Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Making informed opinions:

A few weeks ago I asked the question 'Are pigeons special or pests?' to my learners. Immediately I was bombarded with a variety of opinions but was met with a wall of silence when I asked them how they knew these facts. I followed the suggestions of ways to strengthen connections and accelerate the learning made by Woolf Fisher to provide a scaffolding text, a complimentary text, a challenge text and a self selected text.

The DLOs below are examples of the learning that took place as we unpacked the information. Did we get everything right? In short, no but I do know places I can make changes next time. I found this an exciting process to follow as I could see very quickly where connections had been made and where the gaps were. My learners loved the collaboration and the tasks that followed each text.

It was really interesting to observe reactions to the challenge texts. I had introduced the topic by promoting the idea that pigeons post was an important part of our history. This resulted in a lot of animated discussion about how that was possible because in their words 'most letters would be as big as the pigeons!' After reading, watching and listening to texts that explained the vital role pigeons played in message delivery I caused major confusion by introducing text that explained that pigeons were pests. I think the fact we all found hard to believe was that in the 17th century pigeon guano (droppings) was heavily guarded as it was seen as a highly sought after ingredient in the making of gunpowder! We used this as the comparison point for the opinions of many people today who are now aware of the damage the acidity in the guano can do to buildings and other structures.

Our guided sessions were focused around synthesisng facts across and between texts. We still have work to do in this area, but as everything has a 'use by' date, I chose to move on. The groups below both chose to reflect their final informed opinions in different ways. One choosing to record soundbites on vocaroo, and the other group filmed their responses. If you would like to use any of the ideas we explored all our learning is visible on our class site.