As part of her 'Manglish' workshop at a Pedagoo 'Love Libraries' TeachMeet, AST Leader Lisa Ashes demonstrated a fun collaborative learning method called 'Thought Bombing' which teachers can use when there are multiple concepts or ideas that need to be considered. Each 'bomb' is a minituare sized hollow where slips of paper are put in describing one aspect of the subject, and is stuck to the relevant part of a picture.
Instead of forcing children to learn ideas, we like this idea because they are actively taking the 'bomb' from the picture and learning from it - which in essence is motivating them to do individual research and analysis, while collaborating at the same time.
As I am still working on the book version of my new 'Manglish' workshop, I will avoid writing about the ins and outs of it and instead share with you one simple idea for encouraging effective communication. This idea seemed to go down very well both in Edinburgh and at the recent TeachMeet English in Leeds so I thought it might be well worth sharing.
Below is a generic example of an exercise that you could base your own ideas for thought bombing on. This example could be translated into introducing characters from novels or poems (English); exploring the lives and decisions of historical figures (History); looking at cause and consequence (PHSE); Exploring bodily functions (Biology). The list goes on.
The idea is that pupils are given a small amount of information to get them hooked and then the thought bombs are thrown in to 'blow their minds'.
In his latest blog post, English teacher Adam Lewis describes an innovative yet stunningly simple method students can use to ensure they are improving in the actual areas where they need to improve. The so-called 'scaffolds' that Adam writes about are the tools a student may or may not need to answer a question and can 'bet' on, such as working with a partner, but there's a catch - each scaffold is 'priced' accordingly to how objectively useful it is and, if chosen, will cost the student marks at the end of their answer. We think it's an ingenious method for students to help them discover their own individual strengths and weaknesses, and we encourage you to read Adam's post in full below.
I'm afraid I do like a flutter but, as a teacher, I can't afford to spend more than a few pennies (literally) each week. I decided to introduce this idea to the classroom. I've only used this in my Year 12 English Language class but I expect it could be easily applied to most classes and would result in interesting conversations in most contexts.
It allowed my Year 12 class, who have target grades from A-D, to choose the differentiation they required. Each scaffold was given 'a mark'. These scaffolds included being given the mark scheme, getting examiner comments about successful responses and working in a pair. There were about ten different scaffolds available and each scaffold would cost the students marks in their final mark for the question from 2 marks for the least useful scaffold to 20 marks for the most useful.
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