Project-Based Learning and Physical Education: An interview with Jordan Manley [Interactive]

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[0:02] Aaron: Project-based learning, it seems to be all the buzz and education, but what is it really and how does it fit with physical education?

[0:35] Jordan: I am with Jordan Manley from the Steam Academy in Lexington Kentucky today, and I want to just introduce Jordan and talk a little bit about his PE Program, Jordan tell us a little bit about yourself.

[0:46] Well, I’m a Lexington Kentucky native, 29 years old, been married for five years and I have a 19-month-old daughter at home. I love you know just being active, learning new things. Recently I learned how to ski and I work as the health and physical education teacher at a project-based learning school called Steam Academy.

How to use project-based learning in physical education

[1:06] Aaron: So you mentioned project-based learning, can you describe how that fits into your PE philosophy and how it fits into the overall school environment?

[1:14] Jordan: We are a project-based learning school which means we have a focus on inquiry-designed learning. This model takes students away from the comprehension of concepts and has them dive deeper into the development of the skills so that they can comprehend any concept. We do this through lots of projects, there’s a lot of student choice involved. We might present one question and end up with 10 different answers to that question, depending on the class, whether it’s math, science, english, social studies or even the PE classroom.

[1:56] So the way that this fits in with my PE classroom is we have to ask ourselves what are the major concepts that we want our students to be able to understand? What are the major skills that we want our students to be able to understand to be able to do? We frame those within the context of an inquiry. Through that inquiry across a week or two weeks, students will complete some formative assignments here and there doing some research outside of class on their devices that are our school allows them to use, and then they present to us a product through a performance assessment.

[2:34] Within this performance assessment, I can assess whether or not a student has comprehended the concepts, but also if they’ve been able to apply these soft skills or success skills that so many schools talk about developing: leadership, communication, collaboration. So we allow that model to direct our working in PE so that students can get deeper learning rather than just the physical activity that happens in the class.

Project-based learning example

[3:06] Aaron: This is fascinating. So, can you give us an example of how this might play out in real-time and physical education class?

[3:13] Jordan: Sure, so one thing that I’ve done is I’ve given my students the task of game creation. This is something that we do as physical educators. Not only do we beg, borrow, and steal from other people on the internet, but we also force ourselves to iterate new ideas and create new activities in our classroom. So I give that task to my students, as well as a way of them demonstrating their learning and applying the content of the class. This can be used in modified sports games. I’ve done it before, where they have to create a fitness game and before they have to create their fitness game, I give them several examples of what a fitness game looks like. They have open access to all of the equipment in my closets, but the reason I like this is because not only are they applying the content knowledge of the PE classroom to the project that they are creating, it also forces them to work together in collaboration. They have to develop communication and leadership skills so these things happen naturally in anyway, but this is a way more direct way of teaching them that they have to work together if they want to produce something good.

[4:25] Aaron: Wow, thank you for sharing this Jordan and as you listen, we hope this generates some ideas that you can use project-based learning in your physical education classrooms. THRIVE

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