Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Argumentation, Justification and Using Scissors

We noticed in our cohort this year that most of the children struggled to use scissors, use glue "sparingly" and have those constructive learning conversations with their peers. Using a device meant that we could complete these sorts of "cut and paste" activities with less mess and less fuss, but the children were missing the vital fine motor skills and the art of argumentation and justification.

We hypothesised that by having the activity printed and in hard copy in front of the group, we would illicit argumentative discussions that would encourage the children to justify their points of view more readily and more strongly.
We set the context around punctuation as this was the main area in our E-Asttle testing that was letting this group down.
Our groups were friendship based in the hope to encourage the conversation.
The task involved scissors, glue, crayons and lots of talk.

Initial excitement was high as we explained the activity to the class. They were excited to work with friends and excited to rotate round different activities, to complete a variety of tasks.
We were fortunate to have a third year student teacher in class, which meant that we could have slightly smaller group sizes at each station which made some of the management slightly easier.

The activities that the children completed in rotation were

  • Organising sentences into simple and complex sentences.
  • Constructing complex sentences from dependent and independent clauses.
  • Punctuating simple and complex sentences
  • Punctuating a complete paragraph.

Each group had to work together, justify and explain before cutting, pasting and taking a photo to insert onto their Google slides.

We noticed as we introduced our activity and supported the kids through the learning, that while not all the children completely grasped the concept being taught- every child embraced the idea of team work and discussion. The students who lacked the initial knowledge, thrived on listening to their peers and offering input when they felt confident. The students who went into the activity with more confidence, learnt to assist their friends and to listen to others points of view and to build new knowledge of their own. This discussion and listening built well on what we have been practicing during DMiC this year.

The fine motor skills were definitely challenged with many groups cutting through work instead of neatly around it, too much glue being used and not being able to glue papers to fit in correct spaces. However each student could use an iPad effectively to take photos and upload their work to the right folder. I'm not sure we should be sacrificing one skill for another - so more work to be done on the more analogue tasks.

The children loved being more active in their learning and the classroom was a buzz with that fine line between chaos and lively discussion. As teachers, we enjoyed listening to the children talk and argue, as well as problem solve and work through issues and differing points of view.

We endeavour to do an activity such as this involving groups, discussion and analogue processes at least once a week. We owe our kids the best of both worlds to ensure they develop a range of essential learning tools.