RIVERSIDE PROCESSES AND PRACTICES
Agenda Setting and Closing the Loop (KS 1, 2, & 3)
Learning is intrinsically connected to emotion. Establishing a safe environment is most essential for learning. A safe environment is created through respectful relationships in school and clarity of assigned tasks. Agenda setting and closing the loop are routines that enable students to know and understand what is expected of them and how far they have achieved it.
Artist in Residence (AIR) (KS 2 & 3)
Students are provided with an opportunity to interact and learn from an expert to produce an output of excellence. It is a collaborative process where students from each grade in Key Stage 2 participate towards one successful production. Students exercise choice and voice where they choose, interview for and are selected for specific committees. Each committee must use a variety of languages of learning (e.g., videos, visit, and interaction with experts) in their journey from novice to apprentice to competent.
Assembly (KS 1, 2, & 3)
The main ethos building platform for a school is the assembly. The entire school comes together to highlight what is of value so the vision of the community is shared by all its members. When it is built into the system as a regular feature, the assembly becomes one of the main vehicles of bonding and relationship building.
Assessment and Evaluation (KS 1, 2, & 3)
Assessment is the preliminary phase of the evaluation process used to gather information about student progress. The teacher gets to know to what extent each learning objective has been achieved. This is formative assessment that feeds back into planning future sessions. Examples of assessments include: knowledge webs, mind maps, demonstrations, illustrations, notebooks, ongoing worksheets, Teaching as Learning, quizzes / tests, classroom discussions and presentations.
Evaluation is the weighing of several ongoing assessments against the main learning objectives. It helps the teacher to make decisions regarding the success of the program. Evidence files, checkpoint worksheets, and Personal Skill Development (PSD) are examples of evaluation tools.
Personal Skill Development (PSD) (KS 1)
This is an evaluation, used only by the teacher, to record the child’s level of achievement in every domain, at the end of every month. The individual growth of the child is measured as well as how she stands with respect to the grade performance. The teacher’s evaluation of the child’s understanding is based on checkpoint worksheets, teacher observations, classroom discussions, feedback from Peer and Public Scrutiny, and parent feedback from Teaching as Learning. The PSD format provides “at a glance” data. The PSD is color coded according to grade expectations, for those who need challenging and those who need scaffolding.
Evidence Files (KS 2, & 3)
A collection of student work purposefully selected to tell a particular story about the student. Typically, portfolios are created to show growth, showcase current abilities or to evaluate cumulative achievement. The work samples are chosen carefully by the student with the teacher and reflect milestones in the learning journey. This is made visible to the parents every term when it is sent home.
Compilations (KS 1, 2 & 3)
Compilations consist of all student work done over the year. It allows students, teachers, and parents to reflect on their learning journey at the end of the month / term / year. When reviewing at the end of the year, students feel a sense of achievement on all they have accomplished.
Bright Mind Shine (KS 2)
Bright Mind Shine is a platform where students showcase what they have understood over a term to parents, teachers, and peers. Choice and voice is exercised as students pick their area of strength to present. There are three components to each Bright Mind Shine: visibility of knowledge (through charts), process of learning (through demonstrations), and understanding (through presentations and interactions with visitors). It is an opportunity to celebrate each student’s learning which makes students feel proud and special.
Buddy Interaction (KS 1 & 2)
Buddy interaction is driven by the understanding that learning can take place independent of age and gender, because when you listen carefully you will always learn. A community is enabled by sharing competencies.
Buddy Interaction promotes an extended relationship between students of different age groups and levels. It makes children step out of the ‘my class’ syndrome and regard their school as one community. Buddy interaction essentially promotes strong relationships within the school.
Camps (KS 2)
Camps provide an opportunity to get students out of their comfort zone. The comforts that students are normally accustomed to are taken away and they must cope and adapt to this new environment.
Spending time in a natural setting helps students build awareness and appreciate nature better, which can translate into behavioural changes in their daily routine.
Cinema Programme (KS 1)
Cinema is a medium to build skills and attitudes in students while promoting awareness of different layers and genres in cinema. Film utilizes the movement of pictures, moving images and sound to engage multiple intelligences. It provides concrete visual representation for abstract concepts.
