Modern learning environments

Published: 04 Sep 2017
Modern Learning Practice (MLP)
Evaluation indicators
Improvement in Action Te Ahu Whakamua


“I just thought it would be chaos…eighty children and a few teachers in the one space…but it isn’t chaos at all.”

The Modern Learning Environment requires practices and behaviours of both teachers and learners to that optimise the potential of the flexible learning spaces and digital tools.

Key messages:

  • “We have to be more intentional about getting to know the learner”
  • Multiple teachers provides more opportunity for each child to have at least one significant adult
  • Learners are deliberately ‘multi-leveled’ and teachers work across year levels
  • Teachers typically staying with a cohort for longer than a single year deepens their understanding of each learner
  • Digital enablement requires teachers to move to be “that provocateur, that person who helps to shift knowing to deep levels of understanding” 

Things to think about:

  • What are the elements of ‘knowing the learner’?
  • Are there steps could we take to deepen our knowledge?

The evaluation indicators this video illustrates

  • Domain 4: Responsive curriculum, effective teaching and opportunity to learn 
    • Evaluation indicator
      • Students have effective, sufficient and equitable opportunities to learn

This video is part of a series

This video is part of the series Improvement in Action Te Ahu Whakamua. We created this series to inspire schools with examples of success in action. These examples highlight the benefits of fulfilling the evaluation indicators we use to review schools.

Remote video URL

(The video opens on a blank white screen before text reading “Stonefields School: Modern Learning Environments” slides in from the left. Three hexagons coloured green, blue and red then fade in in the top left corner with a popping sound. After a few seconds these images fade out and we see a large open-plan classroom filled with students in school uniforms. Several teachers stand throughout, addressing different groups of students. A woman’s voice speaks over the scene. As she speaks, the camera zooms in on a group of students sitting at a table with laptops.)


In a modern learning environment - 3 teachers, 80 children - we have to be much more intentional about getting to know the learner.


(As the speaker says “is”, the scene changes to show the speaker sitting against a bright green wall. Text along the bottom of the screen reads, “Sarah Martin, Principal, Stonefields School”.)


The question we've been asking ourselves this year is: does every learner have at least one significant adult?


(Sarah’s voice continues as the camera returns to the classroom. We briefly see a group of students sit cross-legged on the carpet listening to a teacher before the camera changes to a group of students working at a table. This then changes to a different group of students sitting at a table with a teacher, then a teacher crouching down to speak with a group of students who sit on the floor holding tablet computers.)


And one of the real pros of being in this environment with multiple relationships is that when you've got multiple adults, multiple kids, there's more opportunities for there to be a really positive relationship.


(The video returns to Sarah against the green wall. As she says ‘cohort’ it once again shows the classroom, where students sit on the floor with books. The camera pans across the room and on the other side we see a teacher at a table with a group of students.)


We also multi-level our learners quite deliberately, and teachers staying with a cohort of kids often for two, three years.


(The camera now shows a close-up shot of several children tapping the touch screens of tablets. A teacher assists one of them.)


So they get to really deeply know those children, and really getting deeply to know-- also in a culturally-responsive sense-- what is it that actually pushes that learner's button.


(We now see a man sitting against the green wall, speaking into the camera. Text along the bottom of the screen reads, “Ollie Baker, Teacher, Stonefields School.)


Significant adult at start of term 1 may be totally different to start of term 2.


(As he says ‘focus’, the camera shows Ollie in the classroom floor, writing on a small hand-held whiteboard as students with laptops watch.)


And I can think of a couple learners this year that I've actually-- either their focus has changed from me to somebody else, or their focus has changed from somebody else to me.


(A young girl now speaks into the camera, dressed in the school’s uniform. The classroom is out of focus in the background.)


The teachers actually know what they need to teach you, and they're actually really special, because they actually teach you in the way that you know how to learn.


(The camera now cuts to an older girl speaking.)


In my school, we just had our own desk. We had our own work, and we all did the same thing. And if you didn't know that thing, you'll just fall behind or you'll have more work.


(Her voice continues as the video shifts to show a teacher instructing a group of students.)


You have to stress more. And I think this is way more scheduled, and we're more relaxed.


(A close-up of two girls decorating small paper baskets alongside a sign reading “Packaging/ Researching”.)


And nice way to learn.


(Zooming out, we now see a group of students having lunch at a table. A different girl's voice speaking in voiceover.)


The teachers do set us up, but then when we've done that, we're pretty much independent.


(We see a group of students on a couch holding laptops.)


We know where to go.


(The camera shows the girl speaking into the camera.)


We know what our tools are. We know that the teachers aren't the first thing we should go to.


(A close-up of two students with tablets as she continues.)


And that they are there, but they're not the first thing that we come to.


(We now see a woman looking to the camera as she speaks, a display of books behind her. Text along the bottom of the screen reads, “Nix Rostron, Parent, Stonefields School.)


I just thought it'd be chaos. I thought it would be chaos. 80 children and a few teachers in one space.


(She continues as the camera shows the classroom, where students sit on the ground and at desks writing into workbooks.)


But it's not chaos at all.


(A close-up of two girls with laptops.)


It works well, like an oiled machine.


(The camera pans left, showing another two students looking into a laptop screen.)


You go in there, and everyone's busy and doing things.


(We briefly see two boys lying on the ground with tablets before zooming in of the screens. The camera then zooms out to show the wider classroom scene, where a teacher kneels on the ground surrounded by students with tablets and laptops. A new woman’s voice speaks in voiceover.)


They're split out into the little groups to do handwriting or whatever they're focusing on.


(The scene changes and we now see the woman speaking, standing in a classroom. Text along the bottom of the screen reads, “Libby Stevens, Parent, Stonefields School”.)


And then they get back together. And they all seem to know what they're doing. All the kids are off doing their own thing.


(The camera now shows another woman speaking into the camera. Behind her on the wall are a series of small paintings of trees. Text along the bottom of the screen reads, “Georgie Hamilton, Associate Principal, Stonefields School”.)


You've got other people in the room that you can talk to, that you can ask questions, that you can get help from.


(As her voiceover continues the video changes to show her in a classroom, gesturing as she speaks. A woman in the background turns and listens.)


It's like a dance.


(The camera shows a montage of close-ups of different people talking and listening.)


You all do your different bits, and you work together to do whatever you're trying to achieve at that point, but you all just take different parts of the dance.


(Sarah Martin takes over the voiceover once again as we see her in the current scene, listening to someone speak.)


Once we were builders of knowledge.


(We are back with Sarah in front of the green wall. As she says ‘times’ we see a group of students sitting around a table each holding a tablet computer.)


We can't be builders of knowledge anymore in times where children are enabled with the digital tools that they can access.


(Zooming in on the screen of a laptop, we see a student scroll through a document and stop on a picture of a mouse. The camera zooms out to show two students smiling at the screen. As she says ‘having’ the video returns to Sarah speaking into the camera, and as she says ‘to move’ it changes to a class of students reading on the classroom floor.)


We need to be far more meaning makers-- having the extended conversations, the dialogues, the questioners-- to move that knowing about something into a deeper level of understanding.


(A group of students sits on the floor around a teacher in the corner of the room. The camera then panning across the classroom to a table where another group of students work.


Our key role is that provocateur, that person who helps to shift knowing to deep levels of understanding.