I found the following article on the website: http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/engaged.htm and I just thought it summarized the learning that has been happening in 5F perfectly!

Meaningful, Engaged Learning

In recent years, researchers have formed a strong consensus on the importance of engaged learning in schools and classrooms. This consensus, together with a recognition of the changing needs of the 21st century, has stimulated the development of specific indicators of engaged learning. Jones, Valdez, Nowakowski, and Rasmussen (1994) developed the indicators described below. These indicators of engaged learning can act as a "compass" for reform instruction, helping educators chart an instructional course and maintain an orientation based on a vision of engaged learning and what it looks like in the classroom and community.

1. Indicator: Vision of Engaged Learning

What does engaged learning look like? Successful, engaged learners are responsible for their own learning. These students are self-regulated and able to define their own learning goals and evaluate their own achievement. They are also energized by their learning; their joy of learning leads to a lifelong passion for solving problems, understanding, and taking the next step in their thinking. These learners are strategic in that they know how to learn and are able to transfer knowledge to solve problems creatively. Engaged learning also involves being collaborative--that is, valuing and having the skills to work with others.

2. Indicator: Tasks for Engaged Learning

In order to have engaged learning, tasks need to be challenging, authentic, and multidisciplinary. Such tasks are typically complex and involve sustained amounts of time. They are authentic in that they correspond to the tasks in the home and workplaces of today and tomorrow. Collaboration around authentic tasks often takes place with peers and mentors within school as well as with family members and others in the real world outside of school. These tasks often require integrated instruction that incorporates problem-based learning and curriculum by project.

3. Indicator: Assessment of Engaged Learning

Assessment of engaged learning involves presenting students with an authentic task, project, or investigation, and then observing, interviewing, and examining their presentations and artifacts to assess what they actually know and can do. This assessment. often called performance-based assessment, is generative in that it involves students in generating their own performance criteria and playing a key role in the overall design, evaluation, and reporting of their assessment. The best performance-based assessment has a seamless connection to curriculum and instruction so that it is ongoing. Assessment should represent all meaningful aspects of performance and should have equitable standards that apply to all students.

4. Indicator: Instructional Models & Strategies for Engaged Learning

The most powerful models of instruction are interactive. Instruction actively engages the learner, and is generative. Instruction encourages the learner to construct and produce knowledge in meaningful ways. Students teach others interactively and interact generatively with their teacher and peers. This allows for co-construction of knowledge, which promotes engaged learning that is problem-, project-, and goal-based. Some common strategies included in engaged learning models of instruction are individual and group summarizing, means of exploring multiple perspectives, techniques for building upon prior knowledge, brainstorming, Socratic dialogue, problem-solving processes, and team teaching.

5. Indicator: Learning Context of Engaged Learning

For engaged learning to happen, the classroom must be conceived of as a knowledge-building learning community. Such communities not only develop shared understandings collaboratively but also create empathetic learning environments that value diversity and multiple perspectives. These communities search for strategies to build on the strengths of all of its members. Truly collaborative classrooms, schools, and communities encourage students to ask hard questions, define problems, lead conversations, set goals, have work-related conversations with family members and other adults in and out of school, and engage in entrepreneurial activities.

6. Indicator: Grouping for Engaged Learning

Collaborative work that is learning-centered often involves small groups or teams of two or more students within a classroom or across classroom boundaries. Heterogeneous groups (including different sexes, cultures, abilities, ages, and socioeconomic backgrounds) offer a wealth of background knowledge and perspectives to different tasks. Flexible grouping, which allows teachers to reconfigure small groups according to the purposes of instruction and incorporates frequent heterogeneous groups, is one of the most equitable means of grouping and ensuring increased learning opportunities.

7. Indicator: Teacher Roles for Engaged Learning

The role of the teacher in the classroom has shifted from the primary role of information giver to that of facilitator, guide, and learner. As a facilitator, the teacher provides the rich environments and learning experiences needed for collaborative study. The teacher also is required to act as a guide--a role that incorporates mediation, modeling, and coaching. Often the teacher also is a co-learner and co-investigator with the students.

