Watching My Classes Heart Beat

In year 7 Physical Education we are learning about the different body systems that allow us to complete physical activity. This week we started looking at the role the circulatory system has in the body with a focus on heart rate and what happens during exercise to allow us too participate. To demonstrate this I decided to complete an activity in a Google docs spreadsheet that would graph the change in heart rate over a period of time. This is what we did:


The kids simply loved it and with the data being displayed visually, we were able to enter a much deep conversation about how heart rate is effected by physical activity. For a step by step run down of how I set it up you can check below.

1 - Created a Google doc spreadsheet that had all students in the class and 5 columns for them to enter in they heart rates at 5 different intervals.
2 - Created a graph on a separate sheet that would pull down all of the data from the 5 columns and display it as a line graph.
3- Then sent this document to all of the students via their Gmail accounts.
4 – Each student logged in on a computer and opened the spreadsheet and found their names.
5- We started by taking a resting heart rate using the radial/carotoid pulse and entered this into the ‘pulse 1′ column.
6 - We then moved outside and completed a harvard step test for 3mins with the whole class working at the same intensity and with the same timing of up and down steps.
7 - We then took our pulse and entered this into the ‘pulse 2′ column. The students then directed their attention to the Interactive Whiteboard which was displaying the graph and watched as it updated in real time
8- Finally we went on to complete 3 more heart rate readings at different stages such as 1 minute, 3 minute and 5minutes after the harvard step test and entered these into the appropriate columns.

21st Century Exams?

Today during my senior Physical Education class my students completed a test under exam conditions. The test was on the topic of ‘Biomechanics’ and to the naked eye it looked very much like one of the traditional tests I sat while I was at school. However look a little deeper and this exam was a little different; Here’s why…

  1.  In the days preceding the test, I scheduled SMS messages to be delivered to the students phones that contained questions requiring them to employ a series of higher order thinking skills, such as evaluation and synthesis. It was clear that the ability to reflect on the learning process of a period of days was a real advantage to the questions the final product.
  2. The next difference was that some of the questions required the students to seek outside help. In the example below students had to SMS a friend who would then choose a random sport and send this back. The students then used this sport as the basis for their responses.  In my opinion this question is more aligned with the real world, in that the students had to be able to apply their knowledge and understanding into a situation that was determined by a friend as opposed to a concrete question on a piece of paper.


       3.    The final difference was in that I encouraged the students to bring in their Mp3 players that had been pre-recorded with a series of student created podcasts of all the lower order elements of blooms taxonomy such as definitions and discussions. They then used these throughout the test as prompts to assist them in responding to the higher order questions. 

Overall a very successful approach that has certainly proved to me that the powers of reflection & collaboration in the learning process can have a  dramatic effect on the quality of the work presented. Well done students.

Filling a Bucket or Lighting a Flame?

Friday the 15th May saw the annual Innovation Showcase at the Crown Palladium in Melbourne. It was an absolutely excellent event that clearly followed the theme of linking educators to share innovation. The first session I attended was “Flat Classroom Walls” by Anne Mirtschin, which can be summed up as simply brilliant. Her ability  to connect her students with others from all around the world is nothing but inspirational.

I also was fortunate enough to be asked to present a session in the afternoon on the use of Mobile Phones and SMS  in the classroom which seemed to be well received by both the online and face to face audiences. You can find a copy of the presentation here;

After a fantastic day connecting with lots of like minded professionals we moved into the closing keynotes with one in particular raising a few very interesting points that will require some further thinking. So here’s what I was left with after Mark Pesce’s Closing Keynote;

 Do you fill a bucket or light a flame, when it comes to teaching your students? This is a very interesting way to think about the way in which we go about educating our students.  What’s your take?


The second point was demonstrated using my favourite cartoon South Park. The video  proves that no matter what rules we enforce, or systems we put in place to prevent students utilising ‘banned’ tools during school time, the fact of the matter is they will continue to do so. As a teacher this reinforces the need to consider exactly how the tools that the student’s embrace, could be introduced into the classroom to improve learning and engagement. If more of this thinking was to occur in our classrooms we might start to see a few more candles being lit along the way.

Your Course In A Wordle

Recently I was desigining an opening page to the ‘How Fit Are Wii’ program. I needed something that summarised the intent of the program with a real quick snapshot. So I decided to copy the program outline into Wordle to see what it came up with.

The result was simply brilliant as it clearly emphasised the key elements of the program with words such as fitness, students, learning all appearing quite prominant. After seeing this, I decided I would do the same with my senior physical education curriculum document.  The result can be found below;

Wordle Unit Summary

Now this proved to be a really valuable exercise as it highlighted the concepts I have been spending much more of my time around this year and pointed out some of the others I would be sure to add a little bit more emphasis towards in the coming weeks. It was also refreshing to see the the word ‘learning’  appear as one of the largest letters in the wordle.

So what does wordle say about your course?