Welcome to my Professional Learning blog.
My name is Matt Nicoll and I am a high school teacher in New Zealand, interested in improving the classroom experience for my students. I am open to trialing new approaches and hope to use this blog to reflect on my ideas and practices.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Learn, Create, Share

It is only a couple of weeks until the Year 9 exam and I have to teach a lot of concepts to cover in our new topic - Ecology. Ultimately, though, what do I want the students to learn?

Key Concepts

The students need to understand the concepts, link them, and apply them to a New Zealand example. The problem is that there are a lot of concepts and to teach them in the "traditional" way (or should I say, my usual way...?), I will not have time for the students to choose a context for doing their case study.

  • adaptations (structural, behavioural and physiological)
  • habitats and communities
  • interactions within communities (commensalism, predation, parasitism etc)
  • food webs (and the effects of changes to these)
  • nutrient cycles
  • natural selection and evolution
I would also like to look at the threats to the New Zealand ecosystem, with particular focus on our rocky shore, marine reserves and/or forests.

Student-Directed Learning

As I feel we will struggle to have enough time to do justice to this topic prior to the exam, I am going to try something I haven't done before, but was inspired to try during ULearn12. I am going to get the students to choose an indigenous New Zealand animal or plant (marine or terrestrial) and do research on it. They will have to put their findings into a blog post on our Class Blog:

I will outline the key things they need to identify and discuss about their chosen animal/plant, but not the order in which they learn them. Yes, in some lessons, I will guide them to certain activities in the book that may help, and we will do some class activities which demonstrate the dynamics of a successful (vs. threatened) ecosystem, but ultimately, the students will chose their own pathway for learning the content in their own chosen context.

Ideally, students will gravitate into groups who want to learn the same concepts at the same time, then apply them to their chosen animal/plant. However, realistically, I expect they will gravitate into groups doing the same (or similar) animals/plants then agree on a unified learning pathway (probably with my guidance).

So, now it is time do design the activity and its instructions.... Keep your fingers crossed for me!!!!

1 comment:

  1. Lesson One: Game to introduce the idea of inter-dependence in an ecosystem (tweet or email me if you want details).
    Lesson Two: Get everyone set up with a blogger account. Students set up their own blog; they will do a summary of their respective findings on our Class Blog in about a week.