Tuesday, 10 November 2015

The Learning Pit

Lots of our children are very good at managing themselves and their learning on a daily basis but they are not self-directed agentic learners. Is this because we are not allowing them to be? We believe that we have some children who would be more than capable of leading their learning. We are currently planning the majority of the learning activities and the children do not actually have many opportunities or time in their day to direct and lead their own learning.  Currently, the main opportunity children have to lead their learning is when they are following their own lines on inquiry as part of our integrated curriculum model.

Prior to providing the children with this opportunity, we decided that the children needed to have a deeper understanding of The Learning Pit. We wanted the children to understand that if they were going to drive their own learning that they needed to ensure they were being personally challenged - that learning had to be hard if they were actually going to be developing and growing their knowledge and skills. Katie and Clive developed the children's understanding of 'being in the learning pit' through a series of challenges and rich conversations. One of the challenges was a balloon powered car and the other was a paper challenge. In both cases, the children were given the resources but no instructions. The children worked in teams and some individually.

While the children were completing the challenges they were asked to record what they were thinking and feeling on post-it notes. Katie and Clive then used the children's comments on the post-it notes to co-construct their understanding of 'the learning pit'. With the children's comments on post-its, Katie and Clive asked questions such as...

  • "How did you feel when we first gave you the challenge?" 
  • "How do you feel now? 
  • "What Habits of Mind did you have to use to help you?" 
  • "Is it good for our learning if things are easy? 
Katie and Clive arranged the post-its in a way that showed the children's changes in emotions and their thinking throughout the experience, to highlight the concept of 'The Learning Pit'.

When the children had visited Mind Lab in Wellington at the end of Term Three, they learnt about FAIL - First Attempt In Learning. This concept obviously really resonated with the children and they constantly made links between their learning at Mind Lab and being in the learning pit.

Following this series of challenges and conversations, Katie and Clive asked the children to re-assess themselves on their learner pathway. There were 17 children out of 58 who thought they could move to 'Driver'.

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