A life-learning classroom where the sky is a pen and grassland is a paper
When learning is not only limited in a classroom, ‘life’ itself becomes the best classroom. Lesson learned from ‘Ban Nok Unit’ in association with online learning from ‘PLC Coaching’, from practical learning derives from theory in a book named ‘Kru Puer Sith’ to a network of online learning in Kru Puer Sith community. The first Online PLC Coaching event emerged from the knowledge exchange of teachers nationwide.
This time, teachers from 16 schools in the Siam Commercial Bank Foundation network (Educational innovation area) and Equitable Education Fund (EEF) have joined along with school directors and teachers from 6 model schools, specialists, and Educational senior experts to listen the lesson from ‘Ban Nok Unit’ of 4th-grade students from Lamplaimat Pattana School, one of the model schools in Kru Puer Sith program.
‘Lamplaimat Pattana School’, the model school aims to provide equal access to education for every child and reduce educational inequality by offering free education to children. Moreover, the school has developed its own courses which were qualified by the educational indicator from the Ministry of Education.
In each year, Lamplaimat Pattana School divides one academic year into 4 quarters, 10 weeks each quarter. This means that children will get to change learning units in each quarter, for instance, the disease unit, the animation unit, and the robot unit. In this article, we will introduce you to the ‘Ban Nok Unit’, an important survival skills unit that cannot be found in the textbook under the PBL (Problem-Based Learning) concept.
Sirima Bhodichakara or Kru Yim, a 4th-grade teacher from Lamplaimat Pattana School and one of the unit founders, has mentioned the purpose of the Ban Nok Unit that it emerged from the hope for children to understand and embrace the value of rural lifestyle, especially the value of the community, to provide a simple lifestyle to children growing up in the age of globalization, which is full of haste, superficiality, and competition.
“Living slowly for a moment and you will see the value of things” Said Kru Yim
The impressive part is that teachers give students the opportunity to plan and design their own courses. Exchanging interests with one another, leaving no one behind. The interest of students will be integrated into the making of the ‘Ban Nok Unit’. In the 10 weeks period, children will get to try new activities such as experimenting with soil mixing for growing vegetables, making a charcoal kiln, weaving a mat using natural thread, designing animal trappers, and living in the wood without electricity. The program also cooperates with the community, parent representatives, parents themselves, and the community philosopher to transfer local wisdom to children, whether it be learning how to make an animal trapper, weave a mat, or spend the evening exchanging and reflecting new knowledge with one another.
When teachers cannot perpetually carry students to their destinations, an important skill that they could transfer to students is the never-ending self-directed learning skills.
Kru Yim has explained about PBL (Problem-Based Learning), the fundamentals of learning, that it is a learning method in which problems are used as a beginning state of learning. When faced with problems or questions, children will learn to solve them on their own. The problems are from different stages of complexity, if it is easy to find an answer, we will let children find an answer on their own by using resources that the school has prepared for them such as the internet or the library. Therefore, some complex problems may require experiments in order to get an answer, and sometimes ‘the problem’ might occur unexpectedly. So, children will learn how to solve an unexpected problem and how to find a solution to problems that cannot be found in textbooks. Problem-solving skills and finding a solution are the fundamental of a true Active Learner.
After 10 weeks of the learning process, the result has shown that children have developed high-order thinking skills, a thirst for knowledge, observance, and curiosity. They also have practiced decision-making and taking action. The children understand the concept of teamwork and I am sure that they would become strong and valuable citizens in the future.
Now that we heard from the student, let’s hear from the teacher
After the speaker had finished, the audience gave a round of applause to honor the speaker. Later on, teachers and educational experts have shared their thoughts on the stage.
Teachers from Roong Aroon School said,
“We are impressed that teacher let students choose their own topics, to be in charge of the learning process which would allow them to take action, practice problem-solving skills, and appreciate knowledge exchange.”
Next, Dr. Nanthaporn Chanchalia Seributra, the founder of Starfish Labz has suggested an emotional check-in for children.
“Try to focus on how they feel other than what they are thinking. For Kru Yim’s academic performance records of her students, I think this is a very useful method for a school that is transforming its teaching pattern into a competency-based curriculum and instruction. It’s a way for teachers to record the academic performance of their students without troubling them too much. It can also be viewed as an educational indicator. The PLC stage is one of many ways for teachers to exchange teaching methods with one another. ”
After that, Prof. Dr. Vicharn Panich, board advisor of Equitable Education Fund and educational expert, has said
“In each learning process, it’s important how teachers would set up the question to evaluate a learning outcome of each student in each level. This is a good example of what we should exchange in the PLC network. Teachers need to consider the way to distribute good things to every student evenly which is quite a challenge for them. They should also learn how to respond to each student. For instance, how would they approach a student with high self-esteem and a student with low self-esteem? They need to think of how to encourage students to improve their performances. All of this is to create a growth mindset among students and further development.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Thanyawich Wichianpan from Sripatum University, Chonburi campus, has mentioned that the name ‘Ban Nok Unit’ gives a positive image and value to nature and local life. It’s also a way to teach children to be modest and humble, seeing oneself as a small part of the greater nature or the greater society. Another thing is that an appropriate duration for one project should be around 8 weeks or 2 months. The approximate time spent is 24 hours and each hour shouldn’t be more than 2 days or 48 hours apart to maintain children’s enthusiasm.
For the minute of the first online PLC meeting, one method that fellow teachers thought could be applied to their classrooms is building a learning unit that fits with the context, resources, and school environment. Another important thing is the environment, we need to take them to an outdoor classroom. Let them be in charge of their own learning and be a part of goal setting. They should be able to design learning patterns with teachers and create the ability to think, how to solve a problem and find a solution without the teacher’s instruction. If teachers are aware of the background knowledge and context of each student, it would be easier to connect students to the lesson and provide them with in-depth knowledge.
Lastly, designing a PBL project that links to the real-world situation requires a lot of experience from teachers. Thus, teachers should always seek knowledge and thoroughly analyze the problem to help the students to see the connection. By telling students the goals of learning would give them a better vision of this learning pattern.