Teaching Active Gaming
Although active gaming is a modern approach to traditional physical education activities, these activities should be implemented based on developmentally appropriate practices. The focus in any PE lesson should be on what the students are learning based on national and state standards and then on how they will accomplish these learning objectives. Active gaming should be used as a tool to help students learn in physical education. Active gaming should not become the PE curriculum where the focus is on the game play itself. Active gaming is an appropriate tool when used to assist PE teachers in helping students develop the necessary skills and knowledge in order to become physically educated and active for a lifetime.
The Teacher’s Role
The role of the teacher needs to be considered when implementing active gaming in physical education. The game itself may be familiar or easy for children to learn and/or use independently or from a peer; however, the physical education teacher plays a significant role in order for appropriate learning to occur. The following concepts must be considered to accomplish best practices using active gaming in the physical education classroom:
- Active Game Experience: Teachers must understand the importance and value in their understanding of active gaming which includes personal practice and preparation before implementing these activities in their classrooms. Lack of practice and experience is a concern and may lead to negative experiences in the physical education classroom.
- Creating Lessons: Before creating a lesson using active gaming activities there are essentially three main questions that should be considered: 1) What are my students going to learn from this lesson, 2) How are they going to learn it (what equipment am I going to use to accomplish this learning?), and 3) How am I going to assess their learning? The second question is where active gaming may be used at the appropriate tool to accomplish the learning objectives.
- Providing Feedback: The active game will provide students with immediate feedback related to game play. The teacher’s role is to provide feedback related to the learning objectives!
- Appropriate Assessment: Although active gaming provides students with instant feedback, often in the form of instant gratification, assessment in all three domains (psychomotor, cognitive, and affective) based on the learning objectives should be provided. Teachers must assess their students during and/or at the conclusion of each lesson to understand if their students accomplished the learning objectives. Traditional assessment methods may still be used now and are certainly appropriate, but in the future having assessment tools using related activities involving technology (heart rate monitors, accelerometers, etc.) may be more appealing to the students and more appropriate.
- Maximizing Participation: Integrate traditional physical activities if there are a limited number of active games available in order to maximize participation.
- Teaching Strategies: Using a variety of teaching strategies as well as rotation methods (see the “Teaching Tips” section on PE Central) is an effective approach to implementing active gaming in the physical education classroom.
- Safety: Managing safety hazards should be a top priority when implementing active gaming in your PE classroom. Be sure to secure or hide loose wires to avoid student falling when moving around the classroom. Additionally, take into consideration any electrical wiring when allowing students to take water breaks.
- Technical Issues: Teachers should be familiar with how to troubleshoot minor technological issues. Many issues may be easily solved by simply understanding the common problems associated with a particular active game such as having the TV monitor on the correct station, restarting a game if it “freezes”, and preplanning to have websites verified through the school district when or if using online active games.
Active Gaming and Learning
When implemented appropriately, active gaming can positively affect learning in all three domains (psychomotor, cognitive, and affective):
- Psychomotor: Depending on the active game, students are able to develop fitness and motor skills.
- Cognitive: Active game play can assist students in developing knowledge such as understanding the technical and tactical strategies in a variety of games, learning rules and/or regulations associated with specific sports or activities, and developing knowledge acquisition in various academic content areas.
- Affective: Active game play promotes healthy, social interaction enabling partner or peer learning as well as a feeling of enjoyment when being physically active.
Through careful, efficient planning and appropriate implementation, active gaming can be a contemporary and effective component of a physical education curriculum. Providing students the opportunity to participate in active gaming may facilitate the concept that “physical activity can be fun” which may in return prove to be a gateway to lifelong physical activity.
7/14/2010: Written by Lisa Hansen, Managing Editor of Active Gaming Section