Identifying Key Facts Teacher Resource

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This page supports the Identifying Key Facts Lesson Plan.


Teaching theories behind this lesson

Independent learning

The goal of independent learning is to motivate students to want to be learning. Motivation is an internal process that prompts certain behaviours – taking students well-beyond rote memorisation.[1] Behaviours, though, are as much a reflection of environment as of any internal factors. ‘If learners are given genuine choices, they may opt to be passive learners rather than self-directed learners.’[2] When the learning space is properly controlled learners understand that they can take control of their own learning – the what, when, why and how.[3] And a properly controlled learning space will allow them to develop a concomitant understanding that they learn more through sharing the learning experience. A controlled learning space is not about seating plans and micro-managing student behaviour. Rather, a controlled learning space is one where carefully designed lessons (with real, measured outcomes,[3] all students participating as equals, [4] and a script that structures the learning around interactions rather than content, [5] allow experiences for effective convergent knowledge experiences. Such effective convergent knowledge experiences are most likely to occur in an environment where all participants feel safe to share.

‘By sharing formative stages of their thinking and activities, the members of a [learning] group greatly accelerate the discovery of novel connections and solutions.’[6]

Through this sharing comes understanding, but also the opportunity for creativity and production of divergent knowledge. This divergent knowledge then creates the need for sharing the new knowledge – and thus the need for someone else to learn something new. In this way the learning process becomes about community awareness and self-identity as an essential part of a community.[6][2]

Iterative learning

The iterative nature of the learning is not only about how independent learners negotiate their position within a community. The iterative approach is a fundamental of constructivism – it allows learners to play with knowledge and skills[7] to develop a deeper understanding of what will work and what won’t. The Australian Curriculum (History) demonstrates how skills are continually developing (in the relevant learning context[8]) throughout the learners’ experiences of historical knowledge and understanding.[9]

Learners need also to increase their knowledge and understanding of how these skills develop – through sharing their experiences of these skills and, in return, growing their understanding of different interpretations of the same experiences. Considered as artefacts, the wiki pages become a means of knowledge building through observation. This knowledge building is most likely to lead to long-term learning benefits if students are encouraged to engage and then re-engage with the wiki page – providing opportunities for prior knowledge to be revisited, inspected and altered to include the new knowledge.'[10] In this way, not only will the skill being practised be able to be refined to a master level, but the process for developing any skill will become a conscious and rewarding exercise – with learners able to experience more successes.[11]

Convergence and Divergence

Typically, convergence is experienced in a learning environment as right and wrong answers. For example: solving a mathematical problem. Yet, for Australian students, “real world” experiences of convergence rely on a democratic model of communication and majority agreement – and the learning environment should attempt to recreate this “real world” experience to achieve authentic learning.[3] Critical discussion skills are the key to an effective convergent knowledge experience for all learners. Research indicates that convergence occurs when argumentative debate is about ‘collaboratively advancing ideas’,[10] so in this lesson the greater weight should be given to the coding activity. Having achieved a degree of consensus, the learner should then experience an opportunity for self-development – in order to work towards expression of their newly emerging divergent knowledge. Thus, the reflection on learning questions and prompts are an essential part of the learners’ building of convergent and divergent knowledge.

Curriculum Links

At Year 9 level students engage with historical terms and concepts and discuss their contestability in the context of Australia's history. At Year 10 level they continue to build on their understanding of the concept of 'contestability' through using their Year 9 experiences to help create their own definition of 'contestability'.

Main Topic

Key facts underpin the ability for researchers to perform effective searches. In the pre-digital world key facts were identified through examining the contents page of a book, its index and any subheadings that appeared throughout. In some cases, the key facts were highlighted (through use of bold text and explanatory sidebars). These methods involved the author and publisher determining what the key facts of the text were – and meant that researchers tended to be restricted to using texts only designed for specific uses. (Otherwise, they faced the laborious and time-consuming job of examining every line of the text themselves.)

