personal and social capability

Personal and Social Capability ACARA


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Self – Awareness – Year 8

self awareness

examine influences on and consequences of their emotional responses in learning, social and work related context
make a realistic assessment of their abilities and achievements, and prioritise areas for improvement
predict the outcomes of personal and academic achievement by drawing on previous problem solving and decision making strategies and feedback form peers and teachers
identify and choose a range of learning strategies appropriate to specific tasks and describe work practices that assist their learning

I am unsure as to whether this is what I want to work on with my year 8s. The first part of emotional responses doesn’t seem to match the rest of the element.  From the self review they have done the year 8s are ready to look at better learning strategies because they have a better understanding of what is expected and that they have a need to address things like time management and reading the whole of a task sheet first before they proceed.  I am going to look at self-management because that might be more what I want to work on with the year 8s. Looking at how they could improve themselves is definitely an option but I am still being thrown by this emotional response  descriptor for self-awareness. It is more of a behavioral thing.  There are certainly some students I could work on with that.  By tomorrow we need to know what we are working on with a class. This is a really interesting post on self-awareness. It’s where I got the post image.

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Brain rules

brain rules Image: Tag Galaxy Thanks to people like Dan Gilbert and John Medina who are sharing their knowledge on the internet, teachers now have ready access to information about how the brain works. Dr. John Medina is a molecular biologist who has been exploring the practical uses of how the 12 rules can give us some solid insight into how the brain works. This has to have implications for the Personal and Social Capability in all its elements. Male and female brains are different, sleep does affect how we learn. Exercise improves cognition and we don’t pay attention to the boring things in life. The 12 brain rules are listed on Dr John Medina’s site Brain Rules and each one is examined separately if you click on the links in the left sidebar. If you go to the bottom of the right sidebar to FROM THE BOOK and click on the rules (posters) it will download the pdf version for you. I have done that because I plan to work on them. There are also some good YouTube videos of this material.


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What makes us happy?

Three out of four ain’t bad! Dan Gilbert’s talk on happiness covers three of the four elements for the Personal and Social Capability: self-awareness, self-management and social management. His 20 minute talk which you can find on TED as well under the What makes us happy? playlist is both information packed and thought-provoking. He is an engaging speaker and so it is not difficult to absorb what he has to say . Dan Gilbert is the Professor of Psychology at Harvard and so what he has to say offers plenty of examples of experiments, physiological information about the brain and then the highlights well the problems we have in synthesising happiness and how our belief that choice is the answer – is not the answer at all. That we do not understand happiness very well is made clear and so all of what he offers in this talk has classroom implications for teachers and how they manage their students. It will also influence the tasks we design for the Personal and Social Capability. Well worth the listen and what ought to bring some good exchanges of ideas afterwards.


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General Capabilities – ACARA

General capabilitiesThere are 7 general capabilities and according to the ACARA site they are addressed explicitly in content and there are icons  to identify them in content descriptions. The ACARA site explains their reason for being in our national curriculum in this way:

General capabilities, a key dimension of the Australian Curriculum, are addressed explicitly in the content of the learning areas. They play a significant role in realising the goals set out in the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (MCEETYA 2008) – that all young people in Australia should be supported to become successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed citizens.

It will take time to redescribe and reformat curriculum in this way but in the end it means we have properly described and identified what we actually teach and within this framework students are also encouraged to develop learning along these lines so that it can be accounted for and assessed. In other words, students have an opportunity to participate as active learners and gain a deeper understanding of what learning actually entails. It is a demanding task to identify the components of a curriculum and as we go along we may find out we have missed something. The Australian Curriculum is comprehensive but perhaps we have overlooked something. Given we have this format of content and capabilities anything which needs to be addressed will be able to be included relatively easily I should think. We also need easy access to those logs because to put visual markers on curriculum and content documents is a good thing. It breaks up the swags of text which people no longer like to see. I’d like to think we could have an electronic way of addressing these general capabilities so we could enter things online and select the logs and then come up with a finished document. That would be an interesting challenge!


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Social Management – General capabilities – ACARA

Social ManagementMy image via BeFunky

The fourth and final element of the Personal and Social Capability for ACARA is social management. At the blunt end it’s about developing workable and productive relationships with adults and peers. At the pointy end it is about learning how to be a good leader, developing mentorship skills and knowing how to strengthen yourself and others socially.  Social management is clearly a continuum where students learn to:

  • communicate effectively
  • work collaboratively
  • make decisions
  • negotiate and resolve conflict
  • develop leadership skills.


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Social Awareness – General capabilities- ACARA

personal and social capability Image : Tagxedo

For Social Awareness students at all the levels have to be able to :

  • appreciate diverse perspectives
  • contribute to civil society
  • understand relationships.

This element is not explained as well as the other two until you read the explanation of the element on the ACARA site. Basically it is about respect and responsibility and developing respectful relationships with others. It takes racism and sexism into account but also looks at advocacy so that students can learn when it is appropriate to advocate for others and the techniques for doing that.


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Self-management – General capabilities – ACARA

self-managementFor self-management students need to be able to :

  • express emotions appropriately
  • develop self-discipline and set goals
  • work independently and show initiative
  • become confident, resilient and adaptable

The first sentence on the ACARA site says if all for me:

“This element involves students in effectively regulating, managing and monitoring their own emotional responses, and persisting in completing tasks and overcoming obstacles.”

Teenagers can often find it quite difficult to regulate their moods and need to understand them and how moods can be created before they have any hope of managing them.  They can be taught steps to monitor and manage their own responses. They also often need a chance to be able to go back over things and put them right.  Persistence is also something which they can learn and because they live in a world where everything is often instant  or easily changed they do not necessarily get the chance of  practising the skills needed to overcome adversity. I imagine there will be considerable discussions about this particular element in all the levels.