What does it take to inspire
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 apply it to.
Principal Simon McGlade provided the teachers at his school with copies of Literacy is Not Enough to read and discuss. Shortly afterward, the Fluencies model was accepted as part of their annual implementation plan for 2015. This is how Heidi, Ellie, and the Junior Team used the Fluencies to engage their Junior Learning Community in a very memorable unit about litter. It’s also a testimony of how young minds will one day transform the world.
Where do we
begin to transform?
In order 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.
“I had carefully crafted a real-life scenario; a mock newspaper article focused on the litter problem at our school, but directly connecting our litter with harm being done to animals and their habitats at our nearby marine sanctuary,” Heidi says.
“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 hoped for. 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.
How do we plot a
path to success?
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.”
As exhausted as they were from the exposition, the students knew they had accomplished something meaningful and important. What’s more, they had experienced using Fluency-based processes that resulted in deeper 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.”
How do we measure
growth and progress?
How do we continue to
improve and excel?
Exciting things are on the horizon for Heidi, Ellie, and their young garbage avengers, and the Essential Fluencies are playing a big part.
“Simply put, our results have been incredible,” Ellie declares. “The Fluencies have helped us as a school to become more understanding and better prepared for meeting all the needs of our 21st-century learners.” According to Heidi, the Fluencies have been incorporated into strategic plans, curriculum maps, and professional development planning at Newport Gardens. “I am excited to be connecting and collaborating with other educators across the globe,” she says.
Heidi and Ellie continue to support colleagues with their Fluency work, and with designing authentic and engaging scenarios that allow students to “feel, explore, think, collaborate, and create.”