My Dinosaur Park: Exploring Students’ Learning Experiences in a Hong Kong Classroom


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WAN, Wai-Yan Sally (Pui Kiu College, Hong Kong)

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My Dinosaur Park: Exploring Students’ Learning Experiences in a Hong Kong Classroom

  1. 1.
  2. 2. Outline• Background of the study• Methodology• Findings• Conclusion and discussion
  3. 3. Background of the study• Aim of the paper: – To share our experience of planning a humanities unit “My Dinosaur Park” with reference to the Spherical Integrated Model for Gifted and Talented (SIM-GT) (Lam and Wan, 2011) – To unfold learning experiences and perceptions in the unit of a group of Grade 5 students
  5. 5. O: Organizational context such as organizational policy, structure, resources and culture R: regional context (culture and ideology of the district, state, country and region) B: Bureaucratic context (the government policy) I: Identification of giftedness T: Teacher professionalism: practice and professional development & Values AttitudesSpherical Integrated Model for Gifted and Talented SIM-GT (Lam & Wan, 2011)
  6. 6. Key features of SIM-GT• Integration of the breath and width of GE curriculum: a balanced curriculum• Integration of affective development and cognitive advancement: infusing affective development in all curriculum• Integration of gifted learner and the programme: gifted learners as the centre of learning• Integration of assessment in curriculum: assessment for, in, of learning• Integration of learning experiences, learning approach, skills development, curriculum dimensions and assessment: orchestration of all curriculum elements• Integration of the 21st Century education: towards a forward looking curriculum• Integration of contextual factors (OBRIT) and GE provision: GE curriculum as a social ecology
  7. 7. 5 stratums with an axis• Stratum 1: GE Curriculum as the collection of a wide range of GE learning experiences• Stratum 2: GE learning approach• Stratum 3: Skills development amongst the gifted• Stratum 4: Learning dimensions for the gifted• Stratum 5: Values and attitudes for the gifted
  8. 8. Stratum 1: GE Curriculum as the collection of a wide range of GE learning experiences Curriculum modification: curriculum compacting, differentiation, flexible grouping (Renzulli, 2003; Brody, 2004) Acceleration options: early admission, subject acceleration, grade skipping, dual enrollment (Renzulli, 2003; Colango & Assouline, 2009) Individual options: internship, apprenticeship, mentorship (Klasen, 2002; Clasen & Clasen, 2003; Renzulli, 2003) Self-directed study: self-regulated learning, individual projects (Betts & Kercher, 1999) Pull-out cluster: within/across classes, non-grade clusters in targeted abilities and interest areas (Renzulli, 2003) Special enrichment programmes: transdisciplinary investigation for exceptionally gifted students (Renzulli, 2003)
  9. 9. Stratum 2: GE learning approach1. Authentic learning  Authentic learning experiences are those which best enable learners to be engaged with their learning while the learning situation is meaningful to the life of the student and connected to real life events, whereas students are better able to construct knowledge and to make meaning from school-based learning. (Newmann,, Marks, & Gamoran , 1995; Renzulli, Gentry, & Reis, 2004)2. Cooperative learning  Cooperative learning encompasses a range of instructional formats within which small groups of students work towards a shared goal and depend on the efforts of others (i.e., interdependence). (Kagan, Robertson, & Kagan, 1995; Robinson, 2003; Patrick et al., 2005)3. Independent learning  A set of skills which can be learned and applied in self-directed learning with external guidance, leading to learners’ self-directed learning (Betts & Kercher, 1999)
  10. 10. Stratum 2: GE learning approach4. Inquiry learning  Inquiry learning is an approach that provides learners opportunities to actively develop skills that enable them to locate, gather, analyse, critique and apply information in a wide range of contexts. as they develop understanding. (VanTassel-Baska, 1986; Barell, 1998)5. Problem based learning  Problem-based learning (PBL) is a student-centered pedagogy in which students learn about a subject in the context of complex, multifaceted, and realistic problems. (Trefiinger, Isaksen, & Dorval, 1994; Coleman, 1995; Schroeder & Zarinnia, 2000)6. Service Learning  Service-learning involves students in community service activities and applies the experience to personal and academic development.  Service-learning differs from internship experience or volunteer work in its intention to equally benefit the provider and the recipient of the service as well as to ensure equal focus on both the service being provided and the learning that is occurring. (Furco, 1996; Bartlett & Hunsaker, 2009)7. Situated learning  On site, hands-on, real-life learning with a mentor who facilitates absorption of both explicit and tacit knowledge. (Lave, & Wenger, 1991)
