May 29, 2012
by Pete Jones
May 29, 2012
May 29, 2012
by Pete Jones
Pebble has been running for 4 years now. Over that time, it has seen many changes and in the early days, I have to be honest, it was full of great intentions that often didn’t quite hit the mark. The introduction of the PLTS was a real turning point for us as it gave us something simpler and more concrete to focus project work on.As teachers, we feel far more resolute and confident with the framework we have in place now.
Students have Pebble for 5 hours a week in year eight; a two hour and three hour slot. Each unit focuses on a particular PLTS skill and we have a skills week before a major project to explore the skill in depth.
The whole year is developed around the theme of identity. We take lessons from English, Humanities, Art, Drama, IT and PSHE so much of what we cover does relate to these subject areas. Students are completely mixed as we all teach at the same time which makes big presentations easier and allows for more flexibility when needed. The course follows the path below.
Before students start the journey, they investigate what Pebble is and why it is important to learning and their future success as learners. Students go on a range of seminars, looking at the work of Ken Robinson among others, to get students to think about what is really important about learning and education.
Over the course of the year I will update detail about each of the projects and the preceding skills weeks so that you can see what an amazing experience our students engage with during the Pebble course. I know I’m starting back to front with Future thinking, but we’ve all got to start somewhere…
At the end of each project (or learning experience as I prefer), students have one major piece of work which they will be judged on alongside their learning journeys. This time it’s an interview with senior staff, where each student will be asked 3 questions from a pot of 18 very challenging questions which they must answer using their deep understanding of the PLTS and relate it to their journey in Pebble.
The key focus of this project is ‘Reflective Learner’. Students have to find evidence in their learning journals to provide quality answers full of evidence to such questions as “You are stuck in a lift with your future boss, how would you sell yourself in 15 seconds?” -pure salesmanship, or more subtle questions like “How was your transition between primary and secondary schools?” -all about adaptability- coping with different learning environments, making new acquaintances, networking etc.
The questions have been analysed and the students have tested each other at being the boss and the interviewee, looking at the depth and quality of answers as well as their body language and demeanour. They are really up for the challenge. Some of the answers (from year eight) have been really outstanding and demonstrate their understanding of the Pebble course and the skills we have been perfecting admirably.
To help students understand and prioritise their future thinking, We give students a range of aspirational cards which they have to order to create their must haves down to the not bothered. They range from having the latest gadgets,working your way to the top, a healthy lifestyle to giving and recieving love. There is often a surface level of materialism at first, but groups all agree on a list of priorities which very much supports maslow‘s work. After this discussion, students reflect on their own needs and wants to see what is really important to them. Students are allowed to take 5 things with them in their ‘Shopping Basket of Contentment’. They then have to analyse what kind of person this makes them and start to think about what they will need to do to bridge the gap between where they are now and what they want to become.
What’s My sentence so far?
Here are some JPEGs of the students thinking so far. Remember, students firstly wrote about each other from interviewing. There were some really fabulous reponses, but here are students own responses to what their sentence, or paragraph would be right now. A very stimulating and powerful tool for future thinking.
The final project, ‘Future Thinking’ gets students to consider their own futures; where they are right now and how they will need to adapt to get to where they want to go. We use Daniel Pink’s ‘Whats My Sentence?’ idea to help students focus their minds.
Now.. We have to remember that these students are only in Year 8 and many students really don’t have a clear picture of what they would like their futures will be. But if you ask any student, do they want to be successful? Then of course the answer would be yes. And this is the starting point. Their definition of success is crucial to the development of this project. Today, I asked the whole year group what success meant to them. Ok, so one student said lots of money, but the responses were really encouraging. ‘Being happy’, ‘Working on something I find really hard and making progress’, ‘Being the best that I can be.’
Students then went on to question each other with a wide range of provided searching questions, to build a picture of another students dreams, realities, passions, strengths and weaknesses. From the information they acquire, they have to distill that information to create a sentence, or short paragraph which they feel sums up their lives right now. A fascinating and rich experience. I will post some of the responses soon.
At the end of this unit, students will be going to a short formal interview with a senior member of staff. They will be asked 3 challenging questions which they might face in a typical job interview which they must try to answer as effectively as possible. They will have to use their understanding of the PLT’s we have been developing in Pebble to add gravity to their answers. There responses will be graded along with there general demeanour. More about this later.