Invasion Games 2020
Teams actively learn physical and personal skills to help cope with adversity.
This is one of my favorite units and I think I may have found a winning formula for balancing student-centered learning, basic skill acquisition, and cognitive development. Briefly, students were exposed to the basic strategies of invasion games through modified games. They then needed to prepare for a handball tournament and then later on a basketball tournament. The students were broken into teams and were ultimately in charge of their own training. Teams needed to organize themselves and create plans for their training but also for their matches.
Read on and see why I feel this unit was an absolute winner.
We started the lesson with 5 minutes of Moving Time. I have a trolley consisting of 3x basketballs, 3x soccer balls, 3x handballs, 5x tennis balls, 1x long jump rope, 3x jump ropes. The aim of Moving Time is to have the kids explore the different equipment, move, and get warmed up ready for the lesson.
I started this unit with a very simple game called Crossover:
Divide the class into 2 teams.
Create your playing space and divide it into 2. A basketball court is a reasonable size.
When a student “attacks” and crosses over onto the opposing teams’ side that attacker can be tagged.
When an attacker is tagged by a defender, that attacker raises their hand, goes out of the playing area, runs to the end of their side, and does an exercise of some sort. I usually tell them to do 3-5 jumping jacks.
If the attacker is not tagged, they can cross the baseline of the court, raise their hand and yell, “goal!”
That attacker then goes out of the court and back to their side and can attack again.
I usually set a time limit of 3-minute halves.
This game can be layered multiple times.
We did Crossover Level 1 where one team attacks and the other team defends.
After 2x 3 minute halves, we gathered and briefly introduced the Central Idea. I posed questions such as, “What do you think this unit is about?”, “What are the keywords?”, “What do you think we will do in this unit?”
We then got into Crossover Level 2 where both teams attack and defend at the same time.
After a 1x 3 minute round, we gathered again and we discussed how we could do better. I then introduced them to the first strategy that is useful in invasion games – Positions. We briefly discussed the roles of attackers and defenders.
We got back to Crossover Level 2 and did 2x 3-minute halves with a minute half-time where the teams got together and discussed ways to improve their team plan.
We gathered a final time to review what we had accomplished in the lesson.
We started the lesson with 5 minutes of Moving Time.
We reviewed the Central Idea in a bit more detail and found out how it connected with our first 2 games of Crossover.
We did a 3 minute round of Crossover Level 2 to review what they had done in the previous lesson.
We then got into Crossover Level 3:
The same premise as the first two layers, however, I distributed 5-6 beanbags to the two teams.
These beanbags indicate attackers. Whoever has a beanbag can cross the midline and attack.
People without a beanbag can only defend.
Once a person crosses over to the other side regardless of whether they score or get caught need to give their beanbag to someone else.
This layer encourages the kids to discover strategies in the game, i.e.: positions, attacking/defending tactics, etc.
We gathered together and discussed how the beanbags changed the game. Questions like, “What did the beanbags do?”, “Did it enhance or hinder your team’s positioning?”
We did a couple more rounds of this with a minute half-time to allow teams to meet and discuss their plans.
We gathered, reviewed, and then were dismissed.
We started the lesson with 5 minutes of Moving Time.
We then broke the class up into 4 teams and in their teams were required to unpack the Central Idea. The kids copied down the central idea onto an A4 paper and as a group discussed what they think it meant. Mind mapping techniques were used, some guessed the learner profile, activities we would do. This is all so the kids could have a chance to use their prior knowledge to predict what the unit is about.
We then got into a game of 5-pass:
I separated the class into 4 teams and had 2 games happening at once to allow maximum participation by all students.
The object of the game is to successfully pass the ball to your teammates 5 times.
A successful pass is one that is not intercepted or dropped to the ground.
If a team does 5 successful passes then the opposing team does 3 jumping jacks.
We then discussed strategy number 2 for the unit – Maintaining Possession. I showed them the video below.
Acknowledgement James Mandigo
Go to: 0:00 – 0:55.
Throughout the video I asked, “Was this play good?” If yes or no, I asked why they responded as so.
After determining which plays were good or needed improving, we went back to 5-pass fresh with the Maintaining Possession strategy in their heads.
We gathered, discussed what we had accomplished in the lesson and discussed the strategies we had learned so far:
We started the lesson with 5 minutes of Moving Time.
