dimarts, 30 d’octubre de 2018

Let's talk methodology

Rosa Sensat (1914), one my favourite Catalan educationalist from Escola Nova movement, says that in life knowing how to use knowledge in daily life is more important than the acquisition of knowledge.  Her methodology has an important role in our pedagogy. Lessons normally begin with a conversation following a specific order: first we use our senses, children touch and observe things; second we find out what previous knowledge they have through appropriate questioning; third, through indirect suggestions we discover together what should we know more about the topic. A lesson is often a project, in the class we design a plan, a syllabus to be executed in a short period of time. There is a question, there is dialogue and there is discussion about the selection of resources and different courses of action. The class can then take place beyond the school if necessary, in a museum, in the forest or under a tree thereby promoting context and meaning in the topic environment.  'The lessons that students learn in the playground are more useful than the lessons we teach them in the class,' (Rousseau, 1762).

diumenge, 30 de setembre de 2018

Guerrilla Learning

Guerrilla Learning: How to give your kids a real education with or without school
is the provocative title of an amazing book written by Grace Llewellyn nearly 20 years ago. Llewellyn is both a teacher and a researcher. She considers that school is a waste of time and that students learn better when they are self-motivated and not locked inside the school walls. Llewellyn is well known in the homeschooling world. However, she prefers to use the term ‘unschooling’ as she considers that homeschooling denotes moving the school to the home. She defines unschooling as a learning method that has no formal structure or curriculum vitae.

What can we learn from her Guerrilla Learning as a school? Llewellyn challenges students to turn off the television, go abroad, visit libraries, museums, use internet and other resources to research and learn. She mentions five keys essentials for the learning process. These are: opportunity, time, interest, freedom and support. 

Having access to reading, writing, dialogue, arts, mathematics and logic, science and nature, the community and the future. Immersion in knowledge and culture.
This refers to cognitive age and to respect of each child’s developmental rhythm. Vygotsky would define this as working within the zone of proximal development.
We don't have to motivate children to learn different concepts and skills and expect them to show interest. We need to wait, as motivation should arise from the children, not from the teacher. When a child is motivated by something then it is the right time to learn.
Giving children freedom so they can choose when, how and what to learn, following their own rhythms and interests, allowing themselves to self-regulate without imposing our schedules, timetables and demands.
When it is needed and requested, providing materials, resources, explanations, celebrating their mistakes, successes and especially - the most important - witnessing their success.

We can observe these five keys in our life and in the life of our children.

dijous, 21 de juny de 2018

Summer Performance

We have enjoyed so much the last performance. The children have been doing very well. Enjoy the show and see you next september.

dissabte, 5 de maig de 2018

Synonyms flowers

This week in English, the children have been writing their non-fiction reports about electricity. They have been writing them in neat with pictures, captions and labels and will be thinking about the layout of their reports before it goes up on display. 
We have begun learning about Van Gogh this week. Did you know that he painted around 2000 paintings but only sold one whilst he was alive? We looked at and discussed his most popular pictures and talked about which one we liked the most. Vincent Van Gogh used to paint pictures of things he saw in his dreams so we had a go at doing some pictures of our dreams too! Next week we will continue with this theme and eventually paint our own ‘Starry Night’ pictures!
The older children consolidated their knowledge of decimals and column subtraction through mathematical problems involving money. We studied word problems and learned the invaluable lesson of looking closely at what the question asks us. 
This proved useful for our Cambridge exams which all the older children took part in this week. Well done to everyone for completing all six tests, it's not an easy thing to do! 
In English, we learnt about synonyms, these are groups of words that all have the same meanings as each other. We made synonym flowers for one of our classroom displays and played synonym card games with Markus. 
Finally, we were introduced to our new topic: The Romans. All the children are really excited to begin several new and interactive projects to work on for this exciting theme.

dijous, 29 de març de 2018

Working in pairs in a multi-level class

In a traditional classroom the teacher controls the class and there isn't a very active role for the students. 
Working in pairs makes students autonomous learners, they work collaboratively for their own learning. The classroom is transformed to a place where learners come together for interaction and can learn in a more natural way. According to recent research carried out by Domingo (2014) it has been shown that multi-level class and working in pairs its successful and beneficial for pupils. The older students have to prepare either an activity, workshop or topic, they have to design, prepare and find the resources and they have to manage the small group learning process. The teacher becomes an observer and helper of all the different groups running table to table. 
The older students are fully motivated to prepare their group, they are learning while they are planning the activity and doing research. During the class all of the students have an active role, the younger students are amazed by their also young teachers, they keep a high concentration during the activity. Once the workshop is done the learning group moves to another table to start a new activity, making the class very exciting and keeping motivation for the full session. In these classrooms we have been working as scientists with microscopes, electric circuits, we have been learning songs, drama, maths, solving problems, phonics, arts and crafts activities and we done experiments like the ants restaurant. 
These classes give a good opportunity for reinforcing learning and strengthening knowledge with all the class-mates improving their social skills. 

dilluns, 5 de març de 2018

Pedagogical contributions of Homeschooling

It is a big challenge to create a new school, especially when I have been so critical of other schools, curriculums and the acquisition of knowledge in traditional learning. A few years ago I had to homeschool my children because I didn’t agree with any of the schools and methods I had around. Most of them treat children like empty glasses that they have to fill up with concepts and information day after day for the full academic year. That’s how I became interested in the homeschooling movement. I have analysed in depth the benefits of homeschooling to transfer them into the classroom: this kind of education shows us a new approach to teaching and learning that can benefit the education system. The pedagogical qualities of this phenomenon are of great interest for educational research due to innovative solutions with attention to diversity, the participation of families in the school and the educational quality. ICT tools are also helping in this new movement too: ICT are new tools and especially a new field of learning. In EEUU some schools are offering their lessons online, so to attend the school in person is not compulsory anymore, you can learn by joining online or in virtual schools. It’s a new dimension called Flexischooling. ICT help us to personalise education thanks to several educational applications, programs and the constant communication between teachers, students and family. Families have strong responsibilities within their children's academic and personal achievements, the families are learning together, learning is a matter of life and they don’t separate living of learning. Education is a matter of love too, as family bonds are strength. School should promote these family bonds in the class too, parents are an essential part of the school life. In the school we are trying to implement this new approach and benefits from homeschooling encouraging the participation of the familiesin the school life, , presentation of projects, school trips, small class sizes and the use of ICT tools to personalise education.

diumenge, 18 de febrer de 2018

Working experience

Our rural school is a small scale school in a rural environment. Its main wealth is the active social function that develops within the life of the village. Being in a more familiar and quiet environment, the school opens up to the town and the town welcomes the school. This way, the market, trades, shops, and craftsmen are part of the team that teaches and educates the children. This is the natural continuity of academic to professional education, the school does not separate children from society and adult life, but prepares them from very young age to direct immersion into real life. Because what else are they studying and preparing for? This month at school we have put into practice this immersion with the experience of work practices. The students have chosen which profession they wanted to know in depth and thanks to the companies and small business collaborators of the town, it has been made possible. All children liked the work experiences so much that next month they want to repeat the activity again ! Who knows, maybe in future we can transform the classroom into workshops, instead of pencils and rubbers we can use tools, pneumatics, pipes, wires, saucepans, casseroles, hairdryers, sewing machines, and so on…!