Category: Learning styles


Kids are kids, and many adults are kids too. One of the things that struck me when I spent some time down in Early Years was the power of play in learning, and particularly the power of role-play. Early years classrooms have dress-ups and role-play areas where the kids can immerse themselves in the contexts of their units of inquiry. Teachers may, during a unit about transport and travel, create a travel agency where the students buy and sell flights, bus journeys and ferry crossings. Why do we stop doing these things as our students get older?

I decided to ask my students to start collecting clothes and props so we can have a role-play area too, I decided to make drama a regular part of what we do in the classroom, I decided to give my students more opportunities to develop their ability to put themselves in other people’s shoes though acting. The students have responded really well to this.

I’ll video some of the role-plays that we put together this year and share them on this blog.

This is a really interesting video about how science and dance can work together. I was skeptical at first, I have to admit, but as I watched the video I saw genuine conceptual connections that definitely deepened the students’ understanding of the science, and also helped them to understand how they can communicate through dance.

Try to ignore the ridiculous amount of times the boys say “like” though!!!

Technology is great. But, there’s only a few technology innovations that really do open up a myriad of possibilities that cannot be done easily on a bit of paper or with other, more traditional methods!\

Voicethread is one of them.

Click on the image above to read an outstanding article about Voicethread and to get loads of ideas for how Voicethread could be used in your teaching.

 

 

I find it really exciting to walk into a room – even when the students and teachers are not there – and be able to get a real sense of what the students of that class are thinking about, and how they are thinking. Recently, when walking around NIST, I was really impressed by the amount of visible thinking I found, and the variety of ways that teachers are “extracting” that thinking from their students and then displaying it so that the walls do actually speak.

How wonderful for students to be immersed in their own thoughts, interacting with displays and surrounded by relevance at all times!

What visible thinking strategies have worked well for you?

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The move from the old building to this new, renovated building has been a revelation, I’m sure you will all agree. We have all had to rethink the way we set up our classrooms and consider our use of space with creativity and with the kids firmly in mind.

I was inspired to take photos of the Year 2 classrooms when I popped in there this morning as I felt that they were filled with language and visible thinking. Here’s a virtual tour.

Can any of you spot the object that Colleen went and bought for each class?

The Year 3 Team used this Domino game to get us thinking about their language beliefs and practices. Here are their instructions:

Here’s the answers to the game! When the Year 3 Team shared the answers to the game with us we all really appreciated the simplicity and clarity of their message. They all took turns to share their beliefs and spoke very briefly and concisely about each point.

 

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The Year 2 team opted for a sorting activity as their form of presentation. They explained that the activity was based on the five key beliefs that the team shares about language teaching and learning. Groups would then have to match images and quotes about teaching practice to the relevant beliefs that underpin them.

As you can see from the photos, everybody was very engaged in trying to complete the activity. Some people said that they were so “in” to completing the task that they didn’t think about the content as much as they would have liked, so that’s something to bear in mind when presenting in this way. On the other hand, most people loved the way that the Year 2 team had identified five key beliefs that were all-encompassing and easy to remember:

Simplicity is often the key!

Year 4 shared the work they have done for the presentations by using Glogster. This is a very visual, online tool that is designed for reading on the screen, so it was difficult for the Year 4 team to present it formally.I think it’s probably best, when presenting in the form of a website, blog or Glogster, if the audience view it on their own laptops. I don’t think the team wanted it to be a formal presentation and had more of a chat in mind. But, the audience all sat so far away from them it became much more formal!!!

Year 4 clearly place a heavy emphasis on constructivism and believe that exploratory talk, collaborative inquiry and metacognition really underpin that philosophy. They base much of their thinking on the First Steps Oral Language Developmental Curriculum and the work of Vygotsky.

This quote from David Bohm, in particular, seems to sum up their shared beliefs:

“For our classrooms to become true language labs, we must immerse all children in motivating , meaning -based experiences that will engage them at the edge of their linguistic competence.”

How do you use “purposeful talk” in your classroom?

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I dropped by Year 5 today, starting in Kate’s classroom, and found students reflecting on the presentations they have been doing for their parent audience over the last few days. The Y5 teachers were pretty “pumped up” about it and really wanted to talk about it because they felt it had been an excellent experience, and that the whole process of the unit had really empowered the students to do really effective, informal presentations that demonstrated their conceptual understandings.

The process of the unit looked like this:

  • The unit started with rotations in which teachers demonstrated 5 different presentation techniques – both formal and inforaml – and 5 possible areas of inquiry
  • The inquiry process helped students develop conceptual understandings, which made them able to focus their presentations instead of just listing random facts
  • Research skills were taught in homeroom and in library sessions to enable them to focus on relevant and important information
  • Parents were invited in to see presentations and demonstrations. They were ”converted” from passive observers to active participants by being given sample questions to ask the students
  • Presentations were filmed in some classes to enable students to watch themselves sharing their work and assessing how they presented themselves.

Watch this space for more information about this!

One thing that really struck me as I went around classrooms today was how teachers at our school cater for different learning styles of students in their classes. Here’s some examples:

This image shows Trish working with a student on his reading. It was clear that Trish was really taking the student’s learning styles into account as she dealt with the tricky issues of learning to read by using a game to make it more interesting for him. What could have been done (and often is) in a very mundane way was instead done in a motivating and entertaining way that the student was obviously enjoying.

Heida and her students were in the middle of a conversation about countries, borders, cultures, people, race and lots of other things when I went into their classroom. One thing I noticed was that the students were not expected to sit perfectly at their tables during the conversation, neither were they all on the carpet huddled around their teacher. Instead, they seemed to be given quite a bit of freedom to make choices – some of them were completely concentrating on the conversation, some zoned in and out, some of the more lively kids were allowed to fiddle or get up and do something while still participating in the discussion. I have been doing a lot of work over the last year or so on “the art of conversation” and I left this classroom with a few fresh ideas and questions, such as, is it always necessary to expect all 24 students to be looking at you and sitting still while having a conversation? Is that a realistic expectation for the “real world”? Is that how adults generally interact with each other?

I felt as though the natural atmosphere in the room allowed the students to be themselves while not detracting from the purposefulness of the conversation.

Believe it or not, these students are doing spelling. The Word Study programme being run in Year 3 encourages the students to develop their knowledge of the way words are put together by using a variety of media to construct the words. By building the words with lego or forming them with modeling clay, the students are able to remember the spelling patterns “automatically” (as one of them said). Hmmm… I thought I’d put them to the test, so I got a couple of them to show me some of the words they have been working on this week, I hid them and then got them to spell the words for me. They did it perfectly. I’m starting to understand why the majority of students that I have taught in Year 6 so far have arrived in my class as pretty strong spellers!

Just like all of us adults, kids have fairly unique positions that they find comfortable for reading – my favourite is lying on my stomach in bed with my head hanging over the side and my book on the floor! Jenny’s class were spread all over the place when I went in, they were all reading avidly too – I tried to distract them but they glanced up at me and ignored me! Their reading position was just part of their engagement with the books. Jenny has a few other things going on in there that gave me a few ideas for my own students.

Each student had a sort of box file thing with about 4 or 5 books in them. Jenny referred to the books as “Good Fit Books” and it is clear that her students are developing the valuable skills involved in selecting books that are just right for them. They use a system called “iPick”. P for Purpose – why am I reading? I for Interest – what am I interested in? C for Comprehension – do I understand the text? K for Know nearly all the words. These strategies have created a culture of student choice in this class and there was a real sense of self-management and the release of responsibility for book choices from the teacher to the students.