Today’s lesson made me pause and ponder …
We had just finished an integrated unit of work with a week of oral assesments. Students had a choice between creating a monologue or, creating a “fakebook” page (see classtools.net) to communicate their understanding of a key character and related events from the class text, Pharaoh, by Jackie French. With only 20 minutes until the end of the lesson, I decide to give the class a peek at the film study they would be commencing next week. Whilst they already knew they would be doing a film study, the students had yet to see any of the film they would be studying. This film study will also be an integrated topic that sits across English and, Society and The Environment (aka SOSE) learning areas.
I decided to make this informal as the class had:
a) Just completed a marathon run of oral assessments
b) was the last lesson on a Friday afternoon
c) wanted to avoid doing anyhing too serious until next week when a student returns from holiday and, as such, could be involved in learning opportunities right from the start
Anyway … after a brief drink break and fresh air experience, the students came back into the room and were able to choose where they would like to sit (they usually have a seating plan). It was interesting to observe where students chose to seat themselves. There were large groupings, small groupings and, even smaller groupings. Observing how the students chose to seat themselves made me reflect on the importance of creating a learning environment that provided equaity of interaction and, therefore, support for all learners. I make these reflections acknowledging that this is a class of Year 8 students who are socially responsible (and socially aware!) and generally, motivated learners who have established clear group norms (yes, I am pretty lucky).
As happens, eventually it was time to go home. After doing all the domestic goddess stuff ie cook tea, feed dogs, check my own children’s school notes, I hopped onto the computer and as one does on a Friday evening (!) had a look at an Eric Jensen article. What I read gave me pause for thought …
10 Most Effective Tips For Using Brain Based Teaching & Learning
©2010 Eric Jensen
(sorry, don’t have the citation details)
Jensen says: It’s confirmed: Social conditions influence our brain in multiple ways we never knew before. Sociology is guided by the journal of Social Neuroscience. School behaviours are highly social experiences which become encoded through our sense of reward, acceptance, pain, pleasure, coherence, affinity and stress. In fact, poor social conditions, isolation or social “defeat” are correlated with fewer brain cells! Nobody knew this occurred five or ten years ago.
Jensen suggests:Practical school application: Do not allow for random social groupings for more than 10-20% of the school day. Use targeted, planned, diverse social groupings with mentoring, teams and buddy systems. Work to strengthen pro-social conditions. Teacher-to-student relationships matter, as do student-to-student relationships.
I particularly like the second sentence, ” … use targeted, planned etc etc “
Food for thought 🙂
Champagne FA, Curley JP. (2005) How social experiences influence the brain. Curr Opin