6th Grade Thursdays

June 18 Favorite Games:  Blob Tag, Pirate Ships, Castleball
 Pirate Ships

June 11 Basketball Skill Review + Favorite Games #1 (Ghostbusters)

June 4 Soccer #2

May 28 Soccer #1
All 3 classes spent at least some of the class time outside.  Students with a few seasons of coached soccer helped coach students with less or no soccer experience in dribbling.  Partners gave a compliment and a tip for:  using each foot, using all sides of feet, keeping body and ball under control, and keeping ball close to dribbler.  Then, partners passed a ball, using mostly the inside of the foot to strike the ball and to stop the ball as it arrived.  Tasha's and Tom's classes were at the turf fields and then had space to spread out for stronger force passes.  I observed that our less experienced dribblers made lots of practice with the focused feedback of one experienced helper.  Such nice partner work!

May 21 Fast-moving Floor Hockey mini-games
With steps set down the center of the gym, we played two side-by-side games of 3-on-3 Floor Hockey, with emphasis on using the "boards" to pass around defenders.  I observed sharper anticipation from teammates for those faster passes at any time.  :)
Like last week, students observed another student to later share a compliment and a reminder about his or her play.



May 14  Outside PE:  Street Hockey Skills & Mini-Games
Thanks to kind cooperation from teachers at both McT and Merriam, our sixth grade classes got to use the front circle for their PE class today.  The weather was perfect, and the extra space was just right for our first mini-games with hockey sticks and skills.  Students first identified what specific skills I had been watching for last lesson (correct length stick selection, proper grip and spacing of hands, proper guiding of a ball by using both sides of the stick out in front of feet, and safe lifting of stick only up to knee-height for passes and shots).  Then, students practiced guiding a ball around the front circle and bouncing the ball off the curb to practice passing around a defender.  We finished with a few times through of playing in a 3-on-3 game or watching a partner in the other shift for complimenting him or her on a skill well done and offering a tip for making a change.  Great lesson!

April 2  Start of short Diamond Games Unit + Skill Practice
We got a little skill practice with 4 skills first:  dribbling and running "suicides" between the gym lines, throwing and catching with a partner for 20 catches each, jumping rope 50 times, and trying a pull up or trying a climb of a rope.  

Next, we covered the basics of diamond games:  the bases mark the 4 corners of the diamond, fielders will always try to stop the ball and throw to first, runners tag bases by stepping on as little as a corner of the base.  Then we played a wacky baseball game that allows for lots of throwing and catching as well as lots of base tagging.  The batter strikes the ball off a tee and then runs the bases until the fielding team calls "STOP!"  The fielding team throws the ball to first where it is exchanged with a ball in a holder and then that ball is thrown to second....and so on, until the final throw is made to home.  The catcher taps the top of the tee with the ball and calls, "STOP!"  I allowed for each base to tally 1/4.  A scorekeeper on each team tallied the bases reached.  We'll finish the game next week, as many students were still waiting for a turn to bat.  All students will get turns to field at a base position.

March 26  Last week on McT side:  Giants' Ladder Climbs + Final Badminton with mini-matches
Excellent work finishing up Giants' Ladders Climbs and belays!  Also, so nice to see the progress made with badminton skills.  Kids were ready to try 3 point games (winning by at least 2 points).  I taught kids all the ways points were scored, and we played with nets and small court boundaries.  Vanessa's class was lucky to have Dave James join in some play & instruction!

March 19 Belayed Firecracker Ladder climbing + Badminton Skills
Last climbs and Australian Belays on the Firecracker Ladder, more progress on Badminton Skills.  Continued work on underhand serve but this time practicing it over a net.  Also, continued focus on orienting your grip so your racket face would be parallel to the net for accurate returns.  New this week- trying to move back to the center of the playing area after moving to the birdie on a return.  I observed students for informal assessment of those skills today.

March 12  Belayed Climbs on Giants' Ladder or Badminton Skills
More turns for pairs of climbers to try climbing the Giants' Ladder and more progress on Badminton Skills.  Today's focus was:  underhand serves, paying attention to the orientation of the face of the racket, and aiming your return to arrive over your partner's head or down by knees.  I'm seeing progress there!  Also, great teamwork on climbing & belaying.

