Eilish Moran, teacher at Halswell School, explains the importance of encouraging students to be self-directed learners. She describes how she established good learning routines which still allow for student choice. She comments, "I think the children in the collaborative environment have much more choice with where they’re going to learn, how they’re going to learn."
Eilish Moran: Our space, which is called Ahuriri, we call it the nest and it feels like that, you’ve got this lovely central space and then the children have some choices of sort of areas that sort of break out from that central area. It’s actually great for new entrant teachers. We need to see where everyone is at all the time.
Georgia: Well there are things that we do at discovery like today we only get to go in there on Friday and play with it and you can make a huge marble run, a really big marble run. Well when we were in there, me and Matthew made a motor bike.
Eilish Moran: We had a lot of input into the building of these buildings. The children weren’t going to have desks anymore so they’ve now got these little boxes with their photo on it and they put a lot of their learning into there and take things home from there. We chose colours, we chose carpet, we chose beautiful soft furniture, that was bright and had a lovely feel to it, that was soft. We had cookie pads on the ground which are a lovely soft leather cushion. Beautiful jelly bean tables that we can write on. The children love that and it’s really great for learning.
Georgia: You can write on it and we sit there for reading and when we don’t know how to write the words for writing, the teacher just writes it on there for us.
Eilish Moran: You can immediately just say, “Oh, what’s this word? “This” you know, you don’t have to have cards all the time. Every child at Halswell School is a self-directed learner right from when they start school. So they know when they come into school exactly what to do. There’s pictures of what to do when they come in, where to put their drink bottle, where to put their reading folder, to say hello to their teacher and then they write their name on a whiteboard.
During the day they also know where to go if they need to know something. So, for example, I’ll read with them then they know they can go to the can-do board so this is something they can do after reading. They don’t have to ask me. They go and they know they can go and do playdough or painting or construction or dress-ups. So I don’t have to tell them every day what they’re doing. I think the children in the collaborative environment have much more choice with where they’re going to learn, how they’re going to learn.
Georgia: For writing we once made hokey pokey and we got to eat it and then we wrote how it tasted and how it smelt.
Mathew: Well, I had to make the mask first out of materials and do it in steps and then I had to write it all in steps in my story book. Well because it goes on the blog and everyone can see it. Last week all of us made a mask. First I had some cardboard to cut a circle, then I coloured it brown and cut the eyes out, then I found some fabric for the ears. We hot glued on the ears then I hot glued on a patch. I used the brown colour for the brown background to camouflage a brown dog.