Blended Learning to Heighten Engagement: A Case Study

“Digital Enrichment can generate 100% engagement and participation.”

A sweeping statement that was declared at one of my teacher training sessions. Though must be remembered that the digital resource, in the case of the case study Socrative, is a tool to enable it. It is the hook of the lesson that the teacher develops that provides the motivation and captivation .

The teacher who kindly wrote this case study is called Mrs. Gardom. She is a year 3 teacher who tried out Socrative as a means of encouraging all the children in her class to join in and contribute into a discussion about a text in her English lesson. Socrative allowed her to read contributions and better facilitate discussion, taking her learners on a journey of higher order thinking that delved deeper into her chosen text.

She writes,

Socrative Literacy lesson 8/5/15

We’re in the reading stage of a unit on adventure stories this week, focussing on The Snow Dragon by Vivian French. Having had discussions, hotseating, freeze frames and written about some of the characters as we went through the story, this was the lesson to finish reading the book and think about the themes and conventions of the story. This seemed like a good lesson to use Socrative: I didn’t want to do another shared write, yet didn’t think the children would be ready to write much independently.

 

I arrived at school with a vague idea about how to use Socrative and unsure where the chromebooks were. It could have been a recipe for disaster, but actually went really well. The fact that it is so easy for students to join a classroom really helped – no need for them to log in once I have. I had set up one question for them to start with: ‘what kind of story do you think The Snow Dragon is?’ I was looking for ‘adventure story’ or possibly ‘fiction’ but doing it on Socrative meant I waited for more answers and the children developed them well. After a little while I eliminated duplicates and we voted on the remaining ones. They chose, ‘It is a fiction story and a bit sad at the end but the rest is joyful. It is also an adventurous story and great for people to read.’

 

The time taken for the children to reply is great for formulating a next high-quality question, as you don’t need to be constantly responding and discussing. Next, I asked, ‘what are some of the ingredients of the story (eg Little Tuft is the hero)?’ From their responses to this I was able to ask further questions, getting them to develop their reasoning about why an adventure story needs baddies, scary bits, a problem and so on. We voted on whether an adventure story needed magic (majority in favour), discussed why (or why not) and gave examples of magic from The Snow Dragon. I was impressed with the children’s level of engagement. They really enjoyed seeing their answers come up on the screen. It felt like we had covered a lot and had a very thorough discussion without the behaviour management drawbacks of a long period of whole-class teaching. As we went along I copied and pasted some of their answers into a word document and we ended up with a page notes about the areas we had discussed. I’ll print this out and get them to stick it in their books. It feels like much less was lost in the journey from thought to page than would be the case in a normal lesson.

And the class’s Socrative response summary,

Friday 8 May 2015

L.O. To identify themes and conventions of the story of The Snow Dragon

 

We shared our ideas on Socrative – here is a summary.

 

The Snow Dragon is a fiction story and a bit sad at the end but the rest is joyful. It is also an adventurous story and great for people to read.

 

An adventure story needs:

 

A baddie

Baddies spice up the story. Baddies are mean, rude and scary and normally get defeated. We need baddies to make it scary and give us more action. If we didn’t have baddies, then there will be no point of making books. We know a baddie  because he or she tries to take over the world. The Fire Dragon is a baddie because he tries to kill the twolegs. Some people think Book is also a baddie because he makes the volcano erupt.

 

Scary bits

Scary bits keep you entertained. They make the story more interesting and surprising. They make it ‘death defying’ which makes you want to read on. They make the reader tense and intrigued. We thought that the following parts of The Snow Dragon are scary:

  • when the fire dragons burn the twolegs’ part of the earth.
  • when Little Tuft falls down the hole.
  • when Book changes sides.
  • when the snow dragon swoops down to the volcano and defeats the fire dragons.
  • when the snow dragon dies from going into the death volcano.

 

Magic

91% of the class thought magic was important in an adventure story. It makes it more exciting and without magic everything would have gone wrong. Not every adventure story has magic in. The Snow Dragon is a magical creature, so is the talking book, and the flying is also magical.

 

A hero

He is brave and adventurous. He doesn’t give up. He could also be kind and cunning. He is a champion who saves the day. He should be strong as a soldier and a good plan maker.

 

A problem

An adventure story needs a problem. Here are some of the problems we identified in The Snow Dragon:

  • the fire dragon take over the world and the snow dragon goes towards the volcano
  • the fire~dragons destroy the twolegs’ land.
  • A problem was the snow dragon died
  • Book tells the future wrongly.

A big thanks to Mrs. Gardom for this case study and a well done to the class’s great interactions which led to some great thoughts being captured, recorded and used as part of their learning.

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