Engaged students in learning
The teachers at Research Primary School understand that when it comes to student learning and outcomes, play matters.
Avril Baker, Andrea Sutterby and Chris Koroneos run an open-ended Project Based Learning (PBL) program that incorporates play and activities from all areas of the curriculum.
Students in prep, year one and year two classes participate in the two hour session, three times a week, and choose from a wide range of puzzles, strategy games, construction and building sets, dramatic play areas and sensory activities, as well as structured activities related to Science, Maths and Art and Technology.
When the weather is conducive, the PBL program moves outside and the students become involved in a further extension of the indoor activities using the natural environment.
Avril believes it's a great program that fosters problem solving, creative thinking and communication skills, and also encourages personal attributes such as independence, resilience and perseverance.
"You can tell the children really enjoy PBL. They are always thoroughly engaged, particularly when planning, completing and solving problems with box construction. It keeps them socially active while learning to share, cooperate, collaborate, compromise, negotiate and communicate with others," she said.
The educational outcomes resulting from the PBL program are in abundance.
PBL intrinsically reinforces and builds upon the skills students learn throughout the day in literacy and numeracy sessions, and it provides real purpose for these skills, rather than the ‘busy work’ of a mass produced worksheet.
As the program delivers inquiry based, child-centered learning, it allows students to manage their own learning and reflect on how they have learned it.
"The students are at the center of the PBL program, with the curriculum moulded to fit their needs, rather than the other way around. The learning environment is structured to specifically cater for their needs and interests, and we encourage them to reflect on and expand their ideas," Avril said.
A favourite quote from the group of teachers is from internationally recognised author Fred Donaldson, who said, "Children learn as they play. Most importantly in play, children learn how to learn."
Avril said she can see visible outcomes from the PBL program too.
"Children are engaged, confident, curious and happy problem solvers. They learn from their experiences and each other in a supportive, multi-age learning community, and are constantly asking is it Project Learning today?"
Meets Australia Professional Teaching Standards 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.