May 062014

I’ve just started a new unit on Track and Field with my Kindergartners and used this cool tune-in activity thanks to some Professional Development my colleagues just returned from with @andyvasily and @fizzicalEd in Nanjing, China. They were lucky enough to spend a day watching these 2 innovators team teaching then another day picking their brains.

After watching a short youtube clip ( and brainstorming what we already knew we were able to separate Track and Field into 3 distinct areas; Running, Jumping and Throwing. After discussing the different running events we decided that we would learn about sprinting (whew, I was worried that they might choose to focus on the 10K or the marathon!).

We talked about what was the fastest animal on earth and who was the fastest man/woman. We googled Usain Bolt and found a great video of him setting the world record in 2010. We made a quick list of all the things we could do in/for 9.58 seconds (hold a balance, hold our breath, bounce a ball etc) then we went outside to the track.

First, we walked from the start to the end of the 100m to get a feel for the distance. Next they set their water bottles down where they thought they would be able to run to in 9.58 seconds before making their first attempt. They then adjusted their guess before making another attempt. We talked about why everyone wasn’t stopping at the same place and this leads beautifully into our next lesson… How do we run faster?!?!

A really fun, and engaging tuning in activity that got all of the Kindergartners excited about sprinting and thinking about what they can do to run faster!! Thanks Andy and Rob for the inspiration!!!



Jan 282014

My Grade 1 students are almost at the end of their Health Related Fitness Unit for the year. This is our major ‘theory’ based unit which in the past has led to assessments that feel like they take away from what Physical Education is all about, ie they involve a pencil and paper.

This year, thanks to a great new app that I have had a small hand in developing, that all changed.

Using ‘Easy Blog Jr’, my students are taking photographs of each other performing an exercise then recording themselves talking about that photograph. These ‘voice-over-photo’ videos are then posted to the students’ blogs for all to see. They are explaining what component of fitness they are using; they are suggesting exercises for improving that component of fitness; they are talking about what sorts of changes occur in their body after they have exercised AND they are doing it all independently! My job has been to sit back, listen and observe (and offer technical advice from time to time).

I have taken enormous pleasure from watching these blog posts and being amazed at just how much these 6 year olds have taken in and how eloquent they are in explaining their knowledge. I certainly never got this depth of understanding from a piece of paper.

photo 4                photo 3

photo 2               photo 1

Dec 112013


I’m new-ish to twitter and very new to #chatting, however it’s quickly becoming my most valuable source of professional development . During my first #2ndchat session my colleague @Phil_Cowell answered a question about what technology we use and when we use it. He said the ‘best tool for the job’ which really got me thinking about how, when and why I use technology and made me question the emphasis I place on it.

Then, I was lying back in the dentist’s chair last night, my third visit in as many weeks, and my dentist had warned me the week before that the last cavity was going to be extremely difficult because it was so deep. He would have to cut the gum to get at it. I wasn’t too excited about that prospect and I was keeping a sharp eye out for the scalpel. After a couple of injections and some initial drilling he announced it was time to get stuck into that gum – with a laser! Cut and suture at the same time, can’t be too bad I think. So on went the special goggles and apart from the smell, it wasn’t too bad. But in between each low hum and the aroma of burning flesh, came much poking and prodding at my tooth with…. a straight dental probe! An instrument that has been used by dentists for over a hundred years. It made me think again about what Phil had said about ‘best tool for the job’. Here was an amazing parallel between dentistry (and probably most industries/occupations) and education. Despite enormous leaps in technology in both availability and usefulness, there are times when nothing beats old school; a pencil and a piece of paper, a class debate, or a walk outside to kick leaves, a straight up metal stick to poke around a tooth.

And therein lies my answer, when there is a clear advantage or improvement in learning because of technology – use it. When it makes no difference, I’m only using it because I can – stick with the tried and true. Now it’s time to put that into practice!

Dec 092013


So I’m kinda new to this blogging thing. That said I’ve been using a blog to communicate what has been happening in my classroom for years (I teach KG/G1 PE in an International School in China) so I’m not unfamiliar with blogging per se, more blogging about me and what I’m doing. It’s easy when it’s about the kids, its not easy when I feel like I’m sharing my innermost thoughts with the entire world; what if they laugh at me or think I’m stupid?!

I have to overcome these fears and it’s made easier by the fact that I had the same niggling doubts when I was first encouraged to use Twitter as a tool to reach other teachers. Back then I used the most basic of excuses “I’m in China, I need a VPN to tweet, it’s too hard”. Well thank goodness I got over that, installed a reliable VPN and got amongst the #hashtags. I now find Twitter is one of the most valuable Professional Development tools I have. If you aren’t already using it, I recommend you get started.

I’ve decided its time to start documenting my journey from paper to pixel. For years I have been slowly trying to eliminate paper from my teaching diet. My aim is twofold; one to simplify my life and keep everything in one, easily accessible, place and two, to cutback on the incredible amount of wastage I see around me when it comes to paper and printing in a school.

Right now I’m at a place where as a teacher I am paper free. I have my register, my assessment criteria and my rubrics all on my iPad. I use my iPad to take photos and videos to demonstrate kids’ learning, and I use it to post to my blogs. It’s not perfect yet, nothing really talks to each other so there is still a lot of moving information between apps/documents. Ideally when I assess a kid, using one of my rubrics for example, I would like that grade to then automatically show up in our report writing software – alas that is not possible…. Yet!!

The only time I use paper now is to give the kids feedback at the end of a unit or when they work on a reflection. Next step – eliminate that paper too!