Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Classroom Experiment - Dylan Williams

There was a BBC Documentary made by My Dylan Williams called ‘The Classroom Experiment’. In the two part series, Mr Dylan who is a teacher and government advisor takes over a year 8 class at a secondary comprehensive for one semester to test simple ideas that he thinks could improve the quality of education.
The objective of the experiment was to increase engagement and academic achievement of the students.

Emily and Chloe were two students in the class, who always raised their hands and scored well. But this made the other students feel isolated. Also some of the good students needed to be allowed to fasten their learning, if they understood a concept well. But they had to wait for the rest of the class to catch up and this frustrated them.

Sid was a another student in the class that said this about school, “I dread coming to school because I know it is just another five hours wasted and there is not one thing which you will actually remember.”

These were the main things Mr. Dylan introduced in that semester:-

1.  No Hands Up –  No student was allowed to raise their hands in class. All students must be given an equal chance to answer the question.

2.  Lollipop Stick Method – The teacher would write the name of all the students in the class on one lollipop stick each. Then after she asked the question she would pull out a lollipop stick at random with the student’s name. Every student would be alert in this way as there is a random possibility of any student giving the answer

3.  Daily Exercise – The day would start off with exercise in the morning for all the students.

4. Use Whiteboard for Students – All the students were given whiteboards. When the teacher asked a question, all the students would write it down on a whiteboard. The teacher would see the answer and then move on based on the response she got. In case there was a wrong answer, she would work with the student individually later and not disturb the class then.

5. Cups for students – Students were given three cups in class. They could be put on top of each other. The yellow cup meant the student wants attention. The red cup means the student is completely stuck and the green cup means the student is all right.

6. Parents in Class – Parents were made to sit with the students in some of the classes to understand what the students went through.

7. Secret Student – In the second part of the series, students were told that one student among them would be a secret student every day. This student’s behavior would be studied. The students would not know who the secret student was. The behavior of the secret student selected would be analyzed for a certain number of days. If the student had behaved well throughout the week, all the students would be given a small award. In the documentary it was a field trip to an amusement park. It can be smaller perks like a food treat for the whole class or larger ones like a field trip depending on availability of resources.

8. Only Comments, No Grades - This troubled the good students, who mostly did their work for grades. But the students would only get comments on their performance and no grades.

At the end of the experiment, Jan Palmer Sayer, the Headteacher of the Hertswood School were the experiment was conducted commented as such, “The results were astonishing; students not only made twice the progress as others in the same year group, but were more firmly focused on their learning and, actually, life in general. 

After watching this two part documentary, I only wish somebody had told my teachers about this teaching and learning approach earlier. 

Further Study

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