I am fortunate to work with teachers who continually challenge themselves to facilitate learning which has the interests of students at the forefront of their considerations. One concrete example is the “TED” learning initiative for Year 7 students in 2013. “TED” is the integrated approach to learning for Religion, English and Human Society and its Environment (HSIE) for Year 7 students in 2013 @materdeiwagga. “TED” is short for ConnecTED Learning and “connects” both subjects and learners, and also provides students with CHOICE of:
- Technology which will best support their learning;
- Area(s) of interest they may wish to Explore; and,
- How (in pairs or groups?) and with whom (teachers or students?) they Discover new knowledge and understanding.
Early signs are very promising indeed! Since the start of the year we have had Prime News produce a story for their nightly news. Also, we have had two visiting principals as well as two visiting academics, one of them a visiting educational professor from Finland. In both instances, students were chosen without notice to answer their questions about “TED”. I listened to these students speak about the program. In summary, they:
- Identified they were offered opportunities to choose their subject matter;
- Developed their ability to determine their own pace of study (within reason);
- Welcomed the opportunity to make decisions about who they work with and when;
- Were empowered to use available Web 2.0 technologies to demonstrate their learning; and,
- Enjoyed the agile learning space known as “The Glasshouse”.
Reflecting upon the above, at this stage they are qualitative reflections of just one individual, me. Within the next few weeks, the “TED” team of teachers will evaluate the first term of work with a specific focus about how students experienced the unit of work called “Dig Deeply”. I have little doubt that the feedback gained from the evaluation will inform teachers how to improve delivery of the unit of work, but is that all we are looking for?
To complement the evaluation of the “Dig Deeply” unit of work, there will also be the implementation of an action research process. This will take place in Term 2. The reason for this will be to commence a valid and trustworthy process that provides information about student learning gain. It may take months or even years to effectively measure the worth of TED and its impact on learning gain for students; however, the commitment to action research will provide data that will assist the College to make informed decisions about the validity of TED and its contribution to student learning gain. With that said, it may or may not use data associated with traditional measures of learning gain; that being HSC achievements, DeCourcy reviews, NAPLAN analysis, or feedback from ICAS tests. It may be that we explore learning gain in areas that will assist students to live and work in the world which awaits them; that is, explore the learning gain of students with the General Capabilities in the emerging Australian Curriculum.
“General capabilities are a key dimension of the Australian Curriculum. They encompass the knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions that, together with curriculum content in each learning area and the cross-curriculum priorities, will assist students to live and work successfully in the twenty-first century” (ACARA 2013).
“They play a significant role in realising the goals set out in the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (MCEECDYA 2008) that all young people in Australia should be supported to become successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed citizens” (ACARA 2013).
The action research process will be a trustworthy approach which ensures the data is primarily about student learning gain not just the pedagogy adopted by teachers. Furthermore, it may inform us about our stated aim of developing self-directed learners, by having students reflect on questions such as:
- What do I know? How do I know it?
- What do I need to know?
- How do I learn best?
5 April, 2013.
ACARA (2013). “Australian National Curriculum.” Retrieved 5 April 2013, 2013, from http://www.acara.edu.au/curriculum/general_capabilities.html
MCEECDYA (2008). National Declaration on the Educational Goals for Young Australians.