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Active Learning in History


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#16 Rachel Jones

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Posted 01 May 2004 - 04:05 PM

For continuity's sake, I'm adding this in here as well. (also to be found in the Diary here)

I decided to go for it again. Reading Dan's reply above made me think that maybe it was worth giving it another go after having put all the evaluations and suggestions into place.

Brought the pupils out to the front and gave them all roles to play from the Glorious Revolution. Again, it took a lot of preparation (and quite a bit of nerve!) but I figured I was going in a bit better prepared this time. I also had to try again just to prove to myself that it was a one off before, and that I can do this, and it really does work.

It took the whole lesson so the next lesson was spent writing it up. The result of this write up was amazing. I was totally shocked by how much they had all picked up from the previous lesson. There was a four day break between the two lessons, two of which were a weekend, but still - it was there! They remembered it.

I took the books in to mark them, and I was just grinning like the Cheshire cat as I went through them. I'd never imagined that it would work quite so well.

Maybe Active Learning is the way to go after all!

Rachel.
Que sera, sera

#17 alison denton

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Posted 06 May 2004 - 06:06 PM

I decided to go for it again.  Reading Dan's reply above made me think that maybe it was worth giving it another go after having put all the evaluations and suggestions into place. 

The result of this write up was amazing.  I was totally shocked by how much they had all picked up from the previous lesson.  There was a four day break between the two lessons, two of which were a weekend, but still - it was there!  They remembered it. 

I took the books in to mark them, and I was just grinning like the Cheshire cat as I went through them.  I'd never imagined that it would work quite so well.

Maybe Active Learning is the way to go after all!

Rachel.

Go you!!!!!!!!

It DOES take for ever to refine such activities but the result is SOOOOOOOO worth it.

I only have to mention to my Y8 classes. 'You remember when we were Normans and Saxons...' and they all shout, 'when you ripped Barbie's head off Miss!' and they can remember everything about Je Suis le Roi from more than 18 months ago.

I think this is one of the biggest misunderstandings about teaching in this way - the pupils DO NOT NEED to be taught 'the knowledge and understanding' separately. Many teachers use active learning experiences as an add-on - a fun extra - after they've already taught the K&U. There is no need. The pupils need to learn through experience and be able to sort out for themselves what is important and relevant and they will learn far more if you set up the opportunity, then let them teach themselves and each other.

The reflection at the end is absolutely vital - they will all have learned slightly different things so let them all contribute to the benefit of the whole class. This is really the teacher and pupils doing the learning together. Learning isn't something teachers do to pupils like an operation.

#18 Jane Coley

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Posted 09 May 2004 - 03:57 PM

I have read with great interest the postings on this forum :D and I have found it really comforting to know that other people have difficulties in convincing colleagues in their schools that active learning really is the way forward! I believe that fear is a key determinant of teachers lack of receptiveness towards active learning methodology. They have employed didactic teaching methods for 25 years plus in some cases and new ideas are frightening and remove them from their comfort zone. With this in mind I have found that support is one way in, offering to run lessons for memebers of my department or team teach with them has alleviated some of their fears and allowed them to grow in confidence.
An example of this was the Tudoe Balloon Debate - I purposely made this acompulsory assessment in order to ensure that all members of the department had a go at it!

At the end of a series of lessons on the Tudors pupils are placed into 5 mixed ability groups and given a grid which contains a variety of categories that are applied to each of the Tudor Monarchs eg Personality, wars, finance etc.

In their groups pupils fill in the boxes - they are given autonomy over how they want to do this its interesting to watch the leaders emerge!

When all research has been completed pupils are given a monarch that they have to argue is the best and a monarch that they have to argue is the worst. Ultimately they are being assessed on skill 5 - communication and staff are given a proforma which explains the type of contributions that pupils have to give to achieve certain levels - sounds complicated but it isn't and the joy is that there areno written assessment to mark!! :D

Pupils are then given time to prepare their argument and they are encouraged to think of as many counter points as they can using their research grid to help them.

When the planning time is up each group picks a pupil to introduce the main core of their argument and then the debate ensues.
Time outs are given twice during the debate so groups can "regroup" their ideas and help out members of their team who may have only minimally contributed.

During the plenary session pupils write out 2 short passages to say who they think should remain in the balloon and who should be thrown out based on the arguments they have heard.

Pupils love it and for those who are not so good at writing this allows them to verbally express their ideas and be awarded a level for it. :teacher:

(Tip - rewards eg lolly pops for the group that behaves the best AND works as a supportive inclusive team - you would be surprised at the power of a 3p lolly!!)

