Episode 31 – My Volleyball Unit

In this episode of The PE Geek Podcast I take you on an inside tour of my recent Year 7 Volleyball Unit, in which the students have access to 1:1 iPads. Key aspects of the unit included the self-directed nature made possible via the iPads and QR Codes, right through to powerful video feedback. The net result has been a unit filled with high engagement and noticeable skill improvement and tactical understanding.

Resources shared in the episode include

1. SworkIt

2. QR Code Skill Posters by The Physical Educator

3. Video Tagger Pro, BaM Video Delay & Griffiti Nootle Tripod

4. GoPro Hero 4 

5. Scoreboard App

Press Play below to listen or visit the podcast here


00:29 Jarrod Robinson: Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of the PE Geek podcast, episode number 31. And, really thank you and I mean it. And I do say this every episode, but I have to because I actually do really mean it when I say thank you for taking the time out of your day to tune in to the podcast. It seems to be growing every single fortnight and that really does mean a lot. And it means that I’m putting in more effort than I possibly ever intended to do related to the podcast. And have planned out the next six months, in terms of the different people that I wanna have on the show, in terms of the podcast episodes that I think people would like to hear, and everything else in between. And another regular part of the new podcast, as we sort of progress beyond episode 30, as we are right now, is regular interviews with people and PE teachers who are doing some really exciting things.

01:23 JR: And, as you know, last episode we interviewed Jo Bailey. And I mean, she’s doing some incredible things related to phys-ed and technology. And I’m looking forward to introducing some other PE teachers that maybe aren’t as active on social media, and that you probably haven’t heard of before, but who are doing some really exciting things in the space as well. So, looking forward to making that part of the regular role out of episodes. Now, on today’s podcast, we are actually focusing in on one of my own volleyball units. Now this particular volleyball unit was completed with a group of year seven students. So, sort of 12 and 13 years of age. And, they are actually the first year level in our school to go one-to-one iPads. And the exciting thing about this particular group is, they are not just one-to-one iPads, they also have one-to-one laptop programs. So, essentially these students have the flexibility to choose between using iPads for activities that are appropriate and for, sort of laptops for appropriate activities for that. So really powerful stuff.

02:28 JR: And it gives me that sort of breeding ground to be able to do a lot of the things that I have been blogging about, and podcasting about, and running workshops about, over many, many years. And we’ve sort of been able to achieve this with, sort of cart that you could rent in the school that had 20 iPads on it. But it’s on a whole different level when you actually have students who have their own devices, who have ownership over that and can sort of use them really seamlessly without really needing to sort of grab them, and book them out. So, looking forward to showing you how my volleyball unit has actually changed as a result of students in a one-to-one situation. Now, one of the other roles that I have as part of my job at board district school, is that of e-learning co-ordinator. Now obviously, I have a very big interest in e-learning and have been doing this particular role on top of my phys-ed teaching at the school for a number of years. And towards the end of 2014, it became really apparent that we would be in a position to purchase a number of iPads for every single student in year seven.

03:37 JR: And originally, the thinking was to do another cart. And actually have another, sort of 20 iPads that could be booked out, and given to classes, and sort of move it around on a booking sheet like we do with our original 20. But I was really sort of against that particular option and decided that it would be really powerful if we could actually position them in the hands of a particular year level who would have them all year, and who would be able to work with their teachers to actually, really propel some learning surrounding those particular devices. And we picked the year seven group because they are the perfect transition between sort of primary, elementary age. And they’re sort of transitioning into that next level of their schooling. And it gave us the perfect vehicle to do a whole host of things that have been really exciting. And as I sort of briefly mentioned in the introduction, these particular students have the flexibility to choose the device that matches the situation. And I often hear of schools that go down the line of picking one device over another. I mean, that’s entirely fine, but then they start the argument of saying that iPads are no good for students.

04:52 JR: Or then they might say something along the lines of “A laptop is no good for multimedia”, and all those sorts of things. I mean, that is the complete wrong argument. I mean, the argument is that, there is no such thing as a perfect device, there is only situations that those devices suit well. So by giving students access to two devices like we currently have now, they have the ability to actually pick the device to match the situation. So, in their English class, they may be writing up a story or something. And they are probably gonna pick a laptop which enables them to do a little bit quicker. But, in a PE context, or in a media class, they’re really probably gonna move towards the device that makes that seamless and easy and that’s really exciting. And it’s that choice that we want the students to be able to do. So that when they get an assessment task, they can tackle it whichever way they like. And they are not sort of limited by the tool that they have, or sort of…

05:48 JR: They can sort of take it down the strengths that they also possess as a student. So, it’s been really positive. And its actually meant that there’s lots of teachers in our school who really have sort of, you know, “I’ll never use tech”, and in the form of laptops for sort of simple based administering stuff and having kids create sort of traditional assignments but it’s literally meant that there is now people who are doing some really powerful things with having students create videos and all sorts of stuff that is easily shared through Google Drive and Google Classroom and so on. So, it’s really exciting and for me, in a PE and sport context, it’s actually enabled me to take it to the next level in terms of what I do with them, and this particular volleyball unit is one that I really enjoy teaching and as soon as I get to year seven, we’d sort of transition away from the modified volleyball type games such as Newcomb and so on and start teaching them the volleyball skills that they can actually participate in a full game.

