The Olympic Challenge!

The Olympics are well under way in London and I love the Olympic ideal that much that I wanted to find a way to include it into my classes, actually to be quite honest I wanted to inflict the Olympics on everyone within our 1,000+ strong school. So I devised "The Olympic Challenge" an academic Olympics that all students could get involved in regardless of their interests and strengths. The odds of holding a theme like event in a large high school across all curriculum areas is slim to none so I knew I was potentially setting myself up for failure but I figured the Olympic Creed was all I needed to help me persevere.

So here's a low down on what I've done.

Firstly I pitched the idea to my fellow Health & Phys Eders to see if this is something they would consider doing in class, when they agreed I kicked started this mammoth task!
I had determined that every homeroom in the school (there are 40) should have a country to represent during the challenge, I also decided from the start that certain countries should be excluded from the random draw so I removed the top 6 countries (including our home country of Australia) I also removed the bottom 40 countries to provide some fair balance. Names of countries were drawn from a hat and assigned to the homerooms at random. This was then emailed to homeroom teachers to give their students a heads up on which country they would be representing.
The next step was to create a way that all learning areas could be involved in the Challenge and to keep it simple so that staff could participate without feeling like they've been given yet another thing to do in their classes.
The last step was to announce this to all staff at a morning briefing inviting everyone to participate with the HPE dept in the Olympic Challenge and providing a short flyer via email for all to read.

 The beauty of this activity is that I'm only asking staff to put a medal value on what they already have students doing. The other neat thing is I have set up a basic Excel spreadsheet that does the maths for me all I need to do is add the medals in as they are earned.

The response has been great so far with staff emailing in the activity that they ran and their medal results. It's also had people talking about countries they didn't know much about (many complaining their country has yet to win a medal ever!). The students have loved the idea with some taking an interest in their country, and others just liking the chance for some friendly competition.

Whilst I admit this isn't the "techiest" of posts, I thought it's been so much fun that I had to share it with my fellow #pegeeks and keen educators! I hope everyone is enjoying the Olympics as much as I am!

QR Codes in PE

So... QR Codes (quick response codes) are basically a matrix style barcode that allows you to store information to be shared with others. The information can be anything from an image, a web address, a calendar event, a phone number or just some plain old text. The great thing about these little fellas is that they are cross platform... meaning it doesn't matter if you're using iPhones/iPads,Windows or Android systems. The most common use of QR Codes in the world at large appears to be linking the user to a website. Examples of QR Codes can be seen in magazines, newspapers, on shop front windows and on advertising images. So in short a QR Code looks like this:

Scan to go to It Inside PE Outside

As you can see if that little square matrix is placed on the corner of a big picture advertisement for say Nike, users could scan (using a device with a camera and a QR scanning app) the code which could have been generated to link people to the Nike website, or even to a specific page on their website (Mid year Sale anyone?). Sounds great you're thinking... but what use have I for that in my PE class? How do I even make my own QR Codes? Good questions worthy of an answer!

How QR Codes could be used in PE classes:

  • Station work. 
Rather than printing sheets of paper that explain what students should be doing at each station, why not generate permanent instructions/information that exist either on a website (school Intranet) or as just plain text instructions/information. Create codes for each station and then just print and place those at each station. Students can then move from station to station and gather the needed information to complete set tasks.

How might this look? 
PRACTICAL LESSON: How about we use fitness testing as our example? Have stations set up around the court (such as vertical jump, sit and reach, ball-wall toss) and place a QR code on the wall beside each test. Students move to the station and scan the code. The code then provides them with all the information they require to complete the test correctly. You could even have a second code underneath for them to scan after completing the test to see where their results fall in relation to the scale.

THEORETICAL LESSON: How about we use the sexual health unit as our example of how QR codes can be used in a theory based lesson. Put together small web pages of information about each Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI). Develop QR Codes that will link students to each STI individually. Place these around the room and provide generic questions on the board. Students can then move about and develop their own "Fact Sheets" on each STI. Generic questions can be as simple as "how is it transmitted? how is it treated? how is it prevented?" etc.

Stations could be self run

  • Orienteering.
Create an orienteering course that uses QR Codes at each point to provide the next clue/direction for students following the course.

How might this look?
Create plain text clues that provide students with the next point on their map. When they make it to the correct destination a QR Code could be visible for them to scan providing them with their next coordinates.
Have students in pairs develop their own codes and trails for another pair in the class to then try out.

Scanning for the next coordinates?

How to create QR Codes:

So you've got some ideas but now you want to know how to create these little pixelated squares of fun! Well truth be told there are a variety of ways... all depending on whether you're using a phone, an iPad or your PC... so lets explore!

Android phone/tablet then check out:
 QR Droid
This little app allows you to scan QR Codes, create your own, decode codes and keeps a history for you as you play.

iPhone/iPad then check out:
Qrafter or EasyQR (there are also loads of free "scan" apps so be sure to find one that allows you to create codes as well as scan).

PC check out the following links to assist you in making QR Codes:

Each of the above platforms work in a similar way, you type or select the item to be turned into a QR Code then allow the app/website to create the code, then you simply save the code as an image and then it's ready for you to print or to email etc

So there you have it, that's QR Codes in a nutshell (ok in a website that looks nothing like a nutshell but you get me). The advantages of having QR Codes is that more information can be delivered at once than if you were to stand in front of the class and just talk it out. It means you can mix up the lesson and students can work at their own pace, and it also means you can mingle with your students and take the time to assist them where they need it most.

That's all I have on this for now, but if you've got a great QR Code idea let us know! You can add it in the comments section of this blog
Peace out fellow PE Geeks!