A requirement of the course is to implement several strategies and ideas from the course with students and to submit a report on the implementation experience. Below are some example implementation reports.
Wow! What a great start I’ve had to the year. This year I have classes from year 8-11. After all the reading I’ve done over the holidays about collaborative learning (thanks for the inspiration, Richard!) Strategies I have implemented are: independent learning including think-pair-share, collaborative learning, questioning, praising-to-manage. the Kagan approach, minute after class, group work and roles, colour coding and round-robin discussions. (1000 words of detail removed from the original report)
After implementing 'Praising to manage' I couldn’t believe the effect it had on the others who immediately stopped and looked at me. Who knew it could be such an attention grabber?! In fact, some of the younger boys now can’t wait to be the first to put their hand up and receive my praise! The smiles I’ve been seeing on faces has been fantastic. Even my most surly/uncooperative year 10 student now says hello to me when I greet him - clearly, this has all helped build rapport between us. Of course, there has been off task behaviour but I’ve taken the quiet/ear messages approach (also from the Bayley videos) which again has worked like magic. Not once have I drawn attention to anyone (as I would have in the past) and the results have been fantastic. In one instance I told a student who was attention seeking/calling out that I would continue to ignore his behaviour (as I had been doing that lesson) but if he chose to continue I would be asking him to meet me with at lunch time so we could discuss some strategies to help him to live up to the class expectations. Amazingly, I haven’t heard a peep from him since! Admittedly it has been a huge amount of work for me to prepare for each lesson – ensuring that I’ve written clear instructions, chosen collaborative tasks, included sponge activities etc. but the pay-off has been brilliant. I now approach my lesson planning in a completely different way – thinking about what I want the students to be doing/learning, not what I want to do/achieve. The boys have given me really positive feedback so far too. I can’t thank you enough, Richard, for helping me to shift my focus and understand (finally) what it means to be student-centred. I’m feeling so much more positive and relaxed about my teaching that even my husband has commented that I’m very calm and not cranky anymore... and that’s a miracle! Anne O’Rourke, Brisbane Grammar School, Feb 2016
I have my share of disruptive year 8's which I have mentioned several times in the comments of this course. I tired quite a few of the smaller strategies with them to try to begin to establish a wider cultural shift in my classroom. These have included: -focusing on positive behaviour: this is so hard to do when the kids just seem determined to push the envelope; and you really don’t feel like you are doing your job as a teacher if you are letting things get away. However, I persevered and a little bit at a time this seems to be having a positive effect. I do feel that I need a lot longer before a real change will be noticed.
-reimplementing the 5 minute "fireside chat": this works well with boys and the few times I tried it, it worked well.
-Narrating Behaviour: this worked really well with my classes. With the more intelligent but chatty classes it is almost a silver bullet for getting a room back to quiet. In some of the less intelligent classes it took kids a minute to figure out that I was actually congratulating them on their behaviour. In one specific example, a student had their laptop out on the correct work and I mentioned this out loud – to which he indignantly told me he had his laptop out on the correct work. He was pleased when he realised I had singled him out for doing the right thing.