06:47 JR: And it presents a really good opportunity to utilize a lot of tech. And for me, this has involved the students bring in their iPad minis to PE and they are in protective sort of cases so that they are safe from damage. And, probably the most exciting thing was the differentiation that it enabled me to do straight away. And the app that I am using to do that is Sworkit Lite. Now, Sworkit Lite is a completely free app. There is a paid and pro version as well. When you open the app up, you get presented with four choices and those choices are sort of aerobic warm-up, there is stretching, there is yoga and there is strength. You can actually pick the category that you are interested in doing and my students… I am having them pick sort of cardio and aerobic based stuff, and in the very next screen they get presented with a time and they have to say how much time they have, and I have them select seven minutes by doing a custom time, and then instantly it starts giving them a workout that is completely randomised and based on the activity that they selected and the time that they have.

07:55 JR: So, as soon as the students have changed, they know that’s what they need to do and they grab their iPads, they find a spot, they pick a workout and they get going. And if I look around the room, there is all this differentiation occurring and we’ve got students who are doing a very different activity to their friends and vice versa. And that can, that just sort of works to support this whole notion that you can have differentiation happening with students because of access to devices. Now, following on from this differentiation, it was entirely possible to do the same thing when teaching the actual skill set inside of volleyball, and the way in which we achieved this was by using Joey Feith’s QR Code Skill Posters, which you can get at thephysicaleducator.com. And if you search on his site you’ll find his skill posters but basically they are QR Code enabled skill posters and the idea is you print them out. In our case we laminated them and we presented them around the room.

08:58 JR: And they have a whole host of different skills such as the forehand, forearm pass, the overhand pass, etcetera, underarm serve. And, the very basic elements that make up that skill are listed in clear pictures, but then they also finish with a QR code and that QR code can be scanned by any device that has a QR code reader and when that happens, it actually triggers a video showing that skill in action. Now, in terms of differentiation this actually means that students can walk around with their device, they scan the QR code that actually matches their skill that they wish to improve and learn, and then it presents them with a video that they then follow and do straight then and there. And they sort of… The self directed learning that comes from that is really impressive. I also love the fact that on Joey’s posters… And you can just go and print these out, you don’t have to make them. He has selected three levels that you can sort of scan at and get information around. And for example, I mean, each… On the overhand serve poster there is a level one, a level two and a level three. And I like the fact that students can sort of choose the level that applies to them, scan it, receive some information and some videos, etc. About that particular section and then go ahead and practice it and use it.

10:27 JR: So, if you all have walked into my volleyball unit a couple of years ago, you would’ve seen me doing this differentiation as much as I possibly could by sort of breaking groups up and doing some sort of games and activities, but it’s a very different paradigm when students are completely responsible for doing their own warm-ups, completing the particular activities that suit them with Sworkit Pro, going into some skill posters that are set up around the room that have them practising skills that match what they recognise as being their strengths and their weaknesses. And then, sort of getting to the stage where they’re actually ready to participate in a game and all the while I’ve been able to sort of walk around as that extra person in the class and actually highlight and sort of add value to the teaching that’s taking place through the different video resources that they are accessing. So, really powerful stuff.

11:20 JR: The ability to sort of do this and then value add to the actual instruction they are receiving has enabled my students’ learning to definitely go to a different level, and if I contrast them to people and students in previous years, the volleyball that we are actually now playing is of a much higher value and I certainly attribute that to students being able to choose and pick the skills and the activities that they are gonna do based on their skill level. And the device is certainly helping sort of instruct them and give feedback to them based on their own sort of input. Now, in the first week of our volleyball unit, following the sort of skill development and then when we moved into a game, the real big focus for me was on insuring that the students were actually setting correctly. And by setting, I actually meant that they’re trying to keep the ball up nice and high and bent knees and all those sorts of things, and that the push and the follow through were all accurate and they were trying to push up into the air, rather than push forward, so that someone else from their team would be in a good position to be able to get that ball.

