Continuous Learning Models for Student Engagement

Colin Attwood & Neil Johnstone
4 min read

We share a deep passion for being lifelong learners ourselves and fostering lifelong learning and student engagement. During our webinar, we:

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  • Discuss our experiments in regard with student engagement
  • Discuss our successes and challenges in achieving student engagement
  • Share possible solutions and connect with current pedagogical trends including inquiry-based approaches and learner agency
  • Look at possible methods of developing lifelong learners

Our goal is to connect with educators by presenting a model of continuous learning. We start by looking at inquiry and what it really means to create an inquiry-driven classroom. We target to move beyond the KWL and share teaching and learning strategies that can come handy to every educator, in every classroom.

Teachers and students as lifelong learners

We then zoom into the role of the teacher and student in regard with agency and empowerment. How can we create ownership for students, involve students in planning, design tasks alongside students, co-create success criteria with students, and ensure that students are an active, vocal part of everyday teaching and learning.

The webinar challenges the idea of whether this is one fits all approach or does this vary depending on each individual learner. In particular it tackles questions such as –

  • What is the difference between an adult learner and a child?
  • What are the key factors and challenges in achieving this model of continuous learning?
  • How can this model be made to work in different contexts?

Authentic learning and purposeful student engagements

We suggest that authentic learning and purposeful engagements are two possible solutions. Authentic learning can often start with “exposure” to a new idea or thing. It then takes wings and drives a child’s “curiosity”. Then, we as teachers should provide opportunities exploring and “attempting”. Finally, we “practice”, we fail, we make mistakes, and we happen upon a new idea!

Finally, we explore ways teachers can try to frame learning for students. We explore how the words we choose in framing new learning can influence how students view the value of this learning. Our discussion looks at words that impose learning on, invite students into, and empower students in learning opportunities. Ultimately it is not how we increase engagement but how we, as educators, foster a love of learning within our school community of learners.

“Work is what we do for someone else, learning is what we do for ourselves” – Ron Ritchhart

How we ensure continuous learning

We emphasize how it is fundamental to the continuous learning model that learning takes place in all contexts – at home and in school. We suggest ways to ensure continuous learning replaces “homework” and becomes more relevant and meaningful.

To ensure our home learning experiences are truly connected to school and empower students to have agency and voice, we use the Toddle Classroom where children:

  • Kickstart discussions on new interest-areas and hobbies
  • Share responses to learning experiences through photos, videos, audio- notes, collages, and more

And where teachers:

  • Provide personalized feedback to each student using audio or written notes
  • Get insights into different interests of a child and connect it to learning at school
  • Involve parents in a meaningful manner through anecdotes and photos

For us, Toddle Community is a powerful resource to discover home-learning experiences that we can share with our students. For example, we love the learning experience collection called ATL Adventures at Home. These 26 learning experiences have been created by Geraldine De Fazio and are really meaningful and relevant to ensure authentic continuous learning!

Fostering student engagement through continuous learning is a mindset and we must embrace it through experimentation and play! We hope you enjoy our ideas and strategies, please do share your thoughts and feedback with us by joining our facebook group “Building student engagement and agency”.

Watch Colin’s and Neil’s detailed webinar here.

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Colin Attwood
Colin Attwood
Colin Attwood has been an educator for 13 years and a PYP educator for 11. He was born in Montreal, Canada and grew up in Sarnia, Ontario. Colin left North America to teach in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and then Jakarta, Indonesia where his PYP journey began. He currently works as the PYP Coordinator at the Changchun American International School in Changchun, China.
Neil Johnstone
Neil Johnstone
Neil Johnstone has been working internationally for over 10 years. Neil is passionate about teacher professional development and is also a certified CBCI (Concept Based Curriculum Instructor). Currently Neil is PYP Coordinator at Lutheran Academy Hong Kong. Previously Neil has taught in Ukraine, Vietnam, Indonesia, the UAE and also his native Scotland. Neil was a recent panelist on the Toddle TIES discussing leading and teaching in a crisis.
Disclaimer - This resource has been produced independently of and not endorsed by the IB. Toddle’s resources seek to encourage sharing of perspectives and innovative ideas for classroom teaching & learning. They are not intended to be replacements for official IB guides and publications. Views and opinions expressed by the authors of these resources are personal and should not be construed as official guidance by the IB. Please seek assistance from your school’s IB coordinator and/or refer to official IB documents before implementing ideas and strategies shared within these resources in your classroom.