Sarah Elliott’s Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘RBL’

Resource-Based Learning

Posted by sarahelliott on March 9, 2009

After reading through the literature on resource-based learning, I am writing down some of my thoughts and impressions. I have also shared some of these on the Topic 1 forum – so apologies for the repetition if you have already read my post there.
Over the past 4 years I have worked in 2 IBO schools as a class teacher in the primary years. The IB PYP curriculum promotes the idea of the constructivism and learners making meaning for themselves and hence, requires RBL in the classroom.
I personally totally support the RBL approach, as I think that it is imperative that students are active learners and that schools are learner-centred. I agree with all the reading that I have done that talks about information literacy skills and learners needing to know how to learn. It is so important that they have the opportunity to develop those skills of locating, evaluating, using and communicating information. I’m only 28, but when I think back to when I was in Primary school, we really didn’t have the chance to find things out for ourselves, we were simply taught what we were required to know and judged on how well we remembered that information! This method does not create lifelong learners… RBL certainly better prepares students for life. It gives them the skills to find out about what they want to know, it turns them into problem-solvers and it engages the learner, as they are genuinely interested in the information that they find.
I understand and appreciate teacher concerns over students needing to know the basics too. It would be ridiculous to push RBL if it were at the expense of children knowing how to read and write. However, I don’t believe that it needs to be about either RBL or direct teaching. I think that it is important to remember (and this point is also made in the reading) that of course sometimes you have to direct-teach certain things. There is a time and a place for that kind of teaching too. For example, you have to introduce phonics (or other methods for teaching reading) to your youngest classes in order for them to develop their reading skills, but perhaps you do this in a way that gets them thinking more about what they are learning, rather than just directing them. Also, it’s worth considering how understanding and use of certain elements (grammatical, spelling etc) can be assessed through the student product that has come about from their RBL. For example, if they have created a newspaper report about an area of study, do they use direct speech correctly?
RBL aims to make students interested in learning more about the world, in making them into inquirers. Of course, the teacher must still structure the learning and guide the students, but the learning is much more open.
As a teacher, I love the fact that we might not be able to answer all of a student’s questions about a certain topic or theme. That’s the beauty of it all – we don’t have to know everything! But, we can help that student by helping them think about how to find the answer to their question, how to interpret the information that they are confronted with. We can facilitate their learning.
The role of the teacher librarian in resource-based learning is paramount. The TL should work in collaboration with class teachers to ensure that suitable resources are available in the library and they should design learning activities that will help students understand how to use those resources to support their learning. The TL should also support the teaching of information literacy skills to the students so that they are able to use those skills to further their inquiries.

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