Brock University
 University of Ottawa
Orcid ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4277-930X
For more ideas on how to be Interactive4Life, please visit the various links throughout the post, our website or please send us a message on Twitter.
Website: https://function2flow.ca/ https://function2flow.ca/the-interactive-for-life-project/
Twitter: @IA4LPROJECT & @MattDingwallHPE
The primary focus of the InterActive for Life (IA4L) Project is to promote participation in games, fitness pursuits and dance by connecting to feelings of joy and happiness experienced through relational connectedness – not just for a day, or for one class, but for life. Conceptually framed by the four dimensions of the Interactive Function2Flow (IF2F) Model, specifically InterActive Function, Form, Feeling, and Flow, the IA4L project draws attention to the relational ways we connect through posture, position, gesture and movement expression (Lloyd & Smith, 2021, 2022). The first phase of the IA4L project was premised on learning from experts whose practice is based on communicating in and through movement (Lloyd, 2020; Lloyd & Smith, in press) which resulted in a series of documentary videos that showcase the ways we may physically act and react in meaningful interaction. The second phase of the IA4L project was based on mobilizing this relational knowledge to physical education through the co-creation of an online resource that features generalizable games and activities. The third phase of the IA4L project, in which I, Matt Dingwall, got involved as a volunteer and later as a research assistant, was to try out the principles and activities of the IA4L project in my emerging physical education praxis.
In this blog post, which was supported by the IA4L project leader, Rebecca Lloyd, I wish to provide an example of how I incorporated aspects of the IA4L project in the teaching of a Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU) lesson to Grade 7 students. My goal in sharing this reflection is to provide an example of the simple ways we may facilitate student engagement and meaningful relational connections in both peer and pedagogical interaction. I would like to relate my reflection to the IF2F model and take a moment to describe its relevance.
(1) What is the premise of the Interactive Function2Flow model?
Before I share an example of my teaching interaction, I feel that it is important to outline how the IA4L project compliments the TGfU approach to teaching games as it draws attention to the physical ways we communicate through space. Students may enhance their relational feelings of connection by taking into consideration the following IF2F dimensions:
To provide an example of the IF2F in action, there is one class that I taught that will always stand out to me when I consider the importance of teaching relational connection in my physical education classes. I was teaching at a school in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in Southern Ontario, Canada as part of my practicum placement in my teacher education program. The students at this elementary school had been playing the territorial-invasion game, Tchoukball in their class over the course of a few days before I arrived. What immediately sprang forth from my initial observations of the class was a distinguishable divide between the students who were involved and playing the game from those who did not.
I noted two students in particular who have ultimately helped me shape my own pedagogical approach to physical education more than they will ever know. These two students were in the class and going through the motions of walking up and down the court but were not playing the game. They had their sweatshirt hoods up, which seemed to act like a horse blinder, as they only conversed with each other and were oblivious to everyone else. I saw an opportunity to facilitate a relational connection between these two students and the other players in the game.
My assumption when I saw these hooded students were that they lacked motivation. But then, after considering the first InterActive Function dimension as I was observing the class through the IF2F frame, I wondered if these students knew how they could communicate a readiness to play and get more involved in the game.
Following a conversation with the students where I asked them about the physical signs of communicating that they are ready to receive a pass, it became apparent that they did not understand the ways they may physically communicate in this game. This came as a shock to me because this type of situation likely happens frequently in physical education programs, as teachers may assume students know what to do when they want to participate in a game.
Next, with an effort to inspire more interaction, I took advantage of the time they were rotated off to the side lines and became quite animated in my demonstration of what a ‘ready position’ and a ‘ready to interact position’ looked like in Tchoukball. I showed feet shoulder width apart, knees bent, body shifting forward, hands out in front of you and head up facing your opponent as a basic ready position. This was quite a different stance compared to their upright yet slouched over posture. I then added more movement to this ready to interact posture by quite literally bouncing around with multiple students in the class. My goal was to demonstrate how their peers will know they are ready to catch a pass by reading teammates body postures and movements.
