Active Learning Stories

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Students came to our professional learning session today to share their stories. Active learning is a project based student centred model of learning that the school has embraced this year for the first time. The launch was earlier in the year and here’s a post that captures some of what happened on day one. The students today shared their projects and jounryes including:

  • 3D Printing – how could we incorporate 3D printing into the curriculum at Newlands College?
  • Start a brewing company – what does it take? How do we do it?
  • Tackling Student Stress – building resources to help assist struggling students.
  • Automotive design – How have cars become more fuel efficient?
  • Starting a sign language class to help connect with the deaf students – A goal to add sign language to the curriculum in the future.

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The learning that was evident in the stories that were shared was powerful. Particularly as the stories were student driven and from the students own passions and not guided by any need to gain credits. I found the learning interesting and the way the students had overcome problems and navigating their thinking in quite complex ways. During the session though I ended up focusing on what the staff response was, and the learning that needed to happen for the adults involved…

What was fascinating was how interesting it was to observe how they overwhelmingly responded to the content rather than the learning. As a result most of the questions were directed towards the topics raised and not about the learning journeys.

Another fascinating aspect was hearing questions from staff where the majority were leading questions. It was amazing how many times a teacher said “like,” “or” and examples that led the response. They often contained the answers for the students to pick from. Many responses were along the lines of “have you thought of…” or “one thing you could try…” It was fascinating to see such a clear indication that student-centred learning is not as accessible as I thought and how there are still steps to go.

This is a challenge as a professional learning leader and much more thinking needs to go into how we support the change in this culture. At least we have the structure in place in order to address this!

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