January 10, 2017

How to Teach a Middle School Bowling Unit

Bowling is an excellent indoor recreation sport that allows students to learn more about skill-related fitness components, as well as etiquette, sportsmanship, and cooperative skills! There is no better time to teach bowling than right now in the cold of winter. Your classes are already indoors and in most cases, you're forced to combine with other classes due to limited space. Bowling is a wonderful sport that can accommodate each of these circumstances while still getting students moving and grooving! So if you're looking for advice on how to start your own bowling unit or if you're looking for new ideas to spice up your existing unit, then keep reading! If you're looking for an awesome freebie, you'll find access to my manual scoring assessment at the end of this post!

Before Getting Started:

It's important to analyze your equipment and potential equipment needs before beginning any unit in your classroom. It's also essential to be creative, especially if you don't have "real" bowling equipment. My school is very fortunate to have access to authentic bowling pins for 10 lanes, 10 rubber or plastic bowling balls {I do not recommend purchasing plastic bowling balls - more on that later}, and mats that act as bumpers at the far end of each lane. Your school may not have this equipment (and I've been there before) so you may need to be more creative.

If you have bowling equipment already, fantastic! If you don't currently have bowling equipment, but you have the resources to purchase equipment, here are my top recommendations for bowling equipment:


Complete Sets:
You can certainly find cheaper options, but what I love about Gopher is their lifetime replacement guarantee. When an item breaks or wears down, they will replace it, no questions asked. My department chair and I do this frequently. Flag House also has the widest variety of options.

I'm sure some of you are looking at these prices and thinking, "Wow, these all look great, but I simply don't have the budget to purchase these items!" You're in luck because there are a ton of items you probably already have in your storage closet that can be just as effective!

Courtesy of Pinterest
Creative Pin Suggestions:
  • Empty 2-Liter Bottles
  • Paper Towel Rolls (glue three together to help them stand better)
  • PVC Pipe (cut in 10-15 inch lengths)
  • Wide Pool Noodles (cut in 10-15 inch lengths)

Courtesy of S&S Worldwide

Creative Ball Suggestions:
  • Traditional Foam Balls (best suggestion)
  • Soccer Balls (size four works best)
  • Basketball (not ideal as they can be too big for students hands)
Setting Up Your Bowling Unit:

This will vary based on your school, your PE/Health rotations and other factors, but my department works in a two week block schedule format. This allows me to teach five 90-minute lessons during each PE rotation. I breakdown my skill development into each of the five days:
  • Day 1: Introduction to Basic Skills & Vocabulary, Peer Evaluation
  • Day 2: Review Basic Skills, Station Skills, Self-Assessment
  • Day 3: Station Skills, Introduce Manual Scoring, Peer Assessment
  • Day 4: Traditional Bowling, Manual Scoring Skills, Self-Assessment
  • Day 5: Summative Skill Assessment, Summative Manual Scoring Assessment

In my 90-minute class periods, I eliminate 14-20 total minutes (before and after class) for changing and instant activity (before class only). I also include a 10-20 minute fitness activity before getting into the main topic, in this case bowling, which gives me about 50 minutes to teach content. You can easily manipulate these times to work with your own schedule. At my former school, I had 50 minute class periods. I eliminated 12 minutes for students to change (includes before class - 6 min - and after class - 6 min) and that left approximately 38 minutes for content. If your schedule is closer to this time frame, I eliminate a fitness activity when bowling because it requires so much setup throughout the activity. 

Day One | Introduction to Basic Skills

I focus on ball grip and a three step approach during day one. Educators differ on the type of approach taught, but as long as students are releasing the ball with the opposite (or non-dominant) foot in front, the number of steps in the approach can vary. After brief instruction and demonstration, I break students into groups of four.

To the left is the setup I use in my own classroom. We have 10 lanes set up in our gym with four students at each lane. Two students begin at the top of the lane as the bowlers, while the other two begin at the bottom of the lane . (1) Bowler one rolls their first bowl, with bower two providing verbal feedback on hand grip and three step approach. (2) The two team members on the bottom of the lane, move pins that have been knocked over to the side. (3) Bowler one then bowls their second ball, with bowler two again providing verbal feedback. (4) The two team members reset the pins so all ten are standing. (5) Bowler two now takes their turn, with all other steps repeating. (6) Once bowler two has finished, they move to the bottom of the lane for pin setup, while the previous team members move to the top of the lane to bowl their turns.

