Today I realized that it has been a month of school and I have not posted anything about the PE classes. Sad right? Well today we will be discussing some of the things I have done with my first and second graders.
As stated in a previous post, I have had some challenging times with my first and second graders, most of which had to do with the lack of an established structure or routine in my PE classes. After much experimenting in my first and second grade classes, I finally had an idea. I simply asked myself, if I were a child, what would I want in a PE class? The answer was simple: competition. I split my first and second grade classes into two teams and tasked them to create their own English team names. For example, the second grade teams are the Dolphins and the Turtles (they were studying ocean life recently). With this structure in place, I am able to give points to the teams in a positive manner, such as not interrupting in class or staying on task. So far, these classes have been a blast thanks to the team-based structure that plays into the students’ natural competitive drive.
My students love to run, so I try to find activities that incorporate that love while assisting their English development as well as teaching them to work as a team. The first activity we have been doing is simple: running relay races. Kids will run on tires, dance for three seconds and scale the playset all while holding a volleyball. The catch is that the team only wins if they are in line and silent. They cannot be talking. There have been many races that the team who was behind during the race will win because they were the first team to have all their players run and wait quietly in line. It’s fun the watch the kids slowly realize that they race is about participation and following directions rather than just being the first one to finish.
The second activity involves vocabulary. I usually ask the first and second grade teachers what words they have been working on. Once they send me a list, I make flashcards and tape the cards around the school. The task is to run to the card that I said and get in line with the team. The first team to have all of the players in line quietly wins a point.
This once again builds teamwork because the kids are figuring out the vocabulary together and then running to the desired destination. It’s amazing to see ELL students go through the process of working together to find the word and then have that “lightbulb moment” when they find it.
Overall, PE has been an adventure to teach. These past few months have been about trying to figure out what works and doesn’t work in each grade. It is refreshing to finally have found something that will work for the younger grades.