Last week I wrote about how my work with adults will change the way I interact with students with regards to issues of classroom management. The more I thought about it, the more I realized it will also change the way I approach planning for learning experiences. After two years working with adult learners I feel pretty confident with the structure I have used for professional development sessions.
Why can’t I use that same structure with children?
I had the sneaking suspicion that I could… and lucky for me the perfect opportunity presented itself! I was asked to facilitate a one hour “bridges” session to help our transitioning Grade 5 students learn about the MYP. So I decided to approach it the way I would approach a one hour PD session with adults.
Here is how it went:
I planned Guiding Slides based on Kath Murdoch’s inquiry cycle (just like I would for teachers)
I gathered materials – pencils, markers, post-its, scrap paper. (just like I would for teachers)
I built a Google Doc with a variety of resources. (just like I would for teachers)
I set up groups with materials already on the tables. (just like I would for teachers)
We played a round of “stand-up if…” to help our learning community build connections before jumping into the learning. (just like I would with teachers)
I told them I would collect their attention by simply raising my hand and waiting patiently for them to wrap up their conversations. (just like I do with teachers)
Students tuned into what they already know-or think they know. (just like teachers would)
Students tuned into what they wondered and wanted to find out. (just like teachers would)
Student chose how they would find out – watch a video, read a blog post, look at a diagram, browse a Twitter hashtag. (just like teachers would)
Students decided how best to record and organize the important information they found – write it down, type it out, take a picture of it. (just like teachers would)
Students reflected on how their thinking changed. (Just like teachers would)
My reflections on the session…
It was amazing to see that when given the opportunity, students were able to take ownership over their own learning. There was no “lesson” and I didn’t “teach” them anything… but there was learning. There was thinking, curiosity, self-differentiation, risk-taking, discussion, reflection and new understandings.
- playing a game to build connections before starting with the learning tasks
- individually tuning in and collectively posting initial thoughts and questions
- raising my hand to collect their attention
- having a collection of resource links on a Google Doc for students with devices and paper copies for students without devices
- providing choice of how, where and with who to learn
- having post-its, scrap paper and writing utensils on each group
- setting time expectations, not task expectations (ex. you have 5 minutes to write as many post-its about what you know about the MYP; you have 15 minutes to explore as many resources as time allows)
- using familiar Visible Thinking Routines like “I used to think, now I think” and “See, Think, Wonder”
- reflecting at the end of the session about how their thinking has changed
What I would change if I did it again:
- time it out differently and plan to do less in one hour
- trim down the resources to one or two per type
- support students more in accessing and using the Google Doc
- stick with VTRs they are familiar with and have used before
So, can I use the same structures to facilitate student learning that I use to facilitate teacher learning?
…perhaps just with a little extra time and support!