Unlocking Student Thinking with Concept Keys

At my recent Inquiry in #PhysEd 101: The What, Why and How? session at the amazing 2015 National PE Institute in Asheville I shared the idea of concept keys with the participants. Almost immediately following the session a large number of people came up to me and asked where they could get copies of the keys. I promised I would blog about it.*
*Apologies for the delay it has been a busy first 4 weeks to the school year.My “concept keys” were originally inspired from the International Baccalaureate’s Primary Years Program (IB PYP) and refer to it’s Key Concepts. In their Making the PYP Happen publication they define concepts as:

Powerful ideas that have relevance within the subject areas but also transcend them and that students must explore and re-explore in order to develop a coherent, in-depth understanding.
                                    – International Baccalaureate Making the PYP happen: A curriculum framework for international primary education (2009)

The IB identified 8 key concepts which help teachers and students to consider ways of thinking and learning about the world, and act as a provocation to extend and deepen student inquiries.

The first time I saw the keys in action was in the classroom of my wife, @alisoneducates. During her professional learning she had come across the idea of concept keys from the work of Stephanie Martin at International School of Amsterdam and her Thinking Keys Routine. She was using them with her kindergarten classes and I loved the idea so asked her if she could make me a set to use in #PhysEd.

Conceptual Lenses in #PhysEd

When talking about concept based learning, we often hear of the idea oflooking at things “through conceptual lenses.”
What Lynn Erickson talks about in her blog post and her book definitely has a place within the physical education realm. Ashlea Mills blogged about how she used concepts in #PhysEd in her blog post, PYP Concept Posters for PSPE.
By using a concept like Form in #PhysEd you can encourage student to think critically about the way they are moving. Function could be used to explore roles within a team, and Connection could be used to inquire into how different team sports are similar.
Andy Vasily recently blogged and asked Do we need more of a conceptual focus in Physical Education?  He talks about the absolute importance of allowing our students to develop their physical literacy at any given opportunity through physical skill development, but suggests that we should balance that physical aspect with an intellectual aspect by using a concept based approach to delivering our curriculum. By doing this we can allow our students to develop deeper understanding about the content they are learning and enable them to transfer this knowledge and their skills across curriculum and life areas.
Here in itself is one of the most important parts of the physical literacy journey. Allowing students to develop the competence, confidence and understandings to benefit their healthy development long into their adulthood.

The Concept Keys

Below you can find my version of the concept keys in PDF form. Each key has two sides, a front and back. Feel free to download them and use them in your #PhysEd classes. I recommend you print them in A3 size, then cut them out, stick the front and back together and laminate them.
On the front of each key is the Concept and on the back is the key question, definition and some related concepts.
I look forward to seeing how you use them in your #PhysEd programs.

Nathan Horne is a Physical Education specialist currently based in Singapore. Be sure to never miss out on any of iPhys-Ed.com’s future posts by joining our mailing list or by following us on Twitter orFacebook.

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