-Saying Thanks instead of Please: This one was extremely interesting. I had no idea how much I used the word please in my teaching. I happened to do the module which talks about this before school one day, and I was conscious of it all day. A simple shift from giving an instruction including the word “please” to the exact same instruction with the word “thanks” and all of a sudden kid seem to sit up and pay attention. This one really makes me wonder if there are other little words or behavioural quirks which could be changed if we were aware of them. Douglas Hughes, Cowra High School, ‘Turning around an off-task report’, Sept. 2017
I tend to want to micro-manage my lessons. As I have said in previous posts, I like students to be quiet and focused and I am not that great at loosening the reins. Being a language teacher, the course can be textbook-focused, and students quickly tend to tire of this approach. So I try to make fun and interesting activities that go with the textbook, using it as a guide only. Still though, following a textbook-based course can tend to be teacher-centred. A takeaway from your course is for me to try and become less controlling. What I have implemented this term is I have added a project-based assessment to the assessment schedule, whereby students are left to their own creativity and imagination when doing the task. There is a level of noise in my classroom that I am not that comfortable with, but I am trying to let go!! I have been trying the `butterfly approach' mentioned in a previous video and it is very rewarding going around to individual students and groups and watching the creative process unfold. My students are happier and I have learned that students can still be focused even if they are a little noisier. Head of Welfare, Kingswood High School, ‘Student-centred learning report’, Tenterfield High School, July 2017
I didn't think I would have as much initial success with independent learning as I've had thus far. I was a little sceptical at first but am impressed how well the students have taken this on board. From the very first day of lessons, I stressed (or 'drilled' perhaps) to the students the importance of being self-directed/disciplined and proactive. As a teacher had mentioned in a previous post, I spent what felt like the entire first lesson explaining and then discussing as a class what it meant to be proactive. I asked students for their interpretation and used countless examples/ways on how to be proactive in certain situations. Some of these examples ranged from taking the initiative to find a solution to submit work if ICT platforms fail, if they have no computer or internet connection, etc. Putting the onus on them to find a way to submit work, as opposed to me having to track individuals down. The results thus far have been impressive. Not all students have jumped on board, but it is a work in progress. Some students with no computer access (due to technical issues) have resorted to taking photos of the online text from another students laptop, so as to complete homework. In the past, these students would have simply given up and not completed the work. If anything, it seems that many students have become more creative and perhaps challenged in order to solve a problem and overcome an obstacle. By no means have I converted all my challenged students, but I think I've 'sowed the seeds', and I will hopefully reap the rewards soon enough. Ross Ursino, Marcellin College Randwick, February 2016
My implementations for improving the engagement of students in my classroom are as follows. I am trying to stick to a more strict time line during lessons, trying to have three different, clear activities for students to be involved in. I am trying to have more student centered learning with research tasks and group activities where students take control of their learning the the consequences of not completing the work. So far students have enjoyed these activities however, it does take much more planning to make sure that while being student centred it is still structured so that it doesn't turn into chaos. I have completed a reflection activity with all of my classes which lets them tell me what they are good and and what they would like to see in the classroom. This allows students to see that I am interested in what they want which gives them the sense of a caring teacher who wants to get to know them. This along with a more positive approach has giving students the confidence to ask more questions, send more drafts of assessments and be happier in the classroom. Along with the student centred lesson I have put in place a peer marking strategy to help students with their assessment tasks. During a lesson everyone swaps their assessment tasks and they mark them just as I would with a draft, finding spelling mistakes, grammar, and circling words that could be changed for higher modality choices. The students loved this! I was actually quite surprised by this one. The students took it really seriously and became engaged in the activity without any prompting. From comleting this tasks students understood the assessment more and realised things they were doing right or wrong in their own assessments. Once this was completed students could still give me the draft but they had more than one opinion. I did this activity with my Year 10 English class and due to the success and engagement with the activity I will be putting it into place for all my classes when they have assessments. These implementations have helped greatly and I really thing everything comes down to having a well structured lesson plan in place. Sarah Thompson, ‘Improved student engagement report’, Tenterfield High School, July 2017
I have trailed Independent learning on a day to day basis. Firstly I started with my marine studies class that worked in groups on a marine mammals presentation. They researched the topic in groups using Google apps and collaborated over several lessons to present a report with explicit criteria on a marine mammals. They were Fantastic! Not only did the groups learn so much more but they were more enthusiastic and performed very well in their presentation. I have trailed this with difficult classes and they are grouping themselves with learners they can relate to and problem solve and as they are working in groups even they more off task students are more engaged and enthusiastic. Because they can generally work at their own pace with the use of booklets students are more relaxed and there is much less behaviour problems and a more positive rapport with each other. Zac Wilson, Gorokan High School, Nov 2016
My implementation for a more student centred learning environment is for my Year 11 English class; the class I have the most trouble with engagement in. I do think that student centred learning is one of the most important parts of keeping students engaged but it is also a risk based way of teaching, as there is always the possibility that students just won't complete the work.
