Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Creating Meaningful Learning Opportunities

Pritika Chandiramani
Year 2 Class Teacher
EtonHouse International School, 51, Broadrick Road

Our school shares the rich culture of weekly gatherings, where all teachers and students come together in the school hall to experience a sense of community and belonging with each other. The weekly assemblies are also a time to pass on general messages from the school head and acknowledge individual student merits by awarding certificates to discerning students. The most thrilling part about these assemblies is, that each week a class is scheduled to host it. While it is an absolutely enthralling experience for the students of the host class who get to go up on stage and do a performance; for their parents who are delighted to see their kids up on stage; and for the other class students and teachers who get to witness another class perform; it can be a frightfully daunting experience for the host teacher who has to think of a plan for the assembly, get her students ready and organised in order to perform in front of the rest of the school. 

Very recently, I had the pleasure of being that teacher! Two weeks before the actual date, I announced to the class that it was soon going to be our Class Assembly. Barely realising, I spoke my thoughts out loud, "what can we do"? To my amazement, students were instantly hooked on and spontaneously started bouncing off suggestions and sharing ideas with their peers and myself. The buzz and excitement was evident. Seizing the teaching moment and possibly a meaningful learning journey that could follow, I prompted them to get into groups and continue to discuss what they would like their assembly to look like, feel like and sound like. 

This is where it all began... knowing their goal and working passionately together towards it. In the video, you will witness the variety, depth and meaningful learning that took place there on. It was priceless! Students were faced with opportunities that pushed them to tackle all approaches to teaching and learning through authentic learning experiences. They were communicating in small and big groups, presenting their ideas, writing and reading plans. The social opportunities for team work and collaboration were umpteen, accepting responsibilities, making group decisions were just a few of many. The group were thinking as they were comprehending, applying, analysing and evaluating newly acquired knowledge. They managed their time, organised themselves and made informed choices. The ongoing research made it possible for the students to collect, record, organise and interpret data, while they continued to observe and plan for their class assembly.  

During the entire process of their planning, students stayed emotionally hooked, as it was a project that was relevant and significant to them. With that in mind, it was effortless for them to stay focused on their personal and positive attitudes towards peers, towards the environment and towards learning.  
In the end, the process and planning of our assembly inevitably became the crux of the actual performance, in addition to the song chosen by students to dance to. As one of the students said, "I think we should perform to this song because it connects well with our Central Idea".
Here is a glimpse of our planning process and the rich learning that happened through it!

I have to admit, that even though I was a little nervous on the actual day of the performance, I was confident that my students would shine up on stage for the simple reason that they owned it, every part of it! And guess what! They did.

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