Little learners from two- to five-years old at Pacific Early Learning Centre (ELC) are enhancing their thinking skills within the newly renovated, spacious learning studios and the award-winning outdoor learning landscaped space.
Underpinned by the principals of Reggio Emelia, the children are participants of a self-guided curriculum. The learning areas allow children to expand their ability to think, reflect and play as their environment is filled with natural light, has a calm ambience and readily available creative learning resources.
The teaching teams empower the children to use routines to move through their day. Children embrace making decisions about their daily schedule, meeting their personal needs and identifying their own thinking and learning. The children are encouraged to inquire and investigate, recognise ideas and record their findings.
The young learners also identify challenges, celebrate successes, share projects, locate resources, collaborate, brainstorm and co-construct their learning. Uninterrupted periods of play provide children with the opportunity to problem solve and further investigate an inquiry from beginning to end.
The peaceful outdoor learning area has natural materials from
the woodlands, access to a mud kitchen, a climbing tree and an amazing fruit and vegetable garden. When children interact and become aware of sustainable practises they become environmentally responsible citizens.
As children develop beautiful interpersonal relationships with each other, having rich conversations and articulating their thoughts, teachers collect these keepsakes that record a child’s learning journey for their families to enjoy.
The children and teachers devote their days to exploring and investigating the thoughtful and purposeful learning contexts, where curiosity always leads to discovery.
Using the flexible space of the ELC, Pacific Lutheran College aims to provide a personalised learning program for all students. Personalised learning is a term used to describe the tailoring of a student’s learning to match their learning needs and to support the development of their personal passions and interests.
This can happen through individual programming, small group work or by working in a flexible way with a whole group. Entry points can be designed by teachers, support staff or by the student themselves.
Personalised learning is not about students meandering their way through an aimless curriculum. It is about rigorous structures with high learning expectations supported by high levels of monitoring and intervention within a range of flexible learning environments.
Extensive research over recent years has shown that a personalised learning environment significantly improves student learning outcomes.
The Prep and Year 1 classroom refurbishment has been designed to support such learning opportunities with flexible use of the classroom space.
Large, small, circular, semicircular, individual and group work tables allow students to work in a range of ways and to maximise floor space. Lounges, beanbags and cushions provide students with a choice of working environments and promote collaboration.
Classroom learning resources have been organised across the Prep and Year 1 classrooms to allow students immediate access to the learning materials that they need generating creativity and problem solving.
The computer network allows students continual access to computers either individually, in small groups or class, depending on need.
Students’ voices are heard through individual conferences and class meetings. Class meetings are an opportunity for all students to share an equal voice. When a topic reaches a class meeting all interested students can have their say.
This step towards personalising learning
is to achieve the learning outcomes set in the Australian Curriculum with deep conceptual understandings and to also develop students’ communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and social and emotional skills.
A thirst for learning, an understanding of the learning process and connections to the ‘real world’ are powerful outcomes for all students who can make sense of their learning, achieve success and be optimistic about their future as learners.
By Sue Zweck, Head of Teaching and Learning K-5, Pacific Lutheran College
Vienna and Mia
Year 1 twins, Vienna and Mia adore the learning centres within their classroom. In Term 3, each day they have learnt about Australia and have had the chance to gain real-life experience to underpin their theoretical understanding. Mia and Vienna creatively play with the ‘Travel Agency’ that showcases towns and cities within Australia and background information. The girls also enjoy role playing in the tent that is adequately filled with pertinent utensils and belongings required to survive in Australian landscapes.
There are also other subjects focused on within their classroom, marked as designated learning centres. Mia said she enjoys the mini-library of books about Australia and Vienna likes English learning centres. Mrs Stiller, Year 1 teacher, explained, “Children are encouraged to self-learn, to be able to research and find what they need within the classroom, to enhance their learning.”