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'ICE' - From pedagogy to heutagogy

posted 22 Nov 2015, 13:48 by Craig Nicholson   [ updated 22 Nov 2015, 13:57 ]
'WOW! What a space. The teaching of 50 children in here is going to be madness!' These were my thoughts when I looked at an area we created over the summer from knocking down the wall between our Year 5 and 6 classrooms to create space for our Phase 3-inclusive; 'ICE Studio'.

Integrated, Child-led, Enquiry-based learning (ICE) is a concept we have implemented this academic year after the success a similar approach brought for our last cohort of year 6 children. Having worked tirelessly on changing mindset, developing independence and using technology exponentially to enhance learning, they left our school as some of the most competent individuals we had seen, not to mention some of the best progress and outcomes we had produced too.

In an intriguing bid to 'strip apart' our successes with this cohort, our professional reading and research led us to the work of Sugata Mitra and SOLE (Self Organised Learning Environment). SOLE refers to the adaptation of a school space to facilitate 'Enquiry Based Learning'. A teacher encourages their class to work as a community to answer questions using computers with internet access. The class work around a guiding set of rules: 

• Students need to form groups of about 4

• Children choose their own groups

• They can change groups at any time

• Children can look to see what other groups are doing and take that information back to their own group

• They should be ready to present their answers back to the class at the end of the session

This was practise that was already going on nearly every day at some stage, particularly when the children were being introduced to new concepts in their learning or new technology/applications. Connecting the children through smaller projects made for self-sufficient 'learning Eco-systems'. They would plan, research, create, critique and present, and over time the process became so well known that the quality of learning by all groups, was excellent. 

The Academy were also keen advocates of Project-based learning (PBL). This engages the children through enquiry in their chosen topics; multi objective learning across the curriculum subjects with an end goal to work towards, ideally with real life context associated. 'Tying' learning together this way and producing immersive environments for our children, we knew, was having a very positive effect on the way they felt about their education, the academy and their outcomes. 

Immersion wasn't the only factor considered in the role the environment had played. In an unforeseen shift of classrooms at the end of the Spring term, the children were given free reign on the set up of their 'new' classroom - the layout, the displays, the furniture. The results were very intriguing. Circular tables, small inclusive work spaces, mobile white boards, bean bags and limited tables. Their views were that when they were 'in charge of their learning' and with 1:1 iPads, they needed to be comfortable, able to work in group spaces and with their own resources - not the touchscreen that the teacher uses!

Thereafter came the birth of 'ICE'. A journey our school would begin in search of moving from our traditional directive teaching style using pedagogy, to more child-centred, self-directed learning (Heutagogy). 

50 children in Years 5 and 6 have now been merged together as one 'class' to be taught in our 'ICE Studio'. iPads for each child (1:1), 5 staff, various types of 'funky' furniture and their very own 'MakerSpace'. 10 weeks in and the paradigm is already bearing fruit - behaviour is excellent, confidence and self-belief is on the rise, the quality of work continues to improve and the self-sufficiency in the children's learning has sky-rocketed! 

The children themselves speak of their 'love' for school and how 'special' and 'lucky' they feel; these feelings were also reiterated and supported by their parents at least weeks' parent consultations. 

We're excited about the future of 'ICE' at North Ormesby Primary Academy. More importantly, so too are our children! 

Craig Nicholson (Vice Principal) - 22nd November 2015