Creating High Performance Learning Environments

My personal interpretation of this week’s U4A2 focuses on three teaching-learning situation videos. All three of these videos showcased some exciting examples of teaching-learning situation. It was apparent from the camera viewpoint that all the students were actively engaged throughout each lesson.

Of the three videos, my personal favorite was the project-based learning activity.

Roller-coaster Physics

Throughout this lesson, students learned how to combine math, physics and real-life problem-solving to complete their tasks. Learning was student based, and information passed directly from classmate to classmate. That allowed the teacher to assess progress and understanding of all students in the class.

From an academic point of view, the teacher clearly states the use of the STEM curriculum for this teaching-learning situation. There are clear objectives in each lesson for groups to reach and guidelines on how to accomplish these goals. Students are required to solve problems by collaborating not only with their own team but also with teams from another class. As I stated before, students have to combine knowledge from a number of other subjects to be able to complete the task successfully. The work is scaffolded into manageable parts; students are taught to question each idea and how things work. They are reminded to use academic language at frequent intervals and on all their notes and discussions.

This lesson is very carefully crafted to challenge students at their level, so it keeps them engaged. Learners are allowed to choose their own roles in the group according to their learning style, ensuring everyone is contributing to the team’s success. Though there is no evidence in the video of bad behavior, the Glog lesson plan does outline consequences for bad behavior that I assume was communicated to students at the start of the project. There is a high level of trust between the teacher and her students evident from the bathroom sign out sheet. In the Glog, there is an extra attachment on bladder issues that I find funny and smart on the teacher’s behalf to control unnecessary bathroom breaks.

Lastly, the norms and procedures used in this class: several times during the video the teacher refers to the work as; “Your fun assignments.” This creates a really positive association for students to see what they’re doing as fun, not work. Some of the procedures are written in the Glog. For example, what students should do if they were absent or if their work is late. 

Math class

During this video, we can see and hear students chanting the multiplication table in Chinese. Chinese students are some of the top performing learners in math around the world.

They are required to memorize multiplication rhymes from a young age. This is a tradition of repetition to help pupils master challenging work. Here students will spend up to fifteen hours or more doing math work in class and at home. Math teachers in China write very detailed lesson plans and work in small local research groups to exchange knowledge and resources. 

In terms of behavior, it is hard to be sure if all the students in the video were participating. It is, however, noticeable to see the teacher calling on students crowded around the board. In China, the instruction is whole class based, and students are asked to show their work in front of others by writing on the board. One of my high school math teachers in South Africa did this, and I can honestly say my homework was always done in this class for fear of being asked and my grades were the highest they had ever been.

 

The norm for these math classes seems to be practice and repetition. Pupils are expected to work diligently by parents and educators alike. Teachers invest a lot of time and energy into creating classes that help students to learn how to develop an understanding of concepts and how to prove concepts with little emphasis on real world applications.

Whole brain teaching

 

This teaching-learning situation is the most unfamiliar to me. I had to read a bit more and watch other related media to grasp the idea behind this technique.

Whole brain teaching seems to focus on short instructions (one minute) enforced by a body movement. Learners will then repeat this instruction with accompanying actions. It teaches academic content using several senses and students actively uses memory to repeat information to peers. I saw a similar use of this teaching-learning situation a few years ago at a kindergarten that uses a book called Zoophonics. It is a great strategy for long-term memory storage and fast recall using cues. The speed reading part made me a bit doubtful about how much students are learning since they only read every other word’s first letter.

Because instructions are short and all interactions high energy, students are able to stay focused and on task. They are required to mimic words and actions back to the educator almost immediately each time, so paying attention is essential. Good behavior is praised, and students can earn points collectively. Students are also expected to teach each other, holding them responsible for taking part in the class. Recalling movements makes remembering words easier.  

The norm of the class is to follow directions quickly and respond to keywords in certain ways. Students have to take part, learn all the motions and buddy teach. This is a full commitment technique that teachers have to plan carefully to ensure uniformity over a long time frame for ultimate success.

Summary

I am an ELL teacher in South Korea for elementary school students. Being a specialty teacher means I get to teach students from every level at our school. Some students from my school and other schools in the area visit my class for a special morning program once a semester or year with their whole class. Other students sign up for afternoon classes and attend classes two to three times per week.

This situation makes it a bit difficult to form meaningful relationships with all my students. I try to have five to eight rules that are easy for students to remember. Using the whole brain teaching approach; I can teach all students these practices in a quick, fun way, and convey to learners what I expect of them. The whole brain teaching method also provides great attention getters. I will definitely use their system to call pupils attention in the future and to improve body postures for active learning.

Chanting and repetition are also great learning practices for ELL students. They have to become familiar with how words sound and form in their mouths. Having students repeat chants will help them to normalize the language as well as memorize the needed vocabulary. This is something I tend to overlook when planning my classes because I feel pressured by time and workload. If I can find appropriate chants to complement the material we study in the long run I will be sure to use them.

Project-based learning is very exciting and something I hope I can use more often. This units sample video and Glog gave a clear outline on how to attain high levels of achievement, excellent classroom behavior, real-life purpose and still, reach STEM curriculum outcomes. Being a specialist teacher with very limited time constraints to see most students I usually aim for shorter projects to engage students. These projects can be done in a day and are not as elaborate as the roller-coaster lesson. I want to include a more detailed plan for these projects and add more media for students to work with.

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References:

  1. Biffle, C. (Director). (2017, February 1). Whole Brain Teaching: Intro to Lesson Plan Power Cards [Video file]. Retrieved March 6, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqRK68zMNGg
  2. Biffle, C. (Director). (2010, February 12). How to Begin Whole Brain Teaching [Video file]. Retrieved March 6, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJw9mzCtWbk
  3. Chen, C. (Director). (2011, June 13). 3rd grade Chinese–math class [Video file]. Retrieved March 6, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7LseF6Db5g
  4. Teaching Channel (Director). (n.d.). Roller Coaster Physics: STEM In Action [Video file]. Retrieved March 6, 2017, from https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/teaching-stem-strategies
  5. Wei, K. (2014, March 25). Explainer: what makes Chinese maths lessons so good? Retrieved March 6, 2017, from http://theconversation.com/explainer-what-makes-chinese-maths-lessons-so-good-24380

 

 

 

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