Monday, November 26, 2007

Last term of the year - a celebration of creativity!

A display based on bicycle science and maths.

The last weeks of the school year is a great opportunity to walk around all rooms to admire the research skills and creativity of the students at your school.

During the year , if developing students as life long learners has been the emphasis at your school, then by now all the skills ( or 'key competencies') involved ought to be in place.

Students by now ought to be able to devise, research and present work with minimum assistance and the room should be full of what they can do with minimum help. At the very least the room should celebrate the current class topic.

Study topics, in my mind, ought to provide the intellectual energy to inspire all students to engage in worthwhile learning.

Such topics naturally provide the context to develop, over the previous term (and in previous years), all the various skills needed to work independently - including relevant literacy and numeracy skills such as research writing and use of graphs and visual mathematical data. As well all the various information media and visual design skills will have been integrated during previous terms and available for students to select from. A whole range of skills from observation to imaginative expression will also be in place to be called on as required.

So take a close look at your rooms. Take out of your minds work students have done to satisfy teacher demands and any shallow work with no intellectual substance.

Look only for evidence of students' points of view, for their questions, their 'prior ideas' and material that illustrates their research. For the latter look to see if what is presented is in their own words and reflects their own ideas and not just 'cut and pasted' from other sources!

Look for provocative headings to focus current or past studies. Look for 'key questions' and negotiated tasks. Look for criteria developed with the students to allow them to self assess their own work. Look for student evaluations of their research which indicates what they have learnt and look for question that they have yet to find satisfactory answers.

Our new curriculum asks schools to develop 'creative connected and actively involved students' equipped with what are called 'future competencies'. The curriculum talks about students being 'active seekers, users, and creators' of their own knowledge, who 'can set and manage their own goals', and who can 'reflect on their own learning'.

My bet is, that if you visit all the rooms, you won't see much of what I have described above!

I would love to be proved wrong.


Anonymous said...

I don't think there are too many of your 'inquiry based classrooms' around - more likely you would see colourful classrooms in primary schools that feature lots of literacy 'artifacts' plus the usual display of low level art - all looking similar. Very little to be seen of the authentic examples of in-depth student thinking and personal expression, in language and art, that you refer to.

Anonymous said...

The teaching you describe is not as common as it was due to all the pressures to achieve narrow educational 'targets'. Creativity has been on the 'back burner' the past few years.Let's hope things get better with the new NZC.