There are two things the sight of which really excites me in my role as teacher-librarian: students engrossed in a good book (goes without saying, really) and students immersed in an engaging research task. This week I get to be part of the latter because all our year 8 students are taking part in something exciting called Creative Curriculum.
Essentially, Creative Curriculum it is an opportunity for students to be immersed in an independent, inspirational guided enquiry project exploring an interest from the Year 8 curriculum. At its heart, the Creative Curriculum enables students to develop various research, analytical and creative skills through exploration of an area of interest to them, allowing them to widen their knowledge of the world in which they live.
Before Creative Curriculum started, students selected a ‘research exploration’ from a variety of explorations in each of the year 8 curriculum disciplines. Based on their selection, students were placed into groups. In their groups, and with the help of a teacher mentor, students decide how to interpret their chosen exploration and tease out relevant aspects for each group member to research, with the aim of bringing their individual research together as a coherent whole by the end of the week.
Creative Curriculum follows a guided inquiry framework where each stage of the research process is made explicit and supported with scaffolds designed to help students at different stages.
“Thank you for trusting us to work on our own”
The week-long research project is both exciting and challenging for students. For most, this is the first time they’ve been asked to engage in a research task that consumes all their school time for an entire week. That’s a big ask in terms of cognitive load and time organization when they are used to focusing on one subject no more than two lessons at a time. But the tradeoff comes in the form of autonomy; for this one week students are in charge of the direction their learning takes. And comments such as “Thank you for trusting us to work on our own” are testament to the fact that students respond well to a less teacher driven, more project-based learning experience.
This is the first post in a series on Creative Curriculum where I hope to unpack the varying elements of this innovative initiative over the coming weeks.