iLearn - Information for Parents
This year sees the introduction of a new course for Year 7 students called iLearn which incorporates the Humanities subjects: Geography, History and RE.
The course was developed by a team of teachers all of whom have been graded as 'Good' or 'Outstanding' by Ofsted or the Local Authority. Representatives from all of the Humanities departments were on the team. They visited several schools and used the work of a number of educational researchers to develop a course which we believe will develop excellent student learning habits (Fig. 1) through a range of activities where there is an explicit focus on the habits and skills students are using.
Good teaching will allow students to use and improve these learning habits. As a Humanities Specialist College we have combined these subjects in Year 7 to develop a cross-curricular programme which the Humanities departments are confident will not only help students attain higher level national curriculum requirements when they study discrete Geography, History and RE in Year 8 and 9, but will also help them in other subjects as they develop as independent and emotionally intelligent learners.
Figure 1. GSHS Learning Habits
Students begin the course with an introduction to the different learning habits, gaining an understanding of how to develop these habits in different contexts. They will then apply these skills to cross-curricular Humanities enquiries. Specific elements of student's higher level National Curriculum subject skills in KS3 Geography, History and RE will also be developed (Appendix 1).
Students will compile a portfolio of evidence over the year, complete a self-evaluation programme and receive an effort grade and teacher comment which will form part of their report at the end of Year 7.
It is also helpful if students can see the value of these habits beyond the classroom so parental support in either highlighting these habits or providing opportunities to develop them out of school would be greatly appreciated.
We are confident that this will be an exciting and enjoyable development for students and will help improve both their preparation for life after school and attainment at George Stephenson High School.
If you have any further questions about the iLearn course, please do not hesitate to contact the school.
Meta-Cognition (students understanding how they learn) and Self-Regulation strategies were identified in a recent report by the Sutton Trust (May 2011) as coming second in the twenty-one most effective ways of improving student learning with a progress 'gain' of 8 months over year compared to an 'average' student. http://www.suttontrust.com/research/toolkit-of-strategies-to-improve-learning/
Work by James Nottingham on 'Challenging Students to Learn' highlights the benefits of continuing to challenge our students and extensive research by Guy Claxton on "śBuilding Learning Power' has also provided a foundation for the schools strategy (See Appendix 2 for summary).
Appendix 1: Links to the National Curriculum level descriptors for RE, Geography and History
Level 5: They investigate historical problems and issues and begin to ask their own questions. They begin to evaluate sources to establish evidence for particular enquiries. They select and deploy information and make appropriate use of historical terminology to support and structure their work.
Level 6: They investigate historical problems and issues, asking and beginning to refine their own questions. They evaluate sources to establish relevant evidence for particular enquiries. They select, organise and deploy relevant information and make appropriate use of historical terminology to produce structured work.
Level 8: They evaluate critically a range of sources and reach substantiated conclusions independently.
Level 5: They select information and sources of evidence in which they are beginning to identify bias. They suggest plausible conclusions to their investigations.
Level 6: Drawing on their knowledge and understanding, they suggest relevant geographical questions and issues and appropriate sequences of investigation. They select a range of skills and sources of evidence and use them effectively in their investigations. They identify potential bias in sources. They present their findings in a coherent way using appropriate methods and vocabulary and reach conclusions that are consistent with the evidence.
Level 8: Drawing on their knowledge and understanding, they show independence in identifying appropriate geographical questions and issues, and in using an effective sequence of investigation. They select a wide range of skills and use them effectively and accurately. They evaluate sources of evidence critically before using them in their investigations. They present full and coherently argued summaries of their investigations and reach substantiated conclusions.
Level 6: They interpret sources and arguments, explaining the reasons that are used in different ways by different traditions to provide answers to ultimate questions and ethical issues.
Level 7: Pupils use a wide religious and philosophical vocabulary to show a coherent understanding of a range of religions and beliefs. They analyse issues, values and questions of meaning and truth.
Level 8: They critically evaluate the impact of religions and beliefs on differing communities and societies. They analyse differing interpretations of religious, spiritual and moral sources, using some of the principal methods by which religion, spirituality and ethics are studied. They interpret and evaluate varied forms of religious, spiritual and moral expression.
Source: National Curriculum
BUILDING LEARNING POWER
See http://www.buildinglearningpower.co.uk/index.html for more details.
What is Building Learning Power? (BLP)
The key aspects of BLP are summarised below.
BLP helps young people become better learners
The genesis of Building Learning Power
The main developments in BLP are attributable to Guy Claxton. However BLP is an evolution of the much earlier "śLearning to Learn' model. This model has been modified over the years. The structure of this evolution can be seen below.
Generation 1: "learning"Ł referred to but really this is meant as just improving "attainment"Ł.
Generation 2: A new focus on developing "study skills"Ł, especially before exams, often focusing on exam technique.
Generation 3: Learning to learn now includes emotional factors and self esteem. There is more focus on multiple intelligences (VAK) and more concern with "how"Ł teaching is being delivered.
Generation 4: At this stage there is much more involvement of students in the process and a greater concern with how students can help themselves. A new development of cumulative learning also occurs - reflecting on previous learning and applying it to new contexts. The teachers are also seen as learners and can therefore model the learning process. Generation 4 incorporates Building Learning Power.
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