Top Trumps, Morph Suits, Plickers and more – making GCSE PE theory fun

This post was written by Simon Bradbury @PeBrado.

I am sure you have all heard of the saying ‘death by powerpoint’ and I am equally sure that you have all attended courses, seminars, conferences, staff training etc. that is just the presenter reading off of a powerpoint. This is not a blog to say you should not use powerpoint or keynote or any other presentation software within our lessons but I believe there are numerous other ways in which we can engage students. I use powerpoint’s in nearly all of my GCSE PE theory lessons but not always as the main/sole content of the lesson. I will always try and look at a topic and see if I can incorporate different ideas and methods to teach it to the students. Below are a few that have worked well for me but also that the students have really enjoyed and learnt from.

Top Trumps (Components of Fitness)

I was born in the 80’s and always remember playing top trumps when I was younger. Recently I created some up to date top trump cards for my students to play each other in lessons. I created the top trumps based on the components of fitness so I had the picture of the athlete on the card along with components of fitness underneath with a ranking 1-10, 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest. Students absolutely loved playing against their partner but it also gave them an understanding of what athletes required the different components of fitness or which were more important to that athlete. It also gave the students an appreciation of what is required for certain sports e.g. my students did not understand why strength was so important in gymnastics. I tried to use as many different sports as possible as there is nearly always a question on components of fitness in the summer exam in terms of what component of fitness is most required for a certain sport for example. You can access the top trumps by clicking on this link.

Morph Suits (Skeletal and Muscular system)

Morph suits are great for lessons on the body in particular muscles and bones. You can pick up morph suits relatively cheaply on Amazon and Ebay and they are great for developing students understanding of muscles and bones, but also the movement that is allowed at each joint/muscle. I either get in the morph suits myself or I get students to put them on and then discuss the theory content using the morph suits to identify where on the body certain bones and muscles are. Students can come out and label the morph suits as the lesson progresses with the relevant bone or muscle. If you have students in the morph suits they can take over the teaching towards the end of the lesson by playing games like name that bone so the student wearing the morph suit will point to a bone and the class have to write down the answers on whiteboards. This is great for visual learners.

Plickers (Multiple Choice Questions)

Plickers is an app that will help both you as the teacher with your marking but also the student by giving instant feedback. I use Plickers a lot for starters and plenaries and it is great for developing students practice and understanding of multiple choice questions. Plickers is an app that you download onto a device (iPhone, iPad etc.) and it’s great because it only requires one device E.g. the teacher’s device. I print off the Plickers cards from the website and get students to stick them at the back of their exercise book at the start of the year. Each Plickers card is unique so you need to allocate each student with a card and keep a record of it, which again you can do on the website. You add the multiple choice questions and answers to the website and then just choose which ones you want your students to answer. Here is a link to the AQA multiple choice questions from the last 5 years.

Plickers

You read out the question and they then hold up their card with their answer at the top of the card (either A, B, C or D). Once students have got their answer up you just scan with the device and it picks up the students answers. The great part of this is that it marks it for you, which allows you to see which students answered correctly and incorrectly. Those results can be shown on the whiteboard through the website but I prefer to speak to those students within the lesson rather than make an example of them. A new feature of Plickers is that it now collates students responses so over time you can see where students went wrong.

Mission Impossible (theme tune)

I use the Mission Impossible theme tune in my lessons for starters when I want students to complete an activity in a certain time. The theme tune is approximately 3 minutes 30 seconds long and I like students to try and complete the starter within that time before the theme tune finishes. I recently used this for a diet starter where students had to find the envelope, which was stuck underneath their desk or chair and then with their partner they then had to match the 7 nutrients with the relevant descriptions and the examples of food. Students really enjoy this as it gets them working with their partner, it shows me whether they have understood the content from the previous lesson and it gets them working under a little bit of pressure particularly when they know that the theme tune is coming to an end. Again, this works really well for starters and plenaries but particularly starters as it gets students engaged in the lesson straight away.

Sky Sports News (Media in Sport)

When teaching aspects like the role of the media and the influence of the media I get students to try and recreate the Sky Sports News desk. With their partner students have to influence their peers on a sporting aspect. Students love acting as presenters particularly as a number of my GCSE PE students are also doing Drama and it gives a great insight into the influence that the media can have on them and the general public.

These are just a few ideas/methods that I use to engage my students within theory lessons. Remember that next time you are writing or updating that powerpoint think about whether you can come at a topic from another angle so that students find it engaging and fun. As always I would love to hear other PE teachers methods of teaching certain topics of the GCSE PE theory content.