Enhancing the relevance of new learning

It is not surprising to see relevance of learning in the effective pedagogy section of the New Zealand Curriculum. A lot of research was undertaken in the 1990’s in New Zealand on this and hence teachers in New Zealand have long discussed how relevant and meaningful learning will increase interest, engagement and motivation for learners. What is of interest here though, is that the NZC explanation expands from just relevant contexts for learning to include ideas such as curiosity and learner agency.

Effective teachers stimulate the curiosity of their students, require them to search for relevant information and ideas, and challenge them to use or apply what they discover in new contexts or in new ways.

Curiosity is a bit of an enigma in schools. Speak to any teacher and they will say they value it, but often it is not high in our priorities when designing learning experiences for our classes. Susan Engel’s research found that students’ curiosity decreased as they grew older. She does believe that adult influence is a factor in this. This paper by Engel suggests 4 ways that educators can help students become more curious again.

Sparking curiosity in Science

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Curiosity, Passion and Provocation

Over the last few days I have observed a couple of situations that have set me off wondering about curiosity again. One of these was with my own children and one with my Year 10 class.

Yesterday we visited Kelly Tarltons and I saw pure wonder and curiosity on the faces of my children. My 3 year old son ran round with joy, pointing at things that caught his eye and asking for a closer look. My 7 year old daughter spent her time reading the signs and asking questions of the staff to find out more about what she was seeing.

It was an awesome 2 1/2 hour adventure and their pure curiosity and wonder about it all made it even better.

It was interesting afterwards to reflect and compare this experience with the lesson with my Year 10 class on Friday. Continue reading

What if we were the IOC?

Next week the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics start and with it will start a whole wave of classes learning about the Olympics. My Year 10 class will be amongst the students learning about the Olympics over the next few weeks. However, I don’t want it to be a case of choose 1 country, find some facts and colour in the flag. I want some deeper thinking to occur.

Image via @zoelee

Image via @zoelee

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Deeper Learning

This week’s provocation at Hobsonville Point Secondary School was Grant Lichtman’s Deeper Learning Cheat Sheet. To follow up on this our Learning Design Kitchen Table (20 minute staff ‘meeting’) was an activity based upon that reading.

We started off by looking again at the tips that Grant has disseminated for increasing student engagement, curiosity and student centred practice.

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Many of these strategies are commonplace and found every day throughout our school. But we recognise that we can always improve our practice. So, we focused on how we can scale up or amplify our practice on these. Continue reading