We're trying a few different approaches this year with regard to the structuring of learning. To begin with, rather than last year's 'Hack your learning space' exercise, which gained a lot of interest from parties outside of the project, but was not entirely successful in terms of student buy in and long term working relationships, we're sticking with the physical classroom space pretty much as it was. We'll re-arrange it according to the needs of specific phases of the project, but there will not be a major 'building phase' to begin the project.
We're also taking a more structured approach to the presentation of individual parts of the project - units of work one might call them in a more traditional classroom. While the 'We'll make authentic work for a magazine, and this will provide evidence for assessment' approach was good in theory, in practice many (probably all, to be truthful) of the students found it really challenging to work in this mode. On one hand it could be argued that this is because the school system has trained them to require spoon feeding in terms of 'do this task, then this task, then this task, then hand it in to your teacher and you'll get credits'. On another hand it could be argued that students at secondary level need some degree of breaking down of a big task into smaller, more achievable components if they are to experience success. On yet another hand, moderation requirements currently demand a fair degree of structure in assignments if a school is to retain freedom to offer all achievement standards.
The outcome of all of this is that we are presenting students with a series of open ended assignments that will (hopefully) give them the flexibility to produce the work they want to for the magazine, while at the same time giving them more structure than last year. I (Sam) am still in two minds about this, because I suspect that ultimately we need to produce learners who can break a major task down into parts they can manage, but maybe my expectations are a bit high . . .
We've also changed the teaching team, bringing a different English specialist on board, and replacing one of the Visual Arts specialists with a Music/Technology specialist. So the teaching team is now Sam Cunnane (Visual Arts/Project Leader), Anna Dowthwaite (English) and Jesse Te Weehi (Music/Technology). Jesse's role will be largely in relation to the web-based components of the magazine, but he is also leading a second integrated curriculum project in the school ('MusicPro', but more about that another time).
Cmdr_Hadfield Chris Hadfield
The Earth has problem skin; one popped, the other didn't. pic.twitter.com/2oqTv5p3
Finally, we finished the week on a bit of a high, in the middle of making arrangements to do an interview with an astronaut (Chris Hadfield) who takes photographs from the international space station. He's well worth following on Twitter - @Cmdr_Hadfield