Sunday, February 23, 2014

Building an Airplane (out of 21st Century transparent materials) While We Fly It

At this Friday morning's staff Professional Learning session Cindy built on the building-the-airplane-while-we-fly-it metaphor by introducing the concept  of  transparent 21st century materials to highlight the openness to scrutiny and critique we are embracing. It was her introduction to teaching-as-inquiry in an environment where we want both learning and teaching to be visible.

Cindy leading PL (with a great T-shirt!)
Right from Cindy's start and then throughout the session I constantly heard colleagues talking about the importance of teaching inquiry focusing on the effectiveness of our practice on student learning, that the focus is directed by student learning needs and not on teacher-determined goals. What an awesome environment!

It was a great way to (almost) end the first week of our 'normal' timetable. This week has been the first week of students running through their full timetable. On Monday students participated in their Big Learning Module, on Tuesday they worked on their Big Project which is focused on the move into our building, on Wednesday they started with a SPIN Module and followed up with a Small Module, on Thursday they completed 3 SPIN Modules and on Friday completed another Small Module. As well, each day they spent time in their Learning Hubs.

Covering the curriculum through Specialised Learning Modules rather than single subjects is a major point of difference between us and other schools. 

Specialised Learning Modules:
·    The Big Learning Module (BLM) represents a day long module made up of three curriculum areas and teachers working together to present an integrated daylong module
·    The Small Learning Modules (SLM) is a two session module that is made up of two learning areas and two teachers working together to lead an integrated module 
·     The Special Interest (SPIN) is a single session module that has a singular curriculum focus and is led by one teacher. 

All modules are designed to relate a term long theme (Term One is Identity). Students select modules with support of their Learning Coaches to ensure curriculum coverage is achieved. In future, when we send information home about future modules we will clarify which curriculum areas are being focused on within each module.

Sally has just posted on her blog how a single subject like PE is present within such a curriculum structure.

Big Project
Our introduction to Big Projects is a mini project on making our move into our new building a special occasion. Students are being introduced to the key stages of successful project work while carrying out this mini project.

You can follow this link to a great YouTube clip posted by Sarah which explains the key stages of Big Projects:

Every day I farewell our students as they leave the building and ask them all to give feedback by raising, holding horizontal or pointing their thumbs downwards. It's the best part of my day as all students leave with at least one, often 2, thumbs in the air. They are loving their school days at the moment (long may it last!) and I reckon a big part of it is the fact that no one day is structured as any other day in the week. I love our timetable!

This morning at 6am several of te staff, BOT, students, parents and wider whanau gathered at the building for dawn karakia and a blessing throughout the building. It was a very special occasion which has cleared the way for us to move in, cemented our relationship with local iwi and was pwerful partnership in action. I'm really enjoying how important aspects of tikanga are comfortably becoming part of how our school operates. 

Nga mihi ki te kaumatua, Glenn. Nga mihi hoki ki nga kuia, Te Rongopao me Te Kahui Iti.

And then we threw our doors open from 10am until 1pm for the community to wander through and view our building. Our students acted as wonderful volunteer hosts and excelled in this role. More than a thousand wandered through and shared in our excitement. I got the last to leave just after 2pm!

The countdown is on as we spend one more week at Hobsonville Point Primary School before moving into our own building on March 3. And we've got Athletics Sports this Thursday!

The excitement keeps coming! 

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