Engaging our community is important! Three questions underpin our curriculum and were weaved into three Parent Focus Sessions facilitated by Kim and myself.
What do we want to learn?
How do we learn best?
How will we know what we have learned?
The session was titled ‘Past V Present’ and was presented by Nina Davis and myself. The aim was to present some major differences in the way we learnt in the past as compared to the present and why there are differences, the skills that we focus on developing at our school and to engage our parents in their learning!
We began the session by asking parents to take a stance on a range of topics. Some included:
- Teachers are responsible for all learning
- Homework is an essential part of learning
- Learning can be measured by a letter or number
- Teachers know all the answers
- Worksheets support learning
Parents moved around the room to show their stance on these topics and in the process demonstrated physical involvement in learning and the use of thinking skills to make decisions. This was just the warm up!!! Nina and I were exhausted from just watching!
We used a Sir Ken Robinson TED Talk as a provocation titled “Schools are killing Creativity”…..we would recommend it for any parent who is interested in learning more about education. Please follow the link below. http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html
Individually, and in groups, parents completed a Harvard University Project Zero Thinking Routine ‘Connect Extend Challenge’ to analyse and discuss the clip. The clip highlighted the need to provide students with opportunities to learn in a variety of ways, to develop individual interests and needs and to promote creativity to the same level as literacy and numeracy.
Some parent questions included:
‘How do you keep all students engaged when students are working in groups?’
‘How do you know what talents your children may have?’
Our focus then moved to the skills that research is suggesting are vital for learning in living in the 21st Century- COLLABORATION and ICT COMMUNICATION. Parents listed the skills they felt were essential for living in the 21st Century as a comparison…….Another Thinking Routine was completed ‘Think Pair Share’ where parents recorded their thinking. Some of their thoughts included ‘Organisation, Self-management, Communication, Literacy and Creativity’
Nina and I then presented the Transdisciplinary skills that our school teaches on a daily basis. These 5 skill sets include THINKING SKILLS, RESEARCH SKILLS, COMMUNICATION SKILLS, SELF MANAGEMENT SKILLS and SOCIAL SKILLS.
It was pointed out that reading, writing and mathematics are still taught explicitly in classrooms but other skills are also recognised and developed.
We concluded the session by highlighting the school’s mission statement and the school’s teaching philosophy (as Nina pointed out…not many school’s actually have either!) We aim to develop students’ gifts and talents through developing their Learner Profile and attitudes. We do this at a ground level by developing the skills they are going to need to be successful in any area they choose. Inquiry style teaching that our school believes in allows creativity and provides a format to teach reading, writing and mathematics in a real and interesting way.
We had a live chat room on for the session and parents were encouraged to leave questions, comments and ideas during and after the session. Some of the posts included: ‘How are these skills assessed in the classroom?’ ‘How can I help to develop these skills at home?’ ‘Thanks for an informative session ….