Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Through my interactions with the St. Mary’s students, I learned a lot about young children. Children are extremely energetic as I was as a youngster. The children most of the time were so eager to begin an activity that they were hard to control. For me to keep their attention while explaining a game, I learned that by putting my hand up and counting to three, the students usually quieted down. Keeping the children moving was not difficult because of their energy level. The activities that I felt were appropriate were mostly from the textbook, such as Zig Zag Soccer and Stinky Letter Stew. These games were appropriate because it was easy to assess the skills we were looking to evaluate, such as kicking, trapping, galloping, hopping and skipping. Also, these games were age appropriate. When my group attempted to provide our own game with a version of freeze tag that involved throwing and catching, the activity was not as appropriate as the others. Assessment was difficult because the students were too close to one another. I learned that it is important to take all variables into affect when providing a game for evaluation.
Working with the PRE K program at St. Mary’s was a far different experience compared to working with the older age students. While working with the younger students, I worked on more of the fine motor skills with them, such as staying in between the lines while drawing, and building a house out of blocks. When I built a house with a female and male student, they seemed more social than the older students. After we had finished our activities in the classroom, the students joined us in the gymnasium for a game my group invented to assess hopping, sliding, and leaping, but also involved throwing. The younger children seemed to be more attracted to props than the older students, and this was evident with our prop of Doctor Octopus. For the activity, we told the students they were spidermen, and had to get through the obstacle course to defeat Doctor Octopus by throwing a ball at his velcro claws. By giving the students an incentive, the students were more eager to get through the obstacle course. I did enjoy working with the younger age children. The children really seemed to enjoy the activities, and their energy made me want to work even harder. Sometimes the older children did not want to take part in the activities we provided, but the younger children were excited to be active. The shift from older children to younger children was a change, but I enjoyed the time I spent with them.
While working in the cafeteria, I observed students and their fine motor activities. A few students built a long strip of legos to see how long they could make it. I helped them build, and realized their fine motor skills, such as grasping the blocks, were adequate. While working with another student however, she was unable to stay within the lines while drawing. Fine motor skill activities are something we should work on in Physical Education programs. In order for students to succeed in skills such as, catching, throwing, and kicking, students must first master their fine motor skills such as, grasping an object. Without quality fine motor skills, students will struggle in later activities.
I have learned much about my teaching style from my experience at St. Mary’s. Coming into this experience, I was nervous, yet excited. During the first few weeks at St. Mary’s, I noticed I worked better on an individual level, rather than addressing all the students at once. As my experience progressed, so did my teaching. After more opportunities to work with the students came about, I improved in giving directions to the entire class. I was able to improve on my voice level, and keep the attention of the students. I learned what ways worked to get the children’s attention and what did not. Hand gestures worked more sufficiently than just speaking, so I soon incorporated this into my teaching. I also enjoyed the use of props. The students were more eager to participate in the games when props were used, and teaching became easier as a result. I know with the more experience I gain working with students, the better Physical Educator I will become. This experience has made me even more anxious to enter a school district and start my teaching.
For the most part, the activities we have provided the students at St. Mary’s with have been appropriate for the students. We have considered the age levels of the groups of students we have worked with which has helped make sure the activities have been appropriate. For instance, when working with the pre-schoolers, we provided a game where they pretended to be spidermen, and we used a prop of Doctor Octopus. The children really seemed to enjoy this activity, however if we used the same activity for the older students, they would probably not enjoy it to the same magnitude.
When assessing motor skills, it is important for us to keep in mind activities that will provide a valid assessment. When my group attempted to assess throwing and catching in a version of freeze tag, we realized it was difficult to assess these skills because the students would be too close to the other students. As teachers, we learn what activities work and do not work through trial and error. We learned that this game was not a valuable activity in the assessment of throwing and catching. When choosing an activity to assess skills, the activity might not be seen as “fun” to the students as other games might. It is important to find games that assess motor skills, but still maintain the children’s interest.
The most difficult challenge I have faced from working at St. Mary’s has been keeping the children’s attention while trying to explain the games. Their attention period is extremely short and I often have to stop and get them to quiet down. Another difficulty has been selecting games that most of the children enjoy, yet still providing a game where we are able to assess the skills for the game. For certain games, the environment is sometimes chaotic. When my group tried to implement a game where freeze tag incorporated throwing and catching, the environment was out of control.
When giving instructions about a game to the children, I should try and make it more entertaining to them in some way. However, this problem is difficult to resolve because we can control the environment and the task, but not the learner. Many children become bored with the games we provide because we are Wednesday’s group and the students have already completed many of the games on Monday. The best way to solve this problem is to research. There are many different games online that will assess the same skills. As teachers, we must constantly be thinking of new and innovative games to keep the students attention. An idea to solve the problem of the chaotic environment is to work in smaller sections of the gymnasium and work with smaller groups.
I worked with the pre-schoolers in an activity which combined leaping, hopping, sliding and throwing. My group came up with a game where the students were spiderman. They had to hop from building to building (hula hoops), then leap from building to building, (lilly pads), and finally slide across a tight rope (line). At the end, the students were given the incentive of throwing a ball at doctor octopus’ claws. I noticed that overall the male students were able to get through the obstacle course faster than the females, however the females had better form because they took their time while performing each skill. I also noticed during the leaping phase of the obstacle course, many students began to run instead of leap. We solved this dilemma by making the lilly pads farther apart from one another.
