Walk & Talks In Physical Education
by Joey Feith
In this very first podcast episode of The #PhysEd Show, I’ll be sharing with you a teacher tactic that I use to help students reflect on their learning and co-construct meaning in our physical education lessons.
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What’s In This Episode
In this episode, I talk about “Walk & Talks”: a teaching tactic that was first introduced to me by my friend Andy Vasily.
What Are Walk & Talks?
A “Walk & Talk” is a classroom procedure used to get students reflecting on the lessons objectives and purpose. After being presented with a driving question from the teacher, students pair up into small groups and discuss the question, it’s meaning, and what they may already know/think about it as they walk around the gym. After a set amount of time, the teacher calls the students in for a whole-class discussion in which they will get to share the things they talked about during their walk.
Examples Of Walk & Talks
I used a “Walk & Talk” during my grade three lesson the other day. As part of our foot skills unit, my students are exploring the critical elements of dribbling with their feet. During the What/Why/How portion of our lesson, I presented my students with the “What” and “How” elements, but invited them to perform a “Walk & Talk” with a partner to try to uncover the “Why” element of our lesson. To be precise, the driving question was “how is mastering a new skill important?”
Instead of just walking, I asked my students to take a ball and perform passes as they reflected on the driving question I provided them with. After about five minutes, I invited my students back in and allowed them to share some of the highlights of the discussions with their partners. Using my trusty Paper app, as students shared their reflections, I jotted down as much as I could onto the What/Why/How graphic which was projected on the TV in our gym.
This process allowed my students to better understand the purpose of our lesson and to see how the day’s learnings can serve them throughout their lives.
Tips & Tricks For Effective Walk & Talks
Although I’ve loved using “Walk & Talks” in my lessons, I have had some difficulty setting up the procedure in a way that promotes equitable, rich student discussions in which students can add to and build off of each other’s ideas. However, a recent professional development opportunity at my school brought some new ideas to structured student discussions! Here are some of the ideas I shared in the episode:
- Have A “Mic” Protocol: The mic (which can be any kind of object) establishes whose turn it is to be the speaker. Having this kind of system in place ensures that each student has an opportunity to speak and be heard.
- Provide Students With Response Prompts: To ensure that students are building off of or respectfully challenging each others ideas, provide them with structured prompts they can use to formulate their responses (e.g. “I agree/disagree with BLANK because BLANK”, “I made a connection with BLANK”, “I want to add on to BLANK”)
- Practice, Practice, Practice: Introduce “Walk & Talks” in a very structured way into your lessons and practice the tactic as you would any other classroom procedure. Provide students with a visual guide of the “Walk & Talk” procedure that they can refer to to make sure they are following the steps (I’m currently developing one for my gym… I’ll update this post once it’s ready!) As students use “Walk & Talks” on a regular basis in PE, they will eventually internalize the discussion protocols and no longer need prompts or guidance in order to engage in equitable, deep discussions!
Links From The Episode
Hi everybody my name is Joey fight and welcome to the #PhysEd show
What is up everybody!? My name is Joey Feith I’m the founder of ThePhysicalEducator.com and I’m your host for this podcast.
Welcome to the very first episode of The #PhysEd Show. I’m so fired up to be podcasting again and to be putting together this cool content and just to have this show as a medium through which I can share all of my passion and experience with all of you.
So what is The #PhysEd Show anyways? Well The #PhysEd Show is a physical education podcast in which I’ll be sharing ideas from my teaching, interviews with #PhysEd thought leaders and other amazing teachers who have inspired me in my teaching, and special episodes and fun segments in which I’ll be inviting you to join me in my learning journey.
The purpose of the show really is to provide you of ideas and inspiration for your teaching that are gonna light that fire in your belly and help you grow as an educator.
I’m gonna try and do all of this in this 20 to 30 minute episode format that I’ll be publishing once a month. Now I know that once a month doesn’t sound like a lot, however if you’ve been following my work for a while now you’ll know that I’m really good at starting new projects but really bad at consistently following up with them. So a teachers life is a busy life, I’ve got ton on my plate right now, my wife and I are so fired up because we’re expecting our first child a baby boy in March this year, so I’m trying to be realistic with my actual goal setting here for this podcast.
That said as I get more comfortable with the new editing and podcasting process I’ll probably be able to pump out more episodes but for now I’d really rather just say I’m sticking to once a month and I hope you understand.
That said, I’m also relaunching my vlog. So if you know about the #ScopeVlog, it was this vlog that I was doing on periscope and just kind of a little bit of a mess that I wasn’t really consistent with it was a little over the place the editing wasn’t so great but all that is being rebranded as The #PhysEd Show. I don’t really enjoy using periscope anymore I don’t think the platform’s really growing in the way that I’d like to see it grow. I’m really into YouTube these days so I’m gonna be creating this new vlog that’s gonna live in YouTube so you’re gonna want to probably subscribe to my channel at youtube.com/thephysicaleducator.
It’s really gonna be a vlog that’s gonna complement this podcast and I’m gonna be able to put out a couple times a month. It’ll include videos on lessons on resources and activities for my teaching we’ll do some Q&A s I’ll do some app demos there and just pretty much anything and everything that I think might just get you fired up in your teaching.
I’m also planning on doing a couple live episodes which I’ll be streaming on Facebook Live so be sure to like ThePhysicalEducator.com’s Facebook page at facebook.com/thephysicaleducator.
