Keeping Learning Fun with Participant Choice

My new book, Physical Literacy on the Move, helps teachers develop the physical literacy of their students. In this blog post, which I originally shared with Human Kinetics Europe, details the importance participant choice has on children’s learning.


Physical literacy learning that integrates participant choice provides children with the opportunity to take ownership over their learning. It also encourages engagement in learning that matters most to them.

There are times when children and youths can make choices around personal interests or pursue learning options based on their specific needs.  The limitations of choice vary based on the specific participant, the game or activity, the facility and equipment available. As well as, other factors specific to each participants learning style. Educators act as facilitators while the children make choices around their activity/game groupings, equipment, game setup and adaptations to optimize the challenge and maximize the participation and fun.

Through the learning process, flexibility is key to creating a learning environment where participants have the opportunity to experiment with personal choices in order to work at their optimal level of challenge. Many small games or drills should be occurring at once to maximize participation. Letting each group make their own choices provides participants of all skill levels the opportunity to have their personal needs met when learning together within the same activity space.

There are three ways educators can offer participant choice within their physical literacy programming.

Modify the equipment

Allow participants the chance to select the type, colour or size of equipment. This provides students with the opportunity to develop the same fundamental movement or sports skills. As well as, making accommodations for their own interests or needs.

Example: When working on developing an overhand throw, does the size or colour of the object (because maybe it’s not even a ball) matter?

Modify the playing area

Allow participants the chance to change up the distance of the playing area, distance from the target or even the size of net. It provides them with the opportunity to increase or decrease the challenge of the activity as well as increase or decrease the physical activity intensity level.

Example: Beginning level participants, who are newly learning a fundamental movement or sports skill, might find value in a small activity area, decreasing the space to travel and a number of movement or sports skills required to travel through space.

Modify the rules

Allow participants the chance to select the scoring scheme. This can involve how many passes need to occur before a point is scored, or the number of steps each participant is allowed to take.

Example: High level participants might choose a point scoring scheme that favours more challenging skills in a game requiring aim and accuracy versus simply participation or getting the object in the area of a target.

Regardless of the physical literacy learning experience, the educator should maintain a focus on participant choice, helping to create a meaningful learning environment where the needs and interests of all participants matter while being active and learning together.

Featuring over 120 games and activities, my book, Physical Literacy on the Move is available to buy from for $32.95. 

What to Pack For An Active Back to School!

Thanks to ParticipACTION, it’s know easy to know what to pack for an active and fun back to school experience.

Low res Backpack Infographic - EN

There are lots of great ideas in this cute infographic, but I love the idea of a ball. So simple and cannot only lead to active play, but also social interactions. Great for students entering a new school or class. The use of two little words “wanna play?” can lead to new friendships and an active recess.

In order to make this back pack even better, I would suggest the addition of a reusable water bottle. As both a classroom and phys.ed. teacher I believe it is so much easier for students to stay connected to the learning when they have everything they need at their fingers tips, including hydration.

As we enter the final weekend of summer, I wish students, teachers, and parents an awesome start to school week one!

Teachers and the Twitterverse

When I talk to teachers about Twitter, usually their first reaction is similar to what mine was by stating “I don’t care that Ashton Kutcher just ate a ham sandwich.” I agree, and I don’t care either. But since joining Twitter 8 months ago, I’ve learned that’s not point of Twitter (unless you want it to be) and the real value is so much more then I could have anticipated, professionally and personally.

twitter 1

Why Teachers Should Use Twitter:

Teachers should have a Twitter account in order to create an amazing Professional Learning Network, to stay informed about education, best practices, and pedagogies, and to learn new ideas about teaching. Twitter is a direct news feed from the people you want to hear from (e.g., colleagues, schools, publishers, leaders in education); it lets you connect better than any other tool on the Internet.

Here Are My Top 3 Reasons Why Teachers Need Twitter!

More Heads Are Better Than One

  • In an elementary school where I was the only health and phys.ed. teacher it was professionally very lonely. I did what I thought was best, reflected on my own practice, but didn’t have anyone around who understood H&PE content and curriculum, as well as best teaching practices. Now in the palm of my hand I am connected to teachers from not only my board, but from around the world. Through the use of #pechat  we share and discuss strategies connected to a variety of topics related to H&PE. I can learn best practices and new pedagogies, I can view images and videos, and I can chat with teachers, who are working through the same situations as me and we can support each other and share our knowledge and learn together on an almost instantaneous basis.


Learn Globally, Act Locally

  • Teachers on twitter have the potential to reach a huge international audience.  Not only can we see what is happening with our own province by following leaders in education here, but we can follow leaders from around the world. Recently while collecting data on curriculum from across Canada I wasn’t able to locate the H&PE document from Halifax. With a quick tweet to their government, I had a link to the document within minutes. I had already out in time searching with no luck, and was able to reach out in a way that was convenient to me to the other side of the country and get the response and information I needed.
  • On a regular basis through the use of #pechat I’ve connected with a teacher in Singapore. This guy has an equipment room to die for, huge, well organized, and I’ve been able to learn from him and his practices and apply them here in Ontario.

Instant Newsroom

  • Twitter helps teachers receive direct information from the sources they choose. Teachers can stay up to date on not only news and current affairs, but also on the latest developments in their areas of interest: subject associations, publishers, school leadership, teaching trends, or technology. By following leaders and organizations, teachers can be among the first to know when an article is published, a study is released, a product is launched, or an opinion is voiced.

 Want To See Twitter in Action?

Check out this video created by PhysicalEducator.Com

 A Tool for School:

Twitter can also be used as an educational tool for engagement in and outside of the classroom. While there has been some concern with using social media in schools (bullying, theft, equity), many schools and teachers are embracing these sites, changing the function of the site away from socializing and towards education and knowledge sharing.  According to The Guardian’s social media guide for schools, “Teachers have been setting up subject or class Twitter accounts that students can follow. The teacher then tweets information related to their class. Some even set homework via Twitter.” I’ve used twitter as an alternative to pen and paper exit cards. I’ve provided students with the option to write or tweet their response to our consolidation question, and while many students still choose pen and paper, the choice is theirs.

Have you used twitter in your classroom or for your own professional learning? Share your experience in the comments!