Today, I had the opportunity to visit Robyn Anderson and her students in Learning Space 2 at Panmure Bridge School. For me, it has been a while since I have visited an innovative learning setting complete with furniture and space that allowed for movement around the class.
Clear guidelines and expectations were given before students moved to working spaces that included group and independent settings within the one learning space.
I observed, and listened to the interactions that evolved as students set to the tasks they had to complete. Student self management of these tasks was strongly evident and a credit to their teacher, as I became very aware of the varied tasks that were occurring at the same time.
Peer to peer conversations about their learning reinforced to me how student self management enhanced those dialogic conversations allowing opportunity for students’ to clarify their learning and gain essential ‘real time’ feedback. 'Talk' being the key word here.
Roving around the learning space and interacting with students, their receptiveness to my questioning and their confidence as learners to 'talk about their learning', was very evident as they shared their high standards of digital learning objects resulting from the Learn, Create, Share process.
Robyn took time to share her planning for reading which was linked to their current focus on the suffragette movement that resulted in women gaining the right to vote. Her use of the multi-modal approach, presented students with stimulating learning resources, which was reinforced across my interactions with students. The multi-modal site was not restricted to following a specific sequence and in this, students could choose where to begin and where to next.
The feedback along with the process of learning was reiterated by the students themselves who, identified the learning as not only highly engaging but, it also included opportunities for them to analyse, critically reflect and evaluate their knowledge and understanding about the challenges women faced. While they were able to interact with others, students I spoke with also valued the opportunity for them to work independently from the teacher and manage themselves. In recognising and elaborating on the impact Winning the Right to Vote, had on women of this era, they also spoke about how this reinforced that women need to continue to use this right and vote in the upcoming elections.
I observed a group of four students using a graphic organiser where Robyn had written a statement in the center. Each student had a space to record their responses. Following this, each student read the comments of the others and without talk, using only body language (pointing, making facial expressions) as a means to respond to each of the comments made. High levels of thinking were evident throughout this process as students then went on to refine their responses, checking both detail and clarity and a direct link to the statement they were given. The comments were then synthesized and recorded under the statement. Students were very focused in their task and certainly this was not only evidence of the knowledge and understanding they had constructed across the learning but also an evaluation of
teaching and learning.
Robyn touched base with learners in a manner that did not inhibit their learning conversations and took time to observe with an occasional reminder prompting where necessary, the student's responsibility to remain focused to complete tasks.
My visit was on a Friday afternoon, where like many classes, students were finishing off work. During this time, groups of students were in and out of the class as they participated in group activities, including dance and film making. These transitions flowed and caused no disruption, again emphasizing the positive self managing learning environment that is not only engaging but also promoting responsibility.
Both Robyn and I recognise the necessity to be well planned and organised to promote opportunities for students to be engaged in learning, to grow skills in both self management and responsibility for their learning to increase ownership that will promote their future success.
Visiting and seeing another colleague and another setting, has made me think about how I can continue to motivate engagement that promote increased levels of ‘talk’ that will led to greater levels of independence and ownership for my learners.
The opportunity to be the ‘observer’ in another learning environment is something that we need to recognise and action.
I highly recommend touching base with Robyn to visit Learning Space 2.