Teaching Approach Impacts On Pupils Learning Education Essay

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The present work focuses on learning, i.e. how people especially pupils learn and how we, as teachers, can enhance such process. The aim of this work is two-fold: analyse how LT can help teachers being more effective in their profession, i.e. provide children with all necessary tools to be ready for their future citizenship; and, provide discussions and analysis referring to my observations during placement A. Concerning the first aim, an introduction and an analysis of the main theories concerning "learning", "learning styles", and "learning models" will be given [1] . As for the latter, an introduction to observation as a method of data collection will be given. Before going any further, two preliminary notes are worth mentioning: learning theories reflect specific psychological schools of thought; despite the fact that learning can happen in various ways, learning styles have rarely been included in learning models.

On learning

Before going any deeper into the discussion of the various learning theories and their influence on teaching, a brief though essential definition of what "learning" means is crucial at this point. Learning is a complicated concept, which includes various processes; broadly speaking, it is possible to define it as "any process that in living organism leads to permanent capacity change and which is not solely due to biological maturation or ageing" (Illeris, 2007:3), or as an enduring change in terms of the capacity of doing something.

Different learning theories have been proposed depending on different concepts of learning. At one side, we have theorists who have considered learning as a behaviour, i.e. something visible, that can be conditioned (behaviourism/neo-behaviourism); on the other, we have the theorists, mainly referred to as mentalist (cognitivists and constructivists among others [2] ) that consider learning as a mental/non-observable process [3] . Moreover, contrary to behaviourists, mentalists have a more holistic perspective of learning, i.e. an interactive activity that can be influenced both by external and internal factors such as personal feelings, environments, and learning styles for instance [4] .

According to advocates of behaviourism, learning is "defined simply as the acquisition of new behaviour as a result of experience" (Pritchard, 2009:8) and of the environment, through a conditioning process, i.e. behaviour is influenced by its antecedents but also by its consequences [5] ; [6] . With respect to the later type of conditioning, Behaviorists believed that reinforced behaviour (either by praise or rewards) tends to continue, while punished behaviours will eventually end.

The main attempt to adopt the behaviourism approach in teaching situations comes from B.F. Skinner. His main contributions are Verbal Behaviour (Skinner, 1957) and the Shaping technique [7] : gradually, any response can be learned. Once a simple response has been rewarded, trainers can make learners gradually produce more and more complex response by giving the same initial reward. In the 1950s, Bloom subdivided learning into three domains: cognitive, affective and psychomotor each of which presents a set of behaviour (learning objectives) which are hierarchical, i.e. taxonomy, "according to complexity and sophistication" (Jordan et al, 2008:27). Moreover, according to Bloom's mastery of learning model, within each domain' taxonomy, learning at the higher levels is dependent on having attained prerequisite knowledge and skills at lower levels (Orlich et al., 2004), i.e. students have to master each learning unit before proceeding to a more advanced one. A similar emphasis on the correct sequencing is at the basis of Gagné's approach too, which focuses on the idea that learning concerns five different human capabilities -verbal information, intellectual skills, cognitive strategies, attitudes and motor skills- and "on the importance of arranging stimuli to produce the most appropriate and desirable behavioural sequences" (Jordan et al. 2008:30). Moreover, the model outlines nine instructional events that should provide the necessary conditions for learning (Gagne et al.1992):

Teacher action

Learner response

1 Gaining learner's attention

2 Stating session (learning) objectives

3 Reminding what was done before

4 Highlighting key features

5 Structuring learning

6 Encouraging activity

7 Providing feedback

8 Evaluating progress

9 Enhancing attention and signaling future learning

1 Reception and attentiveness

2 Knowing what to expect

3 Stimulation of long-term memory

4 Perceiving what is important

5 Creating links and associations

6 Performing

7 Learning awareness and satisfaction

8 Strengthening learning through AFL

9 Gaining learning overview

Tab.1: internal processes and their corresponding instructional events based on Jordan et al. (2008:30)

According to mentalist approaches, learning is: an internal-to-the-learner process; built upon previous knowledge (Ausubel, 1968) [8] . Theorists such as Piaget, Vygotsky and Bruner claim that learners play an active role in the learning process; "student learns when she discovers her own answers, solutions, concepts (...) and creates her own interpretations" (Marlowe et al, 1998:12). Despite that, the above authors differ in their emphasis of the role of the social context, interaction, and cognitive growth.

