4th Grade

Thanks to parents for all your sneaker reminders!  4th grades are on Friday except Rachel's- Monday. 

June 12 & 19  Belayed Climbs & Shooting at Hoops (Friendly versions of Knock-out)

May 29 & Belayed Climbs to Balance Beam & Badminton Serving, Volleying

May 22  Last Floor Hockey Games + Start-up of Belayed Climbs to Balance Beam
I sometimes wonder if Ed is passing the windows to the gym during a PE class and thinking that a 3-ring circus is in session.  This week's 4th grade lesson was one of those!  In order for me to focus my attention on the safe belay of climbers climbing up the rope ladder to the balance beam, I needed to trust that students could play floor hockey in two separate, side-by-side games of 3-on-3 in a safe, fair, and appropriately intense manner.  What a great job Friday's classes did!  So many skills already learned and demonstrated were the building blocks for success today.  Check out my game map and expectations for the lesson!

April 13, 27, May 1, 15, 22  Floor Hockey!  
Students achieved improvements in their stick-handling, passing, and gamesmanship during this unit, but they also improved their efficiency of game set-up and clean-up!  That translates to more time to play games!

April 6  Stations for Striking with Hands or Paddles

Mar. 27  Striking with Hands/Arms #3:  Volleyball Passing, Serving, Play
Students learned about the importance of striking the ball properly in volleyball.  The goals are:  gain control, pass so a teammate can strike the ball, but use the proper strikes.  Bumps are great for striking when the ball is coming in front or to your side.  But make sure hands are joined!  Sets are excellent if the ball comes over your head.  And one-armed strikes are required for serving.  Students practiced these skills at stations.  Then, we played a long version of Messy Backyard with striking with hands or arms.  (Click here for photos of the game.)

Mar. 20  Tapping with Hands/Arms #2:  Volleyball Passing
Today's lesson was for trying out passing to a partner with arms & hands.  One partner tossed a ball in a rainbow arc to arrive in front of partner's stomach.  Other partner had hands joined for a bump.  Kids wanted to know why they couldn't interlace their fingers...one of the greatest causes for broken fingers!  Kids tried either the "fist wrap" or overlapped, cupped hands.  On both, we brought thumbs together for a flat, parallel position.  Then, partners tossed the ball in an arc over partner's forehead.  Kids learned the 10-finger push up, or set.  We finished with a quick game of Messy Backyard.  More next week!

Mar. 13  Belayed Climbs #3 (Firecracker Ladder + Wall), Straddleball and Beachball Volleyball Keep-it-up
Today's skill focus was Tapping with Hands.  Straddleball was a hit!

Mar. 6  Belayed Climbs #2, including Firecracker Ladder, + Jumprope Practice /Scooter Hockey  (See 5th Gr. photos)

Feb. 27 1st Belayed Wall Climbs on McT side of gym + Scooter mini-games (hockey)

Fri, Feb 13  Healthy Heart Behaviors and Sometimes vs. Everyday Food Tag, Scooter Hockey
4th graders spent a little time reflecting on their food choices and a few changes they would try to make over vacation.  We talked about balancing food choices to promote a healthy heart (fruits & veggies, lean proteins, whole grains, low-fat dairy) and physical activity as well as food choices to limit (foods with added sugar, fat, salt).  Later we played a tag game that required kids to think about whether a food was an Everyday Food choice or a "Sometimes" food before knowing which way to run.  Click for more info.
Then, we played a little Scooter Hockey as an intro to our Hockey Unit.  Nothing like having all students traveling by scooter to level the playing field of experience levels and giving all students a chance to participate and work on skills.  :)

Fri, Jan. 30  Flying Squirrel/ Basketball Skills #2
Sometimes coordinating and supervising lessons is a bit like running a 3-ring circus.  After warm ups, I had kids gather in small groups and try to recall the themes and behaviors I've had for students this year for which I'd also provided specific written feedback on students' self-assessments.  Then, each student printed the top 3 learning expectations where I'm looking for him or her to improve.  Here are some examples of students' reflections:  Don't boast, Share the ball, Be safe with my body and equipment, Pay attention to my tone of voice, Compliment teammates, Make good choices about who I'm next to for directions and instruction.  WOW!  4th Grade student growth right there!  Here's how Flying Squirrel, Scooter Hoops and Dribbling practice looked in class.

Scooter Hoops, Dribbling & Flying Squirrel


Fri, Jan. 23  Theme Day
Fri, Jan. 16  Professional Development for Teachers

Fri, Jan. 9   Basketball/Climbing Skills Unit #1
I reviewed spotting form for a wall climber up to 8 feet, play expectations for scooter mini-hoops game, and taking set shots on a basketball hoop.  Students rotated through stations for each skill, and I supervised at the climbing wall to provide students with individual feedback on spotting form.

