Just as physical literacy exists across multiple domains, engagement in physical education should happen in different domains as well:
A well-crafted lesson should provide students with opportunities to engage in a variety of ways. These opportunities for multiple forms of engagement should be intentionally designed and baked into our lessons.
When our lessons rely too heavily on a single form of engagement (e.g. physical engagement), we rob our students of the opportunity to engage in deeper learning. Overreliance on the physical domain is also what puts us in a tricky spot when it comes to students whose participation has suddenly become limited (e.g. injury, illness), because we haven’t planned for other forms of engagement in the lesson.
That being said, no lesson is perfect and educators – no matter how are loving students may view us – are human. I’m not going to sit here and pretend that every lesson I ever delivered deserved to have songs written about it. Teaching is hectic and, despite our best efforts, getting caught off-guard at the last minute is going to happen.
Knowing this, I got to thinking about how I could create something that could help out in those moments of scrambling panic as we try to figure out how to keep every student engaged in our lesson regardless of their ability to physically participate in all of the activities we have planned.
Here’s what I came up with:
When I started to plan this resource out, I did so with the following goals in mind:
With those goals in mind, I started to draft together what would become the Alt/Par Cards.
The Alt/Par Cards (short for Alternative Participation Cards) is a set of six character cards that students whose ability to participate has become limited may choose from at the start of the lesson.
Each card features a fun character who has three missions to complete during the lesson.
These missions have been carefully crafted to promote cognitive, social, and/or affective engagement in the day’s lesson. The missions feature a balance of gaining clarity on the day’s learning targets, reflection on the learning process, interaction with peers, and reporting back to the teacher.
On the back of the cards are short reflections that the students are invited to fill in throughout the lesson. Each set of reflection questions and/or prompts was designed to match the character missions.
he cards can be printed out and given to students as needed. However, I would recommend that you print and laminate a set and keep them – along with some fine point dry erase markers – handy in your gym. This way, they’re always good to go and can be reused several times throughout the year!
To learn more about the story behind the Alt/Par cards and to find more information on each of the roles, check out my blog post on the topic: https://thephysicaleducator.com/2022/02/15/the-alt-par-cards-rethinking-the-roles-of-non-participants-in-physical-education/
To help you bring the Alt/Par Cards to your teaching, here is a breakdown of a classroom procedure you can adopt (or adapt as needed):
I hope your students enjoy the Alt/Par Cards and that this resource helps solve this common issue that we’ve all faced in our teaching. Thanks so much for your support and happy teaching!
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