The students of Newport Gardens Primary School are eager to make a positive impact in both their school and their whole community. Theodora McGlade knows this well and has seen it in her own teaching adventures.
Read about Theodora’s young fitness avengers and their exploits in this inspiring case study.
At Newport Gardens Primary School in Victoria, Australia, the processes of the Essential Fluencies are a big part of the teaching and learning landscape. Many of the Newport Gardens teachers have had great success with using the Fluencies as their framework for creating meaningful project-based learning for students. Theodora McGlade is undoubtedly no exception.
“We identified The Fluencies as a way that students could take ownership of their learning, think deeply about critical and relevant world questions, and take action that is meaningful to them,” Theodora claims.
Using Solution Fluency, the default position for the students is one of maturity and equality.
These are precisely the kinds of qualities that Theodora and her teaching partner Michael would see their students demonstrate as they faced an exciting and challenging prospect. They were to apply Solution Fluency to the idea of promoting a healthier lifestyle to their peers in school and eventually to their whole community.
Theodora and Michael’s students had to discover how to make pursuing fitness both accessible and appealing. At the same time, they would be addressing a rather alarming statistic.
“Our challenge in this inquiry was to change the statistic of 65% of children in Australia becoming obese by the year 2020,” Theodora explains. Their challenge was to inform other children and inspire a change in their behaviour to achieve a long-term mindset. In response, the students created the Obesity Fighters team.
In the course of their research, the students of the Obesity Fighters team soon discovered the contributing factors to this threat to children’s health and wellness included the following:
- increasing the use of technology
- a lack of physical activity
- poor eating habits
- a lack of nutritional knowledge
The Obesity Fighters assembled during the Dream phase of the student’s work with Solution Fluency. They dreamed of all the ways they could promote interest in health and fitness through the use of a range of communication strategies. These included magazines, a website, an informative fitness video hosted by the Obesity Fighters, and a “bring a healthy lunch box to school” day.
Theodora reflects on her students’ accomplishments with a sense of pride in what they were capable of achieving.
“The result made a positive impact, with many children changing their habits to change the projected obesity statistic,” she recalls. “This occurred with the students in our learning community and across our school and the wider community.”
She adds, “Working directly with Lee Watanabe-Crockett was an invaluable experience, as he was able to do for us what we do for our students. Lee brought clarity to the process, provided opportunities for exploration, and offered plenty of support along the way.”
With the Fluencies, students are able to look broadly at their defined problem of practice and seek points of view other than those of their teacher. They are able to question, critique and challenge information to discern its validity, reliability and usability as well.
- Students find working with the Fluencies useful and engaging.
- They display a strong understanding of the processes and the content.
- Learning is shared with parents and with the broader community.
- Students are developing high-level thinking and problem-solving skills and mindsets.
- They are nurturing their independence and maturity.
Using Solution Fluency, the default position for the students is one of maturity and equality. The students see the teachers as one source of information or validation of their work, rather than the font of knowledge from which the teacher drip feeds the students at a pace that suits the teacher.
- Teachers see the Fluencies processes extending far beyond the curriculum in their applicability.
- They are stepping into the role of facilitators, rather than directors, of their students’ learning.
- The Fluencies provide an answer to the question, “What is 21st-century learning?”
- Teachers are inspired to mentor others in the Fluencies processes.
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 Newport Gardens PS.
- Teachers are both learning from and challenging each other constructively.
- With the Fluencies, the mandated curriculum is delivered in a manner that is interesting and relevant to students.
- Experience with the Fluencies has given Newport Gardens an actual process of planning and support for finding a stronger connection to student learning.