In a quest to better understand our students, we have embarked on a teaching as enquiry which focuses closely on Ako, or the common language of learning. In the last few weeks I have consciously used the terms gathering, processing and applying and attached them to the activities. For the processing of essays I had a good look at their plans. An interesting observation is the difference between the boy groups and girl groups. The boys tended to have little detail but always had some doodles. When I spoke to the groups they could tell me what their essay plans were.
Girls tended to have far more detail and no doodles. So have I unlocked the teenage brain? No, but it was interesting to watch the way they processed the information.
My year 11s are working towards their first text essay of the year. I am aware of the need to make Ako more overt. To this end I have added animations to the words gathering, processing and applying. (They have not translated into this embedded presentation, but the Keynote that the students get have fireworks animating the Ako words) This should get them thinking about the thought process. It also serves as a reminder for me to discuss the common language of learning.
This is our department TAI. It’ll be interesting to see how the students respond to project based learning And mentoring and if their results do in fact improve.
Two questions that have been posed:
What does the driving question focus on?
It looks at mentoring and the need for time for students to develop their work. The driving question should help with their understanding of the judgements they are expected to make. So our driving questions should be broad and challenging. The work should require students to use technology well. There should be showcasing of student work on blogs. But they should also be peer teaching. The best form of peer teaching is when they choose who to teach and how to teach, rather than being paired up. My class has divided themselves into about eight groups. They have the same driving question but each group has a focus area to work on. I have encouraged them to follow, to some degree, the PEEL method in their response. How they gather and process the ideas in the focus groups is up to them. As is the way they present the information to the other groups. I will post their responses in the next few days. I have made myself available as a mentor and have advised certain parts of the text to focus in on. But at this stage they are working pretty independently which is ultimately the goal.
What does Ako mean to me?
Ako is looking at how students think and learn. It’s about having a common language of learning. It’s also about students knowing the process that they are undertaking. Gathering should not take up class time because we know we live in a connected world. We all have access to the work so why waste class time gathering if this can be done beforehand? That leaves us more time to do the processing and applying. Which will hopefully take care of the third part of the question which is: improve grades!
Ako needs to be revamped to align with technology use in the class. This is currently under review.