March 5  Belayed Climbs on Firecracker Ladder & Wall, Fitness & Skill Practice, Teamwork Activity, Badminton...progress to Doubles
My lesson goals were to give students who belayed but did not climb last week the first chances to climb today, provide belaying and/or climbing opportunities for those who chose them, give instruction and practice opportunities for volleying in badminton, and provide chances to play in a doubles badminton volleying session.
 1st:  Long jumprope & dribbling for all


Excitement over passing 100 volleys



Feb. 26  Belayed Climb on Giant's Ladder, Fitness & Skill Practice, Badminton Volleying with a Partner

Feb. 12 Final Belayed Balance Beam Climbs, Jumprope Practice, Start of Badminton Skills, the Critical/Supportive Voice in Your Head
I asked students to think about whose voice they heard in their heads when they made a mistake or when the going gets tough.  Mom's?  Dad's?  Coach's?  Your teacher's?  I asked kids to think about whether it was kind and gave them a chance to re-do or if it was judgmental and criticized.  I offered them the chance to think about making it into a voice that gave them a chance and helped them do better.  Then, students who wanted to climb and belay put on harnesses and kids who wanted to play Badminton practiced Jumprope then practiced serving first, then volleying.

Feb. 5  Review of Thinking Skills, Dribbling Practice & Dribbling Tag, Belayed Climbs
6th graders worked with a partner to jot down the most important things about turning around negative thinking and making good choices.  Here are some of their responses:

Jan. 29 Scooter Hoops, Knock-out & Belayed Climbs to Balance Beam, review of STOP for changing negative or judgmental thinking
Knock-Out:  2 balls, 1 line of kids
1st shot from line; if you miss, move in, use the backboard; 
only the player behind you can knock you out 

Jan. 22 Basketball Skills + Harnesses/Flying Squirrel + How to "Choose to be Kind"
(click the Favorite Games tab to see Tasha's class hauling for Flying Squirrel)
While students watch a climber, pull to haul a classmate to the rafters for Flying Squirrel, or lower a climber as part of our Belayed Climbing Unit, they can't help but notice all kinds of details about their classmates.  I wanted to establish clear expectations for students during this unit but also for noticing their own thoughts about themselves and others.  I asked students to work toward pausing negative thoughts and turning them toward respectful and positive alternatives.
When thinking is turning negative, I asked students to use "STOP:"
  • Stop your thinking process
  • Take 3 breaths and smile (just a little Mona Lisa smile can work)
  • Observe your thoughts like a non-judgmental outsider
  • Proceed with kind and positive thinking
I heard about this acronym on a PBS presentation by neuropsychologist Jeffrey Schwartz about taking control of your brain.  But with the posters and presentations around the school for "Choose to be kind," I thought it could help to show how to do this. 

We also practiced dribbling and shooting at hoops.  We finished with a shooting game called Knock-Out. 

Jan. 15 Basketball Skills + Mini 3-on-2 game + Climbing #1 (spotting) + Mental Health (noticing your thinking)

Jan. 8- Frigid temps delay limits my time with 6th graders....but I see Vanessa's class first for a change!
We practiced Basketball Skills in motion:  Dribbling, Passing with a defender, Defending, and Lay Ups.  Here's a glimpse of dribbling while jogging with emphasis on maintaining control of the ball and trying to keep it waist height or below.  The 2nd video shows the Passing, Receiving, and Defending drill (better known as Monkey-in-the-Middle).  The 6th graders seem to really enjoy basketball!  Tom's class played a little basketball during indoor recess, and I'll make up Tasha's on Friday.  :)

Dec. 11 & 18 Basketball Skills...finally!
Many students have been asking and waiting for basketball for many weeks now.  We have spent two weeks practicing basketball skills at stations as well as practicing fitness skills.  I showed them the components of a "set shot" using BEEF:
  • Balance ball on dominant hand, fingers turned back toward your head, helping hand on side
  • Elbow held at shoulder height, lined up with Ball & Hoop
  • Eyes align with Ball, elbow & hoop.  Bend knees, then stand and extend arm.
  • Fingers follow-through to roll the ball backwards and point down toward the floor.
Students practiced a straight in the air BEEF shot at my station, so I could offer feedback.  I was impressed at the effort and progress!  Then, students had two stations for shooting at the 10-foot hoops, one station for dribbling, one for bounce passing to partners, another for jumproping, one for swinging a long jumprope and jumping inside it, and finally, climbing the ropes at the last station.  What a terrific effort students made climbing the rope as well.  Our gym space can feel crowded, with 24 students at 8 stations.  Students need to take shorter distance shots and quickly track down missed shots so that all students are safe and no one gets hit.  The second week effort demonstrated greater responsibility and quality effort at skills!  Well done!  :)

In addition to being able to shoot using the BEEF cues for a set shot, 6th graders are expected to dribble and maintain control of the ball with their dominant hand, bounce pass to a partner in a 2-on-1 practice scenario, and defend in that scenario by standing in "ready position" with weight on balls of feet, arms extended, and eyes focused on the player with the ball.  Here are some PE teachers demonstrating an assessment used for those 5th/6th grade Basketball Offensive and Defensive skills.

