Thursday, 23 May 2019

2020: Some Sort of Structure

As blogged earlier in the year, in 2020 our school is moving into an integrated timetable for Years 9 and 10. Over the last couple of months we have been working in our groups to start to develop some ideas/concepts/unit designs. The 16 groups/units have different topics and an overarching value of the curriculum as the focus. Our value is respect and the overall topic of our unit will be sexuality education, integrating with English, Media and Digital Technology.

I am really excited by the changes because I believe it is great for the students but also great for us as staff. We are starting to learn a lot more about the achievement objectives from our curriculum, but also from other strands/subjects of the curriculum. I love to learn, so gaining new knowledge is a major benefit for me. 

I do feel though, it is a lot harder than expected. There is a lot of thought, research, discussion and work to put into creating these integrated units. Working alongside 5 other teachers, all with different agendas, different personalities and different experiences makes for rich, insightful and creative discussions, but also makes it difficult to come to a conclusion on where we are heading. Fortunately, we have a responsive group, and school is providing time for us to develop these units. 

Last term, our group were relieved for 3 periods to have a decent chunk of time to get our brains ticking about our unit. The below picture demonstrates where we finished after this 3 hour period. Essentially, there are 4 subtopics (Hāuora, Pubertal Changes, Communication and Safe Relationships) which will be modules for students to complete over the first 4-5 weeks, and once these are complete the students will create a project (TBC).

We decided to have modules because we believed there were some specific skills and content knowledge we wanted students to have the understanding of and ability to demonstrate before pursuing their own projects. Each module will have a series of rewindable learning resources and tasks for students to access and complete at their own pace, with a mixture of skills/knowledge from the 3 curriculum strands. Once they are comfortable with the skills/knowledge from one module, we envisage some sort of formative assessment such as a video creation, interview with the teacher or mini presentation to demonstrate their understanding. From there, the student can move onto the next module until they have completed all four. This structure will enable students to learn at their own pace and give choice in what resources/tasks they would like to complete within their set module (2 key parts of Ako Orewa).

A large change to accompany these integrated projects from what we currently do, is assessing students based off levels of the curriculum. So rather than give a child a grade of NA, A, M or E, their grades will directly reflect the level of the curriculum they are working at, related to specific achievement objectives next year (Levels 2-6). Currently in Year 9 PE we are trialling this way of assessing - I plan to blog about this in a few weeks. 

So, once the student has completed their 4 modules, the teachers (there will be 3 teachers with 75 students) will then discuss and determine whether the student is meeting the expected level of the curriculum, based off of what they have completed throughout the modules. If they are meeting/above the standard, they are then able to design their own projects. If the student is below the standard, the student will revisit modules where they are a lower level in their skill development or demonstrations for one week. After this week, they then may design their own project, or be supported in a more teacher directed project with options to choose from. We hope that this timeline will support students sitting at all levels of the curriculum to be successful, and especially not allow some students to fall through the cracks or some not to be challenged.

Kayleigh, one of our awesome group members, used the sticky note timeline, to then create the below digital version of this draft unit outline (which we will keep adding to/adapting).

Moving forward, we have a Teacher Only Day next Friday to continue to develop our ideas. Until this week we thought our unit was going to be for 9 weeks, however this has now changed to 18 weeks. Clearly this means a lot more brainstorming, planning and creating to be done, but also means a lot deeper learning within the unit than before for our students. Thus, the TOD will be a great opportunity to regroup and delve back into where we ended up after our 3 hours together! Watch this space...