Saturday, 18 May 2013

Placement Day 17

Today I ended up with two supply teachers, B and C.

Lesson 1 - Class A
As Supply teacher B was unsure of what the students of this class had been practicing I said I was happy to lead this session. On their arrival to the hall, Supply teacher B welcomed them and said we would start with a warm up. I had not seen any warm ups done with this class before so I asked her what she had in mind. She asked me to get them running around the room and so all members of staff and the students were running around the hall together energetically. It was unfortunate that I was never aware of when I was going to be with supply teachers otherwise I could have prepared some music for this part of the session which I think these children would have enjoyed. Nonetheless we spent a few minutes chasing each other round the hall and having fun.

When Supply teacher B settled the students back down I grabbed a ball from the cupboard and she passed the lead over to me again. As I had no lesson prepared for this class I thought I would recycle the previous lesson we had together and move on from it anyway we could during the lesson. I knew that would be ok with this group as I knew the ball rolling skills were still new to them and needed to practiced. As on Placement Day 15 I got the group sitting down in a circle. As I was taking this class today I knew I would have to make more of an effort to implement makaton more than I usually did, which I felt I got on well with. In fact taking the lead in this lesson was good practice for me as I had never done before with this class, and it was a great opportunity for me to practice communicating effectively and improve my use of makaton. I used simple commands like “sitting over here” using the sign for sit and pointing to where I meant, and using more specific things like the sign for “choose” and “ball.”

As before we started in the black circle, rolling the ball to each other, but I decided that we would move on from it a bit quicker today so we could get more time to play the end game, which the students didn’t seem to understand last week. As usual Pupil 1 needed some reminding of where to sit and when it was his turn with the ball. The TA’s and Supply teacher B did a great job in helping me remind him that if he was not listening to instructions nicely then he would not get a turn with the ball.

We eventually moved onto the game we played last week where team players sat opposite each other and tried to roll the ball past the other team to score a point. Just like last time many of them didn’t manage to understand so I asked Supply teacher B if she had any ideas of helping them understand the points system. She quickly came up with the idea of using skittles to give each team an idea of where they should be aiming the ball. However when she placed the skittles in front of the pupils I had two worries: the first was that the skittles may be better off behind the pupils so that they are less likely to get distracted by them, and the second was that the aim of the game was to score a goal past the opposite team and not just in front of. I told Supply teacher B that the skittles may distract the students if they were placed in front of them but she thought it might be okay. Some students looked like they were understanding the idea of looking at skittles at the opposite end of the hall and aiming the ball towards it. However it did not take long for Pupil 1 and 5 to get distracted by the skittles and began picking them up and playing with them. Staff members again had to encourage these students to sit nicely while they waited for their turn. It was at this point where I realised that a use in coloured skittles would have been useful. This way we could have one coloured set of skittles at one end to say to a team you’re aiming for those skittles, and have a different coloured set of skittles for the other team. But this was not available to us, so we did what we could with what we had.

Lesson 2 - Class B (my first ninja lesson)
I was with Supply teacher C for the first time today and I told her that I had planned to test my first ninjas lesson with this class today. She seemed happy to let me implement my plan, which she said would be helpful to her as she wasn’t sure of what the group had been practicing anyway.

On their arrival, I was thrilled to hear one of the students say to her friend “I hope we’re doing Spiderman again, I liked that.” Last week this group performed beautifully during my Spiderman sessions but I was left unsure of how much each of them enjoyed it. But when I heard this today I realised that all that mattered to me was that at least one person definitely enjoyed themselves, and that maybe I had opened their mind a little bit more when it comes to thinking of physical games to practice. However I had to disappoint her slightly as it was not the lesson planned for this group and I explained we’d be pretending to be ninjas in this lesson. The class seemed intrigued and I asked them what they think makes a good ninja, and why I might think we can learn from them. I told them that what I liked most about ninjas was there uncanny ability to use there senses. They have exceptional balance, hearing, and sense of their surroundings. Despite what schools teach us, there are 21 senses of the human body which are constantly in use and can be exercised. I thought this would make a really unique and interesting new focus for PE, and today’s focus was the sense of balance. 

