Student Centred Learning
09 August 2019
Ted Dintersmith, in his book What School Could Be shares that students thrive in environments where they develop four key things: Purpose - where students have the opportunity to attack challenges they know are important and will make their world better. Essentials - where students acquire the skill-sets and mind-sets needed in an increasingly innovative world.
Agency - where students own their learning, become self-directed and intrinsically motivated.
Knowledge - what students learn is deep and retained, enabling them to create, make and to teach others.
At Avondale School we are developing and implementing an innovative and engaging student-centred approach to learning and teaching. It encompasses these four aspects and students are showing excitement for learning. All teachers in the school have now been trained in Project Based Learning (PBL) - a teaching method that makes learning come alive for students. Over an extended period of time students work on a project in a curriculum topic that engages them in a real-world context. Students demonstrate their knowledge and skills by developing a public product or presentation for a real audience. Along the way they develop deep content knowledge, critical thinking and communication skills. Projects are done individually, in teams, by the whole class or in collaboration with other classes.
We believe that everyone has the capacity to be creative, and we want to help students develop their creative abilities while covering the mandated curriculum in an authentic and engaging way. PBL gives students a greater voice not only in their learning but in the way that they learn, increasing their intrinsic motivation. There is still a need for explicit instruction with PBL to ensure students gain the knowledge and skills required of them, especially in literacy and numeracy. Teachers also get a deeper understanding of the students’ literacy skills through the PBL method, as student engagement increases and they have more desire to learn.
We are currently working with the Association of Independent Schools on Designing for Deep Learning (DDL) which is enhancing our implementation of PBL, especially the essential skills of Character, Citizenship, Collaboration, Communication, Creativity and Critical Thinking. DDL brings validated tools to plan, teach and assess these essential skills to take student learning even deeper. Teachers have the opportunity to work in Year Level groups with a trained consultant to embed these skills into learning and teaching to transform learning for the students. So far we have focused on developing the skill of Character and specifically - grit, tenacity, perseverance and resilience. It’s exciting to walk into classrooms and see our students so engaged in learning, encouraging one another and having fun. Our students are so important, and now, more than ever, we need to be educating young people who are ready, willing and able to tackle the challenges of their lives and the world they find themselves in. We are excited to be on this journey together with our school families in 2019 and beyond.
Acting Head of Primary