Monday, 20 May 2013

Ending Statement

My placement has come to an end and it has been a long but enjoyable process. Getting funding - I failed, the Story Games business plan - that failed too. But my project doesn’t have to end here, and it won’t. I intend to go ahead and offer my services to local schools, mainstream or special, and work further in PE and use Story Games to help me produce unique fun for those involved. Story Games will eventually be published on iTunes, available to anyone for a small fee, helping me make a living and perhaps a business one day, a business that will grow and infect other professionals with new ideas for fun games activities. I have learnt a lot on my placement. I had intended to stay for six weeks but I benefitted greatly from staying longer as I was able to develop a relationship with the children and come to better understand their needs. They helped me provide the basis for the heroes I intend to move on with in Story Games. They made this project for me.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Placement Day 20


Lesson 1 - Class A
This session was on balance. PE teacher A asked me to write the learning objectives on the whiteboard, listing the five stations: trampette, black line, bench, ball, and rocker. I offered to bring in my balance board for next week, though I said it may be too difficult for this group, but it could be worth a try and other groups may enjoy the challenge. 

The students arrived together and sat on the benches ready for the lesson introduction, which they listened to well with no moving around. Pupil 1 went first on the benches, me and PE teacher A offered assistance but we were encouraging him to walk by himself. Pupil 1 is capable of doing so but as soon as he balances on his own he sits down. Me and PE teacher A staggered ourselves along the bench to pass Pupil 1 to each other so that we could encourage him to have one step on his own between us. I thought this was a brilliant team method to help encourage a student though it still required some patience. All other pupils flew through this task, expressing eagerness for their turn and moving along the benches promptly, though Pupil 5 get off at the end of the bench instead of turning round. PE teacher A laughed as he could see she was just being cheeky and she got back on when instructed to do so.

Students seem to enjoy sitting on the ball most of all; I thought this may because it is an unusual balance challenge and this particular ball had nodes cover it so it probably tickled them as they moved around. Me and a TA focused on Pupil 3 with one of us holding the ball steady whilst the other helped her to sit upright on top of the ball. Pupil 3 displayed a surprisingly sound level of balance, reacting to the balls movement and keeping steady in the middle. While other students moved onwards to the rocker, Pupil 3 smiled at me and pointed towards the ball; I was pleased to see that she was seeking out my assistance as me and her had not worked together much in the past and I thought it may take a while for her to trust me. However I could see she was clearly fond of the ball exercise so I helped have another go.

Afterwards I asked PE teacher A why he had decided to get the pupils taking turns in this lesson. He said “though it may not look like a high level of activity for a PE lesson, it helps students to improve the quality of their work with one to one teaching, which is worth taking some time to do.” I then responded saying that also the routine may be good for them, which PE teacher A agreed with, saying that a pattern with the way a lesson is run can help them to focus and prepare for what’s coming.

Lesson 2 - Class B
Class B were now working on athletics. PE teacher A told the students that athletics was all about using maximum effort so they needed to have a vigorous warm-up to start with. For the warm-up PE teacher A used music to dictate the level of speed that the students should be using when running around the room. When the music was played loudly the students needed to run quickly, but when the music was turned to down to be quiet the students needed to slow down their run accordingly. At first the excitement got the better of a few boys in the class who failed to be reactive to the volume. After PE teacher A specifically said to those students that they had to be more reactive to the music and listen carefully they began to tune in more accurately. After this all pupils listened and interpreted well throughout the rest of their vigorous warm-up.

When the class stopped they were clearly exhausted, breathing heavier and red in the face. PE teacher A took this opportunity to use a fantastic car analogy in order to describe why they were feeling tired. He explained that just like cars, we as humans produce waste when we work, the harder we work the more waste; he then asked a science question to see if the students knew the gases that we breathed in and out. To both of our surprises the students knew the exact names, oxygen and carbon dioxide. As a joke PE teacher A summoned the student who answered carbon dioxide placed the school whistle around his neck and said “right PE teacher you teach the class now.” The student seemed quite embarrassed and the rest of the class laughed heartily; PE teacher A then asked “the new teacher” to sum up their talk on the human body which he did. I thought this was a lovely way of engaging and connecting with the class, and I was so impressed with the classes knowledge. After the lesson me and the PE teacher both shared our enthusiasm about the classes work today, saying that we didn’t expect them to those questions right but they needed to know how the body works when we exercise.

The car reference went further in the lesson when the class was split into boy and girl groups to perform running drills. PE teacher A said that we’re pretending to have five gears like a car, with one being our slowest and fifth being our fastest. PE teacher a called out a gear for the boys to run in, though it took them a while to differentiate between each one clearly. Towards the end when fourth gear was called, me and PE teacher A said they we could see the boys thought about racing, which would be more like fifth gear, but they stopped themselves to slow off slightly. PE teacher A gave great encouragement for this. The girls had been quiet throughout the duration of the boys drills, which we were very impressed with; I suspected their exhaustion may have helped to keep them calm and controlled. The girls then performed just as well as the boys, listening well and running effectively. Overall this may have been one of the most impressive lessons with this group so far, and it’s clear that they are capable of being pushed hard.

Lesson 3 - Class C
These students had been using trampolines to fine tune their vestibular systems, they were now going to try moving from A to B by any method necessary. We set out rows of blue mats for each student to try moving on and a tougher course was laid out for Pupil 1, being the most independent. Thicker, crash mats were used for her lane, with a larger roller posing as an obstacle.

I was thrilled to see Pupil 2 entering the hall, pushing a fellow student in their chair. This was the most independent I had seen him. A TA also showed me Pupil 2 performing an accurate forward roll with next to no assistance. I then helped Pupil 2 to his feet and continued to him encourage him to roll forwards which he obviously enjoyed doing.

Afterwards I tried to get Pupil 2 walking as much as possible as he was clearly warmed up and motivated after walking to the lesson and performing forwards rolls to start. When he was sat I placed each of his feet just beyond shoulder width saying “one foot there, one foot there and...” then I would take his hands and give him a gentle pull to coax him getting up onto his feet saying “up we go.” At first Pupil 2 was performing the action of getting up with assistance well, but with some trepidation. After repeating the process numerous times and using the same phrase as above to prepare him, he seemed to become more energetic and more willing throughout the session. Each time he walked I had two aims in mind: how long did he walk for and how independent can we make that walk. Pupil 2 can walk extremely well when being guided with two hands, however I have managed to walk with him holding just one hand. I made sure I only used one hand during this session and if I tried to take my hand away briefly once a decent walking rhythm had been established. Pupil 2 becomes very cautious when no physical contact is made between him and a helper, and sits down as soon as someone lets go of him. Despite my efforts, Pupil 2 sat on the floor every time I tried to get him walking by himself, on the plus side though I had him walking for nearly twenty minutes in total, an astonishing amount of time for this pupil, and I may have still been holding his hand but at times he was holding onto as little as one of my fingers.

Lesson 4 - Class D
PE teacher A decided that this class may not benefit greatly from an intense sprinting session when considering those with cerebral palsy. He felt it would be better for this group to practice shot put using bean bags, and focus heavily on their technique.

Similarly to the morning session however, the warm-up began using music to dictate the level of speed when running, which a lot of the students needed lots of encouragement to do and didn’t need quite as long to get really warm and breathing heavily.

The group was split into boys and girls when they practiced some arm warm-ups as they were going to be throwing. The movements included flapping like birds, snapping like alligators, and shrugs as we pretended not to know the answer, which proved very amusing for the class.

PE teacher A then focussed on their shot put technique, explaining in a demo that they cannot use their fingers, just their hand. Most students were able to perform technique accurately, however some of them got quite over excited and tended to throw the bean bags instead of pushing with the hand. PE teacher A was quick to notice when they were doing this and pointed out to them that they need a stricter form. After a few practices PE teacher A gave further instructions to improve technique which involved twisting the body and bending at the knees to create momentum. All students found the three teaching points difficult to employ all at once and the concentration that it took for some of them was clear, nonetheless some progressed more and more throughout the practice, while a few others were not moving the bean bag as far or in the same direction as before due to the numerous things they had to focus on. One Pupil in particular who had a good technique their hand ended up struggling in the second practice when twisting her body the in the wrong direction, making it very difficult for themselves to perform. Despite guidance this student still struggled.

