I am a Year One teacher teaching Bahasa Melayu and Mathematics. The strategy that I chose is individual learning. Dealing with pupils at the age of seven can be very challenging. They come from different background and their ability varies. Most of the times I need to use English as the medium of communication. The pupils are energetic, playful, curious, funny and innocent. Teaching these children gives me a sense of satisfaction as they are unique in their own way. Most of the time, I use explanation as my teaching method and children learn in whole class activities. In this particular lesson, I conducted individual learning as I believe pupils have been exposed to the topic in pre-school and enhancement through previous lesson.
Individual learning is children learn at their own pace with teacher's minimal guidance. It benefits pupils which abilities differ as some of them had minimal pre-school education. Penn (1995) cited "even though studies suggest there might be wash-out effect, but there may be immediate differences in starting school. I will let pupils to explore the topic by themselves as Edwards and Mercer (1987) lament there is evidence in common knowledge by that teachers tend to dominate what happens in the classroom that prevent children to become less independent. (Dean:1992)
In order to complete task, pupils will ask question. I will explain "what" and "how" questions whereas pupils will learn to ask better question as Fisher (1995) says they move to "why" and "what for" questions that trigger more complex responses from the teacher. More often than not, I always ended up asking closed ended questions. With individual learning, I train pupils to ask good questions that provides intellectual challenges according to Bloom's taxonomy of teaching skills, that move from simple knowledge / recall questions through questions that ask for comprehension / explanation, and application, then analysis / synthesis, and evaluation as explained by Fisher (1995) which also defined a good question fits into a pattern that offer progressive and productive challenge to learning. Hence I support Bruner's idea of "scaffolding to new learning."
This individual learning is associated to discovery learning defined by Ausubel (1968)-the content of what is to be learned has first to be discovered by the pupils through some learning activities which Gagne, Ausubel and Bruner lament it enables the changes in behaviour resulting from the learning to be demonstrated in Kyriacou (1997) work and it increases activities towards long term memory. Learning independently promotes creative thinking as Fisher (1995) says "Creativity is needed in learning is that intelligence alone is not sufficient to realise learning potentialâ€¦ Creative or divergent thinking offers the chance to see more in any situation further supports Piaget statement "to understand is to invent".
Individual learning also suggests healthy competition in any conscious mind by Dean (1992) that says "Children will create competition of their ownâ€¦ most likely to work well." Kyriacou (1997) further states existence of increasing in intrinsic motivation and interest in the task itself and also satisfaction being gained from the task, theory recognised by Gagne, Ausubel and Bruner.
Implementation of the Chosen Strategy
The activity was conducted in classroom entitled "Sketching from Basic Shapes." I prepared the blank sketching A4 papers and a set of marker pens. I started by briefing the pupils. They need to prepare in advance their colouring tools and accessories to complete this task. Later, I drew the four mentioned shapes on the white board. I made effort to request pupils to name and spell the shapes. I helped pupils to elicit characteristics of those shapes - corners, sides, and faces as a whole class activity.
Next, I opened to the floor for questions. Pupils started to give their opinions, asking for consents and ideas. I gave some suggestions. I distributed blank papers to each pupil. Pupils started to sketch. I walked around to monitor pupils' progress and conducted low profile intervention to make sure everyone has started. I found that some pupils did not have any ideas about the task and copying from peer happened. I intervened and gave some of them the new sheet of paper to make them re-do the task.
Some of the pupils understood well and can complete task faster. Thus, I took opportunity to match those pupils that already finish in advance to their classmates that were still on the initial stage in pairs to help the slow progressing pupils.
Evaluation of the Implementation
Pupils are not creative enough to think out of box, creating 2-D sketching from basic shapes. They can think of objects with basic shapes like just television and just bus, but find it hard to imagine objects with combinations of basic shapes. Some pupils have less experience to handle the task alone as I requested different ideas from each child and no work should be the same. But I still found that some pupils totally loss of idea and try to do the same as other child. They are more prone to reception learning as they are being told "Teacher will and should teach you." This is the typical belief of every parent where I too believe that children need more guidance in the early stage.
They show lack of interest and low desire to make the work perfect unless to the point where I promise to lend them marker pen, they show some eagerness to perform on the task. I realise the stimulus is very much needed like reward and to show them some best works so that they have the belief "I can do that!" However, I only have limited marker pens.
