Below are three examples of how I’ve attempted to facilitate more personally relevant learning for my students. These snapshots of my teaching shouldn’t imply that these are the best or only ways to help students find relevance in their learning. The decisions within these units and their outcomes were made with respect to the time, facilities, resources etc. we have available and of course with our students in mind.
Unit: Who We Are in the Outdoors (Grade 3-6)
Big Idea: Reflecting on our experiences can affect the relationship we feel to movement in the outdoors.
Description: In this unit we first sampled different ways we could engage with the trails near our campus. We walked, we ran and explored activities such as a scavenger hunt. At the end of these initial lessons, we reflected on what we liked and disliked about each activity as well as what we may find meaningful about them. As we progressed through the unit, students used the whiteboard (shown below) to indicate 1) which trail they were going on 2) whether they were going to walk, run or search and 3) what was their intention; to be social, challenge themselves, for pleasure or to explore.
Unit: Throwing & Catching (Grade 1-2)
Big Idea: Challenging myself is essential to my growth as an individual.
Description: In this unit, students explored the concept of ‘just-right’ challenge and how those can help us grow as individuals. Students began by rotating through various throwing target games. At the end of the lessons students used numbered stickers to indicate which one was the most challenging and least challenging. Later we used the Goldilocks’ analogy to understand what 'just-right' meant. A challenge that wasn’t too hard or too easy but required some persistence to eventually be successful. As we progressed, students learned to modify throwing tasks to find their zone of 'just-right' challenge. At the end of the unit, they created their own ‘just-right’ throwing & catching activity and taught it to another classmate.
Unit: Badminton (Grade 3-6)
Big Idea: By improving our skills we are empowered to engage in activities in ways that are meaningful to us.
Description: After a few initial lessons, students began completing a road map to improvement by first selecting an area of growth (i.e. serving or more consistent contact). It was important that their goal served the purpose for which they wished to engage in badminton. Some students' goals were for the purpose of winning more points so they could be more successful during competition. Other students' goals would help them engage in badminton socially, where the object of the game was to maintain a rally as long as possible or play recreationally where points are won but no score is kept. As students progressed towards their goal, they were grouped with students who found similar things meaningful about badminton. Students who wished to be social were allowed to be and students who wanted to be competitive participated in either doubles or singles tournaments.
Bernard, S. (2010, December 1). Science shows making lessons relevant really matters. Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/neuroscience-brain-based-learning-relevance-improves-engagement
Tinning, R. (2010). Pedagogy and Human Movement: Theory, Practice, Research. New York,