Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"Coaching for Teaching"

Another event I attended this semester was a lecture given by former Suny Cortland student and current coach of the Cincinnati Bengals, Paul Alexander. His “Coaching for Teaching” lecture was very entertaining and inspiring. I loved his stories and energy. He sounded like a very intelligent man and has changed the way football player’s block. Although there wasn’t much related to physical education in his speech, I feel like I still gained a great deal of knowledge about other areas of life.

One of the greatest events I attended all year was the Sparks program. I learned so much from that session on how to create games and how to have kids learn while there physically active. The instructor was a brilliant teacher and was in tremendous shape for his age. I could definitely see the passion and enthusiasm he had in his eyes for teaching new methods of physical education. I honestly never thought I would have taken so much out of that one session.


I disagree with the fact that that dodge ball is being banned in many schools. Dodge ball can help students improve in many areas like agility, reaction time and hand eye coordination. I don’t fully understand the bully argument either. Most forms of dodge ball once you get hit your out. That means a student will only be hit once a game and maybe five times in a class period. It’s not like a student can just sit there and peg other students with the balls.

Most kids love dodge ball and can’t wait to play it in class. It’s been a staple of the P.E. program for years. I understand if a student doesn’t want to play, there should definitely be other activities offered. As for injuries, I can’t see a significantly higher amount of injuries occurring in dodge ball then other contact sport. Students love dodge ball because it’s not something you play every day. When you get the chance to play it in P.E. class the kids get excited and are enthusiastic to play.

~ Reflection of My Experiences at St. Mary's ~

Based upon my observations and interactions with the St. Mary’s students I have learned many things about young children. It is very difficult to gain and keep their attention for long periods of time, as not every child will enjoy every activity. I noticed that the children would often start to wonder off when they got bored of an activity. Another thing I observed was that if you don’t give the kids specific directions and show them what you want them to do, they will more often than not do the movement or exercise improperly. Sometimes I felt that even after good directions and examples that the kids needed us to lead them through the activities, so they wouldn’t lose track of what they were trying to accomplish. For example, the relay races we did with the basketballs. Instead of trying to use proper form when dribbling many of the children would almost throw the ball and run after it to try and get back quicker. Some examples of activities I thought were appropriate were zany zoo and the action hero obstacle course. I felt zany zoo was appropriate because it kept most of the kids attention throughout the entire game. The game seemed to flow smoothly and most importantly you could tell the kids really enjoyed the activity. They loved pretending to be and watching their friends pretend to be different animals. Some activities that I felt didn’t work was the parachute activity and zig zag soccer. I got the privilege of seeing the parachute game run twice, both times it was chaotic. The kids only wanted to shake the parachute and it seemed impossible to keep the children calm. The parachute to them was a symbol to go crazy. With zig zag soccer there was too many children inactive, the game didn’t flow well, some of the kids didn’t have the skills needed for the game, and it didn’t grasp the children’s attention.

Based on my interaction with St. Mary’s PRE K program I felt that I learned a lot about PRE K children. It was a lot easier to get the PRE K kids to listen and participate in almost every activity. The younger children also demanded more attention and kept their focus on what we were asking better. Overall, working with the PRE K was definitely different than working with the older students. I did enjoy working with the younger aged children because most of the time they did listen better and were more willing to participate, but I don’t feel like working with that age group on an everyday basis is right for me.
During my field experience I observed students performing various motor activities. Some of those activities were playing with various games like “Jenga”, drawing and coloring, playing with Lego’s, playing with fake tools, utensils, and silverware, doing puzzles, tying their shoes, and making crafts like the Easter baskets. I definitely feel that fine motor activities are something that should be worked on in physical education, especially at an early age. A good physical education program should help students develop in many areas.
From my time spent at St. Mary’s school I have learned many things that will help me grow as a future teacher. It was hard for me at first to break out of my shell and realize that I was now the teacher. In certain settings I can be shy and St. Mary’s was one of those settings where I didn’t feel comfortable. As the weeks went by and I got more and more experience working with the children I felt that I started to open up more. I’m not sure if I quite have my own teaching style yet but I feel that I have made huge progress from my first day at the school and now know what I have to do to start being a more successful teacher.

Lab 6

Today was our final day at St. Mary’s and it was our Easter theme day. We worked with the younger kids and we made Easter baskets out of bowls and construction paper. Each child got to design his or her own basket with crayons and markers. The kids really enjoyed making the baskets, many said they were going to give it to a parent or loved one which I thought was nice.
After the baskets were complete we set up an Easter egg hunt for the little ones in the gym. The kids loved the Easter hunt and enjoyed there baskets. After the Easter egg hunt we just played games that the kids chose or made up. Many of the games I had never heard of but the kids really seemed to enjoy playing them.