Although this micro intervention did not change their posture instantaneously as they did not assume a ready position exactly like how I demonstrated it, they now had a better understanding of what a ready to interact position looked like – and they began to interact and play with their peers. When later prompted through a journal reflection, both students noted that Tchoukball was not their favourite game, but that they felt a sense of joy and accomplishment while being able to interact with their peers. This to me was more important than learning to catch the tchoukball, as these students were now able to interact, participate, and make appropriate decisions to help them engage with their peers. Seeing the difference that this made for these two students was a massive win for me as a teacher, and it came from engaging with some of the fundamental principles of the IA4L project.
(3) Taking it Further – Potential prompting questions for Assessing InterActivity
When my classes participate in games, there are many ways in which I have prompted my students to think more deeply about the ways they may meaningfully interact. Some ways in which I have done this include:
- Teacher documentation (anecdotal notes) framed by the IF2F relational dimensions of observable postures, positions, gestures and expressions.
- Have students reflect on the physical signs and ways they communicate in the form of exit cards. This teacher-student interaction prompts students to think about the ways they physically experience tactics. For example, I often will prompt students to describe how they are feeling during activities. Or ask: what ways can you and your partner position yourself in space to improve interaction? What part of yours and your partners movements helped to create a feeling of connection? Were you and your partner able to find a pace to your movement where you were progressively moving together (mirrored or matching)? Were you and your partner able to find a sense of flow? How could you read your partners body movements to assist you in on-and-off-ball offense and defensive strategies?
I will also continue to incorporate and adapt the lead-up games developed with teacher education students involved in the IA4L project that exemplify relational connection through space. With a focus on activities that have particular relevance for TGfU lessons, I would recommend: ‘Fake Out Race Out’, ‘Be the Ball’, and ‘Guess the Copycat’ – My personal favorite!
(4) Final thoughts
With the focus that is put on the cognitive, decision-making aspects of a TGfU lesson, I feel as though we are missing the mark on teaching our students how to physically sense the ways we may develop relational connection in a game or activity. Through the IA4L project, I further refined my approach to introducing TGfU to my students by also considering the kinaesthetic aspects of developing game appreciation and tactics (Lloyd & Smith, 2010). And regardless of the game or context, I will turn to the Tools for Teachers and Assessment Tools to help me emphasize the physical dimensions of relational connection.
TGfU strives to provide students with multiple domains for students to solve the problems that arise in similar activities (Tan, Chow & Davids, 2011). In understanding this, I believe that involving aspects of the IA4L project that have been outlined, teachers and students will be able to further their focus on how they feel and the joy of moving in a TGfU lesson or unit through understanding what a ‘ready to interact’ position looks like and feels like. In something as simple as introducing the ways we may physically communicate, we provide students with opportunities to experience the positive feelings of becoming Interactive4Life.
Lloyd, R. J. (2020, October). The power of interactive flow in salsa dance: a motion-sensing phenomenological inquiry featuring two-time world champion, Anya Katsevman. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, October, 2020. doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/2159676X.2020.1820559
Lloyd, R. J., & Smith, S. J. (2010). Feeling ‘flow motion’ in games and sports. In J. Butler, & L. Griffin (Eds.), More teaching games for understanding (pp. 89-103). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Lloyd, R. & Smith, S. (2021). A Practical Introduction to Motion-Sensing Phenomenology. PHEnex journal/revue phénEPS, 11(2), 1-18.
Lloyd R. J. and Smith S. J. (2022) Becoming InterActive for Life: Mobilizing Relational Knowledge for Physical Educators. Front. Sports Act. Living 3:769031. doi: 10.3389/fspor.2021.769031https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fspor.2021.769031/full?&utm_source=Email_to_authors_&utm_medium=Email&utm_content=T1_11.5e1_author&utm_campaign=Email_publication&field=&journalName=Frontiers_in_Sports_and_Active_Living&id=769031
Lloyd, R. & Smith, S. (in press) Leaning into life with somatic sensitivity: Lessons learned from world-class experts of partnered practices. Journal of Dance & Somatic Practices, 1-30.
Tan, C. W., Chow, J. Y., & Davids, K. (2012). ‘How does TGfU work?’: Examining the relationship between learning design in TGFU and a nonlinear pedagogy. Physical Education & Sport Pedagogy, 17(4), 331–348. https://doi.org/10.1080/17408989.2011.582486