We use the Learning challenge Curriculum for teaching Science here at St. Dominic’s.
The main principles of the curriculum are;
The Learning Challenge concept is built around the principle of greater learner involvement in their work. It requires deep thinking and encourages learners to work using a question as the starting point.
In designing the curriculum, teachers and learners are using a prime learning challenge, expressed as a question, as the starting point. Using the information gained from pre-learning tasks and the school’s context a series of subsidiary challenges are then planned. Each subsidiary learning challenge is also expressed as a question. Importantly, the learning challenges need to make sense to the learners and be something that is within their immediate understanding.
Pre-learning tasks ensure that learners are directly involved in the planning process. Well planned pre-learning tasks should help to bring out what learners already know; what misconceptions they may have and what really interests them. Teachers should take account of the outcomes from pre-learning tasks to plan the subsidiary learning challenges for each major area of study.
Continuity and progression in the curriculum will be built around a set of matrices known as essential knowledge, understanding and key skills within subject disciplines. These are broken into year group expectations and have additional challenges for able learners. The ‘Essential Knowledge, Skills and Understanding’ matrices within the Learning Challenge Curriculum will allow school to guarantee that the learners’ essential skills are being developed, alongside National Curriculum requirements (where appropriate), whilst allowing individual schools to have a great deal of autonomy with their methodology.
In addition, there is an expectation that teachers apply English, mathematics and ICT skills where it is appropriate to do so. The main idea is to use the knowledge, skills and understanding matrices for each subject to bring to teachers’ attention the level of work expected around each learning challenge. In addition there should be careful consideration given to the quality of work produced by learners in the core subject areas.
Time for learners to reflect or review their learning is central to the whole process. This is in keeping with the ‘Learning to Learn’ principles where reflection is seen as a very important part of individuals’ learning programme. Within the Learning Challenge Curriculum it is suggested that the final subsidiary learning challenge is handed over for learners to reflect on their learning. The idea is that learners present their learning back to the rest of the class or another appropriate audience – making the most of their oracy and ICT skills to do so. Initially learners may require a great deal of direction so the reflection time may need to be presented in the form of a question which helps them to review their work.