It seems incredible to someone who found it difficult to study even at University level that Study Skills are introduced in the lower secondary now. However, when discussing a lesson that my PLP (Personal Learning Planning) class were involved in today with a colleague, I think he is right in saying the earlier the better, because its not really about exams, its about taking responsibility for learning.
We had been discussing Study Skills and thought it would be interesting to take some familiar and less familiar techniques to revise the same block of text. It was a silly news story from the day about an accidental gunshot incident which resulted in some embarrasment for the person committing the crime. To indicate some of the variety of techniques, we had mindmaps, wordmats, mnemonics, audio memos, creating questions alongside reading notes and summary cards. The vital element here was that no one was working alone, which students had confirmed that they commonly do.
I left the exercise with the thought of coming back to it the following week. One thing led to another and, with Higher prelims interrupting my time with this class, I had to postpone. Two weeks and a half term later, I feared the worst for any retention. How wrong I was!
I was informed today that a 29 year old male, whose name escapes me, but not the class, had been practising with his girlfriends fathers gun for a forthcoming camping trip. This was in Loch Earn. Two men were on a nearby boat, Kyle Walker and Thomas Gilmour according to the class. A shot was fired by accident and hit the hull of the boat they were on. The perpetrator deeply regretted his actions but Sherrif Brown was not impressed and fined him £600! I couldn't believe how much had stuck and it was noticeable how confidence grew among the group as contributions were offered. I think the class were quite chuffed with themselves. I asked them if they thought they had been taught the content well. At first, a few nodded and then the realisation came that I had only facilitated their learning through my involvement in steering the groups. They had shown themselves to be successful learners despite no teacher led work and despite all taking different paths to recount a story. This led us into a discussion about whose responsibility it is to ensure achievement in academic pursuits. While teachers can clearly make a difference and have a huge responsibility to those that we teach, it was evident from the exercise that perhaps the person with most influence and, via this, the greatest responsibilities for learning are the students themselves. More than this, that responsibility is apparently best brokered when divided amongst the peer group.
Posted via email from Mr O'D's class posterous