Te Kete Ipurangi Navigation:

Te Kete Ipurangi

Te Kete Ipurangi user options:

Senior Secondary navigation


Level 6 and 7 snapshots

Learning programme design

Level 6/7 snapshots

Health ed snapshots:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Physical ed snapshots:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

Home economics snapshots:

1 |  2 |  3 |  4 |  5 |  6

Combined HPE and home economics snapshots

Physical education snapshot 6

Theory versus practical – breaking down a traditionally held viewpoint


A question asked most weeks in senior physical education classes is “Are we doing ‘theory’ or ‘practical’ today?” Senior physical education students have developed an understanding of two types of lessons, unconsciously reinforced by teachers - the lesson done in the classroom where they learn about the theory, and the practical where they are are involved in a physical activity context. The two types of lessons (theory/practical) are often taught in isolation of each other, whereby specific learning outcomes are only achieved through the teaching within a specific context (inside or outside the classroom). 

Focusing inquiry

One of the goals within our faculty was to enhance the essence of senior physical education by challenging the theory/practical divide both for ourselves and for our learners. To do this we had to challenge the use of the two words that shape for many students their understanding of how they learn and develop knowledge. Lessons needed to be developed that focused on developing knowledge, irrespective of whether it be in the classroom, the gym, on the field, or out on the courts. 

One of the ways we challenged the theory/practical divide was to use the ‘flipped classroom’ model, which was developed in the United States in the early 2000s. The essence of the model involved students beginning their engagement with the unit/lesson knowledge before the class practical lessons. This could happen either at home, during their lunch time, before or after school. The aim for them is to engage with the material, consider what they already knew, identify gaps in their knowledge and understanding, and be able to come to class ready to engage in the learning in a practical environment by drawing on prior knowledge, using their knowledge and understanding, and being able to ask questions when they do not understand. 

Achievement objectives that could be used as a basis to develop learning intentions

  • 6A2: Choose and maintain ongoing involvement in appropriate physical activities and examine factors influencing their participation.
  • 6B1: Acquire, apply and refine specialised motor skills by using the principles of motor skills learning.
  • 6B3L Apply scientific and technological knowledge and resources to enhance physical abilities in a range of environments.
  • 6C3: Plan strategies and demonstrate interpersonal skills to respond to challenging situations appropriately. 

Possible assessment links to achievement standards

  • AS90963 (PE1.2) Demonstrate understanding of the function of the body as it relates to the performance of physical activity. 

Teacher inquiry

Biophysical knowledge is seen as core knowledge for senior physical education. The faculty believed that it was vital that students develop a sound understanding of these fundamental concepts that will be developed in future years. 

The flipped classroom model met both our goals seamlessly as students were able to start engaging in the knowledge by accessing the learning from home (or in their own time) in content snapshots that included a short video (5-7 minutes created by the teacher), a worksheet (to be used as to capture learning, or to be able to develop questions to be asked in class), and an extension activity.  

Students were asked to complete one ‘flipped lesson’ per week, which was estimated to take between 15-20 minutes. This allowed students to enter the learning environment with a base level of knowledge that could be challenged, refined, and developed so that they left with applied understanding to assessments and their own lives.

Learning inquiry

After a period of time, students ceased to ask whether or not it was a theory or practical class. Students would arrive for class prepared to learn in a range of contexts, harnessing their own understanding to guide the lesson delivery and content. 

Students began placing emphasis on the development of knowledge as opposed to seeing this as isolated to their theoretical context in the classroom. Furthermore, the ability to transfer learning became a dynamic process whereby students took learning from their personal context, from both their own experiences and the online experience, to use within the physical education context. 

By challenging students’ beliefs around how, where, and when knowledge is developed, it helped to develop autonomy in relation to self management and self monitoring. The use of the flipped classroom model has helped to break down traditional views of learning for both students and teachers, allowing for purposeful learning conversations with students and the ability to utilise class time to develop student understanding. It has also allowed parents and guardians an opportunity to engage in the students' learning as well. 

Learn more

Last updated March 29, 2021