Piper's Hill College
We are still not sick of the snow here in Piper's Hill College with our penultimate Teaching and Learning Club looking at the Snowball Activity as a methodology!
For this activity, all you will need is paper, markers and music and the method is simple:
Students are handed a paper and a marker, either blank or with a question.
The learner writes a question or answers a question relating to their studied topic.
They crumble up the paper.
Then they throw the snow balls around...Students definitely have a lot of fun with this!
When the music stops, the student picks up the closest snow ball to them and writes a a response or answer to the question.
The activity can continue as more and more information gets added to each answer.
So, how is this activity useful in the classroom?
The purpose of the snowball strategy is to predict, justify and think critically.
It Engages student to think about what they are doing and understand a concept or topic better.
It enforces writing, responding to text, collaborating and importantly, it encourages students to respond even if they are unsure of the answer.
It is a great way to check student understanding and a fun, interactive method that includes everyone.
◦Found that the students who do not normally engage with each other were given an opportunity to do so.
◦It maintained concentration, especially with weaker students who enjoyed the active element of the task.
◦Students suggested that they play a catch version where they line up and catch a snow ball and answer that particular one, this could work for a rapid fire revision class.
◦Students hung their work on the walls and had walked around the ’gallery’ to observe each others answers and points. Students enjoy that their work is important enough to be displayed or used in another students revision.
Different Ways to use the Method:
◦Brainstorming for personal writing essays. Students can write their name and their topic on the top of the page before they throw, the pages are answered by a number of students before the original student collects their page.
◦Use as a for revision for tests, various students write a question and another answers and passes it on.
◦Students can display the finished sheets on the wall or collect to revise with.
This month in the Teaching and Learning Club we were introduced to Kahoot Challenge, a new feature to Kahoot.
Many of our teachers use Kahoot in class as a fun way to check and assess learning and it can be used across all subjects areas. Especially as our students have iPads, it's very easy to set up. and use in class.
With the new Challenge feature on Kahoot, you can assign kahoots as homework, so that students can complete it at home. You can ensure that it must be completed within a certain time frame also and as with other quizzes, you can view results and get an overview of how each student fared with the questions. We tried it out with an Irish language challenge and it would work great testing vocabulary in language subjects but also definitions and key terms across a variety of subject areas.
Below you can find a link to Kahoot with an easy tutorial on how to use Kahoot Challenge. Staff will be trialing it this month in their classes and we will see how they get on!
This month’s Teaching and Learning Club looked at Tarsia. With this software you will easily be able to create, print out, save and exchange customised jigsaws, domino activities and a variety of rectangular card sort activities. The activities created using this software can be presented in printable form, ready to cut out. Designed for mathematics it can easily be used for other subjects such as Geography, History, English, Science, Languages since it allows text to be included.
Below is a link for the Tarsia Presentation given by Ms Edwards and a link to the website where you can download this free software.
Link to presentation- https://prezi.com/view/hkdhscKuVn0LbaORMJX7/
Link to download software- http://download.cnet.com/Formulator-Tarsia/3000-2051_4-10584458.html
Brushing up on French Verbs and trying out Tarsia in our Teaching and Learning Club!
What is PWIM?
It is an inquiry based language strategy. Originally used to add to children’s vocabulary.
It uses pictures containing objects, people and scenes to draw out words from student’s listening and speaking vocabularies.
The PWIM goals are to:
1. Build sight vocabulary as a basis for reading, learning phonics and oral literacy.
2. Gain confidence in one’s ability to learn and foster growth mindset
Uses in SEN, LS and Resource:
★ Apart from students with a severe visual impairment an image is accessible to all.
★ An image is far less intimidating for students than a title or word they may not recognise.
★ Treat it as though the image is new to you as well and ask focused questions to elicit the response you want.
An example of PWIM used in the classroom is in Leaving Certificate English poetry when the above image was used to introduce the poem 'The Arundel Tomb by Philip Larkin. This image was projected on the screen as students came into the class and they were given a few minutes to analyse and study the photograph before the teacher began lower and higher order questioning.
★ What do you think is the relationship between the people in the photo? (husband and wife)
★ What do their clothes tell us about their social status/class? (she is in a dress/he is in armour type clothing)
★ What century do you think it is from? (1372)
★ Do you notice anything else about how the people are positioned? (side by side/holding hands/she has a dog at her feet/ he has a lion at him)
This prompted class discussion and critical thinking before the students engaged with the poem itself and generated a lot of interesting ideas and thoughts.
This strategy could be used across all subjects as a way of introducing a topic and perhaps tapping into students prior knowledge.
We look forward to seeing how teachers used the PWIM strategy in their various subjects after Christmas!
Place mats are an excellent way of creating a sense of inclusion for every student in class. They are extremely beneficial for revision purposes and end of year exams. They encourage pair/group discussion and assist with peer learning and assessment.
Images of 3 different ways of using placemats are attached below. These can be applied to both junior and senior classes. For each of the placemat seen below, success criteria was displayed on the board and remained evident for the duration of the class.
Image 1: Placemat with a key word in the centre.
