Toowoomba Grammar School teacher Mr Michael Cocks is an advocate of including his students in the conversation of how to learn and how to complete lessons effectively, sharing his unique concept of lesson styles. “Last year I walked into my classroom with a new idea. During the first five minutes of the lesson I gave my students the necessary instructions and then for the next hour, they all worked quietly, diligently and enthusiastically,” he said. “At the end, I asked the class how they enjoyed their lesson. Without exception, every single student said that they loved it and wanted to do it again.”

Mr Cocks came up with a new teaching strategy after finding that replicating the same lessons several times proved ineffective. He reportedly changed his lessons to suit the time of day. “I reserved direct teaching for the first lesson of the day, when students could maintain focus the longest. During the middle of the day I used activities that favoured participation and research. Later in the day I used activities that incorporated multi-media elements to encourage attention when their energy levels were low,” he said.

This ensured students got to learn the same information in a variety of different ways throughout the day. Students responded well to this method, but Mr Cocks recognised there was still room for improvement. He turned to digital technology to help with improving the lessons further. “I decided to do a trial, allowing students to choose which way they wanted to learn in a lesson. Those who wanted to research, could. Those who wanted to do reading, could. Those who wanted to engage with multi-media content could,” he said. To ensure that students had completed their learning successfully, they were made to take a pre-prepared quiz at the end of the day.

Mr Cocks has now used this idea across multiple year levels and across multiple topics. “Every time I ask my students for feedback, it has been universally praised,” he said. He also encourages teachers to try this strategy in their own classrooms. Mr Cocks was also recently named as a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert for the third consecutive year, continuing to play an active role in helping Microsoft deliver digital solutinos in the classroom.

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