Report writing time is always a time to groan, complain about your loss of weekends, eat copious amounts of chocolate and lollies and CREATE. I find the process of writing reports and reflecting on student learning seems to provide a level of insight that promotes new thinking. Though I do wonder sometimes if the new thinking comes from overdosing on chocolate.
This weekend whilst writing reports and thinking about where we are heading for term three – the big question came to me. Why are we doing the planning, why aren’t we asking the students what they think we should be learning?
I gave this concept some more thought – (anything to avoid writing another report) and sent an e-mail off to my teaching colleague asking what he thought.
The answer came back – great idea, let’s give it a go.
So in the last week of term when the teachers in each area of the school are released for a day to plan together, we are actually going to work with our students to plan the term three curriculum program.
How many students will choose to be involved? – we don’t know yet
What will it look like? – we are not sure yet
How will it go? – we have no idea
What we do know ……
- We want our students to own their learning – how can you own your learning if you are not responsible for it.
- We want our students to be engaged – how can you be engaged if someone else makes all the decisions
- We want our students to know how it feels to make mistakes, be uncomfortable and not be in control – therefore we need to put ourselves in the same situation
- We want our students to take risks and be challenged – fair enough that we do the same
In the last week of this term we will break out the VELS writing curriculum documents, the school two year Integrated Studies planner and work with our students to plan the direction for writing and our environment studies for term three.
Why not all curriculum areas – because we are not ready to throw away the floaties yet.
Having just spent 3 days on camp with our grade 5/6 students, I had lots of opportunties for reflection of a different sort as I watched our students collaborate, communicate, create and challenge themselves and each other all in the great outdoors.
As I watched & listened:
- the Grade 6 boys persist at the rock climbing wall because the only one to achieve initial success was the smallest Grade 5 girl
- students spending hours (minutes) together investigating seaweed on the beach, working together to dig holes and build sand castles, create their own rules for beach soccer, stand at the water’s edge and have in depth discussions about the waves
- students challenge themselves to perform in front of the group, engage in theatre sports, sing with joy around the campfire
- students celebrate their successes and the physical and mental challenges they overcame
I wondered …. how do we get more of that in our learning back at school.
How can we make sure we set up the same opportunities for our students to …… investigate areas of interest, explore ideas in depth, challenge themselves to achieve beyond expectation, encourage and support each other in risk taking. How do we bring the camp into the classroom?
We (my teaching partner and I) are already exploring many of these questions – but we can do it better.
I am currently participating in PLPConnectU, one of our group members asked the question “I wonder how long it will take for us to realise that students no longer need teachers, but rather they need leaders and guides in building their resilience, knowledge and skills to embrace life of tomorrow?” This question really resonates with me – yes they do need leaders and guides (this is a role I played so much more effectively on camp)
So in the midst of report writing, assessment, student led conferences …. we will be thinking about how can we be leaders and guides. What do we need to do differently? How can we provide an environment that promotes challenge, risk taking and learning?
I wonder what would happen if next term we ask our students what they need to learn? And then we supported them to learn it? No naplan, no testing, no reporting – the perfect term to jump off the deep end and see what happens. Might just need to invest in a good pair of floaties.