8. Indicator: Student Roles for Engaged Learning

One important student role is that of explorer. Interaction with the physical world and with other people allows students to discover concepts and apply skills. Students are then encouraged to reflect upon their discoveries, which is essential for the student as a cognitive apprentice. Apprenticeship takes place when students observe and apply the thinking processes used by practitioners. Students also become teachers themselves by integrating what they've learned. Hence, they become producers of knowledge, capable of making significant contributions to the world's knowledge.

Jones, B., Valdez, G., Nowakowski, J., & Rasmussen, C. (1994). Designing Learning and Technology for Educational Reform. Oak Brook, IL: North Central Regional Educational Laboratory.
info@ncrel.orgCopyright © North Central Regional Educational Laboratory. All rights reserved.Disclaimer and copyright information.
Facilitation Report from Dave Kinane:
In the afternoon I worked in Sarah’s class. Her students have done a fantastic job with their Dairy Processing games. The spent the time demonstrating their games. What is clear from this unit of work is that by integrating the gaming technology into the planning, the depth of knowledge of the students for this unit is excellent. I saw again plenty of evidence of the key competencies in action in the class. Lots of resilience, lots of collaboration and plenty of problem solving. Sarah also reports that these skills are manifesting themselves in other curriculum areas too. In addition, Sarah also says that her approach to planning and formative assessment is changing as her pedagogy shifts to integrate elearning into the Keel of her classroom management strategies. I finally showed the students how to package their completed games as .exe files that can be shared via their wiki pages to others in school and beyond for assessment and evaluation. I have asked Sarah to let me know when the games have been published and to send me the links to the games and I will promote them via my social networks to ensure that the student work gets the publicity it so richly deserves. Well done Sarah.

Dairy Farming Assessment
Well today was the last 'official day' of our unit on Dairy Farming. We wrapped things up today by completing the assessment sheet that all year 4 do. This assessment required children to describe the process from the cow to the table in terms of milk processing and also identify 5 interesting facts they learnt during the unit. I was really amazed at the depth of understanding the children had. I would just like to remind you that apart from going to Ambury Farm all those weeks ago, these children have not been spoon fed information from me. We have done almost no traditional 'book work' yet through the process of this collaborative game making work that children have learnt far more than content. The key competencies that have been developed have blown me away. It has been evident during writing, reading, maths, and physical education that the children in my class this year have really blossomed through the combination of the following changes in my style of teaching:
- Personal Timetables: More Independence, accountability, personalized, student centered, managing self.
- Kagan cooperative learning: collaboration, hive mentality, participating and contributing, relating to others, roles.
- Gamemaking: Motivating and engaging, forces learning pits and problem solving, long term project, planning, thinking skills, collaboration.
These three things I have tried out this year have worked better than I ever imagined.

A snapshot of what I see when I come in after lunch:
  • Students managing self - getting out their own scrapbooks and a clear 'plan for today' sheet. Having a team talk to organise clear goals for the session.
  • Students contributing and participating - each child with their own clearly defined role as a member of a group. Choices being made about what to do next on the game. Collaborating to create a shared project. Children working alongside other children to teach new functions found.

During the session, here is a snapshot:
  • Students relating to others - as you would expect, there are times that can get quite heated during game maker time. This is a great chance to talk about how we relate to other people.
  • Children 'giving things a go' - programming things and testing them out. Trying news things - e.g. one group created a main menu which works successfully. They then taught others to do the same thing.
  • Children asking other children how to do things. "How did you do that?" "Should I ask someone to teach us?"
  • Laughter and fun
  • Children talking their thinking out loud.
  • Children working on their own game and then helping others next to them.
  • Negotiating turn taking on the computer.
  • Persistence.
  • Investigation of problems.
  • Analyzing and comparing games.
  • Predicting what the programming will do when testing.
  • Explaining how to play the game and what to do in each level.

Snapshot from when sharing the games as a whole class:
Kirsty "It is actually good to sit together as a class and see the games others have made because we can help each other"
Lucas "I love your farmer, who did the farmer?"

Dave came in again today to work with us. First the children shared their progress with the games so far. After that Dave showed the children how to make pathways in their games. The children then went on to having a team talk and writing up their plan for the session. Some groups were keen to have a go at creating the pathways. Others had bugs/pits to get out of. Each group was really focused on their game and made a lot of progress.