According to Piaget, learning is the result of "the child moving through stages of thinking driven by an internal need to understand the world" (Capel et al. 2005:247). Central to Piaget's theory is the idea of children as sense-maker (Cameron, 2001) and equilibrium: children modify and adjust previously assimilated strategies and knowledge as a result of new unexpected experiences and information (disequilibrium) to make sense of what they see, i.e. to restore their internal equilibrium. According to Piaget's "developmental stage" theory, learning occurs in four age-related stages:

-sensorimotor stage

0-2 years old

-preoperational stage

2-7 years old

-concrete-operational stage

7-11 years old

-formal-operational stage

11+ years old

Tab.2 the developmental stages by Piaget

Piaget believed that: children will pass through these stages because their developing brains were more mature at a greater age than at an earlier stage; only concept appropriate to their current stage can be taught. Recent research studies have refuted the rigidness behind Piaget's idea that children have to be at a particular stage of development to be able to learn new concepts stage (Donaldson, 1978). Despite that, his idea about the sequences of learning is still valid; they can help teachers in evaluating appropriateness of the topics and material to use to meet a particular age group.

Similar to Piaget's idea of "sense-maker", Bruner proposed that: learning is goal-directed and driven by curiosity; the development of human intellectual functioning from infancy to adulthood is shaped by a series of technological advances in the use of mind (Bruner, 1964). Nevertheless, contrary to Piaget, Bruner developed a three-stages model of learning: knowledge acquisition, transformation, and review. Also fundamental in Bruner's approach is the idea that people must acquire three major intellectual skills for representing the world (Bruner 1966):




knowledge of how to do something


knowledge of the link between internal images and ideas


children represent experience through a range of symbolic systems

Tab.3: Bruner's representational modes based on Jordan et al. (2008:58)

Differently from Piaget, Bruner does not consider movement between stages as a one-way process but talks about a "negotiation and conflict between them" (Pound, 2005:48), which entails the idea of learning as a spiral process, i.e. "at simple levels a set of ideas or operations are introduced in a rather intuitive way and, once mastered in that spirit, were then revisited and reconstrued in a more formal or operational way, then being connected with other knowledge" (Bruner, 1975:3) [9] . Within such approach, the teacher should not deliver didactic lesson but guide pupils to discover principles by themselves through structured support, i.e. scaffolding their journey to learning. In other words, scaffolding is the process of giving support to learners at the appropriate time and at the appropriate levels of sophistication to meet the needs of the individuals (Wood 1998).

Whilst sharing the Piagetian and Brunerian emphasis on the importance of individual difference/needs in teaching, social-constructivists, such as Vygotsky, place more emphasis on the role of society, culture and language in learning. The latter plays an important role in Vygotsky's approach to learning. Indeed, it is fundamental for the development of thinking. Moreover, it is through communicative interactions that a student can move into and across the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), the latter being the area between what a student can accomplish on their own and that which he could achieve with the help of someone more knowledgeable (a teacher, a parent or a peer) (Dillon et al. 2007). Moreover, language is of paramount importance not only because it can reduce the ZPD, but also for the importance of egocentric speeches as a form of verbal reasoning, self-regulation, and in turn of thought-shapers. Despite the high importance play by language in Vygotsky, he did not elaborate on language learning.

Indeed, the imitation approach suggested by behaviourists as far as learning a language was concerned was still considered valid [10] . Nevertheless, the generative linguist Chomsky challenged it by saying that such approach cannot account for the PotS, i.e. despite the relatively limited data available to children learning, they potentially can learn any language and generate sentences they have not heard before (Chomsky, 1959; Linden, 2007) [11] . Therefore, he advanced the idea of the UG, i.e. children are genetically endowed with a set of principles of languages and open parameters to be set against the linguistic data to which he is exposed [12] . Another crucial aspect of Chomsky's approach is the Innateness, i.e. people are supposed to have a LAD a device that enables them to learn languages easily, despite the PotS. The fact that children seem to make all the same developmental errors, e.g. overgeneralisation, seems to support Chomsky's Innateness hypothesis, given that they indicate that the children are learning the rules of the language (Molina et al., 2005). Although UG is supposedly identical for everyone, Chomsky does not claim that all languages have the same grammar but that they share a set of common grammatical rules (principles) with all languages.

