Thought it might be time to go back to the beginning and look at what Discovery Time is all about.
Discovery Time is a ninety minute, hands-on, activity-based programme where students can be in control of their own learning. Activities come from any area of the curriculum (art, drama, PE, music, technology, literacy, numeracy) - whatever will inspire and catch the students interest. In addition there is a strong focus on strengthening key competencies (thinking, using language, symbols and text, managing self, relating to others, participating and contributing).
Some of you may be familiar with the Developmental or Choosing Time programmes that were popular in the 70s and 80s. Yes, this is similar, but with more focus and planning.
The teacher begins by introducing the focus for the day, which targets a specific aspect of one of the key competencies. There might be discussion about why it was chosen, what it would look like and sound like, and how one would know if it were happening. Examples might be: asking to join in, sharing, taking turns, persisting when things get difficult, solving problems that occur, trying out new ideas...
The various activities for the day would be explained with many of these linking to current curriculum work.
The children then select and participate in the activities. During the session the teacher takes the role of facilitator: observing, providing feedback, asking questions and encouraging students.
At the end of the session the class would come together to share and reflect on what they had done and what they had learned.
The programme is based on three key principles:
Students need opportunities not only for cognitive development, but also
for social-emotional and physical development.
Students’ learning is enhanced when there are opportunities for 'hands on'
Student motivation is increased when they are in control of their own learning.
The programme was initially designed to meet the needs of students who found the structured, academic focus of classrooms a challenge. It soon became apparent that there were benefits for all students and for teachers as well. Students get a chance to take control of their own learning, they are motivated, fully engaged and there are few behaviour difficulties.
Best of all, it is fun!