Tuesday, September 23, 2014

School Visitor Reflections...

On Wednesday 13th August Karen Begg and I visited Tim Lovelock and his senior staff at Myross Bush School. We have come back inspired and invigorated. What we saw was surprising, fascinating and challenging. Tim, Mark and Evelyn shared their schools ‘journey’ over the last five years. They have implemented a variety of new ideas based on their philosophy of SOLO (a thinking based curriculum).

We saw ‘blended learning’ in action. iPads, chromebooks and PCs were all being used within rich teaching. This included specific acts of group teaching and purposeful independent activities without devices. The children worked on individual learning pathways and could easily talk about what they were doing and why.

Interesting observations:

Individual learning pathways.The children were self regulating their learning. They were provided with individual learning pathways via their class blog.These pathways were also visible on display on the walls in the class room. The children had to provide evidence of their learning and were accountable to the teacher.

Team teaching. Two teachers shared one class using two classrooms. One teacher provided specific acts of teaching in workshops to groups on particular topics. The children still read books, handwrite, and complete Maths into a text book. Literacy and numeracy is the focus for the morning programme. Many activities are integrated into the topic inquiry. The other teacher facilitated action stations in another room where the independent, individualised learning was happening.

Blended Learning. The school has a live, changing website that has links to the newsletter, Facebook, Principal and class blogs. The newsletter is shared digitally - no paper copies.

Planning. All planning is on google and is shared. There are no paper plans anywhere.

Daybook: The daybook is on Google Sites with tabs for timetables and other information.

Flexible Timetable. There were very few bells.(Morning tea and lunch I think) The rest of the timetable is flexible allowing for the range of timeframes different activities have and giving children time to complete lessons and activities.

Devices. These are being used as tools. They are provided for the children. They are not $500 pens for publishing. There is a range of iPads, chromebooks, PCs. The children access learning support tools via their blogs (class and individual) using the ‘khan academy’, podcasts, youtube lessons and demonstrations, links to websites, nzmaths sites, google worksheets. Apple TVs are working really successfully in all class rooms.

* BOYD The school allows children to bring their own device at their own risk. They connect them to the internet. This is neither encouraged or discouraged.

** There is no server. The devices connect wirelessly to a large router that can cope with hundreds of devices.

Furniture. The school has create more space in rooms by getting rid of desks and furniture. There are no whiteboards or ‘front’ of the class. Children’s gear is in tote trays. They do not have a desk or a place to sit that is their own. The teacher does not have a teacher desk.

Personal Inspiration
Using my observation from this visit I intend to try some ideas with my own class.

Individual learning pathways - sharing google doc planning with children who self assess and work on next steps. The learning objectives will be in child friendly language.

Use of technology - provide my class with links to support and challenge their learning. A classroom blog including links to internet learning activities.

Display pathways on my walls
. Continue to make children accountable for their learning.

Planning. Share a version of child friendly

Furniture. Be more flexible about where the children work eg, floor, desks, tables

Thank you so much Tim, Mark and Evelyn. You were very generous with your time and knowledge. Karen and I have both come back to school feeling so energised and wanting to make a difference.

I have already started trialing SOLO learning pathways and using google so much mere with my children. They are now more skilled in ICT, engaged and taking responsibility for their learning. You have made a difference already!

The children in your school are very fortunate to be experiencing a progressive, forward thinking, genuine environment for learning.

Thank you so much for letting us come and see the fantastic things you and your staff are doing at Myross Bush Primary.  We were blown away by the ownership your students had over their learning and the self management skills they displayed while working towards their learning goals. It was clear to see that the students knew where they were heading with their learning and the steps they needed to take to continue to progress.

It was great to see teams of teachers working together and collaborating to ensure the needs of each child were met.  We were also excited about the innovative ways you were utilising your classroom spaces to cater for personalised learning and targeted group teaching.

After visiting Myross Bush School I was lucky to travel to Auckland to visit schools who are considered to be at the forefront of education. These schools have hundreds of teachers visiting them from around New Zealand each year because of the great things they are doing.  Their philosophies and practises mirrored what we were seeing at your school and it seems to us that you are leading the way with this in the South.

The visit to your school definitely made us reflect on how we can better utilise the teachers in our school and cater to groups of students in our classes.  We are now looking into how we can improve as a school to further develop our students self management skills.

Your school is lucky to have such a committed management team and staff who are dedicated to developing important learning values within the students.


"Thank you for giving up your time and welcoming us into to your wonderful school to see ‘Learning Pathways’ in action.  There was a positive vibe in every classroom. The children were engaged in their learning and willingly shared their work, articulating their learning. It was evident that the teachers had embraced the ‘Learning Pathways’ philosophy and were acting as facilitators of learning. The access the children have to technologies such as iPads, Apple TV and chromebooks was excellent, and these tools were being used effectively in all classes. We were really impressed to hear about and see the journey your school has been on for the past 5 years. You are providing your students with the skills to be lifelong learners."

1 comment:

  1. This is awesome to see how impressed they were. As a BT it's exciting to be on board this journey from the get-go!