The power of collaborative learning

#BreakfastClub Student Panel feedback: What is it like to be an #EAL or #SEND student?

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Last Thursday, the Teach Aldenham Breakfast Club enjoyed an informative Question and Answer session with a student panel. The students involved were of a diverse background – including students with SEND, EAL, and those identified as Gifted and Talented. Questions ranged from how to avoid boredom in lessons, and beneficial marking.

See the full question and answer session below:

If teachers could take one strategy into the classroom that helps you to learn, what would it be?

  • Constantly talking; debates. Helps take it in. Adds competition. Helps remember useful material for essay
  • Whole class going through one topic – helps fill in gaps of knowledge for students who perhaps struggle in that topic
  • Teachers speak through it and then make you write it down; less of listening while copying.
  • Teachers being energetic – if they enjoy, makes you want to learn it more.

How important is homework to your learning/independence/is it a waste of time?

  • Some preps are a waste of time if it’s just to give prep. Vague revision preps not good.
  • If prep just to finish off classwork – doesn’t really help. But if separate task that helps you go over stuff in class, then that helps.
  • New topic to cover during prep (ie flipped learning) difficult but can help.
  • Specific revision for learning.
  • Only like prep where by the end I know how to do that skill.

What type of marking do you find useful?

  • Grade and explanation about it helps. Like to have an estimate of where you are.
  • WWW and EBI important.
  • If could only receive one piece of feedback – would like a grade.

How far do teachers acknowledge difference in ability/learning styles/willingness to engage in different tasks?

  • Feel students are treated pretty much all the same. Would like equal time on each student, but to spend bit more time on students who are struggling.
  • Feel favouritism in classes is unfair – do not feel that bad behaviour should make the teacher not like you.
  • Find “aim for a C” as condescending.
  • Sixth form – treated differently but according to interest levels of students.

Differentiated worksheets – view of these? How do they make you feel?

  • Find helpful to have different level worksheets and have choice.
  • “Aim for a low one” can put you down; however students choosing themselves is better.

If there is one task and everyone is doing the same thing, to which set of students is this usually pitched?

  • Mainly pitched at middle. Rarely find specific one task which is completely easy.
  • Normally pitched middle. But good when developed afterwards, to extend all the abilities.

What would help bridge the gap between GCSE and A Level?

  • When teachers differentiate between rote learn and what we have to understand
  • No point spending time trying to understand simple rote learning.
  • Practice reading.

What’s the best technique as to how to write a good essay/in depth?

  • Learn essay technique and basics
  • Knowing layout and structure – doesn’t matter what question.
  • Good when teachers show when waffling/where to improve.
  • Exemplar essay rally good – can use phrases/see writing style.

English department – how can help EAL students with language?

  • Choose the EAL option
  • Helps going through subject as a class and constructing an essay together ie one paragraph each.

KS3 to KS4 – well prepared for GCSE?

  • Positive as can drop subjects don’t like to be in.
  • Year 9 – not too much talk about jump for GCSE. Start of year 10 – more essays more prep. Not a huge step up but big enough that some students might struggle. Preps in certain subjects more difficult this year than year 9.
  • Amount of work outside classroom has increased.
  • Taster days for optional subjects

How do you feel being told by teacher what you should be targeting?

  • Realistic but annoying; would prefer to think I can aim for higher.

Losing concentration in lesson. What helps to maintain focus?

  • The teacher liking the subject.
  • Steer clear of textbook and textbook questioning.
  • Variety in lessons.
  • Different methods of learning – quizzes etc.

What is your favourite thing about being in the classroom?

  • Feeling that I am improving – have come out of lesson and specifically know something I had no idea about at the start of the lesson. Knowledge for something new.
  • Teachers prefacing a lesson with “this is going to be boring” not encouraging. Even if it is going to be boring, I don’t want to know!

To discuss differentiation further contact Hilary, the Aldenham School SENDCo / Inclusion Manager.



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