Lesson 5 - Class E
At the beginning of this lesson, PE teacher A asked if the students could remember the three components of athletics and asked them to whisper the answers in his ear to prevent any cheating. Five students got the correct answers and were given a gold coin as a result.

For a third time today, the warm-up using music was used which clearly got this class excited and just as tired as the other classes. A quick chat on breathing was given afterwards as well, when PE teacher A asked if the class knew the names of the gases we breathed. One student remembered oxygen, but it took copious guesses between the class to finally remember carbon dioxide. The guesses however were educated, and a couple of students had clearly heard the name before as they were giving very close answers like “carbo oxide” and “carbohydrates.” So I was still incredibly happy to see the level of knowledge this class had on the human body even though they struggled to get to the answer.

The car analogy was used again to help clear up the process of exhaustion for them and it continued when this class were also given sprinting drills as the two wheelchair uses where not here today. PE teacher A explained the use of five gears and how they represented different levels of speed; the first time round all but one student were not interpreting the gear number accurately so PE teacher A ran with them which helped the pupils very much. Soon all students were interpreting and performing beautifully and were given an individual run around the hall in different gears before getting changed. 

Live life to the full.


Placement Day 19

Today PE teacher A returned and I was eager to introduce him to the ninja game I had developed. He said he was very interested by the idea and asked if he could step in half way through the lesson to see if he could create a different input which I was more than happy to accept.

Lesson 1 - Class B (ninja ring development)
PE teacher A gave a quick introduction to the lesson, asking the students how they had all been since he had been away and telling them that he would be handing them over to me as he was excited to see the ninja lesson we had been doing. It was lovely to see that PE teacher A did what he could to develop a real relationship with the students during lesson times; I think the students appreciated being asked about how they’d been and probably helped them to stay relaxed and created a slightly more comfortable environment. It also demonstrates how approachable PE teacher A is a person which obviously helps them feel  comfortable with asking any questions about tasks.

Sir then handed the lesson over to me and I got the students into a circle like last lesson. There was a mixed response to this, with some students acting really excited and saying they were happy to do this game again, others were less enthused. I didn’t take it to heart though as I knew that every day can be very different with some students, and I knew they had enjoyed the last lesson so I was determined to get them enjoying themselves this lesson. I asked one student to remind us of all the rules and to explain to PE teacher A how we had played “ninja ring.” The student described the task accurately and fluently and I was very impressed. We then began playing as we had done last lesson, but I reminded them of my tip about trying to confuse the ninja in the middle which some of them had remembered. The students were just as quiet as last lesson but didn’t seem as in to it as it was no longer a novelty to them. I knew that I was going to have to move the lesson on quickly to keep their interest.

I did so, getting the class to increase the size of the ring a few times to make it harder. I also wanted to give the pupils some freedom and asked if they wanted any more thieves put into the ring yet like last week, or if they could think of any variations themselves then they were welcome to tell me. To my surprise the students didn’t want to introduce more thieves as quickly as I thought they would, but some students were very interested in getting more thieves involved. However the group then had a brief discussion and arrived at a comprise by themselves which was absolutely lovely to see. The game was obviously promoting what I wanted it to: this class were listening to each other. The group had decided by themselves when they’d introduce more thieves and how many which I was happy to go with. I like to give the students a leading role in parts of the lesson  in the hope that I will imbue some level of creative thinking. When the students use their imaginations to think creatively on their own, and when they can listen well to each as they had today, that’s going to provide a fantastic foundation for them to start designing their won games outside of school times. That’s when things can really make a difference to their interest in physical activity, and I was so pleased that I could see it happening, even if what was just a slight action in the day.

PE teacher A then asked me if he could step in, which I was more than happy about. He had come up with an excellent variation of the game and brought out three very different balls. He also brought a box of blindfolds which I didn’t know was in the cupboard. PE teacher A explained how he was going to progress the game; everyone was going to be blindfolded and he was going to sit in the middle of the circle. He was then going to roll a ball to someone in the circle and that person had to raise their hand if they heard it coming. PE teacher A could see some of them were slightly confused and so they had a practice run first. The practice run did them good and cleared up the rules for them. They then went into a competitive game where if somebody did not raise their hand when the ball was coming to them, they were out! I knew this group liked competition so I thought it was brilliant that PE teacher A had managed to introduce a competitive element. The first ball used was a ball with bells in it, so most students did well to hear it. But the PE teacher A switched to nobly ball that was much quieter and harder to hear. As soon as he introduced it I realised this was a much more effective method of progression. PE teacher A had identified the focus of the lesson which was listening, and specifically tailored the task so that the listening element of the game became increasingly difficult, thus exercising their hearing in a more precise and effective way than the approach I was taking. Though my original idea of the game had still proved a potent exercise, I think this was definitely the best way to move the game further forward.

When PE teacher A had stepped in the student interest in the game was revamped very quickly, which I was thrilled to witness. Once again the class left as though they had enjoyed themselves very much and I thanked PE teacher A for his terrific input. He said he had loved my idea as it was different for PE, and he also said to me “with your fresh perspective and my experience, there’s no reason why we can’t come up with unique and interesting activities, and that’s what I think has happened here today.”

Lesson 2 - Class F
This was another lesson on athletics. The class performed their usual warm up of music reactions. As soon as the music started the entire class were on there feet and ready to be running around. When the music was loud they had to run fast, and when PE teacher A turned the music down they had to move slower. The class reacted well to this today.

PE teacher A then brought the group back together and explained they had practiced short distance running and now they were going to practice some long distance running. He implemented makaton at this point and used his hands demonstrate there was a clear difference between short distance and long distance running. PE teacher A put on some more music which was much slower in tempo. The song also lasted exactly 5 minutes and the students had to be moving throughout the duration, whether it was a jog or a fast walk. Everyone did really well in this task, though Pupil 3 stopped a few times for reasons unclear. The TA’s were always with her and coaxed her onwards which worked nicely.

The class then moved onto some sprinting again, and I was impressed to see almost every student ran nearly the whole way by themselves. Not all of them were able to do this, however they still did some good independent work at times.

They then moved onto another hurdle practice but instead of cones the PE teacher was using the coloured lines on the floor. The class practiced together slowly and they all did a big step over the lines together. They gradually increased the speed together until they were doing a light jog. I think the students working together at the same time worked really well as they could copy those around them and looked like they enjoyed doing the activity with their friends. One student however hadn’t been joining in until this point. This was thanks to the TA who had been with her who managed to get her to join and was making some silly imitations of a train which this student seem to like.

This same student also made an odd refusal to leave the hall once the lesson had ended. A TA and PE teacher A had tried to gently guide her to the door but she just lay herself down on the floor instead. PE teacher A asked me to help pack the equipment away so that she could clearly see that the lesson had ended and it was time for her to go. PE teacher A even turned the lights off to make this more lucid. Still the student wouldn’t leave, and PE teacher A and the TA had to pick her up gently and take her to the door. Interestingly she made no struggle at this point.

Lesson 3 - Class D
PE teacher B let the group choose what sport to practice today as a treat for all the hard work they had been putting in over the weeks. The class were very excited by this and one by one said the sport they would like to play today. The most popular chose was football and it was decided. The students then did their usual warm up of running round the field which was lead wonderfully by one of the students.

Afterwards PE teacher B had produced some footballs and some coloured bibs. The class were split into two teams for a 6 vs 6 game. The excitement was apparent from the start and some students displayed great football skills. However PE teacher B stopped the game quickly when he noticed one student had spent a lot of time with the ball. PE teacher B plainly asked him “who could you have passed to?” The student seemed very unsure and practically went through the team before he got the correct answer. PE teacher B explained that this student wasn’t looking around for help, he wasn’t using his team; this was sad because a nearby student had consistently put himself in an open position to receive the ball and had been calling to this student who had failed to acknowledge him. PE teacher B said that he was the only student that was working hard enough to have been passed to, so he encouraged the students to look around and use each other as a team. The game went on and each student passed much more frequently, and everyone was keeping the head up to look for help most of the time.

