Allowing Learners to reframe learning.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe The devil is in the detail.

This post has a soundtrack- so if you want the none 2D version click here, and now read on.

I want you to think about how much of what you do as a teacher depends on focusing on the details. Think about it now. The technical calculations of algebra in maths, the craft and art of correct punctuation and grammar, the intricacy of coding. Beautiful details that create the rich fabric, not only of subjects but of the fundamentals of learning. I too teach the detail, and for me I find so much of my time focused on teaching my learners the craft of essay writing and exam technique, the importance and technicalities of evaluation are the details that dominate my planning and focus of lesson, above and even beyond content.

As professionals we spend a lot of time zooming in. I’m imaging teaching as a camera lens, and at our focus is in tight a lot of our working lives, not only in the detail of our subjects but also in terms of how we are assessed in observations. Today my classes did the opposite, instead of being zoomed in and focused on the detail, I encouraged them to zoom out, to allow their focus to blur and then reconsider the frame which surrounds their learning.

They have been utilising ICT to create public outcome projects since the AS exam. Today I asked them to create a public board on Pinterest (@Pinterest) and use the site to research the broad topic of crime statistics. They have already undertaken primary research on victim surveys and self-report studies which resulted in them using Hackasaurus, and then last week contributing to a collaborative class blog. In undertaking previous work, the devil has very much been in the detail. However, today I wanted them to be able to explore the topic in a creative way and be able to display this publicly, as well as to inform future work. I have been using Pinterest to research lesson ideas, and find graphics that appeal for years – however, this was the first time I have used it as the basis for a lesson.Image

They logged into the site and got free accounts organised as I demonstrated how to search for ‘Pins,’ which is what the site calls the images that a search recalls. I then showed them how to create a virtual board upon which to place the pins. They all began with a wide filter, pinning from a search of ‘Crime Statistics’ and the results were certainly varied and interesting. Pins they found, included Infographics, crime scene photos, cartoons and quotes from well known criminals – even a picture where one of the fingernails was painted to look like crime scene tape. Actually, I have really enjoyed looking at the boards, they gave an insight into the student who made them, and in many cases are chock full of personality. Some are beautiful, full of graphic design images and film posters, some have a much tighter focus on different types of crime and the way in which they are represented. Some learners pinned images from anti-domestic abuse campaigns, and some are actually even funny with political cartoons and YouTube videos. Each board is as unique as the learner that made it, and I look forward to them talking through their choices with me. This feels like real people-centred pedagogy, where the focus is on the individuality of the learners and the creative process that they are undertaking to express their own learning. By the nature of the process, the lesson was very inclusive, and catered for those of different abilities, strengths and talents. I particularly like the focus on utilising images, as this is accessible to my students with dyslexia without the usual frustrations of dealing with text, and I myself, as a dyslexic teacher feel very comfortable dealing with images. The process of research becomes less fraught and learning can be enjoyed rather than endured.

As the lesson progressed the learners began to look in more detail at crime in the local area- and they utilised the interactive website to create screen shots of crime statistics in the local area, which they then imported into the site as new pins, that others can then go on to re-pin. They also utilised the Office for National Statistics website to create new pins, and in doing so were not just regurgitating existing pins, but actually creating new media content with their own refocused lens. The process of pinning to a virtual board is a creative one, and has had some beautiful, conflictual and engaging results. However, I am proud of their efforts to actually create media content which is specifically linked to their own interests and research and is totally framed and then reframed by the existing material on their boards, which would later be rearranged to create a narrative about crime statistics.

In previous lessons these students have also created their own infographics about their primary research, and I was pleased to see many of them spontaneously adding them to the site- happy and willing to share their work with the outside work, as it is something they are proud of. These are some of their boards:Image

Pinterest is also brilliant for collaborative working, as if they ‘follow’ each other of the site, it is easy to find and then re-pin images that other have found. Their work was richer and had more depth as they searched the pins others had found in an attempt to create their own boards. Knowing that other members of e class were doing that is also motivating, and it was satisfying to see peer teaching over how to use the feature of the site taking place, but also the students praising each others choices- the feedback was Specific and helpful which I have worked hard to embed into the class culture this year.

Of course there are a hundreds of ways that you could utilise this site, here are a few that I thought of:

– Research which can be publicly displayed
– Creating a board would be a really engaging homework task
– You could place a pin on a board and ask the whole class to find another pin that links, responds, or evaluates the original.
– As a revision activity centred around a key topic or theme.
– Use board students have created previously as a starter in the next lesson.
– boards could be used as a creative writing prompt.
– Learners could present their boards to the rest of the class.
– Learners could set their boards to music, or suggest a sound track. This would really well if they imported the pins into something like iMovie and set them to music.
– You could ask the learners how the images could be used to create Thunks.
– You could print the pins out and create a visual display where the learners make connective links between the pins and annotate them
– The class could chose or vote for a favourite pin and then use the ThingLink website to make it mulit-media.

These are just a few ideas I have come up with, there must be hundreds. This is a great resource. For me, the benefit of being able to zoom out, and the students recreate their own focus was fabulous. They were motivated by not only the content, but the originality of the creative way they were engaging with the resource. The other thing worth considering here is that Pinterest is *perfect for teachers who have a BYOD policy, the mobile site is amazing and as easy to use as the website. You can find some more information out here on using Pinterest for educational purposes.

Please let me know if you try using this site, is a gold mine of educational potential and it has particularly helped me today to remember as a teacher to remember my learners individual needs and allow them creative expression which doesn’t depend on the zoomed in skills a lot of their learning is dependent on. Maybe sometimes it isn’t the detail, but the wider picture that is important.


10 responses to “Allowing Learners to reframe learning.

    • I couldn’t agree more! It’s such an easy tool as well that the learners can focus on the task not the tech. Thank you for your comment.

  1. Adding Pinterest to my list of tech to use next year. I have a Pinterest page, but rarely use it. I really like your idea of using images as responses to other images. One question, how would you signal what responding images do link, evaluate, or respond? Or would the idea just be inherent in the image?

    Another: what is a thunk?

    Suggestion: if your interested in images and image making, check out this blog:

    He’s really helped me consider seeing and images in new ways.

  2. Will try the technique with geog and eng depts first than our new research fellows team who are aiming for outstanding will let you know how we get on ….

    • Yes please do! It’s a fab tool. I think def part of an outstanding lesson as it demonstrates learning and progress. Be excited to hear how it goes : )

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