  11. 11. Stratum 3: Skills development amongst the gifted1. Productive creativity  Creativity is the ability, voluntary or involuntary, to think out of the norm in a productive manner. (Davis, 2003; Renzulli, 1992, 2003, 2004; Sternberg, 1985, 1986; Sternberg & Zhang, 1995; Balchin, 2009)2. Higher-order thinking  Higher-order thinking requires students to manipulate information and ideas in ways that transform their meaning and implications. (VanSickle, & Hoge, 1991; Lewis & Smith, 1993)3. Collaboration  Collaboration is working together to achieve a goal. It refers abstractly to all processes wherein people work together —applying both to the work of individuals as well as larger collectives and societies. (Schultz & Delisle, 2003; Lam, 2009)4. Communication  Communication skills is the ability to use language (receptive) and express (expressive) information. Communication skills is the set of skills that enables a person to convey information so that it is received and understood. (Burkhart et al., 2003)
  12. 12. Stratum 3: Skills development amongst the gifted5. Risk taking  Students are willing to solve problems in new circumstances. (Costa & Kallick, 2000)6. Metacognition  Metacognition is “thinking about thinking”. It is the knowledge and awareness one has of their own thinking processes and strategies and the ability to evaluate and regulate ones own learning. (Sheppard & Kanevsky, 1999; VanTassel-Baska & Little, 2003; VanTassel-Baska, 2005; Martinez, 2006)7. Digital-age literacy  Digital literacy is the ability to locate, organize, understand, evaluate, and analyze information using digital technology. It involves a working knowledge of current high- technology, and an understanding of how it can be used. (Pyryt, 2003; Siegle, 2004; 2005)
  13. 13. Stratum 4: Learning dimensions for the giftedConcepts & issues dimension:  Emphasizing the importance of learning skills and concepts within a predetermined domain of inquiry  Diagnostic  prescriptive (DP) instructional approach  Fast-paced  Proficiency-based  Organized by intellectual content (VanTassel-Baska, 1986, 1994, 2004)
  14. 14. Stratum 4: Learning dimensions for the giftedProcess-product dimension:  In-depth on selected topics  Product based  Resource-oriented  Organized around scientific process  Collaborative model (VanTassel-Baska, 1986, 1994, 2004)
  15. 15. Stratum 4: Learning dimensions for the giftedAdvanced content dimension:  Epistemological  Aesthetics-based  Discussion approach  Organized by themes and ideas  Socratic method (VanTassel-Baska, 1986, 1994, 2004)
  16. 16. Stratum 5: Values and attitudes for the gifted Motivation: intrinsic motivation attributes to success (Dai, Moon, & Feldhusen, 1998; Siegle & McCoach, 2005; Dai & Schader, 2001) Persistence: don’t give up easily; think hard about a problem and think of a way to try and attack it. (Costa & Kallick, 2000) Managing impulsivity: think before acting; trying to make sure understanding all the directions and using a good strategy for solving the problem before starting (Costa & Kallick, 2000) Taking responsible risks: push themselves past where they feel comfortable to achieve goals; challenge themselves by trying situations which are unpredictable; accept that failure is part of learning and will give things a go despite the chance of failing (Costa & Kallick, 2000) Remaining open to continuous learning: constantly search for new and better ways to do things; try to improve them; treat all experiences as learning opportunities (Costa & Kallick, 2000)
  17. 17. Stratum 5: Values and attitudes for the gifted Resilience: The ability to recover quickly from illness, change, or misfortune (Reis, Colbert & Hebert, 2005; Dai, in press) Optimism: being positive and looking at the brighter side of life (Bar-On & Maree, 2009) Empathy: being award of and understanding how others feel (Bar-On & Maree, 2009) Social responsibility: identifying with one’s social group and cooperativce with others (Bar-On & Maree, 2009) Self-actualization (striving to achieve goals and actualize one’s potential (Bar-On & Maree, 2009) Assertiveness: effectively and constructively managing emotions (Lehman & Erdwins, 2004; Bar-On & Maree, 2009) Interpersonal relationship: establishing mutually satisfying relationships (Bar-On & Maree, 2009)
