Using a learning mat in BTEC Sport lessons

This guest post was written by Peter Watling @PE_PWATLING.

In the new BTEC Sport specification, it is imperative that students understand the theory behind their coursework, given that now it is essential that all students must sit an exam at the end of the course. With this in mind, like many PE practitioners I am in the process of trialling a variety of teaching and learning methods with my current Year 10 BTEC Sport group to develop and consolidate learning. This will hopefully lead to students sitting their exam and being able to recall the information they require to complete questions by thinking of content delivered in high quality PE lessons and activities which they have taken part in.

The following method was adapted from a variety of ideas online not only in PE but across whole school subjects where many practitioners had achieved great success with their classes. The idea at the forefront of my recent successful lessons was the inclusion of a learning mat which encouraged students to visually see the lesson tasks on one document as well as being aware of the lesson objectives and success criteria, this provided a great focal point to facilitate students learning. The learning mat utilised was aimed at assessing students prior knowledge on the long term adaptations exercise has on the cardiorespiratory system and to show student progression throughout the lesson. This learning mat can be seen below:

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The learning mat

 
The beginning of the learning mat set the tone for the lesson as the objectives were clearly labelled and students were aware of the focus of the lesson. The student’s success criteria were also visible which allowed students to visually see what they needed to do to reach each specific target within the lesson and an area where students could continually refer back to. The starter within the learning mat initially assessed student’s prior knowledge and allowed myself to check the key terminology which they were aware of after having spent the last academic year being taught by another PE practitioner. Following this, prior knowledge was assessed in a self-assessment box where students would rate initial knowledge on a scale of one to ten. Again, this was useful information for myself and provided a solid indication around each child’s knowledge within the group. Following on from the starter phase of the learning mat, the students were then able to work through the next three activities at their own pace as this made up the main phase of the lesson. The students seemed to enjoy their sense of ownership and thrived on the challenge of working individually and in paired tasks which provided a great variation to their learning. Along with these tasks there were additional resources prepared for each activity which can be seen below.

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Glossary from @Ange_miniPE GCSE resources.

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Long term adaptations where students could take notes from in order to help with Task One. Key information sheet created by @PE_PWATLING.

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Task three answer sheet created by @PE_PWATLING.

Throughout each stage of the lesson students were able to divulge key information through in-depth conversations and this in turn provided a positive learning environment. Throughout the lesson, task one was aimed at gaining initial knowledge where some students were clearly more advanced than others. The beauty of this lesson and the use of the learning mat was that not only could students engage in conversations with their peers relating to the work but the use of technology in the form of iPads were used to further enhance students’ knowledge and understanding of the topic.

The use of the learning mat enhanced student engagement as there was a clear focus and the students were extremely keen to progress on through the tasks. My experience with this was that it also created a sense of competition as all students thrived upon the challenge of progressing answering each specific task to the best of their ability. This further supported the use of a learning mat as a tool to enhance student engagement, inspiration and motivation. As well as creating a sense of competition between students to excel this also demonstrated a supportive environment where students could assist peers who were struggling. This worked particularly well as I arranged a seating plan which was based around a more able student working next to a lower ability peer. Students also found the learning mat a lot more interesting and fun given that it was created on comic life and was extremely colourful which looked more interesting than a standard sheet which I have used previously with this group and students were not as motivated when using the standard sheets as oppose to the learning mat.
 

Summary

 
The use of the learning mat was very much a trial as I am currently trying out different methods of learning with this current Year 10 BTEC group, however I was extremely pleased with how this worked. I have used task sheets again which were created using comic life and can be seen below however I found that given the mixed ability of students in my BTEC group this did not provide enough structure for some of them in comparison to that of the learning mat which provided the full structure to the lesson and allowed students to use as much help as they needed or to flow through the activities at their own pace. Given that this group of students is very diverse and students are at different levels, with different learning styles which is quite often the case in secondary BTEC Sport groups it is imperative to find a teaching and learning method which brings the best out of our students individually to ensure that they can all achieve and that all are challenged consistently. I am very interested in keeping an open mind and am certainly looking forward to trying out different teaching and learning methods with this group however I feel that the learning mat has been a huge success for me with this group. It is definitely a teaching and learning method which I would advise all practitioners to try out with their BTEC and GCSE groups and one I will certainly use again through my ongoing process of aspiring to get the most of the students I teach.

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