How to change the classroom dynamics??

How could I forget the day I stepped out to start my teaching career back in 2003! I had no clear idea of what am I expected to do other than the delivery of a rigid curriculum? However, I began my journey, which seemed quite dull as the real PASSION was missing! I was a teacher, a ‘Storehouse of Knowledge’ and I expected my students to imbibe all the knowledge I had.

Yes, I was a teacher, but was I a ‘MENTOR, ‘FACILITATOR,’ ‘ MOTIVATOR,’ ‘CATALYST,’ and an ‘INNOVATOR?’

I asked myself, Am I preparing young people for life beyond the classroom?

Am I giving them the RIGHT opportunities to THINK, ENGAGE, EXPERIMENT, EXPLORE AND REFLECT?

Henceforth, over time, I felt the need to shift from ‘Traditional teaching’ to ‘Learner-Centered teaching. The world is changing fast, and we are dealing with 21st-century learners having diverse needs and interests. So, why don’t we adapt our teaching as per the needs and interests of our learners?

Progressively, each milestone passed has left a remarkable imprint on my personal and professional life. I started cherishing immense teaching-learning experiences, explored new pedagogical domains, and most importantly, developed a habit of self-reflection.

 ‘Learner-Centered’ Vs ‘Traditional’- How you want to see your class?

These are some of the teaching models I have been exploring off lately, and I could see significant positive changes in my classroom dynamics.

1. Flipped learning

What is it all about?
  • Flipped learning is an advanced methodology in which teachers can prioritize active learning in the classroom.
  • Teachers send the resources like lecture videos and presentations before the lesson, allowing them to get to know the topic before it is taught in the class.
  • Students spend time watching lectures and presentations out of the class. Hence classroom time is used effectively for minds-on activities and dynamic group work, resulting in developing higher-order thinking skills.
How to use it in practice?
  1. “Flipped learning” model could be implemented effectively in teaching higher level topics.

2. Before starting a topic, teachers can assign reading and writing tasks by providing appropriate audiovisuals and other lesson resources.

3. The students are expected to display a sense of responsibility in completing the assigned tasks and preparing the lesson in advance.

4. Students would be deeply interested in flipped-learning tasks as they shall utilize the class time for playful explorations and advanced inquiry-based activities with their peers.

2. Constructivist learning

What is it all about?
  • Constructivist learning results from an individual’s mental construction by connecting the new questions meaningfully with established prior knowledge. 
  • It is dependent on personal interpretation of the ideas and knowledge of the learner who creates own solutions.
  • In this case, teaching is not just the transfer of knowledge, but the interpretation of knowledge within a community of learners.
How to use it in practice?

Example: “A chemistry lesson” (5 E’s):

1) Engage: The teacher focuses on helping students restate their questions in practical ways. 

2) Explore: She prompts each student to reflect on and examine his or her current knowledge. 

3) Explain: When one of the students comes up with the relevant concept, the teacher seizes upon it and indicates that this might be a fruitful avenue for them to explore. 

4) Elaborate: They design and perform relevant experiments. 

5) Evaluate: Afterward, the students and teacher talk about what they have learned and how their observations and experiments helped (or did not help) them to understand the concept better.

3. Problem-Based Learning

What is it all about?
  • An innovative teaching-learning model that utilizes real-world problems to stimulate curiosity and inquiry and foster the learning process. 
  • Students feel connected to their environment and take responsibility for finding solutions to common problems.
  • Done by Initiating Instruction with an ill-structured Problem where student-as-stakeholder and the teacher as (Metacognitive) Coach.
How to use it in practice?

Example – “Thermal Pollution and ways to reduce it”

1) The teacher asks questions to help students identify the problem. Students try to define the problem.

2) Field trip to collect the water samples from the site.

3) Analysis of samples for dissolved oxygen and comparison with other samples in the lab.

4) Students provide conclusions and propose solutions to the problem.

5) Students reflect on their work and make suitable recommendations.

4. Inquiry-based Learning

What is it all about?
  • Inquiry-based Learning includes teaching methods built on students’ knowledge and interests and emphasizes how to learn and find out. 
  • Inquiry is a model about “getting answers” and in the learning process, it even inspires students to ask more questions and thus creates further inquiry.
  • Students learn how to develop and contribute ideas, investigate their ideas and hypothesis and questions themselves and group members in a constructive way. 
  • The teacher needs to foster inquiry by scaffolding and learning activities should focus on using information-processing skills (from observations to synthesis)
How to use it in practice?
  • Guided Research
  • Writing Lab Reports
  • Designing experiments
  • Planning investigations

Example: “Compare the reactivity of metals and arrange them in a reactivity series.”

