Thursday, 19 May 2016

Creativity and Critical Thinking

This week my co-teacher and I have begun a new unit in Year 9 Social Studies; Beliefs and Religions Around the World. I have attempted to be more engaged with the planning and teaching of this unit, now I have grounded my feet. I would not say I have been disengaged or avoiding this class, but I needed time to find my feet in the school, the subject, alongside Dot (co-teacher) and the class.

Believing in yourself and what is important to you

Rather than asking students to find definitions of what belief and religion is and write them down (then subsequently forgetting them a few minutes later), I thought we should be a little more creative with our lessons. Reading through my reflections, and considering my observations and understandings of the class, I concluded the students need less time listening, and more time completing activities and creating things they need to think about.

Important to push yourself, love one another
Thus, I have attempted the past two days to include more student centred teaching and learning. Yesterday students spent majority of the lesson participating in human continuums, as I like to call them. Students were given a statement, such as homework is important, and they had to place themselves along the continuum from strongly agree to strongly disagree. Students then had to explain why they put themselves where they did on the continuum. I think this was a great lesson to introduce beliefs, and to understand everyone has different beliefs. The key message the lesson was based around was there is no right or wrong belief, everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, thoughts and opinions. Additionally, students were able to open their thinking to consider others' ideas and beliefs, which may be different to their own. Following from that, in small groups students discussed what belief and religion may mean, and tried to distinguish the difference.
Believes he can be successful, would love to be an artist

Following on from yesterday, students' task this morning was to create a drawing. The drawing had two parts; one picture to represent what the students determine belief is, what is important and valuable to them, and a picture to represent what they think religion is. These are some of their creations, which was so exciting to see.

The students were really challenged to consider the difference between beliefs and religions, and they questioned their own. This lesson was a great opportunity for students to actually sit and think "What do I believe in? What do I think is important?". Following on from the drawings, we looked at different beliefs around the world and tied the beliefs to religions. Although the students aren't as respectful and well behaved as I would like them to be, their behaviour and attitudes in class have increased considerably, which makes for a much more enjoyable lesson. I feel like I am finally making some ground with these students, the subject and co-teaching in Social Studies.

Learn, Create, Share is a massive component of Manaiakalani, which I am attempting to incorporate into my teaching more often. Read more about Learn, Create, Share here!

Believes it is important to go to church, Understands religion as a group of people we believe in e.g. Christianity

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