On Observations

Another crucial aspect for all teachers aspiring to become more and more effective is the importance of an ongoing self-appraisal of your job; after each lesson, it is indeed very important to reflect on the delivery of the lesson, the method used, its effectiveness, children's reaction to it, their learning. Moreover, being observed and to observe others is also essential. Indeed, the point will be made that no effective teaching is possible without being able to self-evaluate, and to acknowledge colleagues' advices from their observation. Nevertheless observation is not an easy task at all as, although we watch other people, we do not usually watch them in order to discover particular information about them (Langley, 1987). Moreover, it is not possible to remember each and every detail of the events and actions observed. Also, our mind always operates certain filters to let just some information in [13] . Indeed, it is possible for observers to fall foul of the false logic of trying to create order among the huge amount of data they are confronted with (Vernon, 1970), thus the importance of knowing what to observe and how [14] . Therefore, scrupulous and recording of observations are crucial aspects in this respect. Two approaches for observing are possible: quantitative and qualitative.

Quantitative observations approach social phenomena through quantifiable evidence in order to minimise the possible variations that will certainly arise from data based on individual perceptions. Indeed, it is believed that a systematic and rigorous body of knowledge can certainly improve the effectiveness of teachers in relation to specific aspects of a lesson, i.e. behaviour or learning issues. Nevertheless, the value of findings depends on how appropriate the items contained in the schedule are for the situation; indeed, precise measurements of something irrelevant will not be of any help (Descombe, 2010). Moreover, researches based on quantitative data mainly describe what happens but not why such event has happened. Contrary to quantitave approaches, qualitative observations instead focus on what is behind and beneath the mere frequencies (Wragg, 2009). Indeed, "no statistical methods measures and survey research can fully encapsulate the subjective elements of social life" (Burgess, 1984:79). Nevertheless, researchers adopting qualitative approaches have to be aware of the personal bias; in this respect, researchers need to be as much objective as possible to avoid to corrupt the data collected and come to unreliable conclusions. Both qualitative and quantitative approaches have to face a common problem, i.e. the act of observing will affect the observed in any case; "teachers and pupils may attempt to provide what they think the visitor expects" (Wragg, 2009:15).

Concerning the observation itself, researchers have to take into consideration the following variables: the field of observation (natural vs. artificial environment), the secrecy of the observation (covert vs. overt), and the role of the observer (complete participant, participant-as-observer, observer-as-participant and complete observer or non-participant).




Complete participant:  

Hiding the researcher identity 

·Elicitation of  "One of us" feeling 

· Higher ecological validity 

·Distrustful by revealing the role  ·Ethical asperity 

Participant as observer: 

Embodying the researcher 


· Observation as a   group member 

·More observation than participation 

·Trade‐off between the revealed data and level of 


Observer as participant: 

Observing without being member

· Focus on data collection 

· Participating for better 

observation and 

understanding of the 


· Level of information 

is controlled 

· Trust to the researcher 

is needed 

· Natural settings 


Complete observer: 

Hiding the role completely 

· Unobtrusive observation 

· Unknown to participants  

· Lower ecological validity 

· Undercover character 

Tab.4: The four types of observer based on Gold (1958, p. 217)

While non-participant observers avoid influencing the observed events by maintaining distance from them, complete participant ones conceal the observation dimension by distracting the attention of those under observation (Flick, 2009). Participant observer's priority therefore is to minimise the disruption in order to gain information/data about cultures or events that otherwise would remain hidden from view if the researcher were to adopt a non-participant role. Indeed, participant observers might decide to go native, i.e. lose the critical external perspective and immerse totally in the context under observation. Nevertheless, it is unadvisable to go too native, given that, in such circumstances, researchers are likely to produce unreliable data or, even worse, to stop recording observations at all.