Students were divided into pairs and were responsible for rotating the place mat with the next set of pairs every 5 minutes. Students were expected to know 4 areas relating to the key word in the centre and therefore had to revise a different area each time a new place mat was rotated in front of them. Each pair had 5-7 minutes at the end to assess the placemat they were left with and complete the 2 stars and a wish assessment process.
Image 2: Blank centre placemat.
This placemat is particularly beneficial for revising important chapters/topics for both junior and senior level students. Students were divided into groups of four and given a particular revision topic. Everyone in the group was given a different coloured marker. Each student was responsible for their colour and everyone wrote the notes they could remember on the placemat at the same time for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, students were encouraged to have a group debate and discuss what notes they recorded. Students had to decide on four of the most important key notes and place these in the centre of the placemat. Students had to present their findings to the class.
Image 3: White board place mat.
This placemat works particularly well for junior cycle students to make the exercise a little more exciting. It was used as a method of improving sentence structure and encouraging reference to the text. Students were divided into pairs and were first asked to note the 4 most important characters in a novel we were studying. Each pair had to identify 3 characteristics for each character and refer to the novel to select an appropriate quote to support this characteristic. This process aided students in identifying what a quote was and the importance of including one to support and improve their point in an exam.
THE POSITIVITY BOX!!
The positivity box affords the class an incentive to be positive. When a student is seen to do something that is supportive, positive and helpful towards the class environment, that student’s name is entered into the box. There is NO limit to how many students or how many times a student’s name can go in the box!!
When a student is seen to go above and beyond normal classroom behavior to promote a positive, supportive atmosphere in the class, the teacher quietly puts a post-it on their desk, the student then writes their name on the post-it and puts it into the box.
At the end of each month, a name is then drawn from the box and that student will receive a reward!
The rewards were determined by the class as a whole in order to encourage student voice with the teacher having the final say. As we settled on a choice of three rewards, we decided that the student’s name is written on one side of the post-it and their chosen reward on the other.
My class agreed on a choice of the following rewards:
◦ A merit
◦ A homework pass
◦ A 2€ canteen voucher
In order for the students to get on board and to feel ownership and involvement in the process, we did the following research:
I asked a class two questions which were answered anonymously by post-its:
70% of students’ responses to question two: “How do you think being nicer could improve your learning” are directly linked to a supportive classroom environment (as mentioned by Patrick, Ryan, and Kaplan, 2007)
The notion of feeling supported as students has been extensively examined in literature of the Classroom Environment. Helen Patrick and colleagues (Patrick, Ryan, & Kaplan, 2007) found that there is a strong, positive relationship between students' level of motivation and engagement and their perceptions of the classroom environment as being socially supportive.
Furthermore, when students perceive that they receive emotional support and encouragement from their teachers and academic support from their peers they are more likely to be on-task in the classroom and use self-regulated strategies.
It has been also found that teachers who run respectful classrooms are in turn more respected by their students, and students believe that these teachers also hold higher learning expectations.
(Patrick, Ryan, & Kaplan, 2007)
The students determined the criteria for named entries into the positivity box as follows:
The hope is that the students will become more aware of the benefits of creating a more supportive environment thereby increasing students' level of motivation and engagement and through this improving their learning and overall wellbeing. So far, we have ten entries into the positivity box in two weeks!
Continuing our journey with the Edison Project, a Teaching and Learning Club has been established in Piper’s Hill College which hosted its inaugural meeting in September. Thirty members of staff attended, representing a wide range of subject areas and expertise, but one thing everyone had in common was an enthusiasm and openness to trying and experimenting with new teaching and learning strategies. As we trial new methodologies each month, both students and teachers will share their insights and adapt these entrepreneurial strategies for their own classrooms. Meanwhile, staff have continued to lead Edison Workshops this term, focusing in particular on creativity, innovation and design thinking. These active workshops give teachers the opportunity to experience entrepreneurial strategies as a learner and participant. They can then bring these methods back into their own classrooms.
In conjunction with our Teaching and Learning Club, eight members of staff are also involved in the TL21 programme. This is a workshop- based Continuing Professional Development programme for teachers and schools leaders that promotes innovative practice and professional learning communities with a focus on Action Research. We are now at the beginning of our two year journey and look forward to sharing best practice and collaborating with other schools in the locality.
This year has also seen the development of a Teaching and Learning Blog on our school website where teachers and students can record and discuss their ideas and experiences throughout the year. We will updating very shortly with our strategy for October. Watch this space!
The first meeting of the Teaching and Learning Club in Piper's Hill College took place on Wednesday, 13th September. Twenty five teachers attended, representing a wide range of subjects and our first strategy to trial for the month of September is the 'No Hands Up, Lollypop Stick Technique".
Walk into a classroom almost anywhere in the world, and you will see the same script being played out. The teacher asks a question, and a number of students raise their hands to signal they wish to respond. Then, the teacher almost always selects one of the students with his or her hand raised, and that student responds to the question.
But if the aim of questioning is to help the teacher find out what the students know, it makes little sense to select a respondent from the volunteers, because generally, students only raise their hands when they are confident they have the correct answer. Instead, if the teacher is asking the question, students should be given time to think about the question, and then it should be the teacher who selects the student or students to respond, at random.
Armed with Lollypop Sticks, our teachers will trial this method in their classrooms during September as an Assessment for Learning Strategy that will involve all students in the class.