|What’s in it for the students?|
If students already don’t care about exploring things they don’t understand, or even questioning things, why would they engage with this content in the first place?
Given the specific context in which I am working on this, the solution was obvious – rewards for engaging. But that isn’t always an option. The next step needs to be to find a way for students to develop an interest, or find an incentive, to work on developing a disposition towards developing and exploring.
Strictly speaking, I am not currently a science teacher. My workplace does not have science teachers – science is rolled into the general classroom curriculum (as it should be). I am an Auslan specialist. However, the same thing applies – how can I get students sufficiently engaged to question and explore what they don’t understand in Auslan?
The answer is the same – rewards for engagement. At Level 3 and 4, the core of the Communication strand in Auslan is to follow instructions. But instructions for what? That’s the reward. Students can learn what they want to learn, or do what they want to do… provided they can follow the instructions to do it when issued in Auslan.
Interestingly, this does lead back to science, as most of my students have been asking me to teach them science (which I would love to do). Why not have the lesson content focused on science, with instructions given in Auslan? Exploring the Auslan content will help students get what they want (the science content).
At my workplace, it is common for classrooms to have ‘wonder walls’, where students pose questions about topics. This is not sufficient – this is really only identifying what students don’t know or, at best, what they want to know.
The key is to develop their disposition. Wonder walls don’t do this, they only reflect their current disposition. To best develop this for students, there needs to be student-directed learning. In an ideal world, this would mean each class I teach picking their own topics to learn about – but that while that can be done easily for a general classroom teacher with only their class to worry about, it is ambitious for me, with twenty-three classes.
In Term 2, it is my aim to teach Auslan via a science context. In Term 3, the goal would be to allow students to pick their own topics, and to teach Auslan via those topics.