I read a post the other day that really resonated with me. Titled The pedagogy of merriment it was well written and interesting. Although aimed at high school teachers I felt much of what it said still applied to primary teachers. There was much about the article that I enjoyed but in particular this statement made me stop and reflect.
I suggest teachers break up learning into nine phases: engage, connect, pair/share, articulate, extend, dramatise, construct, apply and review. As I read that I wondered if I managed to meet those nine phases?
Engage: is To engage my students I know I need to gain their attention and ensure they are focused on the learning that is about to happen. So for example every maths lesson begins with a quick problem solving activity that is waiting for them on the SMARTboard. As they come into the room they know to pick up a mini whiteboard and start working out the problem. By the time all the students have arrived I will have already handed out class Dojo points for the fast workers and all students are, I hope, ready to use their maths brains.
Connect: Our next activity is a quick quiz, designed to be completed very quickly and exercise their mental maths skills. Students do this is order to connect with their prior learning.
Pair/share: At the end of the quick quiz, students discuss with each other the strategies they used and how the activity had connected with their previous learning.
Articulate: The lesson might continue with the introduction of a new topic/idea/strand or problem. We would typically discuss together how this could be solved. My students are encouraged to ask for help, to capture their thinking on their whiteboards and to share their learning with each other and myself. To a visitor this can seem slightly chaotic but moving around the room I attempt to keep everything under control.
Dramatise: Although I do my best to keep my maths lessons interesting and relevant. And I try to set interesting problems, using real life examples, I do not think I dramatise my lessons enough. I certainly do not always manage to make them so memorable that they remain lodged in my students long term memories. On the other hand we often say life in Year 6 is a drama. So perhaps not always meeting this within maths lessons is not a problem.
Construct: My students knowledge is further constructed through the completing of examples, possibly a worksheet or a hands on activity with physical manipulations.
Apply: For a primary student to best apply their knowledge they need to to use the demonstrated concept or knowledge in a new way, Is this achieved every maths lesson? Probably not. Is this achieved during each mathematical unit? I hope so.
Review: It would be great if I could say that every Year 6 maths lesson ends with time for a review of the learning that has taken place, unfortunately though it usually ends in a rush to move to the next lesson, Obviously this is to do with timings and it is something worth reviewing. The fact that the primary mathematics curriculum is packed with outcomes to reach, does not help.
So there you have it nine phases of learning, engage, connect, pair/share, articulate, extend, dramatise, construct, apply and review. If you reflect on your teaching, do you meet this challenge?