Thursday, 23 April 2015

Our students have their say about our ELS's. Read their responses to the question: What has gone well for you with your learning in Term 1?

Here is the raw student data from the online survey that our students (Yr 5-8) completed independently at the end of nine weeks of learning in our Engaging Learning Spaces (ELS's). These are their responses to the first question on the survey. They were asked to respond as succinctly as possibly using bullet points to the following question:

What has gone well for you with your learning in term 1?

·        Projects
·        independent learning time
·        working together
·        self managing to have more responsibility
·        the hub time has helped by mixing with other people
·        I think that the inquiry was a good look at learning to experience the real thing
·        I feel that I am learning a lot of new skills for maths and I have also so enjoyed our inquiry outing (Steampunk)
·        I have improved in my reading and writing which I am very happy with
·        getting my full license so that i can work in the hall way or anywhere i want that will fit in with my learning
·        These are some positive aspects of this new learning environment:
- It enables us to work with different age groups
- It helps us understand how different people think
- introduces us into class room changes
- and many other great opportunities.
·        I have really enjoyed being part of the school council.
·        i have enjoyed being able to go to the gym and start to construct a project out of the experience.
·        I learned a lot about the structure in writing and about how to create similes, metaphors and personification into a piece of writing.
·        Using devices for learning.
·        Having independent learning time.
·        Having the choice of being in any room (quiet room or discussion room)
·        I like having hubs and working in different classrooms for different subjects.
·        I like working with different students and teachers because it helps a little with my confidence and I find that I work well with different students.
·        Week goals, PC work, maths, reading, writing, hub time, Leadership groups, ECB's (Early Childhood Buddies) and different teachers.
·        new learning with device
·        new learning in a new environment
·        different learning from different teachers
·        new way to learn
·        able to manage your own time table
·        more choice in choosing where you sit
·        teaching us to use responsible choices and learning in the right atmosphere
·        You know what you have to strive for
·        get to know other people from different years
·        Having three teachers
·        I enjoy the new environment
·        Having three teachers
·        Devices
·        Hubs
·        licences
·        Standers (leaners )
·        Outings for inquiry
·        I have liked our week goals and our hub time.
·        having more help with everything because we basically have 3 teachers.
·        having the licenses to know where are in our learning and its a goal to get to a higher licence and we get rewarded.
·        its great having technology because we learn new skills.
·         Working by myself without any distractions
·        Open doors
·        Outings
·         Researching
·        Maths
·        Workshops
·        Working with different people
·        Planning
·        workshop and the working space
·         you have weekly goals do within a week.
·        you get to use technology to use to type up your work that is much faster than writing in a book.
·        Silent places to learn
·        Ability to do stuff at home
·        For me Hub time has helped not only me with my learning but others too because I get to interact with the younger ones and to support them when they need it.
·        Going out for games has helped me with my learning so that I will have some energy and that when I come back from the game I will be refreshed and ready to learn and to not get derailed.
·        Looking at the timetable in the morning after prayers has helped me with my learning because it helps me know where and what time I have to go for different workshops and also shows the teacher I manage my learning
·        New environment is more like high-school
·        Having three teachers
·        Higher standards/expectations
·        Trips for inquiry time
·         Our workshops in every subject have been fun especially maths has been much different and i like that. Also i like using mathletics i know we had it last year but we didn't use it as often. 
·         I am more confident on my place value and my equal addition
·        I have learnt how to do personification in my writing so its more detailed.
·        I have learnt that i should be exercise for 60 minutes everyday.
·        working on the devices
·        helping others in maths
·        moving up to high levels in reading
·        listening to who is talking like a teacher and a friend
·        working together as a class
·        supporting others
·        working on the leaners
·        being happy at writing and reading
·        learning hubs
·        device time
·        freedom
·        more challenges
·        I have made new friends at this new school. I like the blog and technology stuff because I haven’t used technology for learning before. Everything is different such as new devices, new school and new country. What I like about this school is that we don't have a specific spot to sit, I like to sit in the corridor.
·        I have loved doing our inquiry and our research.
·        I have loved working with the bigger kids because we have been given bigger tasks so we can stretch our abilities.
·        I also have loved having the Learner licenses because it's something that you have to work at.
·        Workshops and learning from the older kids and having week goals.
·        The workshops and working upstairs. Mr McEvoy's group.
·        A new teacher, my reading, having workshops and homeroom time. Working with other classes.
·        Being able to work in different places
·        I enjoyed working with the year 8's and year 7's
·        the hub system
·        having more than 1 teacher
·        new friends
·        be able to work in different places
·        getting to work with the year 7&8
·        working with yr. 7&8
·        love how we can have work shops
·        stepping up in our roles
·        having a goal to get to the top of the license
·        using computers for work
·         learning more about Jesus and St Dominic
·        workshops (working on things I have to know)
·        using blogs
·         moving to this school
·         making new friends
·        Having the choice of working in different rooms not just one.
·        Having different teachers- you learn more, not just from one teacher.
·        having learner licenses because it helps me to work towards something
·         I like to work with different teachers
·         work shops
·        working with year 7s and 8
·        learning about St Dominic and Jesus and filming my all about me
·        math workshops
·        meeting new people
·        That we can work with the year 7s and 8s. Being on the school council and full license.
·        The workshops and having three teachers.

