A long summer and a hectic start back has prevented any recent updates so I thought I'd quickly summarise where we're up to.
We've developed a new programme, at present in Year 7, but which will eventually grow to take over most of the Key Stage 3 curriculum. It involves project based learning, where learning has a different focus to the normal curriculum. It is different in the following ways:
- Students are assessed on the extent to which they are developing habits of learning
- We have used Guy Claxton's dispositions of learning as the basis for this assessment.
- Where as "Learning to Learn" courses tend to teach specific aspects of learning, this programme provides continued opportunities for the development of good habits of learning. They become the main feature of the curriculum
- We don't necessarily teach the skills required to develop these learning habits, rather, through our curriculum, we provide opportunities to develop the habits and make explicit, or draw out the common features in these habits
- As an example, consider what a teacher does if a student is stuck on a difficult mathematical activity - they help the student. However if a teacher see's a student out of a class without permission, the student is reprimanded. We don't give the development of a sense of responsibility; time keeping or planning skills, the same parity as we do the development of an aspect of the National Curriculum - In this case Maths. This new programme does this.
- Our teachers are called learning facilitators. In the projects we encourage teachers to facilitate learning through regular one to one and team meetings with students.
- We recognise the richness of knowledge in the National Curriculum and facilitate the exploration, discovery and use of this knowledge, with our students. The subject knowledge provides a repository from which we can draw on to add depth to projects.
- We have mapped the National Curriculum and are identifying the aspects of the National Curriculum which involve difficult or abstract concepts which do need direct instruction or teaching
- These aspects are included in projects as seminars. Seminars are sessions where students are taught particular aspects of the National Curriculum which require discrete teaching. Some seminars are mandatory; some require a team member to attend, who will report back; others will provide opportunities for extension.
- In an average session a student may be doing a number of things: planning next steps with team; attending a seminar; carrying out research; working on presentations (these can take a number of forms); reporting back to teams; personal or team reflection; meeting with Learning Facilitator.
- We recognise that students are at different stages of development in terms of personal responsibility, autonomy and independence. For this reason we have introduced graduation stages. Each stage allows students greater freedom in planning and directing their own learning.
- Students must show evidence that they are ready to graduate
- This evidence is logged and is the basis of our assessment. Evidence can be in the form of reflective blogs, witness statements, completed projects, etc.
- The intention is to provide much greater degrees of personalisation in terms of student learning.
Not much more to say at this point. The programme began in Sept 2006. Read below or above for more details