Think of your own ability to learn
We also need to understand the context of what we are about to learn.
If we have never seen a bike before, for example, or seen anyone riding one, the starting point of the lesson would need to change.
So new knowledge has to connect with our existing spheres of reference.
How does this affect our lesson planning?
Research shows that there are two main areas where learning takes place
Health warning: It is not possible in a short blog to do justice to either of these. I advise you to read around the subject, discuss it with your mentor, invite me in to deliver a session...!
A very basic summary of learning talk shows that there are two types of talk that you can spot in the classroom (amongst many others).
Presentational talk and Exploratory talk
Presentational talk is easy to spot.
It is seen when the teacher asks a question and a student answers it.
It is seen when a student, or groups of students, prepare and deliver a presentation.
In short, with this type of talk, we imagine that there has to be a right answer. When we put up our hand we want to sound knowledgeable, and to be right – even if we are just asked for an opinion, we don’t want to sound stupid!
The result of this may be that many students just sit quietly and listen to the others. You can sometimes see this in a question and answer session where not all students are involved.
Exploratory talk invariably happens when students are working in pairs or small groups (I advise no more than 4-5 students for optimum group work).
You can hear students trying out ideas amongst each other. There will be hesitations and thinking that appears not to be going anywhere – but this is where the real learning is taking place. They have taken an idea and are literally playing around with it whilst sorting out their own thinking.
Collaborative group activities have to be planned carefully and guidance given to the students to keep them on task – but this is one of the best ways of ensuring most – if not all – students are involved in the learning.
So – in your lessons you should
give opportunities for learning talk to occur
This means planning for questioning and collaborative learning activities.
While you may not be in a position to do this for yourself at this stage, you are in an excellent position to observe it in others!
Dr Sharon Williams