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Children having more ownership of their learning?

Discussion in 'Primary' started by cocopop77, Jan 7, 2012.

  1. I have been reading a number of articles on the positivity of children taking ownership of their learning. I have heard it can work well in EYFS and KS1, but I teach in UKS2 and am not sure how to try implementing this in my class, whilst also ensuring that all areas of the NC are covered.
    We are teaching using topics, rather than individual subjects, but I still feel as though my medium term planning is very prescriptive and that I teach something and the children complete an activity I have planned.
    At the start of this term's topic, I used KWL grids, where children recorded what they already knew and then what they would like to learn, but what do I do next?
    I was considering sharing their 'what I would like to know questions' (and maybe adding in a few of my own) with the class, then allowing children to work in table groups on which questions they would like to explore and how they would go about it. Then each group having a section of display board on which to present their learning over a number of weeks.
    Does anyone have any experience of implementing something like this? How did it work (practicalities)? Did the children respond well to it? Did they produce good quality work? Were all objectives covered?
  2. We have started to develop this in school and started with introducing homework tasks with task and skill briefs so that the children were still fairly scaffolded but could choose focus and medium. i think we need to teach the children to identify skills they need to develop for it to work well for us. Don't know if it would be the same for you. This way they have a learning skill/ experience that they could adapt for different situations. I am no longer class based but I used to give my class a project brief which shared the skills and knowledge I expected them to develop/ show during the topic and they had to demonstrate they already knew something or had the skill in their work/ presentation in some manner. Self and peer assessment opps as well. I hope that makes sense
  3. ESLAB

    ESLAB New commenter

    I teach KS1, however I came across the following link which might give you some ideas:
    It is a joy to see children take ownership of their learning, but in my short experience I have found that it is an attitude, an ethos, and a real sense of trust that your children 'can do it', which entails stepping back and allowing children to take charge of their learning. Quite scary because you want them to succeed and might feel that you 'need to teach something' in order for the children to 'learn something'. I'm not advocating that we just leave children to it, as they still need support and guidance along the way. But I have found that giving them a free reign, encouraging group work, can produce some tremendously surprising results. Go for it! Give your children a challenge - maybe start small? It feels risky, but don't worry if it 'goes wrong' - it's OK to learn from our mistakes...Good luck.
  4. HI,
    I teach a mixed KS1/2 class, so this may or may not be of any use to you. I introduce the topic at the start of each term and the children talk about what they know and ask questions (similar to your grids, but I record the work). I then transfer this to a working wall, which I have set up as a mind map so that they are familiar with the idea. I have stickers available in a pocket which the children can reach so that they can add to the display as they move through the topic. This way they can see that they have planned the outline of the work. I use this as a reference whenever we move on to a new area so that the children see that I value their input.

    However, I have already got the objectives that I hope to teach very much in mind. I also have a pocket of curriculum objectives printed out on brightly coloured paper. (I use 2 colours, 1 per KS). As we cover an area I staple up the objective so that I can easily keep track of curriculum coverage - as can any visitors to my classroom (we are expecting a visit very soon, but I have had this in place for a few months now). I find that this stops people asking what I have covered and if I can provide evidence - as it is all up on the wall. My evidence may be different to yours - I have more photos, photocopies of work, short pieces of writing - but I think it could be adapted. I also found that I can go to the objective pocket and check which areas I need to cover to make sure I get through it all.

    I hope that makes some sort of sense. I'll take a couple of photos on Monday and send them to you if you are interested. I enjoy teaching the children in this way as it gives them a purpose to their activities. It does take a bit of training - both of yourself (to let go a bit) and the children(to take the lead a bit rather than expect to be spoonfed)but could be really good.

    Good luck!
  5. Thank you for all the suggestions.
    BALSE, thanks for the weblink. I'm off to have a look at it now.
    Mapick, i would be grateful if you could send me some photos.
    Thanks again
  6. dizzymai

    dizzymai New commenter

    @mapick I like the sound of this and would also love to see photos!

    I have tried the mindmapping of what you already know (either in table groups or teacher scribed, initialling chn's names next to their comments so it notes who said what). Then mindmapping what they want to learn similarly. Usually I know what I need to teach them and try and marry the two.
    I think, at its best, i this approach gives you good feedback for differentiation ( you might discover that Alex is an expert on The Vikings which is your topic) or how little they know. WHo knows what basically. And it does give children the impression (however true) that they are directing the learning. At its very best, you literally plan what they want to learn but that can lead you off on weird tangents and away from objectives.
    But, recently, I have moved away from this method, for various reasons. Mainly to focus more on literacy and numeracy because that's where my energy has to go and so in depth theme planning is out of the question. But also because I found, with the cohort I teach and the age (Y3, quite a lot of deprived backgrounds) they just didn't know what they wanted to learn. We have just done the Romans and when I asked them what they knew, 98% knew next to nothing about it. So, obviously they didn't know what they wanted to learn because they just needed the basic information. And they loved it, especially making mosaics and a trip to a museum. Y5/6 are more vocal but you often have to guide their thinking before their interest sparks, especially if it's an area they are really unfamiliar with.
    So,in short, they usually know what they want to learn about something they already know something about. Local area is a good example of this. It doesn't suit all themes.
    Similarly I asked them for topic ideas for the future- that can also give you good ideas but you never get a consensus, so you can get the opposite of the desired effect- Lucy wanted to learn about dolls but because 34% of the boys wanted to learn about dinosaurs you went with dinosaurs. Lucy doesn't want to learn about dinosaurs at all. Nathan wanted to learn about computers but nobody else did.
    If you 'impose' a subject they all know NOTHING about, or very little, ironically it can be more democratic. Does that make sense? Hopefully you can give ownership through your methods (eg. they help manage the working wall) rather than the actual learning, which you are in charge of.

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