Tag Archives: game sense

Game Sense?!

3 Aug

What is game sense? The Australian Sports Commission has a great explanation (if you’re interested) and defines Game Sense as:

“a method which develops the broader meanings of sport and physical activity as it focuses on developing thinking through problem solving using physical activity.”

Students engage in games which promote problem solving and critical thinking in order to play effectively, achieve desired results and work successfully as a team. These games are usually modified versions of children’s sports with varied rules and equipment or minor games which require certain game skill components. Instructions are limited and explicit teaching takes a back seat to student discussion and consultation. The focus is not on the achievement of skills or being ‘sporty’, but on contributing to the game.

In one of the health units that I completed as part of my Minor in Health and Physical Education we were taught using the Game Sense approach and I must say, as a reluctant PE participant (for the duration of my schooling and even now as an adult) I actually loved learning this way. For once the academic, non-sporty me had something valuable to contribute. I could think laterally, strategise and feel like I was playing an important role in the success of my team.

This brings me back to my Kindergarten unit of work – that’s right, KINDERGARTEN! How on earth was I meant to step back and expect 5 years old’s to 1) play a ‘sport’ (their gross motor skills often leave a lot to be desired) and 2) problem solve and think critically without teacher support!?

So I have adopted a version of Game Sense which I think any teacher could and should use (and probably does without noticing) in all PE they do with their students – regardless of age. And it all revolves around Questioning!

I think one of my favourite ‘strategies’ that I have been ‘taught’ at uni is questioning – just one, well thought-out, pointed, purposeful question can light up so many brain-bulbs and challenge understandings at so many levels!

So today’s Game Sense lesson, focusing on underarm throwing, went a little like this…

Mrs W: Today we are going to learn a new game… (BLAH BLAH BLAH)

<resist giving instructions in too much details and don’t stress out if the first attempt at the game is mayhem – it’s a good thing!>

Mrs W: So how did that go? Did your team work well together?

Kindys: There was too much happening! It all went too fast! That was tricky! I don’t want to play, it’s too hard!

Mrs W: What could we do to make it work better?

Kindys: We could slow down. We could talk to each other. I think that we should take it in turns.
But it didn’t work because they couldn’t see us, so we need to say each others names so we know to turn and catch… ETC…

We had this conversation (or similar) 3 times over the course of a 1/2 hour game. Each time we came back, talked about what did work, what didn’t and how we could make it better, before playing again thinking about our new ideas.

It was exciting seeing how frustrated they were and how this led to them seeking solutions. It was really encouraging to see what a huge difference thinking critically and sharing ideas made to the way they engaged with the game.

I would really encourage you to give it a go. The Bluearth Teachers’ Resource Centre and Sport New Zealand have a whole heap of fantastic games that can be used as they are or modified to suit the skill you want to focus on, the age of your group and the amount of autonomy appropriate for your class. With older kids minor games and variations of adult sports can be introduced.

How have you been using questioning to hand responsibility for learning over to your students?

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