A visit to Panmure Bridge School

After trialling a writing strategy with my year 9 social studies class, I still needed to explore whether I was applying the strategy correctly and how students could use a writing strategy within their learning independently.  During the last week of term 2, one of my COLs colleagues Robyn Anderson invited me to see her LS2 class in action.  I was really excited at the chance!

The context that the students had been working on was on the 'Tamaki Wrap'.  I observed students move into groups to identify and summarise the main points of their learning and as they did so, they shared their 'learning talk' so I could hear what they thinking and doing.

Firstly students wrote down freely the key ideas that they had learnt previously (they would normally do this online, but because it was easier for me to see the bigger picture and roam around to see each of the groups, it was done on big realms of A3 paper which I appreciated).  Once the students wrote their own key points on the shared paper, they discussed the need to identify any similarities and differences in ideas by looking at each others notes.

Students sorting out similarities and differences of ideas.
Once they had sorted which were the key ideas and points, they created a summary of these ideas which was collaborative and succinct.  I found the discussions that the students had when creating these summaries invaluable in the fact that they needed to work together to achieve a common goal, something that I have yet to see with my year 9's.

I found observing how this writing strategy was used effectively in a classroom like Robyn's important in not just how students used the strategy, but the importance of a creating a learning environment whereby student agency is key.  What I saw was a collaborative learning environment between students and an established shared trust between the teacher and the students towards achieving common goals.  One of my key takeaways from this observation is that setting the culture of learning is important so that students believe that is the norm.

Students are able to articulate their learning.
Another key takeout for me is that the learning environment is explicit and 'in your face'.  On every wall space, there were words and phrases that reminded students of how to learn and what learning looks like.  Writing frameworks are spelled out in big writing, examples of sentence structures are provided, how to write a paragraph or what the writing process looks like is everywhere!  I know that by seeing it everywhere, students would benefit from it and it becomes their mantra!  The idea that the skill of learning is 'repetitive' and the more you see it, the more you know, the more you'd use it - I know this is what is missing on my classroom walls that's for sure!

'How' to learn is everywhere!
Students define what a learning conversation is which shows they own their learning!

Students add their examples on a learning matrix

Making connections in their learning.
Moving forward, I know that I want to use some of the ideas that I'd learnt from visiting Robyn and her lovely students to implement in my classroom practice because I see the wider benefits of students owning their learning more.  This makes me think more widely and deeply about the implications in my pedagogy and I will be reflecting more in finding out how this looks for my year 9 class.

(Robyn reflects on my visit)

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