In classroom environments, observers can be either participants (school-staff) or non-participants (external visitors); while school-staff might find it difficult to detach themselves from their commitments, outsiders are able to be emotionally detached but occasionally misinterpret events. Concerning the observation process, there are no best ways for conducting an observation and it depends on the type of observation. Concerning participant observation, Angrosino et al. (2000) distinguish three phases: a descriptive phase, where researchers observe everything, assuming no prior knowledge of anything; focused, where researchers narrow their perspective on essential aspects; selective, where researchers focus on finding further evidence and examples for the type of practices and process found in the focused phase. As for the non-participant one, Adler et al. (1998) distinguish the following phases: selection of setting; the definition of what and how to observe; initial and general presentation of the field; observation of the relevant aspects; evaluation of the data.

Task 1

In this task, I will discuss and analyse evidences of learning in terms of improvement of a student knowledge, understanding and skills based on data collected whilst observing a pupil. In this respect, I observed two Year8 students (boy and girl) during a Spanish lesson. The topic of the lesson was the gender agreement between adjectives and nouns.

After having introduced the first part of the lesson and practised as a class, each student had been given a worksheet with a set of sentences. In pairs, students had to spot all the possible mistakes present in them. I found such test really useful, in that not only gender-noun agreement errors were present but also other kind of errors concerning other part of the grammar. As for the test itself, it really made all the students unconsciously use higher-order thinking skills (Bloom, 1956), i.e. recall all their knowledge of the language in order to analyse the sentence. Rather than just remembering and recalling facts, they had to actually make use of what they have learned so far. The fact that they could do this in pairs helped further, given cooperation between students had been put into place too. Furthermore, given that many types of mistakes were present, it gave the pupils many chances to spot a mistake; as a result, all of them found at least one and their effort rewarded.

Concerning the two students that I observed, they both worked really hard, although the boy spotted fewer errors than the girl. In this respect, the teacher later confirmed that the girl is a bit smarter than the boy. Although at the very beginning both of them were unsure about what to do, a small example from the teacher resolved all the doubts they had. Based on this, the students started to work on the worksheet and that is what the girl said to the boy: "Mrs. X said that casa and cómodo cannot be together because casa is feminine but cómodo is not, let us find a similar one". That is when they started looking for similar mistakes. Although they did not realise, they started using a high-order skill, i.e. analysis. Indeed, they did not just have to recognise and remember Spanish words but they had to use their grammatical knowledge in order to understand the meaning; furthermore, they had to analyse thoroughly the text and apply their knowledge and skills to fulfil the task. They started reading all the sentences looking for a similar mistake, which required them to recall all the learned vocabulary to check whether the gender and the noun agreed or not. At one point the boy asked his schoolmate "what does tengo una mesa mean?" and when she answered "I think have a table"; "It must be feminine because of the a at the end" he then said. After this the girl said "...but then, if casa is feminine mesa should be too, it finishes in a". Then he added "I think that blanco means white because I remember the picture Mrs. X showed us of the "Real Madrid" and told us that they are called "blancos" because they wear only white t-shirts when they play in their stadium". The girl then added "Ok, so en mi dormitorio tengo una mesa blanco means in my bedroom I have a white table but is it feminine or masculine? I think that blanco is masculine, because of the final o"; then the boy finally argued that there was a mistake there and called the teacher to happily say this to her but also to double-check with her. The teacher reassured both of them by saying that they were correct but, when she saw that they were too relaxed, she tried to push them a little bit further by asking what was wrong in the following sentence (i.e. la serpiente es detràs del armario).

This sentence was a quite challenging one in that instead of es (i.e. is) there should be està (i.e. is); the problem here is that although in English the verb to be is used to describe both permanent and temporary features, in Spanish two distinct verbs are used. After having read it, the boy said " la serpiente means the snake but no colour after it" and the girl said "what about detràs? I know that armario is wardrobe". Once each word had been translated, they got stuck, given that the sentence sounded fine to them. After a few moments, the girl said:"what was the verbs we used to ask to know where some objects were? I remember that we did not use es but something different". The boy then started repeating es many times and the girl suddenly said the verb està and the boy agreed by saying "Yes, dònde està el gato, yes it is true". And then they corrected the sentence by putting the correct verb on top of es.

