Mapping from memory

Posted on 13/10/2010

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This week in class I’ve allocated some time to team building and tasks that develop collaboration and cooperation. It also felt like the right time to begin doing some Philosophy for Children (P4C) enquiries.

Before launching straight into a first enquiry (or thinking circle as I refer to them with the children) though, some rules and guidelines have to be made clear. One option is to simply tell the children the rules, but really just ‘telling’ is rarely worthwhile in my experience. So I took the approach that I took with my class last year and decided to make the children ‘work’ for the rules using another technique I picked up on my P4C course, mapping from memory. This tends to fix the information more clearly in their minds and the fact that they have to work in teams and develop a joint strategy in order to succeed is a bonus! Here’s how it works…

I prepared an A2 poster of the P4C rules and ideas that I wanted to share with them. I made sure it wasn’t just text and contained a few drawings too. This was clipped to a portable whiteboard facing away from the class so nobody could see the poster. I also used a bulldog clip to attach a plain sheet to the whiteboard which acted as a cover to hide the poster.

The children were divided up into mixed ability teams of about five. I gave each team a plain A2 sheet and told them that they must reproduce my poster on their sheet of paper as accurately as they could. Sounds simple enough? However, the challenge is that only one person from each team can come and look at the poster at any one time and only for 30 seconds in one go. So before we began I told the children that they would need to agree a strategy as a team. Would they decide to all look at the whole poster and remember as much as they could? Would they divide the page into sections and allocate one to each team member? Or would they send the first person to see what the layout of the poster was like and then base further decisions on that?

The first member of each team was called up to the poster and when I gave the signal, one of them lifted the cover paper. That group got 30 seconds to look at the poster before covering it again and returning to their group to share and write down what they could remember. After another minute or so I called up the second member of each team. This step was repeated until each member of each group had been to the board twice. The genius added extra to this process is that while the 30 second viewing was going on, I started playing The William Tell Overture in the background, which really gets them going! I didn’t ask for feedback, but I kept being told, “Miss, this is fun!” And it was! The really interesting part though was observing the different dynamics in each group and the discussion afterward when everybody evaluated what role they tend to take in group tasks. More P4C and team building to come before half term, but I will definitely use mapping from memory again. You could literally adapt the format to any topic or subject and from my previous experience it’s sure to engage everybody.

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Posted in: P4C