We reviewed our unpacked Central Ideas and determined the keywords in our Central Idea:
I divided the class into 4 teams and then got into a game of 3-Pass and Shoot, which is a layer from 5-Pass:
Same rules as 5-pass, however,
Players score a goal by shooting the ball into a handball goal
Teams now need to do only 3 passes
Once the 3 passes are completed the handball goal is now open for a shot attempt to occur.
If the ball is dropped or an unsuccessful shot at goal occurs, the ball needs to begin at half-court.
We had 2 games happening at the same time, therefore, divided the basketball court into 2.
After several minutes of this, we gathered and discussed how they did, what strategies they needed to use, what skills was required, etc. Afterwards, I introduced the next strategy for the unit – Creating Space in Attack.
We watched the same video but with timestamp: 2:04 – 2:59.
I followed the same approach as previously where I asked them to tell me which play was good or needed improving.
With the strategy in mind, the teams met, discussed new game plans and got back into a few more rounds of 3-Pass and Shoot.
Towards the end of the lesson, we gathered, discussed and reviewed our strategy list:
Creating Space in Attack
We started with an unpacking of physical skills. We discussed what it means and how it connects with our unit. Students came up with:
I then asked them, “how do these skills help cope with adversity?” There was a bit of silence but one student managed to connect these ideas by stating, “If you practice and master these skills you can perform these skills and it helps you cope with a challenge.”
We got stuck into a game of Modified Handball:
Standard handball rules with one exception being that there is no running with the ball.
After several minutes of play, we gathered and I introduced to them their final strategy – Defending Space.
We watched the same video however with timestamp: 3:07 – 4:00.
Teams met again, planned again and played until close to the end of the lesson.
Towards the end of the lesson, we gathered, discussed and reviewed our final list of strategies:
Creating Space in Attack
I then gave them their homework. Download this PowerPoint. Please click on the image below to access the PowerPoint. This PowerPoint would be used throughout the rest of the unit. It is full of simple and advanced drills that kids can choose to use to help them improve their invasion games skills.
After 5 minutes of Moving Time, we unpacked Active Learning and discovered it means to ‘try’, to ‘engage’, not be passive but rather, active in your own learning. We then reviewed the physical skills we had learned so far and how these two terms can help ‘cope with adversity.’
I always found that having a goal to work towards really engages the students. Therefore, I arranged for all of grade to have a handball tournament. I unveiled this plan to the kids in this lesson and the details were:
Each class has 3 teams,
Our school has 4 grade 5s. Therefore, due to COVID, only 2 classes can compete at one time.
The tournament will take place over 2 days.
For the next 3 lessons, teams will be in charge of their own training.
To introduce the kids to the PowerPoint for the unit, I selected 2 drills for them to try out.
I showed the kids the 4v2 drill, you can see the details below
I talked them through the intricacies of the drill so they would know what to do when they get with their team.
Once the kids knew what they were doing, I then unveiled the teams.
When the cheerful screams stopped, they got into their teams and them went to their assigned areas to try out the drill.
After 10 minutes or so, I called out for them to start the Give and Go Level 1 drill, which is also on the PowerPoint.
The students needed to meet their team, get a laptop, read the PowerPoint to find out how to do the drill, and then execute it. This was all to see whether they could manage themselves.
Towards the end of the lesson we reviewed what we accomplished.
Rather than doing Moving Time, I put up this warm-up for them to do. These drills were all from their PowerPoint.
Afterwards, we reviewed what we had accomplished so far.
I gave the teams 10 minutes to explore different drills from the PowerPoint. This was all student-directed, they chose what they wanted to work on and needed to organize themselves. There was minimal teacher input, just the occasional assistance when questions were posed to me.
With 10 minutes up, I gathered the students and began the next phase of the lesson. We were fortunate enough to have 2 gyms available, therefore we had 2 teams playing a practice match and 1 team continuing their self-directed training. Before we began the matches, I asked the kids why we are having a practice match. It was so the teams could find out what they needed to work on and prepare a plan for the next lesson.
We did our practice matches and met at the end of the lesson. We reviewed and I gave them their homework.
Meet as a team on Microsoft Teams
Complete the training plan below and post onto Seesaw
Click on the image below to access a blank template of the training plan
The training plan would be used in the next lesson.
One silver lining of the pandemic and online learning is that the grade 5s have become competent in using Microsoft Teams, which is an awesome collaborative tool.
The lesson started with the same warm-up as the previous lesson.
