Table Tennis for Fun and Understanding
Teacher Candidates Present at National Physical & Health Education Conference
Admit it. You hear Table Tennis and you think short gym shorts, sweatbands, and tiny white balls whizzing by your head. But for one group of Teacher Candidates, they thought it would be a great way to get kids moving! So together, they created a program called Table Tennis for Fun and Understanding, which benefits from Table Tennis’s low barrier for entry and unintimidating reputation. All you need are couple of paddles, a ball, and some enthusiasm; nets, tables, and sweatbands are completely optional.
Table Tennis for Fun and Understanding was a group effort initiated by an assignment to create a game, in Dr. Catherine Casey’s first year Physical Education class in 2012-13. Thirteen students put their heads together and began the not-so-easy process of agreeing on a direction, but like a good team of educators, they strived for the positives and came up with an incredibly successful and fun way of getting kids active. In fact, the games were so good, that Dr. Catherine Casey suggested that they apply to present at the National Physical & Health Education (PHE) Conference during SAGE 2013. So, they did and were accepted.
Together they developed 6 games that focused on skills needed to play Table Tennis, but also incorporated math skills, and extra physical effort to make the game more challenging in order to increase the cardio and mental workout. They emphasized forehand and backhand skills, serving, cross-court shots, shot accuracy, and aiming long to teach the strategy of attempting to manipulate their opponent backwards, away from the table. At the PHE national conference, the Teacher Candidates asked session participants to rotate through these games, while demonstrating how the games could be incorporated into their classrooms. Physical & Health Education teachers, , PE teacher educators and researchers from across Canada attended the PHE conference and participated in the students’ session.
“Our Teacher Candidates presented games that were fun, engaging, and pedagogically sound. They took this project to a level that surpassed my expectations, and made the games more cooperative/challenging in response to the group playing. Being able to ‘change on the fly’ is an example of excellent teaching. They also demonstrated to practicing professionals that they can do this in their schools. I’m so proud of them,” said an enthused Dr. Casey.
The Teacher Candidates drew an impressive crowd of 65 attendees to their PHE session, with one late attendee who reported that he came to the session only because he overheard people having “a really good time” and was so glad he did. That kind of feedback, and response to their session let the Teacher Candidates know they that are on the right path.
Dr. Casey explains, “Presenting at a National Conference, like PHE gives students the confidence and recognition they deserve. It also demonstrates their professionalism and understanding of good pedagogy and how they can create fun, engaging learning environments, while highlighting their leadership abilities. It also gave them the opportunity to network with teachers and researchers from across the province and around the country. I look forward to encouraging our current and future students to participate in SAGE annually.”
Dr. Catherine Casey is a faculty member at the University of Manitoba, Faculty of Education. In the Bachelor of Education program she teachers Physical and Health Education.
For more information, please contact
Catherine [dot] Casey [at] umanitoba [dot] ca