Contemporary Learning Journey at St John's
We have been on an exciting learning trajectory throughout the past few years with what contemporary learning means to us at St John’s. We have restructured our specialist lessons to include a new school initiative called ‘The Design Lab’. The purpose is to provide and build the thinking skills and strategies students need to be creative designers. We have also begun the refurbishments on our agile learning Master Plan, which will result in new flexible classrooms with outdoor learning environments attached. More importantly, since 2019, we have been investing heavily in staff professional development on how we implement project-based learning. It has been a long journey over a challenging few years, however we are now beginning to see the rewards of a collective staff effort to upskill themselves and challenge previous knowledge on inspiring students in their learning.
We are now at a stage where we are implementing PBL in all year levels, each term. Throughout this year so far, three PBL projects stand out, due to their significant impacts they have had on our school community. They are:
1. Year 5/6 – How can we create a space in our school that enhances belonging?
Our 5/6 students partnered with the building project management team, which is in the second stage of implementing a three-stage masterplan to revamp classrooms learning environments. The building project team handed over the learning space design elements of the 5/6 classroom to the students. Kim and Derek initiated an invitation that resulted in our students consulting with renowned architect and education specialist, Fiona Young, Studio Director of Hayball Architects in Sydney, who is credited with designing some of Australia’s most innovative schools. These meetings with Fiona were a catalyst for extremely high levels of engagement from our students. We have created a student working team that is working with our project management team to see their designs come into fruition.
This news article interviewing some of our 5/6 students, showcases the impact on their learning. https://www.bordermail.com.au/story/7758761/real-life-learning-st-johns-students-help-design-sense-of-belonging/
2. Year 1 - How can we take care of the environment and inspire others to help us?
We are transitioning away from our formal uniform to making our sports our full-time uniform. So Year 1 decided to help and kicked off their PBL unit in style! They arrived at the beginning of Term 2 to classrooms covered in old uniforms. It initiated a process of hatching a plan to recycle, reuse and repurpose them. Year 1 then developed a repurposing process for our whole school community to follow via our website.
3. Year 5/6 – How do we improve the ways we promote Indigenous Culture in our school?
Our 5/6 identified that we have limited ‘authentic’ connection to indigenous culture at STJLS. With the support of their teachers, they developed the driving question that would assess, design and implement change in our school. We welcomed David Dunn, a Wiradjuri Nation Elder as a tune-in experience for our students. It generated a lot of questions that drove inquiry throughout their learning. The end of the unit created an action plan on areas to improve connection to culture in our school. Students have created a ‘culture committee’ to work alongside our RAP and lead the school community to action change.
We have registered a scarred tree on our enviro-science block and are in the processes of moving some demountable classrooms to the site to create an indigenous education facility that we can offer as a learning hub for the wider community.
This term our driving question is “How can we improve the way that we promote Australian Indigenous Culture in our school?” Some of the projects that the students are doing are developing resources for NAIDOC week and Reconciliation Week for students. Some other projects the students have created are creating murals, bush gardens, developing a no racism policy, sourcing Indigenous sports equipment and getting flags painted on our courts. Last week we had Michelle Evans and Amanda Lovekin visit our class and share about their culture. Then they had a look at each of our projects and gave us feedback on how we could improve and if our project showed respect and empathy. By Elijah Kinning
We still have a long way to go to embed a clear contemporary learning approach in our school, however we are definitely on the journey!