Methods for Teaching Physical Education Lessons

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  • 0:04 Direct Versus Indirect…
  • 1:23 Movement Exploration
  • 2:10 Cooperative Activities
  • 2:57 Teaching Styles
  • 4:03 New Skill Teaching Methods
  • 4:41 Practice
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Lesson Transcript
John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

Expert Contributor
Lesley Chapel

Lesley has taught American and World History at the university level for the past seven years. She has a Master's degree in History.

Do you recall the sometimes fun and other times exasperating days of physical education class? In this lesson, we discuss various methods for teaching physical education lessons.

Direct Versus Indirect Teaching

How do you teach P.E.? Do you like to introduce a skill all at once or let the students explore it as they go? Let's go over some of the many ways to teach physical education classes.

Direct teaching is the common method in which the instructor stands in front of the class or group and lectures or advises, so as to teach a piece of information. This is also called teacher-centered teaching. Indirect teaching is a method in which the instructor assumes a more passive role and guides the student interactions. This is also called student-centered teaching.

Which method is the best? It's a debate! The advantages of direct teaching include the ability to allow for the introduction of new skills, plenty of practice time, and time efficiency. However, disadvantages include a lack of feedback and a lack of variety.

The advantages of indirect teaching include cooperation, improvement, and social skills, as well as the fact that students learn valuable teaching skills. The disadvantages include too little focus on the process, shyer students may be left out, and students may not handle responsibility well.

Movement Exploration

One way to teach P.E. is through movement exploration. Movement exploration is a method of teaching that involves the use of aids. The aids may include:

  • Bean bags: Have the students balance the bean bags on their heads, hands, and feet. Later they can hit the beanbag into the air.
  • Benches: Have the students crawl and then walk forward across the bench, and then sideways and backwards when they are comfortable. Later they can jump on and off the bench.
  • Hoops: Have the students circle the hoops around their arms, legs, and bodies.
  • Ropes: Have the students practice jumping rope. They can also practice making different shapes with the rope.

Cooperative Activities

Another way of teaching P.E. is through cooperative activities. There are three main goals to be achieved when using cooperative activities, or activities students work together to perform. The goals include:

  1. Students work together to reach a consensus as a group.
  2. Students can structure the learning experience.
  3. Students can learn problem-solving skills.

One of the favorite methods of cooperative teaching involves the use of a tarp. For example, the students can figure out how to work in conjunction to fold the tarp in half without the aid of the teacher. Increase complexity by folding the tarp into a geometric shapes such as a triangle.

Teaching Styles

We'll now explore some of the teaching styles. Remember that stereotype of the gym teacher with a ball cap and whistle, yelling at the students to run another lap? That old-school method is known as the command style. The teacher might show the student how to catch a football or kick a soccer ball. The teacher makes the decisions and the student complies. But there are alternatives as well.

On the opposite end of the teaching spectrum is the exploration style. Here, the instructor sets up the equipment and then allows the students to move freely on their own. The instructor still has to monitor for safety, and should also ask good questions pertinent to the movements and skills of the students. The instructor also has to watch for differences among the talents and abilities of each student.

The reciprocal style is somewhat in between the two extremes. The students get to have a say in the process and observe each other, while the coach roams about and monitors the situation.

New Skill Teaching Methods

Now let's look at how to teach a new skill. When it comes to teaching students a new physical education skill, the instructor can break the teaching process up into four parts:

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Additional Activities

Writing Prompts for Teaching Physical Education Lessons

Study Prompt 1:

Make flashcards that list and define the methods and styles of teaching physical education classes. These include: direct teaching, indirect teaching, movement exploration, cooperative activities, command style, exploration style, and reciprocal style. Tip: It can be helpful to include an example on the flashcard of each method and teaching style.

Writing Prompt 1:

Write two to three paragraphs explaining the role of aids in movement exploration. Use examples, and try to come up with examples of aids different than those listed in the lesson.

Example/Tips: Strong paragraphs should include at least four different types of aids along with explanations of how to use these aids for movement exploration. For example, one sentence could state, "When using a basketball for movement exploration, students can not only dribble the ball, but also use their fingers to spin it."

Writing Prompt 2:

Write an essay explaining the goals of cooperative activities. Then, provide an example of how you would teach a physical education class using a cooperative activity. Tip: Be sure to describe how you would use an aid, being sure to select a different aid than the one provided in the lesson (tarp).

Lesson Plan Prompt 1:

Create a lesson plan describing how you would run a practice in a physical education class. Tip: It helps to have a specific sport or activity in mind that your class is practicing for. In addition, make sure that you describe thoroughly the types of practice you are utilizing, as well as the methods you are using in such practice.

Poster Prompt 1:

Create a poster or other type of visual aid that describes the four main components of teaching new skills.

Example/Tips: Create the visual aid so that it goes through the components of teaching new skills chronologically. For example, first describe the instructions you would give to the students, then note how you would demonstrate it, then explain how you would supervise the implementation of the skill, and lastly, explain how you would check students' proficiency in the acquisition of the skill.

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