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8: Creating purposeful independent activities

Students need time to develop or consolidate their understanding of key concepts or strategies. Independent activities can be used to reinforce the directed learning that takes place during ALiM group time.

This resource describes ways in which ALiM teachers can create or provide purposeful independent activities for the students they are working with.

Independent activities include practising a mathematical skill, working on an interesting problem, using manipulatives to make sense of a concept, playing a game, or doing an online activity.

Why is this important?

Well-designed independent activities allow students to consolidate, deepen, or apply their understanding of key concepts.

Vulnerable learners often believe that if they need to work hard to learn something, it means that they are not smart. However, with some exceptions, the way most people learn something is through repeated exposure or by effort. Practice, repetition, and feedback play an important role in transfering information to long-term memory. For practical reasons, not all of this can or should take place during ALiM sessions. Independent activities can be used to extend the time a student spends practising new skills.

During an ALiM session, a teacher may want to give students activities they can do without teacher input. If some students are working independently on tasks that are both engaging and meaningful, the ALiM teacher is freed up to give targeted support to other students in the group. Observing a student who is working independently can also provide the teacher with important information about what the student understands or can do.

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