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Teaching & Learning - harnessing the talents of your class

At our place we have a group of Year 6 children (10-11yrs) who meet once a week to discuss strategies for creating more effective learning. They meet with me and our head teacher, Mike Shepherd (Twitter: @smichael920), and we brainstorm ways of taking our curriculum into the 21st century to include pedagogy and technology – not always in that order. Recently, some of the more powerful discussion topics have been based on the work of both Chris Quigley and Guy Claxton and the 5 Rs in a classroom.
The children evaluated the needs of learners and video conference with other schools in our Kaizen Network (as mentioned in my previous post), the results of these discussions led them to create a learning mat for Year 3 children, focusing them towards being reflective learners, with key questions and space for evaluations. The children revisited the class three or four times and after each visit, amended their work to address the difficulties they faced. At one point they were so convinced that the mat should work that they taught a lesson themselves – complete with plan!
The dialogue between action (of school body) and reaction (of children) is not normally a two way street. It is most often a case of ‘We know what’s good for you, so just do it.’ This simple group has turned that in a different direction. This allows us to say to our pupils. This is the type of learning we want to happen (self-reflection). How could we do this? What would work for you? What ideas do you have? How can we make it work? Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not fool-proof, you still need a clear vision of the direction you want the school to take, but the beauty of this type of work is that it creates child driven developments that impact directly on classroom practice: 5 schools have now taken the learning mats our children created, and made their own versions of them. Now you tell me that those children haven’t done more to create reflective learners in one term than some schools do in a year. That is learning at its most purposeful.


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