In the digital age these conventions are still largely evident, but search engines allow the researcher to bypass these methods and search for anything. Yet, conventions of language still apply when the text is written; so it is possible for researchers to engage with online content in the same way as they did with written texts in the pre-digital world. A search engine can be used to identify where facts are, then the researcher merely needs to determine the context to determine the usefulness of the text.

In order for students to develop their understanding of the usefulness of key facts they need to develop their understanding of the conventions used in written texts. The Identifying Key Terms Lesson Plan utilises wiki pages as online source material being examined for the conventional use of key facts. According to the Australian Curriculum (History) at Year 8 level students pose a key question and identify related question to inform an inquiry. At Year 9 level students then develop questions about aspects of the past that require historical argument and the refine these as further factors are introduced into the research process. At Year 10 level they continue to build on their understandings and skills regarding questions and historical argument by changing a key question or related questions in an inquiry depending on the suitability of the sources available.

Key Concepts







Secondary Concepts

the hyperlink (blue, purple or red) text are usually also key facts on a wiki page, but not all of these key facts are as useful for searching for information as some


Further Reading


  1. Jo Mynard and Robin Sorflaten. 'Independent Learning in Your Classroom.' Learner Independence Special Interest Group website. Accessed June 16, 2012 via
  2. 2.0 2.1 Brown, Alan J. (2000). ‘Social Influences on Individual Commitment to Self-directed Learning at Work.’ In Conceptions of Self-directed Learning: Theoretical and Conceptional Considerations. Munster: Waxmann, pp.23-36.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Doughty, Gordon. (1996). ‘Computers for teaching and learning.’ In The Management of Independent Learning. Edited by Jo Tait and Peter Knight . London: Kogan Page Limited, pp. 87-96.
  4. Heisawn Jeong and Michelence T. H. Chi. 'Knowledge convergence and collaborative learning.' Instructional Science, no. 35 (2007): 287-315.
  5. Armin Weinberger, Karsten Stegmann and Frank Fischer. (2005). 'Measuring knowledge convergence: Achievement similarity and shared knowledge in computer-supported collaborative learning.' 11th Biennial Conference for Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI 2005). Cyprus: Nicosia. Digital copy accessed June 12, 2012 via telearn.archives.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Dobes, Richard and Graham Rawlinson. (1993). ‘Using Synectic Processes in Education.’ In Learner Managed Learning. Edited by Norman Graves. Leeds: Higher Education for Capability, pp. 52-70.
  7. Ciel Language Support Network. (2000). 'Integrating independent learning with the curriculum.' Centre for Languages Linguistics & Area Studies website. Accessed June 16, 2012 via
  8. Andre Melzer, Lia Hadley, Marie Glasemann, Simon Werner, Thomas Winkler, Michael Herczeg. (2007). 'Using Iterative Design and Development for Mobile Learning Systems in School Projects.' IADIS International Conference on Cognition and Exploratory Learning in Digital Age (CELDA 2007). Accessed June 16, 2012 via
  9. Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2012.) The Australian Curriculum (History).
  10. 10.0 10.1 Halatchliyski, I., Kimmerle, J., & Cress, U. (2011). Divergent and Convergent Knowledge Processes on Wikipedia. CSCL 2011. Digital copy accessed June 13, 2012 via reganmian.
  11. Robertson, J. and J. Good. (2004). Children’s Narrative Development through Computer Game Authoring. Proceedings of IDC 2004: Building a Community. Maryland, USA, pp. 57-64. [Quoted in Andre Melzer, Lia Hadley, Marie Glasemann, Simon Werner, Thomas Winkler, Michael Herczeg. (2007). 'Using Iterative Design and Development for Mobile Learning Systems in School Projects.' IADIS International Conference on Cognition and Exploratory Learning in Digital Age (CELDA 2007). Accessed June 16, 2012 via

Links to further resources

--Beth Kicinski 12:21, 13 June 2012 (EST)

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