Living Well: Creating a Long-Term Framework for Sport & Physical Literacy Development – Part One

Upon undertaking my current role as the Physical & Health Education Department Head at Meadowridge School in September 2017, one of our department goals was to iterate a profile of what a physically educated student of Meadowridge looks like. We strove to define what knowledge, skills and attitudes students should develop through our Physical & Health Education (PHE) program. This blog post if the first in a series describing how we went about creating the Meadowridge School Long-Term Sport & Physical Literacy Development Model.

The Meadowridge School Long-Term Sport & Physical Literacy Development Model was developed in 2018 by the Physical & Health Education Department as part of our Physical & Health Education curriculum review process. It was adapted from Canadian Sport for Life’s Long-Term Development in Sport & Physical Activity model (Higgs, Balyi, Cardinal, Norris, Legg, & Way, 2005) to meet the unique nature of our school community. The overarching goal of our model is to help our students fulfill our school mission statement: “Learning to live well, with others, and for others in a just community.”

This blog series will first explore how the concept of Physical Literacy shaped our curriculum development process, and then, how we adapted the Canadian Sport for Life Long-Term Athlete Development model to shape its implementation. Our end goal was to design a Physical & Health Education curriculum that enabled students to embody our school mission.

Finding Purpose

Students at Meadowridge are first exposed to Physical & Health Education at the Junior Kindergarten level, and it is a compulsory academic subject until Grade 10. British Columbia’s New Curriculum states that the Physical and Health Education curriculum should aim to empower students to develop a personalized understanding of what healthy living means to them as individuals and members of society in the 21st century. The PHE curriculum focuses on the connections between physical, intellectual, mental, and social health, allowing students to develop the knowledge, skills, and understandings they need for lifelong physical health and mental wellbeing (“Physical and Health Education | Building Student Success – BC’s New Curriculum”, 2019).

Many provincial physical education curricula in Canada, including British 
Columbia’s, currently stress that students should become physically literate as a result of achieving grade-specific standards, expectations, or outcomes of Physical & Health Education (Mandigo, Lodewyk, Francis, & Lopez, 2014). This is supported by the UNESCO Quality Physical Education Guidelines, which state that physical literacy is the foundation of physical education, not a programme but an outcome of any structured physical education provision, which is achieved more readily if learners encounter a range of age and stage appropriate opportunities.

In aiming to define the knowledge, skills and attitudes students at Meadowridge should develop through our PHE program, we agreed with the UNESCO Quality Physical Education Guidelines which state that the promotion of physical literacy should then remain a key feature of any physical education curriculum throughout primary and secondary education (McLennan & Thompson, 2017). 

Physical Literacy

The International Physical Literacy Association defines physical literacy as “the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life” (“International Physical Literacy Association,” 2014). This definition was adopted as part of Canada’s Physical Literacy Consensus Statement in June 2015 at the International Physical Literacy Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia. To further promote the Consensus Statement, the Sport for Life Society developed and simultaneously released the “Vancouver Declaration”, which contained additional guidance on physical literacy including highlighting four essential elements and five core principles, as well as evidence-based facts supporting the need for attention on physical literacy (Tremblay, et al., 2018). As a Physical & Health Education department, we subscribed to this consensus statement and began to review and redesign our curriculum with physical literacy as our ultimate outcome.

The definition of physical literacy adopted by our department, inspired by the Consensus Statement, included four essential and interconnected elements that aligned with Bloom’s domains of learning (O’Neill & Murphy, 2010):

  • Motivation and Confidence (Affective Domain) refers to an individual’s enthusiasm for, enjoyment of, and self-assurance in adopting physical activity as an integral part of life. 
  • Physical Competence (Physical Domain) refers to an individual’s ability to develop movement skills and patterns, and the capacity to experience a variety of movement intensities and durations. Enhanced physical competence enables an individual to participate in a wide range of physical activities and settings. 
  • Knowledge and Understanding (Cognitive Domain) includes the ability to identify and express the essential qualities that influence movement, understand the health benefits of an active lifestyle, and appreciate appropriate safety features associated with physical activity in a variety of settings and physical environments.
  • Engagement in Physical Activities For Life (Behavioural Domain) refers to an individual taking personal responsibility for physical literacy by freely choosing to be active on a regular basis. This involves prioritizing and sustaining involvement in a range of meaningful and personally challenging activities as an integral part of one’s lifestyle.

