Providing Sufficient Opportunities to Learn

This is the 3rd post in a series exploring what the New Zealand Curriculum says is effective pedagogy. The first posts were about Creating a Supportive Learning Environment and Making Connections to Prior Learning and Experience.

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

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Creating a Supportive Learning Environment

It’s the start of another school year and we are running around organising getting to know you type activities, collaborating on class rules etc. Why?

  1. we are people and people like to make connections with others. 
  2. because research has proven that creating a supportive learning environment has a positive impact on student learning.

This is why creating a supportive learning environment is included in the Effective Pedagogy section of the New Zealand Curriculum. This approach recognises that learning takes place in a social and cultural context.

From a student perspective this means that learning occurs best when they:

Positive relationship building and active learning happening as Year 9 students enjoy their first days at Lynfield College this week.

Effective teachers will: Continue reading

Time Warp

Time is such an odd concept in schools. Some days, weeks, terms or years we seem to achieve so much. Yet, most of the time, there is nowhere near enough time to get through everything that we want to do to help our students make progress with their learning. If asked what we need more of, the answer will almost always be time.

I have noticed this even more since moving into Senior Leadership and this term has been a great example. Continue reading

Sir Gateway?

Many people may get annoyed with this post, in fact it may even be considered sacrilegious by some. Sir Ken Robinson is extremely well known, liked by many and revered by some. His TED talk from 2006 has been watched almost 35 million times. Yet on finishing his most recent book I was left with an overwhelming sense of “meh.”

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Continue reading

Making Learning Visible at Stonefields

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Yesterday Di, Kylee and I had the privilege of visiting Stonefields School for a couple of hours. Stonefields have a great reputation for making learning visible and as I blogged about a couple of weeks ago, our team have a focus on developing the usage of our common learning language at HPSS. This post will cover the major takeaways for me from this visit – Sharing progression, seamless use of learning process and learner qualities, vision/leadership, familiar tensions and a collaborative future. Hopefully it will also encapsulate how inspiring Sarah Martin and her team are.

Sharing Progression

Students have Learning Progression documents for Mathematics, Reading, Writing and the Stonefields Learner Qualities. These documents break the curriculum own into student-friendly language and demonstrate what all students need to understand as they progress through the school. One awesome student sharing his progressions with us described them as a learning bucket list. Continue reading

MLP not MLE

This week I have been in Christchurch as part of our efellows programme. Our time was split between working on our research; provocations from Core staff such as Keryn Davis  (on power of play and student questions) and Derek Wenmoth (returning to the why and sharing books that are at the core of his beliefs to get us thinking of our core beliefs); and getting the chance to visit some schools in the area.

The schools that we were privileged to visit were Breens Intermediate and Te Pa o Rakaihautu. There were 2 really key points that I took from these visits: 1) seeing what it looks like when a shared vision is in action and 2) what MLE can look like in traditional classrooms. What they showed together was that modern learning environments is a complete misnomer, it is about modern learning practices. Continue reading