The Star Malaysia - Star2
Large- scale enquiry drives innovation
IN 2013, Garden International School launched a 1: 1 iPad programme for its students aged eight to 14.
With the development of an innovative approach to the research and development of new teaching and learning practices, the school has been recognised for outstanding education and leadership by Apple Education.
We are proud of this achievement and how it reflects the quality of our teachers and students. The recognition that we are a learning community rather than separated groups is the core of our recent development and success.
Garden International School practises large- scale enquiry learning. Large- scale enquiry is based on the fused principles of enquiry, project and problembased learning.
It creates learning experiences that allow students to gain knowledge, skills and understanding through exploration and experience.
It is designed to create high levels of engagement, develop higher- order critical thinking and allow for what many educational theorists refer to as “deep learning”.
This means that learning is deeply embedded and has longterm application as opposed to “shallow learning”, which is shortterm in nature and often the result of a read- remember- regurgitate process of learning.
Enquiry- based learning is adapted by many schools across the region and the world, particularly for primary school children.
The enquiry event allows students to explore a big idea over the course of a week within mixedage groups.
The usual timetable is suspended for two days as learners explore new concepts and try to develop original and personalised outcomes.
Within each group, students develop individual skills that contribute to the group as a whole. During our respect theme, students were tasked to produce a powerful, short and high- quality video aimed to raise levels of respect within the community.
The desired learning outcomes are to develop emotional intelligence, improve the quality of video productions using an iPad and develop teamwork.
We adopt the use of a free- flow concept and create a two- hour window where students are free to explore an interactive environment that is set up to help them explore the big idea and pinpoint an area of personal interest.
Not only does this inspire students to generate ideas but also demonstrates that giving students the freedom to think and move is beneficial.
Developing expertise within the student groups was also a key to success. For example, in their role as filmmakers, a student from a group of three would be assigned to be the camera operator, director and editor.
This encourages them to learn new skills and work together to produce a high- quality outcome. Teachers also take on a specific role, either to design and deliver the free- flow section, mentor groups or run expert sessions.
The majority of teachers become group mentors and this ensures that teachers become guides and observers rather than just instructors.
The effective utilisation of technology has also been a real success story.
The design of the projects allows learners to experiment with applications and methods of information transfer.
The iPad is a wonderful tool for students to develop and demonstrate their thought processes and create professionallooking outcomes.
Large- scale enquiry is just a part of our rich and diverse curriculum but we have found that it has become a powerful driver of positive development in the school.
We will continue to use these projects to drive innovation. – By James Welling, teacher at Garden International School
For more information, visit www. gardenschool. edu. my