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Reflections on a week of independent learning

Many thanks for all the feedback on the week of independent learning that we conducted on cloning. Having read your answers to the questions I was happy that there were some positive outcomes in terms of the depth of knowledge in a lot of the answers. Even some people who indicated that they didn’t enjoy the lessons wrote some really good answers which shows me that even if you didn’t enjoy it as much as traditional lessons, you still have the ability to be fantastic independent learners.

What did you enjoy about it?

Loads of people (90%) of people who answered this question said that they enjoyed being able to research around a topic using the laptops and that this was something that they weren’t used to in Science lessons. I think I’ll definitely use the laptops again but will have to think carefully about how.

What didn’t you enjoy?

Many people had issues with laptops logging on/technology not working which I agree is pretty frustrating. Other people were a little unsure about working on a poster and would have preferred notes in their books. 6 people said that they would prefer to listen to the teacher and make notes whereas other people indicated that this is what they most disliked about lessons. I guess it depends on what the teacher is talking about and how they’re talking about it. 

Did you find it useful?

Two thirds of people (14) who gave me feedback (21 people) said yes they did find it useful and 7 people said ‘not at all!’ so there’s a definite divide there. If I could categorise what the people who disliked it felt then they were unhappy at the lack of instruction and felt that the lessons lacked structure. They would have preferred traditional lessons that were teacher led with worksheets and notes to copy down.

If you could have improved the lessons what would you have done differently?

There were some good practical tips such as giving you a list of websites to go to in order to speed up the research and doing the work in your books. Also some people would have ditched the whole idea!

What style of teaching do you prefer?

This question generated the largest range of responses from ‘don’t know’ to ‘like Mr Dixon teaches,’ to ‘not being taught at all,’ to ‘teacher dictating notes to copy!’ There are definitely a whole range of preferred learning styles in the class!

What do I think about it?

I thought it was an interesting experiment and I learnt more about 11-2 as individuals in this 4 days than from the rest of the days I’ve taught the class. I wouldn’t do a four day project like that again as most people found it too much of a stretch. I would possibly do a two day project again but make it more practical based where people have to research the answers to questions that are generated at the start of the project from a variety of methods, one of which would be research on the internet.

I think one of the most useful things that I will build into my teaching was getting feedback from the class about what worked and didn’t work. It’s a really good way of giving people a say in their education and also generated lots of ideas of how I could teach things differently to make it more appealing.

What I want to emphasise is that learning is a collaboration between teachers and students. It can’t always be teacher standing at the front lecturing, giving out worksheets, telling off the people who aren’t working hard enough etc, etc. As students nearing the end of your time at school you should be expected to contribute to the direction your learning takes. I feel that if you have more of a say then you will be more motivated to learn. Fair enough, it didn’t always work during this project but part of the reason why I decided to do a week of teaching like this was to see if it made a difference to how motivated people were and during the first two days I couldn’t fault the effort that everyone put into it. 

What’s next?

If you look on the FOR 11-2 page you’ll find  a series of options to choose from for next week. I haven’t put details of what activities will be in every lesson as this would take all night but you can vote for what you want to learn next!

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