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Connected classes @Hagley

Marie Stribling —

One of the key principles of future focused learning is the building of horizontal connections across subjects of the curriculum. This is one of seven principles of learning identified by a key stakeholder, the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development).

What this means is that, whereas in the past a teacher may have taught their subject in a ‘siloed’ way, teachers are now encouraged to collaborate with teachers in other subjects in ways that establish the connections between subjects.

Here at Hagley this has led us to introduce the concept of Connected Classes at Years 9 and 10 and this initiative is led by HOD Social Sciences, Tamara Yuill Proctor. In 2019 we offered two Year 9 classes where the learning across English, Social Studies and Science has been based around the UN sustainable goals and Global Citizenship. As part of this programme, students have explored concepts such as sustainability, poverty, climate change and space. A large portion of the learning is through student led inquiries and students show what they have learned through presenting their projects. These classes have continued as Year 10 connected classes in 2020 and, additionally, another Year 9 connected learning class is operating along similar lines this year.

One very significant benefit that teachers have identified is the growth of students’ transferable skills, such as self-management and collaboration. Throughout the year, students have the opportunity to work with everyone within the class and they need to be able to communicate with others and understand how they learn. Teachers meet regularly and work together to design learning programmes that reflect what is currently happening in the world. Students often use technology to show their learning through such projects as documentary making, website design, Minecraft, and Stop Motion animation. Teachers report that this has led to an increase in creativity and innovative thinking among the students.

Student feedback is also very positive. Students report that they need to learn to problem solve and persevere during the projects, especially when things may not always be going to plan. They like how the classes are connected and that whilst they spend nine hours a week on a topic it is covered differently by different teachers. Students say also that they enjoy using technology, and they particularly like that they get to choose how to present their learning.

We will continue to offer some connected classes in Years 9 and 10 in 2021 and we are also keen to explore how best to introduce this model of connected learning into the senior school.