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Curriculum – How can we develop teaching and learning experiences to build student knowledge and understanding?

Due to the constant classroom activity students often think in different contexts about concepts and thus have a better understanding as reflective learners. For teaching goals to be successfully accomplished a supportive learning environment where students must feel comfortable to take intellectual risks and express their opinions is imperative. Through my experience I have witnessed group activities, discussions and peer evaluations become key components in generating this dynamic learning community.

The depth of a students’ understanding is not reliant on reducing the amount of content they are responsible for knowing. Knowledge and understanding are the foundations from which higher-level learning can occur. Setting high academic standards is important as this expectation assists students to achieve their educational goals. 

Scaffolding the learning builds student confidence and ability to expand intellectual qualities. Students’ academic growth through engagement and significance of the subject matter is an important aspect to building student knowledge and understanding.

Students actively and individually make sense of what they learn by integrating it into what they already understand. By definition teaching cannot occur without learning, teachers ought to seek and value students' points of view in order to understand students' thought processes and knowledge acquisition.

Students respond well to the student-centred approach, they are quick to respond, engage and participate in class. Such an approach establishes high expectations of students and the teachers, in regards to the quality of the learning experience. Learning experiences that emphasise hand-on, activity based teaching and learning during which students develop their own frames of thought. Learning occurs through the construction of new, personalised understanding that results from the emergence of new cognitive structures. Teachers who constantly search for new ways to present material and have students exhibit their understanding of concepts; display consideration and thoughtfulness in areas of human communication.

I experienced this when introducing the HSIE topic of India, one of my students had returned from a trip to New Delhi. In teaching the class, I utilised her experience and allowed her to become the expert, giving the class an authentic understanding that was significant to them. Then scaffolding these experiences with opportunities to deepen understanding and thinking strategies.

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