Today was my first day of observing in the South Hill Elementary School district. Approaching the school I was definitely very nervous because I wasn’t really sure what I was in for because I have only worked in a middle school and high school environment. However I felt a little more comfortable approaching this experience with my fellow classmate Becky because we have worked together before and were always successful in our previous lessons. The school we went to was surprisingly small; I remember my elementary school being much bigger. There were two different physical education teachers there and they were both professionally dressed and clean cut. The first class we observed was a 3rd grade class in a gymnastics unit. I didn’t have much responsibility for the first lesson I just went around helping the students giving positive feedback and helping out where I was needed.
The second class I worked with was a second grade class. It was very easy to distort the maturity level between the 2nd and 3rd graders. The 3rd graders behaved much better than the 2nd graders, however both classes were much more physically educated then I had expected. I had the same responsibilities as the first class, as I got to go around and help out where I was needed I stuck around mostly by the balance beam and was encouraging the student to land a cartwheel on the beam and if they had gotten to advance up the taller balance beam. There were a few students that were able to do it which really caught me by surprise because I was not even able to do this when I took gymnastics. In this class I also helped out by the climbing rope and I gave the student an area to climb to where it was reasonable but challenging at the same time. The students would get really excited when they reached the target and it made me feel really good to be a part of that and help them out.
The 3rd class I observed was a 4th grade class and the maturity level of this class was way more advanced than the last two classes which also caught me by surprise. This class was also in the gymnastics unit and these students were very good at performing the activities. I really enjoyed working with the 4th graders because they were so good at the activities that I was able to join in with some of the things that they were doing as if they didn’t even need much guidance. After this class was over I got a chance to look in the equipment room which almost blew my mind when I saw it. For such a small school this school had a ton of different types of equipment which was awesome. My first impression of these physical education teachers is that they really run a good program here at South Hill Elementary school.
The gymnasium is either open all the way where they combined two classes or it split’s down the middle and they separate the two classes depending on the lesson. Two sides of the gymnasium are lined with a rock wall which I thought was really cool because I remember when I was younger I use to love climbing rock walls when we went to amusement parks on family trips but we never had it in our school setting’s. There were a few posters hung up around the gymnasium but not as many as I would like. That good be a good thing though because the students should focus on what they are learning not what is in the walls.
When I was I observed the classroom setting I noticed that the classroom was decorated with posters and toys and games everywhere. The classroom differed from the gymnasium because it had so much going on in it. The classroom atmosphere was very laid back when I was in their students just had to finish up a work sheet then they were allowed to play games or with Legos. The language and literacy was good for the age of the students, from my perspective I thought each individual I spoke with was a pretty smart kid. Since we caught the last class of that teachers day the teacher really wasn’t to engaged it seemed more like a free period where the students just had to finish up there work and then they could go play. The social behaviors of these students were very good multiple students came up to me and asked if I wanted to play with them, it was a very friendly group of students.
In this class I observed the 4th graders again. I think overall the 4th grade class is my favorite class to observe because it looks like they are the easiest to control compared to the 2nd and 3rd graders. I noticed that the athletic ability and the motivation of the students are a lot higher. I also began to notice a little more competitive spirit between the 4th graders, in the younger grades none of the students really cared about winning or losing but the 4th graders are at the beginning stage of that. When working with the 4th graders I haven’t gotten the chance to work with them so again I like to put myself out there and participate in the activities they are doing. I think it’s good to do that because I feel the students get more excited to play a game if one of the teachers is playing it to. I know when I was in high school and middle school I use to always challenge the teachers to whatever sport we were playing.
In this class I got the opportunity to lead students in warm up tag game. The game I chose to play was called super hero tag. The way you play this game is the same rules as freeze tag however when you get tagged you are supposed to freeze in the position of your favorite super hero. I also had the students performing different loco motor movement instead of just running the whole time. The students really enjoyed this game which was a good feeling. After I did the warm up the teacher took over the lesson and I sat down and stretched out with the class. From the past observations I noticed that the students were talking during stretching and would not really pay attention to well so I thought if I would sit myself down with the students and stretch out that the students would do less talking and more stretching.
In this class I got to observe Becky do lead the class in a warm up activity. She also had to do a tag game and she decided to go with line tag. Line tag is a fun tag game where you can only travel on the lines that run through the gymnasium. Her tag game went pretty well it was fun to see the students get creative when the line was blocked by a tagged student. When the students stretched after this warm up I decided to sit down and stretch with them again because the previous class it seems to help limit the talking and increases the stretching being done. I have come to realize that 2nd grade class is probably the worst behaved class, I think it has to do a lot with the age group and there are three students in this class that really stand out. If one of those three students begin acting up then the other two always follow. What my Host teacher does to keep the bad behavior from continuing is separate them. For example he does not let them sit next to each other during stretches.
