Friday, February 19, 2010

MAKE it Happen

By Theresa McKeon

The most productive tag points are those that cause what you want to happen. For example if you wanted someone to jump to a certain height, tagging at the correct height would not be the best thing to do. By the time the athlete gets to the correct height, the muscle movements that caused the jump are long past. A better tag point would relate to the preparation before the jump so that you can tag something that actually causes a higher jump.

Example #1:

Coach David thinks his gymnasts need to speed up their vaulting run. They have previously timed their runs and he would like to see them beat their old times. Coach thinks through the running process and creates a tag point from a behavior that would cause the athlete to run faster and therefore produce a faster time.

"Ok, we need to speed up these sprints. Pumping the arms properly will cause a cascade of actions that speed up a run. To get the correct arm pump, the fist needs to rise to the level of your cheek. During our next set of sprints, let’s tag the point when the fist is level with the cheek. I've set up two cones 15 feet apart. This is where we’ll tag the runner for 'fist to cheek’. When everyone has a total of 30 tags we'll time the sprints again and see who improved enough to beat their old time. The person with the biggest reduction in time wins all the money in my pocket." (When my coworker used ‘pocket money’ incentive, he rarely had more than lint in his pocket. Everyone knew it was just for fun, but somehow it still added a little excitement.)

"Ok, let's try the sprints again. The tag point is…fist to cheek."

David did not use the tag point "run faster" or "complete the run in 5 seconds" because the first of these is ill-defined and both of these are end results and would not affect the key movements that will cause faster running.

Example #2:

Miss Sara, a math teacher, decides to use a bit of TAGteach with Matt, one of her students.

The teacher’s first thought is to make the tag point… correct answer, which is what she ultimately wants. After thinking the process through, she decides to create a tag point that will cause the correct answer. In Matt’s case, he understands adding, but occasionally forgets to ‘carry over’ which leads to an incorrect answer. Miss Sarah believes that if Matt circles the carry over number, he will be more likely to remember to include it while solving the problem.

Miss Sara gives the tagger to Matt and asks him to tag her first. “I’m going to perform this addition problem and when I need to carry over a number I’m going to write that number on top of the proper column.

The tag point is… circle the carry over number.” Matt correctly tags when his teacher circles the carry over number. Matt feels a sense of accomplishment and Miss Sara has assessed that he understands the instructions. Now Miss Sara gives the tag point to Matt. “Perform the next three math problems and if you need to carry over a number, the tag point is…circle the carry over number.”

In this scenario Matt learned how to get the right answer and was reinforced for learning the process that would produce the proper product.

A video example:

Watch this video of a boy learning to tie his shoe. He has had lots of frustration with this in the past and the traditional way of teaching has not worked. His biggest problem is making the loop too big. There is no point in saying to him "the tag point is make a smaller loop". If he knew what was meant by a smaller loop he would have been taught this easily before now. I gave him the tag point "string at elbow" since placing the end of the string at his elbow would cause the loop to be the right size. This is a good example of the type of tag point we are talking bout here.

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