by Asako Clark, ES Physical and Health Education teacher
Sports Day is an annual celebration of student learning in PE. When we normally have the event at the YCAC, students demonstrate the skills that they have developed and share their learning experiences with their family. At first with the campus closure, we thought there would be no way to run the Elementary Sports Day this year. Afterall, this event involves gathering everyone together, working with shared equipment, and lots of social interaction. It had already been challenging to organize and share learning activities that students could follow online from home, nevermind offering something for nearly 300 students at the same time!
As part of our planning for continuous learning, we have been gathering ideas for PE lessons from all over the world mostly through professional social media channels and by connecting directly with other PE teachers across the globe. Out of that research, we found many useful ideas including a Yoga Bingo card that we saved in case we wanted to use the idea in the future. From over a month of continuous learning we had been teaching and sharing activities that we either found or created over video through our regular lessons and felt a lot satisfaction in how students were able to keep enjoying their learning without being in the same place, needing to go outside, or using specialized equipment. At the same time, it was bittersweet to see such growth in the students yet for them not to have the chance to celebrate it fully.
So we revisited the original intent of Sports Day with a more flexible mindset, and realized that we might not really need to change the format much except for some of the team activities. Just like in previous years students had still developed confidence in a variety of skills that they could share with their families. We also knew from the learning journals that, in many cases, parents and siblings had been developing those skills right along with them so there was a lot to celebrate. Once our purpose and aim became clear again, we knew there would be a way to make the event happen!
After weeks of Continuous Learning, we had amassed quite a collection of instructional videos on how to do all the activities and challenges that had been assigned to our students but without an easy straightforward way of structuring the day so that everyone could participate in a shared event it wouldn’t work. Then we remembered that Yoga Bingo Card activity and everything fell quickly into place. With that as inspiration, we asked Mr. Broughton to help us to make it easy to navigate leading to the creation of two versions of the bingo cards, for ELC -Gr. 2 and Gr. 3-5. Each card included photos of the activities linked to the video instructions. The bingo cards allowed each family to join a shared experience but enabled students to choose their favorite activities and level of challenge. On the day, the Zoom Opening event was very exciting. We had no idea how it would go until we did it! It was amazing when we saw our students' excitement and engagement which was exactly what we had hoped for under these challenging circumstances.
After the Sports Day, Students reflected on their learning experiences and, of course, some of them were disappointed about not being able to do it with their classmates together at the YCAC but many more of them enjoyed seeing many friends and reconnecting with the community during the Zoom session. Even if we can only see each other in the small thumbnail images on the screen, the students felt a sense of a warm community celebrating their learning together and with their family on the Seesaw. In challenging times these small successes give us renewed energy and passion to keep moving forward.