What conclusions can we make from these responses ? Please share your thoughts and comments.

How can OPENING up our school to visitors help us learn and grow ?

Our very first visitors to our open, engaging learning spaces (ELS's) have been and gone.
But that's not where the learning stops.
Having a growth mind set attitude means actively reflecting on events through a learning lens. This helps to reveal the underlying new learning that can stimulate and strengthen our capacity for further growth.
Before our visitors went and explored our ELS's, they were asked to record at least one thing that they hoped to learn from the visit. 

These 'wonderings'  were incorporated into a google document that was shared with our staff. Our staff actively reflected on their own learning by contributing their responses to this informative document (see screenshotsbelow). The very process of  having to articulate responses connected to our ELS's in relation to specific questions from our visitors was an authentic, reflective learning opportunity for our staff.
Similarly, through our visitors questioning our children, our children had to authentically articulate their learning processes. Immediately this brings to mind, the potential challenge for some of our children to prepare a purposeful learning project that captures the essence of our ELS's in a succinct presentation for future visitors. I will follow this up before our next visitors are due in a couple of week's time.
Our ELS's are not only engaging learning spaces for our children but they are engaging for our adult learners too. Teachers and children have designed them together. They are still evolving and changing in response to individual and group learning needs. The ELS's are a living school wide inquiry that is constantly adjusting and developing to include and respond to learning and growth for the whole school community. Such visits that generate rich discussions for students and staff can only contribute positively to our open, growth mindset community. Providing opportunities for students and parents from other schools to be included in such visits could be the magical key to unlocking the door to future authentic growth and change across the educational sector.
Thinking about the future ? A thought provoking article in Mind Shift by author David Price is well worth a read What will education look like in our more open future ?

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Going OPEN one year anniversary Ch 8

Almost twelve months has passed since : 
Meanwhile, in the course of applying the principles of OPEN within the context of our school and community, creative, engaging, challenging CHANGE is happening. 
Screenshot Image reference: Professional Renewal Centre
During the past few years, we have developed our future focused pedagogical culture, trapped within the chrysalis of a traditional school structure. 

This year, we have triumphantly emerged out of the chrysallis into our Engaging Learning Spaces (ELS's) and have become totally OPEN in all that we do.
We have not relocated into a new modern learning building. Inspired by @ DavidPriceOBE and @ timl27 (read more here) we have been creative within our existing spaces. 
Through dedicating some 'free time' for staff  (no staff meetings) it has allowed staff a chance to find some "sacred space" (Duignan, 2008). It is through this downtime that  staff authenticity, creativity, innovation and passion has found room to flourish.
We are about to commence our second term in our ELS's and already have staff from two schools keen to visit and see our ELS's in action.

