Friday, February 26, 2010

An idea for smooth transition to primary school

I was lucky enough to visit Otonga School in Rotorua while I've been here for the conference and to find out about some cool initiatives they have running. One that stood out for me was their 'Ready, Set, Go' programme to help children transition from preschool to primary.

This programme runs for one day a week over a period of ten weeks. The parents bring their children to school for one hour and take part in a targeted programme. Ready, Set, Go is an example of split screen thinking or using one idea to serve many purposes.

This is how it runs:
The parents and children all start together in the classroom with Jill, a very talented NE teacher. Jill takes the children through an element of the key competencies. When I was visiting the topic was how to get help in the playground. Jill demonstrated how to find a duty teacher and how to find other children to help, and how to find friends and make friends. This session gave the parents the security of knowing what is in place for their kids and the vocabulary to be able to talk to them at home.

Next the parents all leave with the leadership team to have a meeting in the staff room. They wave to their children as they leave and the children are becoming quite happy with parents leaving and their staying and taking part in the classroom programme. And the parents are happy with seeing their children feeling secure. The parents then meet with the leadership team to take part in a discussion around the same issue the children have been talking about however at an adult level.

Why I think this is an effective programme:
There are so many elements here that make this work. Firstly this is a superb idea for consulting with parents and making sure they feel a part of the school, know how things run, and feel like they can speak to the staff at any time.

Also, the parents are fully versed in the learning and teaching culture of the school. Since the programme they are taken through is based around the key competencies the parents fully understand the basis of the NZC and that the school is interested in their child as a whole person.

Additionally, the children become really secure and happy to be at school and make a much easier transition to the school. They already have a group of friends before their first day and they know all the routines and expectations of the school before they start.

I'm making a digital story at this school and it will be available on Key Competencies Online shortly (I'll link when available).

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Creative commons at Learning@School

I'm presenting a few workshops at Learning@School but the one I've been enjoying putting together is a session on how to find or make images and music for use online without stealing (copy friendly images and music).

By teaching kids how to attribute when they borrow or amend an image or music you are teaching them how to reference from a very young age. I can promise you their uni lecturers will thank you in the long run!

Adding music and images to a piece of writing broadens a students ability to express and also levels the playing field a little. No longer do those students who excel in writing rule the roost, students with a flare for images or a flare for music have just as much of a chance to express themselves powerfully. I had my students write a 'feelings' poem. I've been doing this for years, however the year I added imagery and music to the lesson was the most powerful.

A student writes I feel .... then needs to find or make an image to illustrate that feeling, then needs to find a sound effect or music to illustrate that feeling. Now that is a lot of learning out of something that was once a quick way to write a poem. Add on top of that a public performance by critiquing amongst peers or putting it on the web and you have a truly powerful learning experience which adds motivation by the truck load.

Every step in this lesson has a breadth of learning. It is not narrow by any means of the imagination and that is what I love - deep, broad embracing of language. By language I mean the way we communicate and let's face it, we very rarely communicate solely through writing.

I'm gathering up some resources to share. Feel free to take a look and add some more that you know of :)