Reflective Practice as a learning space…

Reflective practice as a teacher is a crucial aspect of effective teaching. It is important as teachers to reflect on the elements of a lesson as well as the teaching, evaluating what worked well and what didn’t, as well as how you can improve on the things that didn’t work so well. This results in continuous improvement for teaching and learning for both the teacher and the students. Many schools have different strategies in order to encourage this reflective practice and continuous improvement. For example, some schools have other teachers or the principal sit in on a lesson and provide constructive feedback. This allows the teacher to know where they need to develop and improve on their teaching or organisation skills. Therefore this learning from others, and sharing of ideas can be seen as a learning space. This is beneficial to all involved. It gets the teachers more aware of their teaching and lesson content, has the assessing teachers more aware of the skills and strategies that work and don’t work which they can then use themselves in their teaching. Also it ensures that the students are getting quality lessons and learning opportunities.


Group Learning: What I have learnt so far…

It is possible to make distinctions between the types of group work. They all share the social aspect of the learning space in terms of interacting with fellow students with a similar goal in mind. However, cooperative learning is structured, with sharing of materials and ideas, with the intention of learning something together (Slavin, 2010). On the other hand, collaborative learning is based more of coming together of various aspects of a task which they have been allocated. And thirdly, group work may be a combination of these; however less structured which can cause issues with work load and so on. However, they are still all working on a common task, just in various ways. Cooperative learning appears to be the most effective as it encourages all students to participate in a very highly structured manner, promoting learning to occur and perhaps dodging some of the issues related to group work (Slavin, 2010). I believe that students gain a lot from working in group work which is structured like Cooperative learning as each individual is responsible for contributing to the group work. If not they may let the team down, which is a great tool fro motivating so students. Also the idea that students can bounce knowledge and opinions between each other, encouraging rich learning to occur.

Slavin, R. (2010). Co-operative learning: what makes group-work work? The Nature of Learning: Using Research to Inspire Practice, OECD Publishing.

The electronic learning space…

IPads and other technological devices in the classroom can be a fantastic, motivating and effective tool in the classroom, providing they are used in a manner which enhances learning. There are so many different ways to incorporate these into effective lesson. There is much debate about including mobile phones into the classroom learning space as a toll for learning. However there is much stigma about this which would be required to be debunked before this were to be a fully-fledged device in the classroom. However, it is not all quite so effective. Unfortunately it is quite evident that in some classrooms the teacher is uneducated/unaware how to use these devices, resulting in students using them inappropriately (playing games/unrelated apps), or simply are using apps with no educational value unless, used correctly. I have observed this happening in one of my associate teacher’s lessons with students not using the correct apps. For example, playing games instead of using the maths app they are required to be using. However, in the same classroom I saw the use of the app ‘socrative’ which was used as a method of quizzing the students on previously learnt knowledge. This worked really well as the students all had to do this individually, and the teacher could collect the data on her IPad as she was the ‘host’ of the quiz. I feel that for IPads to be a useful educational tool in the classroom teachers need to be prepared to have training, and take the time to search for apps that actually serve an educational purpose. In saying that, it is much easier said than done.

Incursions & Excursions, are they a community of practice??

Incursions and excursions are a great opportunity for students to interact with things which are outside of the classroom setting. They are unique learning opportunities which enhance and motivate students learning and growth. As Vygotsky’s theory underpins the idea that students learn from interactions with our environment. These rich experiences are important for all students and their journey of learning, which many things must be taken into consideration in order for things to run smoothly, resulting in the optimum rich experience of learning to take place. In terms of pedagogy, incursions and excursions enhance the teaching and learning which takes place for both students and teachers. It is a great way to gain some unmissable experiences which highlight the particular focus in the classroom at the time. It is also a great way to go outside of the four walls of the classroom, somewhere different to where the teacher and students are majority of their time. Teachers and students both enjoy having others come and visit or they go and visit somewhere/someone that they normally wouldn’t get to do.

These experiences can ultimately be communities of practice. A community of practice is formed when a group of people engage in a collective learning environment, possessing the same intentions. Therefore if we create these incursions and excursions to be of a shared interest, developing experiences, discussions and relationships, we then have a community of practice. To elaborate on this last point, if there is a shared interest (incursion or excursion of interest and relevance to students), these develop experiences for the students’ growth and development, and it should promote discussion and relationships during or after the event. Therefore we can see incursions and excursions as a community of practice when encompassing these elements.

Research is informing classroom design

After completing the readings it is clear that research is shaping the way we design and set up our classrooms. Some of this research has come from direct questioning of children and their preferred preferences between different classrooms. I found it interesting that according to Read (2010) girls preferred high stimulating environments compared to boys who preferred a low level of stimulation within the classroom environment. It was also suggested that the lower level of stimulation is more relaxing to students compared to a high level of stimulating material and objects. However, research has shown that a balanced mix of the two is a great way of catering for both preferences. For example, having a quiet closed off area with low level of stimulation if there is a high level in the other area of the classroom. It is also important that classrooms have adequate space as well as appropriate furnishings. Moreover, this space needs to be set up in a way which encourages collaboration and inclusiveness for all students. In this day and age students are living in a very technological world outside of the classroom. Therefore it is important to include technologies in the classroom to enhance learning and engagement of the students. Although there still needs to be a balance. There are many things which influence the design of our classrooms, some negatively and some positively such as the economy and socio-economic status. Not only does this context effect learning, teaching and learning are considered as context-sensitive activities. This meaning both the outer and inner contexts of the school have an impact.

My understanding of classroom design has changed in a way which before I never realised actually how important classroom set up was. It will be something to be very mindful of when I become a teacher.

My classroom understanding has been challenged slightly in a way. This is due to factors which I never really considered when developing a design for the classroom such as the impact of how stimulating or whether there are vertical or horizontal lines and their effects on the students. The four walls idea is fairly concrete in my mind, yet I always like the idea of out of classroom experiences such as doing class work outside. However the idea of a classroom not being the four walls seems strange and not something I think personally would be practical. However, in saying that I am up for change and interested to see what the classrooms of the future will be like.

Web 2.0, what’s that? Is it a learning space? Well here is my answer:

Web 2.0 can be defined as the technological and internet based world we live in today. Our generation is constantly in the presence of some type of social media on a daily basis, accessing all kinds of material and information. Basically web 2.0 is all of the means of connecting, sharing and learning through internet based things such as blogs, youtube, facebook and so on. The online community is a place where people can share their ideas and collaborate.

Web 2.0 can be described as a learning space as it a place where people can access information so readily, particularly for learning purposes. Also we can use things like blogs (as we are doing in my fully online unit) to contribute to others knowledge as well as gain knowledge from other bloggers and their posts. I know I am guilty of “just google it” when there is something you don’t know. I myself have learnt many things from just googling it. I know there are many other ways in which this could be a learning space, and I hope to find out!