Teach Me How To Juggle!

Teach Me How To Juggle!

If you’ve ever read my “How I Start My School Year” blog post series, you’ll know that I use juggling as a way to help my students learn how to learn new skills.

When I first got to University, I was lucky enough to have Mr. Gordon Oliver teach me in his Basic Games class. On that very first day, G.O. got all of us first-year university students together and told us we were going to learn how to juggle a three-ball cascade, double-dutch jump rope, and keep a hacky sack up for 20 kicks. The idea was that we would find ourselves outside of our comfort zones and have to teach ourselves something new. Gordon was trying to put us in the shoes of our future students. It was great!

Juggling the three-ball cascade offers that perfect mix of frustrating challenge and satisfying reward. It also provides a perfect opportunity for students to explore the system we use to learn new skills in PE.

Find the “How We Learn” poster in the shop!

The tricky part is that every student will be starting at a different level and every student will need individual feedback and instruction that will help them continue to make progress in their learning. After I taught this lesson last year, I had an idea for a tool that could help me make sure that all of my students had access to the information, tips, and challenges they would need in order to experience success in their own way.

That brings us to today, where I’ve been in my home for over two weeks during this COVID-19 quarantine and cannot be there with my students to help them learn new skills. I have no choice but to do what I can to equip them with the habits of mind, the resources, the mindsets that they will need to be self-directed in their learning at home.

So, it’s time to get back to juggling.

Breaking It All Down

My goal was to create a document that students could navigate on their own and that would contain all of the information and progressions I typically share with them when I teach juggling at school. Since I’ve been getting into building things in Google Slides these days, I went ahead and started making this thing there.

The first thing I did was break the three-ball cascade down into six levels with each level representing a milestone towards mastery. To make the levels easier to visualize, I created a graphic representing the ball(s’) path at that level.

That being said, I know from experience that each level needed to be broken down further on its own since some kids pick up the level right away, while others need additional steps. So – within each level – I created three progressions that gradually increase the challenge at that level.

For the progression pages, I decided to include a few different things. First off, I made an animation of me performing each progression (so there are 18 animations in total: six levels with three progressions each). I also included a description of the progression, important keys to remember as you practice, and – for each progression – two common challenges and possible solutions to those challenges (again, this is based on years of me teaching this to my students).

The Juggling Learning Guide

Ok, with all of that done it was time to package the whole thing together. Similar to what I did with my “Physical Education @ Home” document, I built everything in Google Slides and created “buttons” (shapes that have URLs assigned to them) that can be used to quickly jump around the document. I wanted to use Google Slides since it was a great way to have the progression animation GIFs embedded right into the document, but the problem there was that an accidental tap/click could send you to the wrong place (e.g. instead of sending you to the level/progression you were looking for, it might have you move one slide forward/backward).

The solution I came up with to help with this was to create a short introduction that students can access at the front of the document that walks them through how to navigate the Juggling Learning Guide. Here is is:

Using The Learning Guide

Later on this week, I will be sending the Juggling Learning Guide out to my students as part of our new distance learning unit. The idea is that we use juggling to revisit how to learn new skills and then I will launch my students into their next challenge: to teach themselves a skill of their choosing document their progress. The video below is what I had in mind when I started designing the unit:

Once I get those lessons up in the “Physical Education @ Home” document, I’ll make sure to notify you via social media!

If you would like to use the Juggling Learning Guide in your distance learning, I’m making it available for purchase in the Shop. I’ve put in an insane amount of time putting this all together, so I do not feel comfortable making the resource free. That being said, I’m dropping its price down to $5 while all of this COVID-19 craziness is going on. I hope that helps!

Access The Learning Guide

The download package includes instructions on how to access the document and share it with your students. Please note that I am making this a view-only document. I’ve been flooded with requests on how I make stuff and – to be honest – I am barely getting by just taking care of my own family and teaching. I really appreciate your understanding!

I hope this tool can help you with your distance learning! Please continue to be smart and safe as we all get through this together! Thanks for reading and Happy Teaching!

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