Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Redefining School Part 2

Northern Beaches Christian School featured in my last post. This post looks at their middle school "Learning Matrix". The students talk about the "matrix" in almost as reverent a term as we do about the movie. That's where the similarity stops though!

Basically the matrix is a combo of Bloom and Gardner with a range of activities in the matrix that are either compulsory or voluntary. Students must do the compulsory and can choose a range of the voluntary. This is a basic graphic representation of the matrix for Year 7 for term 2.
Students work on their "matrix projects" for around 6 x 70 minute sessions every two weeks, though as a year 7 syndicate teachers also share some of their maths, english, science and history work in the matrix too. This term the verbal tasks were all from the history curriculum and students were building websites or creating travel brochures in the "creating" and "evaluating" sections of the matrix. 

Students work to achieve a certain "points total" for the term.

Each task (cell) is mapped to a range of outcomes from the NSW curriculum and teachers and students use a range of organisers to track their progress against these. These organisers range from printed sheets to Excel spreadsheets, but not many are done via Moodle - though I wonder if they will be able to use the Moodle rubric from 2.2 to make this more integrated than it is now.

Collaboration amongst staff is crucial here. The team/syndicate agree on the tasks and where they sit - after all, they all have to work with all of the students.

As a planning and curriculum coverage tool, this type of grid is useful in itself. Coupled with specific activities aimed at the various intelligences and taxonomies, it is even more useful. Linked to the LMS (Moodle) is yet a further strengthening of the entire process.

There is an element of gamification in the curriculum too. So while the tasks themselves are somewhat authentic, they also form part of the overall theme for the term which is usually related to some notion of puzzle/competition/investigative process. The students certainly seem to enjoy it. And that's important. In fact - the school believes that their behavioural problems have decreased by some 75% in the past 2 years as a direct result of the gamification of the curriculum where possible.

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