Now that the teams are set and the students are aware that the teams are in charge of their own training, we unpacked specific physical skills they would need to master in order to be successful in their handball tournament.
Each of the teams shared their team plan with me and if they were detailed enough, they could start their training. Unfortunately, a couple of teams did not get their training plan done, therefore they missed out on crucial training time and had to complete their work before they could get on the court.
The kids ran the rest of the lesson on their own, my teacher assistant and I provided equipment and space when they asked us. I periodically gave time alerts and I was impressed when I called out ’10 minutes left!’ and a number of groups changed drills.
With the end of the lesson approaching, we gathered, reviewed and I mentioned that the next lesson would be a practice match with the subsequent lesson being the handball tournament.
With the announcement of the tournament I noticed that handball was getting more popular with the grade 5s, even with some of the kids that were not so into sports before. I wanted to keep this going, therefore, I told the kids each team could borrow a handball during their recess periods if they wanted.
We did our set warm-up again. A lot more kids were taking this much more seriously.
We did a brief review and a slight pump-up about the tournament. We then got into our practice matches. We did 3x 10 minute matches with a half-time at 5 minutes.
At the end of the lesson, I showed the schedule for the tournament to ensure the kids knew the logistics of the event.
This is how I ran the tournament. This format ran twice for the grade 5s with 2 grade 5s at each tournament.
We started the class with a basketball warm-up, again from their PowerPoint. This was met with a mix bag of reactions, from “oh no” to “yeah!”
We reviewed the tournament we just had and I asked the kids how they thought the central idea played a role in their tournament and also for the preparation for it.
Considering this was the first time many of the kids had experienced basketball, I wanted them to have a bit of directed exploration, or a tuning-in to basketball. I created 3 stations:
Jog and Dribble
Pass and Give Back
Again, all of these are from their PowerPoint, which they can easily access on their own outside of PE.
Throughout the stations, I gave some pointers such as: dribble the ball with fingertips, try and avoid looking down at the ball when dribbling, chest pass is a pass from the chest, etc.
Toward the end of the lesson, I informed the kids that I needed to know how much they learned from the unit. Furthermore, this would help me assess their understanding to give an accurate report card. I gave them their reflection task for the unit. See below.
We continued with the same basketball warm-up as the previous lesson. I spent a bit more time with the kids cleaning up some of their skills. However, it is always pleasing seeing the kids come in, drop their coats, water bottles, etc. off and getting straight into an activity with minimal input from me.
I wanted to spent a bit more time on the tuning-in stage of inquiry by looking at the basic skills again. We did so by using 3 stations again with all of these activities available in the PowerPoint.
Station 1: Dribble levels:
Level 1: 50 reps
Level 2: 50 reps
Level 3: 10 laps
Level 4: 50 reps
Station 2: Moving Pairs
Jog and dribble and pass to a partner
Continue until the whistle is blown
Station 3: Shooting levels:
Level 1: 20 reps
Level 2: 20 reps
Level 3: 20 reps
Level 4: 20 reps
Note: These do not need to be successful attempts, a missed basket counts for a rep. Reason for this, I did not want to kids to be stuck on one level and be dismayed by their efforts. We were still in the tuning-in phase of basketball.
We rotated through these stations until the end of the lesson. There was minimal interruption with plenty of basketball exposure. Having the levels allowed the kids to work at their own pace but also freed me up to work individually with kids when necessary.
With a few minutes left of the lesson, I announced to the students that they could borrow basketballs from me during recess. On that first day, I loaned out all of the basketballs I set aside for recess, even from kids that had never tried basketball before.
We did the same basketball warm-up as previous lessons, again with me helping out when necessary.
We connected our central idea to basketball and determined what physical skills we needed for this new sport.
I wanted to move on from tuning in and start putting their new skills into more dynamic environments. Using the 3 station routine again, I broke the class into 3 groups and we tried 2 different drills and 1 self-directed station.
Station 1: Channel the Attacker:
Even though soccer balls are shown, I adapted this for the grade 5 basketball unit. I used this drill for my grade 4s who focus on soccer for their invasion game unit.
For 1 point, the kids had to pass a ball and knock down a cone
For 5 points, the kids had to shoot into a low basket
For 10 points, the kids had to shoot into a medium height basket
We are lucky in having 2 baskets that could change height. This drill is a lot of fun.