Lesson 4 - Class E (ninja ring)
This was one of my ninja ring lessons again. This class had already tried these games so I got on quickly when they arrived to waste no time and got them into a circle in the hall. I got one student to remind us of the ninja ring rules which he relayed to us beautifully, and even mentioned that it’s purpose was to help train ours sense and in particular our hearing. As this group hadn’t adapted as quickly as class B and I knew that PE teacher B was going to bring in his version of the game later in the lesson, I warned the class that things were going to be getting more difficult more quickly than the last time we played. This was to engage them and the get them ready for the tasks, it was also a method of motivation, telling them that things were going to change but not specifying what exactly.

This lesson went much better than the last time, with students listening brilliantly and identifying the direction of sound much more accurately than last time. Again I decided to give this class some freedom, and even give them a sense of ownership of the game by simply asking what way they wanted to make it harder: “would you like to increase the ring size first or shall we have some more thieves? It’s up to you.” Very quickly the class decided they would enjoy introducing more thieves and so we did so quickly. Still the class were listening brilliantly and some students identified their thieves correctly every time. It was definitely time for a change in stimulus.

PE teacher A took over, bringing in the three balls from this morning, along with the box of blindfolds. He blindfolded them all just like this morning’s class and explained to them how the game was now going to progress. As before some practice runs were undergone first which I definitely feel was appropriate for this group as they took time adjusting to the new version of the game. Some students were plainly cheating by not placing their blindfolds on properly, which was a real shame as some other students were getting on magnificently. Even the couple of students who refused to perform in my Spiderman sessions were quietly behaving themselves and were actually among the best performers in this class which I was thrilled to see. Everyday really is different for some students with special needs; everyone has off days, but when they have a good day, particularly in this class, they get on remarkably well.

Lesson 5 - Class G
This was another lesson outside today and the boys were playing with footballs and basketballs again. Some of them were really struggling to understand which balls they were allowed to pick up and which balls they had to use their feet with. The TA’s, PE teacher B, and I were all trying to encourage these students to use the correct techniques and when. Pupil as always was getting on beautifully, performing accurate shots at the goals and basketball hoops and really enjoying himself.

Live life to the full.


Placement Day 18

Today I was joined by another cover teacher, Supply teacher A. I had told him about the ninja work I had been doing and was eager to carry it further in some of today’s lessons, particularly after meeting the speech therapist; I wanted to create a heavier focus on the use of the senses in PE, as they can be exercised just like the rest of our bodies. I was anxious about the first lesson as it was a listening game I wanted to try, and the first class of the day was a class that had a real tendency to not listening or talk over a teacher when not doing much. Supply teacher A and I agreed that it was still definitely worth a go.

Lesson 1 - Class B (ninja ring)
As soon as this class arrived I wanted to get things going and get them engaged as soon as possible so they had very little opportunity to get distracted by their friends; I did this by asking them to come to the black circle in the middle of the room so I could explain what were doing. There would usually be some kind of introduction to the lesson, but I was missing that out today and diving in. I made reference to the last lesson and challenged the students to see if they could remember the importance of ninja training. One student answered correctly almost immediately which I was delighted to hear and congratulated them for listening and remembering. I explained we had worked on sense of balance and that today we were moving on to our sense of hearing. My ninja ring game consisted of someone sitting in the middle of the circle blindfolded with a hockey stick, or “ninja stick” in this case, laid in front of them. The blindfolded parson is the ninja and cannot touch their stick. I then pick somebody else to be a thief who has to creep up and steal the stick before giving it to me. The ninja in the middle has three guesses to identify who to their stick by recognising where the sound came from. The students seemed interested by the game and some were quite daunted by the idea of being blindfolded. But I said this ensures no cheating and forces us to use our sense of hearing alone.

Remarkably, the entire class stayed extremely quiet throughout the duration of the ninja ring games. I was worried that a lower level of activity may leave this class bored and restless, but it seems for a class who struggle to listen in lesson times can respond beautifully to a game based on listening. When a few people had taken a go at being a ninja and they were starting to get the idea, more and more people started to express enthusiasm towards being the ninja; some students would raise there hand and politely ask if they had a go next and I actually found myself struggling to be fair about it as many of them were doing this. 

I gave on thief a tip to move around the ninja to confuse them before they took the stick. This pupils applied my tip wonderfully and completely confused the ninja in the middle. When pupils realised they could do this, more of them began thinking more about the way in which they stole the stick to make it harder for the ninja in the middle.

I had a number of ways to progress this game. The first was taking a few steps back so the thieves had further to travel before they could steal the stick from the ninja. When this happened, the thieves began to think even more about being quiet and really took their time to make it hard for the ninja. Nevertheless some of our ninjas in the room were brilliant, identifying thieves correctly almost every time. So I decided to make the game harder still. When a ninja was selected, instead of picking 1 thief to steal the stick, I picked 3, one of which was Supply teacher A. The rest of the class in the circle found this hilarious , and struggled to contain their laughter the first time I did this. Having more thieves made it much more difficult for the ninja to identify who was actually the one person who managed to take the stick. When the class realised that we could more thieves at one time, once again I found they were very enthusiastic about getting involved and were quietly raising their hands to be one of the thieves.

At one point in the lesson I asked the students how they would like to make the game harder. One of them came up with an excellent point; he said that if people stay in the same place in the circle than the latest ninjas will be able to remember who was standing where and find it easier to identify a thief. He suggested we changed our position in the circle regularly so this could never happen. I told him this was a fantastic suggestion and we implemented his idea throughout the lesson.

After the lesson ended I spoke to Supply teacher A. I was thrilled with how the lesson went and told Supply teacher A that I was pleasantly surprised with how this group had got on with today’s lesson. He said I had some interesting ideas and that it was almost like a drama game rather than a PE game, but it works well. We also both agreed that this could make a nice warm up game to a lesson and that this probably made an excellent start to these students’ day.

Lesson 2 - Class F
This class arrived early in the sports hall today. This made things awkward for me and Supply teacher A as we didn’t have the chance to discuss how we were going to take the next lesson and I knew that Supply teacher A may not know what the children had been doing in PE. So I improvised; the students had been practicing athletics recently so I knew that PE teacher A would want them continuing similar activities while he was elsewhere. Last time they had practiced running, and as we had no equipment out I thought this would be the most appropriate component of athletics to practice again.

I knew this group liked music, which i had learnt from the last lesson and thought they may like that again. Fortunately I had my laptop up and running so I decided to increase the volume and get them warming up to some upbeat sounds. (below is the soundtrack I happened to have on my laptop that I though the students may like. There is also the song PE teacher A uses) I felt bad that I didn’t have the song they usually had while warming up but most of them seemed to enjoy the music anyway. I could see that Pupil 1 and 2 were intrigued and possibly confused by the different music, and when they came by the laptop they tended to slow down and loiter. Usually I would have encouraged them to keep going for the sake of their warm up, but I knew that they were just checking out the new music so I let them take their time with it and adjust to the new noises.

Thankfully the warm up went well as a whole and we moved onto some sprinting practice. I included as much makaton as I could, telling the students they were going to be racing ing pairs to the yellow line and back again. The TA’s were a big help as usual and reassured me I was doing well today as they knew I was improvising. While this went on I grabbed some cones from the cupboard in preparation for some hurdles practice. It was also at this point that Pupil 2 didn’t appear happy at all and sat on a bench out of the way, making some distressed noises. Supply teacher a kindly sat with him and kept him calm by speaking to him.

We moved on to some hurdles practice with different coloured cones. Like last lesson I made sure all the cones were different colours so I could reference them individually and make it easier for myself to guide the students around the track.

It was a daunting task take this lesson with no preparation but it was a good practice in teaching for me and I enjoyed it all the same. Overall I think the lesson went well and most students performed very well, I think they enjoyed themselves too. The TA’s thanked me and told me I had done well.

Tron soundtrack:

Lesson 3 - Class D
This class was outside on the playground as usual. PE teacher B asked the class who was going to lead the warm up around the field today and Pupil 1 volunteered himself to lead the way. Unfortunately this pupil was very slow and and did not lead the class to the exact points of the field he was supposed to. PE teacher B explained his dissatisfaction with their attempt and asked them to do it again with a different leader. This time the warm up was done properly. Though I felt bad for Pupil 1, PE teacher B made a valid point that they had been doing this warm up for a long while now and he should be able to remember exactly where to go by now.

