|Posted by anonymous on January 2, 2016 at 5:10 AM|
I've been a teacher in a secondary school for all of my teaching career (13 years). This year, I have taken on a new challenge and teaching in a primary school and I have been blown away by my new school!
At Clarkville School (Christchurch, New Zealand), there are no walls in between classrooms. In the upper grades (5/6 and 7/8 ), students are given a timetable at the start of the week with blocks of time where they MUST complete set work but there are other sections where 'workshops' are presented and students can opt in or out (according to their level of mastery. Yes, mastery! Not just an average or basic level!) to work on particular weaknesses. Other time slots can be used to work on individual inquiry projects (that the students themselves identify) or other tasks that need to be done before the end of the week.
I have never seen this type of autonomy and choice offered in any school, regardless of its category, and the students are self directed! They appreciate having a choice about how they learn and it really moves away from the teacher-centered learning environment. The teachers publish their lesson plans using Google Docs and all teachers see the plans. Student work is also published in this way. This allows for any substitute teacher to come into the learning environment and know exactly where they are going and what is happening in the class. Year levels are joined for some activities and separate for others, there's just so much versatility with this teaching pedagogy. Parents can see what their kids are up to and are kept in the loop around educational experiences. They also acknowledge that a lot of learning actually occurs outside of school hours and this learning is acknowledged and accredited towards inquiry.
I have been in to school over the last couple of weeks to do some things (you know what it's like) and thought I would take some video of a couple of the classrooms. Now, bear in mind that everything gets a good clean out at the end of the year. The spaces look pretty bare but it's a good insight into how the collaborative spaces link.
I'll be working in the Yr 7/8 space (we call it the Aspire group) and these classrooms haven't yet undergone the make over that the rest of the school have had, so it'll be good to see the difference between ours and the Yr 5/6 (Explore) classrooms.
Here's the Aspire classroom
Here's the Explore classroom
When we get in there and sort out the classroom format, I'll shoot a new video and share it with you so you can see how we're going.
So I guess, when you ask what are the promising new approaches to primary education, for me, collaboration holds the key. What new pedagogies are you excited about?
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Have a great week and I'll look forward to hearing from you soon.
Vikki Grant x