A Teaching and Learning strategy intended to elicit the highest levels of student motivation

Since doing my MA I have read so much about teaching and learning strategies (did you know that the Russians have a word meaning both teaching and learning, one word? They are so intrinsically linked they don’t separate them) that my head is ready to burst. I’m ready to embark on an exciting piece of action research which has taken a while to develop and be approved and centred on talk.
Aside from the really big stuff, the stuff for essays and research, there’s been other, smaller, changes which I have introduced, one of which I wanted to share.
No hands up.
Wait! Before you click away or report me to Tom or Andrew just listen a bit.
I teach year two, there’s thirty in the class and they all have something to say. When hands up is allowed the children have two responses, they jump around like donkey in Shrek, making noises like an overexcited gibbon, or they lean slightly to one side so that I can’t see their face any more. This leaves me in a quandary. Do I choose the irritating one, eager to please, probably right, and confirm everything that the children think about me and what a good response is (short, correct), or do I choose one of the hidden ones who either doesn’t believe they can give me the responses I require, doesn’t want to speak because they are not sure, or feels intimidated by the others?
I explained to the children what I felt about hands up, we had a little chat about it, and then changed the rules. Children in my class do not raise their hands to speak in response to a query or question.
There are pros and cons to this approach, and it wasn’t easy. I have had to change the way in which I ask the children things, I now ask them to think about something rather than asking them what is, I give them more time to think (introducing the wonderful pose, pause, pounce, bounce terminology, thanks!) and often I do not respond to what they have said, as this further reinforces the idea that I have a particular answer or style of answer which is the correct one (I have also been reading rather a lot of Douglas Barnes, Robin Alexander and Vygotsky as you can probably tell).
What I have found so far is that children now enter far more into discussion with each other during carpet time, they respond to what each other have said, commenting upon it and making noises of agreement, far more like us adults do in our conversations. Children who previously have avoided talking about what they are learning are now joining in. I am able to notice more often who is understanding and who is presenting a half formed idea, and to create through talk the opportunity for that half formed idea to become definite.
I love it. It is hard, but as Barnes says far more eloquently than I:
“If a teacher stresses the assessment function at the expense of the reply function, this will urge his pupils towards externally acceptable performances, rather than towards trying to relate new knowledge to old….but when the teacher replies rather than assesses this encourages pupils when they talk and write to bring out existing knowledge to be reshaped by new points of view being presented to them.” (1976)
Old but relevant.

2 thoughts on “A Teaching and Learning strategy intended to elicit the highest levels of student motivation

  1. Pingback: February 2013 #blogsync: Classroom Action for Student Motivation EDUTRONIC | Share

  2. Pingback: February 2013 #blogsync: Classroom Action for Student Motivation EDUTRONIC | #blogsync

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