Looking for a mid-Winter challenge? Let’s target Outcome E4.4b from Standard 4: “Accepts players of all skill levels into the physical activity.”

For many physical educators and PE advocates, this outcome falls right into our wheelhouse. We love to talk about how physical education builds character and teaches cooperation and acceptance. However, many of us find it very difficult to document how we actually make this happen while speaking the language that our administrators need to hear.

We’re up for the challenge!


Step 1: Design an activity that ensures the necessary academic rigor.

I’m going to utilize a team-building activity called a Cooperative Triathlon while infusing a few of Marzano’s Essential Strategies to Achieving Rigor.

  • Manage response rates with tiered questioning techniques.
  • Help students examine similarities and differences.
  • Help students revise knowledge.

Step 2: Set your targets and measure progress.

In this case, I’ll set the following cognitive target: “I will define the term acceptance and then describe the benefits of accepting and participating with players of all skill levels.”

  • Measure progress toward this target using Depth of Knowledge questions within both verbal discussion and written responses.

Step 3: Execute the plan.

This is where the rubber meets the road. Here are a few essentials:

  • Create groups that include students with varying levels of skill.
  • Allow students to complete the challenges and encourage their performance regardless of how much they struggle.
  • Debrief the experience and provide students the opportunity to analyze the experience in order to build a sense of who they are as active learners.

I know how important it is to keep our students physically active in order to bolster their collection of daily activity minutes. However, if we fail to take time to process and extend our students’ learning then we’re failing to teach. In fact, we may be working against the very outcomes that we claim to be working toward.

Students will struggle with this outcome, and when placed in groups designed to encourage acceptance, many of them will become discouraged, frustrated, and even angry. This is the teachable moment that we’re looking for.

Learning can’t happen without struggle. Success rarely comes without failure. However, if students simply experience the movement aspect of this activity without the rigorous guidance of their teacher then it’s very possible that they’ll walk away less likely to accept other players of various skill levels instead of more likely.

The bottom line: take 10 minutes after the activity to teach the concept. Encourage students to examine the experience from all view points in order to revise previous knowledge that may have led them away from lower or higher skilled players.

Most of all…

Work hard. Have fun.

Free Physical Education Resources

  • Cooperative Triathlon Challenge Card (Word, PDF)