This episode is particularly telling in that it shows the importance of giving the students the chance to use their HOT skills whenever possible and, also, the importance of scaffolding students learning in each phase of the learning process. In this specific case, the teacher scaffolded her students by giving them small pieces of advice that helped them thinking about their prior knowledge.

Task 2

Differently from the preceding task, I will now compare an MFL lesson with two different subject lessons (PE and Science). The purpose of this task is to discuss and analyse how different teaching approaches impact on the learning of pupils. In this respect, the MFL class I observed had a different structure and teaching approach to those of the PE and Science classes, the former being more "classical" than the others. Before going any further, it is important to notice that also the environment plays an important role on pupils' learning. Nevertheless, despite the different conditions, learning has taken place in all the mentioned lessons.

I noticed that having the possibility to move around the "class" in both Science and PE lesson had a great impact on the actual learning of the pupils. Indeed, in both classes the teachers structured the lessons in order to give the students the possibility of moving around the class or gymnasium. In the Science lesson, after having introduced the learning objectives, the teacher asked the whole class what was necessary for the "evaporation" experiment. Each pupil then had the possibility to collect his own instruments, they did not have to ask the teacher where to find them because they already knew, as they had already used them in previous experiments. The combination of these two things, the possibility to move around the class and to be proactive (thence temporarily sharing some responsibility with their teacher) resulted in students happy, relaxed and eager to learn. Moreover, the way he introduced the experiment ("I can show how to create salt out of water, so next time your mummy runs out of salt you can save her day") won them over. Once the teacher finished showing how to do the experiment, he asked if they could revisit it verbally; despite the noise made by those students who wanted to review first, he managed to verify whether the process of the experiment was clear for everyone before doing it. In particular, when a student did not give a totally correct answer, instead of providing it, he let his classroom mates reinforce his answer. Before proceeding to the practical part of the experiment, he grouped this student with one that helped him give the appropriate answer. I could see that learning took place effectively. Despite the initial situation where his children did not know how to produce salt, even though they already used the same tools in different experiments. Nevertheless, by building upon their previous knowledge, the teacher helped them to move into and across their ZPD. In this lesson, the teacher played exactly the role of the facilitator rather then the normal didactic teacher; in Vygotsky's terms, the teacher, or a more knowledgeable adult, should help the student to move into and across the ZPD. The LO of the PE lesson was: how to play tennis. I noticed that the teacher differentiated his approach depending on the students. In particular, while the rest of the class was already practising after having listened to the instructions, with a particular group of students he went through the instructions again but this time shortened. In so doing, he gave them the opportunity put physically into practice every single step. This time the children performed better than the first time because they had the possibility to move while the teacher went through the instructions again. At the end of the lesson, the teacher said to me that he decided to use a slightly different approach with them because he knew they learned better if they had the chance to move. According to Learning Styles theorists, we have various learning styles and preferences (Hawk et al, 1995). In particular, on the basis of the VAK model, we can classify the above students as kinesthetic learners, who do best while touching and moving.

