Earlier this year, our library team was approached by some teachers with a typical request: students were beginning a new project, and would need to do some research in the library and possibly get some help producing a product to show their learning. But what made this an unusual project for us was the subject teachers who had come to us: the Physical Education department was trying a new idea, project based learning. PBL was new for them, and working with the PE staff was new for us.
The project centered on functional exercise: design a workout program to support a specific goal, such as rehabbing an injured muscle, or developing skills needed for a sport like increasing flexibility or core strength. Students worked in groups to choose their goal and then came down to the library to begin their project.
The next step was helping the students come up with a way to track their workouts. We wanted a way for students to keep all their data without having to write it down on paper at the gym and then have to re-enter it into a spreadsheet or document later. And since the PE department doesn’t have a laptop cart readily available, something they could access on their phones seemed best.
Since we are a Google Apps for Education district, the Google Forms tool ended up being a good fit for many of the students. They could create a simple form to track their workouts, logging dates, times, number of reps, whatever they were doing. The results were then sent to a spreadsheet that the students could analyze and submit to show their workouts.
The feedback from both students and teachers was overwhelmingly positive. Students enjoyed the ability to design their own workout programs and using Google Forms in a new way.
- “Last year, I wasn’t a huge fan of the fitness part of wellness, but I think having the ability to work with one or two people and make an exercise specifically for our personal goals was really smart, and fun”
- “Researching and choosing exercises by ourselves was really fun and after three weeks we were proud of the workout routine that we had created.”
- “Instead of learning about functional training in a classroom setting, we were first able to research it and then experience it ourselves, a process which is often extremely valuable and helpful in learning...For project based learning we escaped the classroom setting to first do our own research and afterward experience the way functional training works in the gym. This allowed me and my group to accomplish our goal to strengthen our bodies for baseball and skiing, both of which involve much leg exercise, because we were able to actually learn and practice function training ourselves in the gym.”
Have you started a project with a new department this year? How did you approach it? What worked well? Reply in the comments.