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.
7 thoughts on ““TED” – A Term One Reflection”
Yes. Really enjoy the connections between the TED program and the National Curriculum. ACARA has done their research on 21st century skills, and has left the door open to contemporary pedagogies, like Guided Inquiry.
Love what you are doing – students are always SO articulate about their Learning when they are involved in “making learning better” aren’t they? And the sense of audience they get from visitors is important too. Skyping to other cool schools to swap ideas helps too. As you say, you will learn and improve further too – I don’t think that gentle iteration ever ceases.
Thanks for posting.
It is great to see such innovation that considers the skills that our young people will need in the workplace of the future and sees content as just a vehicle to teach the capabilities embedded in the Australian Curriuculum. Action research used by teachers as they change their practice must be a great way to help them to change their beliefs about what constitutes good learning and teaching. The role of the principal in the leadership of change in pedagogy puts the icing on the cake in this significant educational change at Mater Dei. Congratulation Greg and the TED team!
So exciting to watch and share your journey – the vision and the teamwork (and hardwork!) is evident in the responses you are already getting from engaged students owning their learning journey.
Great work Greg! The Action Research process really adds to the depth and integrity of this great TED initiative. There are many people who will be interested in your findings. We will have to connect your empowered students with some cool schools (Stephen’s words 🙂 in Sydney!
What a great way to do the work of learning and teaching. There is nothing more powerful for me than teachers reflecting on their practice and doing so as colleagues. This is the only way I know to change culture, thatis to develop practices which reflect a new culture. In my experience this lights the fires that are in most teachers to do the best for the kids in their care.
To me this seems to tick so many boxes. Not only are the students learning and seeing the connections between what used to be isolated subjects, but your teachers are modelling learning to each other and to the school community. Additionally the collection of data will be able to shape future directions and reinforce TED as a valuable teaching tool. I also like the way that capabilities of the Australian Curriculum is embedded in this.