As we near the end of Term 3 its time to pause and take a moment to reflect and share the importance of giving students the opportunities to voice what they have discovered about themselves as “learners”. At my school this year instead of the traditional parent teacher interviews, we explored and implemented student led conferences.
There were lots of questions and hard thinking about what that might look like across all stages of learning………and for me, especially ES1. The first step was to match the 6 pillars, with the stage outcomes and learning tasks that the students had worked on during Semester One of this year. Then an integral part was having picture cues that allowed the students to stop and reflect how they were progressing with their overall efforts and learning.
It was important to use student friendly language such as “I can” statements that enabled the students to firstly reflect and then evaluate how they felt they had achieved within that outcome/pillar. They then had to prove that their choice of faces were correct by providing evidence either through their actions, verbal responses and their recorded work (assessment tasks as well as KLA work books). After completing the self-evaluation sheets each child had 3 strengths and 1 area to work on highlighted and ready to be presented to their parents during their student led conference.
Parents attended an information night prior to booking in for the student led conferences so that they understood the process, what to expect and how best to support their child during the conference……..a new beginning for families!
The students viewed a video that showed what happened at a Kindergarten student led conference and then practiced so that they knew what to do both with actions as well as words. We added picture cues as reminders.
Picture cues for the students to refer back to during the student led conference
What did I discover? These conferences empowered my ES1 students in a way that I had never imagined possible! The students were able to articulate what the faces meant and explain the task they were reflecting on and then share their evidence. Even those students who are quiet participants in the classroom took control of the conference and proudly shared with their parents about their strengths and what they wanted to work on.
So if you ask me do I have leaders in ES1 the simple answer is YES! Students need a voice and in student led conferences they have a unique opportunity to share what they are good at and highlight what they know is something to work on.
As we know ‘play’ is serious learning for children so it makes sense then to make important connections between playing and oral communication skills. The Early Stage 1 English syllabus enables this through the following outcome statements:
- Communicate through speaking, listening, reading, writing, viewing and representing
- Think in ways that are imaginative, creative, interpretive and critical
- Express themselves and their relationships with others and their world
So what does that look like in my classroom?
Developmental play in ES1-
Communicating, problem solving, thinking critically and creatively while working collaboratively!
There are 5 activities planned for developmental play every day and the students choose a different activity each day that allows them to build on their communication skills of speaking and listening. Each teacher has a focus group of students to work with on a daily basis to enable them to develop and consolidate their oral language. Other students who are good role models for speaking and use of vocabulary are included within these activities. The planned activities are based on the individual needs of the students within the class and are rotated on a fortnightly basis. In this way students can improve and consolidate their learning opportunities and use of oral language from the first week. There are times that we change elements within the activity to challenge the students and extend their critical thinking and their ability to work collaboratively. There are 10-12 minutes provided to complete the activities and at times the students will negotiate for more time so that they can test out their creations or complete their task…..all part of the learning journey. We also reflect on our learning and make connections to our 6 school pillars of learning.
These 6 pillars of learning link directly with the Across Curriculum Documents of the Australian Curriculum. We have also embedded them into our developmental play program to show how they link to all our learning and syllabus documents.
Programming format for developmental play.
One of the activity and sign in sheets for developmental play.
Every day we are working on our speaking and listening skills……..
Every day we are learning the value of play and how it connects to assist us with being creative and critical thinkers, to communicate and work collaboratively, manage ourselves and relate to others!
We are all life long learners and play is part of that journey……….where is your journey taking you to?