The focus of today’s lesson was on catching. The class were put into pairs so that they could throw how they wanted and practice their catching skills. I stayed by closely with one pair who were worked reasonably well together. One of the pupils was demonstrating some excellent throwing and catching skills, he was alos patient with his partner and continued to encourage her. His partner was not as quick to react and did not catch as many. I stood next to her so I could guide her, telling her to look out for the ball and to keep her hands ready at all times. She listened well but still needed some practice; she failed to catch most of them but every now and then she would catch amazingly well. The practice then turned into a competition where if the ball bounced before they caught the ball, the pair would get 1 point and if they caught it without it bouncing the pair would get 2 points. The TA’s and I were asked to stick with our pairs so we could help them keep score. My pair performed very well and acquired 8 points after the allotted time. PE teacher B asked the pairs what they got individually and gave enthusiastic encouragement to them all. He then challenged them to try again and to beat their first score. My team did so a got 12 points in the second round. I always like the way PE teacher B puts a focus on improving through old fashioned practice and that progression can happen by just trying again and again, teaching the children to persevere. It’s an excellent strategy and these students know it well.

Lesson 4 - Class E (ninja ring)
I had not yet practiced any ninjas skills with this group yet, so I asked Supply teacher A if he would let me lead this lesson, and do the same game as this morning’s. He seemed happy to let me try as he had enjoyed this morning’s lesson and was just as interested as I was to see how it would go with this group.

This group can be slightly easier to manage, in terms of behaviour, than Class B and as I hadn’t done any ninja work with them I thought an introduction would appropriate for this lesson. When they sat down on the benches I asked them why it might be useful to pretend to be ninjas in PE. I was surprised by how good their guesses where and one student got particularly close to the answer I was looking for by saying that ninjas were “sneaky.” I told them that ninjas have an amazing ability to use their senses, and that today we were going to be exercising our sense of hearing. The group didn’t seem as excited as they had been by the Spiderman games, but none of them winged either so I thought there is a possibility they may enjoy the lesson very much.

I got the class into a group and explained the game. By the time I had finished I think they liked the sound of the idea as a few were very eager to be the first ninja in the ring. I quickly realised that this group were not as good at identifying the thieves as the group this morning. I had to be much more patient with this group and help them a little bit by saying “what direction did any sound come from...ok and who in the ring is in that direction?” This worked quite well, but for some students the task seemed quite difficult and used up their three guesses. Nonetheless as the game went on the children were becoming more and more enthusiastic about the idea and some of them were waving the hands in a kung fu-like motion and saying “ninjaaaaa.” I was delighted to see them enjoying the game so much and joined in with them to make them laugh.

Eventually the students started to get the hang of the game and a select for students were phenomenal at using their hearing to identify the thief. At this stage I decided to keep the excitement going by moving back a few times to increase the size of the circle, and this group like this morning’s loved it when I began introducing more than one thief into the ring. I handed out a few gold coins as some students had worked hard and improved on engaging with their sense of hearing. I was extremely pleased with how this lesson went and I was especially happy when I saw the class leaving still saying “ninjaaaaa.”

Lesson 5 - Class G
For this lesson, PE teacher B set out the climbing frame for the young boys. We all got involved and had an enormous play on the climbing frame; PE teacher B also set up benches as slides on the frame which the students loved climbing up and then sliding back down. One student was quite reluctant to climb up the slide so I helped him to the top so he could have a slide down. Many of the boys also proved to be great climbers, one even making it to the top. PE teacher B as always was very encouraging about his performance and had stayed with him to the top to keep him safe all the way. I tried to urge my student to climb higher as well by having a little climb myself. I managed to get his attention okay, but he didn’t climb any higher. The trampette was also brought out at one point and I helped a few students have a bounce and encouraged them to bounce on their own, which they enjoyed. The boys loved this lesson and left PE very happy.

Live life to the full.


Saturday, 18 May 2013

Placement Day 17

Today I ended up with two supply teachers, B and C.

Lesson 1 - Class A
As Supply teacher B was unsure of what the students of this class had been practicing I said I was happy to lead this session. On their arrival to the hall, Supply teacher B welcomed them and said we would start with a warm up. I had not seen any warm ups done with this class before so I asked her what she had in mind. She asked me to get them running around the room and so all members of staff and the students were running around the hall together energetically. It was unfortunate that I was never aware of when I was going to be with supply teachers otherwise I could have prepared some music for this part of the session which I think these children would have enjoyed. Nonetheless we spent a few minutes chasing each other round the hall and having fun.

When Supply teacher B settled the students back down I grabbed a ball from the cupboard and she passed the lead over to me again. As I had no lesson prepared for this class I thought I would recycle the previous lesson we had together and move on from it anyway we could during the lesson. I knew that would be ok with this group as I knew the ball rolling skills were still new to them and needed to practiced. As on Placement Day 15 I got the group sitting down in a circle. As I was taking this class today I knew I would have to make more of an effort to implement makaton more than I usually did, which I felt I got on well with. In fact taking the lead in this lesson was good practice for me as I had never done before with this class, and it was a great opportunity for me to practice communicating effectively and improve my use of makaton. I used simple commands like “sitting over here” using the sign for sit and pointing to where I meant, and using more specific things like the sign for “choose” and “ball.”

As before we started in the black circle, rolling the ball to each other, but I decided that we would move on from it a bit quicker today so we could get more time to play the end game, which the students didn’t seem to understand last week. As usual Pupil 1 needed some reminding of where to sit and when it was his turn with the ball. The TA’s and Supply teacher B did a great job in helping me remind him that if he was not listening to instructions nicely then he would not get a turn with the ball.

We eventually moved onto the game we played last week where team players sat opposite each other and tried to roll the ball past the other team to score a point. Just like last time many of them didn’t manage to understand so I asked Supply teacher B if she had any ideas of helping them understand the points system. She quickly came up with the idea of using skittles to give each team an idea of where they should be aiming the ball. However when she placed the skittles in front of the pupils I had two worries: the first was that the skittles may be better off behind the pupils so that they are less likely to get distracted by them, and the second was that the aim of the game was to score a goal past the opposite team and not just in front of. I told Supply teacher B that the skittles may distract the students if they were placed in front of them but she thought it might be okay. Some students looked like they were understanding the idea of looking at skittles at the opposite end of the hall and aiming the ball towards it. However it did not take long for Pupil 1 and 5 to get distracted by the skittles and began picking them up and playing with them. Staff members again had to encourage these students to sit nicely while they waited for their turn. It was at this point where I realised that a use in coloured skittles would have been useful. This way we could have one coloured set of skittles at one end to say to a team you’re aiming for those skittles, and have a different coloured set of skittles for the other team. But this was not available to us, so we did what we could with what we had.

Lesson 2 - Class B (my first ninja lesson)
I was with Supply teacher C for the first time today and I told her that I had planned to test my first ninjas lesson with this class today. She seemed happy to let me implement my plan, which she said would be helpful to her as she wasn’t sure of what the group had been practicing anyway.

On their arrival, I was thrilled to hear one of the students say to her friend “I hope we’re doing Spiderman again, I liked that.” Last week this group performed beautifully during my Spiderman sessions but I was left unsure of how much each of them enjoyed it. But when I heard this today I realised that all that mattered to me was that at least one person definitely enjoyed themselves, and that maybe I had opened their mind a little bit more when it comes to thinking of physical games to practice. However I had to disappoint her slightly as it was not the lesson planned for this group and I explained we’d be pretending to be ninjas in this lesson. The class seemed intrigued and I asked them what they think makes a good ninja, and why I might think we can learn from them. I told them that what I liked most about ninjas was there uncanny ability to use there senses. They have exceptional balance, hearing, and sense of their surroundings. Despite what schools teach us, there are 21 senses of the human body which are constantly in use and can be exercised. I thought this would make a really unique and interesting new focus for PE, and today’s focus was the sense of balance. 

