Getting to know your learners

Mark Osborne made a comment at ICOT that “Each year your class are different so your lessons should be different.” I have kept that in mind as my first classes approach this year and tomorrow I meet my 4 classes for the first time. Here’s how I will start to find out about the learners in my classes this year.

The Social Studies classes are going to choose 5 of the following prompts to write about:

  1. What do you think Social Studies is about?
  2. Are you good at learning new things?
  3. What are 3 events from the past that you think are very important and why?
  4. Tell me about your favourite place in the world?
  5. What 3 people would you most like to meet and why?
  6. What 3 places that you haven’t been to before do you most want to visit?
  7. Are you good at working individually?
  8. Are you good at working in groups?
  9. What is the most important issue facing New Zealand?
  10. Tell me about a recent news event that you were interested in.

This will be followed by a class discussion sharing some of this information (hopefully helping students to make unrealised connections as to who else may be interested in similar topics or have similar feeling about certain issues). We will then move on to creating some group definitions of social studies and a shared understanding of the class expectations of each other and me.

The senior Geography classes are doing a slightly different task:

Answer each of the questions below to give me an idea of what you are interested in and why you have chosen to study Geography.

Definitely don’t like Don’t like Neutral Enjoy Enjoy a Lot
Photo Interpretation
Learning about NZ
Learning about other places
Writing Essays
Current Events
Global issues
Field Trips
Class Discussions
Working by myself
Working in groups

Are you good at learning new things?

Tell me about your favourite place?

What do you hope to achieve in Geography this year?

Why did you choose to study Geography?

Then once again a class discussion sharing information followed by creating a collection of definitions of Geography and shared expectations of each other.

Once I have got this information and observed the students working individually, in groups and whole class situations I can start to know my students and start introducing the exploration tasks outlined in this earlier post.

Good luck with meeting your new students for the year!


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