Badminton – TGfU

At the end of last year, I began to experiment using the ‘Teaching Games for Understanding’ (TGfU) model in my PE classes. I’d used similar questioning in my lessons previously, but it hadn’t been a driver in developing lessons and units. This year, I’m determined to do it more and have in fact set my department the challenge to adopt it in to more of their units too.

Our year 9’s start with a unit of badminton. In the past, we’ve spent a lot of time playing games and practicing specific skills but little time on strategy. We don’t have specific courts marked out for badminton, so make do we what we can create in the space available. I have managed to string together 6 courts which means the class is active the whole time.

Before starting this year, I did a quick search for some resources online and found a fantastic wiki with TFfU resources for a wide range of sports. I found the Badminton resources particularly helpful in getting my class started.

In the first lesson, the students experiemented with different types of shots. After a quick warm up with one ‘bird’ between two students, they then had to rally just with underarm shots and then with just over arm shots. Because asking questions plays a big role in developing understanding, I asked questions like, ‘what was easy about playing an underarm shot at the front of the court?’, ‘What was difficult using one at the back of the court?’, ‘What was the flight path of the bird when hit underarm?’ and ‘What impact will that have on a rally?’. I asked similar questions for overhead shots in order to get them observing the flight of the shot and to work out how and when they could use each shot in a game.

Today we had the second lesson and it was based on progressions found on the TGfU wiki for Badminton.  Our first activity, used one tennis ball between 2 players across the net. The idea was to move the opposing player around the court trying to get the ball to bounce in open space to win a point. The video below gives a good idea of what the students had to do.

Activity 1 – Tennis Ball

This game provided a great basis for asking the following questions (taken and adapted from the TGfU wiki mentioned earlier).

1. Why is it easier to catch some throws than others?

2. What strategies did you use to try and make it difficult for your opponent to catch the ball.

Activity 2 – Singles with a racquet and bird

We progressed from this game to using a racquet and bird and asked the following questions:

1. When was it easiest to hit the bird? Why?

2. What was the most difficult shot to return? Why?

3. How and when can this shot be used effectively in a game?

Activity 3 – Doubles

The third activity was to play a doubles game, using any type of shot to try and get the bird to hit the ground. It was really good to see the students starting to think about he type of shot they would play and already working out strategies to create space on the court.

At the end of this activity, these are the questions I used:

1. What was the main difference between playing singles and doubles? Answers included a lack of space in doubles, harder to hit it away from opposition players etc.

2. What were the challenges of playing doubles? Answers included, getting in each others way, working out a common strategy or knowing what the other player was trying to do.

3. What different strategies did you use on the court to manage the space? Most teams said one player at the front and one at the back but a couple set up side by side.

4. For each of the two strategies we then explored how you could create space to attack – Question: How can you create space when players are side by side/one forward, one back?

We also discussed the types of shots players could use if they were forced out of position by the opposition and they were able to identify using defensive lobs or hitting the ball long and high to give you time to get back in position.


All of this was achieved in a 45 minute lesson. It was great to see the players starting to think and then putting the strategies they were developing into action. Make sure you check out the TGfU wiki . They have many great ideas that you can use in heaps of different sports.

Heart Monitors in PE

I’ve had a handful of Heart Rate (HR) monitors sitting in my PE storeroom cupboard for a number of years now but they’ve only come out a handful of times. These are the most basic of Polar HR monitors that allow you to measure HR, set target HR zones and nothing much else. I’ve only really ever used them until now for measuring the effects of exercise intensity on HR once or twice a year.

However, today I pulled them out with my elective Physical Activity and Sport Studies class as we’d been talking about the National Physical Activity Guidelines (NPAGs) and thought it would be a good way of assessing whether different sports achieve moderate intensity. We’d put figures on what a moderate HR would be and the students were to check HR’s regularly and at the end of a 10 minute period we would discuss whether the physical activity would achieve the NPAGs.