I am currently leading and managing a whole school project to tie in with the key stage 3 strategy to promote pupil centred learning. Over the next term I have teams of cross curricula staff involved in observations of active learning lessons to aid the promotion of it within their departments. I shall let you know how it progresses!

Despite all the constraints active learning is an excellent way to encourage pupils to really achieve their learning potential and to really enjoy their lessons. However we are not superhuman so I have this year tried to rotate through the yeargroups that I teach a timetable of really good active lessons, I may focus on Year 9 one week and then Year 7 and so on. That is not to say that my other lessons do not have elements of active learning, pupil questioning, starters, discussion work etc are intrinsic but to varying degrees.

Keep experimenting it is clearly leading to excellent lessons and pupil resonses.

Jane C

#19 Dan Moorhouse

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Posted 04 June 2004 - 10:30 AM

A group of our 8 sudents participated in a 3 days long living history experience last weekend. The group were taken to Castle Bolton in Wensleydale, kitted out in Civil War costumes and given a range of roles to perform during their stay. Covered a range of activities from working in the kitchen preparing meals as they would have been prepared at the time, reenacting the siege of the Castle, looking at a few forms of entertainment and hands on investigations into military tactics and training.

Photos from the event can be found here.

A few movie clips were taken as well:

http://www.schoolshi.../Movie_0001.wmv

http://www.schoolshi.../Movie_0002.wmv

http://www.schoolshi.../Movie_0003.wmv

http://www.schoolshi.../Movie_0004.wmv

http://www.schoolshi.../Movie_0005.wmv

Not exactly something that can be reproduced easily in the classroom :( I'd certainly recommend this type of event to everyone though. Only cost 30 per pupil including overnight stays inside the castle, all food and drink (including the ale for teachers :D ), the use of all the castles facilites, the clothing and access to a dozen or so fantastic reenactors who stayed with us and led events all weekend.

#20 Karen Miller

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Posted 11 June 2004 - 11:51 AM

There are some places that will do activities like this on a day trip. I think one was Gawethorpe Hall near Burnley but they are more geared to primary. I'm lucky enough to have a parent who is a member of Sealed Knot who's been into my Year 8 lessons this year with weapons and armour and costumes for them to try on. The demonstration of battle surgery was particularly informative! He tells me Sealed Knot has to do such visits as they are a charity. He did 4 visits totally free of charge and the pupils loved dressing up as soldier and camp follower. Might be worth investigating elsewhere.
I have done some active learning but want to do more. I find the planning is the problem I have and getting time to get all the resources together. At the moment I'm trying to finish year 9 off by using the BBC investigation into war around the world and getting the pupils in pairs to look at one of the 16 wars going on to produce a report for the rest of the class. This will be a news story, as they have on BBC, investigating a particular issue. However, it is taking a lot of research, downloading and typing which I'm willing to do as this group is always responsive to this sort of activity. SFE have just got Phil Smith to do a CDROM exciting history so I'm going to investigate what that contains. I've done some wotk with Phil before for TLF.
I'll keep trying as I enjoy it so much when the activity goes right.
karen
Such is life!

#21 Stevie G

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Posted 24 March 2006 - 03:43 AM

I have read this seminar with immense interest. As an ESL teacher in Japan I am absolutely convinced about the vital importance of Active Learning to the learning experience. I have been fortunate to teach at a college which has given me absolute freedom to teach in a variety of ways. I have used active learning type exercises extensively and have to say all of my best classes have been ones which have used these methods. I admit that the use of roleplays etc is something which lends itself naturally to learning a language and so is particularly useful for teaching English as a foreign langauge but in no way do I believe that it can't be extremely effective across a range of subjects , especially history.

As someone who is soon hoping to move into the history teaching field back in the UK I am extremely excited about the development and use of these techniques in the history classroom. Although I loved history at school I can't remember ever doing roleplays etc . This is a shame as I'm sure I would have found it inspiring and I'm sure some of the less motivated students would have also been engaged too.

So I am really keen to try to employ these methods myself in the history classroom in the future. However I wonder how many teachers use these methods at the start of their careers. I can see from reading this forum that a great deal of classroom control is required to use these methods effectively. These are skills which are developed over time. I wonder if PGCE students have been brave enough to try these methods? What about teachers in their first year? I can understand older teachers finding it difficult to change their teaching methods when they have been in the field for years. Although they are probably the ones who are the most capable to pull off successfull lessons due to their experience of handling and controlling the classroom. What about newer teachers? I would be interested to hear forum members thoughts on this.

