What have you learnt this year, Miss?

6th June 2008 at 01:00
Teachers are changing classroom layout, studying co-operative learning or logging on to the intranet in some of the best CPD
Teachers are changing classroom layout, studying co-operative learning or logging on to the intranet in some of the best CPD

Jill Donald, P1 teacher, Lenzie Primary, East Dunbartonshire.

"My best CPD this year has been Active Learning, and we are one of the pilot schools in East Dunbartonshire. I attended courses run in conjunction with Strathclyde University, where we were made to think about how to take Active Learning on board.

I went back and made changes in the classroom, moving furniture, adapting the structure of my day and making the classroom more like a nursery with learning much more hands-on and play-based. I gave the pupils additional choices of what to work and play with, making learning more child-led.

The children loved it and I have noticed a big difference in them. They are more keen to join in, they are thriving on the independence and choice they have been given, and they come into the classroom bubbling to learn.

I was sceptical at first, but am now convinced of the benefits. It makes it easier to challenge the more able learners, and to work with those who need more attention. I will shortly be attending a conference on the subject where I will be contributing, telling others of the benefits of Active Learning."

Josephine Sanderson, P7 teacher, Arkleston Primary, Renfrewshire

"In March, I went on a three-day course on co-operative learning. Co-operative learning involves putting children into groups and can be used for a variety of exercises, but the groups never have more than four children. The idea is that each term the pupils are put into a home group where they build up the group identity.

It can lend itself to anything. One thing we have done is what is called Stand And Deliver. The groups are given a task, for example, to remember the events leading up to the Second World War. They can't sit down until they have all learnt the events.

This is a social task as well as an academic one. They have to encourage each other, to be supportive, and to take turns and work with each other. Normally, we would put children in groups and allocate one to be the reporter. With co-operative learning, the pupils don't know who will report back.

I have used it a few times in the classroom, and imagine I will use it more, with the new children after the summer. The pupils have responded well and I do think it is a useful tool to have in your teaching kit."

Kara Stevenson, P1 teacher, Lenzie Moss Primary, East Dunbartonshire

"I have been involved in two big initiatives this year, one being Glow, the new national schools intranet in Scotland. I have attended training days on Glow and have been given the responsibility of training up the other staff in the school. We hope to cascade to all pupils in August.

Through the training, I have been able to share ideas with other teachers I would not normally have met, and have learnt about new approaches. I have kept in touch with some of the teachers from other schools and now have a larger support network.

Glow is great. It is a more interactive way of learning, and encourages children to come to their own solutions. My class has already been given the password and had fun clicking on web links. It speeds up their learning, and enables them to feel in control.

As a young teacher, training the rest of the staff in the school has been a great opportunity. At first, the prospect was a bit daunting, but once I got started, it was fine, and I see it as a new skill I have developed."

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