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Friday 8 May 2020

Love of Learning Book Reviews - Outstanding Teaching, Engaging Learners

Laura Markwell kindly writes:

Over this period of time where we have had extra hours in our day (if we are lucky enough) I have been reading ‘Outstanding Teaching: Engaging Learners’ by Andy Griffith and Mark Burns (published in 2012). The main theme that the book covers includes redressing the balance in the classroom so that students take more responsibility for their learning, as a class can be skilled and motivated to learn without a teacher always having to lead. Engaging learners in this way unpicks intrinsic motivation, the foundation that underpins a productive learning environment.

The love of learning strand of the Mangotsfield Way is exactly what this book links to, as it provides an array of different strategies to use in the classroom to engage learners. The book provides many examples of how one engagement strategy could be used in multiple different subject types, making it easy to put into practice immediately.

As part of the Love Learning Group I chose to make my research topic based around engagement of pupils, therefore my research area complemented this book title. For me, the main reason I wanted to focus on this area for my professional development was linked to how I felt my classroom environments displayed themselves. I often feel that I have 50/50 engagement in my lessons, with half the class being fully engaged, however half the class is only ever partly engaged and that is due to teacher persistence. Therefore I was intrigued as to how to master the art of gaining whole class engagement in a lesson, without having to work harder than the students and undermine what the students have the ability to achieve.

My top three strategies from this text include:

1. Learning grids (see image) – Learning grids require a class set of dice.  Students will roll the dice twice – to give them a number they can use for the horizontal and vertical line (for example 2 across and 4 down). Within it could include key words and topics, therefore when a student lands on a grid square containing a key word they must provide the definition and when a student lands on a grid square containing a topic they must provide a short explanation.

2. Snowballs – Each student receives a piece of paper on which they write their name. On the same piece of paper each student writes a question based on either a current or previously learnt topic. The students screw their piece of paper into a ‘snowball’ and throw it in the air. Each student then has to find another snowball, unwrap it and add to the questions. This can be done a number of times before each paper is returned to its ‘owner’. The students then answer the questions created on their original ‘snowball’. 

3. Connect Four – This will look similar to the learning grid, however each grid square could contain a question. Students would work in pairs to answer the questions, allocating themselves a colour each. If a student gets a question correct they would colour the grid square (or use a counter). The aim is to achieve four grid squares in a row of the students colour (exactly like the game Connect Four).

My next research venture is to look at ‘Love to Teach: Research and Resources for Every Classroom’ by Kate Jones, to discover more creative and engaging strategies to use in the classroom.

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