@ The Future Schools Conference

  

 About twenty of our Year 3 and 4 students had a wonderful experience at the Future Schools Conference on 11th March and 12 March. The students participated in two full days of rich, Curriculum linked, learning with various forms of innovative technology.

Datacom, one of our professional development / technology partners, had arranged this extraordinary experience as a part of their involvement as a Future Schools Conference Sponsor. Furnware, another participant, provided a range of innovative furniture for the students to use while completing the various activities.

 “Furnware are thrilled to be part of the Future Schools Conference and the opportunity to join forces with Datacom who provided the perfect platform for the student’s to participate in an exciting, collaborative and flexible 21st century learning space.”  (LW, Furnware Pty Ltd.)

 Datacom arranged for the students to work in small groups of 3/4 and rotate through the activities throughout the two days. 

  

Day one – Year 3: The learning activities for the year 3 students were based around their current History unit of Community and Remembrance. 

Students investigated signs and symbols of community groups through internet research. They collaborated using a OneNote Document to record their findings through written, drawn and video/audio recordings. Students then provided feedback to each other through a shared OneNote Notebook highlighting learning and asking focus questions.

Students created designs and symbols that represented themselves. Students brainstormed things that were important to them and how they can be represented symbolically. They used these patterns/symbols/colours to decorate clothing and/or cars on the “Design and Drive Sketch Book” and “Fashion Design Sketch Book” from Crayola. The students then scanned their creations into the corresponding app which turned their designs into 3D models they could manipulate on their iPads.

 Students designed and created a pendant which symbolised themselves or their family.  Students learnt about 3D printing. They designed a pendant/model to represent themselves or their family based on their knowledge about community symbols. They drew their designs on Furnware’s whiteboard table. Using the Maker’s Empire 3D modelling app the students built their designs into a 3D model and had it printed out on a 3D printer.

  

 Day two – Year 4: The learning activities for the year 4 students were based around their current History unit – Early Settlement (My Place).

 Students imagined they were on the First Fleet. They discussed what it would have been like to arrive in an unknown place – how different it would have been and the journey they took to get there. They brainstormed their ideas in text and pictures on Furnware’s whiteboard table. They then created a 3D model of something that the early settlers would have seen/experienced when they first arrived in Australia.

 Students investigated famous Australian explorers. In a shared OneNote Notebook students brainstormed all they knew about a variety of Australian explorers. Each student contributed their own knowledge to each page of the OneNote Notebook. They used both text and drawing to record their knowledge. Then students researched one of the explorers on the internet to find out something that wasn’t already known (already recorded on the page). When they found the additional information, the recorded it on the page as a voice recording (so as to avoid cutting and pasting information). 

Students took on the role of explorers at the Future Schools Expo. Students discussed how the early explorers would have found out new things and reported their findings back to their home country. They worked together to solve the Datacom treasure hunt through working out a series of clues around the expo. These clues came up on their iPads when they were at the correct booth. Students took pictures of interesting technology they saw at the expo and used these to put together a report to take back to school indicating why this type of technology would be good for their learning.

 One of the other Conference sponsors commented

“Future Schools is a great chance to see the current innovation that is taking place in education and to have the teachers who are driving that change in the one place. The Visiting students were a big hit at the expo. They were thrilled to be there and to be able to learn and participate in the wonderful learning activities provided by the Datacom educators.” (JR, Stile Education

  

Reinventing Spaces

In a previous entry Journeying in a Sandbox I had discussed our intention to innovate our learning spaces and how initially we wanted to trial furniture in our Year 6 and Year K spaces. 

Our motivation for innovating spaces was based on changing pedagogical needs. Ubiquitous access to technology spurred by our 1:1 iPad Program was enabling our teachers and students. Effective, meaningful integration of technology into teaching programs was expanding opportunities and changing the way that we worked. Our classrooms needed to accommodate the more diverse needs of both the students and the teachers. Project based learning, blended learning, authentic learning tasks, differentiation, personalisation, collaboration, workflows, potential for real time feedback and formative assessment and the possibilities to redefine (SAMR) were surfacing across our school and we were starting to feel the constraints of our boxed traditional classrooms. Change was necessary. 

To a certain extent we were blind and uncertain about making furniture choices. It is easy to recognise the need, but much harder to translate that into real furniture. Remembering here that we weren’t changing the architecture (yet). The classroom spaces that we were seeking to reinvent did at least have the capability to open walls which meant that one large space for each year group was possible. We had visited other innovative schools and had explored literature extensively and so this combined with the knowledge of our furniture partner ‘Furnware‘ enabled our initial reinvention.  

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Above – Year 6 (Featuring Furnware furniture)

Below – Year K (Featuring Furnware furniture)

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The Year 6 classroom space has certainly been applauded by the students and the teachers. They really love their space and are taking enormous pride in an area which is really unique. The thing I notice most, about their use of the space, is that it is constantly changing throughout the week and often throughout the day. The space is really fluid and can adapt to the needs of the users really well. Here I must add that the program of learning in Year 6 is very dynamic leveraging PBL with authentic learning tasks and collaborative learning. The teachers team really well injecting direct instruction as required. Their management of the space is artful and purposeful. 

Similarly the Kindergaten space too is open plan and fluid. It is exciting to walk through the space when the dividing wall is open and the children are working in stations or interacting in group activities. The open nature of the space is a shift for the teachers as they move away from a more traditional model. It will be interesting to observe how the use of this space evolves as the children mature and the teachers innovate further.

I am hopeful that during Term 2 the teachers in both these areas have the opportunity to visit other schools to see how other teachers are working in innovated spaces. Being able to learn from others and improve our own innovation is vital as we move to innovate spaces more widely across the school.