  18. 18. AXIS: Assessment learningAssessment as learning• Assessment as learning involves students in becoming more responsible participants in the whole learning process where they understand the purposes of their work, generate personal learning goals; ask themselves metacognitive questions to actively reflect on their progress; and regularly undertake informal and formal self and peer assessment. (Earl, 2003, 2007; Earl & Katz, 2006; Manitoba Education, Citizenship and Youth, 2006)Assessment for learning The process of seeking and interpreting evidence for use by pupils and their teachers, to decide where the pupils are in their learning, where they need to go and how best to get there. (Gipps, 1994; Black et al., 2003; Earl & Katz, 2006; Glasson, 2009)Assessment of learning Assessment of student learning is the process of evaluating the extent to which participants in education have developed their knowledge, understanding and abilities. (Guskey & Bailey, 2001; Earl & Cousins, 1995; Earl & Katz, 2006)
  19. 19. ORBIT• O: Organizational context – organizational policy, structure, resources and culture (Mintzberg, 1983; Sergiovanni & Corbally, 1986; Senge, 1990; Law et al., 2000)• R: Regional context – culture and ideology of the district, state, country and region) (Fullan, 1982, 1996, 1999; Elliott, 1998)• B: Bureaucratic context – the government policy (Cross, 2003; Hargreaves & Shirley, 2009)• I: Identification of giftedness (Sternberg, Jarvin, & Grigorenko, 2011)• T: Teacher professionalism – practice and professional development (Darling-Hammond, 1988; Day, 1999; Earley and Bubb, 2004; Day and Gu, 2010; Goodall et al. 2005; Wan & Lam, 2011)
  20. 20. Background of the study“MY DINOSAUR PARK” UNIT
  21. 21. “My Dinosaur Park”• What? – An extended project in a humanities unit as implemented in a DSS school in HK – Pull-out programme based on SIM-GT Model • inquiry learning approach, integrated with the development of higher-order thinking, digital literacy and collaboration skills• When? – May to June 2012 (after the completion of the project during the ordinary class)• Who? – A group of Grade 5 students who were selected based on teacher observation and students’ self-nomination (taking Renzuelli’s 3-Ring Model into account: task commitment, average ability and creativity)• How? – A pull-out programme as held during lunchtime (1:00-1:35pm) – Use of web2.0 tools such as and • raise questions and find answers with the outside world • collaboratively create and manage own pages and build-on each other’s ideas thru “Leave a reply”
  22. 22. TasksObjectives
  23. 23. Methodology• Qualitative approach – Exploratory study• A focus group interview with a group of six Grade 5 students engaged in the “My Dinosaur Park” unit – Conducted on 13th June 2012• Data analysis – Common themes
  24. 24. Preference of working in the computer room• Student H: “In the computer room, it is better. We work peacefully.”• Student S: “The computer room is quiet and we can focus on our works.”• Student A: “Everyone is very cooperative.”• Student S: “We can express our opinions… because if you work in the group (in the classroom), the others may dislike.”• Student A: “And our opinions may be neglected.”
  25. 25. What have students learnt? Knowledge & skills
  26. 26. What have students learnt? Deep thinking
  27. 27. What have students learnt?• Self-reflection
  28. 28. What have students learnt?• self-reflection
  29. 29. What have students learnt?• Student N: “I found lots of online information about dinosaurs. Now I know there are different types of dinosaurs. They include carnivores, herbivores and omnivores.• Student H: “I think there are many gains to me during the online project because I can write a lot online. It can help me to improve English. You can also understand more words.”• Student L: “In addition, we can learn how to use the computer in an efficient way. We can learn some new things such as uploading photos, drawing pictures online, etc.”• Student S: “And we can have a lot of responses online.”• Student H: “I also learn how to use English. We use English to answer and we learn more vocabulary.”• Student H: “We can also understand more about what we are learning. Usually many projects are assessed by teachers. Now the network is so advanced. The people around the world can see what you have written and they can respond to your writing.”
