Differentiation in PE: the most affective piece of equipment
Events prevalent in the media, such as the Olympics Games, have highlighted the power of sport in everyone’s lives, and teachers try hard to deliver engaging active and inclusive activities for the entire class.
That means the lessons of queuing for your turn, repetitive drills and non-scorers sitting out are long gone.
For some students, physical Education in Elementary School can be the very first experience of sport. So, it is vital we consider the needs of all students. This is where differentiation in PE comes in.
It’s important to bear in mind these considerations when planning for PE lessons – because every class is unique, and one shoe does not fit all…
Grouping students by ability
Is it better to group the students according to ability? By grouping your students you can set a task for all, but make the activity more/less challenging based on each groups’ success. Consider making the court smaller for more able students forcing them to react quicker and use more skill. Or, a larger court for less able students giving them more time to think about their task. Consider smaller/larger balls, more/less obstacles, allow fewer/more passes before a goal is scored. All these are easy to implement when groups are organized based on ability.
If it’s an activity like relay races, knock out round-robins, circuits, and so on, sometimes mixing groups is better. But consider the needs of the more able students. Sometimes there is an expectation that the more able child is going to ‘help’ the less able child. Sometimes this is an effective and rewarding idea, but it is equally important to challenge and develop the skills of the more able student too. They should not be used as a teaching assistant!
Be mindful of not just challenging individuals from a technical perspective, but also in pairs or groups to work on the social and psychological elements of sport. Regular discussions and demonstrations throughout your lesson will keep children engaged and aware of the learning objectives.
There is no doubt that, with quality planning, differentiation in PE can be the most affective tool for ensuring success is present in every student in every lesson.