprisingly, there were a handful who had met my goal for how many consecutive jumps to complete yet they still rated themselves as needing help. I found it quite interesting that we had different levels of success.
I am better able to meet the needs of my students because I use data to inform my instruction.
What data can you collect?
How can it inform your instruction?
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