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Do you know what your students are learning?

Once again prompted to the pen by the ponderings of others ( I wonder if we really know what our students are learning! We may be able to answer with some conviction the question, “What are your students studying?” but I am beginning to wonder if we should expect the answer to both questions to be the same? Do we ask our students to communicate their understanding of what they have studied or do we ask our students to communicate what they have learned? Is this one and the same? Should we ask our students both questions and expect different answers?When does learning occur? Most would agree with David Warlick’s suggestions that when there is value in what is occurring, when there is a sense of accomplishment, when there is a sense of discovery and when there is an opportunity to do something with what has been learned that there is a good chance that learning will occur. But how often do we structure our lessons to allow for curiosity, collaboration, a real audience, failure, discovery and questioning? How often do we blame the scarcity of time, resources or energy to return to our textbooks, forgoing the challenge of student-led discovery and question for the comfort of teacher-led revelation and direction?

As we find our days filled more and more with the demands of this programme and that curriculum, preparing for this exam and that standardised test we need to make room for those things that allow students to really learn, to allow room for our students to be learners and to allow ourselves the chance to find out what our students really are learning.

Bruce Knox

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