One of my favourite lesson planning frameworks comes from an amazing body of research into how the brain learns best. The accelerated learning cycle is based on the work of Alistair Smith. It works by applying the knowledge of how the brain learns to a system of steps that we walk through (with our students) to maximise their learning potential. This research aligns with and includes the work of Dr Paul Maclean, Piaget and Reuven Feuerstein. It takes into account the three main elements of the brain as presented by Maclean, the way in which we can use data (as a way to explore different viewpoints and remain curious about our learners) and the stages of a child’s brain development (Piaget). It also draws on the work in “The Whole-Brain C
The accelerated learning cycle has seven stages – broken into four parts. Each stage has an equally important part to play but also relies on a pre-stage… the learning environment.
WHAT IS THIS FOUR-PART LESSON ALL ABOUT?
It first came across The “Accelerated Learning Cycle” when working in the UK. It came from the TEEP (Teacher Effectiveness Enhancement Program) There are some excellent ideas there about planning and what makes a good teacher – It’s free to sign up too . One of the 5 underpinning elements of TEEP is the accelerated learning cycle.
Accelerated learning is the term that the TEEP model uses to describe the techniques and strategies that we use to actively engage learners in learning. It is based on research of brain function , student motivation and multiple intelligences and provides a platform for life-long learning by promoting the importance of understanding how we learn as much as what we learn. The key ideas of accelerated learning can be briefly summarised as:
- Making connections with prior knowledge and experiences
- Experiencing the content of the curriculum through the senses
- Supporting students to take risks in their learning
- Allowing opportunity for exploratory talk
- Providing students with relevant and
- useful feedback
- Offering learning experiences that are both pleasurable and memorable
- Regular review of learning”(Taken from http://www.teep.org.uk/a_themodel.asp on 18/10/2011 )
WHAT’S SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN IN EACH PART?
So how do the dot points above translate into the planning frame you’ve been given? Here’s another useful diagram I was given when I was teaching with this cycle at Shenley Academy
Descriptions of each stage of ‘The Four-Part Accelerated Learning Cycle’
There’s a great little tool here to help fill in ideas whilst you’re brainstorming.
Now, as you know, with the help of my colleagues back at Shenley, I’m currently putting together a list of different types of activity that could fit under each of these headings but in the meantime what could I suggest?
The connection phase is all about helping your students to see the big picture. What do they already know / have the already experienced and what will they know/ have experienced by the end of the lesson. It’s also about creating a moment for students to connect with your learning environment. So, if we’ve just come in from P.E. or recess on a windy day we can all get ourselves into the correct “learning climate”. In TEEP that’s the consideration of:
- The physical environment
- The social/emotional environment
- The intellectual environment
Some practical ideas:
- Everything should be ready to go when they get there
- Always display the objectives – what about adding a “what we’re going to do” as well?
Connecting with prior learning:
- Card sort
- Memory Game (IWB)
- Brainstorm (timed gather if at the IWB – that clock is soooo important!)
- Drag and drop (IWB)
- Answer questions but don’t give feedback (let them do that themselves at the end)
- Create some success criteria that will help them to measure how well they’ve met the objectives
Some Practical Ideas
- Create a problem / pose a question and scaffold the task so that they can answer it themselves by exploring
- Model a technique and ask students to raise questions/ ideas as they go
- Immerse them in the topic –
- Give them a set of data and ask them what they think it represents
- If creative writing – have the sounds of the place they’re writing about playing, let them eat the food that they might be tasting in the description, touch the objects that would be around them etc.
- Make them passionate about the topic by relating it to real life
Some Practical ideas
- Ask them to critique a work sample and pull out what’s going well and what needs to be developed (Assessment for learning – it needn’t be someone from their class work but it’s nice if it is Two stars (positives) and one wish (target) is a nice way of ensuring positivity. Model this first against the success criteria on the IWB
- Each one, teach one: Ask them to explain what they’ve discovered/learned to someone else in the group and see how it’s the same/different to someone else’s ideas. – IWB– You could use a document camera and ask students to explain to the class what they’re doing with their own work on the big screen
- Group Presentation
Some Practical ideas
- At the very least use your questioning skills and the lesson objectives to tease out some of this much-needed reflection – perhaps have some pre-prepared questions hidden on the IWB as prompts?
- Provide them with A Review Triangle .
- Ask them to list the three most important things they learnt today
- Decide what the lesson objectives should be next lesson based on what we need to develop more as a result of today’s learning
AND ALL THE OTHER STUFF?
It’s also important to recognise different types of learners, different levels of ability, different learning needs. When choosing your ideas you need to consider all of this as it is a part of the learning environment and a part of the connection to prior learning that helps all of the lessons to connect so beautifully to create a long, empowering learning journey.