Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Three Day Wananga

Last week we had a great learning time at our school when we held our first ever Three Day Wananga. This involved suspending our timetable for three days while students worked in multi age learning teams to complete a range of projects. We operated this within our House System to both generate more House Spirit and to make the organisation manageable.

Four weeks ago we held a Teacher Only Day to which students were invited (about 30 turned up!) when teachers decided on the learning projects they would offer. We then held House meetings and explained the projects to the kids who then selected which one they wanted to do. The House Leaders did a great job in running this process. Each House had a budget of $1000 to allocate as they saw fit.

On the Friday before staff had time together at our staff meeting and a further House meeting was held. It then kicked off over Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of the following week.

The projects included The Amazing Race, Beach Conservation, Reporting Events, Healthy Living and Fitness, T Shirt Design, Graffiti Art, Carved Mural, Mucking In On the Marae, Our Land Our Environment, Fitness Freaks, Life and Death For The Bush, Pests and Plants, Opo Col On Air, NZ's Next Top Shakespeare, Mountain Bike Track Clearing, News Broadcasts, Creating a School Sculpture, Boot Camp, Traditional Food Processes, Documentary of Katherine Mansfield, and Stories in Fabric.

We did a lot of learning process and structure wise. In the future we would have a set interval and lunch time as by making it flexible there were too many gaps in the fence for kids to move through. We would also have a tutor each morning to get an accurate attendance check. Unfortunately the Ministry of Education chose this week to do the nation-wide attendance survey! Normally our kids are not allowed off site at breaks, but with so many groups operating in and out of school this was impossible to enforce so we would have to think about that in the future. Also, because of the practical nature of many of the activities mufti was the best solution.

I have finished analysing the evaluations made by staff and have only partially completed the evaluations collected from 200 of our students (36%). The staff evaluations showed that 50% believed there was enough time given to prepare, 50% believed they were given enough guidance and support, 80% believed they were well-prepared, 86% believed there project was a valid learning experience, 97% believed their students largely responded positively, 92% believed they covered more than one Key Competency, and 81% believed they achieved their planned outcomes. I wonder if we would achieve these levels if we surveyed our traditional way of teaching and learning!

Staff have made suggestions for enhancing this programme and also made many positive comments supporting this type of learning including: high levels of student engagement, great student-student and teacher-student relationships formed, seeing students who often appear disinterested at school truly engaged in their activities, students achieved beyond expectations, it was a time of real discovery for me, senior students working as role models with juniors.

The big question is where to from here?

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