STEM and Play Based Learning 2017 and beyond

A letter regarding resources and facilities from Albany Rise School Council

Dear Albany Rise Primary School families,

Our school is committed to continuous improvement in learning and academic success. As part of this commmitment we seek to be at the forefront of research and innovations which ensure every student reaches their full potential whilst accessing the best possible resources at our school.

During 2017, our school has been undergoing a Review process that has provided an opportunity to reflect on current practice and seek pathways for improvments in teaching and learning. Two significant areas to address, which will involve strategic use of resources and facilties, are our Play  Based Learning program (for junior students) and our approach to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) learning.

Play based Learning- Outdoor play

For some years, our school has understood the importance of play based learning to support skills development across the curriculum for our junior students, particularly in oral language, social skills, inquiry and science. Our ‘Chatterbox’ program and ‘Investigations’ for our F-2 students have been features of our students’ learning. The Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) notes that outdoor learning spaces are a feature of Australian learning environments. They offer a vast array of possibilities not available indoors. Play spaces in natural environments include plants, trees, edible gardens, sand, rocks, mud, water and other elements from nature. These spaces invite open-ended interactions, spontaneity, risk-taking, exploration, discovery and connection with nature. They foster an appreciation of the natural environment, develop environmental awareness and provide a platform for ongoing environmental education. Available research from a broad range of sources also supports the importance of providing outdoor developmental learning spaces for young learners.

To ensure we provide ‘best practice’ resources for our students, we will be developing an outdoor developmental learning area in the north-west corner of the school and relocating our Foundation and Year 1 classes to the ARC (currently year 5/6 classrooms) beginning 2018. Plans are already underway to create an exciting and engaging outdoor learning space for our students and we look forward to community support in developing this new area. Students currently in Foundation, Year 1/2, 3/4T and 5/6 classes will begin planning and implementing the move towards the end of Term 3. We anticipate minimal disruptions to students learning due to a planned and sequenced approach to this move.

STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) learning centre

stem1

Families would be aware of the increased need for our students to build competencies in STEM subjects, particularly with the rapidly changing skill set required for our current generation of learners. While the need for STEM-related expertise in the workforce is growing, research has shown that the number of students choosing STEM subjects at secondary and tertiary level in Australia is stagnating. According to ACER (Australian Council for Educational Research) STEM education can begin from the earliest years and fundamental STEM skills should be established in primary school. The primary years are a time where students are developing a self-belief in their ability as a STEM learner.

According to the 2015 Australian Government Position Paper, across the world, nations are competing for the high-growth firms and highly capable workers of the future; and securing the pipelines in their education systems today. They know that children entering the education system in 2016 will be joining a very different workforce in 2030. They see the rising premium on skills in STEM. In these nations, STEM education counts.

With this in mind, and the Education State focus on STEM learning, we are developing a STEM centre in our current Foundation classrooms. This room is ideally suited to this purpose, with 2 available sinks, benches, movable walls and close access to kitchen facilities in the nearby Function Room. Our current year 5 and 6 students have already begun planning the centre, with student input part of the STEM learning process. This area will house our Year 6 students in 2018.

We are excited by the opportunities these two projects have to offer, and invite parents to discuss with staff and school councillors the learning and teaching benefits that these facilities and resource allocation plans provide.

Staff have been planning for some weeks to ensure student learning is not impacted by the move, ensuring that the move occurs before ‘big events’ such as swimming and Year 6 graduation, and after our whole school musical performance.

Further information regarding this move will be provided over coming weeks. Should you have any questions or would like to offer your time and skills to support our facilities team, we encourage you to make contact through the school.

On behalf of the Albany Rise Primary School Council,

 

Ben Rowe – School Council President Judy Drew – Principal

 

Below are some frequently asked questions about the ‘Big Move’.

 

Q – When will the students be moving to their ‘different classroom’?

A – The move will occur in the last week of Term 3, 2017. It is anticipated that all classes who are relocating will do so by the end of October?

Q – Can parents help with the move?

A – Yes, we encourage all parents to help teachers and students on the day of the ‘Big Move’?

Q – Will the Current year 6 students have a chance to use the STEM Centre?

A – Yes, students in year 5/6 will all have an opportunity to use the centre this year.

Q – Will the current year 5 students get to visit the ARC in 2018?

A – Yes, particularly to take part in buddy activities.

Q – What about the year 3/4s? Will they have a change to use the STEM centre?

A – Yes, in 2018 our year 4 and 5 students will have access to these resources. Students currently in year 3 and 4 will have a say in the planning of the centre, along with current year 5/6 students.

Q – Will only the Foundation students be able to use the new outdoor play space?

A – No, in 2018 Foundation and Year 1 students will be able to access this space as part of their learning.

 

More questions and answers will be added as they arise.

Questions about the project can be emailed to:

drew.judith.j@edumail.vic.gov.au