What does it take to inspire
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 certainly no exception.
“The Fluencies were identified by our principal 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.
These are exactly the kinds of qualities that Theodora and her teaching partner Michael would see their students demonstrate as they faced an interesting 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.
Where do we
begin to transform?
Theodora and Michael’s students had to discover how to make pursuing fitness both easy 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 next goal was to find ways to inform other children of this, 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 an increasing use of technology, a lack of physical activity, poor eating habits, and a lack of basic nutritional knowledge
How do we plot a
path to success?
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 an 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 end result made a positive impact, with many children changing their habits in order to change the projected obesity statistic,” she recalls. “This occurred not only with the students in our learning community but also 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.”
How do we measure
growth and progress?
How do we continue to
improve and excel?
As Theodora looks back on the amazing journey her students experienced, she marvels at how much things have changed for the better in modern classrooms. “This position of facilitator challenges 200 years of a teaching paradigm,” she says. “We have seen students’ excitement and enthusiasm to take control of the direction of their learning.”
Theodora explains Newport Garden’s vision for the future beautifully. “For the school, the next phases of implementation will require additional induction for new staff, continued mentoring for current staff, and hopefully the development of connections with other schools,” she claims.
“We believe this strengthens the understandings we have, and keeps us actively engaged in the process for both the students we work with, and also for students others work with.”