Caroline Marris, year 7 and 8 team leader at Woodend School, discusses how students contributed to the design of their innovative learning environment. Students, Justin and Ashleigh, explain how pupils were given input into what the space should look like and how it should work. They also explain how students manage their week.
Justin: In Term 1, the whole syndicate inquired about modern learning. We all wrote down some facts about other schools and then we started creating our environment for our modern learning.
Caroline Marris: We felt that we really needed to have the students involved in this decision making process. Throughout the whole inquiry unit, it looked at the whole process of setting up the environment and how to make it successful. Why are we going to use this area for this? What’s its purpose? How should this area be run? How should we use it, what’s the expectations?
Ashleigh: The first thing that we did was we looked at what other schools had been doing on YouTube and we also looked at, when we were doing reading, we read about the other schools in our reading groups. We used the information to start thinking about creating our own modern learning environment so we were asking questions about how we were going to make it, what furniture we were going to use. We wanted to think about how we were going to use the different spaces.
Justin: The whole syndicate wrote down three things they wanted to do and wrote some ideas under them. We have two spaces that you can work in groups and talk and help each other with their work. We had two silent spaces as well so if you didn’t like the noise you could go and work there.
Ashleigh: In the two hubs that we have, we came up with a whole lot of rules in a big brainstorm about what we could have and then the teachers took it away to a meeting to decide which ones we were going to have.
Caroline Marris: For the first term, two terms, we had a reflection, how they could improve what was happening. We took it slowly, we didn’t do all of it at once. We did reading and maths, we really wanted to have good systems in place.
Ashleigh: There’s a whiteboard in the middle room where you write your name up and then you either tick “help” or “sign off” and then the teacher will make their way down the list and come to you and you can get help or you can get your work signed off.
Justin: We have a timetable that we plan at the start of the week on Monday that we plan out for the whole week. So we’ve got a “Must do”, “Can do” list. The “Must dos” we have to get done if we want to make it to colour time, fun activities on Friday afternoon that are a reward for finishing your “Must dos”. There’s also a list of “Can dos” that you can do that after you’ve finished your “Must dos” you just work on.
Caroline Marris: We have a specific list of tasks that the students must complete in the week. These are assigned by their maths group teachers and their reading group teachers. There are also school-wide syndicate “Must do” tasks such as personal writing. We try to manage it according to the time that it will enable all students to complete them. We’ve had buddies to assist those that might struggle to get there, we also have “Can do” activities for those students to extend them.
Ashleigh: I plan my work out so that I can get the most out of my time.
Justin:We’ve got a lot more choice of where we learn and what we do with it so I like it a lot better than what we used to cos we had to follow a certain plan every day.
Caroline Marris: They’ve never had to timetable their time before and manage their time. We had always managed it for them. I feel that we are teaching them some amazing skills that they will take through life.