Monday, 4 May 2020

Ako: To Teach & To Learn

In addition to the roll out of an integrated curriculum this year, there has been an inclusion of two non-curriculum related classes; Ako and Mai time. Mai time was developed to give students an opportunity to create passion projects around something of their choice. This means the students can develop skills and learn about things that are of particular interest to them. Ako time was developed for 4 key reasons;
  1. Increase awareness of topics and learning
  2. Improve student self confidence and social confidence
  3. Reflection on Mai time projects and progress
  4. Increased understanding of student levels and progress (see more here)
Therefore, I can include any activities within my lessons which help to develop/work towards these four aims. I love Ako time!! I think it is fantastic there are opportunities for students to develop practical, social and theoretical skills which they may have had little time to develop prior to this year. One of which is the ability to reflect. Each Friday morning students reflect on the week that has been - what they completed in each of their classes, what they found difficult, what they enjoyed and what their next steps are. See below the template for the learning journal my students (are supposed to!) complete each week (I can't believe it's already Week 12/18!). 

Some of my personal highlights from Ako lessons include listening activities, an activity about values and being open-minded, and student created games.

I had noticed, and had feedback from some students, that this group struggles to listen. It was taking a long time to get their attention to give instructions, once it was nearly 7 minutes!! As a result, we had a couple of lessons focused around listening. We played Chinese whispers, completed the Life with the Wright family activity and played Draw It (a simple game where you give step by step instructions of what to draw, and between each instruction the students pass their paper to someone else). The students started to become  frustrated with each other when someone wasn't listening, and started to empathise for their teachers and peers when they were trying to speak! Their listening definitely improved after this.

To encourage students to think about other people's perspectives, and challenge their own values and opinions, we completed the classic Sinking Ship activity below. I had planned for this activity to last about 20 minutes, but there was so much positive debate and discussion it ended up being nearly an hour! With some guidance, by the end of the activity the students were much more respectful of each other's opinions (still a way to go, but small steps!), and gave each other time to say their thoughts.

Finally, the students got into small groups and created mini games to teach and play with one another. I gathered a random assortment of equipment and gave each of the groups tokens to use in an equipment auction. They then had only 30 minutes to create a game they could run for 15 minutes with two other groups in the class! I was pretty blown away by some of the creativity the kids had, with minimal resources and not a lot of time. General feedback was that they enjoyed this activity too, so definitely something that will be repeated in the future!

Only a few days before lockdown I asked the students to complete a feedback form for me to gauge their understanding of their topics and what they are enjoying/not enjoying about school and Ako. There were a few common themes as outlined in the visual alongside - things they like about Ako, things they dislike and suggestions they made. I look forward to implementing some of this feedback into future lessons when we are back at school. At the moment it's really not the same!

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