Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Communication in the Classroom

Smartling, a company that translates websites, are currently running a 'Communication in the Classroom' project on Pinterest.  This really got me thinking about what communication strategies I use in the classroom with my students and what works best.  After much thought, I narrowed it down to these three:
  • Discussion, Questioning & Echoing
  • Simple & Explicit Instructions
  • A variety of teaching methodologies

Personally, one of the most important and simple communication techniques I use with my students is questioning.  The importance of a good questioning strategy cannot be overemphasized, particularly when engaging in discussion with the class.  Not only can questioning be differentiated to cater for a variety of needs in the classroom, but also it can determine what direction a discussion can take.  

Bloom’s taxonomy of questioning will forever be a core teacher tool.  I have one of these stuck to my table which helps prompt me when engaging in debate or discussion with my class.   I think its an essential for any teacher! 

Blooms Taxonomy for the iPad 
In keeping with 21st century learning and the ever evolving nature of Technology.   I came across this recently, a Bloom’s taxonomy for the iPad!
Here are a selection of apps that challenge the children with different levels of higher order thinking.  (I am a HUGE fan of Comic Life as you've probably seen from past posts and tweets.  The children can bring any topic to life with this fun and creative app.)

After asking a question, checking for understanding is sometimes just as important.  Sometimes asking the children to repeat your question can ensure they know exactly what is expected of them. 

Communicating with EAL students 
When working with children for whom English is a second language keeping instruction short and simple is key.  Depending on the difficulty of the task or activity, you may need to be more explicit.  Things we often take for granted, need to be precisely explained. 
The use of body language, tone of voice and intonation can help make understanding easier for EAL (English as an additional Language) students.

Multiple Intelligences
Gardners Multiple Theory of Intelligences would argue that each of us possess a particular area of intelligence which can influence how we learn and what we are interested in.   There are nine types of intelligences according to Gardner. 

In order to meet variety of learning styles in the classroom, I try to vary my methods of teaching with the children.  Here are a variety of the strategies I use in the classroom:
  • Visuals, Pictures, Photographs & Powerpoints
  • Videos
  •  Groupwork & Pairwork
  • Active Learning (E.g. trails, games, concrete materials)
  • Drama
  • Art
  • Project work
  • Written assignments (diaries, anchor charts, responses, reflections etc)

Some activities will suit particular children better than others, but by varying methodologies I can only hope to cater for the variety of intelligences in the classroom.  

I'm sure I have missed some, so feel free to comment or suggest some ways you communicate with your class. Have you any tried and tested systems or approaches? 


Sunday, 14 December 2014

Division of Fractions lesson using the Show Me App

At present I am trying to incorporate some aspects of an Inquiry Based Learning approach into my teaching, particularly within maths.

I gave this a go with teaching division of fractions recently.

Instead of teaching the concept of dividing fractions in a traditional chalk and talk approach, I armed the children with iPads and placed a problem on the board instead.

"Sean had 3 pepperoni pizzas. He cut them into quarters.   How many friends would he be able to give a piece of pizza to?"

The children were then challenged to work in pairs to solve the problem using the 'Show Me' App.

This is a brilliant app for use in maths class.  The children created slides to show how exactly they solved the problem.  I encouraged them to draw pictures and use as many notes and labels as they could.
The app then allows them to record their voiceover as they flick through their slides.   I was so impressed by the level of understanding by many of the children.

To complete the task I asked the children to try and write an equation for the problem.  Many of them did this without any support!
Finally we discussed the equation and what it meant.  We then completed some more problems.  Definitely a more interesting and active means of learning about division of fractions!


Friday, 12 December 2014

Polar Bear Christmas Art

We created these cosy polar bears just before Christmas using chalk pastels and black sugar paper.

I think they're the only ones enjoying the chilly spell at the moment!