Dave and I had some discussions about what we would do next term for landscape learning. He suggested that we bring the B.A.R key in to create new features in animals which could then go on to be used in the little bird tale narratives. He talked about the funnel effect teachers have a tendency to get involved in, rather than leaving the learning open ended. I have added his suggested ideas and am really excited about what next term will bring for students learning.


Facilitation Report from Dave Kinane:
In the afternoon I worked in Sarah’s class. The students wanted to share their Gamemaker creations so far. The range and complexity of the work the students have created is astounding. They really should be congratulated for their collaboration, tenacity and thinking skills. This has been a great success in Sarah’s class. I showed the students how to create paths and then to add objects to that path to add jeopardy to a level. For the remainder of the session the students continued designing, building and problem solving their work. The students demonstrated a glee for being stuck in the ‘pit of despair!” Not only that they showed that they had the skills to work at a problem, break it down into smaller manageable chunks and think their way out. All the students were on task, all were working collaboratively, it was magic. Long may this kind of learning flourish in classrooms. Well done Sarah for facilitating this. Sarah and I did discuss some other options for learning next term, I shared with her my ‘funnel’ ideas and also showed her MSW Logo and another programming language.


On reflection, next time I would ensure each group had some guidelines / criteria around what each level needs to be about in their games that reflect the learning intentions of the unit.
  • Level 1 - explain how the farmer and those who work for him/her earn a living.
  • Level 2 - Explain what happens from grass, to milk, to consumers.
  • Level 3 – Explain the importance of milk as part of a healthy, well balanced diet.
  • Level 4 - Describe everyday changes to common substances – cream to butter.


Facilitation Report from Kat Cable:
After morning tea I worked with Sarah. Sarah and David have been working on a project which entails explaining Dairy Processing using GameMaker. It was fantastic to see this in progress. The students worked initially at desks to plan their next moves, in Kagan Groups. Then they moved off to computers. The problem solving and collaboration that is taking place is exciting to witness. Most students were on task because they had written clear expectations for each group member to achieve. The amount of learning taking place, thinking, cooperation, testing, assessing and evaluating is extremely high. They can analyse what they are doing, where issues arise and discuss ways in which to solve the problem. Some groups have even created a game aside from Dairy Farming in order to test theories ready for the programmer to programme into the final game. The lesson was wrapped up with Kagan Group reflections and some sharing back to class.


At the beginning of the session each kagan group fills out a 'plan for today' sheet. They are now getting much more detailed about small steps they need to achieve during the session.

Each of their roles within the groups have morphed into different roles. Original roles were planner, artist, researcher and programmer. Now they are involved in recording their learning pits and how they solved them. They are taking photos to add to their wikis. They are reading the manuals to work things out. They have some people creating sprites while others are adding details to their levels. We have even gone as far as creating some music on recorders and adding words which we hope to maybe record and add as the beginning music.

At the end of the session all teams get back together to reflect on the session. They have to do this together and think of the goals they need to work on next time. If there is additional time, we have a sharing time of how groups are going so far. The engagement level is very high and now and they are getting better and better at using the game, the purpose of creating the game is starting to come through - I.E to create a game that teaches other children about Diary Farming.

DSCF0830 (Small).JPG

Facilitation Report from Dave Kinane:
In the afternoon I worked with Sarah’s class. Sarah shared how the students have been putting themselves in the pit of dispair and have been clawing their way out. Working with the students today on Gamemaker it is clear that this project is facilitating lots of Key Competencies. The students are creating strategies to solve problems and are showing remarkable tenacity with the issues and problems that they have designed for themselves. It is a delight to see how deep thinking can develop in such a short period of time, making the case for designing longer units of work with more open ended outcomes, based on student passions and interests all the more compelling. The students knew what they wanted to achieve during the session and by the end of it were able to reflect on their progress and set new goals for the next session. The outcomes should be wonderful. Keep up the good work Sarah.


The kids have come across heaps of pits and managed to get out of a few.
Each team writes their plan for the session in relation to their roles. This is stuck into their group scrapbook.
I read over it and send them off to get started/carry on.
I have printed out manuals for game maker 8 for students to read.
We have set up pages for each groups game so the can add reflections/photos to it to document their journey.
Last session, I got the easispeak mics from a junior class and recorded some great discussions - added them to the server for students to access.
I rove around, taking photos of the children in action, point out children who have worked through pits and how they can help others with their new gained knowledge.
We end the session with a reflection and a sort of where to next.
I have noticed that some children, especially the planners and researchers, are running out of things to do so have put a small task to them of writing, recording a song about dairy farming with their recorders, in hope that this could possibly be added to the game later on.