On the contrary, the MFL teacher had a radically different approach to those discussed above, in part because of the different environment. Given the topic, i.e. learn animal in Spanish, the teacher structured the lesson in the following way: a brief starter (number crosswords); presentation of the LO by showing the WALT and WILF on the white board; pictures of the animals and the corresponding Spanish words had been introduced; repetition phase; practice (memory game); performing part (unjumbling words in group). It had been a very structured lesson and you could tell from the children reaction to each part of the lesson that the teacher had been structuring the lesson always like this, i.e. her students knew all the times what was going on and what was going to come in terms of the phase of the lesson. Although both the PE and the Science lessons had been thoroughly prepared and delivered, this was more evident during the MFL class and this seemed to help her students very much, they knew what they were doing and was going to come, so they were prepared and ready to learn. Moreover, the teacher's introduction of new vocabulary (just the picture initially, plus the teacher telling the students the Spanish words for each picture; students repeating after her as a class in the first place and then either a group of students or an individual repetition) had been really effective. In particular, the fact that this activity worked well has been demonstrated by the successive scheduled activity, namely "squashing it": the teacher split the class in two teams, each team selects one student that has to go close to the wall where the teacher had put all the pictures of animals introduced in the lesson; the teacher shouted the name of one of the animals and the competitor had to squash the corresponding picture and the fastest of them got the point for his/her team. At the very beginning they did not remember all the words but, as the game went on and on, they started to remember more and more. Although it was a funny activity, the teacher succeeded in making them memorising all the vocabulary through repetition. In this respect, according to behaviourism, repetition is one of the most powerful ways of learning but it can be a very boring activity; the key-point here is the importance of making the teaching and learning as funny as possible by trying to win the students over by combining funny activity, such as games, and learning. Also along the lines of the behaviourism framework, I further noticed that the structure of the lesson itself had a big impact on the students' learning. Given that it was very similar to the preceding ones really, all the students knew exactly what was going to happen and they were ready to do it, which, in turn, really helped the role of the teacher. Indeed, the students knew that before letting them leave at the end of the lesson, the teacher would have asked each of them, so, before packing up, I saw many of them revising the new vocabulary.

Task 3

In order to reflect on how my teaching approach impacted on pupils' learning, an auto-analysis/evaluation of one of the lessons I taught will be now given. In this respect, I will analyse a Spanish lesson that I delivered to a mixed-ability Year 7 class in Period 1 (09:45 to 10:45). The lesson was about how to ask about the age in Spanish, i.e. ¿Cuántos año tienes?. This lesson had been one of the best lessons I have had all along the first placement given that I felt that all the children loved it and had fun during the lesson; most importantly, they all learned how to say "When is your birthday?" in Spanish. As with the previous lessons, I structured this lesson in a way that students could easily recognise the straight link with the previous ones, which had been about greetings, and that by building upon them they could easily learn another useful Spanish structure. By always introducing the topics in this way, I try to create the safest learning-environment possible; in particular, although each lesson concerns something new, students are not scared by it and do not consider it impossible to reach, given that most of the needed vocabulary had been introduced. A brief introduction to relevant parts of the lesson will be given in order to explore and discuss further the ways in which the teaching method used has affected pupils' learning.

After having greeted and given the "starter" worksheet to the students, I very quickly explained the starter itself, i.e. "I've just received this email, but it has many mistakes, nine (what is nine in Spanish?), I would like you to help me finding them, let's do the first together. Look at the first word, hola!, is there a mistake here? If yes, what is it? Yes, the inverted question mark is absent. Ok find the rest of them. Teneìs cinco minutos (miming 5 and then pointing to the watch), vamonos". One student at a time then had the chance to point out a mistake and to correct it directly on the board (in order to differentiate by outcomes, I first asked to those students that struggle a little bit more than others to find/correct the mistakes in the text); at the end of it I waited a few moments in order to give them the chance to double-check their correction with the one on the board. As I will discuss the importance of starters later, here I would like to point out the importance of using the TL and of making it comprehensible to children. Following the CLT approach, the use of TL in the classroom environment should be encouraged as much as possible. In this respect, I consider replacing the English language with the TL whenever possible (to greet or to give instructions to students) as something essential in any MFL class. Nevertheless, the TL must be used in a comprehensible way, given that, if it is not, students will not improve their knowledge of the language. In fact, following Krashen (1988), learning a language requires meaningful interactions in the target language between the teacher and students; as a matter of fact, speakers are naturally concerned with the messages of the utterances, not with their forms.

After this stage, I asked my students to imagine a situation in which they meet a boy or a girl for the first time and to think about what they would ask to him or her; after a few moments, I asked for some volunteers to write the possible questions, one each, on the board (I got four questions: name, age, birthday, and where he/she lives); students had then been asked to imagine a similar situation though with a Spanish boy or girl. They had been able to reformulate all the questions except the one concerning the birthday in Spanish. This gave me the possibility to introduce their learning journey and to ask them about what had been done already and what was still left to do. Moreover, given that they knew that we were close to our lesson about Navidad (thanks to their knowledge about the "Learning Journey" arrow and how it works) they surrounded me with their happiness. The importance of showing the learning to student is double: it gives the students a holistic view of the entire course, connecting each lesson to those preceding and following it. It makes it possible to reinforce again each topic by recalling and revising it together various times. As the behaviourists claimed, repetition followed positive reinforcements (praise and rewards) are two very powerful tools in the hands of every teacher.