Now that being said enough low promotion stuff here let’s get right into today’s episode!
Now I’m giving you a heads up: today’s episode is pretty short and the reason is is I’m kind of using this as a test. Just between you and me here I’m not fully sure what I’m doing right now I’m just kind of going with it ahead and we’ll see what happens but I want to make sure I still has some cool content for you for today’s episode.
In today’s episode, I’m going to be sharing with you a teaching tactic known as Walk and Talks.
I was first introduced to the ideas of Walk & Talks in PE by my good friend and buddy Andy Vasily at the 2015 European Council of International schools phys ed conference in Munich, Germany.
A walk and talk, if you’re unfamiliar with the concept it’s pretty simple. Basically you provide your students with a driving question and then invite them to pair up and walk around the gym as they talk and discuss that question. Even though it’s called a Walk & Talk, your students can jog, they can skip, they can hop… whatever as long as they’re focused on talking and discussing the topic.
Once a Walk & Talk is done, the class comes back in as a group and every group gets to share what they came up with during their discussion. The teacher will take notes of what was shared and really what you’re trying to do here is you’re trying to construct knowledge together as class.
Now, I love Walk & Talks and I’ve been using them in my teaching ever since Andy first introduced me to them in Munich. However I’ve had a few issues with them:
First of all I’ve noticed that some students tend to dominate the conversations and other students tend to be a little bit more timid and don’t really share. Because of this it’s not really an equitable conversation that’s happening and I’m not getting the most out of each student.
Second second of all when I listen in to these talks I’ll notice at times that students would share information that wasn’t necessarily right and nobody knew how to jump in and correct them so they just kind of went about it’s like okay well whatever.
Lastly although I have seen examples of really rich deep conversation during Walk & Talks I’ve always felt like the procedure in my classroom could be better so that it promotes really productive engaging conversations for
all my students. Sometimes I kind of know as students will kind of go out and just kind of talk about whatever and come back and not really have a ton to share.
I was looking to fix that and I wasn’t quite sure how until earlier this week we had a professional development opportunity at my school that focused on deeper learning.
In the activities we got to watch the video from EL Education that featured a grade one classroom from Two Rivers Public Charter School in Washington DC. In the video the classroom teacher, Ms Anne Simpson – I tried to find her on Twitter I couldn’t find her if anybody knows Ann on Twitter let me know so I can link to her Twitter handle – ,but in the video and Simpson leads her class into something called a Science Talk.
Science Talks are structured conversations that allow students to think about, talk about, and wonder about specific topics and questions. The protocol for science talk is you get small groups of students of three or four students to sit down in a circle. One student is given the mic – in the case of Anne’s classroom they use the popsicle stick – and the student with the mic is the first speaker. Speaking into the mic the student shares their thoughts on the topic or question as their teammates listen. Once they’re done, they hand the mic to a teammate who gets to respond to the speaker’s thoughts.
Now, this is what I thought was really interesting: students were given specific formats in which they can respond to thoughts. They can say things like “I agree with blank because of blank” or “I disagree with blank because of blank”, or “I made a connection with blank” or, finally, “I want to add on to blank”.
Each student in the group has to take a turn responding to the speaker’s thoughts. Once everybody has had a chance to respond, a new speaker selected and the process is repeated until everybody’s had a turn being speaker.
In the video it said that these talks, the Science Talks, allow students to collectively theorize, to build on each other’s ideas, to work out thoughts in an equitable conversation, and to build key literacies, such as academic vocabulary and oral language.
Now you can imagine that as I was watching the video all I could think about is how I could bring these conversation protocols into my Walk & Talks in class to promote deeper richer conversations and allow every student voice to be heard. Because I want the Walk and Talks to stay active because we’re in physical education class,instead of a mic I’m thinking it could be some kind of all or frisbee or some lesson related object that the students can manipulate as they talk with their peers.
In the same way that my brothers and I will shoot the breeze when we change before basketball game or how I chat with my running buddy when we go on a jog, I really believe in the power of combining conversation reflection and physical activity in order to get minds working, stimulating thoughts and just getting as many ideas out there as possible.
I’m also thinking that what I should do is I should create a few visuals from a classroom that a) illustrate the procedures for a proper Walk & Talks and b) provides students with tools and prompts to promote deeper thinking like the response formats from the science talks this is done in order to really support students as they engage in these conversations in class .
Although all this formatting around these conversations might sound super structured and maybe a little unnatural in terms of regular conversations I really believe that instilling these routines these tools this culture around equitable group conversations and my younger students will allow them to internalize these strategies and continue to use them so that they continue to use them as they get older.
So that was a teaching tactic I want to share today and that wraps up this very first episode super short episode of the phys ed show I’ll make sure I link to anything I mentioned here in the show notes which you’ll see me pushing out there on Twitter and Facebook and all the rest of my social media channels.
If you enjoy this please let me know on Twitter I’m @phys_educator, that’s @ P H Y S _ E D U C A T O R, I’d love to hear from you and see what you think of this format and also I’d love to hear about how you use group conversations in your classroom.
If you could also do one more thing if you could just go ahead and leave a five star review in iTunes, aside from making me feel much better about spending my nights editing podcasts like this, it goes a long way and helping others find out about The #PhysEd Show which leads some more subscribers and downloads which leads to awesome guests are most likely way more interesting than I am.
So once again, I’m Joey Feith from ThePhysicalEducator.com this has been the first episode The #PhysEd Show thank you so much for listening and happy teaching
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