#22 Dan Moorhouse

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Posted 24 March 2006 - 07:51 AM

PGCE students do attempt this type of exercise - and should be encouraged to use the techniques.

http://thinkinghistory.co.uk/ includes lots of Active learning ideas and it's primarily aimed at PGCE students, their University based tutors and in school mentors. Ian Dawson who runs the site was a PGCE tutor at Trinity and All Saints when I did my teacher training and exercises such as these were demonstrated regularly - and as someone who is hoping to be a PGCE student at TASC you'll need to beware of the norman invasion when its raining...

Several of the activities on thinkinghistory are written by PGCE students or NQT's. For example, http://thinkinghisto...ublichealth.htm was developed last year by one of the trainees in my department. He's now a member of staff in school and is using active learning reasonably frequently.

As you'll have seen in Rachel's posts earlier in this thread it can be quite difficult to get your head around the activities as an inexperienced or trainee teacher - but if you don't try it then, the odds are that you never will.

#23 Elle

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Posted 12 May 2006 - 11:22 AM

Like many teachers I have avoided the idea of active learning like the plague due to the high risk factor! However we currently have a PGCE student within the dept. and she is very keen on active learning in all shapes and forms. It has made me realise what a "predictable" teacher I am - the students arrive, sit down in rows, work silently and leave. So, inspired by the student I have done my first active learning lesson! It was a revison session for yr 11 taken from Ian Dawson's site - Germany 1918 - 1939 A living timeline. It worked very well and although the more keen students tended to dominate I think everyone got something out of it, and their reasoning was impressive too!

Therefore I am now a convert! And I am planning to try more active learning once the PGCE student has gone and I have my classes back.

:flowers: :flowers: :flowers:

You're scared of mice and spiders, but oh-so-much greater is your fear that one day the two species will cross-breed to form an all-powerful race of mice-spiders, who will immobilize human beings in giant webs in order to steal cheese.

 


#24 Dan Moorhouse

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Posted 12 May 2006 - 07:59 PM

Excellent!

#25 Dan Lyndon

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Posted 14 May 2006 - 06:07 PM

Excellent indeed, as I wrote the timeline for Ian's site, so really glad to hear that it worked out. Do you have any more feedback on how it went?
Until the lion has a historian of his own, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.
comptonhistory.com
blackhistory4schools.com

#26 Dan Moorhouse

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Posted 14 May 2006 - 07:33 PM

Elle - could you persuade the student to post her ideas and techniques in here? Would be good to add to the list and she'd be able to get some encouragement / feedback on the methods she uses.

#27 Elle

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Posted 15 May 2006 - 08:40 AM

I will mention it to her.

She did a really good lesson on the treaty of Versialles which involved setting up the classroom like a map of Europe, with different children representing differnt countries and terms, and then had them moving about to the right places, first with her instructing, and then again from memory. I know she did the "je suis le roi!" lesson also, and the teacher observing said it was fantastic, she has done modeling of sources as well.

She is very inspirational!


ETA - Dan, the lesson was excellent, having had two years (some have had five!) of my very 'safe' lessons I think yr 11 were delighted with what they were doing, although one of them did mutter about me being "unduly influenced by that other woman" ie the student. I think next time I do it, once we have things in order I might get some string and pegs so that we can stretch it out more without bumping into each other.

Edited by Elle, 15 May 2006 - 08:46 AM.

You're scared of mice and spiders, but oh-so-much greater is your fear that one day the two species will cross-breed to form an all-powerful race of mice-spiders, who will immobilize human beings in giant webs in order to steal cheese.

 


#28 Dan Lyndon

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Posted 15 May 2006 - 09:05 PM

I have just done it again with my Year 11s worked a treat, thanks for the feedback, glad you enjoyed the experience. There is a very similar activity for medicine on the website too if you do that.
Until the lion has a historian of his own, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.
comptonhistory.com
blackhistory4schools.com

#29 Elle

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 06:28 PM

I did the "Equiping a Roman Soldier" lesson from Ian's site the other day. I borrowed loads of stuff from the DT dept (saucepans, trays, large soup spoons, tinfoil etc) and hid it all round the classroom, and then produced it as if by magic! The class loved it, the got really involved, yelling out (eek!) suggestions as to what the soldier should be wearing and what I could use to make it. They then from memory listed everything in their books. I will quiz them next week to see what they have remembered, hopefully lots. I had a new member of the dept watch it, and I think she will be doing it next week. Hurrah for active learning!


ETA - I have just done done the Transport Revolution lesson, also from Ian's site. Again, it worked very well. I am beginning to enjoy this active learning malarky!

Edited by Elle, 09 October 2006 - 02:08 PM.

You're scared of mice and spiders, but oh-so-much greater is your fear that one day the two species will cross-breed to form an all-powerful race of mice-spiders, who will immobilize human beings in giant webs in order to steal cheese.

 





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