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Jade Shaw

Beautiful Work

By School Updates
The notion of beautiful work is central to project based learning and requires skill, dedication and perseverance. The vision for Googong’s first Year 7 student project was to combine the different skills and elements of the various curriculums with an appreciation of the local environment and the ability to exemplify the core notion of beautiful work. Classified Tails is the culmination of an in-depth study of Googong fauna, through which the students developed a interest in the welfare of the native fauna with the impact of the development of the Googong Township. The project brings to the ‘new’ Googong, an understanding of the ‘old’ Googong, the importance of heritage and the important interactions between the environment and the community. Through a process of drafting and re-drafting until the product reached a level of excellence, the students demonstrated beautiful work, and a publication which met a borad range of curriculum outcomes from Science, Geography, Music, English, Art, Technology and History.
For our community, this project provides an insight into the ‘other’ residents in our neighbourhood and places value on their existence. For the environment, it shows that we place importance on conservation. For the School community, it shows that we are both concerned for and interested in the local context, history and heritage. For our students, it shows that we value authentic learning and see benefit in framing learning in a relevant context. Our students have applied considerable effort in realising this project, and their hard work has resulted in a tangible resource which embodies rich learning experiences and beautiful work where elements of the curriculum, the local environment and their context are linked. It has also become evident to the students that education is the key to changing our world.
The students had much fun in this learning process, in which they have spent time at Googong Dam, time outside the classroom in the natural environment, time working independently and interdependently, time creating, time refining and all the while, building their own capacity as learners. The project required each student to choose an animal of interest to them, research the animal, study the animal in its native bushland, imagine life as that animal here in Googong, design a lino print and create a soundscape. Through the production process our Year 7 students have built an understanding of their impact and place in the local environment and in the world. The students should be immensely proud of this published work, which presents their exploration into the Googong fauna, from all angles of the curriculum.

Deep Learning

By School Updates

As I reflect on the learning taking place at Googong, there are many occasions where I see evidence of deep learning, where through the process of experiencing and reflecting, imaginations are captured, and a student’s thinking shifts from the familiar to a new understanding. Making sense of the new, reflecting on the old, wondering about other possibilities, asking questions, looking from different angles, experimenting through trial and error, learning from mistakes and linking ideas are all contributors to deep learning experiences. It is the richness of experiential learning that provides a solid foundation for education and that which will continue to promote deep thinking, powerful learning and life-long skills for all our students.

In a recent article on experiential learning, my interest was piqued by the discussion on the elements which promote deep learning. For deep learning to occur a once familiar, concrete concept is challenged by a problem or scenario outside their usual experience or understanding. This process stimulates new thought, inquiry, reflection and questioning. From their work over the span of thirty years in the field of experiential learning, Alice and David Kolb advocate for learning which requires students to “grapple with conflicts and contradictions and resolve them through collaboration”. These are the learning experiences which spark independent thought processes. The notion of grappling, collaborating and reflecting are dispositions promoted by Guy Claxton in his Building Learning Power framework. Grappling with conflicts, noticing, making links, being absorbed and collaborating are skills we are seeking to grow in our students daily, and that which I see so clearly through the many learning experiences in our school each day.