Students Will Demonstrate Knowledge and Understanding of Pupils as Active Agents in Their Own Learning
I have chosen to reflect on my lesson plan covering ”The Breathing System” in week 9. I felt that the students successfully engaged in this lesson due to my inclusion of many innovative teaching methods, such as creating a model lung and a variation of other activities in order to involve the students as much as possible in their own learning experience. A fitting quote by Lortie, ”it is important to acknowledge that there are other ways to approach teaching and learning beyond what you have been exposed to in your apprenticeship of observation” (Lortie, 1975), therefore I decided to deviate from the manner in which I was taught, which involved rote learning of theory, with minimal interactive opportunities to learn for oneself. I will also touch on the importance of Yelon’s framework and differentiation throughout my reflection, through my participation in this module I have found these to be key contributing factors to having a smooth lesson and thus me flourishing as a teacher.
It must be acknowledged that without using Yelon’s framework in order to design a coherent lesson plan, there would not be an even distribution of: Motivation, Orientation, Information, Application and Evaluation activities, it ”promotes students having a deep factual knowledge – understanding these facts in the context of a conceptual framework and finally be able to organize knowledge in ways that facilitate retrieval and application” (National Research Council) Students are much more technologically advanced than in the past, therefore the majority of the information activities in my lesson were displayed through the use of a powerpoint presentation. As Larry Cuban (1986) states, ”technology is like an amplifier”, in that it exaggerates what we already do. Powerpoint allowed me to include a much more prominent visual aspects as I could introduce visual representations to aid my explanations, thus preventing the old school ‘chalk and talk’. During my lesson, the visual diagrams displayed on each powerpoint slide helped the students to concentrate, therefore maintaining their engagement with the content that I was teaching. In order to motivate the students before beginning the powerpoint content, I included a youtube clip as a motivation activity to give the students a sense of achievement subsequently as I went through the slides. I believe that this maintains students attention as they have the feeling that they can succeed and that the amount of material is not all brand new. Through the use of multi-media, students can engage more with the topic, rather than merely listening to the teacher. I have learnt from the microteaching, that when incorporating multimedia clips into lessons, in order to avoid ads from playing and distracting both the student’s and teacher’s train of thought, they should be downloaded onto a USB stick prior to the lesson. In the same way that ads can be distracting, this is also so that there is no deviation from the lesson plan, and time management issues occurring in the case that the link would not work.
In order to make the lesson more relatable to the student’s lives and therefore give them the opportunity to be active agents in their learning, I incorporated a simple breathing activity. This merely required the students to inhale and exhale while holding onto their ribs, however this explicitly demonstrated to them that as they breathe in the air there ribs must expand in order to create room for the air inhaled ”this active learning concept relates directly to the Native American proverb ”I hear and I forget, I see and I remember; I do and I understand” (J. Wood, 2009). Therefore through showing the video clip, they saw the breathing system in motion in an animation and thus they will remember this, furthermore through actively engaging in the activity they understood the internal processes, therefore this reinforcement proves that it is important for students to be active agents in their own learning, thus simple sub-conscious activities such as breathing are key learning tools in the case of students being active agents in their own learning experience.
In planning for my lesson, I decided to make a demonstration model lung in order to provide another active learning opportunity for the students and hands on experience, as per Chris Kyriacou, ”it is important to let students realise that the success lies in their own hands, that they must approach tasks in the correct way, and they must be persistent and willing to sustain their efforts to be successful”. As the student’s passed the model lung around, I questioned each student individually on the processes occurring in the relative parts, in doing so this allowed me to gain insight into the student’s levels of understanding of the processes occurring within the breathing system, ”the use of questions, especially higher order questions, is often suggested as a worthwhile teaching strategy” (Hattie 2009). Acknowledging student effort with praise and positive reinforcement also motivates students when celebrating their success. As Petty explains, it is equally as important that the ”weaker” students are praised and encouraged, as well as the higher achieving students. ”Many of the active learning strategies support students at different functioning levels and allow students to contribute their perspective in a number of ways” therefore the ”weaker” students should be praised for participating however positive reinforcement should not be overused as it could possibly lose effect.
Although I found the microteaching lessons to be highly beneficial, I believe that when on teaching placement, we will be better able to tailor active learning activities to those students. I forecast that I will have more of an opportunity to get to know the students and that will make it easier to plan active learning activities, catering for the student’s individually and thus having the ability to evaluate the level of praise and encouragement needed in order to motivate them. Therefore active learning is linked to differentiated instruction as ”it takes into account individual’s needs, readiness, interests and learning profiles. It focuses on instruction that appeals to and engages each student” (King-Shaver ; Hunter, 2003) To conclude, I would like to propose a quote from John Dewey, ”Why is it, in spite of the fact that teaching by pouring in, learning by passive absorption, are universally condemned, that they are still so entrenched in practice”, this was the case when I was in secondary school, and therefore I intend on implementing active learning as much as possible when on teaching placement in order to merit my student’s education through being active agents in their learning.
Casale-Giannola, D., and Schwartz Green, L. (2011) 40 Active Learning Strategies for the Inclusive Classroom, California: A SAGE Company.
Barrett, T., and Moore, S. (2011). New approaches to problem-based learning revitalising your practice in higher education , New York: Routledge.
Kyriacou, C. (2007) Essential teaching skills Third edition. 3rd edn. Cheltenham, U.K.: Nelson Thornes Ltd, United Kingdom.
Petty, G. (2009) Teaching today: A practical guide. 4th edn. Cheltenham, U.K.: Nelson Thornes Ltd, United Kingdom.