12:31 JR: And, there were lots of students that weren’t doing it. And, probably the easiest way to sort of, document this, was to use the app, VideoTagger. So while the game was going on, I was walking around with the VideoTagger app, which you can see at thepegeek.com/videotagger, and it’s actually one of the apps that I built myself. And, I literally had two tags set up. One was, needs work, and good. And, pretty much good and bad if you wanted to think of them as such. And, every time that I actually saw something that met the objective of the lesson, in that the actual bump was straight up in the air, and it showed the correct points, that a bump should, sorry, that a set should, I was tagging that as good. And every time someone did the opposite, which was sort of push it forward, rather than up and making it really difficult for their partner to sort of, be underneath it to receive it, I was tagging that as bad.

13:32 JR: And what this meant was, after recording for about, sort of, four minutes, I had a collection of highlight reels that were, sort of broken into all the good things that the class had done, as a montage video, and all the sort of bad things that the class had done as well. Now at this point, I stopped the play and directed the students’ attention to the large screen display that we have in our gymnasium. Now, if you wanted to see that and what I have set up, you can go to bigscreenpe.com, and you can see the video showcasing it. But the students stood there, which was pretty much right where the volleyball was taking place, and I literally went and played the highlight reels that I had produced in that four minutes prior. And because the app seamlessly stitches these together, you don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to edit, you don’t have to remember particular parts from the video, because you’re tagging it, it actually puts them together into one highlight reel.

14:25 JR: And if you’re interested in learning how to use the app, then head to thepegeek.com/videotagger and you can see it. But in this particular instance, I was able to play a montage that went for around about sort of 50 seconds, that included all of the particular examples of students who were doing the correct, true to form sort of thing that was in line with our lesson objective. And, it was not only great to sort of, highlight those students who were doing it, but also just so powerful that it was so condensed, so concentrated and we could see all the examples of those things occurring. And it actually meant that I could question them and sort of ask about what they were seeing and they were able to sort of, watch this replay of the event, as it occurred sort of straight after the actual activity and the sort of questioning that came from that, and their answers were really, really spot on. And it’s particularly more important, in the montage of the mistakes that had been made, and the mistakes were that people were sort of setting forward, and it was hitting the net and people were not setting up and not bending their elbows and not even, sometimes, looking at the ball.

15:36 JR: And they were able to clearly see these, more importantly though, they were able to clearly communicate what was wrong, in that particular situation. And, after sort of, a minute or two minutes of discussion about these things, with really clear video based examples from the montages, they were back in play. And it was really noticeable that they were much more consciously aware of what they needed to do to be in that sort of set position. So, VideoTagger was an enormous part of the first few weeks of the volleyball unit sort of tagging the things that were in line with our lesson objective, and if you wanna actually see that video highlight reel, then you can head to thepegeek.com/highlight, and you’ll actually see one of the little montages from the actual volleyball unit that I pieced together. Now, I would imagine that there’s not one episode that goes by where I probably don’t talk about BaM Video Delay and I absolutely love the app.

16:34 JR: And, it’s actually one of those things that I get e-mails about sort of everyday from teachers saying that since they’ve discovered it they have, made their first sort of steps with using sort of video feedback in their PE classroom because it’s so easy. And it basically allows you to do that sort of instant replay, up to two minutes, and it sort of shifts the playback so that students have ample time to be able to perform something and then they can see it on the screen without you having to press play or stop or rewind or anything. So it’s hands free video feedback. And, in this particular instance, I’ve been using it in the volleyball unit during games. So when I wasn’t doing VideoTagger, I would have BaM Delay set up on about a sort of, eight second delay, and it would be sitting on my Grifiti Nootle Tripod, which you can get at thepegeek.com/tripod. And it basically meant that we had this instant replay, in our PE classroom for our volleyball rallies.

17:31 JR: And, because it was being projected up onto the large screen display, which is shown in the bigscreenpe.com video, students were able to finish a game, or a point, and then they could actually, literally glance up to their left, without leaving the court, and see a video showcasing whatever it was that happened at that particular point. Now, not only did this help with motivation. I mean, students love to see themselves, and I think back to when I was a student, and that was a really big motivator for me as well. But not only do they like to see themselves, but we can use that to actually talk and talk about teachable moments. And on numerous occasions, following a point, I would direct everyone’s attention to that board and then we would reinforce those particular things that had been sort of the reason behind someone’s success or someone’s sort of reason why the ball went out or whatever it may have been. And the sort of teachable moments that came for that were rock solid and there’s no way to achieve that without that sort of technology.

