October 24, 2014

Planning for Inquiry-based Physical Education

As a Phys Ed teaching team, we had a unique opportunity at the beginning of last year to reflect on our physical education program as a whole and to ask ourselves whether our approach was providing students with the best ability to develop deep understanding of a variety of curricular outcomes. We wanted to share some of the outcomes of a full year invested in this process, along with some of our continually evolving understandings. 

"Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand" has been a perfect starting point from which to extend our conversations around what types of learning opportunities we were providing for students. Historically, our teaching in physical education has been didactic and demonstrative with rare opportunities in which students were collaboratively invested in their learning beyond attempting to follow a set of instructions. Our shift toward a more inquiry-based approach to developing physically literacy focused on encouraging students to invest in seeking information through questioning, rather than just merely waiting for it to be "delivered". From the teacher's perspective, this involved carefully designing a context and framework for specific units that might draw student questions out, and help focus thinking.
Traditional physical education focuses on the development of competence in the hopes that increased confidence will result. It often fails however, to account for the vastly differing competencies of students in various sports or activities. An inquiry based approach meets students where they are at. Increased competence and confidence inevitably result.