Summer vacation is just around the corner, and you know you can’t officially break out the barbecue, swing the golf clubs, or bask in the clear blue skies until you’ve checked off all your responsibilities in the classroom. Every educator has that dreaded checklist they must do to officially complete their school year. In Physical Education, that to-do list can include entering grades, fitness assessments, cleaning out the equipment room, or compiling artifacts for teacher evaluations.
Time is important to me. When the final bell rings on the last day of school, I want to be walking out of my building knowing I won’t have to return until the following school year.
I found ways to save time in my physical education classroom by incorporating more student-led learning opportunities for my students. Allowing students to seize control and assume responsibility of their own learning gave me that needed extra time to: update my gradebook, complete fitness assessments with students, set up or break down equipment for the next class, and help select groups of students working to reach proficiency of the learning standards.
Here’s 3 easy, student-led activities I have used in my classroom to buy me some extra time and complete my responsibilities.
PE Activity Challenges
Objective: Accomplish each skill challenge in sequential order.
Description: Take any skill you want your students to practice and create 5 challenging tasks that progressively increase in difficulty. Students start with the first task and only move on to the next when successful. Post these challenges around your classroom for students to practice and achieve. These challenges would be a great instant activity for students to focus on as they enter your classroom.
Benefit: Progressive skill challenges support differentiated learning in the classroom and allow students to work at their own pace.
Variation: Incorporate partner or group skill challenges. Examples include: group juggling, cooperative volleyball / racket volleys, or successful basketball shots within a specified time limit.
Activity challenges promote rigor and progressively get more difficult to complete.
Objective: Eliminate players from the game pit by striking a ball with an open hand to them below the knee.
Description: Using accordion mats and walls along the perimeter of your gym, create multiple pentagon shaped “GaGa Pits.” In this fast-paced activity, students strike a ball at the legs of other players trying to send others to a new GaGa game. Any time the ball contacts a student from the knees down, that person must leave the GaGa Pit they’re in and resume play in any other pit. Students enter a new GaGa game anytime they 1) stop a ball, 2) catch a ball, 3) roll/throw a ball, 4) make two consecutive touches, or 5) have the game ball contact them from the knee down.
Benefit: Students stay active! This activity does not eliminate players from competing against one another. Once a student’s time is up in a pit, he/she simply goes to another and resumes play.
Variation: Add pedometers or heart rate monitors. Technology is a huge motivator for continuous performance. Students can track their steps, time spent in moderate-to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), or analyze their target heart rate after the activity. Maybe you want all students to accumulate at least 2,000 steps or 10 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) during the allotted time period. Pedometers will serve as that easy reminder for students that they need to constantly move during game play.
GaGa is that popular, nonstop action activity your students will be begging you to play.
Objective: Use randomly selected equipment to create and teach a game to peers.
Description: For this activity, bring any and all equipment from your storage room and allow students to choose props for the activity they will create and teach to their peers. Students have the choice to work independently or with a partner. This activity gives students the opportunity to express their self-enjoyment for physical activity.
Benefit: Allowing students to identify and participate in a self-selected activity directly links to SHAPE America’s national standard 5.
Variation: Randomly assign equipment to students or allow students to select random equipment prior to sharing the activity objectives with the class.
My Challenge for You
Students are willing to take control of their learning. So, give them the opportunity through some easy student-led activities. I encourage you to test any of these activities in your classroom.
I am always looking for ways I can amplify student voice in the classroom. If you have a unique student-led activity you feel would benefit other educators, share that knowledge with your colleagues in our Physical Education community.