How have DIGITAL INFLUENCES affected my non-digital teaching practises?

teacher as guide

image by Schiwago from commons.wikipedia.org

Digital technology used effectively should not only impact on how children learn, it should also affect teacher pedagogy overall; whether or not digital resources are being used in a particular lesson.

Over the past 4 or 5 years, I have definitely become more of “teacher as guide”, working amongst children, “elbow to elbow, knee to knee” (Anne Keneally) rather than “sage on the stage”.   I have found myself using Sugata Mitra’s philosophy that underpins SOLE – “I don’t know” –  more often than I have in the past, to encourage children to make use of resources other than me for their learning.  It is quite common for people to come into my current workspace (the CLiC) and struggle to find me. During lessons, I will often situate myself somewhere in the CLiC so children know where I am if they need me, rather than wander around too much.  The learning space therefore has multiple focal points, with me being one of them only.

During the “working” part of each CLiC lesson, I now tend to sit back more, rather than wandering around “checking up” on children as they work.  Because children tend to be very engaged in their learning tasks in the CLiC, little of my time needs to be spent on behaviour management.  We have been making good use of time management scaffolds to help “tip projects towards completion” (turn of phrase from Gever Tulley as he talks about his Tinkering School) rather than delivering learning experiences – children “check in” with their class teacher or me at different stages of their learning journeys, and cumulatively fill in a “progress bar” to indicate to themselves and us how far they are along with the task:

trackingI have explicitly embedded more opportunities to better utilise the social aspect of learning, allowing more time to share projects ALONG THE WAY, instead of just showcasing them at the end of the unit. (eg. Yr 6 digital story – start each session together sharing in groups and giving feedback to each other).   Children are EXPECTED to give kind, helpful and specific feedback to each other on a regular basis, in real time or via Edmodo posts; and the use of jointly constructed success criteria for tasks, sharing the Austin’s Butterfly clip with them, and giving feedback to the children about the quality of their feedback to their peers (from the teacher and the peer who received the feedback) is seeing the quality of the feedback that children are giving each other move beyond the unhelpful “I liked your task…” types of comments.

I strive to build a sense of students and teachers alike being part of a learning community – that we are ALL learners AND teachers.  Expecting children to seek each other’s feedback and assistance IN ADDITION TO/INSTEAD OF teacher feedback and assistance illustrates this ideal.

The CLiC has different kinds of learning spaces and furniture – lounges, bean bags, small stools, cushions, desks, chairs:

It is a large open space which gets very noisy, and I am currently spending time thinking about how more reflective “cave” spaces could be incorporated into this environment.  We have a milk bottle “fortress” built by Year 6 that meets this need, our broadcasting studio is also often in use as a quieter space to work, and I have also noticed how some pairs tuck themselves into the curtains that are used to separate the “theatre area” in our CLiC from the rest of the space to give them some more privacy.  (I have thought about making some mobile walls (like the large posters used as displays in shopping centres).

I would like to familiarise children and staff with the 5 different learning spaces described in Runnquist’s blog next term – campfire, waterhole, mountain top, cave and lab – and ask for their suggestions about how we can provide those different spaces in the CLiC – an open space utilised by 2 classes at a time (between 50-60 children) each CLiC lesson.  More importantly, I want them to become more aware about the kind of learning that each of those spaces are best suited to, and recognise and name that learning as they notice it.   I wouldn’t mind using the BEST/WORST process or some of the HOW MIGHT WE prompts to help get children, staff and myself thinking creatively about this.

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