Section 3: Success for All - Development of Physical Literacy Skills

The vision of the Health and Physical Education (H&PE) Curriculum is that all students will develop physical and health literacy, which in turn will help them acquire the competence, confidence and therefore, the commitment to lead a healthy active life across their lifespan.

Becoming physically literate requires that students develop the movement competence to participate in a wide variety of activities such as recreational games, organized sports, dance and other individual pursuits. Students need to apply these fundamental and transferable movement skills, concepts and strategies to be active in a variety of environments, such as indoors in gyms, on courts and in fitness facilities; and outdoors in water, on ice, on trails and on bike paths. In addition, students apply their personal skills when trying new challenges and learning new skills, their interpersonal skills as they engage with others and their critical and creative thinking skills to increase their chances of success when participating in sports and recreational activities.

Physical Literacy

Individuals who are physically literate move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments that benefit the healthy development of the whole person.

  • Physically literate individuals consistently develop the motivation and ability to understand, communicate, apply and analyze different forms of movement.
  • They are able to demonstrate a variety of movements confidently, competently, creatively and strategically across a wide range of health-related physical activities.
  • These skills enable individuals to make healthy, active choices that are both beneficial to and respectful of their whole self, others and their environment (Physical and Health Education Canada, 2016).

“All learners need successful, challenging, safe, relevant and enjoyable experiences in health and physical education if they are to make the commitment to a healthy life to realize their potential. To actively engage students in relevant lifelong pursuits, it is important that students see the connections between the activities in which they participate. They need to recognize how they can transfer skills from one activity to another. This will promote lifelong participation in physical activities” (Amos, S., Orchard, S., 1998, p. 6).

Movement Competence: Skills, Concepts and Strategies

Teaching and learning strategies used to address the learning in this strand should emphasize the fundamental transferable movement skills, concepts and strategies that can be applied across a wide variety of individual activities and games that are representative of the four game categories in the Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU) model.

"The focus of the learning in this strand is on transferable skills. The goal is to have students understand how skills, concepts, and strategies learned in one activity can apply to other activities. For example, the fundamental skill of throwing an object overhand can be transferred to a tennis serve or a badminton smash. Similarly, general transferable movement skills that apply to the three phases of movement – preparationexecution, and follow-through – can be applied to a variety of physical activities. By understanding how to apply their learning to other activities and situations, students will be better equipped to enjoy and participate in a wide variety of physical activities throughout their lives" (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2015, p. 31).

Learning should focus on and emphasize the guidelines of play and the use of strategies and tactics that enhance participation in a variety of recreation and sports activities. In addition, when students are engaged in experiences that emphasize fun, success, cooperation and self-fulfillment their success increases. Therefore, activities should be structured with these concepts at the core of learning.

Learning new skills and mastery of a sport, game or individual pursuit requires practice and repetition over an extended period of time. Learning should focus on providing students with multiple opportunities to practise skills and apply concepts and strategies through active participation. Sufficient opportunity to practice and reflect is essential for students to develop their physical literacy and reach the desired level of achievement, as defined by the performance standard of the Achievement Chart for Health and Physical Education. For more information on assessment and evaluation of movement competence and performance standards, refer to the section on Assessment and Evaluation in Planning Tools.

Evidence for the purpose of assessment of movement skills and concepts should be derived from students demonstrating these skills through active participation in a variety of activities rather than assessing sport-specific skills. Focus should be on the evaluation of the common elements in all of sending, receiving and carrying skills instead of assessing specific-sport skills for each sport. For example, a student may demonstrate effective use of movement principles with sending skills by throwing a football, basketball, softball or hitting a volleyball, tennis ball or shuttlecock.

Similarly, assessment of common game/sports strategies should focus on the students applying strategies and tactics that are transferable within game categories rather than use of specific strategies and tactics in each sport or activity (e.g., evaluate the use of offensive strategies in the territory games of rugby, ultimate football, field hockey and basketball).

