Oct 7, 2014

MLE on a Shoestring

Anna Graham and  Sara Melville – Elm Park School, converting an older school to MLE.
anna@elmpark.school.nz  Twitter: @kiwidingo80
sara@elmpark.school.nz  Twitter:@saramelville1

It’s about the Pedagogy not about the classroom - teaching children to prepare them for the world.  Modern workplaces are very different from the past.
Children need to be problem solvers, creative, collaborators, team players.

Features of MLEs:
·      Flexible so can combine and split groups for team teaching, small group work, individual work, collaborative work and about having complementary working areas for these groups.  The teachers had 2 traditional classes and took a door out to join 2 rooms.
·      Open not cluttered, big empty spaces
·      Access to resources – for the children so they can get what they need.
·      Need to cater for a range of learning.styles: Controlled learners, Logical Learners, Creative Learners, Interpersonal learners.
Students learning to be reflective, self managing, collaborative, student driven, learning to learn, risk takers, quality not quantity.

·      Focus on competencies and skills rather than content delivery
·      Encouraging independence and ownership over learning, highly personalized, students drive it.
·      Lots of ICT to support and extend
·      Collaboration
·      Assessment for learning AFoL- feedback is given as they go when they need it not at end.
·      Holistic, wellbeing and relationships important.
·      Learning is a social activity.

Getting Started:

·      Took off door
·      Opened out the spaces
·      Lots of floor space, collaborative learning areas
·      Comfortable spaces – library corner
·      Visible learning, timetable up on boards so children can see what they are doing all week. They know what’s happening each day.
·      Colourful bright rooms.
One classroom is the hub, the other is the breakout room.
No allocated seating.

A lot of time at start of year building up a sense of community with the children. 
Developing relationships, eg maths problem solving.  Low-threashold, high ceiling activities. 
Not about being the smartest, stick with things, ask question..
Karakia and waiata everyday.

Then moved onto taking responsibility for learning. 

The 2 teachers introduced a foundation skills block eg handwriting, basic facts, phonics, etc  Chdn could choose how and when to complete activities.  They fill in their own planning template (1.5 hrs daily)
They choose when, 3 20 minute sessions when they do what’s on their timetable then music plays that moves them onto their next activity.
This really engaged the children, they had choice over when they could do things.

·      Got them working in groups for inquiry.  Gave them a brief and a task then told them to get going.  Given success criteria so they knew what they needed to do to achieve.
·      Teachers then target individuals/focus groups while others are working.

·      Very positive feedback from both kids and parents
·      Good achievement data gains
·      Kids love it esp the younger ones
·      Environment positive
·      Teachers are very reflective and on their game all the time.

·      Differing philosophies can clash, need to communicate well with each other.
·      Started with daily reflections.
·      Hard when only one class in the school is doing it.

Where to next?

·      Building more independence with children
·      Blancing collaborative projects with teaching target groups.
·      Next year:  retaining children

Remember it’s all about the pedagogy not the room.
Give your students opportunities to collaborate
Focus on skills/Key Competencies-let the content be the context

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