So you’re getting ready for your Gymnastics Unit and looking for some ideas?
You’re wondering how to get the boys that are “too cool” to buy in to your unit?
You’re wondering about safety and anxious that kids might get hurt while trying different movements?
That’s exactly how I felt when I was planning my first gymnastics unit.
I thought I would share how I teach gymnastics at my school to give you a few ideas as you plan your next unit.
First off – I think it’s really important to sell your kids on the importance of learning gymnastics, which is basically just body management. Throughout the unit your students will learn to control their bodies while moving in a ton of different ways. You can also throw in things like Parkour – which is form of body management that kids (especially boys) will resonate with.
I always talk to my kids about the fact that the strength, flexibility and balance that you will gain from working on gymnastics skills will transfer easily to every other sport that you might want to pursue.
So even if you’re kids never take a gymnastics class, the skills will help them achieve success in other areas. It’s really important to discuss this with your students so they will understand the “WHY” behind the instruction and realize that if they put in the effort, they will reap the benefits even if they never pursue gymnastics outside of school.
I usually begin with an overview of the unit, some rules via a Prezi and a quick gymnastics highlight video, you can see an example of a few excerpts from my unit intro below.
If you have a screen or projector and would like to use my Prezi for your Gymnastics unit, feel free to check it out HERE. Just create an account and copy it to your own account and you should be able to make changes as you want to fit your unit.
Sidenote: If you have a setup similar to mine with a screen/projector a good alternative if you don’t have the ability to do an iPad mirror is using a laptop with a bluetooth keyboard if you want mouse capabilities (like the one I’m using above) or a Presenter/Clicker if you’re just doing slides.
If you want to show a gymnastics video – the one below is one I was showing in my Unit Intro video above, it’s a great example of both talented guys and girls and also has a nice teamwork and sportsmanship component to it.
I usually do a 3-4 week unit and focus on a couple of skill components during each lesson plan, modifying the content and difficulty for each grade level to keep it age appropriate and build on prior knowledge. FYI – I see my kids once a week for 50 minutes, so it’s usually 3-4 total lessons.
See an example of what the breakdown would look like below:
Gymnastics Unit Overview
Week 1 – Travelling
- Animal Travels
- Create Your Own Travels
Week 2 – Balancing & Jumping and Landing
- Review Travels
- Single Balances
- Using my 25 Awesome Balancing Challenges E-Book Task Cards and Poster
- Partner Balances (2nd-5th)
- Using PE Geek App or BalanceIt Task Cards
- Jumping and Landing
- Jumping Tricks (2nd – 5th)
- Create a Sequence using previously learned skills (Travel, Balance, Jump)
You can download the poster below for free at the bottom of this page.
Week 3 – Create A Routine
- Review Travels, Balances & Jumping and Landing
- Have students come up with a Sequence or Routine combining all the elements they have learned
- Perform the Sequence after giving students time to practice
During this week I have my older students write their routine down to help them think through it and also just to have a piece of evidence to show learning. You can see an example of the worksheet I use below – It’s available in my Gymnastics Resource Pack.
If you see your students more than once a week and have more time to devote to the unit, this is a great time to integrate some technology and video your students routines and then watch them all as a class via a projector or TV. I wish I had enough time to do this because I think it would be an awesome learning experience to talk through the different routines as a class.
Week 4 – Gymnastics Stations
- Allow students to practice all the skills they’ve learned throughout the unit at different activity stations. All the below station signs are available in my Gymnastics Resource Pack.
- Station Ideas
- Animal Travels
- Jumping and Landing
- Balancing Challenges
- Partner Balances
- Balance Beams
- Rope Climb
- Rope Swing
- Rock Wall
- Exercise Station
- Rings or Bars if you have them
- Create a sequence
- Station Ideas
You can see the station sign holders that I used in the video below, if you want to check them out you can find them by clicking here.
Note: The slips have vertical and horizontal orientations, so make sure to select the one you want… or get both if you need both orientations.
The Culminating Experience (Gymnastics Stations)
Taking a note from the Sport Education Model, I try to end each unit of instruction that I teach with a culminating experience for my students. I want them to look forward to it and remember it from year to year. Usually it’s a super fun game, some type of tournament or a bunch of exciting activity stations.
The students get pretty pumped about the last week of our gymnastics unit when we do the activity stations because we have a small trampoline that they get to vault over equipment with and also get to jump off equipment, do the balance beams, rope swings and watch themselves perform different travels on the TV with an app called BAM video delay.
Kids are just like adults in that they really enjoy autonomy and working towards mastery (sidenote: if you want to learn more about what motivates us as humans check out the book Drive: by Dan Pink, it gave me some great perspective for teaching) Anyway – stations is a great way to give students that independent practice that they desire and need in order to work towards mastering a skill. Also, they are a great tool for teachers to use to free themselves up to give one-on-one feedback, and assess student skill and behavior either formally or informally.
You can see an example of the way I have my Gymnastics stations setup below:
Don’t have much equipment?
I realize that I have a lot of equipment, we are super blessed at my school and I have built on the program each year. If you don’t have much equipment, don’t sweat it, it takes time to build up a well stocked equipment closet, but you can always figure out ways to make it work, here’s a few ideas.
- Approach your district about buying some equipment that can be shared and travel around to all the schools during each schools gymnastics unit
- Check out these mats – great reviews at a good price
- Don’t have a balance beam? Just use a simple 2 x 4 for a balance beam, or google “DIY Balance Beam” for some ideas
- Modify and be creative – there’s always a way to use what you have, just think like MacGyver
- Use aerobic steps for jump boxes
- Use poly spots to balance on
- Use yoga mats instead of gymnastics mats
- Think outside the box 🙂
Thanks for checking out the blog, I hope it was helpful. If you have some ideas for upgrading a gymnastics unit or have any questions – leave a comment in the comment section.
