From movement skills to success in games

15th April 2005 at 01:00
Howard Todd suggests books that offer inspiration on delivering better lessons

Beginning Athletics - What to Teach and Coach

By Carl Johnson with Dr Alan Neuff

Neuff Athletic Equipment pound;19.90

SAQ Juniors (Developing Good Movement Skills for 4-11 Year Olds)

SAQ Youth (Movement Performance in Sport and Games for 12-18 Year Olds)

by Alan Pearson and David Hawkins

ACBlack pound;12.99 each

Teaching Games for Understanding - Theory, Research and Practice

Linda L Griffin and Joy I Butler

Human Kinetics pound;15

Unsatisfactory lessons are often the consequence of a teachers' knowledge of the subject not being good enough to provide demanding work or to identify the weaknesses in skill performance that restrict progress.

This is particularly true in physical education, where teachers are challenged to deliver a broad and varied curriculum. These books should help.

Carl Johnson in Beginning Athletics - What to Teach and Coach has produced a text and a set of photocopiable work cards in a ring-binder that will appeal particularly to non-specialist teachers.

It provides essential help and advice for delivering the performance aspect of the athletics national curriculum to children between the ages of seven and 14. The book's three sections cover the basic athletics events related to travelling, throwing and jumping.

The work cards are presented in sequential order, starting with work suited to very young children and ending with activities that explain basic event technique. The introduction provides a series of easy-to-organise warm-up and closing games as well as simple advice on class management and the principles of safety. Teachers will find the brief teaching points provided on each card particularly useful. These give the essential coaching knowledge needed in order to pin-point to children what they need to do to improve their performance.

If, like me, you feel there are a lot of movement skills in key stages 1 and 2 of the national curriculum that are applicable in several activity areas, you will appreciate SAQ Juniors by Alan Pearson and David Hawkins.

This book, by two very experienced authors, is about developing good foundation movement skills for four to 11-year-olds. It features innovative training and conditioning through exercises and techniques that can be incorporated into any activity programme, with useful photographs and illustrations on every page.

Like Carl Johnston's book, SAQ Juniors is closely referenced to national curriculum requirements. In order to gain maximum benefit, it would be helpful to attend one of the regional training courses that explain the philosophy underpinning the programme.

The sequel, SAQ Youth, provides appropriate progression, albeit with lots of repetition.

Lessons can be judged unsatisfactory if a teacher fails to engage the class in the programme offered. Often this is a consequence of teaching performance skills from a scheme of work to the whole class, with no regard for the needs of the pupils themselves.

Teaching Games for Understanding is a timely reminder of the importance of learner-centred PE. This is not a book to pick up for practical support, however. Many PE teachers will be familiar with the approach first advocated by Bunker and Thorpe in their book of the same title in 1982.

Linda Griffin and Joy Butler's book reviews the knowledge, research and insights of a number of international scholars in the intervening years - providing expert perspectives from 17 contributors in six different countries. It updates the reader and reminds us of the important principles of inclusion and pupil-centred work that underpin this well-known approach to interactive learning.

Most chapters open with an all-too-familiar scenario or quotation that makes what follows highly relevant. The thought-provoking questions that follow each section will keep debate alive long after you have read the book.

Highly readable and enjoyable, this text is widely applicable at a time when didactic instruction is still the dominant approach to teaching games.

Howard Todd is a former primary headteacher and inspectoradviser for PE and primary education in Cumbria. He is now an education consultant and additional Ofsted inspector

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