I was sitting at my kitchen table with a fellow educator a couple of weeks ago. She asked, "What does your planning look like? It probably doesn't start fitness then maths etc".
She was right. It took us a good conversation to work out a flow that we thought could work and certainly a place to start. I particularly remember a question around break times. I felt we should let the kids eat when they were hungry and if they ate everything by 9.30, there was some learning in that. Clare and Tash felt they may need some support to manage timing of physical breaks and eating, and we needed to help bridge the place where they were coming from and a more self-regulated environment. And I agree that kids deciding they needed a physical break in the middle of a learning task wouldn't always be helpful (one of the break choices is a playground outside!) So as with many things, we agreed to come up with a plan that helped develop more active learners and assess at a later date.
We knew that we wanted to develop the six traits of active learning that we had identified, but we also knew that we needed to develop each one in depth to ensure kids were really getting what each one was about. We knew we needed to have a good chunk of time for learners to work on their passion/hobby/project. We knew time for reflection was going to develop this trait which we have found is a more challenging one to go deep with, and our reflection tasks would be part of the assessment that showed whether what we are trying to do or working or not.
So this is how our planning looks for now. Thanks to Tash for coming with the alliterations, we think they're cool and capture exactly what we are trying to do.
We have a part of the day which we call 'Activate'. This is where we have specific tasks to develop an active learning trait (or as in these early weeks, perhaps a range of activities to cover and begin explore all the traits).
Then we have some 'Action'. This is dedicated time where learners are applying their skills as an active learner to their personal project. In the first couple of weeks, we used that time to get experts in to share their passions, and hopefully give some ideas to those who may not be sure what are they want to go deeper in or learn more about. We have a learning process/inquiry style direction we will get each student to work through to capture what they are doing and why. This is still under construction.
'Analyse' is reflection time. Mostly it will be on their blogs, but as Clare mentioned, we are still struggling to get these underway as students can't always remember how to spell their name, their school name, have a dot in the wrong place etc. Remembering where to put a dot, dash or capital letter in your email address, and understanding the symbols associated with the online world is a learning task in itself. But active learners are resilient, and this definitely goes for the oldest learners in the room at these times! Part of what we want to capture during reflection time is how they use AoN learning beyond AoN, and what skills from other learning places do they use here, as well as how they are developing as active learners.
'Afterwards' is how we are supporting students to make explicit links between their learning with us and everywhere else in their lives but without making too much extra work for anyone.
The far right column are the roles of the teachers. Part is actively planing for the different co-teaching strategies that we are using. Another is behaviour support where students who need more support to make good choices for learning have some choices removed from them (such as who they work with) for that block. Each part of the day is a new chance to make great choices.
The order and timing of the day is flexible based on what may be happening, like when visitors are coming in to share their passions. Being able to go with our flow and not worry about lunchtimes, cross grouping, assembly and all those other school - wide events has has been really nice.
We have our planning projected up on the wall, as well as an advance organiser on the whiteboard. We share what's coming up the following week via email (where we also sum up the week that has been and remind them of their 'afterwards' job).
So that's how are planning for now. Having recently read a very interesting blog post from Kath Murdoch, I think we will need to keep thinking about how we actively plan for and capture all that we are trying to achieve. But that is what it's all about. A constantly evolving programme with constantly evolving learners.
And by the way. Tash and Clare were probably right about the more structured break times. We slot in times for eating and moving with kids choosing the order of their break (eat, move, toilet, time on a device, play etc). But gauging by the amount of kids with a sandwich hanging out of their mouths as we start the next learning block, a little support is still required!