One of the things that I have always found frustrating and difficult to plan for is that moment when a child has finished their work and says “What do I do now?”
No matter how well you plan, there will always be some children who finish their work earlier than the others. I have always tried to get them to take responsibility for finding something to do once they finish – sometimes it is reading, finishing off other work, but this time has always felt a bit wasted.
I’m now trying a new approach which I am calling “Self-Directed Learning” time. This will be whenever someone finishes their work before the end of the lesson, and sometimes in the mornings or if we finish an activity earlier than expected.
I have asked the children to write down something they would like to get better at, explain why they want to get better, state exactly what aspects of the skill they would like to improve, and what activities they plan to do to achieve that. All this is self selected.
What I would like to get better at: Maths
Why? Because maths is very useful in life and I would like to be better at it
Skills to develop: Times tables and fractions
Activities: Times tables games, worksheets, look at tables and practice them
For those children who wanted to get better at reading, I talked them through a simplified version of the AFs and pointed them to the specific area they needed to work on to improve their reading level and gave them some questions to ask themselves. I am also providing maths worksheets, times table and reading games, access to computers and the school library, paper and anything else the children want as far as possible – but they have to tell me what they want, of course!
All the children now each have a personal folder with their learning goals sheet at the front and have already started putting in sheets of the activities they are going to do. I am also going to give them a planner sheet where they can record the dates and activities that they do.
I’m very keen on encouraging them to become independent learners and hope that this is going to be a good contribution to that. We talked a lot in PSHE last term about going for goals and setting outselves challenges – here is their chance to improve their own learning, on their own terms!
I will update on this project as it progresses!