Monday, April 20, 2009

From the troughs to the mountains

Over the weekend I reviewed my VR learning environment with Mum, Dad & Sandy as to how it would cope as a solution to gifted and talented students (assignment topic for Supportive Learning Environments in the GDLT). I wasn't expecting to go there, really I wasn't, but reading through the textbook on the topic made me realize something about the model:
Scaffold the day from weaker skills to excelling skills.

The positives in doing this would be:
- Retaining some level of same-age courses: Since the students at the start of the day are all taking their relatively weaker skills, they would all more likely end up in a classroom with age-alike students rather than a hodge-podge of student ages. I'm still digging to see whether there are any real ramifications to having only merit based entry into sessions with no age based grouping at all. It would seem that schools are flipping between streaming and integration with no real winner so far, and since that PLEs through VR would be an aggressive streaming process I'll need to dig into all the different reasons why age based integration is still advocated. Hopefully it's more about the diversity aspect (that PLEs through VR will have in spades) and not the same-age traits. If there are any same-age issues then hopefully structuring the day in this manner will limit their impact.

- emphasized goal setting: The skill trained in the last session would be a peak skill, one that the student is excelling in. Those peak skills are more likely to have entry requirements further down the skill tree that the student has not yet attained, the 'ridge skills' of the mountain. These ridge skills would also have requirements of other skills further down the ridge until you finally reach a valley of skills not yet know, but required to advance the peak further. Ideally the valley skills attained in the morning enable ridge skills for the middle session, then enable a new peak skill. This would build a direct causal relationship between studying the skills that they may not like by giving them direction as to how those skills build into something they do like.