Spoon feeding learning

Today I had a frustrating afternoon.

We had another science investigation to do involving magnets and compasses. My lovely Wednesday team teacher and I had crash tested the equipment and basics of investigation earlier and the plan was to let groups of children loose with the instructions and all the equipment and see what happened. Her lesson was done before luch and feedback from her was great, children had enjoyed the challenge and worked well through the instructions to achieve the objective.

My turn. I did a limited input, focussing more on expectations and roles within group work than the actual task and gave 3 responsibilities to each group, (more to stop the natural leaders taking over the task that to structure it formally). One of the roles included a recorder and I gave the children free use of the camera, flip video and microphones.

Very quickly I had children coming to me saying they didn’t understand. I sent them back to their groups to see if they could solve any the problem and continued to observe my class. After another 10 minutes I was losing the engagement of more children, so I collected them together and we read through the instructions as a class. Easy – they understood it, when explained (2 min explanation) and were then happy to go off and copy and continue.

Why did they find the task so difficult? The language wasn’t hard, it was laid out in fairly simple steps. Most had looked at the pictures and then tried to interpret what to do from those, many had given up as it didn’t all come together quickly enough for them. Had the children taken exception to some children being given roles and other not?

Reflecting, I think it would have been better to work in 3’s rather than tables of 5. There wasn’t quite enough hands on for the larger group. Interestingly – ‘recording’ for most children meant writing it all down. It took prompting to remind them they could use other methods. Watching the videos back, I can see children need more practice with that. Its a skill to talk in front of a microphone. ALthough they do seem to always see it as a performance rather than a fly on the wall type of recording. Maybe I need to think more carefully about my questioning. I am angry at myself that my frustration came out to them in the tone of my voice. I genuinely had thought after all the group work we do do, that they would have had less of a problem with it.  I need to re-read bits of Kagan and get more of a hang of it.

Thank goodness for Brainpop who gave us the opportunity for a great plenary!

Leave a Reply