Is using minimal resources in the classroom the future of education?

Is using minimal resources in the classroom the future of education?

Following the global changes that COVID-19 introduced to the way we interact, work and study, educators have been exploring new approaches to the classroom experience.

At the recent RMIT University event, Teacher Talks, best practices around effective teaching with minimal resources and preparation time were explored.

Through exploring this idea, the ‘Pencil Case Challenge’ was introduced by Australia’s ReadyTeacher founder and educator Sarah Chamberlain, and lecturer Rianna Thao Bui.

The Pencil Case Challenge stimulates innovative approaches to lesson preparation using minimal resources.

“During the current health crisis globally, many teachers have and are working from home without the benefit of accessing on-campus extensive libraries,” Ms Chamberlain said.

“They can benefit from using what is around them and what's accessible online using this approach, and it's also a good time to think about reducing our paper wastage and adopting a less-is-more approach.”

Participants explored using a variety of teaching tools and everyday objects, such as smart card tickets or monopoly money, to introduce a lesson and create extension activities to facilitate active learning. 

news-3-is-using-minimal-resources-in-the-classroom-the-future-of-education Teacher and founder of Australia’s ReadyTeacher Sarah Chamberlain used a public transportation card to demonstrate how to use available resources to engage students.

“The Pencil Case Challenge invites teachers to the more-is-less school of thought, stripping back on the use of materials to reveal teachers’ creativity and pedagogical improvisation, and encourages teachers to dive deeper into students’ knowledge and emerging language,” Ms Chamberlain said.

Following completing the challenge and group brainstorming discussions, participants left with a digital pool of teaching ideas that use minimal resources, stored on Padlet.

The facilitators also invited participants who could not attend to access the library of go-to activities created during the session, and to visit the Pencil Case Challenge website for more ideas and detail.

Educator Anuja Patkar from RMIT English Worldwide in Melbourne (Australia) introduced the online virtual ‘bulletin’ board, Padlet to event participants.

“We have been involved in online teaching and learning in Melbourne since March due to the pandemic and this meant looking for online tools to not just keep things interesting for the students, but also to allow them to collaborate in the absence of the shared physical space of a classroom,” Ms Patkar said.

“Amidst a variety of tools that I was tinkering with, Padlet stood out because of its simplicity and versatility.

“It is a platform that lends itself beautifully to the teaching of reading, writing, listening, speaking, pronunciation, vocabulary and other micro skills with a wide variety of engaging and student-centred activities.”

At the workshop, participants were introduced a series of learner-centred activities using Padlet, including the demonstration of how to focus on pronunciation features.

news-4-is-using-minimal-resources-in-the-classroom-the-future-of-education Educator Anuja Patkar from RMIT English Worldwide in Melbourne (Australia) introduced details about the online virtual ‘bulletin’ board, Padlet.

“Many of my students feel quite nervous about speaking and pronunciation in particular,” Ms Patkar said.

“This approach can take some of the pressure off the students and allows them to repeat the task and showcase their best effort.”

Ms Patkar said that teachers can highlight and clarify the pronunciation features, such as intonation, sentence stress, connected speech patterns of the sentence(s), in front of the classroom, for learners to then record and share the same sentences by listening to the model made available to them on Padlet.

“The learners can work at their own pace and keep recording their output until they are happy with the result.

“Learners can also listen to each other and react with ‘likes’ or comments.”

Ms Patkar believes that anyone with an internet connection will be able to use the platform successfully for their students’ in-class and at-home learning. 

“It is a fairly intuitive tool that is easy to use and is not likely to take up a lot of class planning time,” she said.

“More importantly, these activities can be used in a face to face or online classroom depending on the setup and technology available.” 

Organised by RMIT University’s School of English & University Pathways (SEUP), Teacher Talks is a recurring professional development series for English language teaching professionals in Vietnam. Early this year amid COVID-19, Teacher Talks provided a series of workshops to upskill educators adjusting to online teaching in Vietnam.

At the event, English teachers also heard presentations about vocabulary, from understanding to active usage, and purposeful classroom activities from SEUP’s Senior Educator and Acting Academic Manager Monique Nicastro from RMIT’s Saigon South campus, and English Educator Ed Brown from the Hanoi campus, respectively.

Story: Ha Hoang

25 November 2020


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