#blimage challenge accepted

BlimageChallengePicMarloftIt has taken longer than boasted about planned to rise to the #blimage challenge received via Mary Loftus’s insightful Getting Bogged post, the post that has added upskittled to our lexicon. The post where she posted the image of the young student from Albermarle County stretched on the floor absorbed in her work. It took two long drives last weekend to figure out what image (blimage) I would use to convey something I have learned about learning.

The floor was the thing. I find the floor is a good place to work. It doesn’t happen in many classrooms. But I always notice people end up on the floor when they are given a construction task like a Tarsia to complete in a group. So my image is a triptych (posh, eh?) of Tarsia pictures from the past three years, each of which I love separately for what they mean to me.

My students always hit the floor when using puzzles to revise. It happened organically – there just wasn’t space on the bench for sorting and group work. These were serious Senior Cycle Biology students aiming for high grades, but the floor was not beneath them when completing a cooperative thinking task was at stake. (Well, actually it was, but I think you know what I mean.) There are three groups pictured here, and there were another three groups in other corners, and often one or two groups out in the hall, or outside on the fire steps. This sometimes drew strange looks from passing Principals, but the students were absorbed enough not to notice, and a wise Principal never disturbs working students! During the time we worked together, they came to appreciate many ways of learning, and for me this picture of total concentration is a reminder of sheer magic.

Adults getting absorbed in a jigsaw challenge have been known to hit the floor also – pictured here are @caramcdermott, @catherinecronin and @marloft at work during a CESImeet – thanks to @anseoamuinteoir for the picture. I had set the Tarsia challenge (as an alternative to telling folk about it in a nanopresentaion), but could not attend that meet in person – so to see this evidence of engagement meant I was on the right track.

The third picture is the charm. When I began to collaborate with the late Bianca Ní Ghrógáin, and we discovered our mutual love for using Tarsia puzzles, I wasn’t prepared for the way it had taken off in her classroom. Bianca would admit that neither was she prepared! After using the puzzles set by Bianca the teacher a few times, one of her students (we’re talking 9 year olds here) turned up with what is pictured here in the background below, and asked if she cold copy it for him. He planned to use it during his Be The Teacher time, a reward he was claiming with his accumulated Classdojo points. (To be honest, I didn’t “get” Classdojo until I saw B using it this way.) Hearing this story just blew me away. After visiting Bianca’s classroom, I totally “got it”. This was the culmination of the way she empowered her students. I am so glad she recorded the story on her blog Rang Bianca, so the picture didn’t get lost. I think she also shared it on the @bnighrogain timeline.

So there you go, my #blimage tuppence worth. Except that, to me, it’s worth far far more than tuppence.







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