Fri, Dec. 19  Muggle Quidditch with quicker passes/shots on goal, passes to the corners of the zone and a bludger added to each game (yarnball that outside beaters toss when ball is held over 2 sec. to cause a turnover)  We'll return to Muggle Quidditch for some outdoor play in the spring time.  Then we add a snitch.  :)
The 4th graders have improved their focus and speed for passing and taking quicker shots on goal.  Take a mere 30 seconds to see the brief videos showing improved passing speed and sharp defense as evidence of meeting my goals:

Colm's class


Keeper Action


Colm's clss

This 34-second video shows the two "beaters" on the outside of the game throw the bludger at players wearing pinneys to try to cause a turnover.  But the passers are just too quick for them!  

34 Seconds of Muggle Quidditch

Fri, Dec. 12 & Mon., Dec. 15....Muggle Quidditch!
Passing, catching, taking shots, defending- all part of the game of Quidditch!  So similar to Handball but engaging imagination and enthusiasm, as readers of the Harry Potter books get to play their favorite character too.  But no worries about being on Slytherin.  We're all trying out for the Griffindor team.  Nice defense & focus in the photos below!  Click on a photo to see the action up-close.  I also read the National PE Standard #4, Exhibiting Responsible Personal and Social Behavior, under the category of Working with Others for 4th graders:  "Praises the movement performance of others both more & less-skilled.  S4.E4.4a"  and "Accepts 'players' of all skill levels into physical activity. S4.E4.4b"   When we lined up, I asked students to give a thumb check (all the time, most, some) for how they did on those.
 Click on a photo to enlarge it. 
  Nice defensive focus!

Fri, Dec. 5   Excellent Handball Skill work & Games
What excellent passing, sharing shots on goal, and defense I observed with the 4th graders today!  We reviewed my expectations for passing to all teammates and giving all kids chances to try, then teams of 4 players took turns playing goalie.  Teammates passed and each took a shot on goal before switching goalies. Then we played games, but only volunteers played goalie.  Check out the players' focus, nice offensive spacing, and defensive awareness (zone defense) in photos of Christy's class.  Great effort today!  On Monday, I had tried a round of man-to-man defense where students were matched with a specific opponent to guard.  The game quickly devolved to overly competitive games, with less skilled players being left out of passing rounds and more skilled players charging to take all the shots.  Looks like zone defense is best for all players to get chances to learn.  
             Defenses are ready!

Fri, Nov 21 & Mon, Nov 24 Handball Skills/Games
We discussed adjectives and phrases that describe passes that are friendlier for classmates with less catching experience.  All the 4th graders had finished their previous lesson with a self-assessment, where they checked their frequency for:  focusing on staying on-task, using friendly behavior with all teammates and partners, demonstrating safety with speed and equipment, and providing all classmates with chances to learn.  They also tried describing passes that give all teammates a good chance to catch during games.  Today, we identified those characteristics as:  
  • gentle speed (lobs)
  • arriving at the chest
  • when the teammate is looking and ready
  • short-distance passes.
Then we got into teams and took turns giving each teammate practice as goalie, standing in ready position and blocking shots from teammates.  We finished with all students playing in 3-on-3 or 4-on-4 mini-games, with only volunteers playing goalie, with 3 separate games being played simultaneously.  First time ever that I have tried that.  But 4th graders are demonstrating such appropriate play in games with students of all skill levels that it worked really well!  Kudos to them!!!  We finished by lining up by remembering having made short, gentle, to the chest passes all the time, most of the time, or some of the time.

Fri Nov 14 & Mon Nov 17
Moving right along to Team Handball!  The fourth graders did not miss a beat making the transition to another new indoor court sport.  Handball is an Olympic sport, popular in Europe and Asia, and played at many elementary and middle schools in the US.  It has some similar rules to Tchoukball but with a lacrosse-type goal and the addition of bounce passes and dribbling.  We use the pop-up goals.  But all 4 classes played in a couple of 4-on-4 Handball games, using a Zone Defense.  One game had a goalie (which I asked to be filled by volunteers) and the other was without a goalie.  I loved seeing the quicker passes and shared shots on goal by all teams.  Great start for another fun sport with lots of passing and catching.

 Blue takes a shot on the rebounder.
 Red Team attempts to catch the rebound.
 No catch- goal for Blue!
 Green's Owen winds up for a shot at rebounder.
 Yellow's Sofia makes the catch!  No goal!

Oct 24 & 27
What improvements I saw for 4th graders' Tchoukball games!  More accurate passes to chest or belly area.  Better control to keep passes gentle and "catchable" for all teammates.  For Tchoukball games, I saw fewer dropped passes and faster turnarounds for the next pass.  Also, ALL 4th graders got a shot on goal during a game!  And several shots demonstrated consideration to the angle or force of the rebound for more scoring shots.  Nice progress!

