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Nigel Coutts

Are we there yet? Are we there? - The Learner's Way - 2 views

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    This much-maligned question seems so appropriate for education's recent history. All that was normal, everything that was routine, all of our structures, have been turned upside down and hurled into the wind of COVID19. From having spoken of a future dominated by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA), we have found ourselves living in it. Innovation and creativity became the new normal as we "Apollo 13" schooling into a model that met the demands of emergency remote learning. The pressure, the workload, the demands on our time and the cognitive load have all been immense, and so it seems fitting to ask "Are we there yet?".
Nigel Coutts

Getting started with Deep-Learning - Part B - The Learner's Way - 2 views

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    With our goal of deep-learning in mind where do we begin and what learning opportunities might result in this? Having clarified our key terms of understanding, learning and deep, we can turn to a set of questions which might be of use as we plan the learning our students will engage in along their way.
Nigel Coutts

Insights into the true power of Number Talks - The Learner's Way - 1 views

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    Number Talks are a wonderful way to see where our students are with their mathematical thinking. As a part of a daily routine, a Number Talk promotes number sense and mathematical reasoning. In this post, I revisit what a Number Talk can reveal about our students' understanding of mathematics, and how they might be used to promote a fresh perspective. In addition, I examine a success criteria for Number Talks that is more expansive and recognises their true power.
Nigel Coutts

Essential Reading for Teachers Interested in Thinking - The Learner's Way - 5 views

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    If you are interested in building a classroom culture where thinking is noticed, named and celebrated, there are three books which make essential reading. They provide clear evidence for why teachers should focus their efforts on encouraging and normalising thinking and offer research-backed strategies to support this. The books are the result of ongoing research by Harvard's Project Zero and their lead author Ron Ritchhart.
Nigel Coutts

Maximising student questions in the time of COVID19 - The Learner's Way - 3 views

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    In this time of COVID19 and remote learning or emergency distance learning the value of encouraging students to investigate their questions should not be forgotten.
Nigel Coutts

Desirable Patterns of Learning for Online Learning - The Learner's Way - 6 views

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    With the emerging threat of COVID19 and the closure of schools, teachers are scrambling to move to online learning environments. This will bring with it a myriad of challenges the short time frame is not going to help the situation. While we are fortunate that there are many technological solutions for the provision of remote learning, the more significant challenges will revolve around how we interact with our learners.
Nigel Coutts

Celebrating the significance of creativity for educations future success - The Learner'... - 2 views

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    Our collective ability to learn and by doing so, adapt to changing circumstances through the acquisition of new skills and dispositions is what Edward de Bono refers to as EBNE; Essential But Not Enough. - What then might education need as it develops a response to times of rapid change?
Nigel Coutts

The challenge of educating for unknown unknowns - The Learner's Way - 2 views

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    It is almost precisely eighteen years since Donald Rumsfeld uttered his now well-regarded commentary on the danger of "unknown unknowns". At the time his remarks brought more confusion than clarity and reinforced for many a belief that politicians use words to conceal the truth. Somehow though, Donald's words from 2002 seem to fit the world of today, and the challenges confronting educators all too well.
Nigel Coutts

Questioning our Assumptions and Considering Multiple Viewpoints - The Learner's Way - 5 views

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    In "Factfulness", Hans Rosling shares a valuable insight into why we must question our assumptions. In times when we are bombarded with information, when false claims abound, having a disposition towards scepticism seems vital. Rosling urges us to not only question the facts we are presented with but the internal biases which influence how we interpret these facts.
Nigel Coutts

The folly of goal setting activities - The Learner's Way - 3 views

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    It is soon the start of a new school year for students in Australia. In other parts of the world, the year continues after a short break for Christmas while New Year festivities are just around the corner for those observing the lunar new year. The start of the year is considered an excellent time to reflect on key ideas that matter to our learning and potential for success. But does this equate with goal-setting?
Nigel Coutts

Curiosity, critical thinking and agency as responses to the Australian Bushfire Crisis ... - 2 views

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    The bushfire crisis that is currently impacting Australia is beyond devastating. The scale of these fires defies the imagination. For so long now we have lived with skies laden with smoke as a constant and inescapable reminder that this is not an ordinary summer. This is weather and drought at its most extreme. Our only salvation will be rain but this is not the season for that and the long term forecasts are not promising. Our young people, in particular, will be affected and will need special care in the weeks and months to come. What might this mean for schools and for student agency?
Nigel Coutts

