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Parkour and the Movement Composition Unit

After doing a more dance-focused unit last year for upper PYP PE, I wanted to return to a more gymnastics centered unit for the movement composition unit. I initially taught Parkour two years ago and with a new cohort of students, I was excited to build on the unit and include more meaningful inquiry and ATL experiences. To provide ideas and ensure I am including fundamental gymnastic skills in my lessons I used this parkour unit guide to help shape my lessons. This guide provided me with some nice ideas that I was able to shape into a more inquiry based focus with lessons suited for a diverse student body.

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Tuning In 


To start the unit off I showed students this video, asking them afterward to provide their initial thoughts and feelings towards what they see in it. We then watched it a second time with students ticking off the different skills they saw while viewing. The skills to identify were jumping, running, leaping, rolling, quadruple movements, and landing.

Another main activity focused on this week was ‘Follow the Leader.’ In small groups, students took turns leading their group around the field making use of all the obstacles to run, jump, crawl, and climb over. This activity was explored outside one day and inside the gym with resources for the next PE class.

Finding Out


In this stage of the inquiry cycle, I wanted students to find out more about the fundamental movement skills needed for their summative parkour routine. In small groups students explored forward/backward rolls, balance beam movements, springboard jumping, and leaping over objects using their hands. 


Students were also challenged to create their own quadruple movement, drawing a picture of it then teaching it to the class. A quadruple movement challenges students to use their hands and feet when moving, important as we move into stage climbing, and pyramid jumping.

Going Further


Now that students had explored the fundamental movement skills, we revisited the provocation video and discussed why the parkour movements were fun to watch. Students shared what types of additions to the rolling, jumping, balancing movements they could do. Star jumps, flips, backward, cartwheels were possibilities different students suggested. 


With the added flairs in mind, students practiced running and then performing the skills, shaping their bodies in various ways for jumps and into rolls afterwards. They also explored various ways to move over or around tall obstacles.

Taking Action


For their summative assessment in this unit, students formed groups of 4 and planned a parkour routine that had them moving around the gym using at least 6 different skills. Students were in control of the entire routine, from equipment set-up, start/endpoint, and the path of the skills they would attempt along the way. Students rehearsed over a couple of classes to ensure their movements were challenging, yet possible, and done together. 


To finish the unit, students performed their routines and I posted it on Seesaw for parents to view. There was also an audience of younger PYP students to demonstrate what can be possible with the fundamental gymnastics skills they are learning.


Student Reflection


As a main goal of mine throughout my PYP/MYP teaching this year the ATL’s were reflected on consistently throughout the unit. For this unit I focused on:


  • Social: Helping Others

  • Communication: Interpreting

  • Research: Formulating & Planning

  • Thinking: Consider New Perspectives

  • Self Management: Resilience


Students would either need to provide a post-it note answer at any time during a station-based lesson after reflecting on how they are using an ATL skill, or we would have class discussions on these approaches to learning. ATL’s were also linked to the Summative rubric to allow students to demonstrate their understanding of these skills in a meaningful way.


Learner Profiles


Balanced: In discussions at the beginning of the unit the students, and myself, decided that this Learner Profile would look like a student who participates equally in planning, discussions and tries their best in physical activities.


Risk-taker: For this Learner Profile my students saw a risk-taker as someone who showed resilience (ATL) and tried difficult movements in a safe way. As we moved to more challenging skills like stage leaping, and pyramid jumping, we analyzed what flair could be added to these movements in a safe, but challenging way.

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

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