On the streets and in the classroom, students now have an opportunity to become knowledge producers, with safer travel in their sights. Wayne Erb reviews ‘Everyone is a road user’, a new curriculum resource from NZTA.
When students are given prompts, a purpose, and time to sit safely and watch intently what happens on a local road, they could be on the way to producing new knowledge to help their community.
They may contribute by writing poems about what they observe, programming with Minecraft to model car parks or streets, or by using online survey tools to ask family and neighbours about their views of local streets. These are all suggested learning activities in Pam Hook’s latest curriculum resource for Years 1-8. ‘Everyone is a road user’ is published by the NZ Transport Agency. It’s free to download and teachers are free to modify it.
The common thread to Hook’s approach is building on students’ strengths (knowledge, relationships, interests, skills and senses), so they can contribute to safer outcomes for themselves and others on local roads.
Teachers can select activities to encourage primary and intermediate school kids to think and act in their role as young citizens in relation to safer journeys. This includes listening to different perspectives and seeking community-based outcomes.
Becoming knowledge producers
Hook says she wrote the resource to support the way teachers can flip the purpose of school away from delivering predetermined outcomes.
“Instead of viewing school as a place where ‘knowledge is built’ from what we already know, this resource enables school to become a place where ‘knowledge is produced’ for local communities.”
The resource includes clear pointers to outcomes aligned to curriculum key competencies, principles and learning areas. Activities are arranged by learning area (English, maths and statistics, and science) and help students progress from bringing in ideas, to relating ideas, and then to extending ideas.
“Determining prior knowledge and having clearly articulated learning intentions and success criteria helps ensure that students won’t simply be engaged in busy work. I use SOLO Taxonomy to ensure the resources are presented a way that is inclusive and holds high expectations for all students.”
Newmarket Primary School Principal Dr Wendy Kofoed is part of a reference group that reviewed the resource. She endorses its potential to support key competencies.
“This is really useful because it relates competencies to contexts, with a focus on students tackling ‘wicked problems’.”
She says students at Newmarket are participating in a council campaign to encourage drivers to slow down around schools.
“Our senior students will be looking at visual language, marketing and advertising, including messages about road and rail safety. I can see this resource being a very useful complement.”
Loaded with links
The resource is loaded with e-learning links including online polls, virtual cow’s eye dissections, stopping distance apps, collaborative mapping and oral language capture technology, explains Hook.
“My favourite is the number of poems about cycling that are available on the web, including work by a young New Zealand poet and primary school student in Christchurch, who blogs at Industrial Arts of the Mind.”
There are also options for students to make meaning with infographics, comic strip generators and word frequency clouds. The suggested apps are tools to unlock student’s creative and critical thinking. For example, they can collect, sort and present data they gather about local road use. The maths unit then suggests discussion prompts so they can figure out what difference their new knowledge could make for their community.
“Look at the infographics and think about the stories they tell about local roads and road users,” added Hook. “Why do you think it is like that? What does it make you wonder?”
Wayne Erb is a freelance writer.
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