Case Studies

Case Study: Adventures in Programming

Stephannie Dormer provided a unique project using the Essential Fluencies which allowed her to reach her technology students like never before.

melrose high school

Melrose School opened its doors in Pearce, Canberra in 1970. From the start, they have always encouraged achievement within a safe and friendly learning environment. They offer their students a balanced curriculum and put a focus on a school spirit that promotes well-being and an ideal of service and respect for others.

Melrose High School Website

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.

How to we inspire lasting and meaningful change

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.”

How do we begin to transform

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.”

How best can we measure growth and progress


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.

    School Culture

    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.

      How do we ensure learning continues to improve and excel

      By the end of the unit, Stephannie had received many creative submissions, including PowerPoints, essays, and flash animations. “In previous years I had not been able to teach a programming language to the students; we just did drag-and-drop programming,” Stephannie says. “This semester, we seemed to progress further with better understanding. The students became a more cohesive group.”

      And how did the students do with their projects using Solution Fluency? “The results were outstanding and beyond my wildest expectations. It was an absolute pleasure to mark!”

      Using Solution Fluency in Stephannie’s technology classroom has transformed things in positive ways—including Stephannie herself. “As a teacher, some of my previous beliefs have been challenged and are still being challenged,” she says.

      Case Study: Adventures in Programming—Melrose HSCase Study: Adventures in Programming—Melrose HS

      Case Study: Adventures in Programming—Melrose HS
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      Canberra’s Melrose High School has always encouraged achievement within a safe and friendly learning environment.... read more