Friday, 8 May 2015

beginning BLP

Week 2 Term 2 - Introducing Absorption
In class development
We have decided to introduce the students to an aspect of BLP each week.  We initially considered 1 per fortnight, however at that rate it would take into term 1 next year to get through them all.
One per week will be difficult I think, but if we can manage to demonstrate how they fit together it should be ok.
Absorption was a tricky one to start with.  I began by introducing the fact that we would be looking at an aspect each week and gave the students a chance to discuss what they thought absorption might mean.  Some did reach the idea that cloths, sponges, and mops were absorbent and they 'sucked water up'.  So I used that analogy to explain that they were the water and the learning was the sponge - and they needed to get sucked into their learning so they were caught up in it.  Most seemed to understand what I was meaning and related it to being caught up in a good book or movie and you didn't hear what was happening around you.  We discussed how we needed to be on the look out for classmates (and ourselves) getting absorbed into our learning.  
This proved difficult.  After a long weekend the students were chattier than usual and found it difficult to settle into their work, let alone get absorbed!  We did have a few examples though.  At the end of the day we discussed if they managed to get absorbed or not.  Most were honest about not being able to and why they weren't - main reason... too much to talk about!  So I asked what could they do to change that and consider their actions, and their environment.  They concluded that they should be taking more responsibility to tell people to stop talking, and to stop distracting others by talking.  They also suggested some changes to the room layout (which they set up last term) that they thought would make it easier to stay focused.  
A couple of students turned up at 4pm to start changing the room around.
Day 2 was a slight improvement - the students enjoyed the new larger quiet area and having the teaching table away from it.  While they were a little more on task, absorption in learning was still difficult to see in action.
The other classes had used similar strategies.  Ingrid's class seemed to have more success in staying absorbed in their learning than mine did.  I think given some more time and reviewing the usual class expectations will assist the understanding (and use) of this concept.

Next week focuses on Managing Distractions - this will be a great follow on to our first concept.

Whole school development
We discussed the introduction of Absorption in staff meeting including what our understanding of the concept was, how we introduced it, and how successful our class was.  I provided some video links for staff to listen to Guy Claxton and Carol Dweck to use as review and support and building our understanding of BLP and improving our practice to improve student outcomes.

We also discussed the next aspect - Managing distractions and how that may be introduced and implemented.  The suggestion of playing quiet music ( mellow jazz) was interesting to all and is one that I would like to try, and get students to reflect on it's effectiveness.  An example of this was seen by Ingrid and myself in Bromely School where they were using Reggio Emilia to inspire their teaching and learning in the junior classes.

After the staff meeting I thought about the fact that so far we have introduced, or are introducing new concepts and expectations for our students - but not yet for ourselves.  I don't think that we will be successful in implementing long term change without revamping what we expect of our selves.  Based on that I sent out the week 4 and 5 concept sheets for the students along with pages explaining how teachers build learning power.  These will be discussed at our next meeting.

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