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Rationale

The following program has been developed in accordance with the National Australian
Curriculum to educate year five students on the chosen subject of the Australian gold
rush. This series of lesson plans is designed to be included once a week over a six week
period, with each lesson to run for approximately 60 minutes.

The program is based around the curriculum link (ACHHK095) (ACARA, 2012): Covering
the impact of a significant development or event on a colony. For example, frontier conflict,
the gold rushes, the Eureka Stockade, internal exploration, the advent of rail, the expansion
of farming, drought.

The program covers several theory approaches to achieve best learning outcomes for
students. It incorporates Piaget's constructivist theory approach to teaching, whereby both
teachers and students are responsible for student learning. Together with Jonassen's model
for constructivist learning and developing a constructivist learning environment includes
incorporating case studies and long term projects that are engaging but not overly structured
(Jonassen, 1997). Jonassen's model also promotes asking students questions which will
assist in leading them to develop their own conclusions on a subject (Jonassen, 1997). This
encourages students to develop their own conclusions on the subject such as in lesson 1, in
which students research and make a table of comparisons based on living conditions and
write a report on what they think it would have been like living during the Australian gold rush
era.

However, in order to foster motivated and independent learners teachers must also provide
students with the opportunity to research and investigate information at their own pace. A list
of recommended books and online recourses has been provided to assist students with a
starting point for their research into the gold rush. Although students are responsible for their
own research, providing guidelines and assistance when researching online supports
Vzgotsky's Constructivist theory that adults need to direct children along the path of learning
through the zones of proximal development (Appendix 7) (Victoria government, 2014). This
program therefore supports advancing levels through scaffolding and new areas of
knowledge as students develop towards learning independence.

The program also provides opportunities for cross curriculum learning, including literacy,
numeracy, critical and creative thinking, and Information and Communication Technology
(ICT), an example of literacy being, comprehending texts through listening, reading and
viewing resource information in several lessons (ACARA, 2012). An example of numeracy
via ICT being the understanding and use of the balance scale as a recording tool in lesson 5,
an example of ICT is the use of and online interactive map in lesson 4 that is both
informative and active engaging for students. The program incorporates critical and creative
thinking throughout the lessons by including opportunities for group work, individual work,
brainstorming, comparing and contrasting, locating information and the sharing of knowledge
capabilities that may extend to critical and higher-order thinking for students.

Incorporated in constructivist learning is assessment. Two forms of assessment are included


in the program; formative and summative to check on student ability to understand and
comprehend the information provided in the lesson plans. Examples of assessments used in
the program are lesson plan rubric, examination, self assessment, group participation, team
work and observation. Using formative assessment in conjunction with summative
assessment in programming allows for opportunities for teachers to improve outcomes for all
students across the spectrum (Johnson & Jenkins, 2009).

Students can take initiative relating to their own learning experiences by being actively
involved in group based activities such as those in lessons 1 , 2, 5 and 6. Research
suggests that activities involving students participating in group work can in fact produce the
most effective learning (Reynolds, 2012). By providing frequent opportunities for
collaboration students are able to better process and make meaning of information while
also developing essential skills necessary to contribute to a cooperative environment.
(Turner, 2012) This research is supported by Vygotsky, who noted that group work can
encourage student performance at higher intellectual levels (Vygotsky, 1978)

Inquiry learning is seen to have some disadvantages as Rosi and Pace (1998) suggest
many low achieving classes may encounter problems due to students working from an
insufficient knowledge base or a lack of motivation. While Flick (1995) believes that efficient
teachers must include both explicit and inquiry teaching methods based on the need of
students and by adapting to the individual needs for the student high quality teachers can
encourage the student to become authentic learners. Similarly to Jonassen, Flick
recommends posing questions and erecting scaffolds for student’s ideas in a classroom. By
providing students with the option of an inquiry focus question and steering them toward
discovering facts and concepts all students are able to achieve authentic learning and
effectively gain knowledge and understanding.
It is important for teachers to develop a classroom setting which provides a democratic
learning environment where students are encouraged to be responsible and self-directing.
By scaffolding the students own ideas and assisting them to engage with multiple forms of
knowledge there is an acknowledgement that they already have some understanding of the
ideas to be appreciated; this is a crucial aspect to include when encouraging the
development of authentic learners in a constructivist classroom.