Total Length: 3258 words ( 11 double-spaced pages)
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Page 1 of 11
Section 1: Overview of a Lesson Sequence
The lesson sequence I plan to teach focuses on developing ball handling skills for 8-11 year olds in key stage 2 physical education. The pedagogical approach I will use will the learner-centered approach with the theory being Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development (ZPD) theory. The learner-centered approach puts the needs of the learner at the front and center of the lesson (Halstead, 2007)—and with the ZPD theory, I can focus on helping students to apprehend the lesson by way of seeing my helping assistants handle the balls and by observing how the games are played. Scaffolding can be employed in this lesson sequence as well, as this technique is one in which new lessons build on the knowledge that students acquire through previous lessons (Hsieh, 2017). I also want to see how well the ZPD theory applies in physical education. Gray and Feldman have noted that playing in the zone of proximal development can help students engage with one another in a positive and mutually beneficial manner: older students get to develop leadership skills while younger ones get to learn the skills related to the lesson that the older students have already acquired and now demonstrate.
The lesson sequence consists of the following points:
· Context: students aged 8-11, key stage 2, physical education class
· Aims and objectives: to develop ball handling skills in a variety of formats
· Teaching approaches: learner-centered approach with scaffolding, using the theory of ZPD to facilitate the learning experience
· Assessment strategies: Informal—direct observation; formal—individual demonstration at the end of the lesson sequence.
Section 2: Rationale for the Lesson Sequence
The learner-centered approach is based on the idea that students should have an active role in their own education. At the heart of this approach is the idea that active learning is one of the best methods for students to obtain a deep-down type of education (Learning Portal, 2018; Lightbrown & Spada, 2013). At the same time, Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development theory explains how young learners rely upon guidance to acquire knowledge or skills that they cannot achieve on their own. The guidance can come in virtually any form and can range from simple instructions, such as pointing to a place and indicating with a word what should be performed or asking a student what the best way to perform an exercise would be. The idea is that it is the ZPD which allows the young learner to become an active learner; that makes it possible to engage in self-directed learning; that gives older students the chance to develop their own leadership skills and to take responsibility for passing on what they have received and serving as mentors and role models. The ZPD facilitates a holistic approach to education: it educates in all directions—not just in one. It may be there to help young learners, but in helping young learners, older learners are helped as well. The great benefit of understanding how ZPD works is that it gives educators a good option to use when considering the best way to facilitate the educative experience. In physical education, the ZPD environment is a natural fit.
Physical education by its very nature is focused on physical activity and exercises that require students to be up and running about. In this type of environment it is natural for interaction to take place among students—and with interaction and sociality being part of the process of development, the opportunity is there to allow age groups to mix. So long as there is enough room and space for groups to focus on their own activities, the opportunity that such an approach to learning presents is more than favorable. Inter-student interactions and student learning in physical education can help physical education teachers achieve more (Barker, Quennerstedt & Annerstedt, 2015).
Zeichner, Payne and Brayko (2015) state that this type of approach to education is essentially the democratization of education: by reducing power hierarchies, more authority is given to others in the educational system—including to students, who thus become responsible for passing on what they have received. They take up the torch of teaching by acting as conduits of learning for younger learners. Nowhere can this process be more easily seen than on the literal playing field, where learners of various age groups can partake in a single activity or sport, compete, develop skills through direct observation, simple instruction, or scaffolding.
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I would like to implement this practice of democratizing the educative experience for young learners by having volunteers from older grades come in during class periods for young learners. These volunteers would be tasked with playing with the young learners and serving as mentors and little assistants. This would help to cut down on the strain that teachers can experience on the job as they try to look after so many different learners all at once. It would also be a good learning experience for the older students as it would give them the opportunity to test their leadership skills, apply themselves in mentorship and facilitate the learning for younger students.
