How Split Screen Helps Students Learn What, Why and How They Learn

Kath Murdoch in her book ‘The Power of Inquiry’ mentioned that learners tend to learn more effectively when they are clear about their purpose.  Knowing where you are going does not mean having to have every task mapped out in detail but it does mean clarity of purpose.

Do I do this practice in the class? Kinda. I do share the learning goal orally to the students and that’s it.

After reading chapter six in the book, I feel that sharing the learning objective orally is not enough and I started thinking how I can get students to think and make connections between what they are learning (learning purpose) to how they learn (process).

Kath Murdoch shared one strategy for sharing learning intention by using the split screen.  She suggested to adopt Guy Claxton’s split screen teaching approach.


What is the split screen teaching approach?

I try to summarize my own understanding of what split screen teaching approach is.  A split screen will allow me as a teacher to get students understand the process of how they are going to learn what they want to learn.

  • what they are going to learn (knowledge),
  • how they are going to learn (skills),
  • how the learning will be affected by their attitudes/behaviour (Learner Profile and attitudes)



How do I introduce this strategy in my class?

I have been trying to implement this in my class for the last two weeks.  I myself have to commit (instead of going back and sharing it orally or write something on the board).  I should get them think of how they should connect different aspects which may affect how they learn.

I started by using a topic which they are going to learn.

The current unit of inquiry is ‘How We Express Ourselves’ with central idea ‘Stories can engage their audiences and communicate meaning.’  As a stand-alone language lesson, the students were introduced similes and metaphors.  This is the first time, they were introduced to what similes and metaphors are.

Before I dragged their attention to the split screen strategy, they watched a video which stimulated their thinking and asked them to recognize how writers use language to express their ideas/feelings/etc.


What are we learning about?

similes and metaphors


What  are we learning to be? As you learn about similes and metaphors, which attributes/attitudes are you encouraged to show?

to be a thinker as we should think of words that we can use to compare in similes and metaphors.

to be a communicator to express our ideas in writing and speaking.

to be creative as we should think of words which can make them sound interesting.


Ok then, when we would like to learn about similes and metaphors, what skills should we use in order to understand what we want to learn? Which skills are we learning to use?

Their attentions were dragged to the transdiciplinary skills which they are getting familiar with.  

I think we are using thinking skills. We should learn to understand, listen and think how it can be used.



It took a while to get them thinking and realize how all the ‘words’ which they have been hearing are actually working together to help them learn and be better learner.

They slowly get the idea of how the split screen helps them understand how they learn.

What we are learning about?



What are we learning to be?

thinker – we should connect to multiplication to do division

commitment – we should not give up easily when we get stuck in the middle of a problem.

inquirer – We should find the way and use different strategies to solve a problem. 


What are we learning to use?

Thinking skills – We are making connections to multiplication.  We are thinking of which strategy will work to solve a problem.


As we’ve been doing this every day, every time we start learning , the students have been able to explain more on what and how they learn.


Is that enough?

I think as I read the book and other articles about split screen, my next goal would be integrating concept into this approach.

Kath Murdoch in her book said, ‘In keeping with an inquiry-based mindset, learning intentions can be formulated as questions rather than questions or statements.

This is definitely something that I would explore in the coming weeks.  What we are learning about, what we are learning to be, what we are learning to use will be phrased differently in order to get students inquire more ways to understand a concept instead of a topic.  Of course, this needs to be introduced step by step. I may share how this would be developed in the coming weeks.  This is also a part of my inquiry into learning how students learn. 🙂

Developing student’s understanding of how the 5 essential elements in the PYP work takes time and commitment.  It does require students to think and reflect about their learning.  And helping them understand how they lear what they want to learn is something that will lead them to be  lifelong learners.


More articles on split screen:


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