Skills were sent home and parents were asked for their ideas and help. This didn’t work too well in one class. In other schools, however, they sent home a sheet for parents and children to fill in together their ideas for a topic which was more successful and led to children having more ownership of their learning when their idea was used. Creating a set of homework activities for ideas that were not used in lessons allowed all children to feel excited that their idea was used.
In another school, children were given a skills list at the end of the term prior to the topic and children moved around the room with post it notes putting down their ideas. It was sometimes difficult for some children to think for themselves so it needed more practice. Children felt proud that they were planning the topic and have responded well when their idea comes up. It was important to be flexible and allow ideas to come up as the topic progressed.
One teacher covering the Battle of Hastings showed children a timeline and a video clip then asked what they already knew and what they wanted to find out. Class experts were used but the teacher made sure they didn’t take over. In another school children were asked to do research about an upcoming visit before they went, which led to them demonstrating their areas of interest.
One Y6 class teacher asked children what they felt they needed to revise for the SAT tests. Children were more confident, as a result of the growth mindset, to suggest things they found difficult.
I sent the children home with a sheet to collect their ideas. Those that could be used in the topic/science/maths lessons were. The other ideas were incorporated into a varied and interesting set of homework tasks for the term. All of the children can see their ideas somewhere and the engagement for all children has increased. Many have already started their first homework task which often doesn’t happen!”
Herstmonceux Primary School
Most teachers had used mind maps with sticky notes and KWL grids.
Immersion activities were useful both at the beginning and the end of a topic, when they have questions the experience could answer. Immersion had led to higher quality art work, better vocabulary, given cross curricular links and given them time to internalise their learning.
Skills lists had also been generated for topics.
After an immersion activity, I shared the objectives and skills to be covered in the unit with the class. We spent some time discussing these before the children created a series of questions they would like to explore and activities they thought would help them achieve the objectives.
At first the objectives were positioned in a separate box on their response sheet and were not used effectively. The questions/activities were quite basic and therefore needed more teacher input to make them work.
I adapted the response sheet for the next topic, simplifying the language and giving each objective its own row in a column. As a result children developed questions and ideas relevant to the objectives, less teacher input was required and the learning journey was developed by the pupils.
The impact was that the children were more engaged in their learning as they had created the questions and activities (e.g. they wanted to interview an expert to find out about the geographical features of Antarctica. The children generated questions to ask. We invited a scientist from the BAS into school and the children listened for over an hour with no behavioural issues. All children asked questions and were engaged in their learning. All children made progress and were inspired to learn more.
Vicky Trew, Ridgefield Primary
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