My tables' arrangement is ideal for individual learning or pair work, but this will only benefits pupils who can work alone, but not the attention seeker. The latter will always find excuses to walk around to ask me and their classmates. When I walk around, I make effort to stop at each pupil, to comment on the child's work and to suggest enhancement. Some pupils did perfectly and thus they have more idle time. I told them to coach the slow progressing ones.
Implications for Future Practice
I will encourage the pupils to questions in a group as questioning among peers is most likely to happen. Therefore I will still conduct individual learning but I will change the table arrangements to become four in a group so that the pupils can share, display and discuss among themselves. Coming across difficult and worth sharing questions, I will gather variety of responses and have a whole class discussion when it is time to present their work in the next lesson.
I might tackle low progressing pupils to be in the same group as they can receive partial reception learning where I display basic framework as guidance for them but requiring them to adapt and put some final touches. This I will see more pupils learning by their own and become independent.
To solve the problem of fast progressing pupils, I might as well plan from 2-D sketching to 3-D modelling from clay meaning I facilitate transfer of learning to higher level closer to real-life setting. I will need perhaps more than 40 minutes which requires detailed planning in the future along with maximum learning time and quality instructions. I should always have back-up plan in case of pupils finishing task earlier than expected.
Summary of Main Findings
Individual learning is one of the teaching strategies where I talk less and pupils explore to prove their learning. Pupils will find this challenging as they need to solve the problem by their own especially the low slow learner. When I use this teaching strategy, I need to make sure that the task is manageable by the pupils which I had covered the introduction in previous lesson and they will need to explore further into application. Pupils need to ask questions in order to complete task and learn to ask better questions to solve problems.
This teaching strategy promotes creative thinking and healthy competition among peers. However, during implementation I faced several problems like different pupils finishes the task at different pace, some were out of task and doing other activities and some still struggling in first stage. I should have conducted the arrangement in groups based on individual learning so that I can foresee the pupils' movement better. On the other hand, there will be interaction between classmates that also see the exchanging of ideas and the lesson will be more attractive.
Blake, D. (1994) Quality Assurance in Teacher Education. A Case Study. Quality Assurance in Education. MCB University Press. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09684889410054554. Accessed on 19 October 2012.
Blake, D. and Lansdell, J. (2000) Quality in initial teacher education. Quality Assurance in Education. MCB University Press. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09684880010325501. Accessed on 19 October 2012.
Dean, J. (1992) Organizing Learning in the Primary School Classroom. (2nd Edition). London: Routledge.
Fisher, R. (1995) Teaching Children to Learn. Cheltenham: Stanley Thornes.
Fisher, R. (1995) Teaching Children to Learn. Cheltenham: Stanley Thornes Ltd.
Kyriacou, C. (1997) Effective Teaching in School. (2nd Edition). Cheltenham: Stanley Thornes.
Kyriacou, C. (1997) Effective Teaching in School: Theory and Practice. (2nd Edition). Cheltenham: Stanley Thornes.
Kyriacou, C. (1998) Essential Teaching Skills. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes.
Penn, H. (1995) Nursery education: what is it for? International Journal of Educational Management. MCB University Press. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09513549510088444. Accessed on 19 October 2012.
Weston, R. (1997) Dealing with discipline problems. Health Education. MCB University Press. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09654289710155873. Accessed on 19 October 2012
Duration: 40 Minutes
Subject: Mathematics Year 1 (Conducted in Bahasa Malaysia) Age: 7
Topic: Sketching of 2-D model from basic shapes - triangle, square, rectangle, and round
1) Pupils able to recognise basic shapes - triangle, square, rectangle, and round
2) Pupils able to elicit the characteristics of basic shapes.
3) Pupils able to sketch pictures using basic shapes and colour it.
1) Teacher started by briefing the pupils about lesson of the day. Teacher draws basic shapes on the board. Ask student to spell out the shapes as a whole class learning (2 min). Teacher helps pupils to elicit characters of those shapes - corners, sides, and faces. (2 min)
2) Teacher explains the task of the day as individual task. Pupils are required to create a 2-D model of a sketch of anything using those basic shapes only. Teacher opens to the floor for questions. (4 min)
3) Teacher distributes blank papers to each pupil. Pupils start sketching. Teacher walks around to monitor pupils' progress and conduct low profile intervention. (25 min)
4) Teacher to collect pupils' works by the end of the lesson.
Resources: A4 papers, marker pens.