Tag Archives: student work

Moments of Wonder: spine tingly times

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At school students in Key Stage 3 (just year 7 & 8 for us) have scheduled ‘project style homeworks’ in non-core subjects which are extended pieces of work designed to encourage more independence, pride and creativity. We can set optional homework at other times of course should we wish to, but the idea is to ease workload for staff and students so that what is produced is of much higher quality and takes more effort. Rather than setting something for the sake of it. I know there are always arguments and dilemmas about homework: what to set, when, how often, etc. . Personally I see no point in homework unless it has real purpose and you do something meaningful with it, so generally this means consolidating / testing what was done in class or preparing for the next lesson. But the project homeworks are different in a way. They are still meant to summarise learning, but are mainly for developing independent enquirimagey and celebrating learning. The projects are effort graded and rewarded with prizes and house points as well.

Today was hand-in day for Year 7. They have been studying Amazing Places and their project is one based on the excellent ‘How to be an Explorer of the World’ book which provides quirky interesting activities to do to encourage fieldwork, curiosity and seeing the world through different means. The three tasks were first chosen and developed by Sam Atkins and have tiers of Gold, Silver, Bronze to choose from for challenge. Kids can ‘pick’n’mix’ the challenges so long as they do something for each task: 1) distinctive features of a place, 2) your favourite street, 3) sound mapping that favourite street.

imageWhen we introduced the project I emphasised that we wanted students to just experience the outside, get curious, explore, and just have a go. The emphasis was on being unique and creative. Although I recommended certain presentation / submission styles if they wanted them I set the challenge that they each do something different from others. I think many would probably think the task is a bit mad and hippy but I just wanted to encourage children to have moments of exploration and spend time appreciating their environment and being creative, rather than always doing the same type of activity or it always having an ‘assessment’ element. Just doing something to be proud of and celebrate is enough at times.

So today was showcase day. And wow. Just wow. I was honestly blown away with the effort they had put in. Everything had a unique slant. They all wandered round interrogating each other about where they had been, why they chose that place, the unique features, and we just celebrated everything. I was buzzing. They were buzzing. They were so proud of their work. We had a giant board game, videos, miniature museums in a box, Lego models, even a Minecraft world of their local area. In every class I visited of my colleagues as well there was a real feeling of pride in what had been accomplished, and some truly impressive individual efforts. All credit to the team for encouraging the students so well. It was such a spine tingly day, just celebrating awesomeness. Good times.

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BBC News School Report

Priory School has a tradition of taking part in the annual BBC News School Report and

logo has had great success in the past including our children interviewing Huw Edwards live from the BBC South Today studio, quizzing Lord Sebastian Coe at the Copperbox of London2012, and creating and planting geocaches at Box Hill along the Olympic road cycle race route with our very own BBC South Today media team shadowing us for the 6pm news edition. The school report project involves taking our Year 8 students and giving them the skills, knowledge and enthusiasm to act as journalists and reporters to research, write, film, edit and upload their own news reports by the live day. Generally we have a trip somewhere for the lead feature, then on the live day itself the children work together to write topical and ‘breaking news’ features which are then moulded into a 5minute long news report video. This video is uploaded to the school site from where the BBC taps in live at the deadline, then choosing which schools are worthy of being aired on local or national news shows or on the BBC website. It is a very rewarding project. I have led it ever since my enthusiastic Head of Department (@daviderogers) ‘suggested’ I take it on as a project in my NQT year and have seen it evolve and morph each year. I thoroughly recommend all schools take part in this.

Don't all school trips have a private media crew?
Don’t all school trips have a private media crew?

I tend to run it as an after-school project for students to sign up to, approximately 15-30 kids. I have found smaller groups more effective. It is cross-curricular, not just Geography led – although obviously everything is essentially ‘geography’ 😉 . The focus is on skills & experience; developing literacy, enquiry, collaboration, timekeeping, media skills, working with professionals, etc,. Prior to the live day I run workshops to develop these skills and introduce the project, these may involve: tech sessions with our IT technicians or others (e.g. for recording and editing movie, blogging, editing webpages, etc,.), literacy work (drafting and editing quality articles), film practise, running through the BBC practise exercises (via www.bbc.co.uk/schoolreport) among other activities.

On the live day itself the students run everything. I am the facilitator. We have been fortunate in the past to be able to report live from Action Stations (@seeNavybeNavy) at the Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth which is a great space, with Phil Wright (@fubar2u_2000) providing great support to make the day run smoothly. Logistics need thinking through carefully in advance in order to take a step back on the day. As someone who is a bit of a perfectionist it can be hard to take a back seat and allow others to be in control – but it is their day, their responsibility, a taste of real life and being professional. They have to work to tight deadlines, have to self-manage, work as a team, coordinate, prioritise. I could real off pretty much every aspect of SEAL / PLTS and it would be met through the project.

Working with professionals at Action Stations
Working with professionals at Action Stations

I would recommend creating a strict timeline for the day (see example here) with key times for getting the group together in order to reflect, evaluate, energise. Get your local press involved ; BBC and other local radio stations, contact the local tv, local newspapers, etc,. Even try the mayor! Make it big. The children feed off of the fact that this is a real event, that other ‘real adults’ who are not just teachers are interested, that their work is shown to the big wide world. We keep a twitter feed going and also live blog through posterous – all done by the students themselves. Student identity is protected by not revealing full names, and the videos / images are only available through protected youtube channel and the school website www.prioryprojects.wordpress.com.

Interviewing staff on board HMS Warrior about Dockyard changes
Interviewing staff on board HMS Warrior about Dockyard changes

We include any student who displays enthusiasm and can be responsible, it’s not for the elite or G&T or anything else. Any are welcome. I’d like to point out that in the 2012 geocache report one of our students reminded the South Today film crew how he had ‘media training’ – received courtesy of his inclusion in Super Nanny!

It can be hard work! And it can be stressful. But by 14:30 when the report is finally uploaded and you see the kids’ faces it is awesome. After all : “Learning should be a joy and full of excitement. It is life’s greatest adventure…” Taylor Caldwell

Have a look here on 21st March after 4pm to see all our hard work!

In the meantime – our projects that we are working on include:

kidsmeet Pompey : students from 5 schools across Portsmouth working together with teachers & professionals to plan activities that use mobile devices for learning

mobile@priory : how Priory students led the way constructing a groundbreaking mobile device policy

World Poetry Day 2013 : students create a poetry orienteering game around the Historic Dockyard. Poems created by our students and local poets will be displayed at exhibits around the dockyard with QR codes linking them to create a permanent record of our work.

@priorybench : the revamped school bench that has its own hashtag as it tours around

London 2012 : is there an Olympic legacy or is it a myth?

TeachMeet Pompey : what happens when kids take over and teach the teachers?

Olympic geocaching ; updating our 2012 geocaches

HMS Warrior & Mary Rose – the historic dockyard in Portsmouth

Below are some of the links for our past work – have a peek. And get involved!!

BBC South Today – Geocaching clip

Example School Report bulletin – disclaimer: this is an online upload version for the website so poorer quality!

Live at BBC South Today
Live at BBC South Today
BBC South Today studio Southampton