                                                                                                              (“Consensus Statement – Sport for Life,” 2016)

The interconnected nature of these elements allows individuals to develop the knowledge, skills, understandings, and values related to taking responsibility for purposeful physical activity and human movement through their lifetime, regardless of physical or psychological constraints (Dudley, 2015). Agreeing with Hansen (2008) that the most effective physical education curriculums are those that incorporate all domains of teaching and learning, our department set about identifying key features of each domain that would enable our students to leave our program physically educated.

To address these domains in our physical education curriculum development, we referenced the work of Peter Arnold and his approach to three dimensions: education about movement (cognitive), education through movement (physical), and education in movement (affective/social) (Brown, 2013). By identifying the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that our students could gain by being educated through, about, and in movement, we believed we could enable them to develop the behaviors necessary to be considered physically literate when they graduated our program. 

The next stage of our curriculum review and design project was to identify sub-domains 
which would align with each of the physical literacy domains, to ensure students were being presented with learning experiences that would help them develop their physical literacy in a holistic way. 

The picture below shows the final alignment of physical literacy domains and sub-domains that our department decided on:

In the Part Two of this Blog Series I will break down further each of the domains and sub-domains and how we plan on delivering our curriculum. Further posts in the series will explore how we link our curriculum to Long-Term Athletic Development principles and our grander goal of aligning with our mission statement of “learning to live well, with other and for others, in a just community.”

To ensure that you do not miss out on any of the future posts in this series be sure to subscribe to our mailing list by entering your email address below:

Brown, T. (2013) ‘In, through and about’ movement: is there a place for the Arnoldian dimensions in the new Australian Curriculum for Health and Physical Education?, Asia- Pacific Journal of Health, Sport and Physical Education, 4:2, 143-157

Consensus Statement – Sport for Life. (2016). Retrieved November 23, 2019, from https://sportforlife.ca/physical-literacy/consensus-statement/

Dudley, D. (2015). A Conceptual Model of Observed Physical Literacy. Physical Educator, 72(5), 236.

International Physical Literacy Association. (2014). Retrieved November 23, 2019, from https://www.physical-literacy.org.uk

Mandigo, J., Lodewyk, K., Francis, N., Lopez, R., Physical Health Education Canada, issuing body, & Canadian Electronic Library, distributor. (2014). Position paper : Physical literacy for educators (DesLibris. Documents collection).

McLennan, N. & Thompson, J. (2015). Quality Physical Education (QPE). Guidelines for policymakers. Paris, France: UNESCO. Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002311/231101E.pdf

O’Neill, G., & Murphy, F. (2010). Guide to taxonomies of learning – The National Forum Teaching and Learning Scholarship Database. Teachingandlearning.Ie. https://doi.org/http://eprints.teachingandlearning.ie/3346/1/O%27Neill%20and%20Murphy%202010.pdf

Physical and Health Education | Building Student Success – BC’s New Curriculum. (2019). Retrieved 21 November 2019, from https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/curriculum/physicalhealth- education/core/introduction

Tremblay, M., Costas-Bradstreet, C., Barnes, J., Bartlett, B., Dampier, D., Lalonde, C., . . Yessis, J. (2018). Canada’s Physical Literacy Consensus Statement: Process and outcome. BMC Public Health, 18(Suppl 2), 1-18.

 Nathan Horne is a physical educator, currently based in British Columbia, Canada where he works as PHE Department Head at Meadowridge School. Nathan is also the founder of iPhys-Ed.com. Be sure to never miss out on any of iPhys-Ed.com’s future posts by connecting with us via TwitterFacebookYoutube or Instagram. Nathan can be contacted on Twitter @PENathan.

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