One of the ways of doing this is to take students outside of the classroom as encouraged in the Ministry of Education’s EOTC Guidelines.
“The experiences students have together beyond the classroom are important not only because of the learning that occurs for each of the individuals involved but also for the shared experience that teachers can draw on afterwards.”
It can be quite daunting for teachers to plan and execute and excursion that fits in with the school programme and meets health and safety requirements.
Therefore many secondary schools have made learning outside of the classroom a key part of their school calendar and there are ways to do this without having to leave the school grounds.
In the junior secondary school in particular, students are encouraged to work on ‘passion projects’ or authentic learning which can involve breaking down the timetable or devoting specific days to investigations or inquiries.
These can all be done without having to leave school grounds.
In previous years at Motueka High School we have offered junior students two days of rich learning which allows them to choose areas of the curriculum they would like to learn more about or spend more time on.
The premise is to allow them to spend more in-depth time on something they may be interested in pursuing in the future or something they have not had the opportunity to try.
These ‘incursions’ take place whilst senior students are on exam leave so it enables teachers to plan an extended programme of interest for two whole days.
Some of the activities offered have included:
- learning the basic skills of search and rescue;
- working from a brief and producing a mural to go up around the school;
- quizzes and amazing race type activities to improve atlas skills and world knowledge;
- Bathroom Science - where students make cosmetic activities and market them;
- experimenting with different combinations of pie fillings, learning about pie-making and eating what is made;
- an opportunity to learn the basics of woodturning, veneering and box making, turning your first wooden bowl on the lathe and make a beautiful jewellery box;
- composing a song with a band for performance or recording, learning;
- and playing maths related games eg. chess, backgammon and a variety of card games are just some that students can choose from.
As a Media Studies teacher I have used these days as an opportunity for budding reporters to plan which activities will be the most newsworthy, interview the learners, take photos and then produce a newspaper or magazine page about them all within the two-day deadline.
Because these activities all take place on school grounds there is no approval needed from senior management and blanket consent is all that is required.
Students always reflect very positively on their experiences having had the chance to try something new and to build relationships with teachers they may not have otherwise met.
A spin off for teachers is that they can work together in the planning and they may also get to undertake a ‘passion project’ that is not part of their weekly timetable.