CSA Conference 2013: Reflecting & Connecting

The CSA SA Conference provided a reflective and challenging start to term 3. It is always encouraging to be reminded that teachers can make a significant difference in the lives of students. There is so much more to education than simply the transfer of knowledge.

I love this clip shared by one of the speakers, Andrew Dwight.

When you keep doing things the same way you will get the same results. It reminded me of the importance of looking for creative solutions to engage all students in learning.

The conference also provided a new experience for me. I led two workshops introducing teachers to the power of social media as a professional learning tool. I am by no means an expert; however I shared my experience since coming to this realisation myself in November last year. Hopefully some of the teachers who attended the session will have found a new way to make professional connections. Here’s the link to the Prezi used in the sessions: The Connected Educator.

Questions+Thinking+Curiosity=Engagement and Active Learning

Recently, I read the book ‘Making Thinking Visible’ (Ritchhart, Church and Morrison, 2011) and it challenged me to awaken curiosity in the students I teach about the world around them.

“when our curiosity is sparked and we have a desire to know and learn something, our engagement is heightened” (Ritchhart, Church and Morrison, 2011, pg. 13)

Curiosity and greater engagement will result in active learning. When students are actively engaged in their learning, learning outcomes are improved.

(http://mathsimulationtechnology.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/active-learning-passive-teaching/)

Active learners remember more of what they have learnt as well as developing higher order thinking skills.

So, what am I doing to increase active learning in my classroom? The first was to find out the kind of learners in the classroom.  There was one student in the class who believed he “didn’t like learning”; it is a shame to think that his school experience has led him to this belief.  His contributions to class discussions contradict his view therefore I think he was trying to articulate that he doesn’t enjoy copying notes from the board and not having a voice in his learning. Following this realisation I have tried to incorporate language in the classroom that encourages the students to see themselves as learners. This is something I will continue to do as I believe it is imperative for students to see themselves as learners to move from passive to active learning. It is my opinion that passive engagement is a result of compliance. To achieve active engagement students need to see themselves as learners and be enthusiastic participants in their learning.

I am also using facilitative questions as the basis for the explicit teaching, to get students thinking about what they are learning.  I want to “..switch[ing] the paradigm of teaching from trying to transmit what is in our heads to our students and toward trying to get what is in students’ heads into our own so that we can provide responsive instruction that will advance learning.” (Ritchhart, Church & Morrison, 2011, pg 35)

Finally, I encourage the students to ask the questions. What is it they want to learn about the topic? I hope that an increase in active learning will spark questions from an intrinsic curiosity so that students are motivated to pursue the answers for themselves, rather than waiting to be told what to do, when to do it and where to find the answer.