But Is It Learning?

It was great to see so many members of our community support our first fete recently,  even the weather co-operated.

It was a wonderful event and, as a college, we genuinely appreciate and thank everyone from the Rolleston community who assisted us in so many ways to ensure that this day was a success.

What made it so special though was the fact that the entire event was organised by four of our Year 9 Learners. Yes they were supported by staff and their families but the planning, organising and communicating was their project and their work.


Is this learning?

There are two ways to look at this. On one hand there is no doubt that the organisation of this fete enabled these four learners to experience a host of learning experiences and develop a wide range of skills. These included the ability to develop presentations and speak to large groups of adults as they pitched their plan, developing a health and safety plan, working with the company that manages the school site to gain their approval and support, preparing the financial plan and ensuring financial accountability, inviting and organising the various stall holders and performers, measuring and planning the actual site. gaining Council support and approval and the list goes on. The related skills of determination, resilience, communication and perseverance were also vital. In all of these areas these learners had the confidence to accept the challenges and excel. So there is no doubt that valuable learning did take place and this leads to the second question.

“But how does this prepare them to face NCEA in 2019?”

Again a valid question.  Looking at the internally assessed Achievement Standards offered at Level 1 we can gain a fairly clear answer to this question. These Maths and Stats standards that make up the internal component of Level 1 Maths require a learner to produce evidence that they can use various Maths related skills in an authentic context. NZQA provides schools with the assessment criteria but they also provide a series of tasks that schools can use to gather this evidence. These tasks require a learner to show their Mathematical competence in context.

For example Standard 91030 worth 3 credits tests a learners ability to apply measurement in solving problems. One of the tasks available requires learners to use measurement in designing a garden sculpture. This is one standard that these four learners are now well prepared for. They had to measure the site, allocate stall locations, draw scale diagrams and use measuring to develop a site plan. The advantage they have is that they are now used to using Maths in an authentic situation to solve a real problem, this is what the standard asks them to do. In the past learners would have completed a series of exercises from a text book and then transfer that knowledge to a real life situation in the assessment task. Many have struggled to make this transfer and therefore failed to see Maths as relevant or real. I am not saying that these four learners could ace this standard tomorrow [even though I believe that they could] what I am saying is that they have now had a good practical preparation in how to use measuring to solve problems and that stands them in good stead to approach this particular standard with confidence when the time comes.

Standard 91026 worth 4 credits requires learners to apply numeric reasoning in solving problems. One of the tasks available asks learners to plan a budget and time frame for a trip overseas. Again the financial plan and processes that were employed in organising this fete means that these learners now have the practical skills developed in a real life situation to approach this standard with considerable confidence.  I could look at further standards from Maths and I could look at standards from other subjects such as oral presentation and formal writing from the English Domain because the skills they have developed in this project are by no means limited to Maths.

These tasks ask learners to use Maths skills in a real situation to solve a practical problem, the fete project allowed a small group of learners to develop these skills that they can continue to develop and eventually gain credits for as well as a host of related skills.

That’s all well and good for these four learners who used some of their time in Ako for this project but what about the rest of the school and what about Selected and Connected learning?

Lets stick with Level 1 Maths and look at two further examples. One of the Connected classes spent some time recently developing and looking at the feasibility of a light rail system for Rolleston. An authentic problem and one that also gave this group of learners the opportunity to develop real Maths skills that leaves them well prepared for some of the Level 1 Maths standards.

The designing of seat designs for the trains has prepared learners for Standard 91030 worth 3 credits which tests a learners ability to apply measurement in solving problems. The measuring of time /speed and distance that went with this study also leads directly to Standard 91029 worth 3 credits where learners apply linear algebra in solving problems. The task here relates to comparing various taxi charges but the authentic Rolleston rail work develops the same mathematical skills and develops them in a problem solving context. Again there were other skills developed some that relate directly to NCEA standards and some that don’t.

Turning to Selected we are currently offering an option that combines trampolining and Maths. Here learners develop their physical skills while they are also learning about the Maths involved in this sporting activities. There is actually a Level 2 Standard that has trampolining as one of its tasks. Here learners have to put together a routine containing ten skills so there is a fairly direct link there.

Looking at Level 1 though, Standard 91032 worth 3 credits requires learners to apply right -angled triangles in solving measurement problems. One of the available tasks requires learners to use right angled triangles in planning a new cafeteria. Again using Maths to solve a real problem, in this Selected option that is exactly what the learners are doing, developing Maths skills in context. There is also a Standard in Geometric Reasoning that assesses skills that these learners are currently developing.

I could look at other Domains from NCEA and look at further Maths standards but I think this sample does enable me to answer the question, “is it learning?”

Yes it is, it is learning in context, it is learning that takes place in AKO, Connected and Selected and yes it does have a direct link to the problem solving tasks that forms a significant part of NCEA assessment at Level 1 and beyond.











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