Digital teaching tips & tricks, ideas, examples, and general thoughts and reflections. Could be useful to anyone teaching in a digital learning environment.
Email: mgoodwin@ptengland.school.nz

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Earmuffs? Do you mean our... 'focussed writing time'?

My inquiry this year is into boy's writing. As part of this inquiry I have been having discussions in the class with my boys about their writing. What they like to write best? When they like to write best? What they like to write about etc...

Out of these discussions one common theme has emerged. The boys have told me that there is too much noise in the classroom, and this makes it harder to concentrate on writing. Girls too have suggested that this is a problem, and in our innovative learning environment with 60 odd learners it is not entirely unbelievable. 

Therefore I decided to take a leaf out of Chris Marks book, from his inquiry into boys writing back in 2014. I have set up silent learning spaces inside the class, where learners can have focussed learning time without distraction. However unlike Chris I have not made these physical spaces as such, and instead these 'silent spaces' have taken the form of earmuffs.
Learners who want to use the earmuffs must ask first, and explain to me what work they want to work on while wearing them.  They also have to set a goal for what they want to accomplish in that time, and are held accountable if they don't.  If someone is wearing the earmuffs, the deal is they are not to be disturbed.  

I have been very careful not to prescribe the earmuffs to anyone, and therefore it is entirely up to the learners whether they use them or not. It has encouraged a sense of responsibility over their writing, and helped them become more aware of their needs.

So far the earmuffs have been working very well, and I am really excited by the enthusiasm towards writing this has helped foster in my learners. In the beginning there wasn't any real gender divide between who was using the earmuffs, but overtime I have noticed that the boys have been requesting to use the earmuffs more often. Part of me wonders how much of this is due to the 'silent' nature of the earmuffs, or in fact the deadline nature of being held accountable to reaching the writing goal agreed upon before using the earmuffs. As when I reflect on my own needs in writing, a deadline has always been most inspiring.



The earmuffs were bought off trademe for only $2.50 each ($25 for 10).

7 comments:

  1. This is such a cheap solution to a big problem! Good on you for thinking of it. Do you think a set of fluffy purple ones might cater to a group not so excited by the red ones :)

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    1. Perhaps we can decorate them as an art lesson one afternoon :)

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  2. Great idea Matt thanks for sharing - looked on Trade Me can't find them that cheap please can you possibly flick me an email with seller's details to jashe@ctk.school.nz THANKS SO SO SOOOO much...

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    1. Try searching "lot of 10 ear muffs", he often puts up new auctions so check back a few days later if they aren't there :)

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  3. Cheers for sharing this Matt, we've just bought in ear muffs in our learning space too. However I think, like you have, we need to set specific guidelines and goals around the purposeful use of them.

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  4. Hi Matt, thats a great insight into boys need in terms of concentration. Apart from coming up with what looks like a pretty good solution, do you think the lack of quiet space is a weakness that need addressing in more open plan learning environments? Given the opportunity would you design the space differently?

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  5. This is such a cool idea, Matt! I look forward to hearing how they impact on the student learning outcomes :) A great solution to creating a "quiet space" without the physical walls!

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