The first strategy that I have implemented into this class is a completely new unit. The unit is on the novel Animal Farm and my class hates reading and struggle with comprehension so that's what I wanted to work on. What I have done is created all students a booklet to work through for the unit. The booklet contains individual tasks, Internet research tasks and group activities that all relate to the novel. The booklet also lets them know when they need to read certain parts of the text. The tasks while I have still structured it a lot, it allows students to work at their own pace, meaning that students that are more extended can move ahead while students that require more help can get that help.
Also with this class I have implemented the the envelope activity. What I have done is used this as a revision activity for key terms that students need to learn before their examinations. I filled an envelope with the important terms that students needed to know. We played it similar to the video in the pervious module. I covered my eyes while music was playing and the students passed the envelope around the room. When I stopped the music the student holding the envelope had to tell me the definition of the word they pulled out of the envelope. Students did like this activity however, the quieter students tended to try to pass the envelope really quickly so they didn't have to have a turn. I found this task was hard to get all students involved. I think when I do this again I will have a 'carrot' for the students to work towards like a reward or something.
A small but important strategy I have put into place is having a more positive attitude towards the students work while doing student centred learning. By not being so critical of what students are doing I believe that the students are becoming more confident in their abilities which is making them want to complete the activities involved in the student centred booklet.
While this is just Year 11 I have also implements other strategies to my other class but these were the most effective. Sarah Thompson, ‘Student-centred learning report’, Tenterfield High School, July 2017
Since starting this course I have been trying to implement more activities that allow the students to be more independent. Earlier on in the course, in one of the videos, one of the teacher was saying how they tell their students that if they have a question: first ask the student next to them, next refer to the textbook and if they still don't know the answer ask the teacher. This is a strategy I have implemented on a few different occasions. Some students respond better than others, but I have found it is really important to be strict with it, because lazier students often won't be bothered to look in the textbook. Sometimes if they still legitimately get to the point where they have to ask me, I still don't give them the answer yet, I will either point out the section of the textbook that will help or I will ask the question to the whole class. I think this technique will help even more as the students get use to it.
Another technique I have used was inspired by the WRS. At the beginning of my Year 7 and 8 lessons, I now have a TO-DO list, as well as a goal for that lessons put up on the board on my PowerPoint (so I can refer back to it when needed). I have found that this is very helpful, as the students understand where we are going in the lessons, they even look for the exciting parts, and work more effectively in other parts so they can get to those points. The goal is also helpful when it comes to questions at the end of the lesson e.g what was our goal for today? Did we achieve it? How did we achieve it? etc. My Year 8 class really likes this, as they feel like they have achieved something in the lesson.
One of the more inspiring videos I have watched in this course, was one of the engagement videos (the one with the language teacher). I watched this video at a perfect time for me, as I am just starting to do revision with my year 11 Biology class for yearly exams. This week I tried the pass the parcel like game for revision and found it really effective. The students found it fun (although some of them were a little shy and shaky when reading and answering the questions out). This was a really good way to engage the class, and I didn't really need to do much. I just stopped and started the music and if the student got the questions wrong I would ask the class whether they could help them out with the right answer. I have also prepared the game with the numbered cards on the board, where they pick a number, and the card has a question or a star or a zero. I have put the answer at the bottom of the cards, and a student from the other team will read the question out, that the student picks, and then tell the student if they are right or not. I am hoping the students will do this activity almost completely independently (I am trialing it next week). Deanna Jones, ‘Student-centred learning report’, Oak Flats High School, August 2017
Firstly, like Hiba, I was really impressed with the language teacher's approach. Language lessons certainly lend themselves to games which are educational and engaging. My students love games and I have a secret `nyuck nyuck' moment to myself when I watch them engaged and having fun and they are not realising that they are learning and consolidating prior knowledge. I am certainly going to try and incorporate many different types of games in my programs from now on. Secondly, I remember making a comment earlier in the course where I had quite a rude and disruptive child and my approach was all wrong, I was disciplining him all the time. This course made me realise that initial approaches can be repaired and attitudes can indeed turn around. I changed my approach towards this child from discipline to always praising and it has made the world of difference. Thirdly, I have always encouraged my students, but now is I make a point of calling at least five parents a week with positive comments about their children. Parents love it and students come up to me the next day chuffed that I called home. Head of Welfare, Kingswood High School, ‘Improved student engagement report’, Tenterfield High School, July 2017