16 Oct 2015

Co-Constructing Learning - How did it go for me?

The Goals

  • Co-constructed Learning between Teacher and Students - achieved by larger groups so I can be more involved in helping to manage the group and give my ideas and contribute.
This is a great concept and I loved being able to let them generate the ideas. I really enjoyed being a part of the process of refining and developing their ideas while leaving the ownership and choice of what to actually do up to them.
  • Student Choice - Students will choose their area of focus and product that they will produce
Choice was very important for students, an essential element for engagment.
  • Purpose in outcome - There is real world use for what is created from the unit. If their work is high enough quality it will be used for teaching the social studies curriculum in the next year for the next cohort of students.
I think now that purpose is important but it does not have to be real world. As long as the student have bought into the idea of what you propose or have created something authentic on their own that they are excited about then the purpose has been achieved.

The Plan

I am trying to achieve three things to enhance student motivation and engagment in my year 9 Social Studies classes.
There are four stages very similiar if not following the inquiry teaching model...
  1. Planning
  2. Research
  3. Creating
  4. Presenting
The Unit is about what skills can be taught so that students can become good citizens.  The Social Studies main goal at this campus, which is drawn from the New Zealand Curriculum, is "To develop skills and knowledge to participate as critical, active, informed and responsible citizens."
We are focusing on the skills part. The students will choose a skill to learn about from a class brainstorm about what skills to students in their situation need to learn to become good citizens.

The skills that were selected from the brainstorm were:

  • Leadership
  • Postive Thinking
  • Friendship
  • Persuasion
  • Social Interaction
  • Self Managment
  • Building Relationships

Forming groups to work together.  
I have 3 classes doing this. I have 4 groups of 5-7 students in one class, 3 groups of 7-9 in a second class, and 2 groups of 11-13 in a third class. It will be interesting to see if my hypothesis of larger but less groups allows for more co-constructed learning and thus enhances engagement.

The best mix was acutally the class with three groups of about 8. There was not too much room for them to be passive and I was still able to be involved in each group to a level I was happy with.


The Research phase is nothing new to teaching, but I will be directly involved in sharing what I find and helping to get good research with them in real time. We will be using several platforms across the groups for collating research;
  • google slides
  • hapara workspace
  • google docs
We will see what works best.

Google slides was the business, workspace was too fiddly on the iPads and google docs didnt have the overview that google slides did so that is now one of my favourite apps for bringing lots of ideas to one place.  It worked especially well for a joint research log in a group.

The outcome of the research phase will be 1-3 learning outcomes for their chosen skill that will be the focus for the creating.

One learning outcome was the best. Any more made it very challenging to try and meet them. This phase was one of the hardest to keep people involved as it tended to be only the main contributors that drove this part.


We will be creating learning modules or unit if you like for next years cohort of year 9 students. Based on the learning outcomes generated from the research. The canvas is wide in what this module could look like as long it meets the learning outcomes. The best learning modules will be used in my curriculum for this unit next year.

This part was exciting.  This is where a lot of ownership, creativity, and collaboration were possible.

The things created were:
Board games - LO: We are learning to prioritise
Adventure Based Learning Games - LO: We are learning how to develop trust within people
Digital Jeopardy Game - LO: We are learning to reflection on our performance relating to focus.
Making a Flow chart - LO: How to choose good friends
Workshops - LO: We are learning to develop our public speaking skills
Produce a advert - LO:We are learning the fundamental of persuasion


This phase is where the groups will share what they have created and perhaps have a short activity or chance to do part of the lesson that has been created.  

The presenting was very informal. Each group got up and talked about what they had created. We had a chance to try out some of the activities that successful groups had created. We played Jeopardy, the Prioritise Board game, and watched some of the videos that were made.

I will also be getting feedback from the students on the effectiveness of this research and how they think it went.

I did collect some really good qualitative data from the students on this little bit of action research. Most of the feedback was positive. There were varied comments about what they preferred for more or less choice or what was important to them as can be expected. It is clear that some were disengaged and this process didnt work for them however they are pleasingly in the minority.

See the full results from the Survey Here

Unfortunaly I went a bit over the top with questions. I didn't really think about the volume of answers that I would get. I am really pleased with amount of positive data but I am not really sure about an effective and effecient method to analyse or theme these results.

Overall the outcomes for my pedagogies going forward from here will include more of this sort of teaching. This action research has shown that students do value choice and chance to follow their own direction of interest.

I still feel that challenge is working out what the appropriate amount of structure to build into the class as the 'learning facilitator' is best to achieve these outcomes.


  1. I think it's great that you are taking risks and trying new ways to engage students in meaningful and relevant learning. Keep doing this. Have you thought about using a number scale and comment for each question in the feedback you gather so you have quantitative as well as qualitative data to analyse.

    1. Yea I think some numbers and scales would be a great idea for feedback on this next time. If I do this sort again, which does get some really quality comments, I will ensure I plan enough time to analyse the data. Cheers Simon