Educational ideas: How to boost kids' learning potential in the classroom

According to a Pearson study from 2018, 55 per cent of young people from Generation Z consider that YouTube has contributed to their education, while 59 per cent prefer this method to school books for learning. ― Istock.com/ETX Studio pic
According to a Pearson study from 2018, 55 per cent of young people from Generation Z consider that YouTube has contributed to their education, while 59 per cent prefer this method to school books for learning. ― Istock.com/ETX Studio pic

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NEW YORK, Feb 4 ― How to captivate kids in the classroom and make sure they go home with  all the day's learning essentials fresh in their minds? Certain solutions can be put in place to help favour interaction, memorisation and concentration.

Classroom layouts

In many educational settings, desks have traditionally been arranged in rows so that the teacher can see, and keep and eye on, all of their students at once. Here, children sit facing a blackboard or whiteboard and the teacher at the front of the classroom, and might, if they're lucky, have one fellow pupil next to them to chat to. “It's the most common layout, as it makes it easier to manage the class,” writes French educational designer and humanities teacher, Mathieu Belleville-Douelle on his education blog.

But for certain activities, this layout isn't the best. For group work, for example, a U-shaped layout or islands of tables is more beneficial. This makes it easier for students to communicate and work autonomously. This kind of organization also allows “the teacher to move around from table to table, checking work, helping students who are having trouble, and monitoring each student's learning progress,” explains Guillaume Gabriel in his article about how classroom layouts can affect student concentration on the Thot Cursus website (“En quoi la disposition des élèves dans une classe influe-t-elle sur leur concentration?”). The ideal solution would be to change the classroom layout in relation to the activity and children's needs.

According to a study from the University of Salford School of Built Environment, classroom design can have an impact on pupils' learning. The research found that differences in the physical characteristics of classrooms (such as lighting, temperature, air quality, etc.) accounted for 16 per cent of the variation in learning progress over a year for the 3,766 pupils included in the study.

Learning with movement

Using movement to learn is another approach to the flexible classroom. From the early 2000s, many researchers and studies pointed to a correlation between learning and movement. In 2003, for example, John Ratey, MD, an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, stated that our physical movements can directly influence our ability to learn, think and remember.

More recently, a teacher near the French city of Orléans explained on her blog how she used “grammar gym” exercises to teach grammar through movement in a fun way. The game sees her primary school students getting into different positions when they hear a verb, an adverb or an adjective, for example.

And movement outside the classroom can be just as beneficial for learning. In 2017, certain schools in Texas found that moving from three to four periods of recreation helped kids be more attentive to following lessons and with greater concentration when they came back to class.

Learning and multimedia content

The idea of using technology in education is no longer up for debate. Here too, researchers have studied its effectiveness, and the results can be relatively positive when technology is suitably adapted to the context of learning and education. “Instead of seeing technology in education as a panacea or a Holy Grail, it should rather be viewed as a tool with great potential that should be leveraged on an educational level,” explains Thierry Karsenti of Canada's Université de Montréal, in an article on the Educo blog.

According to a Pearson study from 2018, 55 per cent of young people from Generation Z consider that YouTube has contributed to their education, while 59 per cent prefer this method to school books for learning. And the pandemic has served to reinforce the study findings. When distance learning and long days of video calls weigh down on students, certain teachers have turned to educational videos on YouTube or to lessons popularized by YouTubers to help tailor teaching and learning to the situation in hand. ― ETX Studio

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