Interim reports

Education Learning Log

Active Learning

As we all move towards a curriculum for excellence I find myself increasingly looking towards good practice in the nursery. Active, child centred learning happens in the early years and we have a lot to learn from early years practitioners!

I’ve been increasingly impressed by how teachers in our Primary 1,2 and 3 class are finding their creativity again and enjoying teaching children without the chains of 5-14 curriculum timing constraints. We no longer have 15 minute blocks of time for things like mental maths where we stopped and started something else whether or not learning was complete or appropriate.

In p3 today it was the children’s afternoon in our infant open area. The context for their play at the moment is the cafe. I particularly liked the way the teacher was developing their cafe big book. It’s magic to see teachers finding their way with more freedom to take risks. Her big book is divided into 6 sections for the 6 activities children play through over 6 weeks (free play is also included). Within each section the children’s names and groups are pasted -the teacher does a traffic light dot next to each child’s name at each activity as she assesses how they are doing. The children paste in good work examples or might write in comments or draw a picture.

In p5 they were in their open area in the afternoon carrying out the same kind of active learning after watching how the infants do it. They were using the context “The community centre” which is their current topic. Again there were 6 groups – each group carrying out an activity – designing a logo, researching on the computer, discussion groups etc. All very impressive. The difference from what previously was done is wonderful. Previously we had rigid programmes eg ICT skills programme, technology kits to be completed at certain stages – all done in the name of 5-14. However what happened was the children did activities which they did not understand the purpose of, which often were only there to tick a 5-14 grid box etc. What I saw today had clear purpse and children clearly engaged, talking and learning in a multitude of ways.

To facilitate these active learning sessions in our afternoons each teacher has a classroom assistant at this time, some may have 2. Our p6 teacher has 4 parent volunteers starting soon to assist her class at this time. Fabulous.

In the meantime I was working in the nursery all day yesterday to release the nursery nurse to see her parents for consultations. The nursery staff have been working hard on developing their planning to really reflect learning intentions. Off I trot to the painting table. In zoom the weans. I failed at the first hurdle.

“Where’s the table cloth?” asks nursery teacher after I put out all the paints and children are painting….

“Yeeha!” say the children as I produce a water pot. Never before seen by three year olds, I now know why they don’t get a water pot at painting. I won’t go into the details…..

And what was my learning intention for the children? I think it was that they would learn how to help a HT clean up a very big mess with a mop….

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November 8, 2007 - Posted by | learning | ,

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