I asked the lovely TA to help me organise the class into two groups in front of the two benches I had set up. I gave each student a hockey stick, that today we were going to call our “ninja sticks,” and demonstrated walking along the bench forwards and backwards, holding the stick behind my head. We practiced this for a little while and I had remembered what PE teacher A had said about my last lesson with this class about moving on quicker to keep them interested. So after a quick practice I introduced myself and the TA’s throwing a ball at the student when they got to the end of the bench to deflect with their stick. Some students were too excited by this and focussed on hitting the ball so hard that they fell of the benches even if they missed the ball. I brought the group back together after noticing this and reminded them that today’s focus was on balance, I was not interested in how they hit the ball if at all. I reassigned their focus on staying on the bench and if they fell off then it was ok I just wanted them to get back on because nothings happens if they fall. I think this worked well in making them feel slightly more at ease when falling off and realising that it was no big deal to anyone, some students were still too tempted by hitting the ball hard but others were clearly less interested in the ball and were focussing on their balance like I had asked them to. I progressed this task further by turning the benches upside down so that the pupils had less surface to walk along, and then by getting them walking sideways to train their balance in different directions.

We then moved onto my final task of the lesson which was a small course of benches set up in different directions, some upside down, some with a gap in between, which stretched across the length of the hall. I said we’d have individual practice runs first and that the students should watch out for me and the TA’s who were going to try to throw them off by aiming balls at their feet or their bodies. The threat of being hit by balls thrown by the members of staff excited them greatly, and I like to think that goes of the TA’s too. We began the practices and I encouraged each student to take their time to complete the course, but being weary of the balls. But I quickly introduced a competitive element to keep them entertained, by letting students onto the course before the person in front of them had finished to introduce more pressure. I think everyone enjoyed themselves and some displayed a fantastic sense of balance.

After the lesson’s end I asked Supply teacher C what she thought of my lesson. She said overall it was good and looked like fun, however she said the task at the end where students where working on the course individually left the rest of the class quite restless and bored. I realised what she meant it highlighted for me that the behaviour of the class was slightly more difficult to manage when they were left waiting. I remembered what PE teacher A had said to me about keep progressing the lesson and keep them active. I was happy that in this lesson I had a much better grip on the progression of the lesson with the range of tasks, but I realised at the end I could have kept the group split some how to save them getting bored and distracted.

Lesson 3 - Class C (I met a speech therapist)
In this lesson me and Supply teacher B got out a trampoline, some mats and some skittles for Pupil 1 to play with. Pupil 1 was very tactile with the skittles and enjoyed throwing them. As before, Supply teacher B who had an interest in trampoline enjoyed helping the TA who was also a rebound instructor to get the students having a bounce on the trampoline one by one.

Early into the lesson I noticed somebody entering the room who I had not seen before. She brought with her a large, square piece of wood and some other items in a bag. She approached Pupil 4 and lay him on the plank of wood, on which she also lay on. She then began knocking and scraping on the wood with the pupil. Extremely intrigued by this new woman I went over and asked what she was doing. She politely introduced herself as a speech therapist and explained to me that in the early stages of development she tries to establish basic forms of communication through sounds like knocking, as most of the pupils in this class are unable to use their voices. She then explained that the enormous wood they were lying on was called a resonance board, designed for amplifying sounds. She demonstrated by urging me to lie my head on the board with them as she knocked on it. The wooden board was hollow and the sound appeared much louder than it did before I pressed my ear against the board. She said that this is a method of getting Pupil 4 used to loud sounds, and the vibrations that those sound make, making him more comfortable with a range of sounds. She told me that she had been working with Pupil 4 for a while and that today he was expressing a willingness to investigate with sounds himself; he was scraping his arm across the board as she did and even found certain types of scraping funny. It was wonderful to see them communicating in this way, a way which I had never seen before. She then started pulling out different items from her bag like a beaded necklace which they could swipe across the board together.

Encapsulated by this unique method of working, I stayed with these two for this lesson and asked the speech therapist a bit more about her work and how she would usually progress her work with Pupil 4 from here. She mentioned a method called tack pack, which involved playing music, sometimes with everyday objects like pots and pans, and then somehow involve another sensory input to gradually infer a meaning. This was to help develop basic language learning skills, as we as children grow up identifying sounds and inferring the meaning ourselves from contexts. It sounded like a long and fragile process; the ST said it definitely was and that it required meticulous planning so that the meanings they inferred remained consistent, and most importantly she said it requires a lot of patience. As I hadn’t seen her before I asked her how often she collaborated with the other professionals of the school, and in particular if she joined in with PE or the physiotherapists at any particular times. The ST told me that she didn’t have a usually schedule with anyone in the PE department but reassured me that such processes definitely require fine collaboration with the children’s teachers. It saddened me that PE hadn’t been able to help her work in anyway so far, particularly as earlier this day I had been talking to a class about the importance of senses in my ninja lesson. Interestingly though I have another lesson plan which is another ninja lesson that was going to focus on listening exercises. After talking to the wonderful ST I definitely felt inspired to go ahead with it and see what PE teacher A thinks of incorporating the use of senses in a PE lesson.

Lesson 4 - Class D (another Spiderman session)
I told Supply teacher B about the Spiderman work I had been doing with this class and she seemed very interested to see it. When the students arrived she handed the lesson over to me and the whole class looked really excited that we were doing Spiderman again today. I then directed them over to a table with my laptop as I had a video set up and waiting for them.

I showed the class a clip from the latest Spiderman film so to help the visualize what they were aiming for. I thought of this after my last lesson with them as most of them seemed to be struggling with the main rule of “no knees touching the floor,” and thought that if I showed them how Spiderman moves in the films it will help them to understand. I also used the clip to help me explain that Spiderman moves in different directions to dodge his enemies, so that meant we have to train our bodies in different directions so that we could be as agile as Spiderman. I showed the class the short clip a couple of times, asking them questions about where his knees are and what directions he was moving in to make sure they understood what I was asking them to do. The students payed good attention to the clip and enjoyed watching, I also think this  made a really good start to the lesson in helping to motivate them to get on with the tasks. As we also hadn’t been able to play the main games last week, like Spiderman tag, I had promised them that we would do it the next time we were doing Spiderman training, and so I used that to motivate throughout the session as well.

We practiced the same skills as before, Spiderman crawling forwards and backwards, then sideways and even got into some relay races at one point. But today I was slightly disappointed to see that the students were not performing as well physically as they had been in the last lesson. I was unsure of why this was and continued to motivate them individually and gave specific teaching points to each student to help them do their best Spiderman crawl. Nevertheless, as promised I moved them on slightly quicker today so that we could have a game of Spiderman tag, which they were all really excited by. I explained the rules in a demo with a chosen student before initiating the game. Students appeared to be enjoying the game very much but were clearly tires as some of them were losing technique. I tried my best to enforce that no knees should be touching the floor and made references to the video we watched so they had something to imagine while they worked. Once again I decided that the class could have been working harder in this game so I couldn’t help but get myself involved as the new tagger. The pupils loved having me chase them around and it definitely got them working harder and faster. By the end most of the students collapsed on their backs exhausted but also laughing hysterically. Though I feel they could all have done better physically, I was elated to see that everyone had enjoyed themselves.

As the class left I asked Supply teacher B what she thought of my lesson and she said she loved it. I explained to her that I was surprised by their performance today and that I felt they had done better in previous lessons. However Supply teacher B consoled me by saying that the class seems to be the type of group who will seem to get one thing one day and not get it the next, so it was nothing to take personally. She assured me that there needs can sometimes unpredictable and slow, so I just need to be aware of that and have some patience with them. This actually reminded me of the last placement day I had when this group were outside playing cricket games and failed to understand the rules numerous times. I was pleased to think that I am getting a much better understanding of this groups needs and that it is best to simply be patient and keep encouraging them.

Lesson 5 - Class E (another Spiderman session)
I had already done a Spiderman session with this group and they seemed pleased to do it again. However the same student who excluded herself last time did so again immediately, refusing to join in as soon as she heard what we were doing. As before I tried to encourage her and when she still said no I said she can feel free to join in at any time.

