Learning Circles 2013

Japanese Lessons – Sumo Style!

Over the past two weeks, 52 Transition Year students have taken part in our Learning Circles workshops. This activity involved learning Leaving Certificate material without a teacher, and then creating learning experiences for your peers.

Initially, each team discussed and presented about how they like to learn. This included learning experiences they enjoyed both in and out of school so everything from interesting teachers and cool experiments to riding bikes and solving problems were mentioned. The students were very keen on working in teams and using technology.

In the next part of the workshop, each team was assigned a topic. The topics were recommended by teachers and were mostly taken from the Leaving Cert curriculum. These included Maths, Physics, Biology, History, Geography and (not on the curriculum) Japanese! Each team had use of two computers with internet access in addition to whiteboards, markers, paper and pens. Their task was to learn as much as they could then prepare for part three.

The teams’ biggest challenge for the week was to teach their peers the topics they had just learned themselves, and to do it in the way they had all described earlier in the week. Most teams were able to teach themselves without too many problems but the task of coming up with interesting ways to cover the new material proved quite tricky for some.

Physics – Light experiments!

The students were discouraged from just creating PowerPoint presentations on the topics and where PowerPoint was used, they were reminded that the focus should be on what they were saying or what the students were doing, not on the slides! All of the groups came up with several approaches to covering their topic.

“#” taught us some basic Japanese and included an introduction to Japanese culture which featured a live demonstration of Sumo wrestling! Team Burger helped us understand how light is reflected and refracted with a series experiments involving glass, water and oil, while Spocks Magic Ewoks covered Nazi Propaganda and got their students to create pieces of positive propaganda about their own team leaders. The Sandle Skaters were one of many teams to create short videos on their topic. They were teaching about the digestive system and included an activity where their students had to draw and label the digestive system onto a blank torso of Freddie Mercury. Freddie was unique in many ways but we’re assuming his digestive system was similar to the rest of us! We also had lots of online videos, games, quizzes, debates and a Zumba activity as part of a lesson about Brazil.

It was an exciting and challenging project for both the students and the Bridge21 team. It was an amazing demonstration of what motivated students can achieve and we can say that we learned a lot from all the students involved, literally!

What the students say….

“When you research something yourself and to present it….you want your project to be great.”

“If you teach someone, you have to know it first, and then you know it better.”

“It motivates me to learn more and it’s enjoyable because i like helping other people to learn.”

“They taught me more than I ever could have imagined.”

“You learn more by doing something and trying to create the learning experience.”

“It’s more like your friends telling you something than being taught by a teacher, which makes it easier to remember.”

“It really changed my view on how school and the Leaving Cert should be run and made me want change.”

“It gave me a freedom to express my opinions on my education without being told that it is not possible.”

“It was a great experience and I hope that some of these methods and ideas can become part of our education system.”

“It was so much fun!”


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.