#Passions Matter- a dynamic student conference!

Our Year 6 students are currently finding and exploring what they are passionate about as they head towards the culmination of their primary school learning in PYP exhibition.

The central idea for the exhibition is ‘Exploration of interests and passions inspires learning and action.’ Within this broad conceptual understanding, students are following their own areas of interest and deciding on their individual and collaborative inquiries.

On Tuesday 13 September, we will have a full day student conference with guest and student speakers as well as workshops led by guests and students. Our students will be involved in the planning, organisation and facilitation of this conference – a manifestation of this year’s focus on student ownership and our belief in our learners. 

We are looking for young people (up to 30 ish – not too far removed from our students!)  in Melbourne, Australia, who would be willing to participate in our Year 6 conference and inspire our learners by sharing their own passions.

Possible ways to be involved might include:

  • Giving a 5 minute inspirational talk.

  • Running an interactive workshop about exploration of passion

  • Running an interactive workshop in your area of passion

  • Partnering with students to lead a workshop

  • Facilitating a reflection session of some kind

  • One off or ongoing mentoring of/supporting students with their inquiries in Term 4.

Content might include such things as:

  • What sparked your interest or curiosity

  • How your passion developed

  • Your journey in exploring  your passion

  • How your journey has helped learn about who you are

  • Action or experiences related to your passion

  • Evolution of your passion

  • How your passion may have changed your life

If you are interested in being involved in a dynamic student led event and supporting our learners in developing their passions,  please fill in this form by 19 August.

The back story…

From doing school to Learning 2 day

Unleashing Learning

Learning Unleashed

The Story Within

And even further back…

Why isn’t school like a conference?

A conference for kids

Extra-ordinary learning…

Despite help from her teacher, a student is finding it difficult to organise the information in her head. Another teacher is disappointed that a bright student has relied on pre-existing knowledge and suggests he research his topic more diligently. A girl gets teary when she has to compromise with others in her drama group who prefer their ideas to hers. A video clip that a boy has posted to the class blog is too explicit and has to be taken down in case it upsets other students. A group of children who have  been painting with rollers have left paint on the floor and are sent to clean up…

Ordinary learning for 12 year-olds?

It is, however, a joy to be involved in the learning, as these Year 6 students develop an awareness and understanding of inequity, pursue individual inquiries and prepare  for sharing their learning with the wider school community at their PYP exhibition this coming week.

At any given time, if you walk through the building, there is evidence of real learning taking place. There are groups of children collaborating in the open space between the classrooms. Students are inquiring by researching on laptops, interviewing people, creating surveys and contacting organisations. They communicate their learning to children and teachers from other grades across the school. There are opportunities to explore the big ideas creatively through drama, music, art, poetry, photography or animation. Every student has time in between to reflect on the learning process, through conversation, in their journals or on their class blogs. Engagement is high, especially as they have chosen what to explore , thought deeply about why and planned how. Learners have ownership of their learning and they feel empowered…

Extra-ordinary learning for 12 year olds?

In last few days before the exhibition, everyone is relaxed. It’s because the focus has been on the learning process and not on the exhibition, which will simply be a celebration of the learning that has taken place. Students are excitedly putting the final touches on their presentations, but that’s not what is important. What matters is that on the day, every one of our 85 students will be able to talk confidently about the knowledge they have acquired and the skills they have mastered, how their thinking has changed and their understanding has deepened, and what they have learned about themselves as learners. (The teachers too.)

The story so far…

What really matters

What would you do if you could change the world?

A different kind of conference

A different kind of conference -2

Student Voices

Talking about learning

And more on the class blogs here, here, here and here.

A different kind of conference -2

‘ Every speaker was engaging and interesting which taught me a lot.’ (Timmi)

‘I thought it was an unbelievable experience and really increased my knowledge of the world’. (Jack)

‘I thought it was fun way of learning, instead of teachers just talking to us and telling us what to do, it was more interactive. It was like a big class discussion and we got to have different fun activities. I liked the breakout groups because we got to share what we learnt with everyone.’ (Jackie)

Thursday’s conference for students was highly successful if, like me, you gauge success by the potential for learning, the level of engagement, and the depth of students’ thinking. You can read about the details of the day in an earlier post. The students’ reflections and the images from the day should tell you the rest of the story…

What some of the kids said:

Corey:

Yesterday was a fun learning experience. I loved all of the stations and I did not believe some of the things they were telling me. My favourite session was the Glenallen School on overcoming challenges. They brought in two of their students, named Bella and Kim. Kim and Bella both made a short speech for us telling us about themselves and why they have to use a machine to talk. After their speeches we got ask them questions, and some of the answers were really interesting. Some people asked them how does your machine work and the answers were unbelievable, I never knew machines could do those type of things, like estimate what their sentence is going to be or there’s like a brain switch that can read what she’s trying to say! Some of my friends even got to go up to Kim and Bella to see both of these machines. I asked Bella how she became school captain and she said to me without her machine “all of my friends voted for me”.

Ella:

I noticed:

1. That one person can make a change.
2. If you set goals for yourself anything is possible.
3. That disabled people think just like us and even though they may look different they still have feelings and should be treated the same.
4. That there is way more animal cruelty in the world than I thought and that we have to stop it.
5. Just one life can help the world and make a change! to never give up!

