Thursday, 23 May 2013

Self organisation of learning- part II- self differentiation

This one comes from an 11 year old lad, from the same lesson intro as in the previous post. Nothing ground breaking, but a slight twist on the Dylan Wiliam AFL strategy of names on lollipop sticks- and a good one!

I was delivering the first lesson of a brand new project and showed the following slide

I then went on to explain how information and opportunities would be presented to them- largely though a series of apparently random or at least removed from context images.

Using the 6 W's as a tool of enquiry (Who, What, When, Where, Why and hoW), I presented the images one at a time and invited questions, until students had 'discovered' or interviewed the topic, task, success criteria, skills and learning points from me. In this case the project involved exploring the synthesis of art and poetry, I showed photos of an artist and a poet, then a picture of (what is commonly known as) Big Ben.

What really struck me was at first how incurious (is this a word?!) the students were. Normally they trust what teachers tell them, they go to school so that teachers can impart knowledge- this is how school works, right? Suddenly a topic was not introduced, not handed to them, they had select and ask the right questions in order to access the lesson- they had to find a way to learn about what they were going to learn.

Not only that, but they had to choose their questions and responses carefully, as they only had 2 tokens each, only 2 verbal contributions, either comments shared or questions posed in order to further the collective understanding of the class. Any not listening or requests for repeats of information wasted token and slowed progress.

After a while they took to it well and those who had used tokens followed the conversations just as closely and even asked if they could borrow/ use the tokens of other members of the class so they could still actively contribute (a big no!). At the end of the lesson any remaining tokens bought cleaning tasks! A heartless incentive on my part to encourage increased participation the following lesson.

The checking and re-enforcing of understanding slide ran, before jumping into practical work ran as follows, again, tokens were required

For me this was a very exciting and enjoyable lesson, I think the work we did on developing curiosity, giving the students the freedom to contribute, whether by asking or answering questions and self differentiating when they wanted to and me being able to check on who was contributing through the use of the tokens provided a few surprises.

I think its impact/ benefit was best summed up by the student who wrote in the following lesson, when asked to come up with a visual definition to the phrase 'self organisation of learning' drew an image of his tokens and provided the following accompanying statement:

I done tokens because the tokens were our choice on when to speak, answer and ask questions and we were the ones who got to pick when to use them

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