Where's your head at?

Project based learning, thinking on learning and amazing Art projects

July 7, 2012
by Pete Jones

That’ll Doodle!


After an absolutely amazing year of challenging, engaging and incredibly rewarding project work, students summed up their Pebble experience with a learning doodle. The depth of thought, the confidence to create original work of real value perfectly reflects the profound experience so many of our students have had this year. Their future thinking interviews are in full flow. The senior leadership team have been amazed at the quality and confidence demonstrated in the interviews. The penny is finally dropping that we need to give students throughout KS3 deeper and more challenging learning experiences to consistently stretch and inspire. The question is how do we involve more departments to develop the Pebble ethos further, or better still, how can we get the whole school to question the value of what and how students are learning? How is our curriculum preparing them for more than just an exam?

For those teachers involved in Pebble, as a consequence of the collaborative and constantly evolving curriculum we have created, it has certainly encouraged us to question the value of what we teach and how we teach in our own subject areas.It has made me have much higher expectations of what I teach in Year 9 Art for example, changing our learning model to an enquiry based experience, focusing on the mindset of the creative learner.

As a group, we all recognise the enormous difference larger chunks of time allow students to think, learn and act differently. Having the time to try, fail, fail better, reflect, aim high and aim better with each unit helps foster a growth mindset.

The vast majority if students respond incredibly positively to having a morning and an afternoon working on their projects rather than singular lessons. They really see the benefits of the longer time- how much deeper they can engage with their learning, extended discussion, collaborate with others to create meaningful outcomes, spend time just getting things right and ultimately being able to reflect properly on their achievements.

It has made me question the value of what I can teach in a single practical lesson. But for students, to have 5 different mindsets to bring to school, 5 different approaches to learning, shuffling from one classroom to another 5 times a day, 5 days a week must at times be incredibly frustrating. How much real learning do we get done in hour slots?From French to Geography to Science, then DT and Maths all in one day?

As a result of Pebble, many students are beginning to question the purpose of traditional models of learning, many students and parents have expressed sadness that Pebble ends at the end of Year 8. As a school next year, we are looking at (hopefully) finally reinventing our curriculum model to allow for a more deep, engaging and challenging curriculum. I will use this blog to keep updated as the year progresses. Will we reach a critical mass for real change? We will have to see. I have to say, I’ve been here before…



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