Common Core Survival Guide (CCR in PE: Mission Possible)



What is “College and Career Readiness” (CCR) and how do we as physical educators walk this talk?

In 2012, the Educational Policy Improvement Center published an article by Dr. David T. Conley, PhD offering, “A Complete Definition of College and Career Readiness.” Having researched several explanations and definitions of this concept I found Dr. Conley’s work to be on target and relevant to physical education.

Within his definition Dr. Conley identifies Four Keys to College and Career Readiness.

  • THINK: Key Cognitive Strategies
  • KNOW: Key Content Knowledge
  • GO: Key Transition Knowledge and Skills
  • ACT: Key Learning Skills and Techniques

In this blog entry we’ll look at two of these keys as they relate to CCR in PE, saving the other two for a future post.

First, Key Cognitive Strategies, “are the ways of thinking necessary for college-level work” (Conley, 2012). Students must be able to identify and formulate problems or challenges in order to conduct focused research, interpret the results and then communicate findings with appropriate accuracy.

In SPARK High School PE we guide students through this process with Jigsaw learning and teaching experiences. In teams, students are given a set of skills and strategies needed for successful participation in a unit. Next, they split up with each of the team members becoming the “expert” in one specific skill or concept. After the research is complete and students have become competent or proficient in their specific area, the groups come back together and communicate to (i.e., teach) their teammates what they’ve learned. In this way, students are provided an authentic context for practicing a way of thinking which aligns to CCR.

Second, Key Content Knowledge as it applies to the technical area of physical education includes key skills and knowledge, the ways in which individuals interact with those skills and knowledge, their value to the learner, and the ability to reflect on how personal attitude and effort can contribute to successful mastery of specific knowledge or skill sets.

This CCR Key provides an opportunity to take a quick look at the new National Standards and Grade-Level Outcomes for PE. Standard 3 and its outcomes at the high school level (S3.H1.L1) jumps right into the center of this CCR Key, “(The learner) discusses the benefits of a physically active lifestyle as it relates to college or career productivity” (SHAPE, 2014). This discussion requires key content knowledge learned throughout the scope and sequence of a quality PE program. Specifically, what are the various benefits of physical activity? It also prompts reflection on how this knowledge directly relates to future productivity. The next progressive step is to ask students who have acquired this knowledge, “what does this understanding mean with regard to your own personal commitment to physical activity and wellness?”

At SPARK we’re all about keeping MVPA levels high in physical education classes. We don’t advocate sacrificing physical activity in an attempt to increase student learning. In fact, evidence suggests our teaching strategies promote BOTH. However, discussions like the one described above are critical to the core outcomes of our content area and therefore must be built in to our lesson structure. If we don’t provide focused discussion in physical education classes, then where will these important talks take place?  Chances are they won’t happen at all.

That’s a very brief look at the first two keys to College and Career Readiness. We’ll look at the final two in the next Common Core Survival Guide blog post.

Click Here to read Part 1 of the SPARK Common Core Survival Guide Blog Series

Click Here to read Part 2 of the SPARK Common Core Survival Guide Blog Series