Now let's focus on the three more ways in which the teachers at Auburn Day School engage students in learning.
Offer opportunities for personal response
Make sure there are clear and modeled expectations
Provide a sense of audience
Offer Opportunities for Personal Response
I think the key word here is personal. We know that teachers aren't the only ones with good ideas. Auburn Day School provides curricular experiences throughout the day that invite learners to bring their own background knowledge, interests, and ideas to the lesson.
We allow students to choose how they will show what they know (e.g., writing, drawing, speaking, etc.) and often let them select the context in which a concept is explored (e.g., selection of a habitat, type of materials, simple machine, or variables for an independent experiment) so they can personalize their responses to meet their background, interests, or expertise.
Have you ever heard the expression, “the one who’s doing the talking is doing the learning?” Auburn Day School is a loud and busy place. Discussing, debating, questioning… ahh- these are the sounds of learning. The teachers at Auburn Day School are facilitators of this learning. In this video, a 3-year-old student tells about the parts of the caterpillar he created out of Picasso tiles and then he practices counting the legs. Amazing work!
Make Sure There Are Clear and Modeled Expectations
Does the learner have a clear understanding of what success looks like? This engagement strategy refers to making the intention for the lesson clear and making sure students know what it means to be successful with a specific activity.
After practicing two and three color patterns with puff balls and tiles, the students work together with the teacher to create a pattern using four colors! It's a challenge but they are successful. It's exciting to hear students call out the answers as they begin to see the pattern. After this activity the students go on to build more patterns individually and as a group.
Create a Sense of Audience
We provide opportunities for students to share with one another as well as the teacher. If more students have a chance to share, they have more opportunities to be heard and the teacher is better able to assess understanding from more students. Sometimes it's difficult for young children to share their opinions and ideas with one another. But we're happy to give them lots of practice through partnering to discuss solutions and working on team projects. We want students to share their suggestions, additions, critiques, and long stories about what happened one time when they saw a spider... All of these things are important: they help the child make connections, feel understood, and, most of all, feel important. Sense of audience can be established by cooperative learning or group work where individual members have specific roles. Other examples include larger projects that contribute to the local, school, or classroom community. Activities at Auburn Day School are designed not to keep students busy or kill time, but to help them wrestle with big questions, gain new knowledge and skills and/or make connections to their world. In these photos, the children are completing a team activity where each child chooses an object and then uses that object to create his/her individual part of one cohesive group story. To be successful, the children have to listen to one another in order to continue the story. Needless to say, the children were able to work together to use a cow, a snake and a train to create a funny, silly tale.