I am looking at different ways to use space in my lessons to give students more autonomy and encourage collaborative work. I hope to encourage this in other classrooms initially by making videos available of students using space in different ways and by encouraging colleagues in to come and watch different activities in action.
The first thing I tried this year was to rearrange the desks into groups of four to encourage group conversations/debates/arguments. I could then go and join in with different groups and try and reduce the teacher-led teacher-whole class interactions and allow groups to manage their own conversations and debate and go off on tangents etc. I can also arrange students according to ability. (You can see this on the inset video https://teachosen.wordpress.com/category/inset-docs/ )
The Timewalk is an idea I took from an MFL teacher called Greg Horton to encourage students to refer to past or future events and access the higher grades at GCSE. Students move backwards or forwards depending on their time reference (e.g. 2 minutes ago = 2 tiny steps back, 2 weeks age = a few big steps back and a century ago = running to the back of the field). The topic was to talk about activities we have done on holiday. Students combined the actions for the different activities with moving into the correct time position. I find the kinesthetic activities are as popular with the very high ability students as they are with the lower ability groups. When they are doing speaking and writing activities in class I sometimes see them making these physical gestures to jog their memory. This video shows year 10 Spanish doing this.
The human skyline is another idea I nicked from Greg Horton. Students pick a word and get up one by one to form a sentence. Capital letters stand on chairs. Certain words (such as opinions, certain verbs/tenses, adjectives, good connectives…) may be rewarded by waving pom poms, speaking into a mic, putting on a wig, dressing up…..to encourage students to include the complex structures in their sentences to access the higher grades. If they use complex structures there should not be many capital letters on chairs.
This clip shows year 11 when they had formed their sentence. I then asked them to stick with the word they chose but to jumble themselves to form a different sentence with the same words (this was spare of the moment – I didn’t nick it!). Each student put their word onto a mini-whiteboard. The clip shows yr 10 doing the same activity but they are a far more mixed ability group they had mini-whiteboards from the start). Both times the second rearranged sentence was the better one.
Speed dating is an activity lots of MFL teachers use to encourage students to talk and to take part in peer assessment. By talking to and listening to a lot of people in a short time students generally stay focused, sometimes talk spontaneously and can use and adapt other peoples’ structures in their own work. In this clip we are focusing on using opinions and reasons.
Here is a link to some of Greg Horton’s work.