I am only part way through reviewing Chapter 8 of the nine chapter book OPEN. Spending almost twelve months reviewing this book has been an ongoing learning opportunity. "Stretching out" my responses to this book has meant that I have the benefit of a never ending read. Maybe I will have to tweet David @ DavidPriceOBE and ask him to write a sequel. Instead, I need to keep reading his engaged learning blogposts

Here are just a few highlights from Chapter 8:
On page 166 Price questions the value of the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessments) in an educational world where knowledge transmission is being replaced by key competencies.
Heng Swee Keat's (Singapore's Minister of Education since 2011 - I noticed he has a Facebook fanpage with almost 19,000 likes ) agrees and shares a list of 5 traits of the 21st  century teacher  -
1. Ethical Educator
2.Competent professional
3,Collaborative learner
4. Transformational leader
5. Community builder

Price shares engaging details about the following innovative schools. 
School of Communication Arts 2.0. London

Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning (SCIL)

These are a must read. I would love to plan a staff visit to a boot camp at SCIL  Stephen Harris @Stephen_H is the principal of Northern Beaches Christian School and Founding Director of SCIL.  Ann Knock @AnneKnock is an inspirational professional leader on the team. Both leaders share their skills on Twitter.
There is much more in this chapter, some of it I have referred to here. I am not the only local person reading OPEN. Colleagues across New Zealand have also been reflecting on it's content as well as local members in our community. 

A message for David Price from Gloria Hurst in Oamaru

News about going OPEN is slowly spreading through Oamaru. Gloria Hurst, a passionate community educator, who connected with our school through the Whitestone Learning and Change network and the Community Gardens sums it all up here:

"Oamaru is a small town learning fast about connecting,sharing and collaboration.
We are seeing this change of attitude within families,schools and businesses.
Even council is understanding the benefits of working alongside community.
There appears to be a critical mass going OPEN.
It is exhilarating and magical to live in a connected town.
Your book,OPEN has reinforced what we are experiencing.
The timing was perfect .
As we share it with others, awareness grows.
Thank you David for putting this ‘dynamic energy’ into words.
Love to have you visit OPEN OAMARU one day.
Your philosophies are in action here!"

Reflections before we welcome our first visitors to our ELS's

Over the next two days we will have twelve teachers from St Joseph's in Timaru visiting our Engaging Learning Spaces (ELS's). 

Our ELS's have been designed by the staff, with the students to proactively respond to our strategic goal "To engage every student in deep learning for success" (St Joseph's Oamaru Strategic Plan).

Determined not to let the fact that plans to modernise our traditional school building simply aren't an immediate reality for our Catholic diocese, we decided to be creative and innovative with our existing spaces. Inspired by a visit to Myross Bush School where Tim Lovelock and his team have enabled team teaching to happen in single cell classrooms, we have worked hard to redesign our school layout to match our modern pedagogical practices. As our ELS's evolve, feedback from our community after ten weeks is already showing that we are successfully bringing our strategic goal vibrantly alive in new and challenging ways.

We are definitely beginning to show that we are much more than simply a "school". We are beginning to reflect a "Learning Commons" (Price 2013). We see our school as part of its community that welcomes mentors, experts and families into its learning spaces; is radically transparent and freely shares its expertise with others and stimulates conversations about learning with the widest target audiences. Learning spaces welcome the disruption of visitors, because, as Stephen Harris (principal  Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning SCIL) says, "the more students have to articulate their learning, the more they live it " (Price, 2013,p.186).

"Modern learning environments (MLE's) can support teaching as inquiry better than single-cell classrooms. Working in an open, flexible learning environment where inquiries are shared, interventions devised collaboratively and reflections based on both self and peer observations, leads to a more robust, continuously improving community of practice " (Osborne, 2013).

Our ELS's are not MLE's but we believe that they offer similar benefits to MLE's. Our ELS's are continually evolving. Just as inquiries evolve, our whole learning commons is a living inquiry where students, staff and families are the researchers and developers continually reflecting on actions, resources and plans to bring learning alive for all participants.

We are looking forward to welcoming our visitors and sharing our ELS's as we extend our learning relationships beyond the boundaries of our school walls.