After the topic had been introduced and reinforced through a listening activity, the students have had the chance to put into practice what they have just learned by doing a small survey in Spanish, i.e. find the age and birthday of five other students and write the information down. Students had five minutes to go around the class and use the sample dialogue given on the board to either interview or answers to the questions asked them. On this occasion I also decide to differentiate by task by setting an extension available for the more abled students: find out where your schoolmates live and write it down in a different column called lugar. As well as allowing the students to practice, this activity gave the students the possibility to move around the class and have a bit of fun with their schoolmates. In this respect, many students actually enjoyed the activity more because they were able to move around the classroom or to perform small scenes. The importance of combining fun activities such as the latter (or singing) with actual learning is that the students think that they are just playing but they are actually working, sometimes even working really hard.

Moreover, even though every lesson would have a different topic with respect to the previous ones, I noticed that having all lessons with a similar overall structure really helps children learning. In particular, warm-up activities are really helpful tools when it comes to get the students ready to learn. Besides "starters", there are other very important aspects that teachers should not compromise on: lesson objectives, learning journey, and plenaries. I consider both the lesson objectives and learning journey two very important aspects that should be included in every lesson because they immediately show the students that what they are going to learn is something that will help meeting specific skills (i.e. understand, recognize, analyse etc.) which in turn will help them moving into and across their ZPD; as far as the learning journey is concerned, it is essential tool given that it gives student an instant flash of where they are with respect with the "Big Picture" set at the very beginning of the course. Plenary activities are also fundamental because they make children actively revise the lesson and analyse how they have met the initial objectives.

Although teachers do not set "home learning" activities, I consider that whenever needed, they should be introduced at the very beginning of the lesson. Indeed, by doing so teachers will have another important chance to raise pupils' awareness of the importance of the lessons.


In order to conclude, let me identify three main issues related to pupils' learning considered in this present work that will inform my future professional development: which learning theory to adopt; the safety of the environment and differentiation.

As for the first issue, the first most important learning theory, behaviourism, received much criticism, mainly because of its main hypotheses - that the human mind is a blank slate and that we learn on a S-R basis - are rather controversial [15] . Nevertheless, should we totally dismiss the behaviourist approach entirely in favour to the mentalist one? On the basis that our behaviour can to an extent be predicted, in some cases by behaviourist models (Brooks et al, 2007:47) and that many of its genuine insights - e.g. the importance of praise/rewards, repetition and structure of lessons - are still valid tools, my personal answer would be no [16] . Indeed, regarding learning theories, I argue that there is still no right and wrong to this argument and that the definitive theory has yet to come. The most effective teacher, I believe, would not be that who blindly follows one of the above models but that able take the best of each of them.

As for the second issue, as far as my experience in the first placement is concerned I believe that the main reasons why some students disrupt in class is because they have either finished their task or they have just quit given that they have not understood either the purpose or how to do the task, which confirm the analyses made by Haydn (2012). In order to establish a Positive Behaviour For Learning (PB4L), there are many possible ways, as described in Cowley (2010). I personally believe that one of the most powerful ones is trying to engage all students somehow, which means finding activities that makes students feel interested, excited, curious, puzzled, amused or just generally in the frame of mind to learn (Cowley 2010:20).

Finally, I consider differentiation a very important issue given the fundamental role that any teacher endows in class, i.e. they are in loco parentis. Teachers have to make sure that all students have the possibility to learn and discourage any kind of discrimination, either in terms of abilities or social background and race, just as any parent would do for his/her child. In this respect, differentiation by task and by outcomes are very useful tools because they ensure that every students work at the right level in order to build on it. Moreover, differentiated tasks are fundamental also because they set all students for success, which in turn makes students more eager and willing to learn and stretch their knowledge.