In today’s blog post we will be doing a 4-Teacher Feature to celebrate the movers and shakers out there slaying the remote learning world. Although they each come from different grades, subjects and school communities, they all have one thing in common; they all plan programs that are attuned to the diversity of the wide range of strengths and needs for each of their students.
When planning any Physical Education program for students with special education needs, teachers should begin by examining both the curriculum expectations for the students’ appropriate grade level and their particular strengths and learning needs.
Last week we launched an interactive Physical Activity Accessible Choice Board within our blog post, The Choice Is Yours. This choice board featured physical activities that students could do asynchronously, synchronously with their teacher, and also ones they could do with their families. We wanted to test this concept out in hopes that the open-ended activities allowed educators to adapt it to fit their teaching style along with the needs of their learners.
For today’s post, we’d like to share the feedback we received from our 4-Teacher Features, in hopes that it will show you how their approach to using the choice board was differentiated and personalized for the learning experiences of all their students.
Building Family Connections Through Movement
Aviva and Paula incorporate physical movement into their Kindergarten program through the almost two hours they spend outdoors doing exploratory learning each day. However, they will be upfront in telling you that for this reason they don’t set aside a 20-minute timeslot dedicated to DPA. Using the Physical Activity Accessible Choice Board at the end of their day was out of routine for them, but they gave it a shot for us! This duo chose to use the independent choice board options for the trial of our physical activity resource as the options appeared less competitive and did not require a lot of wait time or instructions. This Kindergarten class requires additional support to interact with each other through their computer screens, and tend to be more successful playing independently.
Paula and Aviva reported great participation from their students, and were thrilled to see parents and siblings playing along in the background! Here were their immediate reactions to the activities we provided:
- Open-ended activities with limited set-up and supplies, so everyone could gather what was needed quickly and easily.
- The instruction could take place during the play. Instead of having everyone sitting around to listen and observe a long explanation, the movement could happen quickly.
- The activities could easily be modified for other grades. An older sibling joined and inspired others to try various options such as balancing two socks on different body parts.
Family engagement is always at the forefront of Aviva and Paula’s teaching, and they are constantly participating in discussions on how to incorporate caregivers in their children’s learning. Remote learning has been somewhat of a blessing for this perspective, as most of the Kindergarten students not only enjoy having family members present, but some actually rely on it. “This was truly joyful play, and I have to wonder if this is what helped with the engagement factor for families.”
Aviva and Paula have since decided to include a DPA component for the last 20 minutes of their social groups two days a week. They are hoping that this time will continue to aid in family engagement and help their learners connect movement with self-regulation strategies. Aviva and Paula are truly rocking the Kindergarten scene and we love seeing the creative ways they present play-based learning opportunities for the unique needs of all their learners. Check out more of Aviva & Paula’s teaching journey on Twitter @avivaloca and Instagram @avivaloca @paulacrockett, and her blog post, A Story Of DPA, Family Engagement, And A New Perspective via Living Avivaloca.
Do What You’re ABLE: Co-Creating Activities
Adaptation, Inclusion and Modification are words that resonate with Dan and help “bring him back to the basics” of Physical Education programming. He recognizes the unique set of needs he has in his primary classes and also the social and emotional assumptions that some might make when presenting a remote learning program.
When we presented Dan with the task of using the Physical Activity Accessible Choice Board with his students, Dan was excited to have a resource to use with his learners of different abilities, including those with multiple exceptionalities and physical disabilities.
Dan started with the “Heads or Tails” activity by collaborating with his students on a Google Jamboard to pick 3-5 physical activities they could do when an object was flipped. Learners enjoyed being able to choose an activity based on the outcome of the coin, and when asked about their choices they responded by saying “I don’t like push ups, so I did jumping jacks." OR, “I got tired, so I chose arm circles.”
- Co-creating activity lists provided everyone a chance to do something they liked, loved or were simply ABLE to do in an inclusive setting.
- Giving choice allowed learners to be praised for individual activity rather than their ability to perform a movement with the group.
“Not every student has a backyard. Not every student has a large common space or play space. Not every student can appear on camera, unmute, and participate uninterrupted. These common realities have been at the forefront of the at home learning experience. The Physical Activity Accessible Choice Board is a great way to allow all these learners to experience the fun and joyful moments of being physically active and continuing their journey to becoming more physically literate individuals.”
Dan is an exceptional advocate for his primary students and finds creative ways to ensure that modifications are not only available to his students with disabilities, but are mandatory for ALL students to showcase their learning in different ways so no learner is singled out.
Physical Activity for SOCIAL Gains
Kelly is a leader in Physical Education and Special Education at her secondary school where she has taught in the 10-year strong District Program (DP) which teaches students from 14-21 years of age with Developmental Disabilities. This regional program is life-skills based, and focuses on building independent skills for adulthood. This year Kelly is back to full-time Phys. Ed, but remains very involved in the DP program as well as running her school’s chapter of Best Buddies, a peer program for exceptional students to build friendships. Kelly has championed this program’s virtual scene and has kept it running all year long amidst school closures. She recognizes the importance of social skills development for young adults, especially ones at the high school level who are working towards transitioning out of the program.
We asked Kelly to trial the Accessible Choice Board with her Best Buddies group to get a perspective on its use in a social, recreational setting. They played the games “Ah-Choo!” and “I Spy” at one of their weekly group meetings, and had a blast doing it!
- The accommodations made for the students fit the needs of all of the learners with cognitive disabilities.
- In order to be successful in reading the text in the slides, the learners would benefit from visuals and scaled-back text.
- Can be made age-appropriate for young adult learners.
Kelly’s crew gave us an important lens on DPA with older learners, particularly those in partially-integrated settings where there may be a variety of ages and needs in one place. This unique opportunity begs the question of how to accommodate tasks in order to foster independence for those who may thrive on reading their own instructions, getting their own materials and being truly “on their own.” Here are some further accommodations you might want to try with our resource:
- Break the tasks on each choice slide into their own slide, and insert a picture to provide a visual cue of what the learner is supposed to be doing.
- Omit any tasks and stick to around 3-5 to condense the activities for learners who require a decreased number of expectations.
- Provide a teacher or peer model (when appropriate) to perform the task first. In the remote learning world, think of providing a short video of yourself on each slide as a guide.
Thank you to Aviva, Paula, Dan and Kelly for giving a glimpse of your remote learning classroom with our readers. There are many people responsible for creating a school community that is inclusive, welcoming and encouraging of its participants to engage in learning. The Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines and the Ability Toolkit emphasizes 60 minutes of physical activity each day for children and youth. The Ministry of Education has put a focus on Daily Physical Activity in Ontario with student health and well-being in mind, allowing for engagement through meaningful active-living opportunities, every day. Although teachers have been challenged to find opportunities for structured and organic movement opportunities, our educators featured today have shown us that becoming positive role models for their students contributes in many ways towards the mental health and well-being of all their learners. When everyone in a school community sees value in physical activity, it reinforces the importance of healthy active living for everyone.
If you are an educator and are looking for resources to support your Daily Physical Activity program, please check out Ophea’s DPA Everyday Resource. You will find videos that you can share with your administrators and colleagues, and also with your students and their families to help you get started!