Traditional teaching methods often involve direct instruction and learning through repetition and memorisation techniques. However, while this approach may lead to knowledge retention, it does little in the way of developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills, encouraging students to treat knowledge as a given, rather than something that should be further investigated. These shortfalls have given rise to modern pedagogies which place an emphasis on student-centred learning – acknowledging that students’ voice is central to the learning experience.
These ‘student-centred’ methods not only respond to students’ desire to learn through a more hands-on approach to learning, but this more engaged pedagogy has also demonstrated greater conceptual understanding and improved results. A central tenant to this teaching method is empowering teachers to break free from the front of the classroom. Gone are the days when classrooms mirror dull lectures, and heralded is the era of interactive SCALE-UP classrooms.
The SCALE-UP pedagogy represents a “Student-Centred Active Learning Environment with Upside-down Pedagogies”. It is a contemporary pedagogy that replaces instruction-led learning with problem-solving and enquiry-based activities. In SCALE-UP classrooms, small groups of students work collaboratively on short, engaging tasks that allow them to address “tangibles” – short activities involving physical experiments – or “ponderables” – activities centred around conceptual questions that students discuss and answer. Working in this way not only fosters collaborative learning, but it also leaves the teacher more freedom to move around the classroom and focus on what they do best: teach, support and interact with students. Breaking free from the traditional ways of standing at the front of the classroom allows them to shift their role from instructor to facilitator.
Fostering active participation, SCALE-UP classrooms also benefit greatly from the latest edtech solutions that merge the physical and virtual space through content sharing and online interactive technologies. These education technology resources, including integrated digital whiteboards, elevate this pedagogy by re-designing the classroom environment and encouraging decentralised student huddle stations where pupils prepare, present, and participate in assigned activities. This pedagogy is the modern way to facilitate and maintain student engagement and paired with technology that integrates other leading education resources like Google and Microsoft, SCALE-UP offers an educational ecosystem that facilities an interactive learning experience for students and teachers alike.
So, if you’re looking to SCALE-UP your classroom, why not try these three simple ideas:
Take a virtual tour
Take a trip without leaving the classroom and learn about geography with a virtual tour. Students can conduct group research into the locations, draw icons or find images that represent its history or geography, and can ‘throw’ these to the shared board as the class joins together for a Google Earth tour.
Field trip storytelling
Summarising what has been learned through storytelling is a great way to reinforce knowledge among students. Following a field trip, in small huddle stations, ask students to contribute their own photos and videos of the trip into a shared cloud folder, and organise them on an intelligent whiteboard in an educational summary. These can then be shared with the rest of a class to build a complete picture, or storybook, of the field trip.
Practice spelling while creating a little competitiveness among students with a word search extending the students’ vocabulary. Adjusting the difficulty by changing the puzzle size, students can work independently or in small groups to highlight the hidden words.
Intelligent whiteboard and integrated cloud-based software have become prolific in classrooms around the world. However, they are commonly underutilised with teachers often remaining at the front of the classroom, delivering content in a lecture-style setting.
The embrace of this technology, as well as the implementation of SCALE-UP, can be achieved by incorporating activities like virtual tours, storytelling-based field trips, and word searches. These activities, will not only enhance the learning experience for teachers and students alike by creating a more interactive and engaging environment, but they will also foster a sense of critical thinking and inquiry that is often lost through traditional pedagogies.