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.
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.