I wanted to show this group the same video as the lesson before as I found it to be a significant visual aid, but this group had turned up late to PE today so I decided to miss it out and get on with the practices. Despite my worries of getting straight into the skills practice the effort put in by these students today was remarkable. All the students who practiced hard last week did so again this week, maybe even harder, and those who were slightly more reluctant were not so. I thought that now this group were familiar with the tasks and had thoroughly enjoyed themselves last time, they were happy to dive straight into it today.

Instead of races I improvised a different game where I simply shouted out “fast” or “slow,” to which the students had to match the pace of their crawl. This group clearly fund it challenging as when the paces changed there were some groans of tiredness about. However at this point I noticed a student with his knees on the ground; I had told countless times throughout the lesson that Spiderman does not do this and so it is the one rule that shouldn’t be broken in a Spiderman crawl. This student listened but continued to make no attempt to alter his technique. I wondered if for this student the aid of the video may have helped him to see better what I meant, but I wasn’t sure if he was struggling or just not listening.

We moved onto Spiderman tag and the onto another game called “Go Spidey! Go!” In this game students crawled about the room when I shouted out a certain phrase, to which there was a certain action they had to perform like a role or a jump up. We played this for a few minutes and the students were absolutely exhausted at the end. However a couple of particular student demonstrated fantastic determination as they continued to perform despite their very hot and sweaty conditions. I was so impressed and handed out some well earned gold coins. I also gave one student who had been working hard an authoritative position by swapping his role with mine. I told him he was now the teacher and it was his turn to call out the phrases we had to react to. The student had clearly understood the task well, giving out the correct phrases and even providing some encouragement for us all.

Live life to the full.


Placement Day 16

Today I described another of my lesson plans to PE teacher A. It was a lesson that was going to be very different from the last few of my lessons, the Spiderman sessions, and he seemed very interested by the idea. He said it sounded good and we planned to implement it on my next placement day. It was based on ninjas.

Lesson 1 - Class B
For this lesson PE teacher A told me that the focus was going to be on hitting into a space on the court. This was interesting to me as it was a very specific concept rather than a physical skill, though I had faith that the class would come to appreciate it. The first game was a version of “Killer,” but today instead of using a tennis ball and racket, the teacher wanted them to practice some kicking so they could come to understand that hitting a ball into a space can apply to all kinds of sports. To both of our surprises, the students seemed to struggle with this warm up game. I generally think of this group as a very able one, and today they seemed to be getting off to a bad start so I was interested to see how PE teacher A would encourage them. He was very good at slowing the pupils down, telling them that “there was no need to rush” and that they just needed to “kick the ball gently.” I thought this was an excellent observation as these students have a tendency to try to hit balls as hard as they can, they clearly have a lot of energy and sometimes I think they just want to get certain tasks over with because they don’t like being watched by the rest of the class. Some of the group are good listeners, and when PE teacher A delivered his simple advice it was clear that the students were trying to use it and to good effect. PE teacher A was great at picking up on when the pupils were trying to hit into space and he gave them a positive response every time they did, even if the ball didn’t travel far which was likely to put the students off trying again.

After this the group had a quick talk about hitting into space. PE teacher said “even if you were the world’s best player at something, if someone hits a ball in the space where you’re not they have made it very difficult for you to get the ball. It doesn’t matter how good you are, if somebody hits the ball away from you then that’s going to be very hard to hit back.” He explained this slowly and clearly and students seemed to understand. I liked that he emphasised it was not always about talent or how hard you can hit the ball, he was describing strategy, something this group tends to forget but could potentially be good at.

We then moved onto the tennis game with cricket rules and PE teacher A was clear when reinforcing the idea of hitting into space to make it harder for the fielders. Before he bowled he gave each student some advice about aiming where a fielder was not, and I could see each of them looking around the hall to see where they could hit the ball before they did so. The game was incredibly entertaining to watch, some students really start to get the hang of hitting into space which they demonstrated by playing devious shots like hitting the ball behind them where there were no fielders at all. Another interesting moment was when one of the most able boys hit the ball beautifully. The class have always recognised this students sporting talent and had often shown their fear of them in a competitive games in previous lessons. Today the class had done the same, and although it was a lovely shot by the pupil, the reason this person scored so many was because the fielders panicked. This class have a large tendency to panic and lose their technique, cooperative efforts, and strategies. Many members of the class had managed to pick up the ball but when they could see the pupil’s score rising higher and higher they failed to return it to PE teacher A numerous times.

PE teacher A spoke to them about this and how they must try to stay calm and remember what they’ve learned. As I had been keeping the scores on the whiteboard, I showed the class that the able boy managed to get an amazing 55 points with that one hit when they panicked. They could see by the scores that this made an enormous difference as his total score was more than double some of the students. I think this was a good experience for them to go through as they now had hard evidence from the scores, showing them that crumbling under pressure is their weakest attribute.

Lesson 2 - Class F
This lesson was on athletics. At the lesson’s introduction the PE teacher told the class that the three components of athletics were running, jumping, and throwing. Today they were going to focus on different types of running. PE teacher A explained that for athletics they needed to be trying their absolute best in all the activities and so they were going to need a vigorous warm up. PE teacher A put on some party music for the class to run around the hall to. When the music was played loudly, the students had to run fast, but when PE teacher A turned the music down to be quieter, the students had to slow down. As soon as the music started all students were up and running; I was delighted to see them so willing to get involved, they clearly enjoyed music and I suspected they had done this warm up before. The TA’s helped the pupils with their reactions to the music, which they got the hang of. It was lovely to see them all very excited, even Pupil 3 was hopping around enthusiastically to degree I had never seen her.

The lesson then moved on to all different kinds of running. The students tried sprinting, and I managed to pick up some more makaton at this stage, including “slow,” “fast” and “music.” (below is a helpful makaton video I found) All students sprinted well, including Pupil 1 and Pupil 3 who required being hand led, though they still appeared excitable and energetic. The pupils also had a go at hurdles. PE teacher A set up small coloured cones as he knew that some of them may not be able to jump very high, but if they had a go at each cone then he’d be happy. The use of colours seemed like a very good idea for this group as well, as PE teacher A was able to reference each cone individually by pointing out it’s colour and guide the students around the small track he had created. This worked wonderfully well as the pupils were clearly able to identify each coloured cone and went on to have a go at jumping at the right moment. This was also done as a relay race in two teams and I joined as well. We all had great fun and it was nice to see that the students weren’t put off by my joining their teams, as I know this class likes routine and structure I wondered if they’d be sensitive to me switching passive and active roles. But they were ok with it so they must be getting used to having me around.

Lesson 3 - Class D
This lesson as always was outside and PE teacher B challenged the group to remember their usual warm up. A pupil who had raised her hand to answer did so correctly, so she was asked to lead the group when running around the field. The pupil lead reasonably well as she remembered the route correctly but did so quite slowly so the TA’s had to remind her to encourage the whole group to be running. One pupil lagged at the back and despite the TA’s telling her to get a move on she did not. I have run with this pupil in the past during this warm up to encourage her which always worked well, however today I wanted to see if she could motivate herself and unfortunately failed to do so.

The class then played a game of cricket, however the fielders were located in a certain area of the playground to give the batter a better chance of batting practice. If a student hit the ball in the are of the fielders they only had to run to and fro twice, but if they hit it elsewhere they had to run four. For some reason the class failed to remember this on numerous occasions, resulting in students running the wrong number of times and being caught out when they shouldn’t have been. PE teacher B had reminded the students several times about the way in which they had to score runs, but eventually he found himself pausing the game so that he could address the class as a whole to re-explain the rules. From this point on the class seemed to get it, but it was unfortunately that it was close to the end of the lesson. I found it surprising that these students didn’t seem to grasp the concept as they are usually extremely good listeners who are generally very well behaved and physically quite able. Today just didn’t seem like they were concentrating and I couldn’t figure out why. Despite this though, the physical performance of some students was tremendous. One student struggled to hit the ball when batting so his class mate generously produced a cone for the ball to stand on instead without him even being asked. There was also some of the best catching I have ever seen from this class and every member of staff gave an ecstatic response to those students who performed well today.

