Purposeful #PhysEd: A Visual Guide

Purposeful #Physed: Curriculum Mapping

I’m really excited to be back at Royal Charles School this year. For the first time in my career, I get to go back to the school were I taught and started projects the year before.

My theme for this year is “Purposeful #Physed”. I want to make sure to that my classes are full to the brim with teachable moments and that my students are learning everything they are required to learn within the school year (and then some!)

The first step in achieving this is to map out my curriculum. Here in Quebec, our Physical Education curriculum is based on the three following competencies:

  1. To perform movement skills in different physical activity settings
  2. To interact with others in different physical activity settings
  3. To adopt a healthy, active lifestyle

Our provincial ministry of education (MELS) outlines each of these competencies in the Quebec Education Plan and even breaks down the QEP’s Physical Education content into a document called the “Progression of Learning” (POL).

Screenshot of the Progression of Learning for Elementary Physical Education
Screen Shot 2012-09-04 at 11.00.28 AM

Last year, to help me stay on top of what I was teaching my students, I typed up the POL on my iPad using Numbers and formatted it so that it was a little more tablet-friendly. Basically, I colour-coordinated the three levels of mastery (e.g. constructs knowledge, applies knowledge, reinvests knowledge) to help make it a bit more visual, and I added checkboxes to each square.

iPad-friendly version of the Progression of Learning for Elementary Physical Education
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I had added those checkboxes to help me keep track of the content I was teaching throughout the school year. Whenever I would add POL content to a lesson plan, I would check the corresponding box on my iPad to remind me that the content had been covered.

Although this method was useful in the sense that it helped me remain mindful of Quebec PE curriculum as I did my planning throughout the year, this sort of lesson-to-lesson planning led to there being several unchecked boxes come the end of the school year.

My students, as well as my PE program in general, were missing out.

This year, I decided to start with the end in mind. Here is what I’ve done.

Step one: Breaking the curriculum down

The first thing I did this year was to look at the POL and break it down by grade level. For example, for grade one I looked at all of the POL elements that needed either to be mastered in grade one or at least introduced so that they could be mastered by grade two. I did this by copying each section of the Progression of Learning and deleting all of the rows that either did not apply to first grade or that I would rather teach in later years. Here’s what the competency one POL looked like after I had cleaned it up for grade one:
Screen Shot 2012-09-04 at 11.22.19 AM

Step two: Organizing the content into units

Once I had all of the content for grade one, the next thing I did was to organize that content into groups. Looking through the content, I noticed that some of the POL elements seemed to go hand in hand (e.g. identifies the main parts of the body, locates his/her centre of gravity, locates his/her body and main body parts in space, etc). I grouped these elements together to form what would become the content for various Physical Education unit plans. Once I had everything together, I decided which activity I could teach to best introduce that content. This helped me create a bank of units to teach throughout the year. Here’s a screenshot of those units:
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Step three: Mapping it all out

Now that I had all of my grade one content divided into units, it was time to decide when I would teach each unit throughout the school year. I made this decision based on the fact that I am required by my school to submit a grade for each competency at the end of each term (we have three terms in my school board). That being said, I had to make sure that there was a least one unit for each competency scheduled throughout each term. Here’s my first term for grade one:
Screen Shot 2012-09-04 at 11.55.56 AM

As you’ll notice, there is still room for some “non-POL” lessons and units. After having sorted through and organized all of the content for each grade, I still had about 25 “free” lessons throughout the year. I’m going to use this extra time to teach things to my students that may not be part of the provincial curriculum, but that I feel would greatly benefit my students’ development of a healthy, active lifestyle. Regardless of what I do decide to teach, at least I know that, come the end of the year, my students will be taught all that our provincial curriculum requires me to teach.

So that is how I’ve created a curriculum map for this school year that is both thorough, easy to understand, and that is inline with my “Purposeful #Physed” theme. In my next blog post, I’ll explain how I go about planning my individual units and lesson plans. Until then, I’d love to hear how you plan your Physical Education curriculum for your school. Feel free to leave any ideas/feedback in the comments below or spark up a conversation on Twitter using the #physed hashtag.

Thanks for reading and happy teaching to you all!


Joey Feith is the founder of ThePhysicalEducator.com. He currently teaches elementary physical education at St. George’s School of Montreal in Quebec, Canada.