Some thoughts and tips from Pål Berglund, 7th-grade teacher and LearnLab content creator.
“To be a teacher is in truth to be the learning one“, said Kierkegaard 150 years ago. Wise people existed back then as well. To be a teacher does not mean that you must know everything. Besides, learning takes place inside the heads of the students.
The students need tasks where they can process their understanding together with others. This enables them to obtain and use knowledge to solve issues in familiar and unfamiliar contexts and situations. It takes both understanding, reflection and training in critical thinking. Teachers who search for these coherencies and situations trough problem seeking curiosity together with the students, without always knowing the answer themselves, is a learning teacher.
“Why should people from Sudan be concerned with the fish in the sea”, asks one of the students who rarely speaks up. The question is posed after the students have been asked: “Du you believe over-fishing can lead to your needs not being covered in the future?” in a lab about sustainable development. In LearnLab, the “quiet ones” also get the possibility to practice critical thinking and can compare their answers to what others are thinking. They become active producers in their own learning process and make others think about new and unfamiliar contexts and situations.
After using LearnLab, my experience is that classroom discussions often go more in-depth into the subject matter than before, and I also learn more from the students. More often, the students ask me questions that I do not know the answer to, and that is exciting! This makes me more curious as a teacher.
Of course, you decide for yourselves, but here is my advice for anybody who is using or is planning to use LearnLab:
1. Active participation enables curiosity and motivation. To facilitate this, let the students work in pairs or groups with three students per device. This enables each student to be more active and empowered in their learning process, while also providing a feeling of security for the more shy students.
2. Listen to the students and ask follow-up questions you haven’t planned for in advance.
3. Connect one or more labs to a theme you are working on. Run the lab until the energy levels in the classroom decreases, preferably not for more than 45 minutes at a time. You should rather continue with the lab at another time, to avoid stress and enable time to think.
Pål Berglund, 7th-grade teacher, October 2019