333 – Training Children as Autonomous Learners

Wouldn’t it be great if you could have your class all working on a worksheet, textbook page, or other activity, checking in with each other regularly to mark their own work, discussing wrong answers and doing their own corrections?

You, meanwhile, would be free to work with individuals or a small group, and at the end of the lesson you would get the other children’s work handed in already marked. Brilliant!

What’s more, imagine if the marking in your children’s books showed clearly what each child did on their own unaided and what they did in collaboration with someone else, so you had a clear record of learning that you, the child and the parents could all look back on.

Welcome to the world of autonomous learning…

We have used the 333 process successfully with children in my own school from as young as 8. IT REALLY WORKS – the secret is all in the careful training. Here’s how to get started.

Step 1: Introduce CEDRIC (see separate post)

Step 2: Choose a task (eg worksheet or text book page) with a series of straightforward questions on your current topic. Prepare another task (eg a solo game or problem sheet) which quick finishers can work on individually whenever they are waiting.

Step 3 : Arrange the pupils in like-speed groups of 3 (or 4) (ie fast workers together, slow workers together.) Explain that you are going to teach them a team strategy for doing and marking their written work.

Step 4: Talk through the process as follows:

-follow the 3-step process: plan together, work apart, check together- this ensures that everyone does their own thinking and no-one simply relies on the team

-work in groups of about 3

-plan how many questions you are going to do (eg 3)

-work independently to complete the questions you have agreed on and let your team members know when you have finished (then do something else as you wait)

-when you are all finished, compare answers – if you all have the same answer to a question, assume it is correct – if you have different answers, discuss and support each other in working out who has made the error

-when you are agreed, use a coloured pen or pencil to mark your answers right or wrong and correct any wrong ones by writing the correct answer next to the wrong one in colour – do not rub out wrong answers

-agree how many questions you are going to do next and repeat the process.

Step 5: Set the children working, then circulate and make sure they are following the process correctly, paying particular attention to the following:

– each group has planned together which questions they are doing

-they are working independently without collaborating when answering the questions – they are letting each other know when they have finished

-they are marking their work in coloured pen or pencil

-they are respecting wrong answers by marking them wrong – not rubbing them out!

-they are having in-depth discussions to make sure everyone understands everything (this will require the most training – reinforce good practice when you find it )

-they are writing correct answers in colour after the cross

Steps 6, 7 & 8 etc: Train the children thoroughly for several lessons, then reap the rewards! It works!

PS There is a little bit more to getting this to work than can be explained in one article. If you would like to chat about any of these ideas in more depth, please get in touch.