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Inquiry learning wins the day: Student voice and choice

These are highlights from the original post, which was entitled Knowing Kids' Minds (source), and was written by Jessica Sutton for the Manawatu Standard (9th Nov, 2011) (image by Robert Kitchen, Arifaxnz).

Our Lady of Lourdes deputy principal Jody Hayes has spent the past year...[conducting] research into a teaching project aimed at giving students a chance to have their say on the curriculum. JESSICA SUTTON reports.

The project was about looking at ways to find what children want to learn about and how a teacher can then apply that to the curriculum. "It's important that teachers are listening to their children, and are listening to their interests and that our classrooms reflect the real children in our classrooms and not some Americanisation or some packaged programme"...

"It's giving them [children] some decision-making within what traditionally would be a teacher who would decide all of that. If our children are going to be children who know their own mind and know their own opinion and know about finding evidence and considering people's ideas, you want them to have practised that in a safe environment".

"I think it's those skills-based things that are going to be more important than basic knowledge [in the workforce]."

The project was structured...."It's not like, today we'd like to learn about skateboarding. You still have to make it match the curriculum and what the ministry wants you to teach, but there's some diversity within it, so it can reflect what children at different classes and different interests want to learn about".

Jody Hayes has ... embedded the project into her classroom's inquiry learning... curriculum ...."It would be something that would be part of who we were at the school. One of our goals for our strategic plan as a school over the next three years is called Success for all and one of the indicators under that was to start growing student voice. It's one of those educational hot topics. People are trying to do it and trying to match it to what you have to teach, but trying to make it in an engaging and motivating way for their children."

She has spent the past 11 months working on the project with her classroom of year five and six students, and said they had been "fabulous". "We have got that open relationship where we can talk about what has worked and what hasn't worked so well, what was a little bit boring or not how they would like to learn. So they've helped me shape what it means for our school, for ongoing years to come."

"It's exciting because it means what we hoped for and what we thought was valuable as a school is valid, and this is really telling us, yes, we were on the right track."

- Extracts from Manawatu Standard


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