What techniques can you learn from Connecting Classrooms?
Wouldn’t it be great to show the children in your classroom the world? Imagine taking your students to India, Africa and South America, introducing them to different cultures, languages and communities so different to theirs.
The British Council’s Connecting Classrooms programme gives you this opportunity whilst providing high quality and impactful CPD; all from the comfort of your classroom (with a fully-funded trip overseas as well if you fancy it!). Read on to discover geography teacher, Carrie Carter’s experience.
New Teaching Techniques
I am always keen to engage my students with the wider world – whether it’s learning from others or discussing the future issues we may face. The Connecting Classrooms programme gave me this opportunity both in the UK and through a visit to Nepal. As well as the benefits it provided my students, it introduced me to a new range of teaching techniques.
The strand of the course we covered, ‘Critical Thinking and Problem Solving’, had a strong impact on my teaching skills. The course helped me to think more critically about lesson planning, encouraging questioning techniques to help students develop their own ideas of the world. At the same time, I was developing my skills – I learned so much from my students and began to understand how they formed answers from debate and critical thinking.
1. Class Debate
We carried out a class debate on ‘The Urban Environment’ answering this question: “Destroy slums and rebuild to make money: is this right for Dharavi?” This was carried out over two lessons with a Year 10 class and the techniques that were used were layers of inference, levelled spider diagram, Pose, Pause, Pounce Bounce and Kahoot.
These techniques were used to develop the students’ reasoning skills and also challenged them to justify their own opinions and encouraged them to use persuasive techniques.
2. Layers of Interference
The first technique I used was “layers of inference”. This encourages students to examine their sources to make informed guesses. They become curious of the evidence, resulting in asking themselves questions such as: “What else would I like to find out?”, “What other questions do I need to ask?”, “What does the source tell me?” and “What does it not tell me?” In turn, these questions become part of the discussion.
3. Pose, Pause, Pounce and Bounce
I found the ‘Pose, Pause, Pounce and Bounce’ a very useful technique as I could measure how much a student had learnt about the topic. A question is posed to the class, the class pauses to think, a soft toy or ball is thrown to a student who must answer the question, then the ball would be thrown again to another student to build upon the previous answer. The technique gave students the chance to share their answers individually and they were compelled to become engaged in the debate.
Kahoot is another great technique. This is an app you can set up for any lesson. It allows you to ask questions to the class and pupils have a choice of four different responses. The app then calculates the number of correct responses, allowing you to review who has an understanding of the subject. This technique encourages competition amongst the class and the students really enjoy it.
Positive Impact on Teaching and Learning
Following the training I received, we found the student responses became much stronger and this was evident, observing how they developed their ideas within their examination questions. Their vocal responses within the classroom also became more detailed and critical. These techniques also enabled the students to debate their ideas, reinforcing critical thinking and encouraging further questioning.
I now make sure I use questioning techniques within my lessons to encourage student participation and lead them to think about different sources of evidence which could be subject to bias.
The course has provided me with so many opportunities for CPD and has helped me think much more creatively. The visit to Nepal with my colleague Becky Palmer, funded by the British Council, was a valuable experience. We were lucky enough to have two days to explore Kathmand, its wealth of culture and spent three days at the Creative Academy, Kathmandu.
At the end of the week, we finished off with a conference meeting sharing ideas with all the other schools and teachers involved in the Connecting Classrooms programme. The school system was a different experience: it was an all-through school with pupils as young as two years-old in the nursery through to 17 years in the secondary school. My school colleague and I were greeted to a warm and welcoming assembly of students, standing in rows singing their school song beautifully. The spirit of the students was inspiring and they put their upmost effort into their work.
This insight into what students are learning at Creative Academy inspired me to develop a scheme of work on sustainable living and Nepal. The aim is to create a more sustainable environment for the future, through educating students about composting, mushroom farming and implementing it into their local community. I’m really looking forward to seeing the pupils’ reactions.
To find out more about how you can get involved, visit the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms programme.