Where's your head at?

Project based learning, thinking on learning and amazing Art projects

Pebble- Our student centered learning course for Year 8

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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…

Author: Pete Jones

I am primarily an Art teacher, but over the past 5 years have been co-developing an experienced-based learning programme in the school I work in called Pebble, (short for Project Based Learning). I read extensively on learning and education, and I intend to use this blog to record what is going on in my head as well as in the classroom. Hopefully I will be able to share resources and ideas with like-minded thinkers in the future. The Pebble course runs through the whole of Year 8 for 5 periods a week. I am desperate for our world wide education system to catch up with the way we live our lives. Transformation of what we learn in schools and how we learn in schools is desperately overdue. Pebble is a skills centered curriculum with the focus very much on what students need to be successful learners, giving them valuable, deep learning experiences to boot.

2 Comments

  1. Fascinating stuff. We run a similar project during English lessons in Term 1 of yr9. I’m interested by the cross-curricular aspect of your approach. How do you administrate and coordinate between departments?

  2. Hi Tom.
    As it states in the post, we have taken time from a variety of areas; those areas-English, Humanities, Art, IT, PSE and Drama are reduced or taken away completely for the year. The course has been designed and collaborated by all members of the Pebble team, encompassing all the subject areas, but focusing primarily on developing strong, independent learners through challenging project based work. As the year progresses, I will update the blog to let you know what’s happening. Having 5 hours a week, which are in 2 and 3 hour chunks means students can become properly immersed in their work. There (as ever) are still things which we need to work on to make it even better, but it does give students an authentic and exciting project based approach to learning which cannot happen via a traditional school timetable. Even the most cynical of teachers have commented how the course has developed the attitude and approach to learning of our students. Always welcome to pop over and visit for yourself!

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