Teaching geometrical shapes to grade 4 learners: a teacher’s self-study.
Makhaye, Jane Buyisile.
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My research focus was on my learning as a teacher, with a view to understanding how I might improve my teaching practices as a Grade 4 teacher in relation to geometrical shapes. Adopting a sociocultural theoretical perspective on teacher learning helped me to understand that learning does not only take place within you as an individual teacher, but with others, in a particular context. I was the main participant in the study and I worked with my Grade 4 learners as research participants. In addition, I worked closely with two of my fellow Master’s students as critical friends. Data were generated using five research practices, namely, artefact retrieval, lesson planning and classwork activities, taking photographs, audio recording, and journal writing. The first question that guided my research was: What can I learn about learning and teaching of geometrical shapes from my personal history? I addressed this question by stepping back to give an account of my personal history with my family, the community I grew up in, and my schoolteachers and classmates. My second research question was: How can I improve my teaching of geometrical shapes to Grade 4 learners? In responding to this question, I drew learnings from my personal history to develop my teaching of geometrical shapes through encouraging: (a) learning through making and hands-on learning (b) learning through story telling (c) learning through exploring the surroundings and (d) learning through playing games. These learnings influenced me to design lessons to explore how I might improve my teaching of geometrical shapes. I created a collage to represent my learning from designing and teaching these lessons. Images in my collage represented key aspects that I need to be mindful of in continuing to improve my teaching practice: (a) paying attention to the learners in the classroom; (b) designing lessons to stimulate learners’ senses; (c) addressing the challenge of lack of space in my school; (d) addressing time management in completion of tasks; and (e) encouraging learners’ enjoyment and learning through playing games. Overall, from my self-study research, I discovered that my own learning as a teacher could be enhanced by appreciating the contributions of my personal history and by listening to and respecting the contributions of my learners as active participants in learning and learning.