In February 2019, St Conval’s teaching staff used Education Scotland’s ‘Transforming Learning’ toolkit to explore and identify actions and changes necessary for bringing about transformational change in learning and teaching in St Conval’s. This work generated four broad action points, one of which was: Classrooms will be flexible spaces which facilitate a range of learning approaches and support pupil-led learning.
Staff unpacked this action point into specific outcomes:
- Task-boards will facilitate personalisation and choice, encouraging pupils to be independent, take responsibility for their own learning and make informed decisions about the order in which they complete activities
- There will be defined zones/areas to support particular types of activities and areas of the curriculum
- Learning areas will be flexible, with no ‘fixed’ seating plan
- Neighbouring classrooms will regularly be combined to create connected learning zones
- Wall displays will be built up over time to show the learning journey
- Digital technology will be used to support pupils to be both independent and collaborative learners
- Pupils and teachers will view the playground and local area as an everyday extension of the classroom
St Conval’s Active8 approach aims to make the above a reality in classrooms across our school. We want all of our pupils to be engaged and challenged in their learning. Active8 supports this by giving pupils across all stages increased autonomy and greater freedom to choose the order they complete their various learning activities across a given day or week. Active8 seeks to develop confident, independent and responsible learners who benefit from genuine personalisation and choice in their learning whilst still receiving their full entitlement to a Broad General Education across all curriculum areas. It allows our curriculum to be delivered in creative and innovative ways, incorporating active learning, cooperative learning and digital technology to support and enhance our pupils’ experiences.
A TYPICAL DAY
A typical day in the Active8 classroom includes a variety of teacher-led, independent and collaborative activities. Whole-class lessons still feature, where appropriate, along with ‘fixtures’ such as assemblies and going over homework.
Following morning prayers, the children automatically begin a focused starter task (e.g. a short mental maths, spelling or handwriting activity); this provides time for the class teacher to complete any administration. The class teacher then introduces the activities for the day. These activities are displayed on the Task Board, set out like the one below.
The Task Board displays the various tasks to be completed by learners during the course of the day, each colour-coded depending on the curriculum area (red for Numeracy, green for Literacy, blue for other curricular areas and yellow for Explore and Extend). After the initial morning briefing, tasks can be completed in any order the learner chooses. The exception to this is when the tile displays the SUPERHERO OWL icon. When the owl icon is displayed, the activity requires direct teacher input and the learner must wait until they have received this before they can begin the task. All activities displayed on the main task board are ‘must do’ tasks and should be completed by the deadline shown on the timer. All ‘must do’ tasks must also be completed before a pupil begins Explore & Extend activities (see below).
When the main task board refers to Literacy or Numeracy group task charts, pupils know to check these for details of their day’s activities. These task charts direct pupils towards the specific differentiated task(s) for their group. As on the main board, task charts with the owl icon will require direct teaching input, whereas activities on task charts without the icon can be completed independently. Task charts may also indicate if the activity requires an ipad or if it should be completed in a jotter.
EXPLORE AND EXTEND ACTIVITIES
Explore and Extend activities, which may run for up to two or three weeks, give pupils free access to a range of activities across the curriculum. Building on previous classroom learning, these activities provide learners with additional focused time to spend on areas they particularly enjoy or they feel they would like to improve in. This empowers pupils, giving them a sense of ownership of their learning and helping them feel the classroom is a learning space which truly belongs to them. Pupils should be directly involved in developing their class’s current bank of Explore and Extend activities to ensure they are tailored to meet the needs of their particular class. Pupils record and evaluate Explore and Extend activities using the sheet shown on the right. This gives pupils the opportunity to consider the skills they have used in the process of completing the activity (Communication, Creativity, Identifying, etc.) as well as asking them to comment on how they have developed these skills. Finally, there is space to rate the activity.
RECORDING COMPLETED ACTIVITIES
Throughout the day, as they complete each task, pupils record this on the Task Record Grid by removing an appropriately-coloured velcro counter next to their name. For example, if they complete a Numeracy & Maths task, they remove a red counter; a Literacy task, a green counter, and so on. The Task Record Grid gives the class teacher an instant overview of the progress each pupil has made in working through their daily tasks, allowing them to easily identify those children who may need extra support or prompted to increase their pace of work.