Posted in random ramblings, Teaching and Learning

Purposeful play

Lately I have been thinking about how to describe my ‘classroom practice’ that has a positive impact on my students – for an interview/article if you are interested in why I would think about such things so explicitly. It has also been appraisal docs time, and report writing time, and at the moment I just need to have some things clearly written down.

Which is a problem. For me anyway.

Take unit plans for example. We have some beautiful, reasonably useful lesson plans that I am working through and trying to embed various activities into – eg where it says use a kahoot quiz, have the link to the kahoot quiz embedded in. This is an effort to make the unit plans even more useful, so you don’t have to go back to the folder and find the document blah blah blah. Want the ‘powerpoint’ click and it takes you to it on the shared document library on sites. So the unit plan is hopefully going to become more of a one stop shop for resources – and people can be collaborative as we are all able to contribute different activities or resources by popping in a link to the activity

However, this isn’t how I see my unit plans. A ‘unit’ of work isn’t independent of other ‘unit’s of work. I’d really like to some-how see a yr 7-13 flow through of what we want our students to be able to do after that time doing Science (or after yr 10 when they can opt out of Science if they want to) (cue sobbing).

So I have been thinking about jargoning up how I really want to let my students play. In a purposeful way of course, but actually just explore ideas, work together on stuff they are interested in (or individually), learning so called ‘soft skills’ that are really important like time management and prioritising and using digital tech efficiently. How I want them to explore and make their own discoveries rather than listen to me drone on about the discoveries of others. How I want them to make connections between ideas, between observations, between contexts and subjects. Today I got onto the power of one because I was talking about diamonds being hard, so then diamond drills, then Peekay and Botha in the mines in power of one. Made perfect sense really.

And in thinking through this, it is interesting I got onto literature today, when I am struggling to find the words to express what I am wanting to achieve. I know what it feels like in my classroom – a purposeful hum of noise that ebbs and flows as discussions build up when there are questions or problems to be solved, a focused sort of energy, students critically questioning without fear of being wrong or mocked (gently mocked maybe….) and models being drawn or built or made, or practicals being designed rather than just carried out as per the instructions in the book.

And don’t get me wrong, I don’t always get there. Sometimes it turns into hell fire confusion with flaming curtains (literally with a particular yr 10 class one time) but when it works it is AWESOME. It is messy, hard to describe, loud and quiet, focused and random, and it is purposeful, meaningful learning.

I still don’t know how to put that into a unit plan.

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3 thoughts on “Purposeful play

  1. Love this! The other day I was teaching pedigree charts in 12BIO, we talked about what twins would look like on a pedigree chart, then triplets, then somehow got on the topic of royal families marrying their cousins and all the “bad blood” (no pun intended) that caused. Some kid then mentions not being able to do homework because Game of Thrones new episode was going to be released that night. We draw out the Lannister family tree, then finally reach the topic of the Targaryens and the “Three-headed dragon”… I’ll let you look that one up 😛

    1. I will look that one up. Haven’t got super into game of thrones…. but the Tsars in Russia would be a relay life comparison I guess. So important to link things to real life though – and not just sci 🙂

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