As the instructor, I am moving around with each group to fix form, provide formative feedback, and check for understanding. If I see a pattern of errors or misunderstanding, I will stop the group, briefly explain the issue, get them working again, and then go back to working with students one on one. 

I also have a peer evaluation form. Each student fills out a form about the partner they observed bowling with helpful, respectful, and constructive feedback.

Day Two | Review Basic Skills, Station Skills, Self-Assessment

Prior to class, I would have reviewed peer feedback. After my students have completed the instant activity and fitness activity for the day, I quickly review and demonstrate the basic skill learned in day one and hand back their peer feedback from the previous class. On day two, I add station task cards to each lane. Students work through various setups throughout class and track their progress. For example, a station task card looks like:

Each student is given a worksheet to track which stations they have visited and how they did. Students think it's fun to work on different shots. This worksheet becomes their self-assessment later on when they review it before turn in. I grade the sheet for completion, provide feedback, and give it back during the next class period.

Day 3 | Station Skills, Introduce Manual Scoring, Peer Assessment

Students continue to work on stations, often returning to station they've struggled with. There is a station for every group and the general rule is that if a station is occupied, they must select another station. This is also the day I introduce manual scoring. Students often have no idea how scoring in this sport works because they've never had to track it themselves. I start by teaching basic frames and continuous scoring.

Introducing spares and strikes is often a skill I wait to introduce until seventh or eighth grade, but only you know your classes! If you think they can take those skills on sooner, I have this visual to assist students with understanding them.

Day 4 | Traditional Bowling, Manual Scoring Skills, Self-Assessment

On day four of my bowling unit, I take away the stations and let students practice their new skills in a traditional bowling environment. Students also keep track of their own scores and apply their scoring knowledge in a formative setting. 

My role on day three is to facilitate feedback, assist with scoring, provide opportunities to challenge students, and collect/review bowling score cards. I print my scorecards from Print Your Brackets. They are easy to print and perfect for classroom use!

Day 5 | Summative Skill Assessment, Summative Manual Scoring Assessment

Day five is assessment day and I have been notifying my students about this every day leading up to it. My assessment style is informative and, in my opinion, always students to test in a comfortable environment without fear of making mistakes. 

Skill Assessment: I allow students to pick their own groups and lane. I move to the students lane, inform them that I will be assessing their next bowl, notify them what I am looking for, and allow them two opportunities to find success. I place my criteria on an Excel Spread sheet with each students name pre-entered and fill in their results as I record them. I assess with a simple yes or no system. The individual skill is either present or not. If the skill is present, it is marked with a Y and if it is not present or incomplete, it is marked with a N.

Scoring Assessment: Students complete a pre-filled scoring sheet for four bowlers. I give my students the option on which scores they would like to tally. For example, in my assessment, I ask students to complete two of the four scores. They must score Corey or Emily as one of the two options and Michael or Patricia as the second option.

I also tell my students that if they want to work through all four, I will count their best two. I award one point per frame. I also grade based off the individual frames. 

For example, if a student is working on Corey and scores 9 on frame one (correct), 19 on frame two (incorrect), and 27 on the third frame (half correct), they would earn two total points. They answered frame one correctly (+1), but answered frame two incorrectly (+0). They technically answered frame three correctly as the frame score is 8, but now they've based it off their incorrect score in frame two. They receive a point because they scored that frame correctly. You can access a copy of my scoring assessment and answer key for free in my store! While you're there you can also see my Bowling Classroom Newsletter to help keep parents updated on the latest class events!

And there you have it! This is how I like to run my own middle school bowling unit. Tell me what you think or show me how you run your own bowling unit! I love to see how other physical educators are teaching in their classrooms. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to shoot me an e-mail at sassypeteach@gmail.com! Also be sure to follow me on twitter and instagram @sassypeteach as I'll be teaching my bowling unit over the next two weeks!

1 comment:

  1. I love the make your own bowling ideas! The minion ones are so cute.
    You have everything laid out so nicely! Great unit!!