At Newport Gardens Primary School they have a vision that’s all about nurturing and enabling students. As such, they constantly strive to develop independent thinkers and creative problem solvers who are prepared for the future.
See how students used Solution Fluency to face the challenge of cleaning up their environment.
Any modern teacher working with the Essential Fluencies can attest that kids often surprise you. Newport Gardens Primary School teachers Heidi James and Ellie Barclay can tell you all about what kids can do with an inspiring real-world challenge, and the proper learning framework to which they can apply it.
Principal Simon McGlade provided the teachers at his school with copies of Literacy is Not Enough to read and discuss. Shortly afterwards, the Fluencies model became a part of their annual implementation plan for 2015.
Heidi, Ellie, and the Junior Team used the Fluencies to engage their Junior Learning Community in a very memorable unit about litter. It’s a testimony of how young minds will one day transform the world.
For their 'Litter Bugs' unit to have the desired impact, Heidi and Ellie needed a bold way to establish the issue of how litter affects their school and the global environment. They took a very creative approach with their introduction.
"We had carefully crafted a real-life scenario; a mock newspaper article focused on the litter problem at our school," Heidi explains. "It directly correlated our littering to the harm to animals and their habitats happening at our nearby marine sanctuary."
Heidi and Ellie's "Litter Bugs" mock press release featured stills of the trash littering the playground of Newport Gardens
“We hoped to connect with our students at a possible number of different levels, and to elicit an emotional response.”
It worked better than they could have imagined. The Junior Learning Community at Newport Gardens decided parents and students needed to learn about how to make a positive difference to our environment. Thus their Environmental Expo was born.
The Newport Gardens Junior Learning Community’s Environmental Expo was a huge hit with teachers and parents alike. Heidi and Ellie watched in amazement as their students became guides, experts, and ‘garbage avengers’ that interacted and shared what they learned with practical, real-world exhibits.
“I was buoyed by the overwhelming success of our Junior Community Litter Bugs inquiry process that culminated in a student-led Environmental Expo,” recalls Heidi. “Our expo exceeded our expectations.”
Some of Newport's "garbage avengers" pitching in to beautify their school grounds
As exhausted as they were from the exposition, the students knew they had accomplished something meaningful and essential. What’s more, they had experienced using Fluency-based processes that resulted in more in-depth learning and a higher awareness of the world around them.
“I have always known that it was important for students to be interested in their learning,” Ellie claims, “but I never truly understood the power of engagement until we implemented Solution Fluency with our Grade 1 and 2 students.”
Ellie and Heidi are excited that students have responded positively to the Fluencies, and see them think deeply about issues that affect our world. It's been heart-warming to see them express compassion for living things, and show a strong desire to make a positive difference.
- Students are beginning to take ownership of their learning.
- Students are empowered by responding to critical issues.
- Learning is shared with parents and the school community.
- Students see higher levels of relevance in their learning.
- Learning is continuing at home with voluntary research and resource creation.
Based on data and student feedback, Heidi and Ellie both assert their school needed to refine teaching practices to foster a stronger student voice and student engagement. For them, the authentic, project-based and student-centered pedagogy of the Essential Fluencies made perfect sense.
- Teachers see the importance of finding connections between the content and the students.
- There is a higher value placed on creativity and collaboration skill sets.
- The Fluencies provide an exciting pedagogical approach that puts children at the heart of the learning.
Heidi and Ellie work in a primary school environment in learning communities where they plan, teach and assess in professional learning teams. Luckily they had support from school leadership to take risks and try different ways to implement Fluency-inspired and framed inquiry processes. They believe their school is ultimately better because of it.
- Teachers and students are supported and encouraged to take learning risks and are having fun learning together.
- With the Fluencies, the mandated curriculum is delivered in a manner that is interesting and relevant to students.
- The inquiry process has become more meaningful and purposeful.
- There are a greater understanding and appreciation of the Essential Fluencies and how to integrate them into teaching and learning practices.