With tablets in hand, 5th grade students walk quietly accompanied by their teacher Maria de Lourdes to the library of the Campinas Community School to continue data collection and research activities. Those who see this inspiring scene note that insubordination is a word that does not fit in the vocabulary of these children, some as young as 10 years old.
Why? Maria de Lourdes calmly responds, “Students need to feel respected, responsible, and involved in the learning process. When they feel this way, a partnership is established which results in a commitment to the construction of knowledge from the students.”
“Learning occurs within the child. I am merely a bridge, here to guide students to reach their potential” – Maria de Lourdes Boldim Vaggione, teacher at Escola Comunitária de Campinas.
Project pedagogy: the student producer
Maria de Lourdes’ classes follow the method of Design Education. According to this methodology, content is taught through projects that allow active production of knowledge by the students, causing them to question and rethink real life experiences and situations while plotting possible responses and actions.
With this perspective, the teacher developed an activity to learn about the changes in the body during puberty which will span a duration of four weeks called “Me and my body,” which is a part of a larger project entitled “Who am I?”. This larger activity also includes a debate on Brazilian cultural roots, adolescent consumption, and contemporary virtual relationships.
The theme “Me and my body” was divided into two parts: body changes at puberty and functioning of the human body. The approach of the latter began with the use of an interactive application on the iPad, distributed remotely using Mosyle. The exploration of this application contributed to an important stage of the project: questioning, in which students prepare questions on the subject under study. In working with bodily changes, the teacher diversified the strategy: she developed the questions and presented them to students, so that they, organized in small groups, could investigate. During investigation, students used multiple sources to gather information such as the Internet, printed textbooks and even interviews prepared and conducted by the children themselves.
“I’m a bridge”
The work completed in small groups is closely monitored by the teacher. Using this strategy, students are provided an opportunity to use their creativity and become producers of their learning. In this context, the teachers role is to facilitate student knowledge building and understanding. “During small group work, it is essential to establish a dialogue with students to help broaden perspectives and establish a respect for learning,” explains the teacher. “Learning occurs within the child. I am merely a bridge, here to guide students to reach their potential,” add Maria de Lourdes.
The students do not exclusively search and collect information. Rather, their discoveries are produced and delivered through presentations in which the format is left to the discretion of each group, examples include: posters, PowerPoint slides created on the iPads, drama and role play, and sculptures. “It is necessary to differentiate the resulting product to develop various skills.”
According to Maria de Lourdes, openness and collaborative work among students makes the teaching and learning process more engaging and meaningful, favoring the development of cognitive, procedural and attitudinal skills. In the process of knowledge building, difficulties are natural and are understood as stimuli to the cognitive growth of the student.