It's been nearly a month since our first round of AoN has finished. In that time, we have been reflecting as AoN teachers, as well as collecting feedback from the teachers whose students were at AoN, network principals and AoN whānau. There's probably a post in all that so I won't say too much except there are many things we are pleased with, and plenty of things to work on.
However, it seems timely before we move on to go back and see if I can answer any of my initial wonderings.
? Is 14 weeks enough time, one day per week, to build on/extend capability in learners to use their active learning skills more independently?
The time-frame certainly allowed to us all to really unpack and understand the active learning traits and identify when we used them. It was enough time to learn about some new interests through the immersion workshops, then choose, plan and learn about a something through the project and then reflect on learning. There wasn't quite enough time for most of our learners to fully action their new learning (skills, knowledge) into their community, and then reflect on how this felt. I wondered if two terms would have been preferable and I think around 18 weeks would be ideal.
With many learners having some days off, few if any, had all the 14 days. This, especially towards the end, proved to be a challenge. Recent evaluation data shows that despite this, there are many examples of learners developing their active learning skills as well as transferring their learning and projects beyond AoN.
? Will learners and home teachers be able to identify any impact focused thinking about being an active learner has on reading, writing, and maths data?
There has been some informal feedback that some students have raised achievement in some of these areas (particularly literacy). The people sharing with us directly linked this improvement to some of the work their students had done at AoN.
Time will tell. Follow up with students through the second half of the year may give us some more of an idea about impact on achievement. Continuing to build on "what active learners do" back in class would certainly support this impact.
? Will there be any alternative venues (if we choose to change venues) in Lower Hutt that have broadband capability for 60 people that isn't a school and available for a term and a half lease? This has been a major hurdle.
Broadband has continued to be an issue, not all day but certainly for parts of the day. Our current venue has a lot of benefits with flexibility of learning areas to work in, including a kitchen, and the students have told us they have really liked being "off site" and not working at a school.
On the wish list would be all RoL has to offer, plus a bit more outdoor space and UFB.
An added benefit is we have held network meetings there which has made RoL feel even more like 'our network place'.
? What does curriculum coverage look like in a future focused setting? Is there any 'must have' knowledge? Does any school have a curriculum and planning that doesn't include any AOs but only values/KCs? Were the learners disadvantaged?
I cannot answer this question yet. And in fact, after listening to Valeria Hannon talk about some global themes, reading Jane Gilbert's work on how we need to use knowledge and not just acquire it, and as I am currently dipping into Ken Robinson's book 'Creative Schools' discussing how we prepare our learners, I'm even more sure there are no key bits of knowledge our kids must have as they exit primary school. But rather, I feel my job is support our learners to understand and live the vision at the heart of our curriculum: "to be confident, connected, actively involved, and lifelong learners."
Going forward, what are some new wonderings?
? What does quality content look like for our learners? Although I believe students having time and space to inquire into their passions, and explicitly developing the skills to be active are vital, I do not believe this is all that a school day/week/year should look like. I'm interested in PBL, using an inquiry approach, incorporating ideas such an environmental issues, and globalisation, as well as other things, as a way of preparing our learners for life. I really like the way these TED Talks about students in The Bronx and in India show students using their learning TODAY to make their lives better. This is usually the intent in my class, but I know this could be done better. But I do think it means letting go of coverage. And here we are, back at my original wondering of what is essential knowledge. All I know is, learning needs to be seen as usable and relevant today.
What does reporting look like if content is not the star of the show with teachers as the judging panel? Students writing their own reports? Identifying the best evidence to reflect their learning? It seems this is more evolved in many schools and it is a regular tweak rather than a revolution; a shift in balance. It would be exciting to see even more student voice in reporting at the end of AoN and something we are discussing for this round.
Finally. I thought it would be fun to sign off with some of the unexpected highlights of AoN.
- Co-teaching means some one has my back: checking my punctuation, challenging my thinking, showing me a new way to do things, showing me how putting thought into areas I hadn't 'valued' pays off. It's fun doing something new and very scary, with a team.
- Seeing our AoN kids when out and about: our class just got bigger and it is very cool. Also, kids like laughing yoga as much as we do.
- Being connected to educators all around the place: what a sensational profession. We have really appreciated the collegial support from near and far as we entered into and proceed with AoN.
- Being able to realise a dream: no wonder there are so many cheesy movies about it. It's awesome. Being able to realise a dream with the support of many: awesome with a capital 'O'.