My host teacher was very good at engaging the students in the lesson segments. So far out of every lesson I observed not one student has sat out. I noticed that he keeps every lesson very interesting and by the way he explains things he makes it seem very fun. As he explains what there about to do I can notice the students getting very antsy to get up and play. I really admire how Coach Bliss gains the students respect and attention. I noticed when Becky and I were leading the students in warm up activities sometimes the kids would act up or not do what they were supposed to be doing. Coach Bliss would simply make eye contact with them and the students would automatically get back on task. I think the way Coach Bliss interacts with each student allows the students to gain that respect for him and that’s what really makes them listen.
The social behaviors between the elementary age groups were a major difference from when I observed in the middle school and high school settings. When I was in the high school and middle school setting I noticed the student had there certain groups of friends “clicks”. In the elementary level there was no separation of students, all the students looked at each other equally, which is how it should be. In one of the classes there was a student with autism and I wasn’t sure if the students would understand the disability at this age. However the students included this student in everything and never got mad at him if he slowed a task down so therefore these groups of students were very understanding of the student’s disability. So I would imagine that this disability was explained to them at some point and time during the year.
The lesson I got to teach was how to throw a football with the 2nd grade class. After the warm up I led the students in a good stretch where I had the students count by 5’s, 10’s, 2’s and even in Spanish. I did this so we were also working on math and language while getting physical activity at the same time. After the stretches I brought the students over to a poster board where I had all the cues for catching and throwing a football. After them I had them grab a partner and practice there throwing and catching. Because of their age I did not let them use actual footballs they started off with squishy footballs which were smaller than a regular football. The reason I did this is to prevent anybody from getting hurt. As the lesson went on I walked around giving feedback and I saw some very good catching and throwing skills.
During this class I observed the 4th graders playing a tag game called “continuous tag”. The point of this game was for the students to work together getting their teammates across the gym. The students played this game the entire period and did not get sick of it once. They played two rounds so the game last about 20-25 minutes per round. I really liked this game and asked Coach Bliss more about it after class because I would love to bring this game to other schools. Another thing I noticed during the game that I wanted to point out about the students is that the student with Autism was able to participate during this game and the students would go easy on him because he became a little confused at parts, his teammates were also helping him out and guiding him on what to do which I though was a great job by the students.
After I led the group in stretches I had a warm up to work on the student’s physical fitness. I spread out task cards throughout the whole gym with an activity such as push-ups, sit-ups , etc. On one side of the task card and on the other side was a math problem. Once they solved the math problem they had to take the answer and perform whatever task was on the other side that many times. For example one task card said 5+4 which equals 9 and the other side said push-ups, so they had to perform 9 push-ups. After performing one of the physical fitness skills the students had to run to another task card and perform whatever was on that card. Students had to complete every single task card in order to be finished. Afterwards I went over the importance of physical fitness and asked them for feedback and they all said that they enjoyed the activity.
This class I got the opportunity work run a lesson based on cooperative games. Before I got into the game I had the students have a seat in front of me and explained to them the importance of cooperation and teamwork. After that I gave the students 1 minute to create a team name for the day. They chose to be the “Bulldogs”. We played two different games the first game was “loop da hoop “which went really smooth because the students have played this before in previous classes. The second game I had them play involved passing a football using only their feet and hands. This game was a little more difficult for the student but by the end of the lesson they had it all figured it out which means they were eventually able to work together as a team and complete the tasks.
In this class I observed Becky run a lesson for a cooperative game. She led the class in a bean bag toss lesson where they had to throw it into different hula hoops to gain points. From my observations the students were having a lot of fun and were doing fairly well. As she taught her lesson I went around giving the students feedbacks and tips to get points and encouraged them to keep trying whenever they would miss. One thing I really liked about her lesson is that she never asked for the students total points because she did not want it to turn into a competition. However she did have the students try and improve from their personal best scores.
I got the opportunity to lead the students in another cooperative lesson which I thought was good because I thought I could use a little improvement from the first cooperative lesson I taught. This time instead of giving the students full directions in what they were supposed to do I let them work together more to figure it out as a team. Coach Bliss talked to me about this in my previous lesson. The reason I did this is because it lets the students think a lot more and use their brains more. While they are doing this they are exploring different strategies to get the task done. And when they finally get the task completed it is much more rewarding to them.
I learned a lot more than I expected to learn from this experience and I am very grateful of it. Elementary school students can be very easy to teach one day and extremely hard to control the next. The key to keeping these students focus and interest is keeping your lesson exciting. It is also important to plan a lot of different activities because you never want to run out of things to do. From now on when I make my lesson plans I am always going to put extra activities on there just in case my activities go a lot faster then I plan for them to go. Visual aids also help a lot when trying to explain cues, and always give a demonstration and have a student demonstrate as well.
Some other insights I gained from this observation is to get along with all of your teachers. It is important to have a friendly work environment it will make your day flow a lot smoother when you can team up with the regular teacher too. One thing I really liked about this school is that they have an old sneaker drive and they donate it to the gymnasium for students who don’t come prepared with sneakers they have a pair of sneakers for you to wear. Professionalism is very important in this job if you want to be taken seriously always dress well and have a clean cut look so the students and other teachers that you are a physical educator and not just a gym teacher.