Monday, 4 November 2019

10 Minute Lessons

We’ve had to change how we teach William.

William is no different to a lot of children I’ve taught over the years.

They get to a certain age and they become defiant with different aspects of schooling.

The most common areas are Literacy and Numeracy.
With Literacy it is usually a combination of writing and reading. By Year 5 and 6 they have hit the point where they’re no longer reading to progress. They’ve passed the Biff and Chip book phase, they’re on to free reading and the books are generally bigger.

A lot of the time it is a combination of finding it tedious and slightly overwhelming. They have to read throughout every lesson in one form or another. They can cope with that. Yet, you give them a book and is suddenly a big ask.

Writing is no different. They do plenty of it throughout the rest of their work and all of a sudden there’s a mass writing session in front of them.

With Numeracy the core topics change. Anything on top of the fundamentals is an extension of what they already know. I.e multiplication turns into long multiplication. Yet, the older years you’re learning more complex topics like algebra and logic. It’s new and something else that now needs to be learnt.

William hit these walls.

The work in other subjects varied. Some days he was doing projects, others he would do a day out and some areas were design and reply type pieces.

Something easy to tackle.

Yet I would sit down and do Literacy and Numeracy and you would think I’ve asked the impossible.
Home Ed is perfect for the individual. 1) you can adapt it to the individual rather than a whole class and, 2) the time frame is a lot shorter.

When you have a class of 30 children you are teaching one topic at 3 or 4 different levels. You spend time making sure each small group can do the activity in front of them. This leads to a 15 to 20 minute introduction or warm up activity. In Home Ed that time is taken down to around 5 minutes. So to sit and expect a child to do say a 50 minute lesson is actually asking more of them than their schooled counter part.

Realistically you are looking at each child spending around 20 minutes actually working.

It’s easy to get lost in time frames. You sit and think we will do an hour of Literacy and not fully grasp that you’re overwhelming a child with potentially 3 lessons rolled into one.

William was flagging under the pressure and was becoming oppositional.

I wanted to find a solution that would get him engaged and not overwhelm.

We decided to break Literacy and Numeracy into 10 minute lessons.

We would set one sub topic and ask him to complete the task in the time frame.

For example: We would give William an age appropriate activity sheet on Adjectives. We would spend 5 minutes discussing the topic and completing one example on the sheet. We then set the timer and work on through. The bonus would be to complete the activity ahead of time and subsequently “saving" minutes to add to his free time.

We would then change the sub topic and start again, say with pronouns.

We then repeat this 4 times. He would then spend 40 minutes working but tackling the topics one at a time.
Keep the same sub topics throughout the week and he would be doing 50 minutes total on one core subject.
We then would do the same with Numeracy.

Sometimes he would complete ahead of time and would add minutes and others, where he would struggle more, he would work up to the timer. Yet, the crucial part there would be the fact that despite the effort and struggle that part of the lesson was over.

He wouldn’t need to stress any further.

So how did we get on?

Well I’m not going to say that it worked every single time because it didn’t. There were some sub topics that instantly overwhelmed him and subsequently digs his heels in and be defiant and oppositional.

That said the majority of the time it worked.
Home Ed is perfect for children like William in ways that schools wouldn’t be. You have that freedom to change and explore and do what works.

These 10 minute lessons have also highlighted areas that we know he struggles with. Some that he will struggle with because of his additional learning needs and others where it may just change given a little longer in smaller bursts.

Children learn at different speeds and can change how they see and approach work. Sometimes changing the standard formula can work. In this case I feel it has.

Has anyone else ever done this? Or, do you have any other tips to help pupils who become oppositional with Literacy and Numeracy?

1 comment:

Plutonium Sox said...

This sounds like a great idea, we take a similar approach when it comes to piano practice. Little and often is always more acceptable than a big chunk. That said in your case, I have strong suspicions that it's probably you that throws a strop after more than 10 minutes but I won't mention that, we'll just let everyone think it's William...