Lab 5

Today my group didn’t lead any activities but we observed students dribbling basketballs and kicking soccer balls. I didn’t feel these activities worked very well. These relay activities left many kids standing around for long periods of time. This made them bored and want to move on to the next activity. Another reason why I thought these activities failed were because not all the students had the skills to dribble a ball or kick a soccer ball around cones. Although there were modifications to the game I just wouldn’t run that activity with that age group of kids.

Most of the games have been appropriate for the students at St. Mary’s, but some had to be changed or modified because they just weren’t working. The one game that comes to mind that didn’t work at all was the parachute game. I think that was the only game that just didn’t work. There were other games that had to be modified like the pizza game my group played with the children. During the middle of the game we noticed that the invisible oven that the students had to throw the pizza toppings over was to far and many of the students couldn’t throw their objects far enough to reach their partners. We simples modified this game by making the oven smaller. Two games that I felt were very appropriate were Zanny Zoo and the Superhero game. Both captured the students attention and kept it throughout the entire game. The games also made the kids think and kept them active and excited to play.

There can be many limitations to games or activities when trying to assess motor skills. Some that I noticed were a game may not enable the student to fully and clearly demonstrate that skill. Another limitation is that in some games the children are just trying to win and don’t care or forget about the skill at hand. The speed of a game can also be a limitation, for example a game where the goal is to tag someone. Space is also needed when assessing motor skills. If you play a game where there are a lot of people and not a lot of space, the child will not fully be able to complete his or her skill.

Lab 4

Today’s theme for lab was food day. Our group decided to create a throwing and catching game involving pizza. We made an invisible oven in the middle of the gym and we had teams at the baseline of each side of the court. We had pizza’s that the children had to create with different toppings that the kids had to throw to each other. Some of the items we had the kids throw were waffle balls, hockey pucks, tennis balls, and rubber chickens. During the middle of the game we encountered a problem where many of the children couldn’t reach their partner with the throws. We stopped the game and made the oven smaller and this made it easier for the kids to reach across the oven to the other side.

Some days the children were on really good behavior and seemed ready and willing to play the game. On other days the kids have been really wired up and ready to just go crazy. It was on those days that I found I have faced the most difficulties. For example, the day we played the parachute game the kids were bouncing off the walls. We couldn’t stop them from shaking or running under the parachute no matter how hard we tried. I got to experience that lab twice that week and both time the parachute activity triggered something in the kids that made them go wild. On days like that it made it a lot more difficult to play the games and play them affectively. As for the environment, having limited space is definitely hard to work with and also not having the proper equipment for every activity that we want to play is sometimes difficult. Although these challenges can be difficult at times it is definitely great experience because I’m sure almost no school or school district will have a perfect teaching environment all of the time. So having to make adjustments and compensate for things will definitely prove as a great tool for the future.

Honestly, I don’t think is really a way to solve the difficulties I wrote about in question 1. Children will be children and they are not always going to calm and on their best behavior. Nor would I want them to be I feel that P.E. class is a time where kids can unwind, have fun and be active. As for the environment, it is what it is. We have the space and equipment we have and we work with it. It’s not a horrible situation anyway; I would think that many schools have it much worse than St. Mary’s. I just felt that it was a minor inconvenience.

Lab 3

Today we witnessed one of the best games we have played all year. The Superhero obstacle course was a huge success with kids, as it kept every student’s interest throughout the entire game. The game kept all the students involved and kept them all active. The loved the theme and the lab group did an amazing job of acting out the hole Superhero scene.

During the Superhero activity we observed kindergarteners and 1st graders leaping, horizontal jumping, and sliding. I would say that most of the kids were at an elementary level of leaping. Many would just run and jump over an object instead of using proper leaping techniques. Sliding and the horizontal jump seemed to come fairly easy for a good majority of the students. The main mistake I noticed kids making was not fully or correctly using their arms during the horizontal jump and during the slide some kids didn’t have a period where there both feet were off the ground.

Today, we specifically observed two six year old kindergarten students. A female named Rowan and a Male named Anthony. Overall both students did well in the three skills especially after being shown an example and then asked to duplicate it. Rowan had some trouble taking off on one foot and landing on the other during the leap and extending her arms forcefully forward and upward during the horizontal jump. Anthony wasn’t getting both feet off the ground during the leap, he was essentially running.

Working with the children in the cafeteria I found that asking questions really helped me out. Finding out what they want to play and do works a lot better than me trying to pick a game that they will like. Not only were they more into the games they chose but I also noticed that they were also more willing to listen to me if I gave them the opportunity to pick an activity. For example, I was playing with Lego’s with two of the children when they suddenly got bored. They asked me if we could play a game and I said yes. I took them over to the table and tried to play Jenga with them. This didn’t last very long as I lost the kids attention very quickly and they just ended up getting wild and knocking the tower over by hitting it. I definitely found that in that situation where children have many different activities to choose from it is best to give them the opportunity to select their own game.

