Introducing Learning Walks Kirsten Hill & Jasbir Mann, Networked Learning Group
“An organised tour through a school’s learning areas, looking at those learning areas through the lens of the Principles of Learning… to focus the participants on improving the core functions of schooling. These core functions are how teachers teach how students learn, what gets taught to whom, and how schools are organised for the purposes of instruction.” The Learning Walk as defined by The Institute for Learning, Pittsburgh The LearningWalkSM is a professional development event engaged in by headteachers, IFL coaches/facilitators, district officers and others interested in learning and impacting upon teaching and learning in a school. During a LearningWalkSM, participants move in and out of several classrooms looking at student work and classroom artefacts, and talking with students and teachers. When they look at student work, they may view it through one or more Principles of Learning and ask themselves if the students completing the work were engaged in deep thinking and problem solving. They might also look at how the quality of the work was judged, and determine if the work was of a high academic standard.
“When the teachers came back into our school after the visit they were like bottles of pop. We really felt valued, as though we had been treated like managers.” Gung Ho NLC They use similar processes when looking at classroom artefacts, questioning the quality of the artefacts and whether or not they reflect the deep thinking and language of students. With teacher and principal approval, participants speak to students to determine if they know what they are learning and why it is being taught, if they have to work hard to learn it, and how they know their work is moving towards meeting standards. Outside the classroom participants gather to discuss what they have learned, by making factual statements or generating questions they have about what they saw which, if asked of the teachers, could provoke the teacher to think more deeply about his or her practice.
Throughout the school the following was observed: print-rich learning environments staff understanding of classroom design and arrangement of furniture expectations of high achievement through consistent use of praise/rewards integration and use of technology challenging tasks that forced children to stretch their thinking motivated children ready to answer and share their learning teachers enthused about their lessons efficient and effective use of time children and staff proud to share their work A forthcoming DVD and booklet Getting started with Networked Learning Walks combines a step-by-step approach to using Learning Walks with a video of Learning Walks in action in networks. Also included are support tools, formats and access to online resources. Order advance copies from: firstname.lastname@example.org
NLC representatives took part in a LearningWalkSM at the Vartan Gregorian Elementary School at Fox Point. The learning that was taking place in all classrooms was impressive. Children were keen, eager and well behaved, and could clearly articulate what they were learning. Rubrics and criteria charts were consistently used to establish clear expectations throughout the school. Children were able to show how rubrics and criteria charts guided their thinking, revision and improvement.
Finally, participants provide feedback, factual statements and provocative questions to the headteacher for reflection and sharing with teachers to provoke their learning. Gung Ho NLC – Learning Walk This snapshot shows how a network introduced learning walks to transfer knowledge across each school involved in the network. The snapshot gives an insight into the experiences of the staff and the perceived benefits of collaboration. nexus 17