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.
Now that we know our students and where their knowledge is at, we can think about our learning design.
Students learn most effectively when they have time and opportunity to engage with, practise, and transfer new learning. This means that they need to encounter new learning a number of times and in a variety of different tasks or contexts. (NZC p34)
Graham Nuthall’s research in the early 1990’s found that students needed to encounter information 3 times to understand a concept. This also applies for skills based subjects as the Maths BES states: “To achieve fluency, meaningful practice opportunities include significant variations each time, providing students with a sense of the range of possibilities in a topic” (Effective Pedagogy in Mathematics Best Evidence Synthesis, p125).
“The more we fire a particular circuit, the more myelin optimizes that circuit and the stronger, faster and more fluent our movements and thoughts become.” (Daniel Coyle, The Talent Code)
Neuroscience supports this by explaining how the more often we practice a skill, the more myelin grows around our nerve fibres. Continue reading →
“What do you think will change for schools under the new Labour Government?”
I have lost count of the number of times that I have been asked this question over the summer. The immediate response of teachers online was joy but it’s not going to be an open cheque, so really I don’t think much will change.
Political ideologies may have indirect impacts on schools by the social and economic policies they enact and the impacts these have on learners’ lives, but the pedagogical approaches of teachers have so much more of an influence in schools. Teachers and schools have always looked at the constraints placed upon us by governments and then continued to design curriculum and learning in the best way they see fit.Continue reading →
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 →
This year as part of my portfolio as Deputy Principal at Lynfield College, I have been asked to look into how well the learning taking place here is reflecting the intent of the New Zealand Curriculum. I am really excited about this, as curriculum and learning design is a real passion of mine.
To get my head into this for 2018, I am starting by going back to have a close look at what the NZC actually says about teaching and learning. Whilst, this is primarily to help shape what is happening at Lynfield College, there is plenty of this investigation that may be helpful for all teachers (in New Zealand but also globally). Hence, I will write a few posts over the next while sharing what I find.
Looking forward to spending some more time unpacking my coffee stained NZ Curriculum
In my last blog post I wrote a narrative of my day shadowing a Year 10 student. This was a real highlight of my first term as a senior leader. This post shares some of the questions that I have either been grappling with or am about to start grappling with in my role as DP. Some of these developed out of reflecting on my day shadowing, many of them emerged from other events throughout the term.
How might we build upon the great content learning to develop more autonomous learners?
What if students didn’t all move through lessons at the same pace?
How might student understanding be checked in ways that don’t stop progress with learning? Continue reading →
We are continuing to develop the effectiveness of our coteaching at Hobsonville Point Secondary School. Over the past 2 weeks we have continued reading into effective coteaching practices from overseas and comparing these to our practices here at HPSS. Much of this overseas literature is based in Primary and/or for including special educational needs into mainstream classrooms.
With this gap in literature, we have identified that some of our practices are already exceeding that shared online. There is, however, plenty left for us to learn and improve. Since our last session on coteaching models we have focused on the role a teacher can play in supporting their coteacher.
Last week, our reading was this table from a research article by Wendy Murawski:
Secondary teachers and schools have a lot to learn from their Primary counterparts.
Yesterday we spent the morning in 2 of our contributing schools. Yasmin, Sally, Jill and I went to Hobsonville Primary and Lisa, Kylee, Sarah and Megan went to Whenuapai. What we saw in each of these schools was great pedagogy and made us realise that our students for next year are going to be well prepared for what we are planning.
In fact, the biggest reflection point on yesterday was that what we have planned for Hobsonville Point Secondary School may be radical for Secondary but is not a big step different to what already exists in Primary schools. Continue reading →
Finally it seems to have happened – people are looking at e-learning as part of effective pedagogy!
Devices, technology, browsers, e-tools, apps whatever you want to think of as e-learning are not a separate entity and should not be viewed that way. For quite some time now I have been having discussions with people about technology in education and have been frustrated by how often the conversations focused on the what rather than the why. Last week it seemed to me that a major corner has been turned. Continue reading →