Friday, August 29, 2008

Learning Journey

Next week we will be having a Learning Journey at our school. Learning Journeys are a bit like an open house, where parents come in to see what their children have been learning. The difference is that the children plan what they will show their parents, and reflect on their learning prior to the visit. For teachers, the most difficult part of the Learning Journey is the preparation - on the actual day, it's all up to the students to run the show.

So, what do we teachers do to prepare?

If the school also has portfolios for collating student work, the portfolio is generally 'on display' for the Learning Journey. This allows students to access this information to show their parents as well.

All the relevant work that students have done needs to be displayed attractively in the classroom, and usually labelled with a poster outlining the task of the activity.

Parents don't want to spend an hour wading through their child's bookwork. They want to explore learning with their child. This means making sure that there are some hands on activities for parents and children to get involved with. These might be Maths or Literacy games you use in class or Science experiments.

As many of our classes now have Smart Boards, we want to make use of these during our Learning Journey. Teachers may need to update their "MyClasses" page or prepare a slideshow of digital photographs taken during the year. This helps parents to see their children in "action" on an ordinary school day.

Marking Books
If students finish showing their parents all their work early, they may want to show them some of their bookwork. For teachers, this means checking that the marking is up to date. Some activities are easier to mark as you go along than others. Marking books can often be a tedious and frustrating job to catch up on. A nice idea is for students to annotate their best work in their books with a star post-it note. This is a great tool for helping students to reflect on their learning.

Prior to the Learning Journey, it is important for students to make invitations for their parents and take these home. It helps to have an RSVP slip somewhere on the invitation so that you can monitor who will be coming. Some follow up is usually necessary as the day approaches to ensure that all students will have someone to share their learning journey with.

Learning Journey Map
My students usually create a plan of what they will show their parents when they arrive. This is a list of between 5 and 8 things that will help them get started. Once they have explained these items, they can go over other items they would like to show. I usually choose a few items from each of the Key Learning Areas and allow my students to choose one one of these items from each KLA. This way, students have some choice in what they would like to show.

Practice Run
I usually find some time for my class to run through what they will do in their Learning Journey. If you have an older buddy class, this works really well with them. It helps students to think about what they would like to share, and gets rid of any pre-day jitters.

As much work as they are to prepare, it feels great to see it all happening on the day. I get my camera out and snap shots of my kids as they talk their parents through their learning. It's great to catch them explaining what they've learnt, and to realise that it has actually sunk in! For the rest of the day, the kids feel great. They are proud of themselves for all they've learnt, and they have enjoyed showing it all off to their parents.

1 comment:

  1. If you want to teach, you must know how students think. See "Teaching and Helping Students Think and Do Better" on amazon.


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