Canberra’s Melrose High School has always encouraged achievement within a safe and friendly learning environment. Technology teacher Stephannie Dormer’s quest is to provide this for her students every day.
Read about how a unique project using the Essential Fluencies allowed her to reach her technology students like never before.
Every enterprising educator strives to offer their students exceptional educational experiences. Stephannie Dormer, Executive Teacher of Technology at Melrose High School in Canberra, knew precisely where she wanted to be and what she wanted her students to learn.
Considering the best way to go about this led her to the work of Wabisabi Learning, and the Essential Fluencies. “Although I already understood the Fluencies, I felt as though I was in the dark with what I was doing,” Stephannie claims.
“I think the biggest challenge I faced was the uncertainty of the students and whether they would learn or not, and then the impact this would have on the rest of the course.”
The content being studied was programming control structures. This refers to detailing the direction that a program will take in computing. It determines how a program will respond to given specific parameters.
“When I implemented Solution Fluency I knew what I wanted the kids to learn as the end product, but I hadn’t planned out each step along the way,” Stephannie recalls. “I had a couple of milestones that I knew we had to cross, but apart from that the process developed one lesson at a time.”
Stephannie encouraged all her students to demonstrate their knowledge in ways that they believed would be most suitable. Providing them with that level of autonomy went a long way toward ensuring her learners not only took control of their projects but that they also gained a higher awareness and understanding of the content.
“Previously, when I taught this topic, it was dry, boring, and hard work for both my students and me to get through. While the learning still took the same time, the depth of understanding was considerably deeper.”
The students of Melrose High School have experienced a renewed vitality for their learning, and a greater sense of responsibility and creative control in how they learn. So what has changed for learners?
- Students are thinking more for themselves and assuming responsibility.
- Lessons are engaging and related to real-life learning.
- Students are developing a sense of ownership for learning.
- They are working on projects that solve challenging problems that are relevant to their interests.
Stephannie enjoys watching her students decide what they are going to learn and how she is going to assess them. After using the Fluencies, she can see new areas for learning and can watch the students’ skills develop.
- Letting students take the lead has shown that it is possible to learn when they are doing entirely different things.
- Teachers have assumed the roles of facilitators and “guides on the side” as students take the lead in learning.
- The Fluencies processes allow teachers to connect content topics to their students’ interests and increase student engagement.
Ultimately any shift of pedagogy and philosophy will have a lasting effect on the whole-school culture. After working with Wabisabi, this is what's happening at Melrose High School.
- Embracing the Fluencies is gradually fostering a more creative and dynamic school culture.
- There is a more profound sense of collaboration between students and teachers as well as between the teachers themselves.
- Integrity and curiosity are developing for everyone in unexpected ways.
- Educators are being inspired to both learn and instruct in many different ways to connect to learners.