Designing Meaningful Experiences Part 1: Unpacking

Designing Meaningful Experiences_ Unpacking

Hello PE/Athletics/Education world!!

A couple of weeks ago, I shared an image on Twitter. It was something that I have been thinking about and struggling with for some time. When I was completing my Master’s degree in 2013, I came across the model of competition. It was a framework that would help promote and foster the growth of a competitive mindset with athletes. Since I came across this framework I thought to myself “if this works for athletes to perform consistently in competition, why can’t it be adjusted to reflect the goals of quality Physical Education and promote lifelong activity and wellness”?


When I shared my initial thoughts, some of the feedback I was given was that my writing was horrible and I should make it a polished product. There were also some jokes made that I should be a doctor with my writing, which may not be totally out of the question. After some time and work on the framework, I eventually came up with this:

Physical Education Program Structure

The Framework for Meaningful Physical Education

After some feedback and questions, I thought that I would explain this framework in a series of posts. Not only does it chunk my thoughts and information into smaller chunks, it also helps plan my next series of blog posts so I can keep pushing out some content. It’s a win-win for everyone!

Why This Framework?

I have a very positive outlook on the world and education. I truly believe that all educators want to inspire and develop their students with values and beliefs that will stay with them for a lifetime. However, this is something that just does not happen naturally but something that comes with purpose and focus.

Another belief that I have is that all Physical Educators want to develop students who value an active and healthy lifestyle that promotes holistic wellness. Each of us in on our own journey identifying this goal, but some of us have no idea how to make this goal attainable. Inspiring the youth to value physical activity and wellness can be a big, scary concept. Hopefully, this framework can help others structure their programs and experiences with purpose and building progressively towards their goals.

The Structure of the Framework

Simply choosing what structure to use to present this concept was under much debate. The use of a triangle often comes under fire that it represents only a small number achieve the end result. I am challenging this thought by changing my thinking behind the triangle

Physical Education Program Structure (1).png

Easy concept, the wider the base represents the more influence the professional has on the process. As we move towards the midline, we introduce more student influence.

What is the first thing you would have noticed if you visited the Great Pyramids? Wow, that is a huge structure that comes to a fantastic point. That describes the power of the triangle, it identifies the point of the structure and puts it into context in every level. Everything under the point is built and designed to support it. It is always important to keep your end goal in mind when structuring your programs. If you lose sight of it, you lose the sense of purpose.

The width of the triangle can also be used to represent concepts as well. Usually, the width represents a number involved. Wider the base the larger the number. I want to challenge that thinking and relate it to sources of influence. For a meaningful experience in Physical Education, there should be influence from not only the professionals but the students as well. Through this framework professionals are always keeping their students in mind, however, are there opportunities for students to express their influence in the learning process?

That is why I still wanted to use the triangle to develop this framework. It keeps the goal of a program at the focal point and represents the shift from total professional influence to student integrated influence in the learning process.

Builds of the Framework

When I came across the model of competition, the second thing that stood out to me was the builds within that helped promote the purpose of the model. When developing values in our students and athletes, focusing on skill development alone is not enough and teaching values can be very tricky. How do we know if we are successful? How can we assess a student understands the value?

Physical Education Program Structure (2).png


The power of a meaningful experience does not come from the experience itself, but the journey and supports it takes to get there. Without structured support of a belief system, central theme, environment, the performance piece of students adopting a lifestyle of physical activity may not happen. It does have the potential to maybe happen but with a conscious and purposeful planned effort, a PE program can ensure that their goal becomes a reality.

In my next post, I will go more in-depth with the belief system behind the framework. Exploring the power of why, conceptualizing themes and guiding principles that sets the stage for students to begin to become lifelong physical activity enthusiasts.

One thought on “Designing Meaningful Experiences Part 1: Unpacking

  1. Pingback: The PE Playbook – February 2019 Edition – drowningintheshallow

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