Bit of active learning

2 05 2008

Going back to Monday morning……..

The class and I had a big talk about work and behaviour as I had been feeling pretty fed up last Thursday and Friday and there was no way I could continue with the kind of behaviour I had been getting until the end of term.  (It may have been something to do with me being away Tuesday and Wednesday).

I got them to come up with ideas of what would make them work better and the rewards and sanctions they thought would work.  The rewards and sanctions were just the ususal and quite reasonable.  The things they thought would help them work better were lots of things that I have done a lot previously but had given up on with this class like having music on, more active learning, working with friends and other people more often and teaching each other.

So I decided to give them a chance and organised my language session more the way I used to for Wednesday morning.  They had handwriting, active learning with spelling using whiteboards, wikisticks and/or playdough, and a reading task.  For the top group, this was independant reading, the lower group read with me and the middle group were to be using Glow to discuss the story they had read the day before.  The top and bottom group worked really well, I was especially impressed by how well the top group organised themselves and worked together during the spelling.

The middle group did not get on so well and this has so often been the case this year.  They were too excited and barely on task while doing the spelling, it is quite a large group which does not help.  They had to use Glow in 2’s or 3’s because of the numbers of computers available which ws not ideal.  Glow is working fine but the laptops took forever to load up and some children did not even get onto the task.  They had also chosen the people who they wanted to work with so the groups that did get on were not really on task and did not get a lot done.  Cannot wait to try it next week with a better group on Glow.  Unsurprsingly it was the middle group who caused me grief in maths that day too – there are a lot of the same pupils in each group!

I am not giving up with this class for the rest of the session, but need to think carefully about that middle group. 

Clicked on a link today from my stats page to see where views were coming from and found this comment which was nice, about my last entry:

 “I read an interesting article today about how GLOW was being used in an Educational Setting. Caroline Gibson’s article will hopefully inspire us and give us ideas about how we can use GLOW in our classrooms.”

There are useful ideas in the first part of the entry, find it at:

Also this link has lots of links to other glow blogs and articles: including several links to this blog!

Children teaching each other

1 04 2008

I either read or saw something recently about the pupils in a class taking on the teaching of a topic, ie a group of 3 or 4 children were given a topic (like a maths concept) and given a week to prepare the teaching of it, mental maths, resources, written work, homework and assessment and then did it with the rest of the class.

I thought about it for a while totally unsure if my class would be able to do it and then decided it might actually work, especially as things become difficult in p.7 towards the end of the year.  I am always telling the kids that shows they have really learned something and understood it if they are taught it and can do it and then can teach it to someone else.  I also tell them that I may not always explain something in the best way and they might explain in a better, or just different, way to someone who will then understand it.

I mentioned it to one of my maths groups today and they were really excited at the idea so I think once I have the headteacher’s conference (!)  out of the way I will try that with the class.

We did our end of topic assessment today for our science electricity topic.  This topic has been newly re-done and I did it for my latest 6 week open area active learning slot.  As it is new I did not do it last year but I would have been really interested to see if another class learned and retained more or less from doing a more class based learning model.  A lot of the time I felt the children were going off in tangents, not necessarily in a bad way, and not learning what they were meant to be.  A combination of factors led to this such as not enough initial explanation and teaching before we started the open area slots and their continued difficulty in finding information and taking notes whether it be from the internet or reference books.  I will need to refine it a bit for next session.  As for the results of the test – good from those I would expect, not so good for those with reasons and a fair few in the middle who could have done better but have difficulty in listening, and/or working!

Active learning open area afternoons

6 02 2008

We do not do our rich task on Tuedays as we have maths, a football specialist and we were starting our active learning on science in the open area this afternoon.  This works like the infants doing structured play in the open areas in the afternoons.  Last term we did ours on Kidnappit, our Scots book study.  This term we are doing it on Transfer and Conversion of Energy from our Science programme.

It was quite hard to change this into six sessions that the children would do one of each week as if they did not follow the progressive order of the lessons they would have less knowledge for some of the sessions.  I have therefore given written back up or something similar to some of the groups for the first couple of sessions.

The first session always seemed the most rushed as you have to explain each group’s work – once you have done that once I feel you can concentrate on bits the next weeks that need clarified.  This did not leave as much time as I would have liked for the actual activity.

Station 1 is researching non-renewable forms of energy using our non-fiction library and taking notes to report back to the class.  I gave them some books I knew to be helpful and encouraged them to find others too.

Station 2 is researching renewable forms of energy using the internet and making a leaflet.  I gave them some websites I knew to be helpful and encouraged them to find their own too.

Station 3 is discussing all of these forms of energy using the discussion room on GLOW, then looking at a concept cartoon on the computer and again discussing that on GLOW.

Station 4 is an investigation into the power of sails on a windmill.

Station 5 is an investigation into the colours that work best in solar panels.

Station 6 is discussing and reading about global warming and doing a group activity to pinpoint the best ways to save energy.

I have two support assistants with me on Tuesday afternoons for this and they are taking on the investigations and I try to just float around and help and assess pupils where I can.  This I always find very difficult to fit as I seem to spend most of the time making sure the other groups are on task and can complete the task.

They listened very well to their instructions as I was maybe going to let them pick their own groups this time.  I let them have some element of choice and as I suspected for most groups this worked very well.  Even one of my groups of 5 boys worked very hard at station 2.  One group however did not work well at all and basically did not complete any part of the task and this was with a support assistant so I will need to think about what to do with them next week.

I feel it went okay but that for the amount of preparation I put in I did not get the return I would have liked.  I think though this was party due to it being the first week and so they had less time at the stations and partly because they did not take the time to read all of my instructions and help notes.

The group on GLOW were slower than I expected and this was partly due to them being unable to put up some of their posts, I need to check this out and see whether they were putting in too many words.