Oct 6 & 10
Today, we finally progressed to a 6-on-6 round of Tchoukball.  First, each student practiced tossing and catching a ball off the wall in the gym for about 30 catches.  Then, we watched a little video about Tchoukball to understand it and see it in action.  Then, we practiced passing and catching, with emphasis on short, close passes that were easy for teammates to catch, but also on moving the ball quickly down the court with passes in quick succession.  Then we played a round of 6-on-6 Tchoukball.  Here are the basic rules:
-Teams must have 3 or more passes.
-No one can guard or intercept passes or make contact with players in possession of the ball.
-To prevent the opposing team from scoring, you try to catch the rebound off the rebounder target before the ball hits the ground and without stepping inside the "forbidden zone."  
-If your team drops or misses a pass, the other team gets possession of the ball.

Check out the video a PE teacher made for kids to understand the game (we started watching at 2:02):

YouTube Video

Sept 26 & 29
Our No-Defense Castleball was in preparation for the game of Tchoukball.  This game was invented in 1970 to emphasize passing and catching skills but is now played competitively all around the world!  Today's lesson focused on passing with a partner while moving and taking shots on a goal (for today, the backboard of the basketball hoops).  Eventually, we built up to trying to catch the partner's rebound off the goal, the only way to defend against a goal in Tchoukball.  

Sept 19 & 22
This lesson focused on practicing the skills and guidelines for Overhand Throwing and building a 6-hoop castle with a partner.  I checked in with each class on what were the most important reminders for each.  For Overhand Throwing:  body starts sideways, letter L throwing arm away from target, stepping with opposite foot, and following through to opposite leg.  The focus was trying to get your ball to touch down 1/2 way across the room or further from the blue line on one side.  I observed for every child's ability to do this and offered instruction for those having difficulty.  For building a castle with a partner, students remembered that I asked kids to work with a partner who they did not usually spend time with at school and to take turns with the beginning and ending jobs.  Then we played No-Defense Castleball (with 3 hoop targets on each side of the gym).  We played several rounds of this game.  Then we finished with a pencil and paper self-assessment.  I asked students to imagine that I had videoed the entire class time and to rate their frequency for doing each skill that the video would reveal, from "All the Times" that you performed a skill to "Less than 1/2 the times" you performed the skill.  The skills were:
  • Limited time next to my friend, Used friendly body language and facial expressions with partners and teammates, 
  • Used a friendly tone of voice with all (kids & teachers), 
  • Traveled at Safe speeds and used safe force, 
  • Followed Mary's rules about where my body was during Warm up, 
  • ...during stations, 
  • ...during game, 
  • Turned sideways & stepped with opposite foot for throws, 
  • During game threw ball and reached other side of gym, 
  • Had a just right competitive spirit for a PE game.  

I will be reviewing these, giving feedback to students, and then collecting them to save for comparison to a future Self-Assessment and share with parents in Student Led Conference folders.  This was a check-in for me to ask students to indicate how they are doing on skills that I find important and for which I have already provided direct instruction.  Before children can work on movement and manipulative skills, they need to demonstrate that they can be safe with equipment in our space and allow all children the chance to learn.

Sept 12 & 15
Lesson #2's focus was teamwork, openness to working with a classmate with whom you don't usually work, and overhand throwing a ball.  We practiced Overhand throwing, with emphasis on:   standing sideways, having the throwing arm away from the target and in the shape of the letter L, stepping with the opposite foot, and following through after the throw to the opposite leg or hip.  Then students paired up and practiced building a 6-hoop castle structure.  We played a fun game called Castleball with no defense, or blocking, and emphasis on throwing balls at the other team's castles.  We'll continue this next week too.

Friday, Sept 5 or Monday, Sept 8, 2014
Our schedule this year has 3 of the 4th grades having Phys. Ed. (P.E.) on Fridays and 1 on Monday.  (Click the Schedule tab for your child's day.)  All 4 classes have PE on a different day of the week than last year, so some children might need regular reminders to pack their sneakers.  The theme for our first PE lesson was Community Building.  We have a few new students to get to know, and even familiar friends need to shake up their sense of each other upon returning from summer.  After reviewing names, sneaker expectations, and my request that students try their best and respect themselves, me, classmates, equipment, and our room, we jumped into a few ice-breaking activities.  We played a game called, "This summer, did you...?" that is like musical chairs with stars on the floor, with the last student out asking the next question from the middle container.  This activity was a chance for children to move, have some friendly competition, and observe that they have many shared experiences and also different experiences within the class.  Next, we played Puzzle Partner Pacman for getting moving with some vigorous exercise and sharing some silliness popping styrofoam pacman pieces at each other.  This was also an opportunity for me to see if I could trust students to follow directions and perform exercises without direct supervision or if I would need to supervise more directly in future lessons.  Colm's class, which has 3 new students, also had some fun with an extra activity called Figaro Figaro, for introducing yourself to other students using a few different prompts, first- just using your regular voice, second- as if you were a car salesperson, third- as if you were a dog.  I joined in the fun too!  We'll have one more week with the focus on Community Building to reinforce being open to working with all students in class, using a friendly tone of voice and body language, before moving on to throwing and catching practice and games.

Kudos to Rachel's class for having all students wear sneakers!