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An English school’s first step at working with competences

A Class 9 Chemistry Main Lesson

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An English school’s first step at working with competences

 

Background: At the Steiner Academy Hereford, we have no tradition of working with portfolio or competences, so this was a way of making a first start at introducing the students to the idea of competences. It was done in the context of a class 9 chemistry main lesson.

 

1.   Start the main lesson talking to the students about the fact that there is more to learning than just academic work and their finished books. We are all learning throughout our lives and need to develop new skills and attitudes. The world is constantly changing and even as adults we need to keep developing new skills and competences. Tell them about the European parliament and what they think a good European citizen should be competent in. (I found this useful for those students who think it is just us and our “Steiner ways”)

 

I referred to Jan Figel’s paper: ‘8 key competences for lifelong learning’ to give them a picture of what we meant by competences and what they were. You could use others. 

 

2.   Tell them about your aims and objectives for the main lesson too – what you as a teacher are looking for them to develop apart from their bookwork e.g. in Chemistry I was looking for observational skills, curiosity etc.

3.   Once you have given them some idea about the kind of things that they could develop, ask them to write it down as goals of “what I want to achieve during this main lesson...” It could be learning related or more social ones, or at this age of student things such as doing my homework, keeping up to date, getting to school on time.

They write down these goals and put them in their books.

4.   Give them a checklist. This has boxes down the page for them to fill in their goals and days of the week across the top. At the end of the lesson each morning remind them to reflect and fill in their sheet. This can be a tick/cross system or one word. I left it up to them how they use it, or if they use it at all, but all the pupils in my class said it was useful and half said that they needed reminding to fill it in.

5.   As the teacher, make a note of their personal goals.  When observing them, have a list of your own aims and objectives and their own goals to keep in mind. If you follow this system it is more efficient in your daily notes than just thinking “how were they today?

 

I did daily notes for my criteria, and once a week comments on their personal goals. You can change this to suit what works for you.

 If you know what their goals are, then you can use these to help the pupil. For example if a pupil wants to develop confidence in speaking in class in front of others, you can create situations to help this happen. Learning then becomes a dialogue between student and teacher. The other advantage is that it is easier to say to a pupil “Remember that you wanted to work on your concentration” rather than “I want you to....”!

 

6.   At the end of the 3 weeks, ask them to write a self assessment of how they think they did referring to their checklists and their original goals.

 

I asked them to think about which was the most challenging, the most successful and the least successful. On this one, if they gave themselves a score out of 10, what would it take for them to go up a number? (They try to find the next step, but it is a small one, so more achievable)

 

7.   Write their reports on their bookwork in your usual way but include a comment on “development of learning, skills and competences” and a comment on their personal goals from your perspective. In this comment, include something you think they did well and something you think they should continue to work on in the future – this is the most important bit!

 

In our report there was a space for them to reply to the teacher and a space for the parents to comment if they wished.

(None of my pupils felt the need to respond.)

If you have the time, it would be good to sit down with each student and review their progress and agree what they need to continue to work on or set new goals. These could then be worked on and reviewed perhaps half termly or what suits your school.

This could easily be adapted to subject lessons or generally over all lessons for a set period of time e.g. half a term.

See attached: examples of pupil’s goals and self assessments.

 

Karin Hines

Steiner Academy Hereford UK


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