Last week I outlined our review of the VAS local curriculum and asked for parents’ views. Thank you to all of you who responded. Your thoughts were very constructive and considered and will be taken into consideration.
Whilst we need an overview in order to set direction for the curriculum, there needs to be a place for teachers to seize a moment and run with it. In the past two weeks we have perfect examples of a responsive curriculum with teachers finding something which they know will inspire deep learning for their children.
A year 4 class really hooked into the notion that kakapo are on the endangered species list. They used their inquiry skills to research not only kakapo and their habitat but also which predators are causing the numbers of kakapo to dwindle. They wrote information reports. They brainstormed ways they could help and critically examined each suggestion to decide whether it was feasible or not. They narrowed down their options, then each child wrote a letter to me asking if they could organise a schoolwide event to raise awareness and money to go towards saving the kakapo.
I read their letters and went back to them to give permission to involve the school in their fundraising. They had to organise the events, communicate with the rest of the school as well as parents, run the events, collect and count the money. The whole class had to choose which of the saving the kakapo options they would support, so in groups, the children made presentations to persuade the rest of the class to choose their option. The class then chose the best presentation and from that they chose their support option.
Oh my goodness, what deep learning happening – inquiry, research skills, different genres of writing, oral language, visual language, maths, as well as the ‘soft skills’ of collaboration, negotiation, critical thinking, managing self, listening, justifying, respecting others’ opinions and more.
Then this week, a year 2 teacher arranged for fertilised eggs to be delivered along with an incubator and a brooder box. The children watched as the process of eggs hatching unfolded in front of them. As above, deep learning has been happening over the past three days with children observing, questioning, inquiring, counting, predicting, writing, visual art. Of course, we have all been fascinated and lots of teachers as well as children from other classes have been in to see the chicks. Have a look at some of the children’s writing and check the newsletter again on Friday to watch a video which will be added then.
These are just two examples of deep learning, there is also much learning happening across the school. A boy came to my office yesterday to share his learning about bridges and as I walked through classrooms all of the children I spoke with were clearly able to articulate what they were learning, not just what they were doing.
As we develop our local curriculum, it is vital that we ensure that there is room for teachers to be responsive to children’s interests through giving them authentic contexts in which to learn.
Reporting to Parents Survey
Thanks to all of you who completed the survey. We also surveyed years 4 – 6 children as well as teachers. The reporting to parents team has started analysing all the responses and once we have identified any themes, we will re-evaluate the new reporting to parents system to ensure it is useful for parents. One comment from a child stood out for us, “sharing it (my learning) makes my parents feel proud’.