I asked the lovely TA to help me organise the class into two groups in front of the two benches I had set up. I gave each student a hockey stick, that today we were going to call our “ninja sticks,” and demonstrated walking along the bench forwards and backwards, holding the stick behind my head. We practiced this for a little while and I had remembered what PE teacher A had said about my last lesson with this class about moving on quicker to keep them interested. So after a quick practice I introduced myself and the TA’s throwing a ball at the student when they got to the end of the bench to deflect with their stick. Some students were too excited by this and focussed on hitting the ball so hard that they fell of the benches even if they missed the ball. I brought the group back together after noticing this and reminded them that today’s focus was on balance, I was not interested in how they hit the ball if at all. I reassigned their focus on staying on the bench and if they fell off then it was ok I just wanted them to get back on because nothings happens if they fall. I think this worked well in making them feel slightly more at ease when falling off and realising that it was no big deal to anyone, some students were still too tempted by hitting the ball hard but others were clearly less interested in the ball and were focussing on their balance like I had asked them to. I progressed this task further by turning the benches upside down so that the pupils had less surface to walk along, and then by getting them walking sideways to train their balance in different directions.

We then moved onto my final task of the lesson which was a small course of benches set up in different directions, some upside down, some with a gap in between, which stretched across the length of the hall. I said we’d have individual practice runs first and that the students should watch out for me and the TA’s who were going to try to throw them off by aiming balls at their feet or their bodies. The threat of being hit by balls thrown by the members of staff excited them greatly, and I like to think that goes of the TA’s too. We began the practices and I encouraged each student to take their time to complete the course, but being weary of the balls. But I quickly introduced a competitive element to keep them entertained, by letting students onto the course before the person in front of them had finished to introduce more pressure. I think everyone enjoyed themselves and some displayed a fantastic sense of balance.

After the lesson’s end I asked Supply teacher C what she thought of my lesson. She said overall it was good and looked like fun, however she said the task at the end where students where working on the course individually left the rest of the class quite restless and bored. I realised what she meant it highlighted for me that the behaviour of the class was slightly more difficult to manage when they were left waiting. I remembered what PE teacher A had said to me about keep progressing the lesson and keep them active. I was happy that in this lesson I had a much better grip on the progression of the lesson with the range of tasks, but I realised at the end I could have kept the group split some how to save them getting bored and distracted.

Lesson 3 - Class C (I met a speech therapist)
In this lesson me and Supply teacher B got out a trampoline, some mats and some skittles for Pupil 1 to play with. Pupil 1 was very tactile with the skittles and enjoyed throwing them. As before, Supply teacher B who had an interest in trampoline enjoyed helping the TA who was also a rebound instructor to get the students having a bounce on the trampoline one by one.

Early into the lesson I noticed somebody entering the room who I had not seen before. She brought with her a large, square piece of wood and some other items in a bag. She approached Pupil 4 and lay him on the plank of wood, on which she also lay on. She then began knocking and scraping on the wood with the pupil. Extremely intrigued by this new woman I went over and asked what she was doing. She politely introduced herself as a speech therapist and explained to me that in the early stages of development she tries to establish basic forms of communication through sounds like knocking, as most of the pupils in this class are unable to use their voices. She then explained that the enormous wood they were lying on was called a resonance board, designed for amplifying sounds. She demonstrated by urging me to lie my head on the board with them as she knocked on it. The wooden board was hollow and the sound appeared much louder than it did before I pressed my ear against the board. She said that this is a method of getting Pupil 4 used to loud sounds, and the vibrations that those sound make, making him more comfortable with a range of sounds. She told me that she had been working with Pupil 4 for a while and that today he was expressing a willingness to investigate with sounds himself; he was scraping his arm across the board as she did and even found certain types of scraping funny. It was wonderful to see them communicating in this way, a way which I had never seen before. She then started pulling out different items from her bag like a beaded necklace which they could swipe across the board together.

Encapsulated by this unique method of working, I stayed with these two for this lesson and asked the speech therapist a bit more about her work and how she would usually progress her work with Pupil 4 from here. She mentioned a method called tack pack, which involved playing music, sometimes with everyday objects like pots and pans, and then somehow involve another sensory input to gradually infer a meaning. This was to help develop basic language learning skills, as we as children grow up identifying sounds and inferring the meaning ourselves from contexts. It sounded like a long and fragile process; the ST said it definitely was and that it required meticulous planning so that the meanings they inferred remained consistent, and most importantly she said it requires a lot of patience. As I hadn’t seen her before I asked her how often she collaborated with the other professionals of the school, and in particular if she joined in with PE or the physiotherapists at any particular times. The ST told me that she didn’t have a usually schedule with anyone in the PE department but reassured me that such processes definitely require fine collaboration with the children’s teachers. It saddened me that PE hadn’t been able to help her work in anyway so far, particularly as earlier this day I had been talking to a class about the importance of senses in my ninja lesson. Interestingly though I have another lesson plan which is another ninja lesson that was going to focus on listening exercises. After talking to the wonderful ST I definitely felt inspired to go ahead with it and see what PE teacher A thinks of incorporating the use of senses in a PE lesson.

