Saturday, 20 August 2011

Why my Social Sciences lesson turned out to be a success....

The only mistake I have made from the beginning, was not to involve the learners in the planning right from the start. This created a situation where learners felt a bit uncomfortable with my new role as a "mediator" and not an "instructor". I would like to use the word "instructor" because the only words that came out of my mouth were in the form of instructions. Very little mediation or collaborative teaching efforts, as required by the CHAT theory, were taking place in my lessons (Roth and Lee, 2007). 

I cannot tell you that I have experienced the exact successes as mentioned by Lee and Roth, but I have learned that once learners choose the object of their actions, as well as the means of representation, they become far more involved in the learning process (Roth and Lee, 2007).

They have learnt about the Black Death by researching artifacts on the Internet. One should never loose sight as to what is expected from learners in Grade 7 Social Sciences. 

In Learning Outcome 1, Historical Enquiry, the learner have to use enquiry skills to investigate the past and present. Important enquiry processes for this Learning Outcome include: the finding of sources; working with sources, by asking questions, finding information, and organising, analysing and synthesising information. They are then expected to write a piece of history by answering a question and communicate historical knowledge and understanding in the form of an answer. 

I have to admit that I have learnt a great deal of teaching over the last few weeks. Having 28 years of service, I have found that; "an old dog is never too old to learn new tricks!" It is just a pity that I had to learn it the hard way.

My learners were given the freedom to explore within certain boundaries, which I made clear to them. They in return promoted learning of themselves and others by contributing in their own way. They were given the correct tools and instruments to mediate these very productive activities.

By working together they became part of one big "mosaic" display. I would like to call it a mosaic display, because every little piece mattered, and every little contribution made by learners made a difference.

As stated by Roth and Lee; I was now experiencing activity as a more enriched form of learning and teaching (Roth and Lee, 2007). The days of on-sided communication and instruction has finally come to an end. 

Using computers, language and other forms of presentation in the classroom made me realise that these are important tools in promoting the mediation process. What was most encouraging, was the fact that I have almost achieved the complete "Activity triangle" as explained by Roth and Lee (Roth and Lee, 2007).

One should never loose sight of the fact that CHAT speaks of the mediation of a subject by achieving an object through artifacts, and that action produces resources such as: Outcomes, Consumption, Distribution and Exchange. Material entity is not fixed and can take different functions. Signs can become tools, and texts can produce more texts (Roth and Lee, 2007).

Roth, W.M.& Lee, Y. 2007. Vygotsky's Neglected Legacy: Cultural -Historical Activity Theory. Review of Educational Research. June 2007, Vol.77, No2, pp 186-232.

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