I have been thinking a lot lately about how teachers teach and how students learn. Perhaps it is because I am knee deep next year’s timetable and this causes me to reflect on what would be the best for all the learners in the building. I have to admit it frustrates me sometimes when we do not see learning as blended. We still organize our timetables into so many minutes for each subject and at times it ends up quite disjointed and not how I think learning should happen.
To me learning happens in many ways during our day and most certainly, not just while we are at school. True learning does not seem to happen in small chunks where we only think about one subject or idea at a time. To me learning is a bit more like doing a search on google. We start with an idea we need to know information about, but while we are researching we can be tempted to go off in many interesting directions, often giving us a different perspective on our topic than we originally intended.
Again, I have to reflect back to the learning in a kindergarten classroom. In Saskatchewan we promote the idea of play based learning for our early years students. Teachers will set up invitations in the form of interesting things or ideas based on a common theme for students to learn by explore and discover. If it all works as it should, the direction learning takes, stays flexible. It is based around student questions and interests. It goes in the direction that the students take it with their play.
For the last two years, I have been working with my students to perfect the “genius” in our Genius Hour. One hour per cycle where they can work on inquiry of their own choice. We work on presentation skills, research skills, and the importance of learning and collaborating about our ideas. Countless interesting projects have been presented during the time I have been doing this with my students. I know all learning cannot be totally open ended, but at the same time, I think learning should be flexible and blended.
In my ideal classroom situation students might not know what subject they were learning about. You might not hear questions such as, “Is it science next?” or “when to we have ELA?” Curricular outcomes would blend and the focus would be the learning, reflecting and growth.