Elementary Physical Education Task Design & Assessment Project – overview

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A new school year is underway and I am excited about the possibilities for the upcoming year. One project I am particularly happy to be co-leading is an elementary phys ed task design and assessment project that I am working on with Allen Wideman, PE teacher at McKenzie Towne School in Calgary.

Through my work last year with the learning leader team of Area 2 in the Calgary Board of Education, I was fortunate to be a part of the learning and conversation around designing meaningful learning tasks and building in formative assessment; a conversation lead by the Galileo Centre at University of Calgary. As a phys ed teacher, I was particularly interested in how the ideas related to teaching phys ed. The fact is, is that there were very few phys ed exemplars shared in the conversations about creating engaging and meaningful learning experiences. It got me thinking that we need good exemplars of task design in phys ed. So, I contacted Allen Wideman, who i met initially on twitter, and we got talking about the possibility of doing some work together that could be shared out with the broader community.

Long term athlete development literature identifies the 12 and under crowd as the most significant window of opportunity related to the development of physical literacy. Paradoxically, elementary school has naturally as its major focus literacy and numeracy as some its highest priority work. Elementary school also tends to have fewer teachers who are hired to teach phys ed as a specialist. Thats where this project comes in. Below is a summary document of what the goal, objectives and pedagogy of the project is all about.

This is a project you will hear more about this year. Allen and I are excited to be collaborating on this work. We think it can advance teaching and learning in phys ed across our school division in a meaningful way. So that any learning that we do as teachers has its broadest and deepest impact, we plan to share out this work on blogs and at conferences.

We are excited about doing this work which is grounded in Sharon Friesen’s Teacher Effectiveness Framework and John Hattie’s Visible Learning research.

Showing how Friesen’s Teacher Effectiveness Framework and Task Design and Assessment can be used in physical education is the intention of this project


Elementary Physical Education Task Design Project
Roy Strum, Consultant, CBE
Allen Wideman, PE Teacher, McKenzie Towne School
Goal: Use research based best practice to design learning tasks and assessment strategies in elementary physical education, focused on physical literacy that results in student achievement of learning outcomes.
1. Identify clear learning intentions and success criteria in each lesson
2. Ensure feedback is provided to each student, each day, about where they are at, where they are going next, and what it will look like when they get there
3. Create challenging, engaging instruction that includes intellectual engagement, academic rigour, and assessment of learning that is authentic and fosters deeper understandings
4. Create a culture that embraces the idea that ‘error is welcomed’
5. Collaborate with teachers to improve instruction
6. Utilize a variety of teaching strategies in physical education including direct instruction, tactical instruction, peer teaching, mastery learning, reciprocal teaching, micro teaching and deliberate practice.
7. Advance the development of physical literacy of students
8. Create video exemplars of effective physical education task design and assessment in elementary physical education
The Outcome:
This project identifies a number of key outcomes:
– Create examples of what elementary physical education can look like in schools where the focus is on aligning with best practice literature – e.g. Friesen, Hattie
– Use physical literacy as the primary lens for learning in elementary phys ed.
– Identify key teaching resources
– Collaborate with the broader physical education community
– Ensure student attainment of learning outcomes from Alberta PE Program of Studies
– Provide examples of meaningful task design and formative assessment in phys ed
The project will take place at McKenzie Towne School. It will be led by PE Teacher, Alan Wideman and CBE Consultant, Roy Strum during the 2015-16 school year. McKenzie Towne School is a K-4 school located in SE Calgary, Alberta. The project will focus on one grade for a 6 week period
Physical education in schools is often focused primarily on developing a positive disposition to physical activity. At times, missing is the explicit focus on learning, deliberate practice, feedback, differentiation, assessment, and challenging learning tasks. This is particularly true in many elementary schools where the natural focus is on literacy and numeracy and many classroom teachers also teach physical education.
This project grows out of educational literature – primarily Sharon Friesen’s Teacher Effectiveness Framework and John Hattie’s Visible Learning research. It is based on a number of key understandings
Effective teaching in elementary physical education is important to engage students in meaningful learning, both in terms of task design and influences on student achievement. John Hattie, in his book Visible Learning speaks to influences on student achievement including practices that reflect effective teaching. According to Hattie, effective teaching occurs when:
– A culture is created where error is welcomed; where learners feel safe to learn and relearn – this reduces vulnerability to take on something new and facilitates innovation and problem solving
– There is cooperation and preplanning that occurs between teachers – where they discuss, evaluate, plan teaching in light of evidence about student success
– There are clear learning intentions and success criteria – when these are transparent to the learner, and when learners know where to go next, learning occurs
– Modelling occurs of the success criteria
– Teachers check for understanding – where they are aware of what each student knows, to construct meaning in light of that knowledge and provide meaningful and appropriate feedback
– Students move from a single idea to multiple ideas and then relate and extend those ideas to construct knowledge
– A backward design is used for instructional planning – starting with the learning intention – including surface, deep, and constructed knowledge
– Peer learning is optimized

In addition, Hattie identifies other teacher influences on achievement that this project will aim to embody. These include:

– Teacher-student relationship – ensuring there are rules and procedures in place that are negotiated with the students. Teacher-student relationship also includes having clarity of purpose focused on learning and include a concern for the needs and opinions of others.
– Teacher clarity – teaching that includes the language, love and details of physical education. Teaching that includes appropriately challenging learning intentions and success criteria. Teaching that includes being able to communicate the intent of the lesson
– Quality teaching components – Teacher who provide challenge, have high expectations, who encourage the study of the subject, who value deep and surface aspects of their subject. Teachers who emphasize progress not ability and who are prepared to be surprised. Teachers who give agency and efficacy to students. Teachers who are caring, empathetic, and give positive regard to students. Teachers who provide feedback on how to be successful in learning. Teachers who structure situations so students can attain learning goals.

So, there you have it, our starting place.  We realize that there has been much great work done by dedicated professional physical education teachers over the years.  We also realize that there is a need to keep the conversation current and relevant to best practice literature today.  In the Calgary Board of Education, over the last few years, we have embraced the pedagogy of Sharon Friesen, the Galileo Centre, and John Hattie among other experts.  This project builds on the great work of HPEC’s special project – Everactive Schools – our hope is that we can regularly converse with colleagues both within the CBE and the PE community about our work.   Much of this will fall onto Roy, as Allen is teaching full time, and Roy is dropping in to co plan and co teach.

So excited!



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