About eight years ago, Colchester Public Schools began looking closely at who was doing the work in the classrooms. Were teachers doing the work, or were the students? Barbara Gilbert, Director of Curriculum for Colchester Public Schools, explained why considering this question was important. “When the students were doing the work, we saw much more learning happen as compared to classrooms where the teachers were lecturing or managing a discussion.” Giving children the opportunity to learn by doing proves to be an effective way to learn, especially when the learning serves a purpose. The following examples demonstrate what learning by doing looks like in Colchester Public Schools.
Second Grade Students Teach Others How to Find a Book at Their Reading Level
Many students were checking out books from the library that they could not read. To solve this problem, a group of second grade students were given the task of teaching other second grade students how to find a book at their reading level by using the library catalog. First, they had to learn how to do the task themselves. Then, they developed a lesson with a task for students to perform. They practiced the lesson and made adjustments along the way, fine-tuning their presentation to ensure that children would understand what they were doing and why they were doing it. Their lesson was a success. All of the children they taught were able to write the title and call number of a book at their reading level.
First Grade Asks a Second Grade Student Questions about Groundhogs
A first grade class wondered about groundhogs and typed their questions about groundhogs on an electronic cork board using padlet.com. This task gave the children the opportunity to practice asking and typing questions. The children were directed to type a capital letter at the beginning of the sentence and a question mark at the end of the sentence.
After the questions were recorded, a second grade student was given the task of finding the answers to the questions and responding to them. The student used different resources to find the answers, and then recorded her answers with a video camera. Her video was uploaded to YouTube and shared as a link on the Padlet for the first grade students to view.
Students District-wide Share Digital Tools
During an event called Digital Learning Day, students from every public school in Colchester have the task of teaching other students, teachers, and families the different digital tools they use in school. Students are the drivers of this event, creating the signs and the brochures and offering instruction to people who are interested in learning about particular apps and tools.
Library Media Specialist, Barbara Johnson, introduced the Digital Learning Day event in 2015 because she wanted to give children at all grade levels the opportunity to teach other students what they know about technology. “It’s fun to watch the older children learn from the younger children and vice versa. There is a lot of great learning happening with technology here, and it’s important for the kids to teach each other what they have learned.”
Learning by doing works. Especially when it’s learning something that serves a purpose. Follow @CpsSupt to read posts about students working in the Colchester Public School District.
Author: Maureen Schlosser
Author: Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades published by ALA Editions