Ty Riddick

World History  & Health/Physical Education Secondary Teacher  

Health & Physical Education - Pedagogical Model

The above model represents the content, themes, focus and ultimate end goal of what I consider to be a sound Health & Physical Education program. Consider the model to be Dimensional, much like a Jenga tower. If you remove or place less emphasis on a light blue block ultimately Health or Physical literacy is still possible and the structure remains standing (whole person developed) however, in a weakened, less than ideal state. 

Conversely, if either the Decision Making or Resilience & Growth Mindset blocks are moved (major themes of the program) then Health Literacy, Physical Literacy and development of the Whole Person is not possible and the structure collapses. If it helps to visualize how the model functions; above is a "frontal view" of the pyramid, again consider the integrity of the structure if certain blocks are removed. In the following sections I will describe each section of the pyramid. 


The ultimate purpose of the Physical Education program is the development of the "Whole Person" or as it is sometimes referred to as the "Whole Child". Regardless of the terminology used, this is a reference towards the need to develop an individuals physical, cognitive and affective (emotional) domains. This purpose may not be expressly taught but is rather used by the educator as a guiding principle - how does my instruction, assessment, evaluation contribute to the development of the those domains. 


Physical Literacy: Has been correctly defined by PHE Canada (2008) as the ability to move with confidence and competence in a wide variety of activities in multiple environments that benefit the healthy development of the whole person. Unlike the whole person, this objective is constantly referred to by the educator who constantly seeks to differentiate instruction to an optimally challenging level in order to foster the aforementioned confidence and competence. Physical Literacy also forms the basis for the SHAPE America Physical Education objectives. 

Health Literacy: According to Rootman and Gordon-El-Bilbety (2008) health literacy involves the skills needed to get, understand and use information to make good decisions for health. Health Literacy focuses not on the teacher delivery content but the student knowing where and how to find the information they need. The teacher aids in helping students evaluate that information to inform personally relevant decision making. 


Resilience & Growth Mindset - One of the under developed skills of the 21st Century learner is the ability to take a stand or bounce back in the face of adversity. Everyone in the world faces challenges, but it's those who are able to learn, grow and come back from those challenges that get ahead in today's society. Throughout the Physical Education program the teacher will routinely ask students to reflect on their own resilience to try and develop a growth mindset as opposed to a feeble defeatist attitude or fixed mindset when confronted will challenges presented in their physical education courses. 

Decision Making - As someone famously said, it's our decisions that define us. Therefore, it is critical that we help students learn to make appropriate decisions based on their attitudes, values and beliefs as well as decisions that exemplify a resilience. The theme of decision making also aids in the development of confidence and competence, the keys to the attainment of physical literacy. Game Sense is a model discussed below that helps students make proper decisions in sporting activities that will further enhance their likelihood to remain as life long active participants. 


Game Sense - Combines the theme of decision making with the objective of physical literacy. Essentially looking at the development of confidence and competence in sports by helping students develop a cognitive understanding of sports as opposed to strictly physical skill development. Similar to the concepts of TGFU, Game Sense helps students to identify relevant cues in their environment (reads) such as opponent and teammate body language, spacing, line of vision etc. to help them make the best decision they can in that moment (response). Skills are taught as the physical reactions that occur only after reads and responses have been made and are taught and assessed through authentic situations as opposed to isolate settings. The recovery period refers to a brief period of feedback and usually involves off the ball movement or returning to ready positions. To learn more about Game Sense please click here. 

Self Improvement -  Combines the theme of resilience with the objective of physical literacy. It is easy to be comfortable maintaining the status quo, improvement only occurs when we show resilience and a desire to get better when confronted with challenges. Self-improvement as opposed to a comparison to "standards"  form the basis of assessment and evaluation. Initial baseline observations and assessments are made, goals are set and students are evaluated on the degree to which they improve as they work towards their goals. 

Coping with Pressure - Combines the theme of resilience with the objective of health literacy. Whether it is peer pressure to start smoking, bullying, pressure to become sexually active or pressure to maintain a high GPA to get into university, students of all ages are constantly placed under pressure. As a result it is important that educators help students develop effective strategies and communication skills to help them remain resilient in the face of such pressure 

B.E.S.T. Choices - Combines the theme of decision making with the objective of health literacy. Within this framework students are encouraged to brainstorm all possible solutions to a problem, evaluation the potential consequences before selecting the best possible outcome. 


Movement Skills & Concepts - Focus on development of fundamental or transitional movement skills that can lead to success in a wide variety of sporting activities such as locomotion, stability and the sending and receiving of objects. Movement concepts help students take notice of their body and its position in space, it's position relative to others around them as well as the relationships between their body and objects. 

Expression & Identity - Movement cannot be considered as a purely physical endeavour. Through movement such as dance, gymnastics and free play participants are able to convey emotions as well as express their individuality in a variety of forms. Movement whether it be performance art or sport have also helped define both individual and cultural identity for thousands of years. The teacher will help provide students with opportunities to express themselves while exploring and experiencing a variety of activities of various cultures. 

Functional Fitness - Looking at the image to the right, the participant is using a chest press machine. Consider, how often will a similar situation occur in everyday life or even sports? How often will you be asked to symmetrically push a perfectly balanced weight at controlled speeds in everyday life? If you said never, you are correct. Functional Fitness focuses on developing fitness that serves a purpose in every day activity. Beginning with bodyweight training, the educator help students develop proper technique and prerequisite fitness before advancing into more difficult resistance training regimens. 


Substance Use and Abuse - A staple of any HPE program, students learn about the detrimental side effects of involving themselves with drugs. Students should be informed about the physiological side effects as well as the legal ramifications and how these effects may severely deter them from achieving their goals in the future. 

Sexuality and Relationships - An all encompassing term that may include Human Development (puberty, anatomy, sexual reproduction etc.), Body Image, Sexual Orientation and Sexual Preference. Special emphasis should be given to the respect for individual differences and how to conduct themselves appropriately in both romantic, plutonic and online relationships.  

Nutrition and Healthy Eating - It's no secret, obesity has become a global epidemic, to the point that 65% of our global population is more likely to die of obesity related conditions than malnourishment (WHO).  It is therefore critical that students learn about the myths surrounding nutrition, learn to read nutrition labels properly and most importantly learn how to make healthy nutritional choices for their growing bodies. 

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