From Learning to Exploring

With only a week before school returns for 2015, I am beginning to consolidate my ideas into planning for the new school year. As the Digital Technologies Teacher K-7 (plus a year 11/12 course) I am keen to continually innovate and push the boundaries. I have a new leader in the STEM curriculum area, whom I believe will be supportive of innovation, and a very supportive Principal who has given me license to push towards innovation and making a difference in my field, but to always reflect and evaluate upon the implications.

When I plan for the new Australian Curriculum – Digital Technology I know there will be many challenges and a very steep learning curve to navigate. I took the opportunity to begin some coding with some students at the end of last year during the Hour Of Code, which was received well by some students, so I believe they are up for the challenge and change. My big idea for the year is to allow more freedom to the students in what they will explore and learn. I want them to take more responsibility for their learning and the direction of their work. I know some students will run with this and thrive in the new learning format and space that is being provided, and others will need guidance and modelling every step of the way. This is an effect of the education system we traditionally impose on our students.

https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTVzh4zvsmc6S0EYadWQrsyCDhIIeVd6uS14LWV2j7oKPZWAbU-rg

At the end of last year whilst discussing the new year’s course with some of my senior students they openly said to me that they struggled with the whole self-guided investigation and motivation. They also asked if I would “teach” them instead. I was not at all surprised at this, and continued to explain that if I was to this they would have no choices in what they learnt about and everyone would have to do the same projects. This was idea was quickly revoked and they were all happy to continue to work independently. I know this is also a consideration I must address with the younger grades.

My goal is to instil a love of investigation and self motivating inquiry rather than the traditional “spoon-feed, conveyor-belt education”. I know this is not a mindset that will automatically turned on; I will need to model and support students throughout the year and I hope that the more freedom I give the students the more motivated they will become to take their investigations further. Providing the students with a range of spaces, tools and working arrangements I am hoping to move them towards independent learning and self motivating inquiry.

I think this video will be a great way to continue to encourage all students to keep trying even when they feel they are not progressing, but how to keep up the motivation and willingness to explore??

Some of the activities I have in store for my students include:

  • Coding using iPads, Chromebooks and computers
  • App development
  • Google Cardboard
  • Virtual Reality
  • CS Unplugged
  • 3D Design and printing
  • Video and Podcast productions
  • Data creation and analysis

My dilemma is with all of these new curriculum skills to learn and changed learning method is:

  1. How can I ensure the students get the most out of the exploration whilst not reverting the learning back to the ‘chalk and talk’ methods of the past?
  2. How have you been able to make such a change without going back to traditional teaching methods?
  3. What strategies should I implement to ensure my goals are achieved?

Rachael

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One thought on “From Learning to Exploring

  1. It’s great to hear Rach that you’re continually wanting to push those boundaries. It is, i believe, imperative that as educators we do this consistently to not only challenge our students but also ourselves. The fact also that you’re supported but members of your leadership team are are certainly an added bonus! The goal/s that you outlined above are extremely powerful in fostering engagement and curiosity in young people. The use of PBL/CBL to assist has worked very well for me and my students in the past. I think that PBL/CBL would be a great place to start. Have students identify a problem/challenge and aim to solve that through developing their skills in areas that you outline. For example have students develop app’s for local businesses to boost their ‘presence’ amongst your wider school community. Give them a real purpose for what they’re doing in class. 🙂

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