Dylan…More Precious Than Gold

Nurturing and valuing Creativity in our classrooms.

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You ask any teacher why they became a teacher and the responses may vary from “I like kids”, I want to make a difference”, “I love helping students learn” and so on. Some even add all of the above to their reasons. For me it goes one step further. Teaching a person is a privilege. A gift that has been entrusted to me.

For many people teaching is what they can give students alone. For me, its is also what my students can enrich me with. Each and every child has something to share. Some naturally “fit into the norms and expectations”. Others, take longer to fit in. Some appear to never fit in. But all that tells me is that we haven’t looked close enough. That we haven’t allowed for enough avenues in our classrooms to let them shine.

I recently was introduced to a little 7 year old…

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8 Aboriginal Ways of Learning

Every place, every People, has its own unique pedagogies. These 8 simple ones are

merely a starting point for dialogue. Each school engages in a different way, and produces

its own unique frameworks for Aboriginal education through dialogue with the community

about local ways of doing things.”

8 Aboriginal Ways of Learning. (2009). Retrieved from http://8ways.wikispaces.com/ URL

After being part of the journey of the 8ways of Aboriginal Learning (2009) through yarn I wanted to say;

Thank you to the Traditional Owners of our land for;
  • sharing the 8 ways as a point of entry into this way of knowing. 
  • inviting all teachers to connect indigenous and non indigenous education
  • providing a pedagogy that could work to include all Australians
  • for empowering us with a cycle of processes that can be used to give our students a learning experiences that have a spiritual and cultural aspect and a connection to land
While traveling through the 8 Ways of Learning (2009) I noticed many connections. I found myself visualizing my family/ extended family on my sisters verandah gathering around for a yarn. Our ages ranging from 3 to 80’s. This made me feel the importance of people, family and culture in learning through visualizing my own. This also made me feel connected with Melissa from the 8ways website (http://8ways.wikispaces.com/ URL)  and her value for family.
In comparing 8 ways of Aboriginal learning (2009) and current pedagogy, I could see similarities;
  • sharing/ yarn- collaborative/ transformative learning learning
  • holistic approach as in functional grammar, text type writing and reading
  • learning map/concept map
What is noticeably missing in the mainstream classroom is a connection with land and spirit.
I think that embedding the 8 Aboriginal Ways of Learning (2009) into the curriculum would lead to;
  • a respect for our indigenous peoples way of learning
  • a curriculum that will encourage a spiritual/ cultural state of learning one that is connected to the land.
  • creating a sense of belonging and a connected culture amongst all Australians
 

Finally a pedagogy that that encourages connections between indigenous and non indigenous students rather than divisions and where Aboriginal processes can be adopted in education rather than Aboriginal content being taught as a separate disconnected subject.

I think 8 Aboriginal Ways of Learning (2009) has come the closest for me, so far, as to providing a process that connects our students spiritually in a non- denominational way. To try to find common ground I suppose is what I find tricky. A sense of belonging, spiritualism and connectedness to the land is not yet happening in the way the curriculum is delivered in public schools. 8 Aboriginal Ways of Learning could be the pedagogy we’re searching for.
Reference
8 Aboriginal Ways of Learning. (2009). Retrieved from http://8ways.wikispaces.com/ URL
 

The Group Learning Space

Oxford’s (2011) article makes a clear distinction between cooperative and collaborative learning. Cooperative learning refers to techniques used to develop learner interdependence leading to cognitive and social development. Collaborative learning relies on construction of knowledge in a social context as part of a learning community. Group learning without a philosophical base such as cooperative or collaborative could be informal or formal and may not be beneficial to all group members and therefore not necessarily lead to learning and understanding of all participants.

A common argument running throughout the reading is that cooperative learning is only effective if facilitated correctly. The elements that must be present are group goals and individual accountability. Collaborative learning only takes place if careful guidance and planning allows for each individual to construct knowledge within a social setting to enhance learning in a community.

The group learning space is merely an element of learning and not enough on its own. I believe a combination of cooperative techniques and collaborative ideas would present the best educational outcomes.

“Learning environments for the 21St century must be ones in which students are actively engaged with learning tasks and with each other.” (Slavin, R. 2010). 

References

Keneth, A. B. (2010). Cooperative Learning Versus Collaborative Learning. The Magazine Of Higher Learning.

Oxford, R. L. (2011). Cooperative Learning, Collaborative learning and Interaction. Modern Language Journal.

Slavin, R. (2010). Co-operative learning: what makes group-work work? The Nature of Learning: Using Research to Inspire Practice, OECD Publishing.

Does ‘Group Work’ Work? Is It the Best Way for Children to Learn? URL

The Contemporary Teacher

The Digital Learning Space

As teachers I think most of us are open to any tools that enhance learning and that is why I pads, laptops and Interactive Whiteboards as part of the digital learning era have been so popular. The amount of multimedia and interactive activities that are instantly available via technology is astounding.

This also creates a common nervousness amongst teachers due to inability of teacher in-services’ to keep educators up to speed with; the latest technologies and of how to effectively integrate technology into the daily program.

Most I Pad applications, for example, are content driven so careful facilitation is necessary for the transformation of information to learning and understanding.

The digital learning space can lack collaborative aspects unless careful planning takes place to ensure interaction not just between student and technology but between groups of peers.

Learning according to Salmons (2011) 5 stage model can only occur if a teacher facilitates the processes necessary when technology is used in the classroom. This can’t occur through technology alone.

TPACK needs to be considered when creating an effective digital learning space. It is about working toward the equal integration of Technology, Pedagogy, and Content to Knowledge. To consider where your knowledge as a teacher lies and what areas need further development to become a TPACK star.