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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Reflection 8 : Where is the more when we teach less? ( 19 October 2010 )

This evening’s tutorial focus on the experience of learning:
(a)    Learning by inquiry
(b)   Learning by interacting
(c)    Learning by doing
(d)   Learning in and of the real world
(e)    Learning by reflecting
One of the factors that influence how a child learn is the experience arising from the task assigned by the teacher. In order for students to learn more, they must have the opportunity to engage in learning activities that allow them to distil whatever ideas they have into a big idea. Teaching knowledge is insufficient. Knowledge is only gained and applied when it is meaningful. The ‘tile, structure and circle problems’ allow us to explore with concrete materials, looking for possible patterns to help us start the problem-solving process. As we discuss and talk we formulate strategies that can be used to test our assumption. In the process, we also rely on our logical reasoning to support that thinking, synthesise information that eventually led to the generalisation stage.
The development and improvement of thinking must be systematically approached so that we help our students to develop their meta-cognitive ability. We cannot assume that students can reason, inquire and form concepts without having been taught the necessary thinking skills. We need to plan learning activities that embody the learning of concepts, stretch our students’ thinking so that they acquire a deep understanding of what they learnt. At the same time motivate them to find solutions that can affect their attitudes and beliefs; making sense of what they are learning so as to transfer that learning into a new context; and reflect on what works and what needs improving.
Initially, we may need to scaffold students’ attempts at meta-cognition by modelling the strategies and making their thinking visible. However, students must be given time to explore underlying concepts and to make general connections to other information they possess. They need to be able to reflect upon their learning, persist in their thinking deeply to identify pattern across different contexts, and to arrive at their own conceptual understanding.         
The teachers play a critical role. We have become facilitator of learning rather than the source of information to whom the students look for affirmation Students acquire a deep understanding when we focus on teaching for meaning and understanding of ‘big ideas’ rather than focus on facts and procedures. As teachers we must enable our students to learn actively by constructing knowledge and expanding that experience of learning.      

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