A new direction?

A few days ago I read this post by Shaun a beginning teacher about his observation of a ‘digital’ classroom being run by Jacqui Sharp.

It made me stop and think.

Which isn’t a bad thing.

In fact it’s a good thing because if we always do what we’ve always done then we’re not thinking about our teaching/learning and we’re not growing as teacher/learners.

I don’t have a full on digital classroom – I have a data projector on a trolley that goes with my mimio (IWB); I have an old (very) desktop that does slow internet and slow word; an xtenda box running 3 desktops – but I can only depend on 2 working at any one time as one always craps out when we’re using them; I have a digital camera which the students use whenever they want; I also have an old iPod that I’ve put audiobooks onto (we’re going to “listen” to HP#1 next term) that I run through my speakers (mine from home). But I still feel rich in digital terms compared to what I’ve had in the past.

I’ve spent the last term getting used to having the mimio and using it (and the data projector) as much as possible (and learning tips and tricks whenever Delmer an ex-mimio rep has relieved at school).

Term 2 I want to explore some possibilities. So these are my ideas so far:

  • Desks are grouped in 5 table groups of 6
  • Students will have a “home” group where they sit for admin purposes (Roll/SSR/End of Day etc) as well as for topic – they are mixed Y3&4/boy&girl
  • Each table group will have a specific purpose during maths & reading/language time that will be the same each day (teacher, equipment, knowledge, investigation, basic facts practice for maths; teacher, reading activities & Word of the day, handwriting, writing (draft/editing/publishing), reading (buddy, library etc) for reading/language)
  • Students will be in 5 groups and will rotate around the table groups over 4 days (I think 2 rotations per session especially while we’re trialling this)
  • Students will also have a chart/poster of “other” activities they can go on with if they finished the assigned activity

This is really an adapted backbone idea but the activities are going to be varied – for instance:

  • Publishing of work will have choices in format – on paper/blog/word/photo
  • Some activities will be available via mimio and/or classroom computers
  • The students also don’t have their “own” desk to return to – they have a home group (this is made easier by the fact that they have tote trays elsewhere with their stuff in them); the big difference is that while the activities may be similar to what they’ve been doing already they are not returning to “their” desks to work in isolation and some of the activities will now be a group activity rather than an individual activity

I’m not sure how the management will go – but I will present this as a learning journey to the class – for both me and them – and one thing I want us to do is to write daily learning journals (which is a totally new concept to me – and I’m not sure exactly where I got the idea from) – initially modelling it for them but with the expectation that twice a day they will write a learning reflection.

I hope I’m not biting off more than I can chew.

2 thoughts on “A new direction?

  • April 15, 2009 at 2:59 pm
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    In setting up a classroom of this type, one of the things I have learned is that students need to have lots of activities or choices available so there is never that ‘What do I do next?’ Alongside of that is the management so everybody knows where they are at any time of the day, what they should be doing and an individualised tracking sheet so that the teacher and themselves can see what they have achieved and what they need to do. It sounds like you have got the management in place but as you said, you learn on the job, you will find out what will work and what won’t. It does take a bit of time to get kids used to new routines, there needs to be lots of reminders before the start of each new curriculum area about how the session will run. I like how the kids are going to be working more collaboratively. This is a fun way to teach and ideally will free you up more to wander and facilitate learning!

  • April 15, 2009 at 3:40 pm
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    I thought that as part of the learning reflection I’d have some type of log for the kids to record what activities they did for the session.

    As you say it will take time to find out what will work and what won’t.

    Will continue to blog about this.

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