2.2 Teachers create and maintain a challenging learning environment
2.1 Teachers plan for effective learning
In my classroom, I put a lot of importance on students being enthusiastic and excited about learning new things. For this to happen it is necessary for me to plan very carefully.
I teach cross-curriculum (integrated) units which set out to achieve a specific end product. All activities within the unit play a part in achieving the end product. I will use my current unit on Religions of the World to give an overview of the process used with my 28 Year Six students.
Last week we started the unit with a brain-storming session using 'Think- Pair-Share'. This resulted in a discussion/sharing, which showed that the students had some knowledge of the topic. They also had lots of questions.
I had collected about forty books on religion written at the students' levels (some very easy: varying in difficulty). During DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) time I gave each student a book to look at. At the end of this time students shared interesting/new things they found in the books.
Children were introduced to the task: to work in a group to compile a book on a specific religion: a choice of six religions was given - resources were readily available for the six chosen. Students chose groups and religions. (All six were covered - a fortunate coincidence!)
I then led the students through a research task on Shintoism. We read articles as a class - recorded facts, classified and categorised the facts and recorded the information on a retrieval grid. The facts on the grid were used to write an information report on the religion. This was put into a book format as an example for children to refer to. The class activities followed the process that the children would need to use when composing their own reports.
Students were given a detailed task and criteria sheet and set about doing their own research and writing. A teacher aide was assigned to a group which, in the past, had experienced difficulty with this type of task. A visiting student-teacher was available at some times. I was able to move around the groups giving assistance as necessary. Most assistance took the form of explanation of various religious practices. Lots of our work during the year has taken a similar form so by Term 4 children know the procedures and the expectations.
Students have told me how interesting the topic is and have brought artefacts and articles from home as well. Normally I would also use videos to excite interest. This topic does not have much material appropriate to the children's age level.
The children's books are not yet finished but are well under way. I am pleased with the work the children are doing. Because they are working in small groups and have varying needs I am able to teach what particular students need when required. My help can involve assistance with research techniques, comprehension of text, critical analysis of text, note-taking/making, composing sentences, aspects of grammar, selection of illustrations, presentation skills and so on.
By working this way I am able to cater to individual needs; capable students in particular are able to work on without being restricted by the needs of the less capable. These students have the opportunity to explore topics in much greater depth.