Moving beyond linear plans for learning - The Learner's Way - 8 views

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    An important part of the role of any educator is that of planning learning sequences. Perhaps you are tasked with designing curriculum or more likely you are translating a mandatory curriculum into workable units of learning. The task is complex and there are multiple arrangements. The goal is to design units that connect students with learning in ways that are meaningful and relevant. A well-designed unit of learning fits seamlessly alongside other learning opportunities and the overall sequence of learning should match the learners developing expertise. As we plan units of learning we must consider a great variety of factors which impact the learning we design. Our knowledge of our students and where they are with their learning is crucial and a strong place to start. We also need to know what it is we are required to teach and have a grab bag of pedagogical moves that bring this content alive.
Nigel Coutts

Supporting students in uncovering complexity - The Learner's Way - 5 views

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    One of the thinking moves that we hope our students will confidently engage with is centred around the disposition of uncovering complexity. As we endeavour to shift our students towards a deeper understanding, the capacity to uncover complexity is a vital step. However, the ability to uncover complexity is itself complex and an excellent example of a skill that is best achieved when considered as a disposition. 
Nigel Coutts

Six key messages for successful learning - The Learner's Way - 10 views

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    I recently had the opportunity to speak with a group of parents whose children are transitioning into a new phase of their learning. I used this as an opportunity to share some key messages for successful learning and thought I would briefly unpack these here.
Nigel Coutts

All learning is a consequence of thinking - The Learner's Way - 5 views

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    All learning is a consequence of thinking. I have these words printed and posted on the wall above my desk. It is a reminder of what I believe is a vital understanding. The consequences of this one statement are quite profound. They fundamentally shape what I do as an educator and the experiences I hope to create for my learners.
Nigel Coutts

Thinking and learning in the postnormal era - The Learner's Way - 4 views

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    We live in a time of chaos, complexity and contradiction. (Sardar, 2010 [1]) Where rapid changes and transformations through technology, politics, globalisation and the climate, conspire against normality (Friedman, 2016 [2]) These times demand a fresh approach to education, one that provides learners with the thinking dispositions they need to turn challenges into opportunities, to connect their learning to their passions and emerge from their years of formal education as self-navigating life-long learners. 
Nigel Coutts

Supporting Mathematical Thinking through the Eight Cultural Forces - The Learner's Way - 1 views

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    At the heart of mathematics are a set of connected thinking dispositions. The mathematician uses these dispositions as the cognitive tools of their trade. While the traditional imagining of mathematics might be all about the accurate application of well-rehearsed algorithms and processes, in the real world of mathematics, it is all about the thinking. As we consider what our students need from their mathematical education, we should not overlook the importance of these dispositions. 
Nigel Coutts

Realising the benefits of reflective practice - The Learner's Way - 4 views

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    It is generally accepted that learning is enhanced by the inclusion of deliberate, reflective practice. Indeed the act of reflecting on the impact that our actions have towards the achievement of any goal (learning oriented or other) is shown to have a positive impact. Reflective practice is defined as the praxis (interdependent and integrated theory, practice, research, thought and action) of individuals or groups to move from 'better thinking to better action' as a result of reflection for, in and on learning (Harvey et al. 2010 p140). With this in mind, it is worth considering what reflective practice might look like and to consider it in a range of contemporary contexts. 
Nigel Coutts

Mathematical thinking presents teachers and students with new challenges - The Learner'... - 4 views

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    The shift away from teaching for the rote memorisation of prescribed methods requires teachers to rethink their approach to the discipline. With this new pedagogy comes a need to understand the processes of mathematical thinking in ways not previously required. When we require our students to be able to reason and problem-solve through unique challenges we also require our teachers to have an understanding of the mathematical moves that their learners are likely to call upon.
Nigel Coutts

Bringing Computational Thinking into the Primary Classroom - The Learner's Way - 4 views

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    Primary teachers in New South Wales (NSW) are this year and next integrating a new Science & Technology Curriculum. It brings with it a number of challenges and opportunities and while it has much in common with the existing curriculum, it will require some significant changes.
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