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The Alt/Par Cards

Help injured students engage in your lessons with this set of six Alternative Participation (Alt/Par) Cards!

$ 5 USD


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About this Resource

Just as physical literacy exists across multiple domains, engagement in physical education should happen in different domains as well:

  • Physical engagement (Moving & Playing)
  • Cognitive engagement (Thinking)
  • Social-Affective engagement (Connecting)
  • Behavioural Engagement (Doing)

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:

The Alt/Par Cards: Alternative Participation Roles For Physical Education

When I started to plan this resource out, I did so with the following goals in mind:

  • Create a tool that helped students whose participation has become limited to engage in lessons at a cognitive, social, and/or affective level.
  • Create a tool that provided those students with choice in how they would engage in the lesson (allowing them to exercise their autonomy and select a role that aligned with their current needs).
  • Create a tool that provided teachers with a quick and easy system that promotes a focus on the current lessons’ learning targets.

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:

The Alt/Par Card Teacher Procedure

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):  

  1. Start off by having a clear understanding of your lesson’s learning targets and student learning indicators (e.g. learning cues, look fors, success criteria, etc.)
  2. When a student arrives and informs you that their participation is limited for that day (e.g. injury, illness), allow them to choose a role from the set of Alt/Par characters.
  3. Once they have made their choice, provide the student with a printout and pencil or the laminated character cards and a fine point dry erase marker. *Note: The director role requires a mobile device with some form of familiar video editing software installed (e.g. iMovie).*
  4. Once your lesson is underway, complete the first mission on the students’ Alt/Par character card.
  5. Throughout the lesson, check in with the student to see if they need help, how their progress is coming along, and whether or not they have stayed on task.
  6. At the end of the lesson, ask the student to share their experience and/or final product with you. If you wish to do so, snap a picture of their completed work to save it to their digital portfolio.

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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