For the past year or two I have been struggling with the notion of “homework”. I changed the word to “home learning” and began trying to set learning at home for my students, around our inquiries. I stopped printing worksheets and began sending learning home online which mostly involved using online tools and our class blog. I felt more comfortable about this but not entirely.
On my recent trip to NIST in Bangkok they are trialling a meaningful way for their pupils to think about learning at home. I think I have finally found something that I have been thinking about for ages. Authentic, purposeful thinking to be done at home centered around learning. It is called a Learning Log.
This is how it works. Each week the children receive a mostly blank piece of A3 paper with a big question like: Can organisation create happiness or what does organisation look like? They are also free to ask their own questions around the learning. The learning is tagged with the transdisiplanary theme, concepts, presentation criteria etc. I came accross this idea of tagging learning at a recent TeachMeet here in Melbourne and am now realising its power. With the use of tags kids have Big Ideas which they can hook their learning onto. Learning then becomes trans-disciplinary and open.
At the back of the same sheet are:
A concentric circle model starting with me in the centre, going out to friends, family , other people and experts.
The Ice Berg model also features on this side. The kids know that they have to get below the water to make connections, look for different perspectives, ask more questions.
These are both used as a form of assessment. Kids get feedback from the models and a short comment written by the teacher. From these, they form goals for the next week. Sam encouraged me to look at the children’s learning and give them feedback. The way the kids made use of the space on the paper was unbelievable. Each child used their own learning style to present their learning. I saw graphic organisers, drawings, photos, bubbly thoughts etc. I was blown away by the authenticity and perspectives given to the children by the adults around them.
When the sheets are returned kids give kids feedback. Sam explained how to give meaningful feedback after he listened to kids conversations. He made a beautiful analogy of sweet feed back using a honey jar and sour feedback using a lemon. One child said “to get delicious feedback you need a balance of the two”. So it was, that the feedback in the room became known as “Delicious Feedback”. The learning is then displayed in the room.
For now I think my search for authentic Home Learning is over. I am excited to implement this in my classroom.