What I realised straight away, was that the HR monitors actually engaged students in a different way. They were keen to see how hard they were working, what running harder would do to their HR . Clearly, what I’ve learned is that using simple technology like this can have a huge impact on getting students interested in what’s happening to their body while they exercise. Unfortunately, these HR monitors don’t allow me to download the data or give average HR for the duration which I think would be really valuable for student learning and understanding. It would also be great to download data to combine with GPS feedback – but more of that later.

For now it’s off to find a few more HR monitors that offer more feedback for the students …

where to next in 2011?

Its onwards and upwards as far as technology in my classroom for 2011 – well thats the plan anyway! It will be a year of consolidation of what’s already been tried and a year of adding of a few new ideas too. We use moodle at our school, so I see a greater use of that being integral in delivering our content, as well as the delivery and submission of assessments and will hopefully mean not having as many students chasing me to get information that they’ve lost or were away for.

So far, my focus has been on using technology in my theory lessons, but have done little to introduce it to my practical lessons. To help change that, I’ve made a few equipment purchases to help make it easier. As we don’t have a 1:1 laptop program in our school (it will be phased in in senior years from early next year), and a ban on the use of mobile devices, I took it upon myself to purchase a handful of the latest generation of ipod touches to use on the school’s wireless network, a couple of wii-remotes (thanks for the ideas Mr Robbo), and finally 4 sports GPS’s (they’re meant for cycling but come with an arm band too). All this goes with the Flip Cameras we purchased earlier in the year.

With our school holidays only 3 days away, I can see that I’m going to be spending a lot of time thinking about how to use these most effectively, but also, on how I can get the rest of my faculty on board. I think it will be hard to change their mindset on practical lessons but I’m hoping I can show them the importance of physical education rather than only physical activity in developing lifelong learners.

So here’s my initial plans for the use of technology in my PE lessons for 2011:

1. Ipod Touches – I see these as having plenty of uses and not just for providing music for dance routines.

a) EasyTag App – this allows you to set up templates that you can use to gather information during games (a great role for those that are unable to participate) that can then be analysed to provide feedback on the game. For example, you can count unforced errors (and where they occur on the field), succesful passes, the number of times a player touches the ball and so on. This information can then be collected, put into a google docs spread sheet and then shared with the class to analyse.

b) QR codes – using a QR code reader to watch skills at different stations is an obvious use of them, but I’d like to get the students creating instructional videos of fitness tests, games, skills etc that they can create a QR code for. Students could then view these videos at the stations they move to to get a demonstration of what they are to do.

c) By connecting to the schools wireless network, students could use them to access dance videos on youtube to teach themselves moves that they can then integrate into their dance routines. This means that they can choose styles and movements that they enjoy and not just those that we teachers can give them.

d) My long shot is to use a ‘Stop Motion’ to create an animated dance routine as an extenstion activity for a student who may struggle to move fluently but could use this to demonstrate an understanding of the use of the elements of compostition. This may take too much time but may be worth a try at the right time.

2. GPS – While scrolling through the numerous cycling websites that I frequent, I stumbled upon some Mainnav Sport GPS units on sale for $60 (what a bargain). I jumped at the chance to buy a few because I could see they could be a source of some really interesting data. At first glance the units have a complicated user interface, but once set up they should still give us great data. Files can be downloaded in different formats including an excel spreadsheet that could then be uploaded to Google docs for analysis. Primarily, I want to use them to track player movement during games to see how far they move, their use of space, their average and max speeds throughout the games. How good would it be to analyse the difference between defenders, midfielders and attackers in a game of soccer to see what their different training needs are? Or what about comparing the distance travelled in different games of different lengths – ie an hour of tennis vs an hour of soccer, basketball or whatever to see who works hardest?

The other idea I’ve been thinking of is strapping one to a student for a 24 hr period (or even just a school day if we have to) when we do our to see how far they travel during a day and to predict their energy expenditure/needs.

Mostly they’re still vague ideas that will hopefully become clearer as I test what these pieces of technology can do during the summer break. Wish me luck, and I promise I’ll report back on how we (me and my classes) go with all this.