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Nigel Coutts

What skills might our students most need beyond school? - The Learner's Way - 8 views

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    It is tempting to make predictions of the skills that our students will need beyond their time at school. Such wondering can be a useful guide as we contemplate what we shall focus on with our curriculum. Unsurprisingly, there is no shortage of predictions for future skillsets published by educators, economists and analysts. What might we learn from such lists, and how should education systems respond?
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

Assessment and Student Agency - Better Together - The Learner's Way - 4 views

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    As with many things in education, the outcome achieved will be a result of all that we do. Efforts to promote and empower student agency, voice and choice certainly falls into this category. We might have the best of intentions but unless each of our messaging systems align, we are unlikely to achieve success. So where do our efforts go wrong and what else might we change so that student agency is genuinely a part of our learning environment?
Nigel Coutts

Holiday Reading List - The Learner's Way - 3 views

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    With summer in the southern hemisphere, long days combined with school holidays for school teachers create the perfect opportunity to relax with a good book. Here are five great reads that might spark some curiosity and keep the brain working over the break.
Nigel Coutts

Student voice, choice, agency, partnerships and participation - The Learner's Way - 5 views

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    This week I joined with teachers, students, researchers and policy writers at Melbourne University to discuss student voice. This conference was hosted by Social Education Victoria and made possible by the conference partners, The University of Melbourne, Education and Training Victoria, Foundation for Young Australians and Connect. Over three days, participants engaged in rigorous dialogue about the significance of student voice and what is required to ensure its benefits are maximised for all.
Nigel Coutts

Questions to ask as we ponder the latest PISA results - The Learner's Way - 5 views

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    I am wanting to take a slightly different approach to this weeks post. The past week has seen the latest round of PISA results and the media has had a field day. Headlines have routinely attacked students, educators and education systems in equal measure. The Canberra Times reported that "Australian school scores plummet on world stage", the Sydney Morning Herald led with "Alarm bells': Australian students record worst result in global tests" and The Weekend Australian went with "PISA global educational rankings: Schools fail on maths, science". 
Nigel Coutts

Teaching and Learning as Dialogue with the World - The Learner's Way - 3 views

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    Learning should always be an active process and a two-way partnership between teaching and learning. In essence, learning and its counterpart exist as a vibrant dialogue between individuals whose role in the relationship is continually transformative. I'd like to explore this thinking further.
Nigel Coutts

If we learn from reflecting on experience - The Learner's Way - 4 views

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    It is difficult to understate the importance of reflective practice for learning. Dewey states that "We do not learn from experience. . . we learn from reflecting on experience", and it is worth taking time to consider the implications of this. How might we maximise the benefits of reflective practise amidst the many competing pressures we confront?
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

Bringing concepts to early learning in Mathematics - The Learner's Way - 6 views

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    Our beliefs about mathematics play a significant role in how we approach learning within the discipline. These beliefs are established by the nature of our early engagement with mathematics and are difficult to change once established. For many people mathematics is viewed as a subject that is not for them. Indeed the situation is so bad that many people will say that they are not a maths person and approach mathematics with fear and anxiety. 
Nigel Coutts

What it takes for deep learning in primary education? - The Learner's Way - 6 views

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    Our goal might be to support Deep versus Surface Learning, but what does this mean in practical terms. What are the beliefs and dispositions which support teaching for deep learning, and what are the implications of this in terms of the pedagogy we adopt?
Nigel Coutts

Shifting towards student centred learning - The Learner's Way - 7 views

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    Particular patterns of pedagogy have been of most interest to me across the years, particularly those that shift the focus from what the teacher does to what the student does. With this shift comes an emphasis on understanding how students learn and with this knowledge in mind developing learning experiences that will allow them to develop their skills for learning.
Paul Beaufait

How to Teach Students to Give Peer Feedback | Edutopia - 4 views

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    "To make peer feedback more focused and meaningful, I've found it helpful to define quality feedback, provide structured routines, and teach feedback as I would any other core skill" (Gardner, 2019, ¶3).
Nigel Coutts

Reflecting on report writing time - How might we maximise the value? - The Learner's Way - 3 views

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    For schools in Australia and many parts of the world, we are heading towards the end of another school term and year. That means report writing season. For the next few weeks, teachers across the country will be huddled in front of computer screens, writing reflections on the progress their learners have made. Mark books will be opened, assessments consulted, work samples will be reviewed. All so that in the first week of the long Summer vacation students can sit and read their report and make plans for how they will enhance their learning in the coming year.
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.
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