Learnable moments

Zoom is the platform of choice for our online sessions with young people in Palestine and Jordan. One of the reasons for this is that it’s really easy to record everything that happens on both sides of the webcam. After the session, an extract of the recording might be used to create some teacher development materials and added to our youtube playlist.  Or the whole recording can be sent to the classroom teacher in Palestine so that the kids can watch it again and learn even more from the experience.

But it’s also really great to have this facility for us volunteers ourselves so that we can see what we’re doing, reflect on it and learn from it.

After I’d posted last week, I watched the whole video of the 45 minute session. For a part of the session we were playing a game where I was asking them questions to see what they could remember about a picture.

The screenshot below shows the exact moment where I asked the question “How many people are pointing at the cat?” As you can see, I mimed ‘pointing’ simultaneously with asking the question. I did this because I suspected that lots of them wouldn’t know what the word ‘pointing’ meant.

Screenshot 2020-02-19 at 17.45.34

However, as I watched the video I started to wonder whether I’d done it in the best possible way to maximise learning. Isn’t it better to give students the opportunity to process language in English without providing them with a translation?  What I was doing by using the gesture at the same time was giving them with an immediate  translation – not into Arabic but into gesture language – and by doing so I was denying them the opportunity to predict/work out/hypothesise what ‘pointing’ meant for themselves.

You might not agree with what I’ve written above, but it’s certainly true that the experience of watching this happen in the video was a learnable moment for me. It was a moment when I reflected on what I was doing and thought about how I might do it differently next time.

So now over to you.

I’m asking all HUP volunteers around the world if they’d like to do the same; watch a recording of themselves doing a session and pick a moment where something happened that you learnt from. It doesn’t have to be something where you felt you were doing something ‘wrong’ (as in my example). It could also be a moment where you felt that something really useful/meaningful/engaging/brilliant was happening.

I think these could make really interesting blog posts and they could, in turn become learnable moments for other teachers around the world…

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