Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Practical Volunteer Experience - Motor Development

Tuesday Feb the 14th  I went to my first lab experience at Dryden Elementary School for my Motor Development course. Needless to say I was extremely anxious. I anticipated that I would be a nervous wreck the whole time and this wasn't the case. After about 5 minutes things seemed to fall into place and I was able to focus and give my full attention the students. The lab was informal and was basically geared towards building a rapport with the children and have a good time. However, there was a underlying  objective which was to asses throwing and catching skills of elementary school students. While instructing numerous activities I began to fully appreciate the importance of establishing playing boundaries and safety statements. Without these managerial tools students easily get off course. My group, The Minions, started with "Everybodys It Tag" which I feel was fitting. This was a instant activity that required little instruction and got all the children engaged and running around. Also it was a fun way to break the ice. We followed up with  Toss-A-Name Game as it was appropriate for the theme and was a good way to learn students names. We then did  a "Group Juggle"; however given the age/developmental variations there were some difficulties. One of the children was 5 years old and was still in the initial stage within Gallahue's Theoretical Model of Motor Development. In my opinion, mistakes and all, the activity was beneficial in that it allowed students the opportunity to practice throwing and catching. Our next activity was the throwing and catching lab assessment. It was during this activity that motivating the younger students was necessary as this activity was a bit challenging for them. Also the younger child needed more specific instructional feedback to help them be more successful. However, it was more effective to give them instructions through demonstrations rather than words alone. Not only are they able to gather some information from the verbal instructions but through the visual instructions. This is crucial as children are maturating within the cognitive, affective, and pyschomotor domains. After the lab assessment were continued with different throwing and catching activities giving student time to practice in fun ways. The experience way great and I have a fun time working with the children at Dryden Elementary School and would to thanks for having me and I'm looking forward to visits to come! 

Tuesday the 21st, I went to the Dryden Elementary school for the second field experience. I was less apprehensive about it, which is encouraging for me since I tend to be someone who lets my nerves get the best of me. This experience seemed so different from the first. One major difference was that me and my lab group faced the obstacle of only having one child for the first hour and a half. Although one may think that this could only simplify things but on the contrary, it most certainly did not. Most of the activities that we had planned needed more than one participant. This caused a bit of a breakdown in the structure for the day. Additionally, the intent of the lab was to assess catching and jumping abilities. The one child that we had was only five and therefore had little opportunities to develop his jumping skills. He did however do very well with the throwing and catching activities that we had planned. It appeared as though he had previous exposure to throwing. He continually impressed me with throwing and oppositional stepping. Furthermore, he stepped in opposition almost every time and with various different throwing objects. This lab showed me how important it is to give cue to students that are learning new skills. I worked a little bit with this child to teach him basic locomotor movements in preparation for a game of Magician Tag. He was able to get the basics of skipping. We did it side by side while at the same time giving him exact verbal cues. This approach seemed to be pretty effective. I'm not saying that he could repeat a skip but he did successfully execute a few skips in secession at the time. I was please and it was neat to see the look of surprise on his face as he realized he was able to do it also. Essentially as a PE teacher you need to work to bring out the abilities that people don't think or realize that they have.

On Tuesday 28th, I had another practical experience at Dryden Elementary School. I was really impressed with how well things went. Pervious labs proved that if you set up your equipment in a fashion that looks interest children are more likely to come and check it out. During prior labs my group had trouble recruiting children to come a play with us. Therefore I made a point last week to create some inviting looking activities seem ever were up against the reins of the Playground. Right away two children came over to play. That was a good start. We began with a kicking to an open space and then to goal. There was not much variation in performance levels within the different task. We ran these simple tasks/activities for a bit. As more kids joined we created different challenges for them by changing the distance and with a few that were more advance we asked them to try to kick with their non-dominate foot. This allowed us to give cues to all the students. Plant your foot, make contact with the inside of your other foot and follow through. It was great because as a group I felt that we were able to give useful informative cues that all the students could use to help them perform better. After a while and it seemed as though they understood the correct way to kick we played Red Light, Green Light Kicking activity. The girls loved this and couldn’t get enough of it. They played for about 15 minutes. However the boys became less interested and few went back to the playground. It’s challenging to keep the interest of such a diverse groups of students (K-5, boy/girl). None the less we started up a game of Kickball and it was a huge success. By the end our game there were some 20 students engaged in Kickball with a wide range of skill levels. They all really seemed to be having fun and enjoyed playing. There was a piece of me that went to my childhood and could remember the neighbor kids getting together in the cul-de-sac to play kickball. I did however wonder if by playing kickball we neglected the teaching of fundamental skills. I rationed that we began with instructing the fundamentals of kicking and provided an appropriate progression. It’s not just about skill acquisition but rather a combination of learning skills and being excited to learn the skills.  It was a lot of fun and it was great to be a part of it. Thank you Dryden Students!

