Friday, 28 October 2011

Do as I say, not as I do?

To often we ask our students to do what we are not doing ourselves, and I am thinking particularly about e-portfolios and reflective blogging. As life-long learners and inquiring teachers, I believe all teachers should be modeling these themselves.

This week I asked my students to do a reflection on their first week back at school, so I decided it would be interesting to do so myself.

We started the week discussing our treaty and values, our self management strategies and responsibilities, and very importantly, the Key Competencies which is the center of all our learning. This was finished off with an activity for mixed groups to practice what we spoke about. Each group had 15 minutes to create their most imaginative outfit out of newspaper and dress one of their members, then do a final self-assessment which they shared (see left). I believe it was a huge success but then you judge from the photos and comments on our class blog.

Thursday morning was a a ray of sunshine, so remembering something from Ulearn11 about using outside spaces and changing the environment, I took the class outside to do maths on the hall steps. I taught the groups to one side while the others work individually or pairs in the sun. It was actually going very well until some sports training began on the field, we eventually had to move back inside because I had lost their attention, but I will certainly do it again.

After last term's inquiry, I realised that my students really needed a lot more learning around researching, particularly finding the key ideas in text and then summarising it in their own words. We have been pioneering Diigo for Education (see my blog post here) and so we used the highlight function to find unknown words in one colour and then key ideas in another colour on an article on the  NZHerald website

Our science inquiry this term is magnetism, so we had our introductory lesson this week. We started with a brainstorm which produce an amazing amount of questions, considering I had only asked what they thought they knew. I had to bite my lip as I had decided not to give any answers or explanations, but just be a sponge. 

After that still without explaining or answering anything we moved onto the 3 station activities. This was an amazing and fun session that created even more questions, we are certainly set up for our inquiry.
Station 1 was a range of online games based on magnetism using laptops.
Station 2 was a table of magnets and objects to experiment with. A challenge to make something hover in mid air focussed the exploration. 
Station 3, I created a race car game with magnets and paperclips, but their challenge was to create their own game, and some exciting ideas develop from that. I hope to take that idea further as a unit challenge.
Again, I never gave any answers but just asked them, "why do you think that is happening?" "I wonder why . . .?"

I am not ashamed to say that I personally hate homework, but that is another argument. However it is school policy and what the parents want, so I do it. I have been using "homework worksheets" and decided to ask my students what they wanted this term. Their answer was a choice of activities and projects, which would also cater to different intelligences and learning styles. I created next weeks homework and have it on our wiki already so they can give me some feedback by Monday. 

I have not forgotten about creative commons and giving credit on the document, but I won't put them on until the end of the week, as they also contain many of the answers.  To the left is my "Friday" t-shirt that I wore today, just to prove my viewpoint.

When I asked who had a fun first week of learning, I got a resounding YES, me included.