My district was scheduled to start the school year under a hybrid model. Our students were scheduled to be split into two cohort groups, alternating each week with two to three days of in-person instruction. Our ENL and special populations would attend in person, five days per week. Approximately a week and a half before the start of the school year the district changed course. Due to inconsistent safety plans, staffing, and other logistical hardships, the district was forced to begin under a remote model.
This new model would still allow for special populations to attend five days per week; however, the remainder of the school body would attend school from a remote location. As you can imagine, teachers from all levels and disciplines began to scramble to change their plans to accommodate this new and forced method of teaching.
I began the new year under a tremendous amount of stress and inconsistencies. Would my tech work? If not, what would the students and I do? How would I make sure children were getting their mandated amount of time in physical education? Would instruction be equitable? How would my curriculum and teaching change because of this? I would have to try to address all these issues and concerns along the way.
Currently I am in my third week of school and my model is about to change yet again next week. My district will again shift course to a staggered hybrid model of instruction. Administration has decided to bring in our youngest learners first using the two-cohort model. This would be followed by additional grade levels thereafter. Although I will soon have to shift my focus, I’d like to share my experiences and suggestions for those who are teaching or may be teaching by the remote PE model of instruction.
Create a Technology Setup that Works for You
It’s critical that you find and create a technology setup that works well for both you and your students. You’ll need to be relentless in your pursuit, as it will likely require a fair amount of trial and error. However, finding a successful setup is worth it! Here’s a little background on my experience:
Phase 1: 1 Chromebook
I started teaching my initial classes within my gymnasium on a single Chromebook. Hooking up to our ineffective and spotty Wi-Fi, this did not work well. Over the course of the day, classes became glitchy and I’d freeze up and eventually get kicked out of my Google Meet sessions. Screen-sharing to the students became non-functional.
Phase 2: 2 Chromebooks
My next step was to try using two Chromebooks, along with various Google Extensions that would supposedly allow me to better see the kids, yet still share my screen with them. This model was just as poor and insufficient to teach.
Phase 3: Desktop + Chromebook
I moved to my office where I was now able to use a hard-wired desktop computer and a Chromebook. I use the desktop to log in and see my students (much better) and continued to use my Chromebook for classes. The desktop allows me to screen-share more efficiently, especially to show slides that include GIFs or videos. I’d also suggest clearing out any unnecessary furniture and equipment so you can create an activity space, allowing you to better demonstrate activities for your students.
Ensure you turn off the volume on the computer that Is not being used as the camera. This then becomes the one you’ll use to see your kids with. The other will act as your camera/mic. I’ve found this works really well for me… that is as long as we don’t have bandwidth issues or Google problems.
Define Your Remote PE Class Structure
It’s likely that your class structure is already set, but I still feel it’s important to share our setup with you. Of course, you will need approval from your administration if you opt to change the structure.
After several meetings within our department, it was decided that we would spend the first part of grades 3-5 classes on a live stream.
- Start with a warm-up and instructions on the concept/lesson of the day
- I would demonstrate various activities and/or screen share my dry erase board
- Students exit Google Meet and continue lesson via asynchronous links that reinforce the lesson
- Click on assignments in Google Classroom and complete the task(s)
- Students return to Meet for class conclusion
- Provide their feedback via a private comment answering a set question
- Virtually “handing it in” by clicking the Mark as Done button
I found that it worked best to remain in the Meet in case students had issues or questions. This allowed them to quickly pop in to check in with me and then jump back out to the lesson/activity. Ultimately, this structure has worked fairly well, despite it being far from perfect.
But what about the K-2 students? What would I do about them? At their age, manipulating a computer and Google Classroom is a next to impossible. Believe it or not, this model was the same for them as well, beginning on day two.
It would require an adult helping them, which is understandably not always the case. An email blast to guardians about our protocol was sent and provided all steps of instruction about how this would work.
I would continue to stay on the Meet; however, families would not have to return back to the Meet unless there was a question. I would stay online in the Meet until the end where I would “hang up” and begin logging into my next class. Yes, there are still issues along the way, but this has been better.
Utilize Google Slides for Presentations
I completely use Google and all within it (Classroom, Drive, Slides, etc.), as this is the platform my district chooses to use. One of my favorite tools from Google thus far has been Slides (aka PowerPoint for those of you using Microsoft).
Tips for Creating Engaging Slides
Creating engaging slides for your assignments and activities can be extremely time consuming. Here are a few tips and suggestions to save you some time, but still create engaging slides for your students.
- Utilize free themed/templated slides. Save yourself some time by downloading a free template that allows you to quickly change the copy.
- Fellow professionals also share their slides online (Twitter, Facebook Groups, etc.)
- Include GIFs. GIFs and video are especially valuable for elementary PE students. The visual really helps them pick up the skills much quicker. As for creating GIFs, I record myself on my phone with an app that creates the GIF and has editing functionality. Then I share it to my work Google Drive account.
I hope my experiences in teaching remote elementary PE are helpful! What tips or suggestions do you have for teaching remote PE?