Monday, 17 April 2017

Reflecting on the learning behind our ANZAC investigations

The availability of the internet has changed the style of research for 21st century learners. 
         Once upon a time, a long time ago, content was king.  As a child my mother would take my to the library and I would hunt out information in books. This was a drawn out process, and the collection of facts I wrote down, generally copied straight from the book (or close to), would secure me an A (especially if accompanied by photos cut from National Geographic). I was particularly strong at regurgitating information, but as I got older, I saw the short comings of this system - it wasn't bringing out my brain.  It never challenged me to think for myself. Thankfully, things have changed.
             We live in a society where the internet has become ubiquitous and 'Googling' is the preferred method for finding out about any number of things.  The availability of Google (and other search engines) has meant that skills designed to develop a strength in research have now assumed dominance.   Because of the sheer amount of information that is available at the click of a finger, students are challenged to spend time thinking about the value of the information they find. Whereas I might have been able to find two or three books on a topic, the children now need to sort the mountain of good information from the bad.   The children are developing skills that allow them to sort through huge amounts of information efficiently, make judgments on its value and to question how it can be used to enrich the learning experience. These skills take many years to develop, but an Inquiry Based Approach to learning at the primary school level fosters this practice.  The ultimate goal is that children will be able to use knowledge, and think critically, to devise novel solutions to problems they encounter.  (This was the intention in undertaking our Eco-friendly Islands learning experience where I challenged them to see themselves as problem solvers and island guardians.)
           The students' online connection (through personal and shared devices) means that they are able to work cooperatively on Google Slideshows even when they are not in the same room - in this instance, there were team members working effectively from our learning hub in the library and communicating findings, delegating responsibilities and expectations without face to face interaction.
           Learning environments have certainly changed, and kids are no longer always contained within the four walls of the classroom. Learning happens when the structure, and scaffolding, allows learning to happen.  Learning is no longer characterised by a teacher lecturing at the front of the room. At Sunnyhill School the children identify themselves as learners capable of leading their own learning journeys.
           The success the children had in unlocking the sad story of Fritz Honore reflects their ability to research effectively, to manage themselves and to work collaboratively.  Well done everyone.  So stoked.  You guys rock!  

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