Today I’ve been touring schools across Melbourne looking at ICT and how it’s embedded in a rich environment of teaching and learning. What fabulous professional learning and inspiration! First I went to Silverton P.S in Noble Park, which was just amazing. They just get it! It’s a while since I went on a tour of a school and drove away feeling so overwhelmed (those that know me will know this is code for teary!) What got to me? Everything. Where do I start?

 
Fully engaged, calm, motivated kids who were able to drive their own learning. And this wasn’t tokenistic. Kids at Silverton have real input -they design the classroom, timetable and projects they work on. For example kids have started initiatives like a kitchen garden, chicken coop, TV studio, weighing  collected rubbish for Clean Up Australia day and reorganized the timetable so that they have more sustained time for art and environmental science. These kids show and develop initiative and work towards making a difference with their learning. In P-2, students do Discovery Learning, rather than an inquiry unit so the kids can follow their own passions and interests. In years 3-6 classes do inquiry units for three terms, which address concepts in VELS and then have one term for Discovery Learning, following kids own passions. The kids requested this and their wish has been accommodated!
 
 
The learning  is vibrant, colorful, and celebrates learning. From cafe style tables and chairs at the canteen to the inviting library, to the nooks and crannies used for all different purposes. I saw cooking areas, art areas, comfy reading areas, TV’s displaying kids work everywhere and their TV broadcasts, artwork and murals on walls. Technology truly integrated into spaces and in continual use. 
 
Kids were trusted with technology – they could access resources like YouTube, use digital cameras. I spied teams of kids roaming the school with video cameras and working in side rooms and spaces with teacher supervision from afar. Surely if we want to teach responsibility, we have to mores trust in our kids. 
 
I saw teachers collaborating and being innovative with the timetable. Some teachers were in open spaces working with 20 students, others with 5 kids. I loved hearing about the reality learning program where students choose which activity they want to work on eg. Community garden, film making,Silverton TV and the provision that as many staff as are available can take a group to work on a sustained project for a 2hr block with varying group sizes. This recognizes both students and teachers special talents and interests and is truly personalized learning! Another strategy that promotes collaboration is to remove teacher work spaces from the classrooms so no one, including the teacher owns an area.  Keeping staff work spaces together also promotes collaboration and sharing.
 
I left Silverton wishing I worked there and wishing all schools could be like this. All kids should get to go to a school like this. I will be telling everyone I know that works in education to visit and get ideas and inspiration.
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