This blog highlights the process we have gone through with two classes in one of the schools we are collaborating with. I think both examples offer a good insight into what we mean by Situated, Attentive, Immersive Learning (SAIL):
This terms enquiry was sparked from a reaction from a story that I read to the group call ‘How to catch a star’. The book involves a boy trying to catch a star which ends with him finding a star on a beach which he befriends. The class’s response was fascinating ‘it’s a star fish’ ‘that boy’s an idiot’ ‘but it’s not a star’. It was incredible how literal they were leaving little room for imagination, belief, or curiosity. From this we have played about with the idea of ‘making the impossible, possible.’ I have tried to encourage them to play with possibilities and make connections to find new meaning. This led to the idea of ‘what makes us believe?’
We have spoken about personal testimony, critical mass of opinion, and evidence. This has led us to study myths and folklore, i.e. the Loch Ness Monster, UFO’s etc. We have discussed why some are more believable whilst others are not true.
Our creative output for this term will be a series of post-truth, fake news websites that suggest the Whisky Distillery in Addiewell is not what it seems. The pupils have allowed themselves to play in the unknown to find/make evidence that suggests the factory is in fact a unicorn zoo, home to a time portal, a dragon’s layer and a secret Government facility.
Through the work with the class I have realised the need to harness and nurture their belief in self-belief. Many of the class don’t present a natural curiosity or have a strong imagination. I predict the boys over use of computer games has potentially diminished their need to use imagination as everything is given to them. These skills become critical to other areas of learning – in many ways literacy is built on the ability to make connections, create worlds, play with possibilities, apply discipline/resilience, and believe in one’s ability to achieve. The ability to play in the unknown allows them to accept and relish new challenges. They find strategies of getting out of the learning pit.
This term the younger class started with the stimulus ‘Not a box’. A book about a box not being a box. It involves a rabbit turning a box into a plane, house etc. The boys latched onto the rabbit’s imagination as the skill that allowed the box to be not a box. Imagination then became our enquiry.
We have played with boxes, transformed them into hats, castles, pyramids, an octopus etc. Each week they draw their imagination to document how it changes.
We looked at the impact of music on our imagination and carried out some experiments about how sound changes our feelings and influences how we work.
We have looked at the application of imagination in storytelling/writing. The boys often refer back to our work on ‘strategies’ from last year which I think connects to how we use our imaginations.
I have noticed the boys behaviour is heightened on Wednesday afternoons and see a wildness escaping. I’m really interested in why this is happening as they seem to become very different when I ask them to sit at desks and write. When we work on the floor they wrestle, shout over each other, don’t listen and stray from task. I’m questioning which one is their ‘authentic self’? There is something about them applying the skills that allow them to sit at their desks when working work informally.
One of the most interesting moments this term came during an exercise that involved them finding envelopes I had hid around the room which contained instructions to build objects with boxes. The only instruction I gave was to ensure that ‘only one boy got one envelope’. After 3 rounds of finding an envelope they got stuck and couldn’t decide who would get the next envelope. It took 20 mins for them to decide. It was fascinating watching them scrabble around in their learning pit to find strategies to get them progressing. When we remove the adult voice it calls their agency into action and we begin to see the skills they possess and the ones they don’t.