Station 2: 5-Pass:
Similar to the 5-Pass as before however:
The person with the ball can move provided they are dribbling the ball
Once 2 hands are on the ball, you need to pass
Opponents can slap the ball down and gain possession
Lost control of the ball equals a turnover
Station 3: Basic basketball handling drills:
This station allowed the kids to shoot, dribble, and pass. Basically, any skill they would like to work on.
Again, this lesson had a lot of basketball, and the drills allowed the kids to try their new skills in a dynamic environment.
We gathered at the end of the lesson and discussed what they had achieved.
Same basketball warm-up
Considering the awesome success of the handball tournament and the amount of student autonomy there was during their team training sessions, I followed the same format and announced to the students they would be having a basketball tournament between all of the grade 5s. Due to new government regulations, we were allowed to have all of grade 5 in the gym at the same time.
For this tournament, we would split each class into 4 teams with 5-6 players on each team.
Before I announced the new teams, I went through a few rules that included double-dribbling, fouling, back court violations, etc. I would be a bit lenient on double-dribbling since we were still learning the basic skills. But, I would be quite strict on fouls.
After the uproar and cheering of the teams, we had our practice matches. Fouls were an issue, sometimes it turned into more of street ball than basketball, but we got better as the matches progressed.
Towards the end of the lesson, I introduced how the rest of the unit would unfold from this lesson until the tournament. I showed them their team folders on Microsoft Teams. In each folder, each team has 3 pages for 3 training plans. The amount of lessons left until their practice match and then ultimately, their tournament. You can access the training plan document by clicking on the image below.
Their homework for this lesson was to create a team chat on Microsoft Teams. They would need to meet on Teams and discuss their first training plan. They would do this plan for their next lesson. They can use the PowerPoint to help them create their own plan.
Usual basketball warm-up
Before the kids went to execute their first training plan, I reminded them that they are in charge of their training. If their team wastes time, loses focus, etc. then that is a lost training session. It is in their best interest to remain focus throughout the lesson.
With that in mind, they went off and executed training plan #1. It was really impressive seeing them work. Having that goal in mind, that goal of the tournament, and just really wanting to get better at basketball, most of the students remained focused and determined to improve.
With several minutes left of the lesson, we reviewed the lesson and found connections of what they completed in the lesson and the central idea.
I informed them that they would need to meet with their team again before the next PE lesson and prepare their second training plan. This time, they would need to include their own team warm-up.
As soon as the kids came to the gym I reminded them that they’re following their own team warm-up. A few forgot but they opened up their laptops, got onto Teams and found their warm-up. A bit of a slower start, but they eventually got into it.
After 5 minutes or so, I brought them in, reminded them of the expectations of the lessons – that ultimately they’re in control of their own training. My teaching assistant and I are around to help if required.
After that, off they went to do the second training session that they created as a team.
Their independence, by this stage was improving immensely. My TA and I picked up a few cones and balls but really, that was it. It was massively student-directed, autonomous learning. Every so often I called out how many minutes left and the students changed drills at certain times. It was impressive.
Towards the end of the lesson, I showed the students the tournament schedule. It was much more complicated due to the fact that we have 3 basketball courts available, 4 teams per class with 4 grade 5 classes, and 80 minutes to complete everything. Thanks to our Athletics Director, for creating the schedule for me!
With the schedule in mind, some kids asked if I could send it to them so they could print it out and highlight when they would play – love the proactiveness!
But then, I showed the team list where they would see who they would play against. This did cause quite a stir but I asked them, “how does seeing who you’re playing against affect your final training session?” They would need to see who they’re up against, analyze each team’s strengths and weaknesses, and create a training plan based upon their analysis. Again, meet on Teams and create a plan.
The team lists and schedule was uploaded on their Teams for them to see at their convenience.
See below for an example of what a couple of teams created when they found out their opponents. It’s really impressive – a full playbook. Also, find an example of the collaborative potential that Microsoft Teams has. Each of the teams used this tool so effectively that it really enhanced their ability to collaborate – an essential skill in the 21st century.
With the final training session, the kids were super focused. They came in, did their own team warm-up and immediately got into their session.
One area I unfortunately didn’t focus too much on throughout the unit that I only started working on from here are personal skills. But seeing them work so well together, in their teams, and generally as a class was astounding.
The kids, again, were so focused and determined that my TA and I were somewhat over-grown ball-kids.
