Thursday, July 17, 2014

Learning your way into the future - applied to a Space Study

You are here!  What are your thoughts and questions?
 The Future is about learning not education.

A recent TED Talk presenter, when talking about developing innovative enterprises, said the future was about learning not education. He continued that education is what others do to you – learning you do for yourself and that it is important to learn how to learn. ‘We need’, he said, ‘to learn our way forward’.

He could have been talking about the intent of the 2007 New Zealand Curriculum with its emphasis on ensuring all students need to ‘learn how to learn’ defined by the Key Competencies.  Competencies such as Thinking – how to ‘seek, use and create their own knowledge’; Using Language – to make meaning of experiences including mathematical and scientific language;  Managing Self – developing a ‘can do attitude’ and ‘seeing themselves as ‘capable learners’; Relating to Others; and Participating.
An evolving universe.
The Effective Pedagogy gives further emphasis to achieve the curriculum’s vision of ‘life-long learners
My feeling is that schools that base all their learning on such beliefs are hard to find.
The curriculum, if implemented to the full, requires a transformation of our school system and not adding on some inquiry teaching to the current traditional emphasis on literacy and numeracy in primary schools, nor the fragmented curriculum of secondary schooling. The reactionary introduction of National Standards with its obsessive assessment requirements reinforces traditional teaching narrowing the curriculum in the process.
Transformation of our schools is vital if they are to remain relevant in an era when information and digital technologies are expanding exponentially.
Powerful technologies will, by themselves, not be enough but they will need to be integrated into the learning experience. A shift to 21ST C teaching and learning is not just about the tools but requires transforming the way most teachers teach today.

 A visit to your local primary or secondary schools will show that teachers are still teaching as if it is they who control the learning. Current teachers reflect the way they themselves were taught or are conformed by accountability systems and pre-defined curriculums. If you do visit schools note the time spent on literacy and numeracy in primary schools and if learning is integrated across subjects in secondary or taught in separate subjects. Read some of the work of the students and ask does it reflect their thoughts and ideas or what has been ‘taught’ to them. Are student grouped by ability or working in mixed groups?
What is happening?
Instead of being ‘the teacher’ who is in total control – instead of that traditional pedagogy, we need a 21st century vision of teaching where there is less teacher talk and more student talk, where teachers focus on how to help students take responsibility for their own learning. Many years ago educationalist Jerome Bruner wrote that ‘teaching is the canny art of intellectual temptation.’
Learning is the default mode of the very young but as they progress through the school system many lose their passion for learning. Retaining and amplifying this passion for learning is what 21st century schooling is all about.
To retain this passion requires the personalisation of learning by ensuring students see the point of what they are doing, where the learning is relevant to them; where their unique gift and talents are valued and engaged; and where they take responsibility for their own actions and learning –
Can students find the Sth Cross?
the point of the New Zealand Curriculum’s Key Competencies.
In a 21st century classroom inquiry learning is the key and if done well makes use of all traditional Learning Areas. The current studies/topics/projects needs to provide the energy to give purpose to learning across the curriculum. Although the competencies are vital learning requires students to dig deeply into content; competencies are both a means and an end and a study without challenging content is a study at risk.
The teacher’s role is to ‘tempt’ students to become involved in learning. Some students may well have developed poor attitudes through previous experiences and this will provide teachers with a real challenge. Such students can only be recovered by experiencing on going success.
A teacher with a personalised teaching philosophy will come to understand each student’s strengths – what their interests are and how each student learns best. For all students to contribute requires respectful mutual relationships which for some students will take time.  Through success all students can become confident learners willing to take the risks required to learn. This is the artistry of a successful teacher.
Who is Neil Armstrong?
Perhaps the best way to develop such a 21st century approach is to think of the next unit you would like your students to become engaged in.Imagine your topic for the next few weeks is Space and Astronomy.
In some cases you may have had no choice of the unit but non the less how you develop it still provides plenty of opportunities to ensure your students are their own meaning makers – able to ‘seek, use and create their own knowledge’ and in the process develop their own particular interests and talents.
Consider what big ideas you would like your students to gain – time to check out curriculum objectives in the curriculum or other guides. Gather appropriate book resources. Also search Google for appropriate Khan Academy lessons ( excellent) . Download  Apple Apps for searching the night sky - fascinating. Also explore space using Google Earth.
Consider what learning area might naturally be integrated into the unit obviously science activities, maths activities related to size , distance and orbit time for planets ; language both scientific and creative; art both observational and creative.
Next consider how best to ‘tempt’ them; to tap into their innate curiosity?  Perhaps a short u-tube video? Maybe a display of photos downloaded from Google image? Maybe an expert visitor? Maybe a simple learning challenge: ‘What do we know about Spaced and what can we find out’? ( Background for teacher/older students)   (Worth showing - ideas about how big the Universe is 7min) (7 min space images)
What is famous about this footprint?
Make sure students know there are three aspects to the study – one is to learn space knowledge (and to develop a sense of wonder and curiosity about space); secondly how to go about learning – the inquiry approach; and finally to improve their learning competencies.
Get them in groups to think of question they might have – after groups have shared their ideas a set of study questions can be negotiated with the class. Negotiation is important to develop ownership and to pass responsibility over to the class. Negotiate 5/6 study question- remaining questions could be useful for individual interest research
In groups again get students to provide their current answers to questions decided upon. This prior knowledge will be useful to evaluate the learning gains at the completion of the unit.
Negotiate how they might present their findings – booklets/charts/ PowerPoint/models/ exhibition. Whatever is chosen may require ‘lessons’ to develop appropriate skills.
Data to interpret integrating science and maths.
As a means to transform the class into a 21st century learning environment ‘reframe’ literacy time by developing research skills around space content ( researching study questions) and creative writing inspired by space photos during this time and do the same for numeracy by involving the class is space maths tasks. Also use literacy time to teach design/presentation skills required. There may be School Journals with information to study.

Lots of activities for you to present to your students;

Why was Galileo tried as a heretic?
During the designated inquiry time students could work in rotating groups competing negotiated individual or group tasks.
How the study evolves will depend on teacher knowledge, students interest ( and interests) and time allowed for unit. Some teachers/ students may wish to explore Maori cosmology or Christian beliefs about how the universe was created. The history of space exploration/theories would be interesting – flat earth/round earth heresy.

To conclude the study consider what has been learnt (compare to prior views) and what questions
Life in space???  
have been impossible to answer or understand.

Have the students improved in their ability to ‘seek, use and create their own knowledge’ about space; does their work reflect their own ‘voice’?
The Earth from the Moon
Have the students improved their Key Competencies?
Reflect on your teaching/children’s’ learning in this unit and how will you change things in the future (Teaching as Inquiry as it asks in the New Zealand Curriculum?)

Have you ‘learnt you way forward’?

1 comment:

Shiny Elena said...

Thanks you for such profound ideas! Indeed, we need new vision of teaching where there is less teacher talk and more student talk, where teachers focus on how to help students take responsibility for their own learning. As a rule, when it comes to some ollege assignment, like dissertation writing, teachers just give task to students and don't provide with necessary tips, ideas and motivation. They don't inspire an interest, they just force to do this task for another grade. The old education system shoul be changed and modified in the best interests of children.