10 ways school has changed…

It’s less than a year since I wrote lamenting the empty space in our new building, while teachers kept their doors shut and the learning inside their own rooms. Walking through ‘the space’ these days, as we approach the end of the school year, I’m struck by how much has changed.

There are groups of kids everywhere, sprawled on the floor, huddled on the steps, sitting around tables, even standing on chairs so that they can film from above! They are collaborating on inquiries, creating presentations, making movies and expressing their learning in all kinds of creative ways. It’s active and social, noisy and messy… as learning should be. 

School has changed…

1. We used to imprison the learning inside the classrooms… Now the whole school is our learning environment.

2. We used to find information in books and on the internet… Now we also interact globally via Skype with primary sources.

3. We used to control everything… Now students take ownership of their learning.

4We used to think ‘computer’ was a lesson in the lab… Now technology is an integral part of learning across the curriculum.

5. We used to collect students’ work, to read and mark it… Now they create content for an authentic global audience.

6. We used to strive for quiet in the classroom… Now the school is filled with vibrant and noisy engagement in learning.

7. We used to teach everything we wanted students to know… Now we know learning can take place through student centred inquiry.

8. We used to set tests to check mastery of a topic… Now learning is often assessed through what students create.

9. We used to plan differentiated tasks, depending on ability… Now digital tools provide opportunities for natural differentiation.

10. We used to have an award ceremony for the graduating Year 6 students… Now every child will be acknowledged at graduation.

Not every point is uniformly evident across the school irrespective of teacher, class and time (yet), but most are well on the way. Learning in our school has changed enormously… and is constantly changing. Is yours?

16 thoughts on “10 ways school has changed…

  1. I have school envy- perhaps its about time I came home and applied for a position and joined the waiting list at your school, Being a Sth Gippsland born girl on an Aussie passport it could be a possibility.

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  2. Don’t forget we’re also learning outside! School Forests, the parking lot, and all green (and not so green) space outside the building offers learning opportunities that teachers don’t always use.

    Getting outside is a great way to enhance students’ learning and expand their idea of what a classroom is.

    LEAF, Wisconsin’s K-12 Education Program is working on a School Grounds project that will help teachers expand their learning space. Stay tuned for more: leafprogram.org, @LEAF_K12_Forest and on facebook.com/uwspcnrleaf.

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    1. I think just by taking one step at a time.There was resistance at first and some teachers were reluctant to relinquish control. @lindawollan and I ran a session for the whole 100 kids in Year 6 (modelling for teachers) on presentation tools, which you can read about in this post. https://whatedsaid.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/an-authentic-learning-experience/
      The sky didn’t fall on our heads! After a few sessions of that sort, teachers found that if the learning was engaging, the students could be trusted to get on with it and teachers didn’t need to be in control.
      I’ll ask them what made things change and see🙂

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      1. I think you nailed it in that post, “The session encompassed so many things that we value and try to work towards in our school. ” … that’s the key… a shared vision and purpose towards your goals: “Collaboration, both by teachers and by students. Meaningful implementation of technology. Student centred learning through personal inquiry. Engaging, purposeful learning. Student choice. Natural differentiation for different abilities and interests. Teachers willing to take risks and explore new possibilities. Opportunities for creativity and higher order thinking. Flattening of classroom walls to include outside experts. Flexible use of the physical environment.” … few schools have the leadership or vision to make these changes. Bravo for modeling that it can be done!!

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  3. What a remarkable list, Edna! I know thebstudents have benefitted greatly from the shifts. I’m interested to hear more about what you all do with assessment and reporting, though. Have you written about it before? If so, will you send me a link? Thanks.

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