  30. 30. What have students learnt?• Student J: “I think… I seldom go online… as my mum does not allow me to go online. This project makes me know more about computers and how to exchange ideas online. .. For example, how to post photos, how to post comments, … I really did not know before.”• Student A: “I learnt how to make hyperlinks. Sometimes the information is found form the other websites. The hyperlinks are easy and convenient.”• Student H: “I also think that I can learn how to select information. There is a lot of information online. We have to analyze and make it concise. When you find information in Google, you have to search one by one. Then I can absorb much knowledge and identify what is good and what is bad. Hm… not really bad… that is less useful.”• Student H: “Now you can be reminded about your writing. Now there are so many people online. They can remind you about errors in writing.”
  31. 31. Students’ preference of learning mode: online learning vs making models?• Student H: “I think using texts is better… as the model is 3D, I think you can use more texts to tell more details about the model. If you just see the model, you won’t know what dinosaurs they are and how many types of dinosaurs. The model can’t tell you about the details. So I think using texts is more useful in expressing details. Even if it is a model, you can post its photo online.”• Student I: “But if it is a 3D model, you can see it from different angles.”• Student H: “You can take photos from different angles. From left to right, from bottom to top. Nowadays the technology is so advanced and we don’t need to have the real object.”• Student I: “But if it is a 3D, you cannot enlarge it. You have to take photos in every 0.5mm.”• Student H: “But you can use texts to express.”• Student I: “However, it is less real. You cannot see the real object.”• Student A: “But the materials are very expensive. We cannot make the whole model within limited time.”• Student H: “There will be a lot of time and efforts to make it. And you may not know what the object is.”
  32. 32. Students’ preference of learning mode: online learning vs making models?• Student H: “Other than going to the computer room, we can go home and complete the tasks as the platform is online.”• Student I: “And when you have some ideas, you can immediately post them online.”• Student H: “You can communicate with groupmates immediately.”• Student I: “We don’t need to give a phone call to ask groupmates.”• Student S: “When you post your questions, the others can give you comments.”• Student A: “Sometimes when you can’t contact the others, they still can go online and find them.”• Student L: “And you can save money as online learning is free.”• Student H: “You can also save the money because you don’t need to buy materials to make models. Though you can use recycle materials, those bought materials are more beautiful. If that is online, it is more convenient.”• Student I: “I prefer making models more because you cannot see 3D. You may need to make the 3D into 2D. Then perhaps something cannot be clearly shown. “
  33. 33. Students’ preference of learning mode: online learning vs making models?• Student A: “We can touch on some more new technological things. In our daily learning we can’t learn more diversified or more globalized things. We can immerse ourselves into the society and the earth.”• Student H: “Because this learning occurs online. Everyday there are many people going online. We can understand more about diversified things. Because in Hong Kong, most of the curriculum are very similar. And this project is not within our curriculum, we learn more.”• Student A: “We can have more advantages when compared with others.”• Student L: “We can know much more than the others.”• Student H: “What we learnt here is useful to our future. The knowledge (in the curriculum) is not so all-round. This project allows us to get contact with the online world.”
  34. 34. Students’ expectations• Student A: “More time can be given to the project. The outcomes can be disseminated. Our learning outcomes can show our learning attitudes and teachers’ teaching attitudes.• Student H: “I think there should be more promotion because there are few people who understand what this project is about.”• Student I: “I think there should be a bigger scale and more people can know what we are doing because seems that not many people know about our project.. Perhaps we can have some other G4 to G6 students to join us.”• Student N: “I think there can be more time for us to complete the tasks.”• Student A: “I think this project is very good because at first I thought this project is traditional. However, after joining, I find it so internationalized and diversified. I can contact the people in other countries.”
  35. 35. Conclusion & Discussion• Classroom learning & online learning – Learning styles – Anytime, anywhere• Advantages of using ICT: – Language development – Development of higher-order thinking skills (i.e. analyzing skills, organization skills, and so on) – Meta-cognitive learning (i.e. self-assessment) – Developing global perspectives