Making learning meaningful with learning journeys
Mar 21, 2022
I'm sure many of us have, at one point or another, been asked this question by a student:
"What is the point of me learning this?" or something else along the same lines.
And, truthfully, sometimes it can be tough to come up with a good answer. "Because you need to know it for the test" just doesn't really cut it, does it.
Our reality is, however, that we are mandated to teach the curriculum. And the dense, fast-paced nature of our curriculum can often mean that we end up quickly jumping from concept to concept in our efforts to 'cover it', and our students sometimes fail to see the relevance or the connections between what they are learning, and real-life applications. They also don't feel like they have the time to properly develop or master a certain skill or topic, before they are moved on to the next one.
This is where learning journeys come in. A learning journey is where students are provided a clear pathway to a collective goal. There is a clear start, middle and finish, and they can see how knowledge and skills are connected to each other and build upon each other so that they can reach their end goal. A learning journey will typically cover a unit of work, lasting around a term, and if desired, can integrate more than one subject area.
Throughout the learning journey, students should also have the opportunity to set their own individual learning goals. For example, one student might decide that they really need to work on their paragraph writing skills, whilst another student might decide that they need to work on how to build an argument. They can then set success criteria for these goals, and work towards them throughout the learning journey, seeking feedback from their teacher as required. This helps to build self-regulation skills and builds in student voice and choice, helping to personalise the learning somewhat.
Ideally, the learning journey should be documented within a student learning journal (for an example of a ready-made student learning journal, go here
). Here, students can write their learning goals and success criteria, monitor their progress towards their goals, and complete self-reflections. This is an effective and tangible method for helping your students achieve their goals, and helps to build resilience and a growth mindset.
Another powerful strategy is to integrate story-telling into the learning journey. Stories have been used for thousands of years to pass down knowledge, and neuroscience shows that this is because the brain engages more deeply with stories, integrating the left and the right hemispheres, and better retains information in long-term memory.
Therefore, creating a storyline for the learning journey, for students to follow along and co-create, can be a really effective method for making learning so much more meaningful as well as more memorable.
For more information on how to design and guide a learning journey, and how to integrate story-telling into your classroom, we dive deep into these topics in our online professional learning community, Transformational Teachers.
You are welcome to join anytime to get instant access to these PD sessions, as well as bonus resources such as the Student Learning Journal.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.
Have a great week!