This experience gave me some really experience with managing a larger number of children. I was grateful that my group really shared the responsibilities as there were numerous things that came up. For example there were a few children that said that their foot hurt or that fell.  One child even took a ball right to the chest and it threw him back and knocked the wind out of him. As a group we managed to effectively handle these situations by bring them to the side and giving each child the time and attention to make sure that they were ok. However I’m not sure how we would have done this without my group; trying to manage the other students while tending to a single child. Definitely would appreciate some input.

One last thing that I thing is worth mentioning is this game of Kickball didn’t just bring in the “jocks” but a wide range of abilities. Therefore something that this lab helped me realize that if the activity is truly FUN kids want to be a part of it. As I’m preparing for my next lab at Dryden Elementary School this reflective lesson needs to be a crucial part of my planning. I’m excited to see what we can accomplish with the children. 

On Tuesday the March 20 I went to Dryden Elementary School for another hands-on experience working with the children there. It was a good learning experience. There were a few things in particular that were significant. During this lab we had to create our own assessment model.  My group assessed the underhand ball roll. So, we ran a bowling activity. It seemed like a great idea but there were some execution flaws.  At first, everything was ok. We only had two children and we could easily accommodate. However, as more children joined in it became difficult to keep everyone on task since many on them were just waiting around for their turn. It became apparently that although the activity enabled us to do the assigned assessment it did not allow us to engage all the children at the same time. We then moved on to a cup catching activity. There were also some difficulties running this task. Some children really enjoyed this activity; however, the task was too demanding for the younger aged children.  It was during this activity that these two boys decided to try me. I had yet to experience this.  I didn’t even know how to react. Even looking back, I am still not sure what the best approach would have been.  The only reaction that I could muster up was to say to them, “That’s not nice.”  Besides that incident was great to be able to apply some of things that I am learning from 255 Basic Instructional class.  I found that give very clear, specific instruction help students stay on target. Also giving congruent feedback, even if that meant telling thank you for following instructions “stabilized” the environment. Giving the children guidelines and reinforcing them help my group and I earned the respect from the children. In addition, giving feed that was congruent with the cues focused the children and motivated them to accomplish more. It was a rewarding experience.

Tuesday March 27th we went back to the local Elementary school to teach volleying skills. This visit was a lot of fun. I feel like I’m really getting to know some of the children at the school. In addition, I finally am beginning to get a handle on what and how an instructor can do to engage and help students grow on. It’s a PE teacher’s responsibility to help students achieve things that they never thought possible. During this lab my group was lucky enough to experience some great moments.  Let’s start at the beginning. Volley is a fundamental skill that doesn’t get as much attention as let’s say catching. Thus, students really benefited from our activities. We were able to teach them the correct way to volley the ball. It was really awesome to watch as they got it.  There was one child in particular that largely benefited from a few  mini-challenges. You could just see the sense of confidence building, as he was success at the little challenges we gave him. It was really great. This lab gave me some much need motivation.  This is the best kind of receiving and I would like to thank the students of Dryden Elementary for the welcoming us into your school.

Our final Motor Develop Lab was last Tuesday April 10th. It was less formal than our pervious labs as we are winding down. We did not prepare activities however; we were put on the spot to come with some. In the face of this, I was surprisingly not nervous. Moreover, I was excited for the spontaneity. In addition each group had to teach a dance. Well, we taught the Chicken Dance and I use the word taught loosely (since most of the children already knew the dance).  We also played a few group activities with the Parachute. Overall, the last day was a fun and relaxing farewell to the Dryden students.  
Throughout the experience, I feel that I have grown. Given the opportunity to work hands on
with children K-5th grade,  I now have a better understanding of different activities and task that are developmental appropriate for children at these varying levels. In addition, I gain some useful information about how to work (talk, manage, busy) younger-aged children.  Although there is still much to learn, I am grateful for what I have acquired and excited for further opportunities for professional growth. Thank you Dryden Elementary School and students for all the great times we shared. 

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