Piper's Hill College
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.