After speaking with a colleague tonight about purposeful learning it got me thinking about my class and my teaching. As teachers we drum into ourselves that our teaching is purposeful to the students needs and that we have full engagement in learning but when you put the two together what does this mean.
I recently had a reliever do a well planned writing lesson with my students. I wanted them to be encouraged to use descriptive language and make the writing more interesting for the reader. I feel this is something I seem to be drumming into them all the time, yet the outcome is never that successful. Having a reliever is always nerve wrecking and again that word reared its head "purposeful". I wanted to make sure that what they were doing had a point and wasn't just something that was done to fill in time.
So where did I turn... uncle google! Now i'm not a teacher that is ashamed to say some of my best teaching power points come off google, What's that old saying... Work smarter not harder! So after carefully whittling down the best possible ones that fit the purpose of my learning intention I had my remaining few. Anyone would have been good enough to use for my class and anyone would have gotten a half decent piece of writing out of the majority of them. But this is where I stopped... teaching shouldn't just be about the purpose it should be about making the students WANT to do that purpose and to me this engagement is different to the purpose being meaningful. I mean I have students in my class that are into hunting and I can make the topic meaningful to them by making it about hunting but that in no way guarantees engagement.
That was when one particular power point caught my eye. It was based around taking a picture of an old bridge with a river underneath and writing a description about it. What I loved about it was that it showed two types of writing for the same picture, a basic simple non descriptive piece and then a wonderful paragraph that hooked the reader in and was full of juicy similes, adjectives and adverbs. It had its purpose to show the students how something could be so much better by simply changing a few words or a sentences. So once it had worked through how to do this I wanted to keep the students engaged even more by giving them a variety of interesting pictures that had all sorts of possible descriptions that could go with it.... and their it was possibilities! It wasn't about giving the students free range to keep them engaged but giving them different directions in which they could choose to take their own writing, but that the choices weren't limitless. It thought maybe a lot of editing on behalf of my reliever had happened but when I read the students work I was surprised to find only minimal spelling and punctuation mistakes which showed me they had wanted to and tried hard to produce fantastic description. Man did I get some of the best pieces of writing. I have shared below one of my not so confident/able writers piece of work. Proud Teacher here......