jueves, 20 de febrero de 2014

21st Century Learning - Video 4: Context

As soon as the idea of a student-friendly context was mentioned, I related it to a previous entry I published:  http://monieberle.blogspot.com.ar/2013/08/if-i-were-1st-form-teacher-again.html
I think that if we provide students an enviromet in which we give them the possibility of choosing what to do, it will be easier to engage them in learning. I will refer to 1st form not only because I have more experience but because I saw that in the higher forms students are more independent and it is easier to have them working on different things at the same time. In 1st and 2nd this is very difficult, but it is even more difficult to make them work at the same rhythm! It would be ideal if teachers could plan some independent work in which language and thinking skills are put into practice. Here is an idea:

Let's imagine that you are launching the project "My pet". What if instead of using a story as a starting point we prepare a friendly enviroment for children to explore. You could set up different learning centres such as:
Word Centre with magnetic letters
or laminated cards to write and erase.
Picture Dictionaries to look for words
and copy the words in other centres.

Art Centre with animal pets to colour (that later you can use as flashcards)
Drama Centre: with animal ears or puppets to act out the situation.
Later you could add speech bubbles to make characters talk.

You could put up a Pet shop or a Vet's office

Before entering the classroom, or the previous day, the teacher could introduce the project, tell students what it is going to be about (Pets in this case) and that later she will ask them what they would like to know about them. Then teacher says that before that there is a surprise... and she shows a banner that says "Petland". Following day she displays the banner at the classroom door and invites children to play and learn in Petland.

Little by little you could train children to work independently in those centres while you sit down to work with small groups or individual students. Many things can be left around every week for children to discover: a picture of the teacher with her pet, pictures of street dogs, famous pets on TV or cinema, a memory game (memotest) with a card missing, a real pet (a fish or bird)  etc. Children will come with questions for sure.
During circle time (whole group) children share experiences and you focus on the specific skills to be developed.

An idea to praise good behaviour: a secret box with a secret item inside (a puppet parrot for example). Children that behave well or work hard can get a ticket to peep in the secret box. But they cannot say what's inside...it's a secret!... unless... they whisper it in English in somebody's ear!

I hope these ideas help you keep students in the engagement zone!
Good luck with your first project! : -)

3 comentarios:

  1. Miss Moni, I'd love to become a 1st former again to enjoy those corners!!!
    This post made me reflect uon my own practices which are not thaaaaaaaaaaaaaat student friendly:
    Card work! Sts don't like them much. Besides, why do we stop having corners when sts grow up?
    5th formers would definitly love the idea!! I'm just thinking....an art and craft area, an information seeker area with pc, an audio area with the speakers and headphones, a game area. All the corners have cards related to the project, each group can enjoy working in each of them once a week. Written work becomes more meaningful and student-friendly. I would like to try it out, at least in one of the projects...

  2. Dai, you used to have our corners in all the classrooms but one day teachers suggested having fixed days. I can't imagine having the corners you sugggest every day, however you could have lannguage,reading project, listening with headphones and once a month a more motivating day with special corners and there you can include innovative ideas. What do you think?
    Thank you MONI you moni your reflec1tion has triggered of nice ideas!

  3. Underlying the "working in corners" idea is the rationale that learners are autonomous, that they can take responsibility for their learning.

    This is not something kids learn through osmosis... this is something they learn when their teachers believe they can be autonomous... One day a group of Newlands teachers decided that kids could not work autonomously and decided to give up working like this... Why? because they thought they would not have full control of what their students were doing... Do we? Can we? We only create the best conditions for learning we cannot control what they actually learn... So we ended up preparing the same activities for different children.Everyone had to follow the same pace, do the same tasks, as if they were homogeneous groups... I knew the time would come when teachers at Newlands would start thinking about this and wondering whether we are actually creating the best conditions for our learners to learn at their pace, following their interests and first and foremost becoming fully responsible of their learning!