Lesson 4 - Class E
PE teacher A decided to give me a very interesting task today. He asked me if I would like to focus on Pupils 2 and 3, the two wheelchair users of the group, on my own while he conducted the rest of the class. He said this would be really helpful for him to slit the class in this way so he could deliver quite a tough lesson for the more able members of the group while I would be working with Pupil 2 and 3 on timing at a pace that better suits them. I was delighted by the idea and agreed that it may well be a very effective method of teaching for this session. It made me even more pleased when these two students were so happy to be with me on our own today when PE teacher A told them what was going on. These two students are lovely and hard working people and I knew I would have no problems with them.

We then made our way into a corner of the sports hall while PE teacher A taught the rest of the group some tennis shots using a fast reactions game. I had been asked by PE teacher a to give Pupil 2 an Pupil 3 some simple hitting practice that we would then work up to good timing with. Both pupils took turns to hit a tennis ball with a rocket of the top of a tall cone. I gave each of them specific teaching points like “look at the ball all the time,” “keep your thumb on this part of the racket,” and a simple “take your time, there’s no need to rush.” Each student listened to my instructions beautifully as I could see them trying to implement them. I also asked them questions about their technique before each of their turns to constantly reassure myself that they understood exactly how I wanted them to perform. When my instructions were implemented well, the balls travelled slightly further and I continued to be overtly encouraging whenever this happened. We moved on to using two other cones which got smaller each time, making it harder for the pupils to hit the ball. I kept them engaged by asking “what’s different about this now? What’s harder?” which they gave sensible answers to.

Eventually we got to the main aim of or session together which was timing. I took away the cones and gently bounced a ball to them for them to hit. I knew this would be much harder for them so I gave them a few goes each turn. I tried to make their practice relevant by referring back to how we used the cones and talking about the height of the cones to help us predict when to hit the ball. I could see this helped but the students still struggled to get a decent hit like the ones the were performing earlier in the lesson. Overall I was pleased with how this lesson went and it was great practice for me to help teach a simple skill really slowly. I relayed the results back to PE teacher A at the end and he too seemed very happy.

Lesson 5 - Class G
This was a fun lesson as we were outside playing with different balls. There were basket balls and foot balls and PE teacher B was trying to show the children the difference between them using colour and saying that you can only use your feet for a football. There was not much structure to this lesson, and I wondered how that affected the children’s learning; was it better this way or not? These students are incredibly young and maybe don’t appreciate structure the way other autistic students do, which could be evinced by the clear excitement they get by the numerous balls bouncing around them. As always I believe that anyone should have fun when indulging in physical activity, otherwise it’s very difficult to get motivated. This class is always an enjoyable one, so perhaps a structure is not necessary of the students are still excited by their PE lessons.

Live life to the full.


Thursday, 16 May 2013

Placement Day 15


Today I received feedback on my business plan for Story Games and I am sad to report that it was a failure. I did not win and I was not a runner-up, but I did get some personal feedback. The feedback read that Story Games was a worthy concept, but with no artist to help me produce the final products, I was unlikely to find an investment. I had also had another meeting with my tutor about this, who told me about iBooks Author that she had recently discovered and realised it could be an interesting alternative to a picture book. Though I may have failed from a business point of view, potentially publishing a series of iBooks through iTunes is where I intend to go next with Story Games. (below is an image of one of the heroes I have created - he will teach children to throw.)

Lesson 1 - Class A
The objectives for this lesson were written on the whiteboard, though they were not used with the class so I was unsure of why this was. However PE teacher A was still able to describe the objectives of the lesson which were rolling a ball to someone, rolling a ball to someone from further away, and rolling a ball so that it went past someone.

Pupil 1 as per usual struggled to stay seated throughout the duration of the lesson, and interrupted by asking many questions. Though he never means any disrespect, the TA’s and PE teacher A are always sure to tell him that if he does not sit and wait nicely for people to finish talking there will be consequences. I have noticed that PE teacher A has always been consistent with this method, and though it takes a lot of repetition for this pupil to understand, he eventually gets there.

In this lesson we started promptly by sitting together in a circle. We one by one passed a ball to someone of our choice. I think for most of the class it was nice to sit down together with very little equipment available for any distractions and just get on with a simple task. I thought this as the class seemed very calm and very quiet, listening to PE teacher A and the TA’s when it was there turn with the ball. However Pupil 6 was incredibly distressed this morning for reasons unknown, she tended to be very loud and very wriggly and needed to be controlled by one of the TA’s. All pupils required some assistance with the ball other thank Pupil 1. Pupil 1’s problem was learning to take turns; he would see the ball coming towards somebody next to him and take it before that person had a chance to do so. PE teacher A was firm about taking turns and made Pupil 1 give up the ball by counting down from 3. Interestingly I have never seen a Pupil continue their defiance when a teacher has begun counting down, so I’m unsure of the eventual consequence, but I believe the implication is the person will lose minutes from their break time. The students obviously know what it means and it obviously works well.

As we progressed through the lesson we split into two teams on either side of the sports hall. The students were instructed to sit on a white line of the court, which Pupil 1 failed to do so continuously; he was assured that he would not have a turn with the ball if he did not sit were he was asked, which he would often take time to respond to. Pupils 4 and 5 have a tendency to move about the room, particularly when they’ve accomplished a given task, but i was pleased to see them quietly sat and waiting patiently for their turn.We then moved onto the final objective which was rolling the ball past someone to score a point. This is a concept that none of the pupils showed evidence of understanding. Pupil 1, who is the most vocal of the group, kept asking questions about his teams points such as “do we have a hundred?” “have we won now?” and “how many points do we have?” completely failing to understand that if the ball went past his line they win one point. As Pupil 1 continued to move away from his position his team lost 2-0, despite being encouraged to sit down because his team needed him. Today’s lesson was interesting example of how children with autism struggle with numerical concepts, particularly when it comes to invasion games. However it was nice to see the class playing a simple game together and showing good practice.

Lesson 2 - Class B (my spiderman session)
This was the first lesson to implement my spiderman ideas. Already PE teacher A’s experience was proving helpful to my plans as I had explained I would be using a matted area. When he asked what for I simply told him the students would be crawling back and forth. He countered this by saying in his experience it would be much better to set the mats up in lanes so the it was a visual stimulus for pupils to understand they were meant to be simply moving from A to B. I agreed that this made more sense and was happy to change the matted arrangement.

So when the students arrived I asked them if they knew who Spiderman was and got one of them to talk about who he was and what he did to the rest of the class. I told them there was a skill that Spiderman was a master of, a skill that they could learn and that I was going to be helping them with...crawling. Of course when I told them this there was a collective sigh of disappointment, I think some of them expected to be swinging around and using lots of energy. But I assured them that the things were going to be more difficult than they expected. I asked the TA’s to set the class up into 3 separate groups, of equal ability, in front of the matted lanes. For a warm up I simply asked the students to crawl on their hands and knees forwards and backwards across the lanes. I did a quick demonstration and the pupils were still claiming that this was all to easy for them, but I knew the rest of the lesson was going to be an entirely new challenge so I asked them to warm up properly. Most pupils got on well with it, but all of them looked embarrassed, some even started acting like babies to mock the task. I decided to move on quicker to the skills practice than I had planned as I could see that this class were very physical and more importantly, possessed short attention spans, so I thought I’d give them a challenge. I told the class we’d call their warm up a normal crawl, but it wasn’t a Spiderman crawl. Spiderman crawls without his knees touching the floor, I told the class this is what we were doing. All of a sudden their attitude changed and they looked daunted by the idea, and as I demonstrated a Spiderman crawl I heard some of them say that will be too hard. I responded by reminding them that they had all said this lesson would be easy and now it was time to prove how easy it was. This got them on task, and some of them were clearly concentrating hard on the task. It took a while for them to get the hang of as I was constantly enforcing the main rule: “keep your knees off the ground!”

We then practiced a sideways Spiderman crawl; I explained that Spiderman never just goes forwards and backwards, he has to move in all kinds of directions to avoid his enemies. The same rule applied: “no knees on the ground.” Most seemed to find this practice easier than the first for some reason, perhaps they were warming up a lot by this stage.

