How Do I Get Them to WORK?!

There are ripples across the community this week as we learn that Term Two learning will begin remotely. A challenge for every family that will look different household to household. Every little piece of this teaching puzzle will help with home education; so let’s start with my most useful teaching tool.

As I scroll through my emails, conversations and social media, there is a familiar need. How can I reduce my effort as a parent educator and grow my child as an independent learner?

Here is a snippet of an email I received from a parent of a child I taught in Level 4;

Miss Donald, many years ago I came into your classroom to drop off my sons lunch. All the kids were working and you were helping a girl at her desk. I have just started home schooling (name) as I didn’t feel he should be at school. He does not sit still and does not listen to me. How did you get the children to stay quiet and do their work each day?”

Enter The Gradual Release of Responsibility. A framework for all learning; students, parents and adults alike. It’s purpose is to shift from teacher-driven tasks to student-led learning.

So how does this translate to home?

This is how I build the children to ‘work’ at their desks independently. Firstly, let’s shift the language of ‘work’ to learn, we are not paying the children! Now, sorry educators, I may butcher this a little, but in a time-poor world that just got a little more complicated let’s jump into it.

The research-based framework (GRR) suggests there are four stages to teaching and learning a skill;

  • Introduce or revise a skill – Educator-led
  • Apply the skill with high support – Educator and learner together
  • Learner explores the skill with some support – Educator steps back, learners together
  • Learner applies skill independently – Learner-led
Classroom learning display in foundation. Made with children to exemplify how learning will take place each lesson.

I do” – a teaching experience begins with engaging and activating minds for learning. The focus. The introduction. This is the part where we (as parents and educators) hook the children in and we lead. Leading doesn’t mean educator only talking, try to have equal talk-time with the learner; you are showing them a skill or knowledge (10 minutes).

e.g. Read or watch prompts from your teacher online, reflect on a particular task or text from the previous day, present a probing question “why is this half, but this is a third?” Or read an Information Report together and think aloud when noticing its structure.

We do” – this is where the magic starts to happen. Together we practice applying the focus skill of the lesson. Reduce educator support, by guiding and allowing mistakes to occur! Correct the focus skill, but try to let other details slide, note them down for later (5 minutes).

e.g. “I’ll draw a half and you draw a third; let’s find the similarities and differences,” or “discuss what we noticed about the vocabulary on this page,” “what do we notice about the structure of this text,” or “I’ll write the introduction, can you help me with every second sentence?”

You do it together” – This is the part that needs to shift a little for home education. Collaboration will differ from when learners ‘pair and share’ together in the classroom. However, as the learner has collaborated one-on-one with you as the educator to this point, let’s treat this as a conference and move on through this stage.

“You do it alone” – Here is where the parents begin to rejoice. This is the independent learning stage. The learner takes the skill and applies it alone. As educators, encourage from afar as this is your time to release the control of the learning. Depending on the age and engagement, spend 10-45 minutes in this stage. Set a timer. They are in control, so let them have a say in the amount of time, have the timer visible and let them set it up before they begin. If they need more time, perfect, if they need less time, reassess (a great prompt to connect with your teacher) to deepen the skill and learning (10-45 minutes).

This stage will be heavily influenced by your online portal, school and teacher set learning tasks.

e.g. Find, draw and justify objects that have thirds, create a glossary and thesaurus based on the new vocabulary you have identified in your text, create a plan with only sketches (no writing yet!) to outline the structure of an information report or write an information report.

This is now the peak of the learning. In home education, this is the part where I visualise us as home educators scuttling away to put that load of washing on, unpacking the dishwasher, opening your emails, preparing for that afternoon conference call, etc. This is when the children truly learn. Let them struggle. Comfort them; “keep going you are absolutely on track,” “you can do it, I can see you have made a great starting sentence so far,” “is this how focussed you are in the classroom? Wow!” Your goal as an educator is to keep them confidently stumbling through the application of the skill independently.

I’m all about annotations. When children speak, write it somewhere; make it a living!

What happens when the timer rings? The learning is almost finished. However, save the best until last. Reflection time! Again, this is still in the ‘You Do’ phase, therefore as parent educators, ask and step back to listen. In some children we may have them write, film or draw a response to ONE of the questions below (5 minutes).

What was the challenge here for you?

Where did you struggle?

What will you try differently tomorrow?

Just try to avoid, “What did you learn?” If you have a primary aged child, chances are, the will say “nothing, it was boring.” #fail. You have not failed. That child is intelligent! They have just escaped some deep thinking!

Kids still asleep? Check out these links;

  • Have 3 minutes to spare? This video shows the framework within the classroom
  • This video differs as it is a lecture style 4 minute clip that succinctly explains the GRoR for teachers
  • Only have a second? A simple Google search will show some alternative versions to the visual framework presented.

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