Play must infiltrate the learning approaches in our classrooms. Surreptitiously, if need be, it has to once again steal into our classrooms and become embedded in our outlook, our approaches and strategies. Why do we advocate play? Play captures within it the elements required for building the right attitude to learning. Fearlessness, risk taking, taking loss and failure in your stride, working as a team and the joy and humility in success.
When we hear the phrase ‘team building’, the image of smartly-dressed professional adults reluctantly tumbling through an obstacle course or trying to construct a watertight raft on a muddy riverbank is hard to shake. We like to think that professional adults are already capable of working well in a team, and so to help make this the case, we can make the concept of team-building a much more child-friendly activity, and emphasise it in early formative years to give our children the skills they need to get on later in life. Arts and crafts are a brilliant way to encourage creativity and improve coordination and motor skills, as well as giving children the opportunity to work as teams and explore group dynamics.
Filmmaking projects that inspire, empower and improve literacy attainment in the classroom. Children at Tubbenden Primary School in Bromley recently completed a literacy and filmmaking project by A Tale Unfolds – a social enterprise (formed of teachers) striving to improve children’s literacy skills through digital storytelling and filmmaking.
Here, two Year 6 teachers from the school, Laura Venn and Sarah Davey, discuss their experiences of using one of the projects as well as the impact that a digital literacy focus had on their pupils:
The most dreaded date in the diary: the Class Assembly. When I see a note in my diary (underlined three times) reminding me ‘Two weeks until Class Assembly’, something inside me dies. 30 children stood in rows, performing songs or poetry or skits. Parents sat on rickety chairs, transfixed as their darlings (each one a future Emma Stone or Ryan Gosling) perform their two painstakingly memorised lines. Each assembly on a different topic: with a different year group, different group of children. Each assembly however feels very similar. 30 children stood in rows, benches, songs, poetry, skits, etc etc.
In the first of this series on fundraising, I mentioned that due to the work I do in education and development. I have spent much of my time raising money for schools here in Canada or projects and programs in the Global South. The landscape has changed a great deal in the past decade. While I am still successful raising money for schools here in Canada, it has become increasingly difficult to raise money for projects in other countries.
As a school leader, I know that the key to any student’s success is often their teacher. If this is true, would having two teachers mean double the chance of success? We decided to test this idea in a reorganization of the Business Studies programme at VRG. Working from our strategic vision, we began to brainstorm, prioritize and plan.
Standing in the street as a costumed Suffragette throwing reasoned arguments during a ‘Votes for Women’ dramatization, I remember encountering a curious mix of responses. A melting pot of confusion (understandably, it’s not often a Suffragette march passes you by in 2013), interest and awe, but also criticism; “What are you complaining about? Women have the vote! What a pointless protest.” Accurate as it may be that British women have the right to suffrage, annual events such as International Women’s Day continue to highlight that equality for women is still a very real issue that transcends political rights, cultures, religions and geographical borders, and will forever remain an invaluable part of modern education.
Introduction: Why get out of bed in the morning?
I do not think there is such thing as a ‘motivated person’ or a ‘lazy person’ - we are just motivated by different things. Motivation is not linear. I was, and remain, motivated by learning. I love reading widely and learning more about the world in which I live. I am really not motivated by team sports, singing or marking books. There are some things that I really want to do (and see value in) but have to be persuaded to do; I want to be good at the piano and I want to run half marathons in a vaguely respectable time. I REALLY want to do these things. I have all of the equipment needed. I have peers who will practice with me and I have access to people who will give me expert feedback and teach me.
This year I have been lucky enough to embark on a new learning adventure at The West Thornton Primary Academy in Croydon. Part of the Synaptic Trust, West Thornton is unique, and, in my humble opinion, innovative in its approach to learning. For a start, I do not have a traditional style ‘classroom’. Instead I share the space of an ‘Open Learning Zone’.