One of the highlights
of the Learning Styles Institute in Yew York was Tom De Bello's
history lesson on the war of 1812 between England and America.
It started off reasonably
normally. We were all given a single sheet of paper with the
narrative of events written as an essay. There were five questions
to be answered. Each question was about an aspect of the war:
why war was declared, why the American ship Constitution was
called Ironsides, why President Madison had to leave Washington,
what inspired the writing of the Star Spangled Banner, and to
describe one part of the Treaty of Ghent. In each group of five
everyone was assigned a different question to answer.
However, the lesson
did not proceed normally. The questions had to be answered in
picture form. I had the Treaty of Ghent, and took the aspect
that neither side won. I portrayed this by drawing a boxing
ring with the two boxers in the centre at the end of the fight,
but with no one's hand raised as no one had won. I can't draw
so my figures were stick figures.
Next we had to find
three others from other groups, show our picture to them and,
if necessary, explain the picture. We then sat down and someone
was asked to stand and explain one of the pictures they had
seen. Mine was chosen, and when the explanation was complete
I was asked if anything had been left out. Then I had to describe
a picture I had seen, and so it progressed until all had had
a turn. It was interesting to note the different detail that
came up from the different artists.
Focus was then returned
to the groups. We arranged the events in order and then used
masking tape to affix the pictures to the wall. Then the whole
class gathered round each group in turn and had the sequence
of pictures explained by a group spokesperson. Other groups
could question. Although this was somewhat repetitive again
different detail came out. Some used date order, but others
what they considered order of importance and so on.
The final act was
to use what was by now our storyboard on the wall and write
our own essay summarising the War of 1812.
On analysing what
we had done it could be seen that a mass of Learning Styles
were activated. All the perceptual modes had been involved:
tactile for drawing, the kinaesthetic as we moved about, visual
reading the narrative, and aural hearing the discussion. The
sociological preferences had also been catered for, as were
some of the more difficult emotional ones such as responsibility,
persistence and structure, and so on.
As well the higher
level thinking skills of analysis, evaluation, and elaboration
were also strongly engaged. This added another clear dimension
to the lesson. Likewise the writing process that was modelled.
Up until the pictures were finally on the wall was clearly prewriting,
planning and preparation.
This was a master
teacher connecting Learning Styles, Thinking Skills, Process
Writing, and comprehension skills, to name the more obvious,
to have maximum impact on the learner. It certainly succeeded
with me. That’s why I’m going to the MI Insitute in St Louis,
Missouri, in 2002!