What Do You Hear? Listening To Learners

It’s always fascinating to listen to students at work, and I believe that making and taking the time to do this in active, interactive learning sessions is good practice. I struggle to record all of what I learn in such moments, and want to share here two events I captured last term.

What can we learn? Let’s have a look at how one Monday morning started out …

An impromptu gathering (by chance assembly was cancelled) of our COBIS Science Film competition entrants from Y5 who had asked for feedback and some technical advice.

Grouped together at my round table we squeezed in extra chairs and one students commented it felt like ‘A proper meeting’. Brilliant! I added – “It is, this is an editing session, where you are the experts. I’m here to take some notes and see where you can help each other, but it’s your meeting – who’d like to start the questions off…?”.

“Cool” – was the reply.

What were the Qs? Here are their main Qs, and how the group resolved them.


What they demonstrated was no fear to try out new things, e.g. one student helped a peer export film clips from Explain Everything on an android device (this was their home device, so knew how to do this on IOS at school, but not on android). So great to hear “Let’s have a look (…) there must be an export option.”


This afternoon I worked as author support in 2 Y1 classes – notice I say author support, rather than teacher. After several weeks into the story project in Book Creator, each team had explored a number of roles, and acquired the skills to recreate their ideas digitally.

Here, the teacher becomes facilitator/support to help navigate through collaboration challenges Turn-taking, listening to each others input and sharing the device often snag learner energy more than the content they want to design. (I smile as I type this – anyone used to teaching 5-7 year olds will know what I mean here!).

Todays gems: what did listening to their talk about stories tell me?

  • Multi-modal creators – students are confident to combine different media.  “Maybe we can add a sound clip in a speech or thought bubble instead of typing”.
  • Confident Contributors – “Yes, I want to hear the footsteps! I can record the sound.”: see below the ‘bbbbbbb’ was recorded as bom-bom-bom-bom-bom, etc. for each ascending step].
Y1 Book Creator version of The Three Little Pigs story ending.
  • Science – understanding materials. In Robin Hood retales”Robin hood shot an arrow with all the golden coins attached in bags over to Little John – I’m going to add arrows (to my drawing) just like you do when you label instructions. People will know that these are bags full of gold then. The arrows are brown like sticks or metal, ‘cos they need to be strong”.
  • Multilingual – can I say my bit (of the dialogue) in Spanish?


Great news. Later in the term we heard that two of the three COBIS Young Scientist Film Award teams mentioned at the start of this post received nominations. In addition, one  was awarded the Runner Up prize for the category Best Film on ‘Light’ for Primary & Secondary Schools.  Well done everyone!


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