The Learning to Learn programme is aimed at embedding a culture of learning and study at Junior Cycle. One of the key objectives of the Junior Cycle is to place the student at the centre of the teaching and learning. Students today are facing the challenge of ongoing changes in the nature of knowledge and the need for the requisite skills to process this increasing amount of information. This programme will assist students in knowing themselves better as learners, being more organised and confident along with having a proven study system and learning approach which will reduce their stress levels and add to their sense of well-being.
Learning Partner: We know that real learning has occurred when students are able to explain or teach what they have learned to others. Here the students are paired off with a peer for a period of time, normally a month. The students are made aware that the purpose of their working together is to aid one another to improve their learning by giving each other the opportunity to share and teach and by providing feedback. When students receive feedback they can then go off and implement the recommendations from their learning partner into their work. Think, Pair and Share: Having posed a question the teacher allows a brief amount of time for the student to reflect on their answer. Then the student turns to their partner and they share their answers with each other. Having listened to each other they then try to create a new, better answer / solution, developing on their own answer. These can then be shared back to the group or go on to be part of a learning square. Learning Square: Having completed a think, pair and share, students can then move and join another pair to form a square and repeat the process of trying to develop a better idea/answer from their two previous ones. These then also can be shared back to the class. Teach – Okay!: This is a pair/peer teaching strategy that begins with the teacher spending a few minutes introducing a concept to the class. Next, the teacher says Teach!, the class responds with Okay!, and pairs of students take turns re-teaching the concept to each other. It’s a bit like think-pair-share, but it’s faster paced, it focuses more on re-teaching than general sharing, and students are encouraged to use gestures to animate their discussion. 14
Stump your Partner: Students take a minute to create a challenging question based on the class content up to that point. Students pose the question to their partner. To take this activity a step further, ask students to write down their questions and hand them in. These questions can be used to review or gauge student understanding. Maths Pairs: Working in pairs students work on a maths problem or set maths questions. Person A reads the problem and explains step-by-step the steps and strategies required to solve it. Person B watches as A solves the problem and checks the accuracy of the solution and provides help if it is needed. Then the roles reverse. When two problems are completed, the pair check their answers with another pair. If they do not agree, they must solve the problem until there is consensus. Gallery Walks: Students either in pairs or in small groups create a collective piece of work, which can be an answer to a task or simply creating a visual aid for what they have learned. These are then hung on the wall or placed on the tables and the students travel around the classroom looking at the answers or visual aids that the other students created. Students are encouraged to give positive feedback to others on the piece of work they have created. Transformation: Students in a group are given text in one format and are asked to present it in another. For example, a health leaflet could be turned into a newspaper report, or a set of instructions could be turned into a statement about how the device works and when it would be useful. 15