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3 effective teaching ideas that you can use right now!

  • by: By WAGOLL Teaching’s Ben Cooper
  • On: 6, Oct 2021
25 min read

Professional development is great, but it can be difficult to find time in the school calendar and school budget to attend long training days away from the classroom. Microlearning might be the latest buzzword on street but it actually makes a lot of sense. People are more regularly listening to podcasts on their way to work or following educators on Twitter to gain new ideas for the classroom.

Microlearning delivers short snippets of content for learners to study at their convenience. Content can take many forms, from text to full-blown interactive multimedia, but is always (yes you guessed it) short! Unlike other forms of training and learning, these small segments of learning have to get straight to the point. So, here are my three effective teaching strategies you can use right now in your classroom:

1. The Learning Ladder — Self-differentiation at its finest! 💡

This strategy is great when used at the beginning of the lesson and is great for taking learning outside the classroom in a simple way. Place a number of zones in a ladder formation in your school hall, playground or using tables in your classroom. Within your zones, place questions that progressively get harder from zone to zone. Children can begin the lesson by accessing the first zone and moving on when they feel the questions are not challenging them. Give it ten minutes and you will have children spread across the zones and automatically grouped based on ability for that particular skill!

You may not even have to teach the whole class. You can pick various zones to tackle any misconceptions before sending them back to move up the ladder into the next zone. The children love the motivation of moving on and you can spice things up further by making it feel like the Crystal Maze or another adventure game show.

For more differentiation tips watch this. 👀

2. Through the Keyhole Inference — Who could live in a house like this? 💡

Inference is a big focus in Reading and something that can be developed not just through books. Why not play ‘Through the Keyhole’ with your students? ⁠ Share with children a description of a house linked to a famous celebrity or book character. Describe or show images of the contents that give students clues to the owner of the house. The children can justify their answers based on the evidence presented. ⁠They may also describe what type of personality the owner of the house has, what their job might be and if they have any other family members.

Once you have done this, flip this activity and turn it into a writing task. Ask the children to pick their own character or celebrity and think about what might be in their house and why. Their language choices will act as clues for other students to guess their chosen figure.

For more inference tips watch this. 👀

3. Finger Twister — Developing Fine Motor Skills 💡

Fine motor skills are so important for children and young people. If they can use small tools and coordinate their hands and fingers with accuracy it can have a positive effect on handwriting, art skills, PE and design and technology. Additionally, research would show you that if a child uses most of their working memory to coordinate their pencil or pen, they will struggle to focus on the learning taking place. Children often forget what they were intending to write simply because they are concentrating so much on coordinating their hands. As fine motor skills become more natural, children’s attention can be focused on the content of their writing instead.

One fun way of doing this is playing finger twister. We all know the party game twisters, where children are asked to place their hands and feet on various coloured spots on a mat. Scale this down to a small hand-sized mat and ask children to place their thumbs and fingers on various spots. This will develop children’s finger coordination which will, in turn, enhance their fine motor skills.

To expand on this further and tie it in with lessons and learning, replace the coloured spots with pictures or words. Why not place phonics sounds on the mat and ask children to place their fingers on different sounds? Alternatively, in Science, place pictures of different animals and get them to place their thumb on a mammal and index finger on a reptile.

Your children will find it difficult, to begin with, but the more they practise the better they will be. You will have fantastic writers in no time at all!

For more fine motor skill tips watch this. 👀

Small bits of microlearning can be very effective when put together. The core principles of marginal gains tell you that, by changing lots of small things about your teaching practice, you can make a big difference in its overall effectiveness. Indeed, if you improve one hundred things by 1%, you have improved your practice by 100%. Microlearning and WAGOLL Teaching work on this principle. LiteracyWagoll is full of short vlogs, blogs, podcasts and ideas that you can instantly be implemented into your teaching and classroom. Learning lots of small new strategies, over a period of time, will have a far greater effect than massive changes to the curriculum and teaching approaches. After all, no one really needs to attend a full day’s training to learn how to play finger twister!

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