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Leadership and the Adventure Challenges Unit

October 16th, 2022


Previously I have focused on bringing explicit leadership experiences to my teaching in the MYP and this year made it a goal of mine to challenge myself and integrate leadership into my PYP PE lessons. With the oldest PYP grade preparing to go through the extensive Exhibition process it felt like a natural fit to introduce leadership traits in their Adventure Challenges unit to start the year. 


Using Leadership Trait cards I designed a unit that includes daily reflection on chosen leadership traits, with students setting goals to use the trait(s) as they participate in a variety of team games and challenges. While the package includes 8 leadership traits and success criteria for each, I chose to focus on 4 traits to help narrow their focus during the lessons. These 4 were a mix of traits that linked well to the Learner Profiles, and also ones more unfamiliar to the students.


Tuning In - Lesson 1 and 2


In the first lessons of this unit, students watched a provocation video on teamwork before exploring a variety of team challenges. 


Learning Experiences explored:

  • Moving hula-hoop around the circle with hands held

  • Tossing a ball around the circle until everyone throws and catches the same amount of times as letters in their name. Between rounds, teams would strategize to improve their efficiency. 

  • Cross the River (teams with one less hoop than team members)

  • Stuck in the Mud Tag Teams. You can only save those in your team, and only tag those not in your team. Allow teams to strategize between rounds.

  • Noodle Ball. Using only noodles teams must move rubber balls across the space. 

  • Group Balance Challenges. Ex. every group member connected with only 5 points of contact with the ground.


Along with these team challenges, students were introduced to the four leadership traits in the first lesson. After a discussion on how students interpret leadership, we explored what these traits mean. Students, Think, Pair, and Shared, how it would look in a PE setting. The first lesson exit ticket was for each student to tick which of the four leadership traits they feel the strongest at using.


The second lesson exit ticket was a reflection where students learned in greater depth a chosen leadership trait, explaining how they demonstrated a specific trait in the lesson.


Sorting Out - Lesson 3 and 4


In this phase of the unit, students explored how leadership traits can be connected to more traditional team-oriented games. 

Learning Experiences explored:

  • British Bulldog, Octopus Tag

  • Capture the Flag. A big favourite amongst the students, and an opportunity to take on roles, and work together to try out strategies.

  • Keep Away! Students must make 5 passes in a row to their team to gain 1 point. Students cannot move with the ball and try to intercept passes on defence.

  • Modified Gaga Ball. Hexagon shape made by 6 large cones, students try to knock a soft-ball with their hands between other students cones, and must have feet planted between their cones at all times.


In lesson 3 students identified which of the four leadership traits they want to improve upon, ticking next to the sheet as they leave the lesson. Before doing so, students shared with a partner what using that trait in PE could look like.


For the lesson 4 reflection, students identified a leadership trait they want to improve on, and success criteria to focus on for that selected trait. They then answered what using this trait may look like as we are playing relay and tag games in the next class. 


Going Further - Lesson 5


With 3 lessons to go in this Adventure Challenges unit, I wanted students to focus on applying the leadership skills they have learned, consistently discussed and reflected on. In lesson 5 we played a variety of tag and relay activities, with students refreshing their memories on the leadership trait they identified last class.


Learning Experiences explored:

  • Three Legged Races

  • Collect the Treasure! Close, medium and far away objects are worth 1, 2, and 3 points respectively. Teams try to collect the most points.

  • Noodle Tag, Stuck in the Mud Teams


As an exit ticket, students ticked which leadership they demonstrated most consistently throughout the lesson. Students shared their answers with a partner or the class, providing a reason why they chose the trait.


Lesson 6


Students are introduced to the planning sheet they will use to organize a game for Kindergarten students to come and play. They will take on roles, use leadership skills, and communicate with each other in their group of 4 to equally take on this responsibility. 


After planning their activity and justifying why it is age-appropriate, they taught the game to the rest of the class, practicing their role and working together. Roles included demonstrator, speaker, equipment manager, and safety observer.


Taking Action - Lesson 7


Students set up their games and prepared for excited Kindergarten students to come and learn from them! This was a big success as the Grade 5 students were focused on having fun with the young learners, and clearly explaining and demonstrating each game. 

After each group spent 5 minutes playing and leading their game, each group reflected on their experiences in this unit. The last step was identifying how they can continue to develop their leadership skills. I look forward to revisiting these goals during student-led conferences!


Implementing the Approaches to Learning


As a standalone unit, I chose two ATL skills that are embedded in the traits that make leaders effective and were consistently necessary to thrive in collaborative games.


Self-Management: Emotional Management

Social: Resolving Conflict


Through class discussions and explicit leadership reflections, these skills were brought up in how they shape effective leaders. How you need to be in control of yourself before you can influence and motivate others. 


Learner Profile(s)


Caring: Very similar to the leadership trait of “Care Deeply”, the importance of being a caring person during team games arose in class discussions and during times when conflict resolution was necessary.


Communicator: As it was the other leadership trait, this was another easy focus, with reflection built in around the theme of being a good communicator during team experiences, before games while strategizing and being a good winner/loser post-game.

Thoughts, questions, concerns? Let me know on twitter @tannernickel, I am always looking for ideas and ways to improve my inquiry teaching.

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