Students need to struggle (and enjoy) working things out for themselves
At Dane Court we have been interested for sometime in the notion that students engaged in active learning may have found the key to helping themselves become more confident in their ability.and ambitious about what they can achieve in education and in life. I have long been a fan of John Hattie and his 'distillation of 800 pieces of international educational research' into effective teaching and learning. His research identifies that a teacher's goal should be to consider:
'It is what learners do that matters. The aim is to make students active in the learning process until they reach the stage where they become their own teachers.'
It is important therefore for students to become aware of the best way, as individuals, they learn. This requires teachers to use a variety of teaching models and ask students to consider which models help them to achieve. Student self-reflection is hugely important if learners are to be active in their learning. as is an ability to become an expert in assessing their own work and the work of their peers. This means that teachers need to let their students into the 'secret' of assessment criteria and help them apply this to their own work.
We have found students love to mark their own work, apply marking criteria and then identify their own targets for improvement. We have found, along with many schools across the country, that students become experts in assessment surprisingly quickly which builds their confidence and of course, their desire to learn and challenge themselves further.
Recently, I have enjoyed watching students design mini lessons which they then delivered to the rest of the class. There is nothing that clarifies the mind more than when you know you have to stand up in front of intelligent people, sound expert and actively engage them! Further, in my experience, when you ask groups of students to design exam tasks and question, they come up with excellent and challenging ideas whilst becoming completely conversant with the expectations and demands of examination papers in a particular subject.
These are all active learning strategies and we mean to keep on developing these ideas.