Are Your Students READY for Learning?

Article excerpt

Do you, like so many teachers, have some students who just do not seem to know what their "job" is as learners? Students who roll their eyes at your requests, talk to classmates during instructions, throw the equipment on the floor or into the bin, do not turn in homework, give up trying at the first sign of difficulty, taunt others when they are not successful, or worse, call others derogatory names? If you have never experienced these behaviors from students, you probably do not need to read this article. But if you have, read on for a solution that has worked for the authors.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

In the past 20 years, the field of physical education has increased its focus on assessment practices that are meaningful for students and useful for monitoring their learning. It is reasonable to want evidence that students have met certain state or national standards, but it is not always easy to produce significant proof of learning and achievement. Physical education teachers commonly use skill rubrics and criteria checklists to assess the psychomotor domain, quizzes and tests to evaluate lower-level cognitive learning, and fitness tests to measure fitness components. Those who are well versed in assessment use a variety of alternative and authentic assessments to get better answers to the questions, "What do my students know?" (cognitive domain) and "What are they able to do?" (psychomotor domain). The affective learning domain, however, is more difficult to evaluate because of teachers' tendency to be subjective. Characteristics such as being respectful and having a positive attitude are more ambiguous than knowledge of the cues for the tennis backhand or the demonstration of a dance move. Even though these affective characteristics are important to the student and the learning environment, they are commonly "eyeballed" because they are harder to measure. Yet, anyone who teaches, at any level, knows that establishing a positive learning environment, where students are held accountable for their behavior, is the first and most important task in teaching. Successful teachers find methods that work for them, and we have found a method that works for us the READY rubric to assess student behaviors that impact learning (figure 1). Students use the rubric to assess themselves so they can become familiar with the teacher's expectations, and learn to be ready for class.

Figure 1. The READY Rubric for Middle and High Schools

Name: Kevin  My favorite sports/physical activities: Roller
Shephard     hockey, backpacking, and weight lifting

             I participate regularly in these sports/physical
             activities: Roller hockey

             My other hobbies include: Playing video games, and
             the Internet

             One thing you should know about me: I like to talk

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

A Brief History of the READY Rubric

The READY rubric was born out of need, in a physical education teacher education (PETE) program. One bad apple (who threatened to spoil the whole bunch), in Himberg's PETE assessment course, inspired the first READY rubric. The rubric, which was in turn influenced by Hellison's (2003) social responsibility model, was revised a little every semester for a couple of years. Other professors started expressing their frustration with certain students who acted in ways that limited their own and others' learning. Some PETE students were often late to class (or leaving early), not reading for class, not participating during discussions or in-class tasks, and even texting or falling asleep during lectures. The READY rubric was used in several more PETE courses to hold students accountable on a daily basis, and to help them develop the professional behaviors that relate to best teaching and learning practices. After experiencing the READY rubric in their PETE courses, many students tried it with their middle and high school classes during student teaching, and later in their own classes after graduation. …