Lesson 4 - Class D (another Spiderman session)
I told Supply teacher B about the Spiderman work I had been doing with this class and she seemed very interested to see it. When the students arrived she handed the lesson over to me and the whole class looked really excited that we were doing Spiderman again today. I then directed them over to a table with my laptop as I had a video set up and waiting for them.

I showed the class a clip from the latest Spiderman film so to help the visualize what they were aiming for. I thought of this after my last lesson with them as most of them seemed to be struggling with the main rule of “no knees touching the floor,” and thought that if I showed them how Spiderman moves in the films it will help them to understand. I also used the clip to help me explain that Spiderman moves in different directions to dodge his enemies, so that meant we have to train our bodies in different directions so that we could be as agile as Spiderman. I showed the class the short clip a couple of times, asking them questions about where his knees are and what directions he was moving in to make sure they understood what I was asking them to do. The students payed good attention to the clip and enjoyed watching, I also think this  made a really good start to the lesson in helping to motivate them to get on with the tasks. As we also hadn’t been able to play the main games last week, like Spiderman tag, I had promised them that we would do it the next time we were doing Spiderman training, and so I used that to motivate throughout the session as well.

We practiced the same skills as before, Spiderman crawling forwards and backwards, then sideways and even got into some relay races at one point. But today I was slightly disappointed to see that the students were not performing as well physically as they had been in the last lesson. I was unsure of why this was and continued to motivate them individually and gave specific teaching points to each student to help them do their best Spiderman crawl. Nevertheless, as promised I moved them on slightly quicker today so that we could have a game of Spiderman tag, which they were all really excited by. I explained the rules in a demo with a chosen student before initiating the game. Students appeared to be enjoying the game very much but were clearly tires as some of them were losing technique. I tried my best to enforce that no knees should be touching the floor and made references to the video we watched so they had something to imagine while they worked. Once again I decided that the class could have been working harder in this game so I couldn’t help but get myself involved as the new tagger. The pupils loved having me chase them around and it definitely got them working harder and faster. By the end most of the students collapsed on their backs exhausted but also laughing hysterically. Though I feel they could all have done better physically, I was elated to see that everyone had enjoyed themselves.

As the class left I asked Supply teacher B what she thought of my lesson and she said she loved it. I explained to her that I was surprised by their performance today and that I felt they had done better in previous lessons. However Supply teacher B consoled me by saying that the class seems to be the type of group who will seem to get one thing one day and not get it the next, so it was nothing to take personally. She assured me that there needs can sometimes unpredictable and slow, so I just need to be aware of that and have some patience with them. This actually reminded me of the last placement day I had when this group were outside playing cricket games and failed to understand the rules numerous times. I was pleased to think that I am getting a much better understanding of this groups needs and that it is best to simply be patient and keep encouraging them.

Lesson 5 - Class E (another Spiderman session)
I had already done a Spiderman session with this group and they seemed pleased to do it again. However the same student who excluded herself last time did so again immediately, refusing to join in as soon as she heard what we were doing. As before I tried to encourage her and when she still said no I said she can feel free to join in at any time.

I wanted to show this group the same video as the lesson before as I found it to be a significant visual aid, but this group had turned up late to PE today so I decided to miss it out and get on with the practices. Despite my worries of getting straight into the skills practice the effort put in by these students today was remarkable. All the students who practiced hard last week did so again this week, maybe even harder, and those who were slightly more reluctant were not so. I thought that now this group were familiar with the tasks and had thoroughly enjoyed themselves last time, they were happy to dive straight into it today.

Instead of races I improvised a different game where I simply shouted out “fast” or “slow,” to which the students had to match the pace of their crawl. This group clearly fund it challenging as when the paces changed there were some groans of tiredness about. However at this point I noticed a student with his knees on the ground; I had told countless times throughout the lesson that Spiderman does not do this and so it is the one rule that shouldn’t be broken in a Spiderman crawl. This student listened but continued to make no attempt to alter his technique. I wondered if for this student the aid of the video may have helped him to see better what I meant, but I wasn’t sure if he was struggling or just not listening.

We moved onto Spiderman tag and the onto another game called “Go Spidey! Go!” In this game students crawled about the room when I shouted out a certain phrase, to which there was a certain action they had to perform like a role or a jump up. We played this for a few minutes and the students were absolutely exhausted at the end. However a couple of particular student demonstrated fantastic determination as they continued to perform despite their very hot and sweaty conditions. I was so impressed and handed out some well earned gold coins. I also gave one student who had been working hard an authoritative position by swapping his role with mine. I told him he was now the teacher and it was his turn to call out the phrases we had to react to. The student had clearly understood the task well, giving out the correct phrases and even providing some encouragement for us all.

Live life to the full.


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