Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Igniting Curiosity - Through a World of Possibilities

How do we personalise learning when some children have little or no idea of what they are interested in or are madly obsessed about a narrow subject?

To personalise students learning (i.e. place students at the centre of learning) we (the teachers) need to be able to put in place structures to meet individual styles, needs and interests of the children.  This is difficult when children haven't been exposed to a range of life experiences and seemingly lack the reflection skills to be able to identify what they are curious about?

So, how do we create experiences for children to explore new ideas, understandings and knowledge that goes beyond the 'googlable' question and the limits of what a learning area centred approach delivers?

At H.P.P are trying to address the issues mentioned above through a whole school process of learning design.

We have a phase of our overall learning design that we label, 'immersion.'  We believe we need to introduce the children to a 'world they do not yet know' or 'the world they may have heard of' to create the conditions for powerful learning through evoking curiosity.

This process is inspired by John Holt's Four Worlds model.

The reason why we do this is because immersion plays a significant part in creating the foundation for us to be able to personalise learning as we challenge children in their thinking by introducing new concepts, experiences and ideas that sparks curiosities.

From this platform, we can steer students towards a deep inquiry and/or co-construct/negotiate a project.  We label this second phase our P.B.L or Inquiry phase.

In discussing immersion with Daniel Birch (Principal at H.P.P) he said to think of students as sitting somewhere within the bell curve of distribution in terms of interests and passions.

A few children will have no idea of their interests or curiosities and a few will be extremely passionate about a hobby or topic.  For example, the child who wants to be an All White, lives and breathes it, knows every statistic and does project after project on anything related to football.

What we want to do is take this child who already knows so much and encourage other interests.  For children who seem to have very little interest or passion we want to stimulate thought and engagement.  We can cater for both groups and the children in between through immersion.

Our first phase of school-wide learning is centred around 'Inventive Thinking' a concept taken from the enGauge 21st Century Skills research. We unpack 'Inventive Thinking' as a concept which through this lens and set of competencies we design learning experiences for our children.  We use the content of the Ncrel research as a backbone of our our localised curriculum.

NECREL Description

Sitting under the broad concept of 'Inventive Thinking' is a subset of skills which relate to the Key Competencies (dispositions) that we will create experiences for our children to develop and reflect on.  We have linked these dispositions to the 'whole-brain' Hermann Brain Dominance model as a way of unpacking thinking within our schools.  The dispositions provide a common school-wide language used across staff and students which helps to understands ourselves and each other better

We have these at the forefront of our minds going into the design process.  We do this deliberately to shift thinking from subject areas to skill acquisition.  We still value literacy and numeracy however in terms of process we need to shift our teachers thinking and old habits first.

Day 12.  #28daysofwriting

As a staff we create ideas for our immersion linking to the needs of our community of learners and what is relevant.  We generate these ideas responsively and nothing is preplanned.  It is a free for all of dreaming up big ideas and throwing out there thinking.

From there we take responsibility for designing a workshops that fit the framework of our whole learning model.  We have our vision, mission and school learning values in mind.

Next week the children will have two action packed days of taster/ignition sessions.  We will be encouraging active reflection through the sessions.  Students will be able to select from a wide range of workshops on offer.  Everybody on staff, including support staff will be running activities and sessions.

Learning Advisors (home teachers) then unpack and extend immersion further, based on what they noticed over the whole-school immersion with cohorts of children. Once, the students have reflected and the teachers have noticed that the children are getting ready to go they'll move into the next phase of negotiation leading into P.B.Ls.

The immersion design should be flexible and nothing is set on stone as we constantly reflect on what could be modified.  At the end of the day it's learning for everybody.

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