Center for physically active learning
What is Center for Physically Active Learning (SEFAL)?
SEFAL was established at HVL, Campus Sogndal, in August 2018. SEFAL works in close partnership with schools to offer a one-year, workplace- and web-based continuing professional development program (CPD) in physically active learning (PAL), with two alternatives: 1) a CPD without study credits and 2) a CPD with 15 credits (ECTS) on master's level.
SEFAL`s CPD preferably involves all employees at the school and embraces a whole school system approach. Also, the CPD has a strong link between PAL and the professional development of the teacher's pedagogical practice. The CPD is made up of five modules with a generic structure creating a natural progression. In each module, the teachers: 1) plan a teaching lesson in a theoretical subject such as mathematics or English where PAL is integrated, 2) carry out the teaching lesson and, 3) reflect on their own and colleague’s delivery in a structured evaluation process.
SEFAL`s 15 credits CPD is completed with a practical and theoretical exam. The exam includes two components; 1) an individual PAL plan and, 2) a school-level plan to support the wider implementation of PAL. The school development plan is written in collaboration with school leadership.
In the school year 2018/19, 44 teachers completed the SEFAL CPD in Nordland county and Telemark county. In 2019/20, 200 teachers in Rogaland county and Østfold county are part of the SEFAL CPD. During the first two school years, SEFAL only offered the 15 credits CPD. From August 2020, two paths will be offered; a CPD without study credits and a CPD with 15 credits. Three hundred teachers from Trøndelag county and Vestland county are already enrolled as students.
SEFAL`s two main aims are development and research. In partnership with schools, SEFAL develops PAL and conducts research in the practice field. SEFAL is also involved in several international professional networks including the Erasmus+ @ACTivate project. ACTivate is a collaboration between Norway, England, the Netherlands, Finland, Denmark, and Portugal that aims to create a European-wide PAL teacher training curriculum, web portal, and online resource.
Physically active learning
People often ask us: what is PAL? After working together with hundreds of teachers and principals in schools, PAL is a term that teachers and principals use and understand in different ways. To this note, SEFALs understanding of PAL has evolved over time and continues to develop. As of this moment, we would define PAL as;
PAL is a teaching method that can be used in theoretical subjects such as mathematics, English, or natural sciences where students are physically active. PAL practices can take place in the schoolyard, in the hallways, or even in the classroom. Therefore, PAL represents an alternative to the dominant sedentary teaching. PAL is planned and led by the classroom teacher. In this way, PAL becomes part of the broader, educational vision that supports – rather than competes with - the effort to achieve learning and competence goals in all subjects. In PAL, students usually work together, often in groups of 2-5 students. PAL can be either A) a combination of movement with repetition of subject matter that the teacher has already delivered within the classroom, or B) learning of subject matter for the first time through movement. PAL activities can range from low-intensity movement to high-intensity bursts of running. These are determined by the teacher to fit with the learning objective of the lesson and the teaching space available. As such, PAL is a highly flexible approach to learning that can be adapted to and complement any learning context.