I ran a lesson today loosely based upon a Self Organised Learning Environment (S.O.L.E) today with my a year 7 Secure Science class whom I meet once a fortnight. We have met three times so far and each time we have used this structure.
Today I posed the question
"How do scientists make sure that the data they collect is
And why are these qualities are important?"
They were given 30 minutes research time and then as part as their demonstration I asked them to discuss their findings as a group of adults would for a period of 5 minutes. It turned out to be 7.41 minutes. The only help I gave them was I left the questions upon the whiteboard and I modeled good listening behaviours, making eye contact, raising eye brows and subtly nodding to show I too was listening.
This is the conversation.
The things i think they did really well are:
1. The large number of students readily involved themselves.
2. Many tried to exemplify their ideas they did not read from their notes but referred to them.
3.The organisation that was attempted " Before we start, can we just check that everyone understands the terms"
4. The consistency of the ideas
5. Although not all comments were right, many were, and as a teacher it gave me the information to identify what I needed to do next
6. There's intermittent agreement " that's what we said" and "yeah"
7.They refer to the original questions and use it to ask each other questions, and they answer them.
8.They listen to one another "its like your sugar and water thing""I know what Laura is saying..."
9.They find importance in not only there work but in the content themselves.
10.They see the big picture " I think all those qualities are linked together.
11.How they support one another "it's precise..".
I am even more impressed on the second listen, the sophisticated and articulate conversation. These are 11 year old students working with a teacher for the third time.
We debriefed the lesson after we discussed their understanding, and I ensured each student had a voice. So far SOLE is novel for the students and they are excited and intrigued by it, but they are clearly getting better at it, and they feel as though they are learning and it's a worthwhile approach. I think their engagement is palpable and their passion for such a difficult, abstract and (on the surface) disconnected topic is impressive.
My interest in the idea of sharing pedagogical purposes comes directly with the contact I have had with the Project for Enhancing Effective Learning at Monash University in Australia. Now each of these teachers were very active in establishing learning agendas with their classes. The impact they were having was inspiring. Each classroom tool can have a purpose beyond delivering content, and this needs to be shared.
I suppose the purpose of this website is collate, crystalise and open dialogues about how to increase this within classrooms. As the quote from Carl Bereiter illustrates this classroom methodology can empower our students.