How Might We Best Manage the Tension Between Personalisation And Curriculum Coverage?

Day 1 of my Questioning Quest, is a question constantly in my mind this year.

I truly believe the tension between personalisation and curriculum coverage can cause amazing creativity to occur in learning. Our vision of Personalised Learning must also ensure students have the required skills and understandings to succeed as seniors. To do so we are currently developing tools and checks to evaluate student coverage and progress amongst the high level of choice students have in their modules.

Many schools are investigating personalisation as a future focused curriculum or modern learning practice. How do you negotiate this tension?

Developing the Characteristics of our Heroes

Entering this term I had set myself the goal of improving in my role as a Learning Coach as I felt this was the area of of teaching I was least proud of in Term 1. Our Learning Hubs at Hobsonville Point Secondary School are a version of Learning Advisories as seen at Big Picture Schools and we see our students every day ranging in time from 30 minutes to 2 hours.

In these hubs we are developing students’ Hobsonville Habits (our learning dispositions) their metacognition (which we are using Hermann’s Brain as a focus on this) their hauora (wellbeing) and also being an active advocate for students in their learning. I had done all of these things well in Term 1 but thought that I could make this more powerful for them by personalising our activities to be more meaningful for these specific students.

The activity I describe here took place on Tuesday morning when we spent 2 hours together and is based heavily on an idea from The Falconer by Grant Lichtman (see my full reflection on this book here). Continue reading

HPSS Modules Iteration 2

We are currently completing the second iteration of our module development and selection process. Personally, I believe that our great Term 1 Modules have been given far more relevance and rigour this time round through the introduction of small refinements to our process.

The concept for Term 2 is Place and Space and each Learning Area, when planning over the 2 year framework, had already designated their threshold concepts and skills for this:

Term 2 Threshold Concepts and Core Skills

Term 2 Threshold Concepts and Core Skills

The module design process this time started with student voice. Representatives from each Hub met to say what they had learned previously about Space and Place and to provide ideas of what students would like to learn about. Their ideas poured out and a 4 page document was then shared with staff to provide a 2nd launching pad to the designated concepts and skills.

Each Learning Area then met together to discuss the possibilities this term when focusing on their specific aims and how the student voice ideas matched. This would allow the focus skills and concepts to be presented in a way that was relevant to our students. Continue reading

Personalised Learning at HPSS

After many months of planning, today was the day that personalised learning really took flight at Hobsonville Point Secondary School. We have tussled with the tension between curriculum coverage and personalising learning for the past few months and today students saw what this has resulted in.

Most New Zealand Secondary Schools place students in form classes for the “core subjects” (English, Maths, Science, Social Studies and Physical Education/Health) whilst allowing some measure of choice over the “option subjects” (Technology, Languages and The Arts). All of these Learning Areas are compulsory up to Year 10 in the New Zealand Curriculum, so we had set out to avoid the ancient hierarchy of subjects that dominates NZ schools.
Continue reading

Designing and Causing Learning

Wednesday morning as a staff we focused on what the learning will look like at Hobsonville Point Secondary School.

I shared a blog post by Grant Wiggins entitled Beyond teacher egocentrism: design thinking which is absolutely brilliant and provokes teachers to think of themselves as just one element that influences learning. This had really struck a chord for me and so I was rapt to see the rest of our staff enjoying the reading as well.

There are lots of good points in this blog but one line that sticks out for me and was mentioned by others in our discussions was:

we are in the business of designing and causing learning instead of merely in the business of teaching

Our activity focused on what Grant sees as the conditions necessary for optimal engagement and active learning to occur. Staff were broken into pairs or 3s to think about what that condition will look like for our specific context of HPSS. Below are the conditions and what we believe they look like for us: Continue reading

Future Learning

Networked Camping GroundI have recently finished reading Disciplining and drafting, or 21st century learning? by Rachel Bolstad and Jane Gilbert and found it incredibly timely as we are planning the learning design for our new school.

Some of the brief highlights of this book for me were:

  • “Knowledge is innovation. Its role is to generate new knowledge, to do things.”
  • The importance of developing systems level of understandings and higher order thinking skills
  • A need to shift focus from skills to dispositions

All of this aligns nicely with what we have been working towards so far at Hobsonville Point Secondary School. Continue reading