Thursday, April 26, 2007

Cooperative Learning in the Classroom

I started a new job this week and whilst it is a teacher librarian position I do have a Year 7 English class. We have four periods a week and have met twice already. I was very keen to try my newfound cooperative learning strategies in this microcosm, so how did it go?

Firstly, I assumed the room would be a problem and it truly is. Three long rows of desks facing a whiteboard. The room apparently doubles as a storeroom for another subject area, so the perimeters are clogged with piles of books and papers. There's a lecturn and various other objects inconveniently placed. The teacher whilst standing out in front of the class has a beautiful view of Sydney Harbour. Ahhh! But the kids are almost in shade. There is a digital projector and screen on one of the side walls. So not all bad.

I worked hard during the first lesson on the signal for quiet. I'm still working on this one. I am not achieving the goal to talk less (I mean teacher talking less). Had a few challenging behaviours. Didn't handle them well.

Next lesson thought I'd do a classbuilding activity and worked on Mix, Pair, Share. I had posed a mysterious question for them that is serving for this week's homework, and pairs shared their ideas for the answer. The question involves finding what links a famous person (Princess Diana) and the novel we are reading this term (Little Brother by Allan Baillie). This took longer than it should (some extra time getting the process right and dealing with a difficult customer). Had got back to sitting down and I had put the headings up to reveal everyone's ideas when...ding!...shortened period for special event later in the day. My timing was off. Being optimistic we could see this as a cliffhanger ending.

I think the major challenges I am having here are timing and furniture. Cannot discount that my class mangement skills are rusty. But am I up to moving furniture at the beginning and ending of each lesson? We'll see.

About the question....proving interesting as I have found more than I first knew that links the two.

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