As promised to the people who attended, please find below the presentation from today’s wonderful BarnsleyTSA T&L festival. Useful links to further reading are at the end.
Archive for the 'High Tech High Visit' category
Check out some of the videos from our recent visit to High Tech High, San Diego, USA. I remember walking around the corridors of a building that seemed, from a purely structural point of view, like an ordinary school: no shiny BSF designs, no curved acrylic walkways etc. Yet the work that adorned their walls was simply beautiful. Its those walls that represent the outcomes of processes underpinned by the principles of Project Based Learning – the deeply held belief that learning is active, personalised, challenging, meaningful to the real world, public and collaborative. In terms of so called ‘schooling’ I can’t think of anything more appealing!
I recently used the following ‘Storify’ at our school to kick start our own whole school culture that values beautiful work. Hope you find it useful!
Our recent trip to High Tech High in San Deigo, California, was not only inspirational but incredibly thought provoking too. In this post – the first of many to reflect upon key learning points, it is important to highlight certain cultural aspects that feature so prominently that contribute to the school’s success.
Firstly, its safe to say that High Tech High is one big exhibition of the learning that goes on there – and this seems to be the pervading cultural theme from across all school sites. From the videos and images below, its obviously clear that there are lots of student ‘displays’ across their classroom and corridors. However, the word ‘display’ under values the role that this has. Essentially, teachers and students exhibit the products from ‘Project Based Learning’ (more on that in another post.) Check out the photos below:
A key aspect of Project Based Learning is to exhibit the outcomes. This is where students invite family and friends to view their learning at school, in public buildings (including conference centres and airports) and even published in books. Students told us that this has a dramatic effect upon their levels of motivation, and consequently the quality of their work. When asked if they would put as much effort into demonstrating their understanding in exercise books where only the teacher would see it, they simply laughed and shrugged ‘No’ as if it was the most absurd question ever posed.
They told us that they have to work to their very best in order show the people that they care about (and members of the public) exactly what they are capable of. Jeff Robin later asked us ‘Would you exhibit anything that was below your very best? The answer is simply no as it goes against human nature, right!’ – and he is dead right!
Oh and by the way – they don’t worry about vandalism as students value the effort that others have put into their projects. They don’t even lock the cabinets on the corridor. Check out the video below:
Spot the error: I use the word ‘display’ instead of ‘exhibit’. The subtle difference is important.
So what did we learn from how High Tech High exhibits student learning and what should we do about it?
Easy – transform our school into one big exhibition of the learning that goes on within it. By this I don’t mean just to ‘display’ it, but to use the principles of ‘critique’ and ‘redrafting’ in order to increase student motivation and enhance feelings of pride. We too should publish our own books on the fruits of Project Based Learning and exhibit in local public buildings where parents and members of the public are invited. When I mentioned this to my Y9 Set 4 History class they were really up for it. One student said in an excited manner: ‘What? You mean for all of the world to see?’ and another said in amazement: ‘Sick!’ (I think that means really good.)
The day I returned to school I found some Y11 GCSE Design and Technology projects that were hidden away. Our new school means that we have a blank canvass, so ‘exhibiting’ the students’ work should be simple to do. When 3pm came students were clearly shocked at the standard of work when I saw them looking at the tables below. They were even more shocked (just as teachers were) when they found out who had created them = students ‘not normally known for their effort’ in class (if you know what I mean).
Check it out below – I reckon our students’ work is just as good as those half way across the world!