I found that by kneeling down to their level helped tremendously. Once I began to interact with the students at their level, the separation between college student and pre-schooler was non existent. When I would hand the students the ball to throw at the velcro claws, they were not taking their time. Once I started kneeling and telling them to take their time and aim, they were able to hit the target with more accuracy. I also began to wait a few seconds to hand them the ball. This allowed them time to relax and take their time when throwing. Before I started to do this, the students were so eager to throw the ball, they often did not take the time to look at the targets. These strategies were more effective because I was able to interact on a more adequate level with the students and they started to concentrate on performing the skills. Also, I believe the students had a better understanding of the tasks through the demonstration that was given to them. The combination of a demonstration and clear directions truly helped the students get through the obstacle course at their highest level.
An effective strategy that I have started using to capture the children’s attention has been the use of props. The students seem to enjoy activities with props and allows the students to stay on task during the activity. Last week I dressed up as a chef for our stinky letter stew game and this week my group used a drawing of doctor octopus to incorporate the super hero theme. By giving the students incentives to complete the tasks, they are more likely to participate and stay on task throughout the games.
The two students that I observed were student A and student B. Student A is a female and Student B is a male. While, I observed both students, I noticed there was a difference in ability between them. Student B was able to master the skill of running without any flaws. There was a brief period where both feet were off the ground, arms in opposition to his legs, elbow bent, feet were not flat footed, and nonsupport leg was bent close to the buttocks. Student A did have a brief period where both feet were off the ground and she did not run flat footed. However, I would classify Student A in the elementary stage for running because her arms were not in opposition to her legs with elbow bent and her nonsupport leg was not close to her buttocks. Both Student A and Student B were mature in the skill of galloping. Both students showed good form during their gallop and fulfilled the performance criteria. I did not observe Student B hop, but I was able to witness Student A’s. Her foot for her nonsupport leg was bent and carried in the back of her body, her arms were bent at her elbows and swing forward on her take off. However her nonsupport leg did not swing in pendulum fashion to produce force. Observing Student A’s hop was difficult because as she hopped, she also had to hold onto the parachute. Her having to hold onto something may have taken away from her ability to perform the skill.
I noticed that the six year olds really enjoyed costumes. While playing the game Stinky Letter Stew, I simply put on an apron and cooking mittens and stood by the “cooking pot.” The students wanted to participate and get their letters to the pot as quickly as they could. I also made believe the stew was really starting to stink when they started adding the letters. Once I did this, the students also started to play along with the smelly oder of the pot. I could see the students were enjoying the game because of the environment that was created. This game worked well for the six year olds, but I think older students would not have enjoyed Stinky Letter Stew. The game was very age appropriate. I also noticed that once I put on the costume, the students became extremely anxious and were not listening to the directions that were given to them by my other group members. Next time I would wait to put on the costume until the directions were given. Demonstrations by the teachers of the game helped students understand the task they had to complete. Students said they knew what was being asked of them, but most of the time students did not know. The demonstrations helped the students complete the tasks correctly. Demonstrations along with verbal directions worked well for the students.
The students at St. Mary’s differed greatly between one another both in their motor and social behavior. In a motor behavior sense, I found that motor skill levels generally increased as the age of the students increased. The older students had more developed motor skills most likely because of more practice at these skills. I did not notice a difference in motor behavior between genders. This is probably due to the fact that the students have not gone through puberty yet. A greater difference in motor behavior is evident after puberty. I did however notice that there was difference in ability from student to student. Once the students were playing basketball, some students displayed better form when shooting and dribbling than other students. The younger grades were more likely to lose interest in an activity compared to the older students. With the younger grades, I observed that many different games had to be played to keep the students interested in the task at hand. The younger students were more willing to play the games than the older students. Some of the older students did not want to play certain games and it took some time to convince them to participate. Socially, the girls were more interactive with one another than the boys and were also more willing to participate in the activities. When the students were playing with legos, the girls worked together on their building, while the boys for the most part built their own projects.
I found it difficult to evaluate the students in regards to their fine motor skills, while in the gymnasium. I was in the groups with 8 and 9 year olds who were mostly in the gym. Observing fine motor skills would have been easier to observe with the preschoolers, where I could see how well they draw and write. However, while I was downstairs in the cafeteria, I was able to witness the older students play with legos. I did not see a difference between gender in their building, but I did see a difference in ability. One student seemed to stand out. He had built a massive monument and I was extremely impressed with his ability to make his fortress. I interacted mostly with students of the same age so I was unable to observe the differences between age levels. Once I have worked with the preschoolers, I will have a better understanding of these differences. It also became apparent that fast food restaurants have become a staple in many children's’ lives. Two students were building a Taco Bell because they enjoyed their food. When I asked if Taco Bell was a healthy food choice, they stated it was not, but they like the food it has. We must educate students not only about the importance of physical activity, but also the importance of a healthy diet.