Sunday, April 21, 2013

Reflecting on learning

Part of the learning experience is reflection. In the classroom context how do teachers get students to reflect on their learning? How do they get them to think about their thinking in the first place? This has been the focus of my lessons at the start of this new term.

Once again I used the Critical Thinking for Children videos on YouTube to help the Grade 3's understand what thinking is and how they reflect on their thinking.  I showed them parts 1 and 2 and then gave them the opportunity to discuss what they learned with a partner. They then shared in the bigger group. The videos are easily understood by children as young as 8 or 9 years and they enjoy the explanations.

A week later I showed them the Internet Safety video that I have used before. The goal of my lesson was to help children understand why there are guidelines for their behaviour whilst online. After watching the video I introduced them to email. I have downloaded Google Chrome onto each of the PC's in our lab and each PC has a generic email address using our school domain - thanks to Google Apps in Education. I asked the children to send me an email telling me the type of thinker each of the characters is, and what mistakes the little girl made that put her in danger. The video was very subtle but scary for the children - especially as the music builds to a crescendo at the end. Many of them were covering their ears and looking away as they anticipated what was going to happen. We don't see the actual outcome of Jess's encounter with Sam but we know it wasn't going to be good. I was encouraged by the way in which they tackled the reflection and from their email messages to me I can see that they are aware of the mistakes Jess made such as giving her phone number and address to a stranger.

In coming weeks I will continue to help them understand the full importance of Internet safety as well as the need to lay a digital footprint that they can be proud of in years to come. The Internet is a wonderful tool for learning but like all good things it has a dark side and we need to train children to treat it with respect and restraint.

Grade 2's are anticipating the arrival of Lilitha, the travelling rhino and so we have been researching the scourge of poaching. This week each of the Grade 2 classes wrote messages to poachers on a powerpoint slide.

Saveourrhinos! from Brenda Hallowes

The grade 1's started typing a sentence for the first time this week. They had drawn a picture of their family in Paint last week and we wanted to add their names and the sentence, "This is my family".  A few of them did it quickly and correctly, some worked slowly as they searched out the letters and others just typed a jumble of letters separated by wide spaces or no spaces. Next week I'll point out to them how we struggled so it's a good idea to begin to learn where the letters are on the keyboard using a programme like TuxType.  Keyboard skills are still useful and for this reason we do practice typing skills in the foundation phase. 

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