Learning Walls in Mr. Owens’ 5th Grade: Students Teaching Other Students!

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Olivia, Georgia, Hollis, Cleo (in back), Maisie and Lucy are FIRED UP to share their knowledge!

By David Owens, 5th Grade Teacher

WHY create Learning Walls?

As part of our class culture, we strive to make it a safe place to learn from each other.  We have found that much of the information that needs to be taught each year is already known by someone in the class.  The key is to figure out who knows it and create an environment where it is natural to share that knowledge.  We have found that students really pay attention to each other, often more than they do to adults.  We are leveraging this to help everyone understand the concepts that we are teaching.  Students can also feel a sense of mastery with a certain topic if they can teach it to someone else and recognize common mistakes that someone might do.

HOW do they start and sustain?

The first steps are figuring out who knows what.  This has been much easier for us this year since we had many of these students in 4th grade.  We knew week one who was a gifted mathematician, who was a strong reader/writer…etc.  This was simply a positive aspect of moving to Hall.  This would obviously require more time if we had not had these students last year.  It is also important to create a safe environment in the classroom.  In our morning meetings, we work together to create a safe place for people to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes.  As far as the posters, students who have shown proficiency in a certain subject are given time to create a “learning poster” that addresses that subject.  These are usually students who are your “early finishers.” Students naturally started teaming up and worked on their posters together.  We have now carved out Friday afternoons as a time to work solely on these learning walls.  Students can interact with each other’s posters or add to their wall.  Students submit their work to the owners of the learning walls, who then review that work and give the students feedback.  They seem to be really enjoying it.

Listen to the students themselves talk about the Learning Walls.

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