Conference to introduce results from the 100-School Networking Project (Phase II)
Junior high school meeting

"How to Learn" as a Comprehensive Subject, and Internet Use

Hiroaki Kanahashi and Masao Saito,
The Junior High School Attached to the Faculty of Education of Utsunomiya University

1. Introduction

Our school has participated in the 100-School Networking Project and its second phase since 1995. We worked especially hard on using the Internet for education (using computers as tools, using the Internet) and improving conditions for using a network (LAN, data sharing, and so forth). At the request of the Ministry of Education, we've also done research and development in an effort to draw up a curriculum for the comprehensive subject, "how to learn." We made full use of our activities as part of the 100-School Networking Project in our research.

2. Outline of the comprehensive subject, "How to learnt"

(1) How to learn

According to "Teaching Students How to learn," by Yoshimatsu Shibata, scholastic ability is made up of three components: existing ability (basic knowledge and skills); ability to learn (ability to learn independently, knowledge of how to learn); and the will to learn (desire to study). The ability to learn (how to learn) has two elements: reasoning (a way of looking and thinking about things) and skill (how to take notes, how to write, and so forth).

We found these ideas attractive, and we also felt we should try to cultivate our students' ability to learn and to give them the skills to solve problems in the future. To the above, we added the ability to think and the ability to judge, because students need these skills in choosing their study theme and in carrying out research and presenting their work. So we arrived at three main factors:
a. Reasoning: a way of looking and thinking about things, process of studying

b. Skill: basic studying skills (how to take notes, how to do research)

c. Thought and judgment in problem solving: ability to choose a theme and evaluate one's own work during the research process

We considered other important factors to keep in mind when studying.

a. A will and determination to learn

b. Knowledge and understanding of things already learned

c. Open-mindedness and sensitivity

We kept these factors in mind while we did research for the topic "How to learn."

(2) Courses and subjects for "How to learn"

We set up two courses: a basic course and a theme study course for seventh, eighth, and ninth graders. Each course was separated into two subjects for a total of four subjects: basic I, basic II, theme study A, and theme study B.

In the basic course, students concentrated on learning how to solve problems and present their results (learning skills). In theme study A, they selected a theme and planned their research. In theme study B, they did the research needed to solve a problem and presented their results, using the skills acquired in the basic course.

With all this as a foundation, we added the comprehensive subject "How to learn" to our curriculum. Our goal was to improve our students' will and ability to find a problem themselves, choose a suitable theme, do research, solve the problem, and present their results, all the while integrating the subject "how to learn" with their other regular subjects.

3. Actual example of using the Internet

(1) Skills required for solving problems

We thought of four kinds of abilities that should be accounted for in a curriculum that cultivates learning skills. We also felt that students should learn about them simultaneously.

a. Language literacy: reading skills, writing, and listening. Skills used to read books and literature, compile reports, and interview people.

b. Media literacy: computer and information skills

c. Ability to use information: skills in collecting, choosing, processing, and presenting information

d. Communication abilities: conversation and presentation skills, and the ability to ask and answer questions

In the past, these skills were taught separately. We tried to teach these problem-solving skills by systematically introducing them into our "How to learn" project.

(2) Actual example of using the Internet in Basic I

We chose the theme, "health and the environment," reflecting student lives and interests. We taught a number of useful skills through this particular study.

Content of Basic I
A lesson of Basic I
[Material 3] "Let's experience the Internet" (the seventh and eighth lesson)

The primary goal of these lessons is to teach students how to use a computer and how to gather information. The goal of this section is to give students first-hand experience in collecting information by making efficient use of the Internet.

In the lesson, students use the Internet as a tool to gather information. Specifically, they learn how to use a search engine and how to search using keywords. The information they gather is then used as study material.

4. Internet use in each subject

At our school, teaching most subjects has involved audiovisual equipment at one time or another. Lately, the Internet and e-mail are used more frequently, to gather information and materials, according to the subject being studied. For example:

Japanese: research into dialects: seventh grade
Social studies: collecting materials for a theme study: eighth grade
Science: collecting materials on earthquakes: ninth grade
collecting materials about the sun: seventh grade
Technical arts and
home economics:
making a classroom home page: ninth grade
Foreign language (English): collecting materials for discussions according to theme: eighth grade
Classroom activity:

collecting information on a school trip destination: eighth grade

5. Conclusion

Our school has about sixty networked computers that can be connected to the Internet. The audiovisual room has forty computers and is open all day, so students can use the computers freely. As a result, students are getting more familiar with computers as a tool in studying.

At our school, the Internet has become an essential learning device for both teachers and students. We plan to continue with educational activities that make more efficient use of the Internet. Problems and goals for the future use of the Internet include:

a. Ways to assure enough computer time for students

b. Education on information issues such as ethics, privacy, and security

c. Increasing each student's awareness of what is important and what to beware of when using the network

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