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Making connections to prior learning and experience

Every student brings to the classroom their own kete of knowledge and experience – their story. What they have in their kete will be quite different from what you and their fellow students have in theirs. The contents of that kete will greatly influence what will engage the student in learning, and how they will engage in their learning.

Read snapshot 6: Mel’s story, to understand how a student’s kete is crucial for both identity and learning.

Read snapshot 1: Nga hau e wha to see how, through the careful choice of poets, a teacher connected learning to what students had in their kete.

What do my students’ kete contain?

What is in a student’s kete can be discovered from qualitative sources such as student voice, surveys, previous reports, portfolios of work, and anecdote. The information can be gathered formally, or informally, through discussion with the students or colleagues.

Watch Hamish Chalmers from Albany Senior High School provide examples of how his students are at the forefront when designing English courses.

Quantitative evidence can come from sources such as assessment data; for example, MidYis, STAR, PAT, or asTTle.

Learn more about these assessment tools:

This information feeds into the focusing inquiry that is the beginning point for the teaching as inquiry cycle. It needs to be comprehensive enough for you to be able to identify students and groups of students who are achieving at different levels and have, therefore, different learning needs.

At the start of the school year

What steps can you take at the start of the school year to find out about your students? Here are some suggestions:

Looking back

  • Find out where they are at in terms of the broad development of the English curriculum.
  • Find out what course they took and what texts they studied last year.
  • Read and discuss with them their profiles from last year.
  • Survey them: What did they enjoy in English last year?

Looking forward

  • What would they like to explore this year?
  • What specific strengths, needs, and goals have they identified for themselves?
  • What understanding do they have about next learning steps (for example, do they have information from e-asTTle)?
  • Support students set personal goals for learning in English.

Every day

  • Help them make connections between different aspects of, and across, the curriculum.
  • Help them to integrate ideas from their own/wide reading into their classroom learning.
  • Work to make connections between their whānau and communities and their learning in English.

Read snapshot 8: Salem and the Dawn Raids, to see how one teacher used a local context and community resources to help students access a play set in seventeenth century America.

Last updated August 14, 2017



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