Facilitation Report from Dave Kinane:
In the afternoon I worked in Sarah’s class. Since the last time we worked together she has organized her class into Kagan Groups and they have been each assigned roles for the creation of a game that is going to inform players about the dairy processing facts that the children are learning about. I spent the first part of the session reviewing the plans that the students had done and once I had given them some feedback they fell on the work at hand and worked for the 90 minute session with commitment and passion. It was great to observe the little triumphs as the students encountered and solved the problems that the project is throwing up at them all the time. Sarah and I discussed how this project could be evolved into an integrated day with strong literacy and numeracy links as well as social studies skills all wrapped around the landscape learning unit. Sarah and I have discussed how the students might want to keep a log of what they have been doing and to spend the last 15 minutes of each session uploading their progress and feedback about the problems and solutions they have encountered in the session as well as setting goals for the next session. I have suggested that rather than type this work, although they could, if she designs a rubric for the students to follow they could use a combination of digital images, and audio from easi speak microphones to record the progress from the sessions. They could even use Jing to annotate where their games are up to direct from the game.

27/7/12 Lesson Plan of Attack:

1.30 – 1.45 Whole team talk.
  • Talk about roles and what they mean.
1.45 – 2.00
  • Researcher computer time
  • All others work together on planning.
2.00 – 2.30
  • Programmer computer time
  • All others work together on further planning that will be given to programmer later.
2.30 – 2.45
  • Reflection time – what went well, what problems came up? How were those problems solved?


  1. Each Kagan Team will create a Dairy Farming game using Game Maker that will teach other children about dairy farming.
  2. Each child in the team will have a specific role to play in the creation of the game: Researcher, planner, artist and programmer.
  3. A document will be started to log times of being in ‘The learning pit’ -this will show problems that came up and how they were fixed.


Researcher in the group will look at the questions and learning intentions.. This research will be fed to the planner, artist and ultimately the programmer to make an informative game about dairy farming. All Children also went on a trip to Ambury Farm.

KAGAN GROUP ROLES - Researcher, programmer, planner, Artist

Facilitation Report from Dave Kinane:
'After morning tea I worked with Sarah. After a brief discussion we decided that we would use Gamemaker as a vehicle for students to share their learning on their Dairy Processing unit of work for the term. I worked with a small groups of students and showed them how to use some of the basic functions within Gamemaker. We then set them the task to emulate the game I had demonstrated that they should make. Sarah and I then discussed how she could use this tool to facilitate problem based learning related to the key competencies. I also introduced the notion of the pit of despair to build student resilience to working through problems. We also discussed how Sarah could manage her Gamemaker project within the structures of her Kagan Groups.'


Each group will first ‘Jot thought’ their questions in a brainstorm on paper.
Each group will then have to choose their top question which they will then go and add to the corkboard link above.

What we want to know about this topic…



18.07.12 – I posted the link above on our class wiki. Children took turns clicking the link added their own post it note to the corkboard. It was handy to have their landscape learning book. I encouraged them to read others notes and add something different. As the website didn’t update immediately it was difficult for them to tell if others wrote what they wrote. I was very happy with the results though and the kids loved it.

What we know about this topic…


18.07.12 – Each group had turns immersing themselves in these websites. They typed in key words such as dairy farming to see photos, songs, videos, tweets, words, meanings etc etc etc. Other children worked on their landscape learning title page during this time and started their own brainstorm of what they know already about dairy farming. After they had been on the computer doing the immersion they could then go back and add to their title page and brainstorm.
Examples of great immersion websites:

Term 3 Landscape Learning Topic: Dairy Farming
Learning Intentions:
  • Explain how the farmer and those who work for him/her earn a living.
  • Explain using a flow chart, what happens from grass, to milk, to consumers.
  • Become aware of the importance of milk as a low cost product and its importance as part of a healthy, well balanced diet.
  • Investigate and describe everyday changes to common substances – cream to butter.