18:33 JR: If I sort of take that a little bit further, we had students who were obviously able to then start to get sort of umpired based on the videos. It was almost like having a video referee because sometimes even me umpiring, the ball goes out and it might be hard to tell. But because we have that instant replay we were able to sort of have kids self umpire a little bit more reliably. And that’s sort of, yeah, really powerful. So, head over to thepegeek.com/videodelay, and you’ll be able to get… Take it to the app store and find the BaM Video Delay app. And I’m guaranteeing that you’ll actually find it, something really useful, especially if you can pair it with a tripod. And as I mentioned, the Grifiti Nootle Universal Tripod is the one that I recommend. And it is universal, so that regardless of what type of tablet or device you have it’s going to work. Now, eventually the students skill levels had sort of moved to a level where the conversation and the teaching shifted from skills, but to more strategies and tactics.

19:41 JR: And to help me sort of teach these concepts and sort of showcase these to the students, I couldn’t go past the CoachNote app. Now the CoachNote app is one that I talk about in the PE Geek workshops and have spoken about numerous times in the blog and the podcast. But basically it is like a coach’s whiteboard, you put up the courts and the different field diagrams, and you can move players around and actually talk about tactics and strategies. And by having this projected up onto the screen, like shown in the big screen PE video, you can actually clearly identify and showcase tactics by moving players around and showing them where they should stand and where they should put the ball to when all of those sorts of concepts that are really sometimes hard to actually conceptualise. And by using something like CoachNote it becomes a little bit more easy. Following on from this sort of game sense or tactical based teaching, was the opportunity to use the GoPro HERO4 inside of the actual unit.

20:46 JR: And last week, in our sort of final volleyball week we actually had a student fitted with a GoPro 4 who was wearing it with a head mount, and they were basically playing a game of volleyball. And what it meant was, we actually had an in-camera, in-person view of the actual game. And it allowed us to actually sort of think about decisions and tactics and strategies and so on. And while that was sort of happening, the video feed was going to my iPad through the GoPro app which happens automatically. So as the student playing a game, looking up and reacting to the ball like they would, but they had a GoPro just mounted on top of the head and the video footage was going straight to my iPad so I could see what they were seeing. And because of our live screen display I was projecting that up onto the display. So we literally had a in-person live view of what was taking place and we could use it to talk about particular things that have happened, and decision making and those sorts of things. And I mean, that was seriously awesome and enabled us to sort of, yeah, create that discussion around tactics and strategies.

21:57 JR: And then finally, we actually have an Indian student who hasn’t been able to participate in the entire volleyball unit because of a broken leg, and sort of one of the things that we’ve had her doing is keeping score. And she was just using the Scoreboard app which you can head to thepegeek.com/scoreboard and in there you’ll see a video tutorial showing you how to use the app. She was keeping score and basically, sort of creating that whole enthusiasm about the score and about everything else that we were doing. So, if you look back through the entire unit that I’ve taught, there’s lots of opportunities to really sort of bring this in for other sports. I mean, it’s not just something that applies to volleyball, but I felt that it certainly worked to support the volleyball unit that we were running. And I noticeably can see an improvement in the skills from the very start of the time the students turned up, to the very end. And it’s measurable in a lot of different ways.

22:57 JR: But for me it is in their ability to actually now play really, really, sort of interesting matches and sort of taking that sort of next level of thought about where they’re choosing to place the ball and the different decisions that they’re making as a team and as individuals. And if anything, the video and all the tech that we’ve used has worked to actually really engage them on a different level. And it’s motivational to see footage of yourself and to try and improve it, and I certainly value it, even just for that particular concept.

23:33 JR: So there you have it, that brings us to the end of Episode 31 of the PE Geek podcast. If you’d like to get a collection of all the notes and resources mentioned in this episode, you can head to thepegeek.com/31, and you’ll even be able to have a look at the full episode transcript. Now, in the very next episode of the PE Geek podcast, we actually have an interview with Mike Vasquez who is an expert in the area of 3D printing and its sort of collision with sport.

24:01 JR: And he is gonna be talking about the sort of implications that this has for physical education and it’s really exciting and really insightful as to where this sort of technology is headed and sort of transformation that it’s gonna have in many different spaces including physical education. So I’m really looking forward to bringing you that episode. In the meantime, I would really appreciate it if you could head to thepegeek.com/itunes and leave a review. I mean, it doesn’t have to be five stars; of course, I would love a five star review. But if… Just an open and honest review about the show and how you enjoy it, goes a long way to helping other people discover it. And to make it worth your while, if you take a screenshot of your review and send it to [email protected]. I’ve got a bonus prize for you, and I’ve been sending these out recently and people are definitely happy when they go to the lengths of completing a review for you, for me, I should say. So until next time, if you have any questions you can get to me at [email protected], or you can leave a voicemail at thepegeek.com/voicemail. Alright. See you on episode 32. Bye.



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