Saturday, March 21, 2015

Learning Zones, Specialist Learning Potential...

On the last morning of our CORE MLE Melbourne Tour with our amazing group we had a workshop facilitated by Mark Osborne and Julia Atkins.

Mark shared with us the journey he experienced as one of the foundation leadership team at Albany High School.

There vision was centred around the key words:
  • nurture
  • inspire
  • empower
A very brief synopsis of some of the thinking that resonated with me were:
  • If we only silo things then how will the kids make those connections
  • Rich context allows great connections
  • Specialist subject become the key area then discovery based learning layered around that - project based learning
The impact project (which in their timetable was for the whole Wednesday each week) was the vehicle to 'join' the learning back up again.
  • Don't 'thing-ify' learning - we are not a 'SOLO' school - we are MBS -  
  • What is our label that makes the mix of things we are doing ours? 
It's important to generate your own name/label as they carry so much weight and meaning ** Is pathway learning our label?
  • Take away the ceiling point that is the curriculum and assessment
  • **What is our ceiling point? What restricts our learning and our kids passion across the year levels?
He emphasized the importance of Deep learning - doing less well - which for them in the high school setting saw them change their timetable to 100 minute periods.

Minimise the disconnect between what you say you believe and what you actually do!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------- then Julia got up...

Whether you are building a new school, rebuilding part of a school or just looking at the design inside your existing space it is important to focus on Designing rather than planning: from the inside out - and making it fit for purpose!

Some of the thinking that this time inspired for me (from both Julia and the great conversations with Janelle Riki (check out her amazing blog from our trip MLP, Melbourne and Me) is below. I look forward to working through this with our staff and moving our journey to our next 'plus one'!

  • How adaptable are our spaces? 
  • How much have we gone back to what suits our teaching rather than what suits our learners and the learning we are trying to facilitate?
  • How can we creat more learning zones within our '2 zones'  - zones within zones - are we really utilising the space we have as best we can?
Thinking deeply about the learning experience that you want the kids to have and then design the space that suits!

To evoke something by how you place / use furniture -  
  • What sort of learning zones do we need in our room? 
    • learn/create zones - the arts
    • literacy
    • maths
      • See video link (to come)
  • How does the furniture effect / influence this?
    Learning groups - cross grouped to lesson the number / group pressure -
    • Why do we teach a reading group all at a particular level - is there further rich learning and flexibility that we can bring to our pathways by what a multi-levelled reading could encourage with our learners? What is our mindset on this based on? 
    Would this increased flexibility give us the opportunity to run our own version/day of 'impact based learning' that is not based on workshop groups but allows students the opportunity to explore their learning pathway in a particular area of interest - ie more of a specialist subject time with all teachers facilitating learning across the school in the different curriculum areas of strength and interest that they have?


    The two sessions were incredibly thought provoking. A real highlight for me of the whole week was the richness of the conversation and the variety of observation that we got from having a cross sector programme of primary and secondary for our cross sector group! I loved the opportunity to hear the perspective of our secondary colleagues and the challenges that they are facing with balance between developing more collaboration within their teaching while still providing specialist learning depth and meeting the requirements of NCEA! It really made me think about what opportunities we at our school are doing to provide those rich and empowering specialist learning areas outside our core literacy and numeracy and what an integrated programme can provide.

    Is there more we can do around the structure of our learning pathways, grouping and subsequent timetable to make this happen? Looking forward to exploring this with our team!

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