Day 8: Final Day

We can’t quite believe it’s been the last day for us at Stonefields.  These last two weeks have been such an amazing experience.  Today’s post will be about our learning from today, and we will post an update providing a summary and overall reflection of our experience at some point over the weekend.

Today was Friday so that mean that the whole school were in their breakthrough learning.  Watching their progression from last week, the children have now started to build knowledge.  We were in the fortunate position to watch break through happen across the school, and the progression between the hubs was very evident – in the complexity of the learning and in the independence.  There is definitely a sense of break through being a practice or independent application of the learning process.  Moreover, break through is the opportunity for children to learn how to follow their passions and feel that their passions are valued.

There are some key stand out points of learning from today.

Firstly, breakthrough is, on the surface, quite reminiscent of ‘project’ learning.  However, the big and critical difference, is that breakthrough follows the same learning process as all other parts of learning – as well as relying on the core competencies (reading, writing, maths and learner qualities). This means that children are moving beyond surface level knowledge in their understanding of their passions.  It made me reflect on my own class, where some children are inspired to extend their knowledge at home.  Often, this is a handwritten copy of information from Wikipedia.  I shower these children with praise for having a zest for learning, but now I wonder how much more productively their zest could be developed if I could provide them with a scaffold to really gain a deeper understanding.  Breakthrough, because of the way the core competencies are taught, provides this scaffold.

Another key part of breakthrough, is the way that teachers develop children’s metacognition.  This is more apparent than in other lessons, because there is less teacher led work.  In Y2/3, the teachers were asking the children to reflect on their learning needs and reason as to which break through would offer the best learning opportunities.  The children had to consider which breakthroughs had led to the most learning and why, and use this knowledge to help them select their next piece of learning.  Whilst nearly every child explains that breakthrough is one of their favourite things about Stonefields, it certainly is not just free time.  (In breakthrough, children are able to select areas such as science, music, art, crafts etc and then generate ideas for specific learning goals.)

Some of the other skills developed during breakthrough are absolutely vital and applicable to future life.  In Y2/3 again, children had to reason with themselves and each other about the most beneficial break through.  They had to research their ideas and then persuasively pitch these ideas to their groups.

Breakthrough is like letting ‘real life’ in to the hub in that it is the practice time for life long learning, and how children are doing on their journey to making the learner qualities habitual.  As real life is not plain sailing, issues do arise – such as lack of resources to pursue particular ideas, or conflict between children about which idea to follow (as not all ideas can be followed at once).  These are used as opportunities by teachers to model how to resolve these issues in an adult and respectable manner.

At first, I wondered about the value of breakthrough, linking it to project based learning.  As Hattie’s research ranks this as having a low effect size (0.31) I wondered why it was so popular at Stonefields.  However, because of the structured approach, the metacognitive development and the collaboration, it is easy to see why it is such a valuable part of the Stonefields vision.

The day was ended by an amazing assembly.  It started quite remarkably as the whole school sang the beautiful national anthem in Maori and then in EnglisDifferent groups from across the school showcased different talents – a Pasifika dance routine from Hubs 1/ +2, a whole Hub 5 performance of The Lion Sleeps Tonight from Reception + Y1, a rock group singing and performing ‘Grenade’ by Bruno Mars from Hub 3 (Y6/7/8).  Around 40 children received certificates, which all had links in the vision.  This meant that children received certificates for when they had been caught being good for any of the learner qualities, or learning process, or for being respectful.  The assembly lasted 45 minutes, and felt really special. Some parents had been invited because their children were receiving certificates or performing.   Assemblies only happen 3 times a term.  This is a school decision based on the amount of time over the year which assemblies take up.  The effort has gone into quality rather than quantity.  Being a part of the assembly was a tremendous end to our learning experience.  Stonefields is an awesome place full of very special and inspirational people.

One thought on “Day 8: Final Day

  1. A very special day indeed, Marc + Sam. So fitting, I think, that your time in Stonefields should finish with all of this on show. I use the word ‘show’ advisedly. I think of the days (alas, many moons ago) when my two girls used to say that it was ‘Chantelle’ today in school. It did take a while before I realized they were actually saying ‘Show and Tell’ – an opportunity to share something with the rest of the class that they are particularly proud of. The Stonefields version of ‘Chantelle’ allows for individual demonstration of depth of learning and its application; application around an area of personal interest. That the value in this is extended to collaborative conversations around breakthrough evaluation and its use feeding forward engenders the forming of learning dispositions or habits of mind highlighted by those, such as the Expansive Education Network (University of Winchester), advocating the teaching of learners for the real world.

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