Case Studies

Case Study: Alfie the Alien

When “Alfie the Alien” landed at Parap Primary School, wanting to learn about family, Year 1 learners took the little visitor in as one of their very own.

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Parap Primary School, situated in Australia’s Northern Territory, first opened its doors in 1958. The school offers students a creative, caring and nurturing environment for learning, with dedicated and experienced teachers providing a positive and enriching program that genuinely appreciates the individual needs and interests of each child.

Parap Primary School Website

When “Alfie the Alien” landed at Parap Primary School, he wanted to learn about family. Sue Bishop’s Year 1 learners didn’t hesitate and took the little visitor in as one of their very own.

Learn all about how Sue’s students used Solution Fluency to both teach and learn about family, food, and fellowship alongside their brand new extraterrestrial honour student.

How to we inspire lasting and meaningful change

Families are more than just our relatives; they are among our most meaningful and essential human relationships. Without family and the bonds it represents, our lives are lonelier and less enriching.

The Year 1 learners of Parap Primary School were faced with a compelling challenge about this. Their teacher Susan Bishop wanted them to use Solution Fluency to consider how they would explain the idea of family to a visitor from another planet.

alfie hangs out

Alfie the Alien hangs out in the home of a Year 1 learner

“Alfie the Alien landed in the Year 1 classes in Term 2 asking a BIG question: What is family? He started off wanting to know about families and how they work,” Sue explains.

“Once the students started discovering information for Alfie, the question got bigger, and they then looked at what we need to survive on Earth.”

How do we begin to transform

Sue presented her Year 1 learners with the following scenario:

Alfie has come to Earth and needs to know how a family works. Using Solution Fluency, show Alfie the fundamental needs of human life (love, shelter, food and water).

“Our concern with our big question was the diversity of families within our classrooms, and it was becoming a sensitive matter,” Sue recalls. So they decided that Alfie would become a part of each students’ family. 

The learners took turns hosting Alfie each night to help him find out more about families and how they work. Students ended up taking photos of Alfie and documenting his stay at their homes. 

The Year 1 learners’ new extraterrestrial friend even became a regular part of their morning investigations in class. They also wrote a book about him called Alfie the Alien Has Landed, which they entered into the Young Territory Author Awards.

How do we plot a path to sucess

Along the way, Year 1 students discovered that some of the best learning happens unexpectedly. For instance, nobody expected poor Alfie the Alien to be diagnosed with a nut and egg allergy—but that’s what happened.

However, the unexpected always gives rise to newer opportunities for learning, as Sue knows well. “From this, our next BIG question appeared, which was if food is always our friend,” she says.

allfie's alien allergies

The Parap learners map out a way to help Alfie with his food allergies

The students’ task from there was to incorporate Solution Fluency once more into building a restaurant diorama accompanied by a menu that was egg-free and nut-free. According to Sue, the students also showed a lot of creative diversity in answering this challenge.

“Along our Solution Fluency’ journey some students went different ways,” she notes. “Some built restaurants and created menus, some followed Grandma Poss and Hush in travelling around Australia, and others built a Healthy Food Pyramid.”

How best can we measure growth and progress


With Solution Fluency, the learning is about students and their interests. Sue's students feel that it has become more exciting and free.

  • With Solution Fluency, the learning is about students and their interests.
  • The absence of structured/robotic learning leaves them in charge of what they are learning.
  • Learners enjoy working in groups and have become efficient at delegating the roles of each member and also keeping each other on task.


    Teachers like Sue and her colleagues enjoy the whole process of the 6Ds. They find the common language and the skills used throughout the Solution Fluency process are vibrant and meaningful, both to the learners and to themselves.

    • Using Solution Fluency allows for relaxation from the linear structuring of tasks and still creates powerful lessons and authentic learning.
    • Solution Fluency goes hand in hand with asking the BIG questions to help students learn to solve meaningful problems.
    • Students have more of a chance of success because both their social and emotional needs are met using Solution Fluency.

    School Culture

    Within Sue's classroom, she reports the academic results have been tremendous, with most students achieving above the expected level in the HASS learning area. She also found that because all of her students had a chance of having success since their social and emotional needs were even being met, this made them excited and hungry for learning more.

    • Staff have been given more autonomy through their professional judgment.
    • Learning is more fluid, organic, and more enriching as a result.
    • The Fluencies provide a pedagogical approach that puts children at the center of the learning.
    • Students, parents, teachers, and other community members are all working together toward shared goals.

      How do we ensure learning continues to improve and excel

      As Alfie the Alien said his goodbyes and returned to his home planet after learning about family, Sue and her Year 1 students looked back with pride on this remarkable learning journey.

      “For me, the most significant benefit of this process is that all of my students have achieved some form of success in each lesson,” Sue reflects. “I have also loved observing their newfound love for learning when solving the big question.”

      The common language and the skills used throughout Solution Fluency are both vibrant and meaningful.

      Sue has plans to continue using Solution Fluency as much as she can in her teaching practices since there are so many benefits to both her learners and herself in using it.

      “The next step is working on including the big question in as many learning areas as possible. For our school, it would be great to see consistency with this process in all classrooms.”

      Case Study: Alfie the Alien—Parap PSCase Study: Alfie the Alien—Parap PS

      Case Study: Alfie the Alien—Parap PS
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