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Help students learn by asking effective questions

This is an excerpt from Physical Education for Homeschool, Classroom, and Recreation Settings by John Byl & Bettie VanGils Kloet.

Use of Questions

One way to help students learn game tactics and give verbal expression to what they are learning is to ask effective questions. Each game in this book includes a couple of important questions to get you started. As an example of the kinds of questions helpful in the TGfU approach, here is a list of questions for understanding regarding positional play:

  • What are some things you or your team is having difficulty with?
  • What are some strategies you can use to solve this?
  • What can you see that other teams of players are doing well?
  • What strategies can you use to help your team play better?
  • In what ways can you create space?
  • What are some different types of passes you can use?
  • When is the best time to run with or dribble the ball?
  • When is the best time to pass the ball?
  • What are the roles and responsibilities of the different defensive and offensive players?
  • How can you be more effective in your role?

By answering open-ended questions and dealing with tactical problems, participants will enhance many valuable skills, including individual reasoning. Because these problem-solving tasks are often done in small groups, the players’ interpersonal skills and social reasoning skills should also improve. Teamwork requires helping others learn and holding each other accountable; these are also valuable skills. Through it all, the players learn to take responsibility for their learning, develop motor skills, enjoy physically active participation, and have a great deal of fun. The benefits of teaching games with the TGfU model are numerous and important.

Teaching Suggestions

Children are shaped more by our actions than by our words, so we need to model our talk. Be sure to model the joy and importance of learning to be physically active and participating in the activities at hand. Take time for personal fitness development.

Go from the big game to a small part of it and then back to the big game again. For example, soccer is played by 11 players a side on a huge field. But much of the game is about the give-and-go between 2 players, keeping the ball away from a defender, and shooting accurately on the run. We made games out of these smaller parts of the bigger game. You may want to make your own games that are smaller yet or perhaps add a few more people and make the activity bigger and closer to the more formalized version of the game. Get your games going with enough rules and directions to purposively engage the children. Next, decide on the major areas for improvement. Build on those in smaller games, and then take them back to the bigger game. Remember that the individual skills and games are not as important as replicating these in bigger-game situations.

Take time to stop the play in order to discuss and solve problems of player alignment and distribution - for example, sometimes players are too close together, so there is no one to pass the ball to. Ask questions about skill and strategy so players understand the principles of games and the game at hand and take ownership of the solutions. Keep instructions short and simple so that students understand the main concepts and are guided and engaged in learning the activity.

At the end of each class, review the key components learned. Ask the players what they liked best in the lesson and how they would change any drills or activities to improve them. Ask them to invent a new game or drill to review the same skills. Finally, have the players do some stretches and then go for a short walk or easy jog to cool down.

Equipment Suggestions

Equipment need not be elaborate and can often be picked up inexpensively at garage sales, in thrift stores, or through online sites. Some regular sports equipment is helpful, including baseballs, baseball gloves, bats, a baseball tee, a badminton set, tennis equipment, plastic discs (Frisbees), soccer balls, bowling pins (or juice cans or water bottles), a football, and possibly some lacrosse sticks and rubber balls. As targets, garbage cans or other pails will do, and sometimes chalk can be used to draw targets on the pavement. Cones are great for obstacle courses, but beanbags or sponges also work. Some of the activities require timing, so have a watch, stopwatch, or cell phone on hand. In addition, objects such as pool noodles, balloons, and flags (ripped fabric strips in two colors) are helpful. Larger pieces of equipment such as trampolines, basketball hoops, and hockey goals are also helpful but not essential.

Measuring tapes could be used to measure and determine distances. In this book we have simplified things by just using steps. We think one step will roughly equal a small yard or a small meter.

More Excerpts From Physical Education for Homeschool