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The structure of a Neurons'activity

Every Neurons activity follows a Constructionist approach to learning, meaning that they are experiential, hands-on and require the learner to make or build something that is meaningful to them. Because of this, our activities encourage individualism, creative thinking, problem solving and play. We are, however, mindful of the fact that learners may need to gain new skills in order to do this successfully. This is why we have developed a structure in which we situate our activities. What follows is a framework that is structured in such a way that each learner is empowered to produce something different and unique.

Broken down across articles

As a Neurons subscriber you will be sent the set stages of an activity (listed below) across multiple emails. These span anything from three days up to a week. This is to give you time to complete and reflect upon each stage before moving on to the next.

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This week you will

Context is key, and informs the learner what they will be heading towards as they progress through the activity.

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Find out

During this stage, learners will be asked to do some research that will be crucial to the success of their activity. This might involve: searching the Internet (some links might be provided), talking to family and friends, looking around their environment etc.

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Do this

This stage is instructionist and can be compared to following a recipe. It is also where basic (and not-so basic) skills are developed. These skills will be important as they progress to creating their own artefact.

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Try this

This stage encourages learners to interact with what they have been given, and to apply the skills and knowledge gained in the “Do this” stage to new and unfamiliar situations. This approach develops a deeper understanding. We can also think of this stage as ‘tinkering’ with what they have. Tinkering means that they are beginning to personalise their learning.

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What Can You Do?

This is where learners can really free their imagination and creativity. It is the most playful stage in the process. We can define play as an activity which is: joyful, engaging, meaningful, socially interactive and iterative (ref: The LEGO Foundation). In this stage learners are encouraged to use what they have learnt in previous stages to imagine possibilities and create something new or truly unique. There may be some suggestions, but what we really want is for learners to experiment and try ideas out - and not be afraid to fail before settling on their finished piece.

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Share it

This stage is about celebration. Different activities will lend themselves to different ways of sharing. This might be: taking photographs or video, staging a performance or a screening, or curating an exhibition at home. We might ask learners to create a digital portfolio and share that with us at 20Twenty so we can share it with other learners who subscribe to Neurons. Sharing is important, as it not only celebrates achievements, but may also spark new or different ideas, thereby starting the whole process again.

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This learning framework was inspired by the Creative Learning Spiral, developed by Mitchell Resnick (MIT Lifelong Kindergarten)
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Informs the learner in short and simple terms what they will achieve.
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Helps set the context and background to the activity.
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The instrucionist statements that guide the participant towards constructionist play and learning.
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The ‘tinkering’ stage, meaning learners are beginning to personalise their learning.
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Learners use their imagination and creativity to nurture new possibilities.
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Sharing and celebrating is important, as it may spark new ideas that start a whole new process again.