P.E. teachers have always known that one of the great motivators for students has been competition. Regardless of any tangible incentives, students have an intrinsic desire to win because winning is fun. Turner Middle School’s Steve Frye and Kristi Leonard, along with Conrad Ball Middle School’s Jayna Custer and Colin Faherty, considered an idea: how could Turner students compete with Conrad Ball students? They realized that with the right technology, they could integrate a live stream competition between schools.
Using FaceTime on iPads and projecting on the gym wall, the two schools dabbled with the idea by live streaming warm-up exercises. While running a lap or completing stretch drills, students could look up and see students of their same grade level, completing the same exercises, at a completely different location. There was an immediate sense of friendly competition: our class can complete more push-ups, our class’s stretches are more in sync. But there was still a clear sense of camaraderie as students gave the other school compliments and advice. With the success of this idea, they came up with an exciting project in which student groups livestream dance routines for the other school.
Jayna explained “[We] were excited to try something together, and this was a great project to try that hasn’t been done in our district before.” Steve also recognized that if they used video, then they could record student evidence in PE concepts, as well. He stated “we are committed to providing all of our students a personalized learning experience in Thompson [and] evidence of mastery is one of the pillars of the personalized learning experience. [We] thought that streaming [a] dance competition live with peers from another school is a great way for our students to witness evidence of mastery.”
Students created dance routines and acted them out on FaceTime for the other school. Students from that school then gave scores based on the defined rubric from the teachers. It instantly reminded of Olympic judges or Slam Dunk contests in which numbers are held up to evaluate a performance in a friendly format. At Turner, Frye explained that “the students were engaged immediately, worked hard on the assignment, and were eager to share their work with fellow Thompson students.” In regard to Conrad Ball students, Custer said “I was very excited to see some kids that I thought would hate it, actually loved it and excelled.” When speaking to a group of students who completed their dance routine for the other school, they explained how they don’t get excited about PE for dancing, but when they knew that they would be competing with and performing for another school, they were eager to put on a great performance.
When asked for advice in getting started, Steve and Jayna didn’t even focus on the technology because it was relatively simple. Instead they embraced the idea of just trying something new and not being afraid of failure. Custer said, “Go for it! The kids were really enthusiastic about seeing what another class was doing.” And Frye reiterated, “Don’t be afraid to try something new. Anything that engages and inspires students is worth taking a risk.”
If you want to try a livestream competition across schools, or even want to compete with Turner and Conrad Ball PE, feel free to contact these teachers or EdTech TSD to help get started.
By Joe Zappa