Sunday, June 8, 2014
Children reflecting on their learning...
Early in the year I decided to create a book that documented learning for children in my classroom. Each week we would print photos of learning experiences that we participated in and glue them in to our book. I would write a little piece about what we were doing or ask children to describe what they were doing in the pictures. As the year went on I encouraged children to take leadership of this process - choosing the pictures, pasting and in some cases the writing. At the end of each week I would ask the students "What their favorite learning was?" or "What did you enjoy learning this week?" With over half of my class learning the English Language these were generally rephrased in a variety of ways.
There have been times at the end of the week where time was not on our side, so I simply asked them the following week and used images to provoke their thinking. I would usually sit with students when they were eating their snack so the questioning felt more like a conversation rather than an inquisition.
Things I learned from this process:
* What you think is significant learning may not be significant for your learners. Like visiting an awesome Visualisation Lab where you flew over the local mosque and looked at archaeological sites in Egypt in 3D - we actually did this!). That same week we introduced new baby dolls into the role play area. And guess which topped the list of reflections - not the Visualisation Lab!
* Reflecting on your week of learning can be time consuming but it is so rewarding. The mismatch in our understanding of what children identified as learning and what was actually happening for them really did impact on our planning and our own reflections as teachers. It didn't deter us from what we thought would be a good experience for them e.g. trip to the Garden Centre or the local mosque but really made us stop and listen to the threads of learning that students picked up.
* "We're all growed up now" - In the last week of school I sat with students and flicked through the pages of our reflection journal - we noticed that children had left and joined our classroom, we noticed teachers had also left and joined our classroom (including student teachers), we noticed our different hairstyles and that we were all "growed up now".
* The reflection journal is also a "record of your teaching". I flicked through the pages of this book so many times through the year and asked myself questions like "What things have I offered children this week?" "Are there gaps in the curriculum? e.g. Science", "what was my purpose or intention behind this experience?", "What did I notice?" and "Was there genuine and authentic joy?"
I'm keen to try this again next year and want to take the questioning a bit deeper - perhaps adding questions like "How do you know you learned this?". I also realised that by asking children at the end of the week I was opening myself up for children to recall what had happened that day - and while I know PE was a favourite subject for most of my students, the fact that they also had this on a Thursday (the last day of our working week here) meant that this subject popped up time and time again in their 'favourite learning'.
Do you have any ideas on how I can improve this process for next year's class? I would love to hear your thoughts.