Training guide


3. Consolidating your learning

Together with your colleagues, you are now designing learner-centred classroom activities, based on the nine teaching approaches, and linking them together to plan engaging lessons in which learners are actively involved. At the start of this programme, you completed a quiz on learner-centred education. If you have time, this would be a good time to re-visit that quiz!

You were also introduced to some criteria which will help you to be more learner centred. These are:

A learner-centred teacher:

  1. Takes account of the needs of all learners.
  2. Takes account of what learners already know.
  3. Believes that all learners can learn given the right support.
  4. Plans lessons carefully but is flexible when required.
  5. Plans engaging activities which support learning.
  6. Encourages learners to talk about their ideas.
  7. Relates learning to everyday life.
  8. Adopts a variety of teaching approaches.
  9. Provides the opportunity to learn knowledge, skills and values.

As you evaluate your own teaching and undertake peer-observations (when possible), you can use these criteria to reflect on what you are doing well, and what aspects of your teaching you could improve.

Learners undertaking a science experiment in Classroom Example 6.1.

Classroom Example 6.1: Grade 7 science lesson

Listen to Audio 6.1, or read the transcript with a colleague. In your Teacher Notebook, write the different ways in which teacher Fridah meets the learner-centred teacher criteria. Please note that not all criteria will be met in every learner-centred lesson.

Audio transcript

Fridah was teaching science to Grade 7. They were learning the ways to separate mixtures. Fridah had ready a large jar of muddy water, paper cups, squares of two types of material (cotton and muslin), a saucepan full of cabbage and water, and a colander.

Fridah gathered her equipment at the front. She held it up as she talked so everyone could see. She asked if anyone would like a drink. ‘Yes please’, came a shout. She poured some of the dirty water into a paper cup and offered it to George. ‘Would you like this?’ ‘No thank you’, said George, and everyone laughed. Then she held up the saucepan of cabbage and asked them how they would separate it from the water. Someone had spotted the colander and said, ‘use that’. Fridah poured the water and cabbage into the colander. She asked the students to explain how it worked to the other person next to them. She asked Martha and Phyllis to explain their answer to the class. They did not give quite enough detail, so she asked a few other pairs.

Once they had established that the holes were too small to let the cabbage through, she asked them how they could separate the mud from the water. After a few contributions, a plan emerged: pour the muddy water through something with holes in – but the holes needed to be very small.

She asked three pairs to join together and form a group. Each group sent one person to collect a cup of muddy water, two empty cups and two pieces of material. She told them that the aim was to find out which material worked best for cleaning water. As a group they worked out what to do and one person drew a diagram. Fridah went around and questioned them about how they would make sure it was a fair comparison, hoping they would realise that they needed to stir the dirty water. Then they tried it.

Fridah drew a table on the chalkboard with two columns – one for the cotton and one for the muslin. When they finished, each group had to put a tick in the column which had the cleanest water. At the end there were eight ticks in the ‘cotton’ and two ticks in the ‘muslin’. She wrote three questions on the board for students to discuss in their groups.

  1. Which material was more effective?
  2. Explain why this was the case?
  3. What question would you like to ask the groups who ticked the ‘muslin’ column?

When everyone had finished, she asked a group to answer questions 1 and 2. Then she asked another group if they agreed and if they wanted to add anything to the answer. Finally, she asked a third group to answer question 3. There followed a lively discussion and eventually one of the groups who ticked the ‘muslin’ column admitted that they had not stirred the water, so in the muslin experiment all the mud was at the bottom. This meant they could not do a fair comparison. 

Fridah showed the class a column that she had made from an old pipe. She had filled it with sand and put a piece of muslin at the bottom to hold the sand in.  She poured some muddy water in the top. While they waited, she asked the class to draw a diagram of the apparatus they used in their exercise book and write a few sentences about what they did and why it worked. After about ten minutes, they were all thrilled to see clean water come out of the bottom of the column. Fridah finished the lesson by explaining that this is what happens to water before it goes to the system and into our taps. Sometimes chlorine is added as well to kill bacteria. She asked what advice they would give to a household that was collecting their drinking water from a river.

Finally, Fridah pointed out that with 8/10 ticks in the column they could be reasonably confident that cotton was the ‘best’, but in all scientific experiments there was likely to be some uncertainty.

Did you notice...

  • How the teacher engaged the class.
  • She used questioning, pair work, group work and local resources.
  • She related the curriculum topic to the lives of the learners.
  • She did not get everyone to report back as it would have been very repetitive.
  • She created opportunities for learners to think and solve problems, by asking for explanations and introducing the possibility of some uncertainty by getting them to test two fabrics.