Nov. 19  + Dec. 4   Mini- Handball Unit
Handball is an indoor court game played internationally (in the Summer Olympics) and is basically hand-soccer.  PE teachers love it for developing passing and catching skills.  The 6th graders played with zone defense on Nov. 19 and 1-to-1 defense against an equal match.

Nov. 13  Finish of Flag Football with 6-on-6 games
I had not anticipated that 6th graders playing Flag Football could turn out as well as it did!  After our warm ups, we practiced throwing and catching a football with a partner.  Then, we played two, side-by-side 6-on-6 games of modified Flag Football (with quick-release belts) over at the turf fields last Thursday, and the kids did a terrific job!  The two results that most impressed me were:  1) how well the students with football knowledge and/or experience shared it with their less knowledgable classmates, and 2) how much the students new to football demonstrated in understanding the game and catching a football while playing the game.  I'm loving seeing them applying their throwing and catching skills.

Oct 23 & 30
We started a new unit on Oct. 23:  Football Skills!  We looked at a blank drawing of a field and labeled the important details for the game of football.  Then, students rotated through stations for football, fitness, or skills (jumprope, hula hooping, trying pull-ups and climbing the rope, passing and catching with a partner, and playing quarterback and receiver).  Below are a few video clips of the last station.  On Oct 30, we used quick release flag belts and practiced snapping the ball to the QB, playing QB & throwing a football, and being the receiver.

QB to receiver pass

Tom's Class Pass

Tom's Class Pass 2

Oct 9
This was too nice a day to miss going outside  We took the awkward Tchoukball rebounder targets through the path in the woods to the turf fields and back and played 1/2-court style games with one rebounder per game.  Much better job at making "hot potato" style passes to teammates (many short, lob passes without much pause between passes), accurate shots at the target, and excellent catches off the rebounder (which denied the opponent the goal).  

Oct 2
After our warm ups, we practiced tossing and catching a ball and preparing for our first Tchoukball mini-games.  We watched part of the YouTube video (see 4th or 5th grade levels) and then played a mini game.  While 12 students played, 12 other students provided feedback on players' "catchable throws" and catches of those catchable throws.  The emphasis of this game is on catching and quickly making a catchable pass to another teammate.  Students watched one other student and provided feedback on whether they made one, missed one, or made an outstanding one.  Nice job!

Sept 4, 2014

I'm always amazed at how much students have grown and matured when I see the 6th grade classes for the first time!  Our first PE lesson focused on Community Building.  We need to become acquainted with a few new students, and even familiar friends need to shake up their sense of each other upon returning from summer.  After reviewing sneaker expectations, basic safety rules, and my request that students try their best and respect themselves, me, classmates, and equipment, we jumped into a few ice-breaker activities.  We played a silly game called Puzzle Partner Pacman both to get some vigorous physical exercise and to have some silliness popping styrofoam pacman pieces at each other.  Students worked with a partner who shared the other half of their object puzzle and took turns popping the pacmen or doing some exercises the students offered.  Next, we played a game called, "This summer, did you...?" This is like musical chairs but with stars on the floor, with the student left out asking the next question from the middle.  This activity was a chance for children to move, have some friendly competition, and observe that they have many similar experiences and different experiences within the class.  It was also a good opportunity, too, for me to reinforce the concept of regulating intensity so that it students understand what level of competitiveness is appropriate during our P.E. activities.  We finished with Group Spelling.  I divided the class in half and asked each half to think of a word (adjective, noun,or  verb) that is something that the class aspires to do, be or demonstrate during their last year at Merriam School.  Then they worked together and used their bodies to make the letters to spell out their defining word.  All three 6th grade classes came up with terrific words:  AWESOME, TEAMWORK, RESPECT, FUN!, TOPIC! AND EPIC. Pictures to come soon...  6th grade is off to a great start in the gym!

Week 1 Kudos to:  Tom's class for all students wearing sneakers and Nick Bury, Matthew, Jenna, Sheena, Sabina, Steve, Sarah, Sophia, Ryan, Anagha, Ella, and Jingyi  for your excellent focus and teamwork on sharing ideas and spelling!