Student Learning · Teaching · Teaching Strategies

A Learning Journey

Every student has a learning journey, but who is in charge of that journey? When you think about a great teacher, what comes to mind? A teacher who cares, excites, motivates and inspires? What about a teacher who allows students to control their own learning?

Generally speaking, as teachers, I think we tend to want our classrooms to be neat and tidy and our lessons and teaching to be the same way.  However, the quote below rings true.

Edutopia 2

Teachers usually aren’t risk takers, however our students are. Our goal should be to have our students coming to school and feeling excited about what they will discover and find out that day. We want them to be curious about where their learning will take them.

Edutopia 1

I was lucky enough to attend a professional development day with Tom Barrett who spoke about an exciting approach to learning. Click here to find out more about Tom Barrett and NoTosh. Put simply, the process begins with teachers teaching the content – immersing students into a unit of work. Think about the titles you give to the units of work. ‘Gold’, ‘Antarctica’ – sound familiar? Create a title that excites and propels the students into a state of curiosity. Once the content has been covered, the students can use their new found knowledge to explore something that interests them.

Ben Johnson has said it perfectly “ yes, there are times when direct instruction is necessary, but only to be able to do something with that knowledge or skill, but a great teacher devises learning experiences that force all the students to be engaged much like being in the deep end of the swimming pool.”

Once the content has been covered, the focus shifts to what the students can do with that knowledge. Students jump into the driver’s seat and complete tasks in order to discover what they want to do with their knowledge and devise their own questions. Tom Barrett provided ideas for students to become problem finders, as opposed to problem solvers, such as encouraging students to devise questions beginning with ‘how might we…’. Once a specific question is chosen, ideas are generated by the students in small groups in an activity called ‘100 ideas in 10 minutes’ – which is exactly as the title suggests. The students then research and/or create according to their question and ideas. Click here and here for more activities and information.

Who knows what the students will come up with? Whatever it is that they want to do with their knowledge – it will be authentic. Learning is doing and true learning takes place when the students are interested, excited and in control.


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