Integrating Other Subject Matter without Jeopardizing Physical Education Goals: The Content Linkage Approach
Lynott, Francis J.,, III, Strategies: A Journal for Physical and Sport Educators
It is a well known fact that learning through movement can be an effective, engaging, and powerful means to encourage and enhance student learning and motivation. Research has shown that learning through movement not only enhances brain function, but also improves recall and teaching effectiveness by actively involving students in the learning process (Blaydes-Madigan, 2004; Walvoord & Anderson, 1998). Integration of subject matter or "interdisciplinary learning" as identified by Graham, Holt/Hale, & Parker (2007), can help teachers provide students with an enjoyable, rich, and motivational learning environment (Leppo & Davis, 2005). What better place to engage students actively with a variety of subjects than the physical education environment?
One of the most common criticisms physical educators have is that in order for integration to occur, physical education is compromised or jeopardized to accommodate for the integration of the other subject. However, by employing the content linkage approach, "Physical Education teachers can find ways to reinforce classroom content without jeopardizing their primary focus of teaching skill themes, movement concepts, and fitness concepts ..." (Graham et al., 2007). In other words, a physical educator does not have to compromise or jeopardize their students' physical activity during class time.
The content linkage approach can easily be accomplished by taking a concept or skill being taught in another class and integrating it with the theme, movement, or fitness activity being taught in the physical education environment (Graham et al., 2007). In doing so, physical education content standards and goals can still be addressed in an appropriate, meaningful manner along with providing students with a unique movement learning experience.
What is "Content Linkage Approach?"
The content linkage approach is the linkage of what is currently being taught in the physical educational environment with what is being taught in various content areas (Graham et al., 2007). For example, a middle school student may be learning about the concept of hemispheres in a geography class and the movement skill of dribbling a basketball in physical education class. The physical educator could create a learning experience in which the concept of hemispheres is reinforced in a dribbling experience (see Example 1). In this case, the physical education content is not jeopardized, rather it is enriched by having the physical educator provide movement invitations that are linked to the geography content.
How to develop the "Content Linkage Approach?"
The first step to create integrated lessons through the content linkage approach is to have physical education objectives, skill themes, movement concepts, and fitness concepts clearly identified and appropriately developed for students.
Next, find out what classroom teachers are teaching and advocate for the subject's integration in physical education class. Content specialists should have input as to what concepts or skills they would like to see reinforced in physical education. Once this has been established, be sure all terminology is the same. For example, if the content specialist uses the term "prepositions of place," the same terminology should be used to help avoid creating student confusion. In addition, terminology consistency and repetition across the two curriculums may help students make meaningful connections with the content (see Example 2).
In the third step the physical educator needs to integrate the identified concepts, terminology, and/or skills with his or her movement skills if appropriate. It is important to note that integration before students show some competency in a skill or movement concept may not be appropriate.
Examples of Fitness & Content Linage Approach Example 1: Globe Trotter Movement Concept: Space Awareness Skill Theme: Dribbling Content Area/Concept: Geography/Hemispheres Materials: * Two jump ropes per student or group * Basketball/bouncing ball per student Procedures: * Review dribbling cues. …