Students Lead a “Celebration of Learning” Evening – Then Quiz Their Parents!

A number of our Year 6 classes have moved away from the traditional Parent-Teacher interviews towards a “Celebration of Learning Evening” which was held recently and the students grouped together to present their learning to around 90 adults who attended.

Preparatory School Inquiry Learning Model

Preparatory School Inquiry Learning Model

The students had completed a unit on various aspects of Chinese culture, including calligraphy, fan dancing, paper cutting, cookery, lion and dragon masks, children’s games and kung fu. This was the same unit that our Year 12 students had filmed and presented in their Fusion TV Show that I blogged about earlier.

The learning had taken place within the new inquiry learning framework developed by the Preparatory School for their students, and the children were excited to be presenting this learning back to their parents.

The adults moved around the various displays over the course of the hour, with numerous groups seamlessly including technology into their presentations, using a range of tablet devices to show how they had collated their research into sections in their MS OneNote notebooks, along with sharing cooking clips, kung fu moves and music. The parents could also try their hand at calligraphy with different apps being used on the tablets to support this.

Nearing the end of the performing arts section, one of the students ask Mr Dekkers if they could create a quiz for the parents using, a tool that allows for real time quizzing within a class and one that I’ve blogged about before here. The aim of the quiz was to check parents had been reading all the work the students had on display, and included a number of multi-choice and short answer questions:

  • What does the colour red mean?
  • When were the first Chinese masks made?
  • China is a country with up of about ___________ years of culture and history?
  • What are the dances that are well known in China?

Parents were then asked to use their own smart phones to access the quiz online (the students guided them through this process, showing how simple the technology actually was). You can see some of the answers below (parent names removed!):

The parent answers to a quick quiz created by students during a "Celebration of Learning" evening in the Preparatory School.

The parent answers to a quick quiz created by students during a “Celebration of Learning” evening in the Preparatory School.

When I heard about this from Mr Dekkers I was delighted by the initiative demonstrated and that our students are starting to see technology as “just another tool” that can both help with their learning, but also to demonstrate their learning. I mentioned in this earlier post that:

Whilst the phrase “ubiquitousness of technology” is over used, this lesson did demonstrate that when used effectively, the technology is not at the forefront of the lesson.

I see this example from the Preparatory School as reinforcing this – it was the student voice and presentations that was the true celebration of learning, the technology used merely augmented this.

As the confidence of students increases and they identify a wider range of applications for technology in their learning, I anticipate more examples such as this emerging from our classrooms.

Skyping with Vikings in Jorvik

A staff member from Jorvik Viking Centre in York, role playing as a Viking woman called Toba

A staff member from Jorvik Viking Centre in York, role playing as a Viking woman called Toba

This morning our Year 3 students had a very early and exciting start to their school day, as they quietly filed into the Preparatory School Theatre at 8am, to be met by Toba a Viking woman from Jorvik (York).

Mrs Jane Radford and Mrs Jane Egden, our Year 3 teachers, were concluding a unit on Vikings and this session was going to be a chance for the students to ask a number of questions, as well as learn some additional information from a “real” Viking woman.

I had arranged this on their behalf 3 weeks ago (after a tip off from Skype in the Classroom), and the Jorvik Viking Centre had kindly agreed to a later session (9pm York time) to enable our students to have this wonderful learning opportunity.

Students listening to Toba from Jorvik

Students listening to Toba from Jorvik

It was an engaging and interactive hour long session, with Toba asking our students a number of questions, to which they could answer many of them, demonstrating some excellent learning had already taken place as part of this Viking unit. Toba showed a number of tools and weapons that were used by Vikings, with the swords and axes drawing excited “oohs and ahhs” from our students.

When it came to discussing personal hygiene, we learnt that the Vikings were very cleanly people, especially when compared to their contemporary Saxons who only bathed three times a year! When it came to dealing with nits and lice they had special combs for this and would also wash their hair in urine to kill the lice (to squeals of “that’s so gross” from our students!). You could tell who had done this as their hair turned very blonde!

Asking questions of Toba from Jorvik

Asking questions of Toba from Jorvik

Towards the end of the hour, our students still had a few remaining unanswered questions, which Toba kindly answered, including this one of “who were Vikings afraid of?”

As a group of teachers, we were very impressed with the quality of the session, it was informative, fun and engaging for the students involved. We got to see and learn about lots of different Viking tools, traditions and daily life. What was also pleasing was a number of parents stayed along to watch the session and be involved in the learning – porridge was even being prepared for afterwards!

Building on from our Mystery Skype earlier this term, it is great to see teachers looking for ways they can bring experts into the classroom through technology and present authentic learning experiences for their students.