Today I had the pleasure of meeting and working with over 50 teachers from SMK Bandar Damansara Utama (4).
Ms Yoong and I facilitated a workshop as part of their professional development day held at Taylor’s College. It is always so refreshing to meet teachers from our feeder schools and learn about each other’s practices.
Today’s session focused on Engaging Classroom Environments using cooperative learning and blended learning techniques. We were armed with 60 iPads for the occasion!
We started out with some “Getting to Know You” activities. We learned that almost all of us are regular facebook users and visit the internet daily. Approximately one third of the teachers use the internet with their students. We also discovered some artists among the group, as evident in the self portraits that were created.
Creating an engaging classroom environment is an absolute necessity for today’s learners. Lessons that start with learning outcomes that are shared with the students can engage them by providing a target. When students understand what the intended outcome is they are able to monitor their own learning and take responsiblity for it. Teachers can carefully plan learning outcomes that are easy for the student to understand, are measurable, and are connected to previous learning. In today’s workshop we created learning outcomes by breaking them down into 3 parts: the stem; the verb; and the outcome. Each teacher folded a paper into a burrito fold (3 parts) and used the 3 columns created to write their learning outcomes. Some sample learning outcomes created in today’s workshop:
1. By the end of class students will be able to describe unimolecular and bimolecular reactions.
2. By the end of class students will be able to perform factorization of quadratics.
3. By the end of class students will be able to identify various computer applications.
Throughout today’s workshop we kept engaged in the learning via some cooperative learning strategies and group work. Each cluster of 4 people worked collaboratively as face partners, shoulder partners, and through ‘numbered heads’. Each group member was numbered 1, 2, 3, and 4, which made it easy to facilitate discussions as well as efficiently perform some classroom tasks (such as collecting iPads). Fun team activities like ‘balancing acts’ and ‘Take Off, Touch Down’, kept our oxygen flowing and energy level up.
The session ended with everyone becoming a ‘roving reporter’ and conducting interviews with one another to explore ideas they can use in their classrooms.
We sure hope everyone enjoyed themselves as much as Ms Yoong and I did. Learning together is such fun!