To engage students in learning and support the development of their physical literacy skills, consider the following:

  • Focus on assessing for and as learning and less on assessment of learning, which includes peer, self and teacher observation, coaching and timely, specific and targeted feedback.
  • Integrate the development of personal fitness and application of safety to provide holistic integrated programs that mirror opportunities for developing fitness through active participation and to help students develop the durability to sustain participation in physical activity.
  • Use common success criteria throughout the year to help focus students on targeted skill building and application of common strategies and tactics.
  • Evaluate common elements of sending, receiving and carrying skills and student application of common strategies and tactics within a game category and between game categories (e.g., moving to open space, defending space) over a term instead of evaluation of many specific skills in an isolated unit.
  • Use guided questions to promote critical thinking, student assessment of their skills and goal setting to articulate their next steps in improving their skills.
  • Integrate living skills into instruction and assessment for students to learn and practise effective communication skills and critical thinking skills such as problem-solving, decision-making and conflict resolution.
  • Provide opportunity for skill building through physical activity rather than stand-alone skills building drills.
  • Make connections to what students are learning in physical education to opportunities for engaging in lifelong physical activity during their leisure time with their family, friends and within their community.

Differentiating Instruction to Promote Success for All Students

Differentiated instruction is based on the premise that equity of opportunity is not achieved through equal treatment. Rather, it recognizes that there are many ways to learn, that all students learn differently and therefore students must be provided with learning opportunities accordingly to best help them succeed (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2010, p. 146).

Differentiate instruction by taking into account the diversity of skill levels and prior experiences of students. Consider every student as an individual by taking their own unique needs and current stage of development into account and then offering appropriate teaching strategies to meet their needs.

To differentiate instruction to engage students in learning and support the development of their physical literacy skills, consider the following:

  • Decrease the complexity of the task, rules or scoring system (e.g., allow kicking instead of throwing).
  • Adapt or modify equipment (e.g., use smaller, softer or lighter equipment).
  • Alter the number of members on a team.
  • Change the formation or boundaries.
  • Use small-sided games with appropriate skill progressions.
  • Increase the complexity of the game as skill level increases.
  • Identify methods of providing assistance (e.g., peer coaching, senior student leaders as assistants, teacher assistant, classroom volunteers).
  • Provide opportunities for extension and more practice through intramurals targeted at specific group needs, (e.g., novice tournament/Grade 9 tournament).
  • Increase critical thinking by having students set boundaries, alter rules of play, redesign the game to increase participation for the whole class.

Modifications can also be made to equipment to increase the opportunities for success. Here are some examples of modified equipment and their effect for the student.

Equipment Modification Effect for Student
Lighter balls/bats/racquets
  • Reduces fear
  • Less effort required to attain success
  • Gives more time for response and to get into position
  • Easier to control
  • Requires less strength
Use larger balls
  • Increases success
  • Easier to manipulate
  • Can be dribbled along the floor by the front caster of a wheelchair
Use of other objects (e.g., beanbags, scarves, towels) instead of balls
  • Easier to grasp and catch
  • Will not roll when dropped
  • Travel more slowly
Underinflated balls
  • Easier to catch
  • Reduces fear
  • Rolls more slowly
Shortened handle (e.g., of bat, racquet)
  • Simplifies eye–hand coordination
  • Increases opportunity for contact
Larger striking surface (e.g., oversize tennis racquet)
  • Fewer misses
  • More successful contact
Larger target area (e.g., use whole court or entire wall as target)
  • Increased confidence
  • More successful contacts with target
Smaller playing area (e.g., small courts marked with cones
  • Increases confidence in moving towards target
  • Less court coverage needed for success

(Goodwin, D., 2000, p. 12-13)

Additional Resources

The Movement Competence Posters may be used with students to establish success criteria and develop their physical literacy skills related to fundamental and transferable movement skills, concepts, principles and strategies. Each of the 10 posters contains sample success criteria for movement competence skills, concepts, principles and strategies.