Tuesday, 10 March 2015

MLP- modern learning pedagogy: part seven

Poutama- a space redefined by what works for our kids.

I was reading this Principal's blog, and it occurred to me that I've actually started this inquiry in August of 2014 and have continued it until now. Time is necessary in mulling over ideas. Shifting a mindset into a new teaching paradigm is hugely taxing mentally. Thanks Nic Rate. If you haven't read his blog you really should check it out. http://nickrate.com/tag/teacher-inquiry/ There are many intriguing posts about teaching, the one that inspired me was the teacher inquiry and how TIME is required. I can see MLP in MLE is going to require more than Term 1 to Term 4. And how exactly am I to 'quantify' CHANGE. How am I to show in my teacher inquiry that I've in fact met

For an MLE to be successful the collaborative teachers need to share a common pedagogy. Fortunate for me, we share many common aspirations and expectations. This has helped guide our decision making process. Inquiry in many ways involves being flexible in learning when / what / how something is going to fit or if it will work at all.

The learning zone divided?!
As mentioned before in my posts, we have divided the classroom into many zones. Last night, my wife asked me 'why divide up a learning environment in the first place?'. I was perplexed as to my reasoning, I could not for the life of me quote theorists. So today, this has brought me to this week's posts. 

According to Bray & McClaskey, 2013 we need to provide spaces that work for learners. We should have them in mind. Below is table that matches such qualities in learners with possible learning environment provisions.

Learner Qualities 
  1. Fidgeting and having trouble sitting still
  2. Prefers working on projects
  3. Cannot sequence what is happening in story
  4. Likes to draw with technology
  5. Prefers to work alone and reflect on task

Learning Environment
  1. Area to pace or stand with high desks
  2. Tables grouped for collaborative work
  3. Teacher area with interactive whiteboard
  4. Multimedia computers with stylus or tablets
  5. Individual space for private journaling

Furthermore, according to the MOE an MLE should have breakout spaces. BREAKOUT spaces, explained by the MOE NZ. A space for taking a group of students, in our Poutama MLE the learning space we deem the BREAKOUT is for students to seek some quiet, a place to work with a buddy in peace. Or even a place for a group of students to work alongside each other. Our shared teacher vision for the environment was to see some non-traditional curriculum workshops run by teachers. I had hoped that this would be an ideal opportunity to run a metacognition or thinking skills workshop for students. Or perhaps even a space to teach them about how to use google calendar. It appears, that in hindsight, our space leans closer to the 'Discovery zone' as described by Bray & McClaskey, 2013. A space where students collaborate and problem solve.

Our Poutama MLE shares some of the learning zones that this digram presents. We have a discovery and creation zone, although they're not named that, their use is similar. Central to this redesigning of the classroom is 'personalisation' the notion that we should be giving students a VOICE and CHOICE. Early on in the year we did a bus stop to share a common 'language' and 'expectation' of what we would do in each of our learning spaces. As time has progressed we have made changes.
Bray & McClaskey, 2013

Why should we bother with our learning environments?

The following extract is taken from: http://www.ncef.org/pubs/outcomes.pdf

"Bowers and Burkett (1987) found that students in newer buildings outperformed students in older ones and posted better records for health, attendance, and discipline. The study attributed approximately three percent of the variance in achievement scores to facility age, after considering socio-economic differences in the student populations. In more recent work, Phillips (1997) found similar improvements in newer facilities, and Jago and Tanner (1999) also found links between building age and student achievement and behavior." (SIC)


In beginning this research into MLP in MLE many questions arise. The matrix developed by CORE ED exposes gaps in our planning for our learners. 

Learner focus- How are the ides and needs of learners incorporated into the planning process?
Teaching and learning- Are the pedagogical beliefs and practices articulated and used to inform learning space design? How might these be prototyped in our current context?
Learning space design- Does the actual use of space match the design intention? What modifications / iterations may be necessary?

One of my co-teachers suggested we move the LEARNING HUB computers to allow for more space for our learners. The change in the space was instant, the students had much more room to freely learn in, we were able to take groups in it with much more ease.

As the team leader, I will need to lead more discussions or build in more chances for modification will see us develop a space that truly works for our learners. What needs to happen, is the "RE-VISIONING" and modification of our space, so that we can action the necessary changes. We want to improve student achievement and this is always at the top of our minds.

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