At Rangiora High School Year 9 and Year 10 students are organised in House groupings and the curriculum is delivered as part of a ‘Connected Curriculum’ approach to learning. The four Learning Areas involved in this will be English, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies. A team of four teachers, one from each Learning Area, will be assigned to each House grouping and they will design what the learning ‘looks like’ for their Year 9 or Year 10 Learning ‘hub’.
Whilst it is acknowledged that there are natural connections between some Learning Areas such as English and Social Studies, or Mathematics and Science, it is also acknowledged that rich connections also exist between and across all areas of the curriculum. In fact this is one of the key principles of the New Zealand Curriculum:
The curriculum offers all students a broad education that makes links within and across learning areas, provides for coherent transitions, and opens up pathways to further learning. (New Zealand Curriculum, 2007)
And, in secondary schools where coherence was strongly evident:
- all teachers of a particular class met regularly to coordinate their approach for individual learners
- homeroom teachers at Years 9 and 10 provided an integrated approach to curriculum delivery
- teachers worked together to plan and implement an across-the-curriculum literacy focus or cross-curricular learning units. (from NZ Curriculum, 2007)
The term ‘connected’ describes a number of approaches: connecting the curriculum to create authentic learning contexts; connecting the teachers in a collaborative co-teaching model - connecting students within and across flexible learning spaces and connecting students in collaborative and flexible models of learning.
The students will be exposed to the same curriculum objectives as in previous years, but where possible these will occur in a learning context that is ‘connected’. Assessment opportunities that enable learners and teachers to make connections across and between curriculum areas and that are related to authentic contexts.
Educational research now gives teachers a much better understanding of how learning occurs. From the research we know that quality learning occurs when it is:
- Learners at the centre - Each person brings a different prior knowledge to the learning experience and learns new knowledge and skills in different ways. The way we learn is as unique as our fingerprint.
- The social nature of learning - When students work together through collaboration, peer-tutoring and reciprocal teaching this results in a deeper understanding of the material being covered.
- Emotions are integral to learning
- Recognising individual differences - Each student comes into a learning activity with a different prior knowledge. This means they each require different levels of content, context, challenge and pace.
- Stretching all students - When a student initiates a learning experience or exploration, they learn more - student initiated
- Assessment for learning - Making learning visible
- Building horizontal connections - When a student connects their learning to the other curriculum areas and the real world in an authentic manner.