Day 4

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Today kicked off with a Professional Learning session, reflecting on the fair and with an input from the University of Auckland on a digital learning project.

Once school started, we spent the day in Hubs 5,8 and 9.  The hub is a big learning space for around 100 children, with various teaching spaces available.  There are quiet areas which have doors, as do some temathsaching rooms (with full length windows), however teaching spaces vary around the school, and around each hub.  As teachers use MacBooks, they can access any display screen by connecting to Apple TV.  This means that teaching spaces aren’t fixed, but around the room are various whiteboards or TV monitors which teachers can use if they are available.  Children gather round when the teacher is using the screen to model, and then choose their learning space during independent learning.  Children have some choice as to where they go, however if they are not learning well then the teacher makes them move to a more supervised space.

IMG_4333Today was a much more routine day, in that there were lessons of reading, writing and maths.  This brought a greater insight into the way in which the learning is designed around the vision principles.  The learning sequence (build knowledge, make meaning, apply understanding) is the same for all subjects, and the learner qualities are what the learners must use in all subjects.  For example, in a maths lesson children used their prior learning on fractions to help them ‘make meaning’ solving problems.  In reading, children ‘brought what they know’ (activated prior knowledge) before attempting more higher order skills such as predicting and summarising.

A thing that strikes out is that there are always individual activities for the children to do, whilst the teacher does guided work with specific groups of learners.  A lot of this is might be games, or online activities; most things for which achievement might not be recorded in any way.  A question might be how this model of lesson delivery would be assessed using a traditional (Ofsted?) definition of an outstanding lesson.  The teacher certainly ensures ‘shift happens’ during their input and subsequent to it (through formative assessment during and after the lesson), with other activities reinforcing and consolidating other important knowledge.

One big thing which has stood out, is how technology really assists the learning process because of the facility it provides.  Teachers are, however, adamant that the devices are only that: and that what they do can also be achieved using more traditional paper and pen methods, although technology saves so much time.

Noticeably, there is focus on feedback, rather than marking. Children’s written work is checked and spellings corrected, but feedback is given to them directly, rather than through written comments.  When they have been using Chromebooks, or iPads, teachers link children’s files with their progression documents, to evidence their attainment – but written comments on the files are short.  The next steps in a child’s learning are reflective of the formative assessment of their last piece of work.  Time is spent more on preparing tomorrow’s lesson to close the gap, than doing so through commenting on today’s learning.  On the first day, Sarah Martin told us that marking is only useful when it is done in the child’s presence.  This is consistent throughout the school, and speaking with teachers today they really value providing high quality feedback during inputs and are quite confident in explaining the low effect that occurs from marking work away from the learner.


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