Unlocking the Keys to Physical Literacy through Deconstructing the Long-Term Athletic Development Model

Document created by teachontarioteam on Dec 1, 2016Last modified by teachontarioteam on Apr 10, 2018
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In this installment of TeachOntario Talks we are profiling and celebrating the Physical Education team who implemented the Long Term Athlete Development model for their students at Seaway District High School in the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB).


According to Physical Health Education (PHE) Canada, the degree to which adults are active later in life depends on their comfort in fundamental movement and sports skills, or physical literacy they acquired as children. PHE Canada defines physical literacy as the ability to move with competence and confidence in a variety of physical activities in different environments that benefit the healthy development of the whole person (PHE Canada, 2010). Health and Physical Education educators play an important role establishing this foundation.


The Team



Trevor Thompson, Roxanne Backes, Rodney Benton, and Sarah Dooley are physical education educators in the Upper Canada District School Board at Seaway District High School in Iroquois, Ontario. Their Teacher Learning and Leadership Program (TLLP) project, “Unlocking the Keys to Physical Literacy using Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD)”, investigated the stages of LTAD and how it could be used to improve the physical literacy of students.


The team focused primarily on two stages in the Plan: Fundamentals and Learn to Train, as these stages support the development of the movement skills necessary to sustain an active lifestyle later in life.


The Project


In the first phase of their TLLP inquiry, the team researched fundamental movement skills and effective instructional strategies would support skill development. They also attended conferences hosted by the Canadian Sport for Life and the Ontario Physical Health Organization (OPHEA) to deepen their professional knowledge. After this initial phase, the team sat down to summarize their collective learning and narrow their inquiry focus.


They identified three questions to direct the team’s inquiry:


  • What is the current level of physical literacy of our students?
  • How do we better facilitate learning for our students to enhance their physical literacy?
  • Will engagement and the physical literacy of students improve as a result of the inquiry?




The next stage in the team's inquiry process was to determine their students’ physical literacy levels and entry points for learning. They chose Passport for Life as their assessment tool because it is applicable to both elementary and secondary students. Evidence gleaned from the assessment was used to identify students’ ‘areas of movement competency’ and ‘areas in need of focused attention.’  The team then created and implemented differentiated lesson plans comprised of small sided games and meaningful competition. These lessons allowed students to progress at their own pace and individual stage of development.


Above: Students play a small sided game at Seaway District High School


For ongoing assessment, Trevor used the slow motion video analysis software Hudl Technique to provide descriptive feedback on students’ movement skills. For example, they used it to examine the push up and squat. Students were able to analyse their form and make corrections.





For Students:


Like any type of literacy, physical literacy is a continuum and the path each student takes towards becoming more physically literate will vary student to student. Over the course of the year, it was evident to the team that students became more competent and confident with Fundamental Movement Skills.


According to Thompson, “I saw an increase in the engagement levels of students in my class. They also had more confidence to participate in activities.” Students commented, “I like these kinds of games and activities better than just playing the same old sports all the time. They are more fun and I actually participate in these games!”


For the Community:


Inspired by the results of this TLLP project, Thompson wanted to bring physical literacy out to his community.  He met with the local Township Recreation Department to pitch the idea of a summer Sport for Life program that would focus on developing physical literacy and fundamental movement skills in children between the ages of 3 and 12. The program was well received and was awarded a RBC Learn to Play Grant for the summer of 2017.


Next Steps


Looking ahead, Thompson plans to continue this inquiry by looking for ways to incorporate technology, such as wearable devices like Fitbits or Garmin activity trackers, to help students better understand their fitness levels. He would also like to shift his focus to functional fitness, exercises that improve daily activity, and look for ways to extend functional fitness to other subject areas at Seaway District High School.


"If you ask a child or you ask a student, 'What's your current fitness level?' they'll say oh it's good, it's very good, but they don't have a frame of reference," Thompson says. "Perhaps in the future we may look into something using wearable technology ... to make kids better understand if they moved enough over the course of the day," Thompson says.


Above: Students take part in an exercise at Seaway District High School


For Thompson, this inquiry has caused him to change his practice and place greater emphasis on developing athletes rather than basketball or hockey players. “It's forced me to think critically about differentiated instruction. That is, student-centred learning versus game-focused teaching, and to ensure appropriate progressions for students on their physical learning journey,” he reports.


Questions? Ideas? Comments? Ontario educators can register on TeachOntario and join in more in-depth conversation about this teacher in Share under: TeachOntario Talks Discussions: TeachOntario Talks Discussions: Unlocking the Keys to Physical Literacy through Deconstructing the Long-Term Athletic Development Model