Monday, 16 May 2016

Reading for Curiosity

For reading this term we have embarked on a challenge - a digital tool to engage even the most discouraged of learners.
I've highlighted a small group of high achieving boys who lack some enthusiasm and passion for learning. They desired more agency and creativity. I desired that they have more passion and self regulation.

The pedagogy underpinning Manaiakalani is Learn, Create, Share. This pedagogy makes the most of 1:1 digital devices, personalised learning and creativity.

Dorothy Burt shares her discussions around Learn, Create, Share on the Manaiakalani Blog.
Evidence confirms that Creativity is a significant hook into learning and we need to be empowering our young people to develop this. And whatever medium a child uses to express their creativity, the affordances of the technology mean that this can be captured digitally and shared with a wide audience. (Burt 2015)

Underpinning the New Zealand Curriculum lie five vital components to a student becoming a life long learner. The Key Competencies are what our students need to be equipped with in order to become contributors to their community.
Managing Self
Participating and Contributing
Using Language Symbols and Text
Relating Well to Others

In a digital, connected world it is even more important that these skills are addressed, explicitly taught and learnt, to allow our students to direct their learning, be passionate about discovery and strive to reinvent and create.

In my experience, the hook for learners to engage with and be passionate about learning, is the ability to share “something never created before” with an authentic audience. “Something never created before” is a tagline I use with my students to ensure that they realise that their creations can be and should be unique and personal. And according to Steve Jobs - put a ding in the universe.
Being proud of what we create and the process we shared, is fundamental to learning Key Competencies and being intrinsically motivated. When my students graduate high school in 2025, the skills they require to achieve in society will be self regulation, intrinsic motivation, curiosity and empathy. Our teaching in 2016 requires us to notice this and address it.

The boys in this study have never been excited by traditional teacher led instruction in the classroom. They have towed the line and done, mostly, what they should. They test well and have played the education game well. The lack of enthusiasm and passion is clearly noted in day to day interactions in the classroom.

The literacy digital tool requires no teacher led instruction. The component of choice of context and output, hands the agency to the child. The digital nature means that the student can travel along the journey at their own pace. They can access text to suit them and their learning. They can collaborate when necessary and work alone when necessary.  

The nature of the driving questions and open tasks, allow for the students to implement problem solving strategies to make meaning of the wider world. Through collaboration and discussion, the boys learn to transfer new skills and critically apply them to the new concepts. Most importantly, the self regulation and awareness of the process being implemented to acquire their new knowledge, means a child is more metacognitive and reflective. They are cognitive about what they are learning, how they have learnt it and what learning still needs to occur to master a skill.

Twice a week the boys will meet together with the teacher to discuss what they are up to, where they are going and address any issues or questions. We will use this time to talk about what they have found out and how that information links to the driving question overseeing the context. The discussion will be led by the teacher but directed by the boys. Any interesting sites, texts, movies or facts that the boys have found to support the context, can be shared with each other in this session.

Digital affordances allow for the learning to be driven by a series of well scaffolded Google Slides. The scaffolding on the slides directs the child with their thinking, search skills and questioning. They are prompted with questions, sub-questions and creative tasks. Movies, website links and driving questions will ensure that the students are well engaged with thought provoking, clever thinking and creative output.

The agency given to the student around choice of context and creativity, will hook in reluctant participants, making the task and learning more meaningful and therefore increase the all important metacognition and further develop the key competencies that underpin the New Zealand Curriculum.

Utilising a strong pedagogy of Learn, Create, Share, coupled with student agency, high achieving boys with low motivation can develop a curiosity and love for learning. They can learn to self regulate and develop the motivation to create something never created before. - To create excellence.