Jackie:

Learning about what 12 year old girls and Ethiopian woman do every day has made me a very grateful person. Knowing they have to walk 3 hours carrying 15 kilos, back to their families, has made me realise what a struggle their life is compared to mine. Every day I have to go to school for 8 hours, when most of them can’t go to school because they are busy helping their families. What I am able to do every day, I take for granted. When I come home I have dinner made already and sometimes we go out for dinner, and our delicious food is made for us. But these women have to make unappetising food, by hand, every day, for 3 hours. 1.3 billion People live on just $1.25 per day, while we live on hundreds. I learnt that I am a very lucky and I should be more grateful for everyday that I live. I want to make a difference for these girls and one day.

Daniel

My favourite part of the day was when a woman named Bianca talked to us about homelessness. I learned that there are three types of homelessness and that a reason that many people become homeless is when there are family issues and the child moves out early and doesn’t have any money. I think that it was a good learning experience even though it was on Skype. I never knew that there were 45,500 homeless people every night in Australia. I wonder why Australia doesn’t give them a home because Australia is a wealthy country but 45,500 is a lot less homeless people than in a lot of other countries in the world.

Monique

I noticed:
1. …that everyone can do something to help others.
2. … that I am really lucky to have a roof over my head and to have food and clean water to drink.
3. …that not many people are as lucky as I am.
4. …that the speakers were passionate about what they spoke about.
5. …that lots of people try to make a difference.

Next: Any tips on how to create an un-conference?

What does learning look like?

The PYP exhibition is the culmination of learning throughout the primary school years. The focus of our exhibition unit this year has been social inequities in the world and the need for action to be taken.

The process unfolded something like this…

  • A powerful provocation to get the learners thinking and feeling what inequity means. 
  • Tuning in activities to pique interest and create tension.
  • An all-day conference with a choice of speakers on social justice issues.
  • Students chose their areas of interest and were divided into groups of 2-4.
  • Each group was assigned a mentor to help them on their journeys of inquiry.
  • Questions were formulated and research began.
  • Lots of reading, searching, synthesising and organising information.
  • Some groups interacted with primary sources via Skype or in person.
  • Students took action by fundraising, visiting organisations, creating awareness.
  • Exploration of the topic through a choice of creative expression workshops in art, music, drama, web design, animation or poetry.
  • Students created movies to express the essence of their learning.
  • The process was recorded through journals, blogging, time-lines, recounts and reflections.
  • Groups considered how best to present and display their learning.
  • Stands were set up in readiness for the exhibition….
…which brings us to today! There was a buzz of excitement in the school as students set up their stands and put the final touches on their presentations. Tomorrow parents, guests and students from lower grades will visit the stands, where students will proudly share their learning.

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The exhibition itself is not the point… It’s been a wonderful, meaningful collaboration between teachers and learners. It’s hugely rewarding to see the thinking and learning that has taken place. And we already have ideas for how to make it even better next year…

Ignite, Engage, Inspire

Greatly inspired by Marco Torres‘ presentation entitled ‘Ignite, Engage, Inspire’, my colleague Jocelyn left saying, “I am going to try something new tomorrow.” Undeterred by the fact that she is not an experienced film-maker and had never touched an iPad, the plan was to have her students create films, using iPads.

Aim:

Create a film to express the essence of the social inequity that you have explored for your personal inquiry.

Process:

  • Write a key sentence for your social inequity that has  possibilities for a story.
  • Highlight key ideas in the sentence that you will use in your story.
  • Create a story-board by telling the story in words.
  • Include directions for camera angles such as: Wide establishing shot to set the scene, medium shot to draw you into the character and story, close-up to show emotion, over the shoulder shot to show someone’s point of view, bird’s eye view for effect.
  • Create a story-board in pictures, showing exactly who stands where and does what. 
  • No more than 6 frames. At the top of each box write the camera angle.
  • Camera, lights, action with an i-pad of course!
  • Edit in i-movie and insert text and music.
  • Get excited by what you have achieved!
I stood alongside Hannah, Oliver and Bianca as they filmed. I learned a great deal as I watched these 12 year-olds create a film, scene by scene, from their well thought out story-board…. not just about film making, but about engaging and meaningful learning. The only practical thing I did to help, was to stand in a particular place to block the sunlight, in order to enable a better shot. Always nice to feel useful!

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Result:

Here’s an example of what kids can create in just a few hours:

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Observations:

  • All the so called 21st century skills in action: creativity, collaboration, communication, critical thinking.
  • A huge range of trans-disciplinary skills, including planning, decision making, writing, filming, organisation, time management, cooperation….
  • Seamless integration of technology into learning.
  • Authentic involvement of the ICT Facilitator and Teacher Librarian (Ours is so much more than that!), unlike the isolated weekly lessons they used to give a year or so ago.
  • Meaningful use of our new iPads to enhance the learning and achieve an end.
  • True inquiry, as students experimented with the iPads and iMovie and figured out for themselves how to achieve the results they wanted.
  • A learning community, in which several teachers were involved in learning along with the students.
  • An unbelievable level of engagement and excitement about learning… for students and teachers alike.
Conclusions:
  • Letting go of control and handing over the learning to the students can have outstanding results.
  • If you have an idea, run with it. Don’t wait for a better time, particular conditions or permission to try. What’s the worst that can happen? (If you read this blog, you will recognise that mantra).
Ignite, engage, inspire? I think so!