Saturday, 30 November 2013

So what does a HPSS Big Project actually look like?

The model emerges...

I get a little worried when I think about project based learning... how do you make sure all this awesome potential is reached? .. can we truely make a difference in a collaborative, innovative way, while personalising and accommodating student passions, interests and abilities?  I think we can, but we need guides and frameworks to help students throughout their learning journey.  And that's not just my opinion, it's an important aspect to emerge from the academic literature.   As someone who embraces "structured chaos", the idea of developing a clear model or framework for project learning at HPSS was comforting and a non-negotiable.

To find inspiration I turned to 'google' and searched far and wide... but in reality, I found just a few useful models and ideas on project based learning that I could use to help develop a model for our own Big Projects.  Some models that where particularly insightful were: 

The Buck Institute for Education wonderful Project Based Learning (BIE) model with the idea of the 'driving question' which is needed as well as the idea of a launch event. source:

Challenge Based Learning model developed with support from Apple - this time with a 'big idea' and a solution to the challenge - source

This model developed by You for Youth was particularly useful - the terms 'kickoff' and 'showtime' were first seen here - I really liked the structure and ideas.  source :

This model from ICTeD Services is also based on Challenge Based Learning and continues to focus on 'guiding' with solution being 'action' and it also brings in the concept of assessment -

While all these models were being explored and I was juggling with the terms 'project based learning' with 'problem based learning' and 'challenge based learning', the SLL team at HPSS emerged with their own model of learning.  This model was created from the deconstruction and reconstruction of the New Zealand Curriculum document. It is a really powerful tool for educators.   When I saw this model, everything began to make sense....

Learning Design Model developed by the HPSS SLL team

With all these models swirling around, a framework emerged that combined the best of project based learning structures with our very own Learning Design model.  The framework is this...

This is the HPSS Big Projects Framework!

There are five key stages that are structured, but fluid enough for students to continue to reflect, refine, replan and take new actions throughout the process of project learning. 

So what do the stages in the framework represent?

Kick Off is the start  the event that inspires  students to ask questions, to explore and to engage with the project.  It is a hook and/or provocation. It involves exploring a range of resources that will help students make decisions about their interest levels, options, and whether they will ‘opt in’ to the project.  

Plan is the most important stage.  Without a sound idea, well throughout and developed, a project group may not achieve their potential.  Planning involves creating an action plan that incorporates the who, what, when, where, how.  Planning involves developing clear goals, roles, connection and understanding what learning and skill development will occur. 

Action is about the ‘doing’ – it’s about putting the plan into action, making the connections, inquiring and finding out what’s needed to be known. It’s about using information and skills to make things happen.  Action is a ‘journey’ that can be told like a story and shared with others.  Action involves collaborating, reflection, getting feedback, making changes, making decisions, meeting deadlines and achieving a desired outcome or result.   
Showtime is the sharing stage – the big exhibition! It’s about the teams coming together to see the ‘big picture’ and how their contribution fits to the whole Big Project (like a jigsaw).  Showtime must be authentic and link to our partners and community.  They are unique to the project. It is about celebrating the outcomes; the learning, skills, innovation, development and contributions that have been made. 

Finally, there is Final Look.  The term final is used in this stage and there is constant reflection and evaluation in all stages. Final Look will involve a personalised framework (i.e. some choice) around critically evaluating their team, their plan, their learning, their outcomes.  It will be linked to the HPSS values and the Habits.  Each project may have a different focus or ‘twist’ to this.  Key questions around ‘so what?’ and ‘what now’?’ will be explored. 

This is the beginning of what Big Projects looks like... now that a structure is in place, we must explore what this looks like for everyone at HPSS (staff, students, whanau/family and community)  and the tools they will need to make each stage a success.  But there are so many other things to think about and another element is needed in the model that embraces the dispositional curriculum at HPSS... 

... but more about that in the next blog!  

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Ok, the big question... what is a Big Project at HPSS?

How do I describe the 'essence' of what a Big Project at HPSS is all about?

In my humble opinion... 

It's about giving students at HPSS the chance to make a real difference, so they can feel the 'buzz' that changing something for the better can bring.  It's about the joy that thinking about someone or something other than yourself can bring, the satisfaction that emerges from a "thank you so much".  

Planting trees at Hobsonville Point is just the beginning (note the smiles already!).

But if I was to explain and justify Big Projects at HPSS to the rest of the educational profession then...

Big Projects are a student centred, authentic, collaborative learning experience based around a meaningful issue, challenge or needs-based situation in our community.  They incorporate a  guided, flexible framework that empowers through student voice and choice.  Using the HPSS Learning Design model, students undertake deep exploration and inquiry, working with real world partners to then develop innovative and impactful actions.  The result is the creation of high quality, authentic products, knowledge and outcomes that make a significant contribution to their community.  These are celebrated and shared.  
Big Projects embrace HPSS  values - inquiry, collaboration, contribution and innovation are fundamental components of every project undertaken.  Partnerships based in the 'real world' and a meaningful, authentic need will inspire, allowing excellence to emerge. Personal excellence can be expressed as students engage the Hobsonville Habits and make connections with manaakitanga (moral purpose and integrity), whanaungatanga (relationships) and whenua (environmental connections).  

Big Projects at HPSS allows personalisation through the variety of roles, talents and ideas that emerge, but it brings them all together, like pieces of a jigsaw, to create a collaborative, more powerful, high impact result that builds our culture and a community within HPSS. 

So what now?
So now we just have to turn that vision into reality.  With an amazing team at HPSS and an amazing local community that wants to be involved the initial feelings are positive...  I look forward to using this blog as a way to record and document the process and my journey... I wonder if anyone will follow...