With 5 minutes or so left of the lesson, we gathered together and I asked them what they thought ‘personal skills’ were in the Central Idea. Some mentioned skills along the lines of emotional management, teamwork, etc. I told them that they showed traits such as, perseverance, empowerment, autonomy, independence, analysis, leadership, etc. I was on a high and could not have been prouder of their efforts.
They did not have to do another plan but were free to do what they thought their team needed in preparation for their practice match.
The kids did their own team warm-up. All I did was leave the basketballs and cones out and gave them 5 minutes to warm-up.
We gathered and I reviewed some of the rules. I informed them that I’ll be a bit stricter with the double dribbles and fouls.
We started our practice match and the one problem of having very passionate students is that their passion can get them carried away. We had several outbursts and tears. This is where I needed to focus more on the ‘personal skills’ part of the central idea.
To counter the emotional management issues, I introduced this immediate calming technique, which I find particularly useful. It is called the 4, 7, 8 and focuses on controlled breathing. You can see the protocol below.
We did several cycles of this and then got back into our games.
With the end of the lesson approaching, we did a final debrief before the tournament. I informed them that no matter what happens, I was immensely proud of how much they had grown throughout the unit. This grade level went from knowing very little about basketball to being able to dribble, pass, and shoot, along with the ability to train themselves, plan, strategize, and collaborate.
They were ready for the tournament.
Feel free to click on the image below to download the tournament schedule and adjust to your needs. Each team had 3 games. It was an action-packed 80 minutes!
With 80 minutes to get through all the matches, time was tight. However, so were the kids and emotions were already a bit fraught. Therefore, I started the tournament with a few rounds of controlled breathing using the 4, 7, 8 technique. I informed the kids that if they’re feeling anxious or ready to outburst, take a quick timeout to do the 4, 7, 8.
We also reviewed the rules and emphasized sportsmanship.
It was an amazing atmosphere with cheers, groans, a custom-made banner for one of the classes, and a lot of basketball. We had all of the grade 5 teachers come down and support the kids.
There were a few lost kids unsure of when they’re playing, which was to be expected, but the majority of the kids knew where to look and who to ask to find their way. I even heard one student mention to their teammate that they need to sit out and do a round of 4, 7, 8 to cool-off. I had a bit of a chuckle to myself.
Overall, it was a brilliant authentic event that allowed the kids to grow from the experience.
We started our lesson with a standard 5-minute Moving Time. However, a lot of kids asked for basketballs, so we rolled those out as well.
We reviewed the basketball tournament and unveiled the final scores. I added these to the grade 5 tournament spreadsheet where I add in scores throughout the year. We started the year with a handball tournament, then we had the basketball tournament, they’re all wondering what the next one will be.
We went around the class and some kids shared what they had learned, what areas they had grown, and also how they could use their learning in areas outside of PE.
This was the last class for 2020 before the Christmas break, so we rounded out the class with several rounds of Mat Ball – courtesy of the Physical Educator.
Great game with a lot of layering opportunity.
I do feel as if I have found the sweet spot with the Invasion Games unit. I started the unit with teaching the basic strategies: positions, maintaining possession, creating space in attack, and defending space. These were taught with some modified games. The handball warm-ups exposed the kids regularly to the basic skills – jog and dribbling, throwing, passing, etc. Then announcing the tournament really geared up the kids to wanting to learn more about handball and improving their skills. Then they really took hold of their own learning after that. After the handball tournament, the kids knew the basic strategies of handball, but also the basic strategies of working in a team and being in control of their own learning. They were primed to be exposed to an entirely new sport with basketball. The beauty of having basketball after handball is that since the kids had the basic strategies down, we had more time for student-centered learning to occur. The kids created their own plans, executed their plans, reflected on those plans, and made new plans based upon their reflections.
However, I did need to spend more time on emotional management considering the intense passion these kids have with their learning. Despite this drawback, I do encourage you to try this approach to creating a student-centered invasion games unit. It provided so many opportunities for the kids to learn skills that can be transferred to other parts of their life – analysis, planning, collaboration, strategizing, leadership, communication, along with many others. Furthermore, they were incredibly active and becoming physically literate. Everybody wins.
I would be really interested to know if anyone has tried this or a similar approach. Drop me a line in the chat below!
I'll round this post out with a reflection written by a student who mentioned the basketball tournament in our end of semester reflection for her homeroom task. I loved how she mentioned teamwork, spirit, strategy, analyze, plans, etc. PE can develop these incredible critical skills in today's world.
Good luck and happy teaching.