By: Anne-Marie McDonald
Whanganui City College is scrapping its subject-based learning.
Instead all their lessons will be integrated under a single theme, in a bold new move that will give students greater responsibility for their own timetable – with the support of their teachers.
The new method will be used only for the junior school in 2018.
Deputy principal Des Lynch said year 9 and 10 students would not have a traditional subject-based timetable.
“The students will be working in syndicates with a group of teachers from across the different subject areas to look at projects that will align with a broad theme.
“Within that theme, there will be a different emphasis for each of the four terms. Within that emphasis the students, with the help of their pod of teachers, will set up enquiry questions. Then they’ll look at how they can use the time in the classroom to be able to develop those enquiries and pull in learnings from each subject area.
“It will be quite different from what we have done here in the past,” Mr Lynch said.
However, the emphasis on literacy and numeracy would not change, he said.
“Those things won’t disappear – we’re just finding ways of giving our students more authentic learning. It’s applied learning, rather than abstract and compartmentalised learning.
“We don’t want our students to learn te reo Māori for an hour, then maths for an hour, then English for an hour – we want it to all be one.”
Mr Lynch said the objective of the new model was to get the students preparing for NCEA level 1, in year 11, in a “better place than they are now”.
He said the system would be more flexible and allow students to put greater emphasis on subject areas they enjoy or need to work on.
“Let’s say that as a student I know, after talking with one of my teachers, that I have a weakness in a particular area of maths. So rather than having an hour-long maths period, in which I learn exactly the same maths as everyone else, it’s more of a workshop-based approach that will allow me to find something that’s being offered this week to help support me in that area of maths.”
Principal Peter Kaua said the decision came after a very successful trial this year with a Year 11 class. This class is an integrated sports science unit, meaning that all of the students’ subjects, including English, maths and science, have a sports science theme.
The class has a pod of teachers, who teach collaboratively.
“Over half the students in that class, when they first enrolled in the school, were two curriculum levels below where they should have been. Now we’re looking at about 80 per cent of them getting NCEA level 1,” Mr Kaua said.
“So then we looked at why that model was so successful.”
Mr Kaua said most staff were supportive of the changes, and were busy preparing for the new way of teaching.
Some staff members would shortly travel to Hobsonville Point School in Auckland, which is already using this method to teaching, to see it in practice.
+Whanganui City College is holding an information session on the new teaching model. It will be held at Whanganui City College hall, Ingestre St, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, October 31. All parents are welcome.
Source: Wanganui Chronicle