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Transcript: Rolleston College

Transcript: Rolleston College

Steve Saville: Foundation Principal

Rolleston College is into its third year. We're growing one year, each year.

It was built as a flexible learning space. So, there’s a variety of learning spaces here that can take different size classes - up to a maximum of 70 in the big ones and down to about 10 in some of the smaller ones.

The idea being that you've got a flexible number of spaces which are able to be moved to incorporate different learning patterns and learning styles and different learning intentions.

Matt Nicoll: Science Teacher.

In the world you not just doing science or just doing maths, or just doing English or just doing a performing arts piece for example. When we have a task to do in the world, we've got to bring those knows different elements of our learning together. So, by doing integration we get those explicitly being done together so the reward can be the learning.

I think one of the key things Steve has done, and one of the reasons why I really wanted to come here, is focus on that learning first. What are going to be some rich learning opportunities, then find the assessment next. That's one of the key things where Steve's helped make that happen. That's been one of the key philosophies. We will have the integration in collaboration between learning areas which allows students to really thrive in the areas they're good at.

Rob Ferguson: Visual Arts Teacher

Alongside integrated learning will sit mastery type courses where you've got someone who has a passion a focus in one area. So, a learner who is into the visual arts might do a science course which has a little bit of visual arts incorporated in it and then they gain a greater understanding of it. Then they find that science learning easier because there's an art connection to it.

Matt:

I think one of the key things that we've had to look at with our pedagogy is making sure that we're offering workshops so there is still that opportunity for that subject specialisation but at the same time having an overall goal for the students so they know the direction of the learning and how that brings those subjects together into one journey.

Bella Groen: Year 11 Student

So, the learning environment is obviously very open, as you can see, and there's also lots of different ways for seating. I'm not good when I'm working in one space all the time. Moving from different spaces really helps me focus more.

Nicolas Raimundo: Year 11 student

What I like about Rolleston College being an open space is that it helps me connect with the teachers a lot more and taking the next step in my learning

Steve:

The idea is to create authentic learning situations whereby the environment facilitates and assists, as opposed to dictates. So, if you have a space which is very confined between 4 walls, then you’re really restricted about what kind of activities can take place there. If you've got more flow between spaces, then you've got more opportunity to look at what is the appropriate groupings, pedagogy, way of learning for that appropriate task. So, it provides for more authenticity.

Nicolas:

My favourite thing about integrated learning is probably the fact that I can knock out two assessments in one go. Yeah, it's definitely easier.

Bella:

I really enjoy integrated learning just because there's so many different options and I can sit where I want to and I can listen to music and it just it's easier for me to learn but as I say it's different for everyone.

My parents..the way they think about integrated learning, they really enjoy it. They really like it for me and they know it's working for me. My grandparents on the other hand, have no clue how it works. So, I’ll be explaining things to them, and they'll have no clue.

Steve:

One of the biggest joys I have at this place is to walk around and ask learners what they're doing. They very, very rarely say ‘I'm doing English’ or ‘science’ or ‘maths’, they will say what they're doing.

Matt:

In Patterns of Life, we’re integrating maths and science - particularly biology. At the moment we’ve just done inflating the lungs with a tube. They’re now cutting up the lungs a little bit to see the inner workings of it. The overall learning is about the cardiovascular system and that link with exercise.  By having it integrated, we’re able to make more valid, deeper conclusions about what's happening and the relationship between exercise and the cardiovascular system.

Rob:

I like integrated learning being able to put together connections.

It's about an experience, providing an experience for the learners so that they can start to make connections themselves.

So, the course that I've run, is an adventure media course.

Bella

I love Adventure Media so much. I knew that it was something that I would definitely be interested in and I'm really enjoying it. The photography side of things and also the adventure side really join in together, and I'm really enjoying it.

Rob:

I love the outdoors because I think it can teach you so much. Resilience, it can teach you persistence, and it can teach you what you didn't realise you knew you could do. And then within the context of the adventure media course maybe try and portray that and share that with others of their age is a really powerful tool, and a real powerful lesson to learn for everyone.

Matt:

There are definitely obstacles. If you’re wanting to integrate, you really want the two subjects, the three subjects, to really be at the fore for all of the learning tasks. They might take the lead for an assessment task, but really for the learning, it's making sure that you've got rich learning that is actually truly integrating the learning areas that you’re trying to use, rather than just "oh, we’re going to a bit of Maths now, a bit of science now, a bit of English now".

Bella:

Some of the challenges with being an integrated school are definitely the noise. Because it's so open, it's definitely easy to hear other classes working or from all around the school. So it can be a little difficult but a lot of us listen to music. So, we can get on task and focus more.

Steve:

You learn in context. So, I think integrated learning is the easiest and most effective way of creating context and authenticity. Then you can focus on the learning and the outcome as opposed to just the English skills. The skills and the content are just as important as they ever were, but it has to be placed in a way that students can utilise them in school and beyond school. New Zealand schools, and all schools, are phenomenally good and skilled at getting kids to succeed at school, but I don't know how well we've done at getting them prepared for life after school.

So, all the measures we do of our learners, tend to be on school-based tests, school-based exams, and that's the measure of a learner’s success.

How well they transition out of school and can transfer those skills, is something that I think we need to examine more and more. So, if we want our schools to become relevant and valid and authentic for the modern world then we have to look at changing and adapting what we do. The phones we used 10 years ago are not the phones we use now. The way we do our finances are not the way we did our finances 10 years ago. Nothing is the same, so why would education be any different.

Last updated July 31, 2020



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