How do you engage children in ways that help them verbalise their thinking and help them learn?
The children organise their own day and always make time for their ‘own time’ or free inquiry. This provides me with so much evidence of learning.
During these sessions I observe the children to see:
- Where their passion lie (e.g. lists for the space ship or making paper planes).
- What their current understanding are, and if they are applying taught skills (e.g.reading writing, number strategy)
- What vocabulary the children are using.
- How the social dynamics of the class are developing.
Does this mean children miss out on the taught curriculum?
Not at all. I knew we needed to carry out work on measurement, for example. I set about looking for a real reason to measure that would get the children excited. I have never been so happy to have a paper plane knock into my head! The answer literally feel in my lap. Waiting for a reason that sparks learning saves time because the children already have something to reference their developing understanding to.
Teacher generated, child supported learning.
Every time we need to find something out we discuss the best method. Sometimes I may make a suggestion. Come and look in the classroom, we are making a display of different methods. Of course the best example is the children’s ‘Who will do the calendar chart’. I am now looking to see if the children apply their taught skills, let me know if you see something at home.
Generating the inquiry.
As you can see from the video this has given me so much data on the vocabulary of measurement the children have. I also know something about their level of understanding about measurement. I took one of the planes made last week and started thinking out loud about it:
- I was wondering if all planes go the same distance? Why not?
- Do they go the same distance each time? How do you know that?
- What is the best plane? How can you be sure?
These questions can not be answered with ‘yes’ or ‘no’. There are many possible ways of thinking. Try out such questions at home.