In the previous blog posts, I have discussed the environment that occurs in the classroom and how learning can occur in a productive way, but how does a teacher extend their multi-modal way of thinking beyond the physical classroom?
Imagine a student in a classroom, you may envision them behind a traditional desk, maybe there are other desks and students around them. Now add windows, natural colours, desk or table groups, vibrant personalities and inspirational examples of work up on the walls. Include a teacher. This teacher circulates the classroom, engages in meaningful conversation, uses teachable moments and manipulatives, maybe writes some instructions or notes on the board accompanied with doodles. This is an example of a multi-modal learning environment. Now what happens when they go home?
Student: Hi I’m home!
Tall Person: Hi! What did you learn today?
This is probably a very familiar conversation that we have said to our Tall People, and heard students participate in. As educators, we should be trying to extend the learning beyond the classroom and the best way to do that is through communication.
Ongoing communication to Parents/Guardians is now required by the Provincial Government and the new BC Curriculum in every “subject” taught in school. Multi-modal education can be extended to this area as well. Below you will find some examples.
Parent/teacher, student/teacher, parent/student/teacher conferences are amazing opportunities to share the learning that occurs in the classroom. There are multiple ways to set them up as well. Parent/teacher conferences usually orient themselves around the logistics of the classroom and composition of it’s students. Many of these meetings end up focusing on what parents can do to assist both student and teacher, during the student’s time at home. These meetings can be helpful to establish what home might be like, as well as learn the parent’s expectations of the teacher and student. Student/teacher interviews can be filmed/recorded and passed along to the people at home. When a student/teacher interview occurs there is usually an element of assessment, either formative or summative. These interviews are usually used as a method of communicating what has already occured in the classroom, according to what the teacher wants the parent to be aware of. Parent/student/teacher interviews are probably the most effective to communicate to parents, as well as permit the student to show what is relevant to their learning and what they are proud of. It is more time consuming to put together examples and get the room set up and prepare the students, but it is so worth it, when students can demonstrate their learnings and accomplishments.
Many school districts now use a system called FreshGrade, which is a reporting program used as a method of ongoing communication. There are a lot of other programs used as well, this is just the one that I am familiar with. Many parents do not have the time to come into the classroom to have an interview, but they do have time to go through a couple clicks and see what their student is up to. One of the challenges with this system is that sometimes it doesn’t work and a lot of the organization, set-up and reporting has to be completed by the teacher anyways. It is useful for some self-reporting, as long as the students are at the age where they are more self-aware and technologically savvy.
The purpose of sharing these types of communication is to demonstrate that multi-modal learning occurs with parents as well. It is important, as a teacher, to have various methods of communication available to Big People so that it can be accessible. Many of these methods can be prepared ahead of time and planned in coordination, and with the support of, the rest of the school. If teachers use multi-modal teaching and learning strategies in their classroom, they should demonstrate these ideologies to Big People involved in their student’s lives.