Active Learning – Being involved and learning

Part of active learning is resilience – being involved and learning.  Within Guy Claxton’s Building Learning Power, resilience consists of perseverance, managing distractions, absorption and noticing.


2Teaching the children the words and the meanings is very important.  You want them to recognise what each of the areas looks like.  Then it’s down to us to point out when children are using the resilience muscle.

Eventually, you can get the children to do it.  Having their peers recognise something that they are doing well often gives children a great sense of pride.



Using reinforcing and reminding language to support perseverance is important.  Eventually, your children will get involved and recognise and praise others.

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Model the skill of noticing and give children opportunities in all areas of learning.




What can you see in the picture? Who could the people be? If you were there what would it be like?  Why do you think this? What is on the table? What are they doing?




What is happening to the numbers? What number is always there? What are we taking away each time? What is different about the way the number sentence is set out?

From the Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch


Read a book and ask questions about the pictures.  Great for inference.

How is the princess feeling?  What time of year is it? How could she find the dragon? Why is she wearing a paper bag?  What is on it?




Listen to a piece of music.  How does it make you feel? Are there short or long sounds?  What is the pitch like? How quick is the music?  Can you recreate the music?


3Managing distractions

Ways that we can support children in managing their distraction include:

  • Starting from the child’s own perceptions and making managing distractions a desirable skill can be really helpful. Green stickers for behaviour but gold stickers for using a learning muscle can help this, where gold stickers are worth more than green.
  • If we give children our time and ask them questions to draw out solutions or even issues, we have a better understanding of the child. This will help us, the teachers, find out vague or even emotional worries that we may not have been aware of.
  • By giving rewards and modelling managing distractions regularly and in different situations, such as lining up for lunch, getting a piece of fruit, sitting in assembly, completing a spelling test then children will see exactly what it looks like. It doesn’t just have to be during input or independent learning. In fact the more opportunities we give for rewards and modelling, the quicker the positive outcome.
  • Provide tips and possible solutions. If you have children that sit together in class and then distract each other, give them the tip of choosing to sit elsewhere. When they see the rewards for making this decision, they will more likely make it.
  • Discuss issues which are not clear cut e.g. friends who are both a distraction and a source of inspiration. I give children the opportunity to work with others by randomly picking groups. However, if these groups include their best friends then I do not change them. I give children the opportunity to use their skills, showing them that if I can trust them, there are more chances to work with their inspirational friends.


Give children learning that they are interested in alongside the skills to persevere, manage their distractions and notice things; and they will absorb themselves in their learning.

Engaging with the children in discussion not only supports their progress but also gives them attention in which they will happily share what they are doing.

Modelling and showing enjoyment in learning where you show children the excitement, awe and wonder in what could be achieved will let them see how interesting learning can be.

Make learning the reward.  Just knowing what they themselves have achieved, gives children a sense of pride and understanding that what they put in, gives them back lots.

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