1) The teacher divides the class into groups and sets the stage for inquiry by questioning, “How to design an experiment to compare the reactivity of metals?”

2) Groups explore books and other resources.

3) Each group performs an investigation (experiment) and makes observations.

4) They discuss with the team members and conclude by arranging the metals in a reactivity series.

5) Self, peer assessment, and teacher evaluation follow.

5. Project-based Learning

What is it all about?
  • Students work on a project for an extended time (a week or trimester or semester) that presents a real-life problem or challenge or consists of answering a complex guiding question. 
  • The project’s goals are presented up front, and students must find creative ways to complete the project, learn the necessary material, and develop essential skills along the way.
  • They demonstrate the accumulated knowledge and skills with a public project or presentation for an audience. Students can learn content in an applicable situation and engage in critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration with peers.
How to use it in practice?
  • Conducting Research
  • Individual or group projects

 Example lesson: “Composites.”

1) Start a question– Brainstorm using their pre-knowledge of composites. Ask them to find if they can use waste plant material to make floors and furniture.

2) In-depth inquiry – Students make groups, discuss, explore resources, and indulge in the critical thinking process.

3) Voice and choice – Students learn to work independently and take responsibility for how they work and what they create.

4) Need to know – begins with the vision of a product or presentation. This creates a context and a reason to learn and understand the information and concepts

5) Feedback and revision – includes the processes of revision and reflection of their work.

6) Presentation- Students gain confidence to present their projects and make recommendations. 

6. Collaborative Learning

What is it all about?
  • Collaborative learning refers to an instruction method in which learners at various performance levels work together in small groups towards a common goal.
  • It is a social approach to teaching and learning where students team up to complete a task, solve a problem, or create a product. 
  • A better understanding is developed by adding the diverse viewpoints of students from different backgrounds. 
How to use it in practice?
  • Group Experiments
  • Group projects
  • Role Plays

Example Lesson: “Recycling”

1) Introduction of the idea by an audiovisual (A documentary on the importance of recycling)

2) Students discuss and explain the importance of recycling. 

3) They collaborate and make groups: “Each group has a task to find creative ways of recycling at school” (Within a time frame)

4) Groups collaborate on unique ideas and use various methods such as awareness campaigns, seminars, surveys, making models, etc.

5) All the groups meet up and present their work in front of their teacher and class. The teacher and students scaffold and propose suggestions to each group.

7. Action Learning

What is it all about?
  • Derived from action research; action learning is diverse and can take many forms. It is related to team building and organizational development to learn through problem-solving together. 
  • Action learning also unleashes a team’s creative thinking and encourages developing a common internal language around quality, strategy, efficiency, and leadership.
  • Individuals work on real work issues and openly reflect on their experiences to take subsequent action.
How to use it in practice?

Example Lesson: “Solving the problem of water pollution”

1) Students are divided into teams, and each group is given a task to solve the same problem.

2) Teams identify the actions they would take to solve this problem. 

3) Each team presents its “solution” to other teams and a panel. As participants listen to the presentation, they are exposed to different ways to solve a problem. 

4) If facilitated well, this project can be an extremely powerful experience for the students.

As an educator, I believe that the experiences and opportunities we give to each student will shape their learning, their achievement and the development of their personality. Also, teaching and learning is a lifelong process, and we teachers learn quite a lot from self-reflection and student feedback.

2 comments

  1. This in an interesting list of instructional practices, but somewhat misleading. For example: inquiry-based, problem-based and collaborative learning are all different types of constructivist paradigm, because they all focus on supporting students’ knowledge construction. An important part of all instruction is to provide learners with concept hierarchies or taxonomies to organize the information. The transition from behaviorism to constructivism is very important, because permanent and life-long learning requires active participation from students.
    The next step is to engage in truly learner-centered practices where we: a) include learners in decisions about how and what they learn and how that learning is assessed (b) value each learner’s unique perspectives (c) respect and accommodate individual differences in learners’ backgrounds, interests, abilities, and experie nces, and (d) treat learners as co-creators and partners in the teaching and learning process. https://www.apa.org/education/k12/learners

    To advance our own teaching skills, it is very important to focus on all three parts of teachers’ pedagogical knowledge! https://notesfromnina.com/2018/09/08/teachers-pedagogical-knowledge/
    🙂
    Nina

    Like

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