This week, our New Zealand co-ordinator, Doug Crutch, went to visit the staff and students at Grey Lynn to see how the school was progressing with their new way of learning.
After being introduced to the PLS process and its take on zones and activities, the staff at Grey Lynn School are in an ongoing process of getting to grips with how these changes will work in practice. Having transitioned from single-cell to more open-plan learning spaces, it takes time to define the learning activities and areas where students will gather to learn. The staff are keen to work with their students to work out what zones should look like and the types of activities that take place in them. A large collaborative space for 90 students works differently to the traditional square classroom for 30 students.
The return of the blank printed floor plans and the 1:40 scale models that were used during the PLS process became very handy to allow staff to look at different ways to distribute the activities and the affect that has on the movement of students.
The next stage for staff was to see in practice what so called nooks and zones were going to be most suitable for specific activities. Some zones were found to be able to host a couple of different activities at the same time such as a workshop as well as paired groups. Other zones were found to be suited for dedicated activities only, such as a makerspace or low sensory area.
As one would expect, the year groups had a big influence on what activities took place and what those activities looked like. An Individual learning session for years 1 and 2 looks quite different to that of years 5 and 6.
After the completion of the theory units of the PLS process, towards the second half of last year, the Year 5 & 6s were able to quickly define zones in their space and their students adapted well to the changes to the layout and the new way of learning. However, it became difficult to maintain the momentum due to a couple of Covid 19 lockdowns that came at the end of the year.
The beginning of this year saw the arrival of new staff members and students moving up the year groups. These changes have required the staff to see if a review of their zones and activities are required and what new perspectives may now be required.
One area that became evident last year was a need to clearly identify across all year groups, the expectations of the school as to what the activity was and how it was going to be conducted in the zone.
Our next blog post from Grey Lynn will look at how the school plans to clearly convey these expectations to the staff, students and the wider community.