OECD – “The Nature of Learning” (recommend this text)


Today I  presented a prezi to my Senior English class. The prezi was designed to increase their understanding of the  next task; understanding communication texts by analysing one, and then creating their own with a ‘writer’s statement’ to accompany this piece of communication. This prezi is one that I was quite proud of (still am although it needs a bit of rejigging!). I had invested a lot of thought and time on what visual texts to use and how to best engage my audience (17-18 yr olds) with thought given to key questions ( hmm … a bit repetitive!). All the usual ideas I suppose. However, whilst I spent a lot of time on the construction of this learning tool I did not spend enough time on what the students were going to do. Don’t get me wrong, I do feel, based upon student responses, that their understanding of the task was improved and, that I had managed to demistify the task for them. However, did they really get as much out of this as they could have? No; my sense after the lesson was that it was too directed by me and not enough by the students. Whilst they were responding to questions with appropriate answers, this was actually part of the problem. It was all about me and what I had created instead of how my prezi was going to facilitate what they were going to create. Quite simply, they needed to be more actively enagaged and responsible for the learning. Anyway, I came home and it was whilst I was sitting on the couch reading a book my Principal had lent me, that my reflections were further crystallised.

This quote gets to the point quite nicely (thank you Phil, aforementioned Principal!):

The learning environment is founded on the social nature of learning and actively encourages well-organised cooperative learning. [The teacher must shift from] the “sage on the stage” to the “guide on the side”.

(Taken from, The Nature of Learning: Using Research to Inspire Practice, edited by Hanna Dumont, David Istance and Francesco Benavides. Published by the OECD. )     I want this book for myself 🙂

Perhaps if I had not been so personally invested with the need to ‘get the information across’, my students may have been able to become more actively engaged with creating the knowledge they needed in order to understand the task.

Looking at the language used in the second sentence of this Post goes some way to identifying the issue, I wrote … “designed to increase their understanding”, when it should have been, “facilitate their understanding”.

Anyway, enough reflection. Time for the Friday night movie!


About Kate Pill

I am a Secondary School teacher who is passionate about developing students' ability to answer the "who, what, when, why, how, what if and what next" questions over the course of their learning. A "mature starter" (read as - late!) to the teaching game, I am still developing my IT street smarts. This blog will chart my own journey through the metacognition landscape as I facilitate my students' understanding of not only WHAT they are learning but HOW they are learning it. Wish me luck!

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