STRUCTURE AND SKILLS

Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 22.52.22
Part of the Successful Learners skills ladder

During the pilot process we worked with other schools on Islay, Jura and Kilmodan in developing Endeavour, although each school took a slightly different approach in the way it was structured that suited their individual situations.  As a group we identified skills development as the key structure for the project; children would be choosing from a wide range of topics with vastly different areas of learning and specific skills but all of them could focus on assessing specific transferable skills-skills, for life, learning and work.  On Islay and Jura we had developed our own skills ladder based around the four capacities and related transferable skills that would be applicable in the world of work.  It was the skills for successful learners and confident individuals that the children would focus on developing through their Endeavour; most regularly plan do review, inviting feedback and sharing learning from Successful Learners.

Space needed to be created in the curriculum for Endeavour, and we decided an afternoon a week was necessary to allow children enough time to develop their projects in depth.  Because we were covering different skills in such depth it was felt that this was justifiable, and the personalisation of children’s learning was also a key aim we could fulfill.

To ensure children were focused and managing their time well (Confident Individuals), a plan do review (Successful Learners) structure was used to manage the projects.  Over time children filled out long term, medium and short term planners.  Once a term they would work in pairs to discuss and assess their Endeavour progress based on questions on an assessment peer review sheet; they would also be monitored by myself at the start through planning meetings and during the term to ensure progress was being made.   The ethos of Endeavour is very much independent learning, and your role is less that of teacher and more that of coach or mentor.  It was really important that children developed project management skills and used them without being over managed by myself, even if that meant at times they hit problems.  I would offer advice on how to manage any problems that arose, but I had to resist the urge to do it for them if I was to help them become more resilient and independent.  And I was regularly surprised by how much they could achieve on their own, and how well they dealt with challenges they faced.

Short term planning happened at the start of each lesson; children would review the previous session and then plan their activities for the afternoon.  Some found this planning quite hard to manage initially and needed support, but by the end of the year they could clearly see the benefits.   They would carry out their tasks and at the end write down what they had achieved and next steps.  Sharing learning was one of the key aims of Endeavour and at the end of each session two children would present their learning to the rest of the class, with a question and answer session afterwards.  These sessions are invaluable for children to think through their projects, and the questioning from other children was always surprisingly perceptive and testing.  Oh, and I would often use these sessions as a talking and listening assessment for my records!

Welcome to Endeavour- Developing Skills for Life, Learning and Work

ENDEAVOUR: Verb   try hard to do or achieve somethingNoun  an attempt to achieve a goal.

tess4_110113The online dictionary definition of the word Endeavour neatly sums up the ethos behind this learning project, begun in 2012.  As a teacher I want to challenge and motivate my students in their learning and help them deal with setbacks and problems whilst allowing them ownership of their learning.  Students now have so many opportunities available to them that allow them to take their learning in new directions.  School projects in my day involved trawling through the limited information available in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Ladybird books or the teacher’s general knowledge, and then copying images neatly into a jotter and summarising the key facts.  Today I can remember very little of the different breeds of dogs or the Kings and Queens of Britain…

The students who have worked on the Endeavour projects in the three years since it began will hopefully have a much clearer recollection of their learning in the future, and may even be able to relate the skills they began to develop in primary school to those required in their future careers.  The personalisation and choice of developing your own project, the usefulness of transferable skills development and the satisfaction of solving problems independently will surely have a more significant impact on their future selves.

One of the first Endeavour participants in primary 7.  Keen to be a fisherman like his father this boy wanted to use Endeavour to develop his own lobster fishing business.  He wrote to the business teacher at the High School to find out how to do accounts correctly and received a wealth of information, from which he set up spreadsheets to record the lobsters he sold to his father.  100_7215Then he researched the costs of buying fishing boats online and looked into finance, calculating how much he would need to save up for a deposit.  He also researched the life cycle of a lobster and the importance of ethical fishing practices to maintain lobster numbers for the future and created a photo diary explaining the process behind lobster fishing.  In the final Endeavour showcase he bought into school lobsters which he sold for a good profit to teachers and parents- they were extremely tasty!

In his Endeavour project he was able to develop the skills for work and possible future career that were relevant to him, and was far more motivated than in other areas of his learning as a consequence.  Endeavour projects are a great way to develop skills for life, learning and work in school.