Physical education is about focusing on exercises, activities, and sports that can build the body’s endurance and agility and strengthen the mind’s awareness of surroundings. One cannot play a sport well while being oblivious of what’s going on within one’s vicinity. This is, moreover, not exactly something that can be “coached” or “taught” but rather something that young learners pick up on through their experience of the activity in the zone of proximal development. Vygotsky’s great contribution to education is based on the notion that he recognized this zone and its application in the learning process of children (Daniels, 2016). In the field of physical education it can be applied in a way that benefits the teacher, the young learner and the older student serving as the assistant in the class. To help with scaffolding, the older volunteer students will be on hand to lay the groundwork for new ball handling skills, which build on skills already learned by the students. As University of Nottingham (2018) notes, scaffolding can involve breaking up a learning objective into parts so that the student can more easily attain the overall goal—and that is the aim of this lesson sequence.
Section 3: Critical Evaluation of Lesson Sequence
The aspects I felt were particularly strong in my planning were the way the lesson sequences used scaffolding to build upon one another. First, we started off with the lesson on learning spatial awareness. The children already knew how to run and take commands, so this lesson built on that knowledge. First we broke down the concept by scaffolding it: instead of learning spatial awareness all at once, we looked at different ways to travel the floor and practiced getting used to the boundaries of the floor, where others were on the floor. The younger students observed the older volunteer students who already understood the concept of spatial awareness. The older volunteer students gave some examples of what we would be doing later on with the ball. They traveled the length of the floor with the ball and bounced it and passed it. They changed directions with the ball and so on. This was a bit a foreshadowing for the students and allowed us to construct a ZPD for the younger students.
The scaffolding commenced straightaway. As Howe (2010) points out, peer relationships were important for this part because younger students or novice students were observing their peers, who would point the concepts that were being explained. Peer relationships are essential in ZPD learning, as Gray and Feldman (2004) also note. ZPD is that area of experience where the learner gets to follow a teacher, mentor, a peer or tutor and use the guidance offered to learn the task—which in this case, at the beginning, was spatial awareness and how to learn run and stop on command. This lesson would facilitate the later lessons of running with the ball—so it was necessary for the students to master these early concepts but it was also helpful for them to see a foreshadowing of where it was all going. , With ZPD, and thanks to the help of the older volunteer students who acted as my aids, the younger students were given access to those who have the ability to pass on knowledge to them so that they could take advantage of this access and learn in a way that….....
Barker, D., Quennerstedt, M. and Annerstedt, C., 2015. Inter-student interactions and student learning in health and physical education: a post-Vygotskian analysis. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 20(4), pp.409-426.
Daniels, H., 2016. Vygotsky and dialogic pedagogy. Dialogic pedagogy: The importance of dialogue teaching and learning, pp.34-50.
Gray, P. and Feldman, J., 2004. Playing in the zone of proximal development: Qualities of self-directed age mixing between adolescents and young children at a democratic school. American Journal of Education, 110(2), pp.108-146.
Halstead, J., 2007. Nurse Educator Competencies: Creating an Evidence-Based Practice for Nurse Educators. New York, NY: National League for Nursing.
Howe, C., 2010. Peer Groups and Children's Development. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.
Hsieh, Y. C., 2017. A case study of the dynamics of scaffolding among ESL learners and online resources in collaborative learning. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 30(1-2), pp.115-132.
Learning Portal. (2018). Effective and appropriate pedagogy. Retrieved from https://learningportal.iiep.unesco.org/en/issue-briefs/improve-learning/teachers-and-pedagogy/effective-and-appropriate-pedagogy
Lightbrown, P.M. & Spada, N. (2013). How languages are learned (4th ed.). Oxford University Press.
University of Nottingham. (2018). Scaffolding as a vehicle for differentiation. Retrieved from https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/~ttzelrn/approaches-to-teaching-e/unit6/section7.php
Zeichner, K., Payne, K.A. and Brayko, K., 2015. Democratizing teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 66(2), pp.122-135.