Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Did you know that a ruby, sapphire, emerald and aeroplanes are all made of the same thing?

Did you know that a ruby, sapphire, emerald and aeroplanes are all made of the same thing?

My first step into SOLE, was this lesson and I have never looked back since! I teach Design Technology and one of the main areas I find difficult to cover is material areas. The topic itself I am sure is interesting but I find it 'dry' and always ended up delivering it in the same way...talking at them and telling them about it. As with all SOLE lessons the question is key! I had to find something inspiring, interesting and something that was not too easy or too difficult. I struggled trying to come up with something and Sugata himself suggested this question! I thought to myself....really?? They will never get anything from that and I must admit myself I had to google it too!!! With doubt in the question (not Sugata, as I very much trusted he knew what he was doing :0) I went for it with fantastic results!
My lesson went from a chalk and talk lesson on material properties to absolute wonder! I myself learnt so much!!
The lesson format was as follows....I showed them a clip from TED Talks and Future Learning.

They were already aware of the work of Sugata from an assembly my Headteacher had done and this itself led to discussion on how it could be translated into a classroom in North East of England! I explained how lucky they were that I had decided to step back, as I thought they were ready to investigate the task themselves...I was not in the room at all (so to speak!) They were going to take charge!
It was explained to them that they were to work in groups of four and only one computer between them, they were welcome to move around the room when ever they chose to and even take/share information between the groups. Each group was given a large piece of paper, colour pens and told they needed to form a presentation of their findings to the rest of the group at the end of the 40mintues. Due to the number of pupils in the group I was left with two extra students, I thought on my feet....one was made the behaviour manager who would keep in check the other students (if needed) and the remaining student would be a scribe. This proved an excellent source of feedback during the presentations at the end as they were able to point out what was said and when.

So the 40 minute adventure began, it was interesting to see how each of groups tackled the task....some groups dived straight in and others sat back, planned and delegated roles. I was really surprised how they took to the challenge and working in a group of four not only scaffold learning, but added a healthy competition between groups. I explained it was good to share and indeed cheat at the start of the lesson. What I loved most about the lesson was seeing the children enjoy the subject I love, it is very rare that we allow ourselves time to sit back and watch learning happen. I felt proud to be a teacher that day (even though my role was as an observer) I knew the depth of learning and the enjoyment was a thrill to see! The presentations were fantastic...they came up with facts and information I had not even thought of and again made me think that at times my role as the teacher restricts their learning and most of all their curiosity. We do have a role of course as teachers but it is important to step back, observe and admire....just like Sugata's granny's!
Feedback from some of Year 8
Its interesting to see in the comments made by this student below. They didn't like 'not' being able to talk to me. I take this a huge positive as it confirms my belief that children rely far too much on the teacher and lack the confidence to see they can do it them self! As this feedback shows, she goes on to say 'we got loads done together' and that SOLE is a good way to research and learn.
I went on to use this lesson as a starting point for a bigger project on material areas, the information the class came up with just had to be extended further...therefore they designed the curriculum and they drove it forward!! We went on to use the channel 4 documentary Plane Crash as a starting point to look at how this information is key when designing and developing products in the future. Each group became a crash team investigator!
They then had to use the information gained from the SOLE lesson and apply it while investigating a plane crash! The follow on lesson its self was fantastic, the students even came up with models explaining how material areas should be developed to save lives in the future! Fantastic and all made possible by SOLE!                                                                                                          

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