Hale21 Future School is a project designed to empower rural primary teachers to build networks of interconnected, online communities of teachers and classrooms across Western Australia.
The 21st century educational landscape is currently characterised by contrasting educational philosophies and interpretations of what the future will demand of schools and students. The day to day management of schools and classrooms leaves little time for real discussion on what the future holds. However, it is the utilisation of the current and freely available technologies that Hale21Future School wishes to introduce to teachers to provide them with the opportunity to enrich their teaching context and transform their students learning in isolated country schools. Hale21Future School is a cross-sectorial initiative which has evolved from Hale School's lighthouse Hale@home programme and commenced in 2015. Consequently, our intellectual capital in this domain is unique, extensive and valuable. However, it serves little purpose if it passively accumulates.
These recent online innovations at Hale School have established a valid model for teaching and learning in the 21st century which can be used by all schools. The most obvious community who would benefit presently are rural schools. A cloud-based educational platform, a network of forward thinking teachers and a catalogue of curriculum ideas can provide transformative opportunities for rural school teachers to build an online classroom experience which can help overcome isolation issues.
Our intent with Hale21Future School is simply to share what we have learned. Our goal is to see the programme build momentum across the state and subsequently create rural teacher networks in all learning areas established independently of Hale School.
Hale21Future School caters for boys and girls in grade 6 in rural primary schools who respond enthusiastically to academic challenges that are interdisciplinary, require a degree of intellectual agility and provide participants with the opportunity to demonstrate their unique understandings in creative and enduring ways. It is curricular designed to provide students with the opportunity to think deeply, build new knowledge, enhance their creativity and enrich their communication skills. Their teachers are not required to supervise or participate in the sessions but are required to afford the students time to complete work and to offer them guidance and encouragement.
- The programme began in this format in 2015 with schools in Caversham, Cascade, Darkan, Dunsborough and Munglinup. The students work online for 1 hour each week with up to 3 other schools they are provided class time for another 30 mins work, independent of their class programme, and sometimes may need or wish to work for 30 mins on the weekend or after school to complete the week's multi-modal tasks.
- A second synchronous session with each school group each week is possible for any group of students who wish to have the time with Michael.
- Michael communicates with each of the teachers each week. Skype-Business is the virtual conferencing software used in Hale21FS.
- There is a Hale21Future School YouTube site where introductory videos will be placed for each week's session. These are to be viewed by students prior to each session.
- Each unit, designed and implemented by Michael Valentine, will be displayed on a Hale21Future School curriculum design template and be available to teachers involved each week.
- The curriculum incorporates literature, maths, the sciences and history with completed tasks being presented in a variety of forms e.g. video, models, mind maps and collaborative presentations. In some schools it is being used in lieu of unavailable PEAC classes. This has worked well to date. There are absolutely no work-sheets or text book based activities…all teaching and learning tasks are designed by Michael Valentine.
- The students log into a secure Hale21Future School via www.hale21.com.au website using Microsoft Office 365 cloud based software to produce and access their folio of work. This site is managed and monitored by Hale School. Secure access is provided to all students and teachers in the programme.
- There is no cost to schools or students who participate in the programme. Connectivity to the internet is a significant rural issue and needs to be investigated for each school interested in participating. Modest signal strength can be managed and Telstra 4G dongles are provided at no cost where necessary.
- Schools may sign up for Semester 1, 2016 by contacting Michael for a chat about the programme and their particular needs. Schools may participate for a semester or for the year at this stage.
A core outcome of the programme is to have students engaged whilst they construct significant new knowledge, strengthen communication skills and celebrate their development of a creative and sophisticated portfolio of work. A further critical outcome to this is that the teachers involved are inspired and upskilled so that they can build their own networks with other rural schools. Michael Valentine will visit all interested schools and conduct workshops for teachers and students and any interested parents on the programmes structure and content.
The programme is designed, implemented and directed by Michael Valentine at Hale School; former Head of Junior School and Head of Middle School at Hale School. There is the possibility of having two groups of 10 students and teachers working independently with Michael Valentine each week in 2016 if demand warrants. Participation is currently arranged informally and direct contact with Michael enquiring about the project is welcomed.