The new millennium has brought with it a fresh new way of looking at the world. Through the increasing use of technology, we can now communicate with anyone, anywhere in an instant. We can find the answer to a question with a quick search of the Web and we can present our ideas to the world at the click of a button.
Within this new learning environment, schools have tried to keep up with recent technology and different ways of learning and thinking, but how do their students perceive their new age classroom environment? Do they see it as a favourable learning centre? Are they more successful learners, now that they have access to all this new technology? How do they view their peers as part of the learning cycle? Is their teacher supporting and providing an appropriate learning environment? Are the students more motivated to become involved in their own learning? Are there parts of their learning environment that they see as helping or hindering their progress?
With the increasing availability of technology to all students and a growing awareness of the different learning styles, there seems to be no reason for any student to fail at school. And yet, in New Zealand there is a large band of students who come from a wide range of backgrounds, early childhood experiences and intellectual abilities who have not learnt to read or write successfully in spite of every attempt made by their parents and classroom teachers to help them.
This was made evident in the PIRLS report (2002), where it was found that even though 17% of New Zealand Year 5 students were reading in the top 10% of readers internationally, the bottom 20% are falling behind in the international stakes. This huge gap between New Zealand's highest and lowest achievers indicates that something in our school system is not catering for all students' learning needs. I wanted to find out how schools can adapt their learning environment to make curriculum access inclusive for all students (Reid, 2003). Maybe, by knowing how the student who learns differently perceives his or her classroom environment, we as their teachers, can make the necessary changes within our classrooms to enable these students to achieve success and to go on to become confident lifelong learners.
It is slow copying from the board - looking up and remembering what
was in your head. I can't remember more than one word at a time.
- John, aged 11