Guest blogger: Lead teacher, Sue Tennander
Topic: authentic learning
In the Communications course of the English programme, students study human interaction and communication in different contexts. Social interaction is undoubtedly something that all students already have plenty of experience of, but in order to develop their analytical skills they are introduced to a number of different theories that focus on how we learn at different ages. One assignment related to this particular topic requires students to plan, in groups of two or three, an activity that they can lead with a small group of fourth graders (eight-year-olds) at the nearby British International School of Stockholm (BISS). This year, with their activity plans approved and predictions made about how things would work out, students spent a morning being the “big kids on the block“ rather than the youngest at VRG.
After a general introduction, each group of VRG students was assigned 3-6 eight-year-olds who were clearly eager to see what the giants from up the road had to offer. Within minutes, groups were spread throughout three classrooms and a corridor, deeply engaged in solving puzzles, playing word games, telling stories, doing memory tests, building towers and wrapping eggs in such a way that when they were dropped from a height they wouldn´t break. These are just a few of the many different activities that the VRG students had planned.
This was clearly the most energetic part of the assignment and it gave the VRG students plenty of authentic material on which to base their follow-up report. This is where they had the chance to relate theory to practice, analyse whether their activity had gone according to plan or not, and comment on the many different types of interaction they encountered during their visit.
The final stage of the assignment was for each pair/group of VRG students to practise their presentation skills a week later in class, when an overview of each activity involved at BISS was given.
The visit to BISS is just one of the many authentic learning situations that I and many of my colleagues at VRG strive to incorporate in our courses. I have a feeling that it is also one of the most fun, at least it seemed that way to me as I walked between groups of students from both schools smiling and laughing together.
Read about other examples of authentic learning at VRG, here: