The element of surprise: a primary school perspective on their ‘Innovation’ Week

After seeing my article on the blog on Wilmslow High School’s ‘Innovation Day’, Jess Strang, a very recently qualified primary teacher offered up her experience of an ‘Innovation’ Week during her placement in a primary school in Cleethorpes on the East coast of sunny England.

Sounds absolutely brilliant if you ask me……

Giving students the freedom to learn is not only beneficial at secondary level; children at primary level are also able to take control of their own learning.  Although faced with challenges, such as how much guidance to give to the students, giving children the opportunity to become actively engaged with their own learning is extremely valuable.

Whilst working with a Year 1 class (5-6 years old) I was involved with a creative and unique week adopted by the school to encourage children to think for themselves and take their learning into their own hands. Each class was given 3 gift wrapped parcels on the Monday morning with an assortment of objects in. The class teachers were unaware of the parcels’ contents so were unable to plan or arrange any activities in advance thus enabling the students to fully take control.  The class were excited and drawn into the idea from the outset, un-wrapping the parcels to find a scarab beetle, a didgeridoo and some parchment. The learning was now in the students’ hands and their ideas would lead to a week of creative learning. The class adopted a cross-curricular approach linking the objects to a range of subjects throughout the week.

The students quickly identified the countries of origin, the type of object we were dealing with and put together ideas for activities throughout the week including-

  • Building Sydney Opera House in the role play area and making musical instruments to form a band with the didgeridoo and play a concert for the opposite class.
  • Creating a treasure hunt in the sand box with papier-mâché ‘artefacts’ they had researched using ICT from the Egyptian period including the Scarab beetle given.
  • Practicing hieroglyphics on parchment in co-ordination with the Egyptian theme.
  •  Going on a Beasty Hunt in the school grounds looking for bugs and insects in our own environment.

The students were highly motivated and driven learners throughout the week sharing personal experiences from the countries investigated and researching at home the topics. The students, without realising, created opportunities for learning across the curriculum and to  learn outside the traditional classroom base; something that every Primary teacher strives for within their lessons. Throughout the school, from reception to Year 6 the students were fully immersed in their learning giving them the opportunity to show teachers the ways in which they liked to learn.

After participating in such an exceptional learning event I feel allowing students to have a ‘voice’ in their education and, showing teachers how they want to learn, is incredibly beneficial for everyone involved.  Although challenging (especially at KS1) I believe the outcomes were successful and the idea of enabling children to take learning into their own hands should be one teachers should increasingly take on board.

I would love to hear of other expriences like this in schools…if you know of any, please get in touch:

matthewbebbington@hotmail.com

@BebbPEteach