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Transcript: Alfriston College

Transcript: Alfriston College

Robert Solomone: Principal

From the very beginning Alfriston College has always looked at delivering the curriculum in a different way.

Alistair Caine: Senior Leader

Alfriston College was built in 2004. Probably one of the first schools built to be a modern learning environment.

Marianne Wullings: Learning Leader

So, the reason that we integrate is because the real world isn't siloed. Everyone says it but it is actually true. The skills that they learn in the project-based learning classes are skills that they actually will use in the real world. So, things like writing emails to approach different businesses or actually just researching or time management. Those types of skills are really important. Those are the types of skills that they're going to learn and need in the real world. So those are really the types of skills that they should really be learning in schools.

Alistair:

Many of our classroom spaces are open spaces. We've got removable walls. In some spaces, they’re closed to divide the large space into smaller rooms. We've got classes of 50 plus in some areas, with two members of staff. Having the flexibility to use the space accordingly, is really useful. So, when we’re designing a class, we always start with the driving question in mind and all the learning is framed underneath that driving question. In the case of the electric vehicle technology class it was ‘How can I change my perception of electric vehicles?’. With that as a concept, we can plan learning. But we also have to plan with the end point in mind and with NCEA credits being the end point, we've got to start with that in mind and design the learning to arrive at that end point. In EVT, which is electric vehicle technology, we’ve brought together a maths achievement standard, a physics..or science achievement standard, and a technology achievement standard.

Arish Goundar: Year 11 Student

We've used the knowledge we gained from learning about circuits, such as the science and maths aspects of it and we're applying it to make drag cars.

Alistair: 

Underneath the overall context of, fossil fuel powered vehicles will become a thing of the past, in their lifetimes.

Marianne:

When I create a project, I try really hard to think of the learning as the main core part of it. However, you have to be realistic and with senior learners, credits are really important. So, we always have to find a way to integrate assessment into their project and that can be a real struggle. So, sometimes you actually have to go back and although start with the learning, you actually have to go back and actually think well, what standard is going to actually fit with that? Is there something that can be integrated into that, or not?

Alistair:

In NCEA level one, we've chosen to integrate most of our core learning. So, by integrated, I mean they offer achievement standards and assessments from two or more curriculum areas. That learning and assessment is delivered by two members of staff from different curriculum areas, and each class offers a range of between 9 and 12 credits.

Talyah Miller: Year 11 student

Having multiple teachers means being able to have more conversations one on one and helping me understand the projects and the tasks.

Caitlin McGaughey: Year 11 student

With integrated learning, we learn multiple subjects at one time rather than one subject based. And that helps with the real world because I think everyone knows the real world isn't just one subject at a time. It’s not just maths and writing, it's a mix of all of them. And I think that's why integrated learning is better for me and other people that learn like me and grow up in a world that is different from what it was.

Tanveer Kaur Bhatti: Year 11 student

So,the thing I like about project-based learning is that we get to work independently and with others and that helps us understand things better.

Marianne:

I get to integrate on a large scale. So, this year I have a social sciences unlimited class, which integrates the whole social sciences curriculum, so you can do anything from legal studies, all the way to classical studies or geography. I also have learning unlimited, which is more of a project-based learning class, so that’s more based around skills. However, they also integrate different curriculum areas. This year they're doing a project based on plastic, so they're doing science, social sciences and English, so yeah, quite a lot.

Caitlin:

Our project is to recreate precious plastic workspace ,which will hopefully help encourage the community to start action on plastic waste.

Alistair:

The integrated approach allows us to learn subjects, content and skills in connection with and where it naturally fits into other subject areas. In a traditional set-up, that would be often done in isolation, which is I feel very artificial. By integrating the learning we are able to apply that learning as it occurs and see how it connects with other curriculum areas that we wouldn't normally be able to do. The integrated program in Year 11 - this is its third year. Some of the original issues we had were staff buy-in. 

Marianne:

Personally, I struggled to buy into it in the beginning, until I actually started to see the successes that my learners were having and then definitely started to change my viewpoint. 

Robert:

To see colleagues working together – powerful. When you see two colleagues from two different disciplines, working together to deliver some learning. It's out of the box.

Alistair:

So, the biggest one for me in terms of learners, is seeing the improvement in engagement in the classroom. As a teacher of 20 plus years experience, I lost track of the number of times learners would ask me, ‘When am I ever going to use this?’. And since we've been doing this I haven't been asked that question, because learners are actually using what they're learning. So the relevance has vastly improved. That's got to be the biggest win. In terms of outcomes, first year we had a significant improvement in our outcomes, particularly for our boys, our Maori and a Pacifika boys. We didn't sustain that into our second year. A number of reasons, we think we understand why. There's a large number of factors at play. This is the third year now that we've run the programme and it is time for review. And, I I’ve got a good idea about where this is going in the future.

Last updated July 31, 2020



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