Tips for Developing Learning Cues in PE

In this Physical Education podcast episode, Jessica Shawley shares a few tips on how to develop learning cues. Listen to the episode below and follow along by reading the article.

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So what are some ways we can break down our learning cues that students remember better?

Repeat to Remember – Remember to Repeat

There are a few principles that I keep in mind when it comes to designing learning cues for my students in order to help them remember the content better. First I just have to mention there’s a great book by Dr. John Medina called “Brain Rules” and in it there are several principles and tips on how our mind works and surviving and thriving type of tips for us and in it he talks about our short term memory and our longterm memory. And when it comes to short term memory, it’s important to repeat. So the cue with that is repeat to remember and then when it comes to longterm memory, in order to encode those memories, we have to remember to repeat. So I put this all together for myself and I’m constantly telling this to myself when I’m designing things. Repeat to remember, remember to repeat. I know if I want to learn something, again I have to repeat to remember and remember to repeat. In fact, I tell this to my students as a learning cue quite a bit as we’re emphasizing the same cues over and over as we’re reviewing content. So repeat to remember, remember to repeat.

Using Short and Sweet Snippets

All of this kind of inspires the next two things when I’m designing learning cues, the first one is, is keeping things and short and sweet snippets so that it is easier to repeat to these things. So how can I keep cues to three or four major principles, major, short and sweet cues, whether it’s my overhand tennis serve saying down together, up together, high five follow through or teaching students how to swing or throw, where there’s the importance of getting sideways and so I might say sideways show, step throw. There’s lots of different cues that you can keep it short and sweet and then you can work with the students at a more individual level for any other dialed in tips. But I don’t like overwhelming them with all the different learning cues or all the different specifics. It’s really important to keep it short and sweet and concise so that then I can repeat these cues over and over in order to help them remember.

Find the Time to Rhyme

Lastly, I really like to try to find the time to rhyme and there’s the rhyme for me, that’s how I remember this. Find the time to rhyme or rhymes with reason because I know rhyming can help really encode the memory, can help bring some fun into what it is that we’re learning. So I really do try and rhyme as much as I can. Some examples of that include when I’m teaching students how to group and pair up within my program. So I might say “twos – toe to toe, here we go”. And then the students know that I want them in twos and then I want them toe to toe with our neighbor as quickly as possible.

Toe-to-Toe, Here We Go!

So again, we practice at “twos – toe-to-toe, here we go.” Another one would be with this when we’re in pairings, cause as students, you know they might try and get in groups of three if they see someone doesn’t have a partner, Oh come be with us, can be with us, which is really a great way to show kindness. But what I want them to do is I want them to come to the middle if they don’t have a partner because then ultimately someone else doesn’t have a partner or we don’t have the right groupings and then I can quickly get them paired up or I will act as the partner. And so I tell the students “no groups of three unless approved by me.” So then that way they know to jog to the middle. Okay we have three, can we be a group of three? And if they’re the last three people then yes you three can be in a group. But if they’re not, if someone else needs a partner, then boom, here I go, I have two and two. And so that rhyme really helps cue to them. Okay, let’s go to the middle. No groups of three and that’s approved by me.

That’s Three, Come Find Me

Another one with this. When we’re outside and we’re in activities, I am going to tell them, when you hear three long whistles, that means come find me. So the rhyme is “that’s three, come find me.” So that they know as they’re out there on the field or out there on the track, they hear those long three whistles, boom, it’s time to come in. So that’s three, come find me.

If you Win, you Stay In. If it’s Two in a Row, you Go!

Lastly, during gameplay rotations, you might want to develop a rhyme so that students can rotate themselves. If you’re not always wanting to have to move everyone yourself through different rotations. So a different way to do this is let’s say you’re playing some sort of net game and you have courts or multiple small sided games going on. If you have two teams playing and you have a third team on that field or that court, they are serving as the referees or the scorekeepers and they’re waiting to rotate on. And so the rhyme would go, “if you win, you stay in. If it’s two in a row, you go”. Or if you wanted to decide if it’s three in a row, you go. So ultimately two teams are playing and when it the game is done or when you, it’s time for the teams to rotate. The winning team stays in and then the team that lost comes off to referee and keeps score. But then after that next round again, if that team won again, that’s two in a row – you go. So then that team would pop off cause they had won two in a row. And then that team who was waiting again score keeping and refereeing would pop on. So have fun with your learning cues. Find the time to rhyme. Think a short, sweet and specific cues that your students will be able to repeat to remember and then remember to repeat.

Jessica is a Physical Education Teacher, NBCT in Moscow, Idaho. She is the 2012 National NASPE Middle School Physical Education Teacher of the Year, a National Board certified Physical Education Specialist, and served on the SHAPE Idaho board for over 7 years as President, Conference Manager and District Representative. She has and continues to travel the country providing professional development workshops and keynotes on a variety of topics.

Jessica is a Physical Education Teacher, NBCT in Moscow, Idaho. She is the 2012 National NASPE Middle School Physical Education Teacher of the Year, a National Board certified Physical Education Specialist, and served on the SHAPE Idaho board for over 7 years as President, Conference Manager and District Representative. She has and continues to travel the country providing professional development workshops and keynotes on a variety of topics.

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