Friday, February 20, 2009

A Great Start to the Year

I called in at Randwick School on Thursday to see how they were going with Discovery Time. The junior school of three classes started DT at the beginning of the year and this was just their third session - and wow what a session! It absolutely blew me away!

As I walked across the playground at 9.00 (the whole school was in the hall doing Jump Jam) I could see they were well prepared and making the most of the fine weather. Outside under the trees were two water trays, the woodwork bench and painting easels all set up and ready to go.

As I wandered through the classrooms I could see that they were well prepared for students to manage their own learning. All the things that students could possibly want to use were readily available and well organised. The rooms were set up to foster independence and creativity.

As the teachers and students came in, they gathered in one class for the introduction to the session - focus on routines and boundaries. They quickly covered the essentials of:
  • managing the painting (a new system for hanging up pictures).
  • keeping things in their designated areas (talked about the soggy dough that had ended up in the water tray last time).
  • deciding how many students could successfully work at the water troughs.
  • introducing the activities available

The most awsome session followed with eveyone engaged in purposeful learning. The teachers and two helpers were sooooo skilled at standing back and following the childrens lead. They watched and listened to what the kids were trying to do and asked questions to explore and extend their thinking.

"Tell me what's happening here?"

"What are you trying to do?"

"How might you do that?"

"Why do you think that happened?"

"Can I do anything to help?"

"Is there anything else you need?"

The woodwork bench with various shaped pieces of wood and nails with good big flat heads was popular and involved intense concentration. Loved the way that helper Mark held the nail with pliers whilst the kid bashed it in!

The two water trays with a bit of pvc guttering was between them was an absolute winner. The oral language, turn taking and negotiation that went on whilst trying to get the water to flow uphill... were a joy to watch.

But the most wonderful aspect was that when these teachers had their first session the previous week they were disappointed with the results. It was their reflection, problem solving skills and determination to make it work that produced an absolutely amazing session.

Next time I'll stay for the wrap up at the end and report back on that...

If other people are coming away from sessions just buzzing with excitement please add a comment and let us all know what you are doing.

Oops forgot to mention the Digi Kid! At each session a senior student comes in to take photos and show the little ones how to use the camera - great stuff!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Bruce Hammond

We've just had our teacher only day with Bruce Hammond. Fantastic! Provided a vision of where we can head with the new curriculum... and yes Discovery Time fits right in!

  • Allowing students to direct their own learning.
  • Providing opportunities for 'hands on' experiential learning.
  • Educating the 'whole child' - social / emotional, physical and cognitive - finding the 'spark' in each student.
  • Understanding the importance of play and exploration in making learning connections.
  • Encouraging creativity.

All part of the new vision for education - but is it new? Suddenly one starts to feel somewhat old! Haven't we been here before? References to Sylvia Ashton Warner, Elwyn S Richardson and of course Dewey and Vygotsky. Comforting somehow that what was for a time lost, has been found again. Roll on the new year!

Check out Bruce's website

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Children's Book Shop - Kilbirnie

If you are stocking up your library book shelves then this is a wonderful place to visit.
Our book, "Discovery Time. Developing key competencies through activity-based, child- directed learning" is available at the Children's Bookshop.