After the practices we went onto to play some Spiderman games. I remembered what PE teacher a had told me about this group losing technique under pressure, but it was good to introduce some every once in a while so they can get used to performing in competitive circumstances; this is why I decided that first of all we’d start by having some simple relay races backwards and forwards. By this stage the students were well practiced in the skill and we’re very eager to bring a competitive element to their lesson. Most pupils performed well but I could see that some were losing technique as they were trying to go to fast. I gave some Gold coins for the winners and a quick lecture on how they need to practice hard on technique so that they can get somewhere quickly, rather than panicking and flailing their bodies. Then we moved onto Spiderman tag, were all pupils were crawling in a multidirectional way to move away from a tagger. The tagger could only tag somebody’s ankle so that if the tagger was faster than that person I could encourage them to change direction to outmaneuver them - this also required technique, I told them. The pupils played the game reasonably well to start with but many of them were exhausted by this stage. Some I caught hovering at the peripheries of the hall to keep away from the action and have a rest. At this moment I decided to join in as the tagger to round up the pupils and get them all moving. I had said they weren’t putting in the effort I expect from them and so I will chase them. The students were surprised and excited by my chasing, and we quickly tired each other out. As mentioned in previous entries, I believe it’s crucial that a practitioner like myself need not only be a figure of authority but of fun. If the pupils don’t enjoy what I give them to do then they won’t be motivated to do it. Sometimes I think the best way to motivate people is to do the activities with them and show that you’re up for a laugh. This certainly worked today.

Lesson 3 - Class C
This lessons focus was on getting the pupils walking and moving around as much as possible. On entry Pupil 1 appeared distressed, making a lot of noise and not responding much to the TA’s. PE teacher A told me that he would be working with her today. The pupils in this class are always well looked after so I am quite able to have a selective choice with whom I work with; sometimes I go to the pupil who I feel could be doing more or need help, or sometimes I’ll pick a student that I simply worked with in a while to give equal support. Pupil 4 was being lifted in the hoist to practice some walking so I decided I would spend time with Pupil 2 today. One of the TA’s had given him his ball with bells in it to play with as usual, but I knew this was not part of the lesson objectives. I played with them both with the ball for a few minutes to establish Pupil 2’s level of calmness for today. I investigated a bit as well, moving around Pupil 2 and rolling the ball to him from new directions constantly to get hime really engaged with his hearing. Not only is this important for a blind person’s communication and understanding, but ears play a significant roll in the vestibular system which helps with balance.

Pupil 2 seemed very happy today so I wanted to see how far I could push him. He was very willing to try standing and we did lots of exercises together, including squats and rows. Pupil 2 loved doing these exercises and I made sure to use my voice as much as possible, providing encouragement and singing to him like Supply Teacher A had done to keep Pupil 2 happy and comfortable. We then moved onto walking, and I managed to get Pupil 2 working up to walking forwards with only the help of my little finger, and walking backwards. I tried a few exploratory exercises as well including swaying Pupil 2 from side to side which I knew would be great for the adductors and abductors in his legs which a helpful stabilisation muscles, and again his balance. I also grabbed his hands and lifted him high into the air before plonking him back to the ground into a squat; this action would add weight to the negative phase of a squat which is notorious for providing extra tension and therein muscle growth. More to the point, Pupil 2 loved me doing this, laughing loudly as I did it. PE teacher A said he was very impressed with the work I had done with Pupil 2 this lesson.

Lesson 4 - Class D (my spiderman session)
The lesson plan was the same as this mornings for this session, and I was interested to see how this group would get on with it. PE teacher A had also managed to acquire a school iPad as he knew my lessons were heavily based on the use of different stimuli, and particular visual. He had a wonderful thought that would be very suitable for this group which was to film the students performing their Spiderman crawls and show them the camera on it’s side so they can watch themselves crawling vertically, just like Spiderman. I loved the sound of it and he agreed to set it up in a corner while I coordinated the lesson, this also meant the students would have more to think about when waiting their turn.

As always this well-behaved class were willing to give the Spiderman session a go and were obviously much more excited about it than this mornings class. Perhaps the idea was more suitable for this age bracket (around 12 years old). The students got on with the crawling warm up beautifully but when I asked them to keep their knees off the ground to create a Spiderman crawl, they clearly needed to use more concentration. Some pupils struggled very much, crawling very slowly and many had a tendency to either fall over or stick their behind high into the air. I went around the hall helping the students to maintain technique, so for those who had their glutes in the air I told them to bend their knees a bit more to make their backs parallel with the floor. Students listened well and tried hard but they took much more time to get the hang of it. It was an incredible contrast to the class this morning. Nonetheless I think these students actually enjoyed the idea of pretending to be Spiderman much more than those this morning, and Pupil 2 who I was very anxious about this lesson surprised me and was one of the best performers of the group despite his cerebral palsy. As I suspected though, Pupil 1 definitely struggled the most; he was able to lift his knees off the ground but only in a stance, he could not move like this. I made sure to pay great attention to him, taking the time to help and encourage him. I was not upset he could not do it immediately, I didn’t expect him to, I was just happy he was trying and I hoped he was enjoying it as much as the rest of the class. I kept him moving into the Spiderman crawling stance as I knew it was still hard work for him even though he couldn’t move. Eventually he made his way across the mats and he was awarded a gold coin for his efforts. This calls took so long to perform the tasks that less than half the plan was completed. This is no problem, it gives them something to look forward to next time, though the most beneficial aspect of this lesson is that I now have a better idea of how much time these students need to practice new skills.

Lesson 5 - Class E (my spiderman session)
There are usually two wheelchair users in this class, but sometimes they are able to go elsewhere for extra physiotherapy or for hydrotherapy. Pupil 2 was elsewhere today but Pupil 3 joined us. PE teacher A offered to work with this pupil individually so that they could take the time to get her out of her chair and practice at her own pace. I was delighted that PE teacher A was so eager to get Pupil 3 practicing the same Spiderman skills as the rest of the class, and I agreed that she may be better off in her own space of the hall to practice at her own comfortable speed. We set up a few extra mats for her in a corner of the sports hall where she could practice her own Spiderman crawling with PE teacher A while instructed the rest of the class.

When I told this class what they were doing with me today there were some mixed reactions. Some students looked incredibly eager to get going and try this new idea that I had, but two students were immediately reluctant and I feared I would have trouble with them. I tried to assure them that the tasks were deceptively difficult and I had other classes to vouch for that notion. Still they refused, claiming that crawling would be too easy and they’d look stupid. After a short attempt to get them to join in I decided they could sit and watch if they wanted but they were welcome to join in at any point, which I suspected they may want to later.

When the normal crawling began most students listened and behaved well, but I could still hear the other two students complaining about the silliness of the lesson. When we got to the Spiderman crawling and I challenged everyone to crawl without their knees touching the floor, one of the reluctant pupils suddenly became more interested as he could clearly see that this was knew to everyone and that they were finding it challenging. I welcomed him to the group and he practiced with the rest of the class, however he was very eager to introduce competition as he is aware that he is obviously more able than some. I used this as motivation for practicing his technique before we got to more fast-paced games which worked for a while, but he quickly grew restless. To my surprise everyone else was getting on diligently, regardless of some of the negative comments. Pupil 1 consistently put in an enormous amount of effort and was laughing start to finish. It was a remarkable thing to see and I let her know how impressed I was with her.

The group performed physically very well and we reached the main games unlike the previous class. We played some relay races which everyone enjoyed, but the reluctant pupil who had joined later hadn’t been listening to my instructions properly and even though I was delighted to see him enjoying the games, it cost him and his team the victory.  One of his team mates was very disappointed and I was disappointed for him as he had been working himself the hardest out of the whole group through the entire lesson. When we moved onto Spiderman tag I got the chance to motivate him by telling him I was thoroughly impressed with his effort, especially in spite of his reluctant team mate, and I told him if he continued he would be guaranteed a gold coin. As before the group were exhausted by this stage and I decided that again I would join in this game. The class loved me joining, laughing hysterically as I chased them around the hall; it definitely got them moving faster. By the end we were all extremely tired and as promised I gave the hard-working student his gold coin. I directed people’s attention to the colour of everyone’s faces which were bright red, and I told them this was proof they had worked brilliantly.

Today has been an amazing day for me. It was lovely to see everyone enjoying the lessons I had come up with revolving around Spiderman, but I am more delighted by the inspiration some of the students filled me with through their enormous efforts.

Live life to the full.