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Addressing Different Learning Styles in PE Programs

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  • 0:04 Learning Styles
  • 0:37 Student Learning Methods
  • 2:06 Gardner's Theory
  • 4:09 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

Each student is unique and deserves the opportunity to approach learning in his or her own way. This lesson discusses appropriate physical education strategies and resources that address diverse learning styles.

Learning Styles

''Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.'' This is an anonymous quote, sometimes attributed to Albert Einstein, that sums up the importance of giving each student the opportunity to learn in the way that works for them. Physical education is generally thought of as a kinesthetic (that is, learning with movement) content area. However, incorporating various learning styles into your PE lesson plans has been proven to maximize the learning experience for all students.

Student Learning Methods

The following are some student learning styles and some suggested physical education activities for each.

Visual learners learn by watching. For visual learners, physical education teachers will need to demonstrate new techniques and activities for students. They can also learn by watching videos, looking at diagrams, and creating graphic organizers. For example, when learning the proper form for shooting a free throw, the visual learning student will benefit from modeling that demonstrates each step and then creating a mind map that breaks down all the steps.

Auditory learners learn by listening. Physical education teachers can support auditory learners through discussion and by giving students the opportunity to paraphrase directions with a partner before beginning a new activity. Using the example of the free throw, the teacher would tell students the steps for making a free throw and then would have students turn to a partner to retell the steps.

Reading and writing preference describes students who learn best from text-based sources. Physical education teachers can support this learning style by having students write new information in a journal using charts, and providing handouts or books that explain new strategies. For example, the reading and writing preference student would best learn about free throws from reading a book about form and then creating a step-by-step list that describes how to throw a free throw.

Kinesthetic learners learn by doing. When this student is taught about making free throws, he should have a basketball in his hands so he can practice each step along the way.

Gardner's Theory

Howard Gardner, a professor at Harvard University, suggests that people are gifted in a variety of ways and that by celebrating the unique talents of all learners, we provide opportunities for each person to live up to their potential. Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences identifies the eight areas of giftedness that we'll outline now.

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