Sharks and collaborative learning – reflecting on the first week

Filed Under (Personal thoughts, Reflective practice) by on 04-09-2010

The first week is over already – albeit 2 days! I’ve really enjoyed it – in fact I’ve loved it! The strangest (and best) thing has been not to have been watched or observed or have the presence of another teacher in the room – it has given me a sense of freedom. I don’t have to stick to the lesson plan I devised if I suddenly think there is a better way. Nor will I have to discuss in detail afterwards the things I will need to do to improve it for next time (not that it stops me thinking about it!) I think in essence I am settling into being ‘me’ the teacher rather than what I think I should be or what the observer thinks I should be!

My highlights of Friday were – seemingly many!

Laughing with the children – whoever said don’t smile until Christmas (or rather I learnt on a recent #ukedchat that it was perfectly ok to do so!) So mix a few balls, a parachute, 27 children and a shiny hall floor – result is giggling including the teacher! I gave the children the opportunity to choose a game they knew, they chose ‘Sharks’ and informed me of the rules. I flinched at the thought of children being dragged by other children under the parachute (health and safety!) but decided to run the risk with a trial game and after giving my non-participating broken legged child the opportunity to pick the lifeguards and shark we were off. Well brave was the child who tried to drag me under! But it was great to see all children engaged and enjoying something! And hilarious to see children who were sitting around the edge of the parachute suddenly disappear!

Roll on when I can teach subjects like maths with confidence because teaching is even more of a joy when you do feel comfortable with the subject. As a former children’s book illustrator art is certainly a strength of mine! We drew self portraits and I used the visualiser at various points during the lesson to show the class how to draw eyes, add shadow and blend using a variety of pencil strengths and a finger. Results were great and as it is something children do in the first week every year it was so interesting to observe their improvement when marking!

Some of Super 7s self-portraits

And following on from our ‘rules session yesterday where we read the Sorcerer’s Apprentice and discussed rules and consequences, the only child who could tell me the meaning of consequence and give me an example was my ADD child who 12 months ago had no recollection of lashing out in the line or was able to comprehend the concept of consequences. The amazing power of Ritalin! (and no my teaching wasn’t that bad, because after they had been reminded the lightbulbs went on in the other 26 children and they were all keen to share examples)

I was far less impressed with the quality and amount of writing in their holiday recount ‘Big Write’. But that needs more thought before I decide what to do about that!

And you have to love reflective practice (another blog post coming!) but in my desire to pass responsibility for learning back to the children more often, I set them a mini investigation project for the evening. Surprisingly most did it (result to start with!). Children had taken one of two options and their task today was to share this information with the rest of their ‘house’ group. The aim was that all children would then have some knowledge on the topics without having to have researched them themselves. My revelation was too see that the children in my class were not used to working this way. There was very little sharing of information, bar reading from the sheets that had brought back. Some children were disengaged and one even clearly stated that ‘this is boring’ (I did have a conversation with her about this and asked how she felt that it could be ‘more exciting’). We only did one of the two exercises this way. I left the other one and on reflecting overnight, this is what I think I will do with the next one. I will model it clearly using a small group of students I think will actively participate. I will then allow them to use their jotters to jot down interesting words or facts as other students share. This is what I would do in a meeting or collaborative learning situation so isn’t this what I should be preparing my students for? We did discuss the exercise briefly afterwards and after me explaining how I don’t know a lot about some subjects and have to research before I share with them – they could see how I had given them the opportunity to be mini-teachers. Well see how part 2 goes next week!

I’ve had 28 visitors to the class blog on the first day and 16 on the following. I’ve only told my parents about it, so I’m really pleased with that. Must keep it up!

Right must now get on with the planning for next week…

2 Responses to “Sharks and collaborative learning – reflecting on the first week”

  1.   Fiona Johnson Says:

    Being a reflective teacher is so important. This will help you to focus on the experience the children are having in class. I thinks it’s brilliant that you have already discovered that you don’t need to stick to your lesson plan. Sometimes just looking at the children’s faces in the morning totally changes your approach. Keep listening for the word ‘boring’ it’s the one children use to tell you what you’re doing isn’t working. They are much better at evaluating your lesson than any adult!
    I’m teaching my son this year – yikes!- and he has already told me that I’m quite good but I talk too much and that wastes time!

    So take on board what the kids say and keep trying to get them active, if they haven’t experienced this type of learning before it will take them a little while. Too many worksheets & textbooks cause passive learning and children learn very quickly to shut down instead of actively taking part in the learning process.

    Good luck for next week! 🙂


  2.   mrsdavies Says:

    Nice post! We’re doing something a bit similar in the first week. We’re “Learning about Learning” so the children have to make a mini lesson plan and teach something to another child :o)

    Glad you enjoyed the first two days so much, yay!


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