Teaching & Learning

Learning through Play K-2 

This term our teachers and teacher assistants in ES1 and S1 have participated in professional development which will enhance their understanding and skills in delivering play based learning which research supports as an age-appropriate approach to learning. At St John’s we believe that teaching and learning must emphasise skills and ‘learning how to learn’ with links throughout the day to the content and knowledge covered by the NSW Curriculum. 

Students require empowerment, ownership, engagement and motivation as key criteria with which to learn and sustain learning and other skills for life. Teachers have developed an inquiry approach based on Walker Learning. We have an emphasis on building relationships and providing a more personalised program for our students.

Four one hour investigation sessions are intentionally planned each week. Investigations involve active, hands-on investigating allowing the children the freedom to explore and construct learning based on their own interests whilst working alongside their teachers who provide guidance, support, direction and spend time questioning and engaging with children to expand their thinking. Formal instruction in literacy, numeracy and other subjects are linked to investigations and often provide a springboard into explicit teaching during the day. 

Every day of investigations will involve two to three focus children, a reporter and a photographer. Each investigation begins with ‘tuning in’ where the teacher, through discussions with these children, sets up the learning for the day and makes links to prior learning. During investigation time, the teacher works individually with the focus children, reporter and the photographer. They also scaffold for children who need support or extension. Reflection time is where the teacher makes explicit links to the concepts and skills the students are learning through their conversations with the focus children, reporter and the photographer. 

This year we are also participating in a project through Monash University in creating Conceptual Playworlds to develop STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in the early years. Our Kindergarten class is participating in this program and Ellie Bailey and I began our training yesterday. Here is some information from Monash University.

What is a Conceptual PlayWorld?

The Conceptual PlayWorld is an evidence-based model of intentional teaching developed by Laureate Professor Marilyn Fleer at Monash University. Based on her extensive research and experience of working with young children, educators and families, Marilyn's model values children’s play and stories in their learning of STEM concepts (i.e. science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

A Conceptual PlayWorld is an imaginary scenario created by an educator where young children are invited to go on imaginary journeys, meet and solve challenges, and learn STEM concepts – all while playing.

A Conceptual PlayWorld can be inspired by a children’s book or a fairy tale story, and it can be set up in an average classroom, or even at home. Imagination is the limit!

This imaginary world enables educators and families to deliver play-based programs for young children where they get to experience and live through concepts that would otherwise be difficult to explain.

(Monash University, Victoria)                                                                                                                                                    You can log into this website (https://www.monash.edu/conceptual-playworld/about)   to view some Playworlds in Action but we will share photos as our playworld unfolds next term. We are really excited about this opportunity