An effective strategy that I have used over the past couple of weeks at St. Mary’s to capture the students attention was getting on their level when speaking with them. This was one of the things I remembered learning before we went to St. Mary’s and I definitely found it to be an effective technique to not only keep the students attention but to also help them better understand what I am saying. When I was working with a larger group and had to explain something I found that gathering all the children in close before speaking to them and then getting on their level worked effectively.

Lab 2

My second time at St. Mary’s was my make up day. I helped the play the parachute game. Just as it was on Monday, it was also a disaster on Wednesday. None of the kids would listen and the game just fell apart. Kids were running under the parachute when they weren’t supposed to and hardly any of the children were performing the correct skill. The parachute triggered wildness in the kids.

On Monday, I observed the movement patterns of kindergarteners and first graders. The movements we observed were the run, gallop, and the hop. Most students performed the run well. The gallop and the hop proved a little more difficult. The gallop started off rough but got better as the students were shown more examples. The hop was more of jumping, many of the kids would jump off two feet and land on one or jump off one foot and land on two. The first student we observed was a five year old girl named Casey. She had the most trouble galloping as she was just jumping. Her hop was descent for the most part, she’d be able to hoop once or twice before going into a jump or another skill. Her running was good, as she demonstrated proper form. The second student we observed was a six year old 1st grader name Shamish. He had his run and gallop down pat but struggled a bit with his hop.

There were defiantly differences in ability between age and gender. The boys tended to do all the skills quicker but necessarily better then the girls. The girls seemed to do the skills in a more controlled manner. Age was also a factor in the ability and execution of the skill. The older students could do the skills with more ease and with less thought then the younger students.
Some effective “teaching strategies” that I observed were getting all the students to come in close while talking to them and standing in front of them while speaking. I also noticed that when the speaker is more energetic and dramatic with their words the kids tend to be more attentive. I found that the students enjoy when we get involved and play along with them. When trying to explain a game to an entire group of kids it can be challenging, as there are so many distractions and who knows how many of the students are paying attention. For our group I found that it was a lot easier and quicker for each one of us to explain the game to a group of kids. They were more attentive and understood the game better.

Lab 1

For my first day at St. Mary’s, my lab group played a game with the kids called Zanny Zoo. The kids seemed to really enjoy this game, as it kept all the kids active and leaning while we observed there motor skills. After missing my first lab class due to illness this was my first taste of working with the students at St. Mary’s. As this was my first time ever really interacting with a group of children that young, I made many observations. The differences in motor behavior and social skills I believe depended on age and gender. I could definitely tell a difference in motor development in age and a smaller difference in gender. Gender seemed to play less of a role the younger the students were. The oldest students had the biggest gap between motor development among genders. For example, many of the older boys could shoot a basketball with better technique and from a greater distance then their female counterparts. That also was true for age though, as the younger students couldn’t shoot a basketball as well as the older students. Ability in motor behavior naturally increased as the student’s grade levels increased.

I definitely saw differences in social skills between grade levels but not as much difference in gender. I felt that the younger students were more outgoing and would say whatever was on their minds. The older students were a bit quieter, less outgoing but were still fairly sociable. The younger children seemed more touchy and clingy. For example, when reading the younger children a book they would tend to cling to or get really close to the reader. The older students didn’t as much want to listen to directions, they just wanted to play. As for gender I didn’t notice any significant differences in social skills.

Overall, I believe that grade level, gender, and ability all have an influence on motor behavior. Some of the fine motor activities I observed when watching the St. Mary’s students were playing games like Jenga, Connect 4, and checkers. They also played with Lego’s, put puzzle pieces together and played with Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head. When the kids were eating there snacks many would play with it or dip it in their drink before eating. Most students had descent fine motor skills. The only difference I noticed between age and gender where the difference in fine motor activities each chose to participate in and the level at which each performed their fine motor activities.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Reaction to “Whatever” it Takes video..

My first reaction to Hip Hop Doc and Dee- 1’s video “Whatever it Takes was that it is very catchy. The hip-hop rap has a very strong and clear message that grabs the youngster’s attention and holds onto it throughout the entire video. Trying to get their message out through an inspiring and trendy video is a great way to get kids to think and respond better to what they are saying. If they just stood up in front up of the class and tried to give the same message it would go in one ear and out the other for most of the students. The rap helps students relate better to the words and they are more likely to remember the meaning behind the jingle. By posting the video online the message can be spread from hundreds of people in one area to thousands of people all over the world. Overall I thought the video was great as it captures the attention of anyone who watches it.

Thursday, January 29, 2009