Transforming classroom learning so students can ‘bee’ their best

There are significant challenges in persuading authorities to change their long-established education methods.

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June 28, 2019 09:52
2 minute read.
Pupils at Tiferet Chaya School for Girls in Elad

Pupils at Tiferet Chaya School for Girls in Elad. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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Traditional teacher-centered classroom methods of teaching, where teachers talk and students listen, are not only dull, but also ineffective.

Students in higher education with traditional lecturing are 1.5 times more likely to fail than students in classes with active learning, according to a study published by University of Washington researchers. For young pupils in elementary schools, engaging and student-centered education is even more critical.

Guided by leading neuroscience researcher Dr. Hadas Harel, one Israeli company – Methodica – is transforming classrooms across the country, designing engaging learning environments for pupils based on neuropedagogy, or educational neuroscience.

Methodica has developed “Hubee,” described as a bee-like approach to education.

Just as bees manipulate nectar to convert it into honey, Methodica believes that pupils need to manipulate content presented in the classroom to ensure effective thinking and learning. For educational material to be learned successfully, Methodica says it must be taught in a practical manner every day, and all day long.

Already active in 40 schools across the country, Methodica’s pedagogical approach splits up classrooms into several learning corners, facilitating group study and station rotation models of education. Frontal learning is limited to just 30% of lesson time.

The company also integrates smartphone application-based testing into lessons, enabling teachers to monitor the responses of all pupils in the classroom in real time.

“The main difference in Hubee is that we focus on the student,” Assaf Sadeh, head of education at Methodica, told The Jerusalem Post.

“Student learning is always active and leads to much greater thinking than during passive, frontal-learning classroom studies. The thinking and bee-like studies enables more effective, memorable and sustainable learning.”

To date, Hubee has focused primarily on Grades 3 and 4 and has enjoyed significant success in the ultra-Orthodox education sector.

“For those who do not know the ultra-Orthodox society, this may sound surprising,” Sadeh said. “Since I previously served as a facilitator for ultra-Orthodox school inspectors at the Israel Institute for School Leadership (Avney Rosha), I know and cherish this population. The ultra-Orthodox sector is highly educated and is aware of effective learning processes. Some principals, and particularly women, are brave and innovative, and unafraid of far-reaching changes in schools.”

Nehama Levi, principal of the ultra-Orthodox Tiferet Chaya School for Girls in Elad, told the Post of the benefits of Methodica’s approach, enabling active learning, problem-solving and learning from mistakes.

“We measure the success of the approach according to the pupils’ achievements,” Levi said. “There are no concessions just because it’s an innovative method. The bee-like learning method grants significantly more space and time to pupils that are struggling, and reduces discipline problems. That’s why we have put so much effort into making it work, and invested significant sums of money, too.”

Methodica, Sadeh added, operates hand-in-hand with municipalities, schools and teachers to guide and build more innovative programming, and offer support where necessary. Ultimately, the company’s success is evaluated through a combination of external and internal school inspections, exam results and parent feedback.

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