If you’re looking for some resources to take your upgrade your next Gymnastics unit, consider purchasing my Gymnastics Resource Pack – I’ve put ALOT of hard work into it, and I think it would be a super valuable resource for your program. You can see the details below.
Gymnastics Resource Pack
- 4 Week Unit of Instruction
- This 22 page document is straight from my clipboard to yours. My refined, tried and tested lessons aligned to SHAPE America’s Grade Level Outcomes and the National PE Standards. It’s detailed and packed with ideas and value to help you plan your next unit.
- Based on once a week PE, but can easily be modified to fit your specific situation
- 25 Awesome Balance Challenges E-Book
- My first E-book, inspired by the PE Geeks Partner Balancing Series.
- 25 Single Balance Task Cards that can be printed or projected on a screen to give your students a visual to try and replicate when working on balancing.
- All task cards are color coded into 3 different difficulty levels for easy sorting and teaching with differentiation to all skill levels.
- 25 Awesome Balancing Challenges Poster
- Digital copy of all 25 balances on one page to be printed poster size for your gym wall
- Create Your Own Routine Student Worksheet
- A printable worksheet that guides your students in creating their own routine.
- It’s a great student portfolio piece and also comes with rubric if you want to use it as an assessment
- Gymnastics Station Signs
- 14 printable station signs to allow your students the freedom to work on their gymnastics skills independently while you give feedback and assess student skills.
*NOTE: Before purchasing this pack, I recommend looking into paying for a yearly membership, the entire Gymnastics Resource Pack and tons of other resources are available for free download within the membership section. (Show Me How to Become a Member)
Want a freebie? You can download my 25 single balances poster below for free below.
This is a draft of my presentation, to be delivered next week at the Office of Schools conference, Engaging learners through innovative practice, about blogEd, the NSW DET blogging platform.
Actually, the presentation is more about using blogs at school and in class, rather than anything specific about using this great tool for students and teachers. If you are keen to see more about the actual blogED platform check out this great video overview, my delicious bookmarks or this Prezi by Craig Snudden.
I know it is traditional to actually present your material, then provide the copy for delegates but I am hoping to try something a little different for this workshop.
If you do check out the Prezi and notes below, please suggest OTHER IDEAS that are likely to engage students with blogging. The delegates can have a look at the end the workshop, or even better, participants may assist build an evolving resource, with their own suggestions posted afterwards (or during the presentation).
In my perfect world, the most enthusiastic post follow-up comments about their blogging efforts, later in the year, with links to their own blogs and reflections.
Prezi – oddly enough ;O) – tends to work best with the presenter’s narrative rather than being placed soundlessly online. To counter this, I have posted some notes below, which may help fill the gaps, to show more of what content will accompany the slides.
1. Student Representative Council: the students at our school named their SRC blog, OURSPACE. The posts varied greatly, covering topics like the MADD (Music, Art, Dance & Drama) Night, a school play, the Breakfast Club, uniform issues, excursions, recycling, student elections, a video conference with another school (thanks Victor) and social media. There were many comments and very positive student input. Here’s an article with more detail about the idea (last page).
2. Engagement & Activism: what’s the point of blogging unless you care passionately about something. Why should it just be the SRC that get to agitate for positive change? Students care about the future and a blog allows engagement with other young people and our world. Which kids in your class will enjoy having this kind of a voice? Our school has some Aboriginal students becoming involved with the Junior AECG in leadership positions who are keen to link up with other kids in our Learning Community. They will be blogging next term!
3. Digital Citizenship: our school ihas commenced a blog for Year 6 transistioning to high school as part of our focused Peer Support program facilitated by Year 9. This is a long running tradition at the school which culminates with the Peer Support Leaders accompanying their charges on a week long camp when they commence Year 7. Years 7 and 8 already have Year Advisor run blogs which covers aspects of this program.
4. How many blogging unit ideas can be accessed via our PLNs? Twitter and Yammer (where there is a blogED community) would be a great place for teachers keen to learn about blogging to connect with other educators.
5. Creative Commons: it is just essential that students and teachers are exposed to this concept and copyright during blogging – the earlier the better
6. Fragments: this idea is Troy Martin‘s – see f. below
7. Personal Interest Projects: blogED quire simply is a perfect teaching resource that allows students to connect and collaborate to research and present. What an opportunity to engage kids’ where they are at, perhaps in teams or pairs.
8. Reflection: the first unit I ever wrote about using blogs in class was in 2004 (page 71) and it focused on reflection. It still seems to be the best use of a blog. A teacher can commence a class blog and in simple, brief posts have children reflecting and interacting. Often, the most reluctant to contribute in class will type quite happily.
9. Assessment: quite simply, how would you use a blog for summative and formative assessment? Please post a comment for the delgates. Please.
10. Social media: how could a class or school using blogs to explore cybersafety and issues to do with ‘the medium’ and societal change? Please post a comment for the delgates. Please.
a. Slide 2: Angela Kasimis created this image (using Wordle and our SRC photo)
b. Slide 6: Barack Obama Flickr
c. Slide 13: Post from OurSpace blog
d. Slide 19 Tagxedo.com cloud of my Delicious bookmarks
e. Slide 21 Tagxedo.com cloud of Digital Citizenship blog used for the header
f. Slides 38-9 These quotes from twoposts, ‘fragments’ at Troy Martin‘s blog and I thank him for ‘donating’ some ‘memories’