Today pupils at Kings Road Primary School had the opportunity to take part in a brief online video conference with Educational professionals in Silkeborg, Denmark. It was a little bit impromptu and so the pupils didn't have any preparation time, which I've often found is the best moment for real learning to take place. After initial introductions, Kings Road pupils were simply asked to name one thing that is fab about their school.
Top on their list was the use of new technologies in learning and how it is used to support learning in the classroom. They pointed to numerous examples which was not only insightful but reflective on the impact iPads had made on them.
Next, they mentioned the Strand Organisation, now in its second year. This is 'stage not age' organisation and the pupils are very confident to speak about the benefits this brings. They are particularly appreciative that learning is more focused to their needs and are challenged appropriately without feeling like they are being kept waiting for others to catch up or left feeling vulnerable that they simply aren't able to keep up.
Something else that was mentioned, was the Library. Often considered as a resource that new technologies will soon replace. We have strong counter arguments against that, one of which is that the children really believe in the library and the need to use both fiction and non-fiction books effectively.
As the conference came to an end, Stephen Heppell, who chaired the conference offered something new that the pupils in Denmark have been doing for a while. 'Shoeless learning'
Effectively this simply means children taking off their shoes as they enter the classroom or learning space. Why? Well, we didn't get time to discuss that with Stephen or the Educational professionals, so the pupils immediately set off to find out for themselves. Following a link to 'Shoeless learning' and some further googling for more information, it was clear they were curious to see if it could help them too. The scientists in the group spoke of controlled experiments which they could try on different learners within the class. Does shoeless learning have more of an impact on boys than girls was one question they posed.
Remember the pupils weren't in class at this point, it was their break time, and yet here they are in this 'in-between' learning moment questioning, researching, reflecting, debating and developing a clear set of arguments with which to challenge their class teachers in an attempt to convince them to at least give it a trial. Without provocation, they presented some of the opposing reasons for not 'going shoeless' one of which is health and safety and not treading on a staple or drawing pin etc. These all need mitigating of course, and the risks managed - but of course the pupils totally appreciate that and can immediately find alternative solutions. It's what's termed a 'no brainer' ! This important work continued at lunchtime too, there was no stopping them and yet it all started with a simple question.
Who wouldn't want their school's to be full of learners learning about learning? Today, the pupils honed their skills in...
It does lead me to wonder just how much of the curriculum we teach in schools is already scaffolded and pre-prepared. I bit like pre-cast concrete I suppose, heavy, difficult to move, built in set sizes to fit a specific design. However, we haven't argued much against it, because learning does take place but I very much doubt that this is anywhere near as much as something self-directed by pupils with the wisdom and facilitation by the teacher. In the past three to four months, our curriculum has undergone a significant review with a real emphasis on developing Key Skills around a pupil-centric curriculum. Today was proof that this has an enormous potential as pupils really begin to fly as collaborative learners.
I felt proud and privileged to watch learning unfold in a very seductive and engaging way.