Making Connections to Prior Learning and Experience

It’s Week 2 of the school year. We have set up a supportive learning environment so next we go about finding out what students already know. This will include results from last year, other data we can access but will also likely include other in-class activities. We already have our curriculum and course guides in place, so why do good teachers spend time finding out what students already know? This post looks to explore the research behind our practice.

Students learn best when they are able to integrate new learning with what they already understand. (pg 34 of the New Zealand Curriculum)

Image from pg 71 “Hidden Lives of Learners” by Graham Nuthall

This figure is Graham Nuthall’s explanation of how our brains make sense of new information. All experiences, learning activities, discussions etc. are stored in our working memory which then attempts to make connections with our prior knowledge and related experiences. The working memory then evaluates this information, integrates the new experience with our prior knowledge and changes (or maintains) our understanding. (Hidden Lives of Learners, 2007). Continue reading

How Might We best share our Geography practices?

Each year I help to organise our Geography Awareness Week in New Zealand. Most of the time it is about creating some quiz resources and a couple of fun activities to help students see the relevance of Geography to their lives. This year I wanted to get Geography teachers across the country sharing their best practice. Some subjects have started twitter chats (#engchatnz and #scichatnz) but I wanted to have an event that would enable non-twitter users to engage in conversation as well. This led to us having a Geography Teach Meet NZ online yesterday:

Thanks to the amazing Sonya Van Schaijik for helping us get this together. There were some great ideas shared and I have had really positive comments from Geography teachers (both on twitter and in the “real world”) about how they found it.

Kim Randall shared Google Maps Engine Lite which is a free web based GIS tool, an incredible resource for us Geo teachers. I look forward to playing with this and getting to know it better!

Steve Smith spoke about taking overseas field trips. Although harder to organise, the payoff is definitely worth it with the passion and engagement it brings.

I spoke about how Design Thinking can work in Geography. If you follow this blog you will not be surprised about this topic (see my other posts on Design Thinking here).

Craig Perry shared how he uses SOLO Taxonomy in Geography to help make learning visible for students.

Heather Eccles was lucky last sharing the power of making authentic connections around the world with her students.

Hopefully, this has helped provoke discussions about effective pedagogy in our Geography classrooms. The challenge now is how do we keep the discussions going? The Pond may provide space for this in future when the Communities function is set up but this will take some time. I’m not sure enough NZ Geographers are on twitter for chats to be the answer. Leaving me with my question for today:

How Might We best share our Geography practices?

 

This post is part of My Questioning Quest.

 p.s. mind turning after posting this. VLN could be a good place but I like the idea of international connections being able to contribute as well. With so many schools moving to GAFE is a Google+ Community the answer for this?