Using ICT in your PE lessons

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Many PE teachers are ahead of the game when using technology effectively in their lessons. Ben Solly considers a few examples.

For years PE teachers have been among the most proactive educators to harness the potential of ICT to enhance learning experiences for students. 

In particular, video analysis of performance has always been an important part of ICT use in PE, and although the methods employed in lessons today are obviously more advanced, the principles often remain the same.

One fundamental principle I always ask teachers to adhere to is to only use technology in the classroom if it has a positive influence on student learning.

Technology, and in particular portable devices, are an integral part of most people’s everyday lives, and young people in our schools are especially wedded to them. So how are PE teachers in particular using these devices and other technological advances to enhance learning in the classroom? I posed this question to my Personal Learning Network recently on Twitter and these are my favourite responses from some top notch #PEGEEKS.

Before and after

Paul Barrett (@MrB442PE on Twitter), PE subject co-ordinator at Monkseaton Middle School in Whitely Bay, has been using ICT in PE lessons in a variety of ways, but his favourite (and more importantly his students’ favourite) is the use of tablets and apps like QuikCoach or Coach’s Eye.

Specifically, Paul outlined that the use of these apps really gives the pupils an understanding of how they are performing and what they need to do to improve their technique. 

During an observation last year, Paul’s students explained to the observer that it was great to see themselves performing as they could “easily spot the key components needed to perform and coach an effective sprint technique using selected teaching points”. With the importance of demonstrating progress in a lesson, or even in a 20 minute section of a lesson, what better way in a practical subject than to film a “before” and “after” clip of a particular technique, then compare and analyse either individually or with a peer?

MiCoach

James Shutt (@SuperShutt), head of PE at Fulford School in York, said that since investing in iPads for his department, he and his team have used MiCoach with their students to help develop particular techniques in sports such as cricket with some excellent results.

Indeed it is clear that activities involving “closed” skills that are easy to isolate and therefore film are most suited to these types of self/peer-assessed activities. James explained that the instant feedback these apps provide gives a tangible feel of improvement to every lesson. He has also found that students have a heightened sense of maturity when they are using the software and that they flourish when given the opportunity to help others improve.

Leadership skills

Ross Wickens (@MrWickensPE), an NQT at Toot Hill School in Nottingham, has developed the above technique further to include a specific leadership element by introducing “Student Sports Scientists” in PE to provide feedback to peers using video analysis.

Using apps such as Coach’s Eye and Sports Rules, students are able to identify areas for development as well as positive feedback. Originally this system allowed pairs of students to work throughout the lesson in their role as a sports scientist – however, this causes issues with lack of physical activity for those involved. 

Subsequently, alongside his colleagues at Toot Hill he has developed a system where all students are able to be the sports scientist and the performer at some point during the lesson. It involved a carousel which he explains further in his blog (link below). Ross has found that there is a clear increase in the engagement of students when performing and acting as the sports scientists, and the quality of feedback from students with minimal teacher input is a great way of demonstrating student ownership of their learning. Read two of Ross’s blog posts on the topic at http://bit.ly/1m4n22J and http://bit.ly/1bgYq5A

Collaboration

The techniques outlined so far should not be considered solely pertinent to PE however. Science experiments, design technology and art techniques, acting scenes in drama, musical performances, short tutorials in maths and conversations in languages are all activities that could be filmed using a tablet and subsequently analysed. But what of ICT use in PE that is not performance analysis-based?

In GCSE PE lessons, Ben Leonard (@PEeducator) uses Socrative effectively to gauge student understanding and inform future learning using SmartPhones. Nothing radically new with that. However, what Ben has done is create a collaborative platform in Googledocs for teachers to upload their own quizzes, tests and assessments. This is a fantastic way of establishing a sharing community between practitioners which enables teachers to share their resources and exchange ideas. You can read more about Ben’s use of Socrative and how he has established his collaborative community of teachers in his blog: http://bit.ly/1bHxU61

Linking via Skype

Jon Tait (@TeamTait) has used Skype effectively to communicate with schools in America. Specifically, Jon collaborated with a school across the Atlantic on a dance project which culminated in a “dance-off” that was transmitted between the schools via Skype. The students judged each other’s performances and used their SmartPhones to vote for their favourites. This incredibly innovative venture not only developed the evaluative skills of the students, but also encouraged respect and appreciation, all through the creative use of technology. And this really is the point – the technology is what we as teachers make of it, if we use it as a bolt-on then don’t expect it to have any lasting effect. However, if used with creativity and imagination then it will allow students to immerse themselves in the learning and excel. Read Jon’s blog here: www.edutait.com/?p=104 

  • Ben Solly is vice-principal at Long Field Academy in Melton Mowbray. Follow him on Twitter @ben_solly


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