A new curriculum resource is all about young people as problem solvers. Resource writer Jono Broom talks through what’s inside.
As Assistant Principal at Haeata Community Campus in Christchurch, Jono Broom saw the engagement of students solving problems that they find and care about.
For example, students looked at the issue of peers using skateboards on school grounds. Their solution was designing and building skate ramps to encourage skateboarding in safe places. The ramps were installed on the courts, and students ran a campaign to encourage their use.
Jono has written up the problem-solving process used at Haeata into a teaching unit with local transport as its context. Titled Developing Community Transport Solutions, it is available on the NZ Transport Agency’s Education Portal.
“This is about students placing themselves in their own community, and by doing that, it supports the authenticity of their learning,” says Jono.
He says the curriculum resource provides a process to discover problems in the community and develop solutions.
“This is a process we’ve developed over the past couple of years – the ideas are not just mine. It pulls things together from a lot of different places.”
Jono says giving students methods to identify problems generates ownership over their learning and leads to higher engagement than if teachers present students with predefined problems.
“Transport issues in your own community can be as localised as how 30 kids get through the door of your classroom in a timely fashion. Or they can look wider – transport is something that all kids know about; they all get to school somehow. It’s something authentic – there are always problems with transport!”
The resource suggests varied methods for student research, such as talking to people in the community, making observations on local streets, brainstorming from their own experience or observing video footage.
The resource is anchored around the social sciences and is cross-curricular with the potential for teachers to swing learning towards English, Health, Digital Technologies or the Arts.
“This unit speaks to the front end of the curriculum – the key competencies like participating and contributing and relating to others,” says Jono.
“Plus, it is quite open in terms of suitable year levels. At higher levels, students could develop projects quite independently while other teachers could scaffold the process from Years 5 and 6 upward.”
Students can also access national data about New Zealand’s transport systems. Find out more here: