David Manzalaoui

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My first professional development task when I was teaching in the UK was to incorporate literacy skills into the Physical Education curriculum. Most people would assume that Physical Education and literacy have very little in common. I am going to share with you how Physical Education teachers all over the world incorporate literacy skills within their lessons. There are four key aspects of literacy used in Physical Education:



Listening is key in Phys Ed for:
- safety
- to follow instructions – understand and respond to instructions
- to know what the task is – to understand the task and terminology used to express it
- to improve – to act on advise given
- to learn from others – ideas exchanged, team tactics, peer evaluation
- for self esteem and confidence
- for enjoyment


Simple - "Start" - "Stop" - "Freeze"
Complex - "Stand up and run to the baseline"
Instructions when moving - Warm up activities build up listening skills


Teaching a Skill – the use of words and demonstration (teacher or student) in Phys Ed links listening skills and observation skills – one supports the other. In PE the two skills are inextricably linked – but words can add:
- the relative importance of constituent parts of a skill
- clarify order in which body parts move to perform skill
- emphasis of safety factors
- use of technical language
- answer questions

Teaching Points

To enhance performance: listen to and act upon a teaching point –words translated into a physical skill.
Listening to peers: in a whole class, in a group, with a partner

- exchanging ideas
- making choices
- taking decisions

- evaluation of others’ work
- constructive criticism
- offering advice



by students of -
- key points
- instructions
- new technical language


students given the opportunity -
- to ask questions - to seek clarification
- to pose questions - to extend knowledge/understanding
- to answer questions - recall previous work, technical terms

Plan, organize and arrange

- activities giving clear instructions to others e.g. setting up gymnastics apparatus

Explore and develop

- ideas with others - discussion, choice, decision, words into actions


- the work of self, partner, groups or class with increased use of technical terms



- using words and emphasizing initial consonants
- common activities such as run, jump, hop, and skip should be displayed on gym walls
- captions and labels - labeling the apparatus
- alphabet - develop Phys Ed alphabet

David this is very informative. As a non-Physical Education teacher, I learned a lot from reading your article, but correct me if I am wrong, it appears as though you are not finish because I haven't seen the reading and writing aspect of the document. (Milton Francis)
Feedback From Steven Schnee:
Cooperative Learning strategies are the best module to utilize to incorporate liberal arts strategies into the curriculum. Students working together and feeding off each other reduces the teacher responsibility and ensures student progress and retention. Listening skills is a tool that I never thought was a skill involving literacy. My first impulse when faculty brings up the literacy component for curriculum incorporation is writing and reading. Its great to have another option like a listening component. Myself as a science teacher can find many applications for this device, especially in the lab. Having students follow oral directions to complete a task would prove to be effective. A great listening and writing exercise that I involve in the life science category of study is an alphabet animal exercise. Students have fun creating animals with the use of letter incorporation. (Steven Schnee, July 16, 2007)

I liked your ideology. The physical education teachers in the high school where I work require the students fill out a daily journal that includes any physical activities and their nutritional intake. They keep a journal for approximately 6 weeks, then they use the information gathered from the students to discuss topics of physical training. They require this journal to be submitted and it is graded and applied towards the students over all grade.
Barry Spainer


I am highly impressed by how you incorporated these two English modalities into Physical Education. It's wonderful to see how we can show our students that these different classes aren't just islands unto themselves; Rather, they are interconnected and reliant on each other. --Jason Feliciano


Being a P.E. guy it is get to see that other teachers are seeing that in our area we get the great task of incorporating just about every subject into our curriculum. I keep journals with my kids so that they can go back and actually see what they have learned and also so see how much they have come physically. People still have the idea that P.E. is just rolling the ball out and having kids just play but they are slowly realizing that thats not even close to what we are now doing.--Doug Luciano

Great job David!
I am always impressed with your knowledge in the area of physical education. I'm sure your students enjoy your class. I like Doug's comment about gym not just being about rolling out balls. I have had many conversations with administration and other teachers validating a well rounded music program. Music is not simply shouting out a few words in a song.
Lee Nelson

Hey David,
In my school they have formed literacy committees comprised of about six to eight teachers from all disciplines and we meet to discuss how we can incorporate literacy into all disciplines including math, science and PE. We found a useful website that has a variety of lessons for K-12. Take a look and tell me what you think.
Tim Sullivan

Great job of incorporating ELA in PE. To make learning real we must incorporate all disciplines of education in the subjects we teach. If we look at each subject we can find a relationship to other subject areas. It allows students to be connected to different subject areas through the one that they find interesting.
Art Schnee

Great job David,
I think language skills are often overlooked in PE. As a PE teacher myself I know how important the points you have made are. I think especially the listening skills and the ability to formulate questions are vitally important. When we give terminal and especially concurrent feedback during a drill or skill practice the student really need to be able to listen and process without loosing focus on the activity. And when trying to fine tune a motor skills unless the student and properly articulate the problem with their mechanics it's hard to give useful advice.
Joe Beauvais