Conglom (KS 1, 2 & 3)
Conglomeration Time, known as “Conglom,” is an opportunity for students and teachers of each class to come together first thing in the morning to start the day on a positive note. This is a time for each one to share feelings, opinions, and ideas. The teacher facilitates the interaction so that each thought is respected and valued. The atmosphere that is created is one of trust and closeness amongst the group. This creates a safe environment, ultimately leading to student well-being.
Coffee at Riverside (KS 2 & 3)
Coffee at Riverside is a ‘chat show’ where students interview guests that are inspirational, mavericks (“out of the box thinkers”) or experts in their field. This is an opportunity to interact with people they might not normally encounter and hear different perspectives. Students develop the important skill of asking higher order questions. Students strive to produce a professional output so that they gain the maximum from their guests in a minimum amount of time.
Exchange Program (KS 2 & 3)
Exchange programs with other schools in the city, state, country, and around the world moves students from self to the world and vice versa. Students are able to experience different cultures, ideas, and thoughts. Through interactions and dialogues, students expand their vision of how connected they are and yet how to celebrate differences. Sharing their own experiences and learning from others keeps ideas alive and helps them to grow. This helps students reduce the fear of the unknown and allow them to be more competent and less helpless.
Funderstanding (KS 1)
Funderstanding provides a platform for students to demonstrate their understanding to an audience. It helps parents to get an idea of the learning level of their child’s class in each domain, without depending on a quantitative assessment in the form of grades and marks. This experience helps the child to build confidence since presentations are in front of a large and unfamiliar audience. The students become the ambassadors for the school as they showcase the philosophy and values of the school.
High Quality Adult Learning (Teachers)
The Common Sense Model is based on the belief that student learning in a school is enabled by parent partnerships and high quality adult learning. Since teachers design and facilitate the learning experiences for children, they need to be master craftsmen in the art of instructional design. This requires continuous professional development to keep abreast of the current research in education as well as content knowledge. The purpose of high quality adult learning is to develop collegiality. Collegiality in an institution forms the basis for quality assurance.
Interest Centres (KS 1)
Dr. Howard Gardner, author of Frames of Mind, in his Theory of Multiple Intelligences points out that school systems often focus on a narrow range of intelligence that involves primarily Verbal / Linguistic and Logical / Mathematical skills. While knowledge and skills in these areas are essential for surviving and thriving in the world, he suggests that there are at least six other kinds of intelligence that are important to fuller human development and that almost everyone has available to develop. These include: Visual / Spatial, Bodily / Kinesthetic, Musical, Naturalist, Interpersonal, and Intrapersonal intelligence.
For this reason, it is important to encourage children to explore and exercise all of their intelligences. Creating a rich, nurturing, and stimulating environment filled with interesting materials, lays the foundation for healthier, happier, and brighter children. Students who have these kinds of experiences know many ways to learn almost anything.
The Interest Centres uses this premise to help students experience new stimuli and helps the teacher to identify strengths and proclivities that students might display towards certain intelligences.
Internships (KS 2 & 3)
The best learning is the one where skills are applied in a real life context. During Internships, students assume the role of apprentices in a professional set-up. When students experience a real life working situation, they need to call upon various skills learnt in school and develop those not learnt. Seeing the relevance of skill sets they learnt at school helps students to take ownership of their own performance.
Designing learning experiences where the students are answerable to or working for a genuine client’s specifications provides the best motivation for enduring understanding to take place. Enduring understanding takes place when a student adapts, improvises and multi-tasks between skills and intelligence to solve problems or create products in a meaningful and genuine context.
Internships continue in Key Stage 3, though it is more intensive. The focus shifts from developing skills to understanding work ethics in a professional set-up. In KS 2, selection of the internship is skill based, while in KS 3 it is to develop expertise based on subject preference.
Learning Embedded in Real Life (KS 1, 2, & 3)
Learning is not done in isolation. Using authentic materials and experiences brings the real world into the classroom and learning into the real world. Students are able to apply a range of skills and content knowledge across domains. Authentic experiences establish relevance to what is being learned in the classroom, allowing learning to be deep and meaningful, rather than superficial. Learning is superficial when information is memorized and regurgitated to pass a test. Learning is internalized when the student experiences and applies the concepts of skills in a real life situation. They become more motivated when they see the practical application of skills and concepts.
Peer and Public Scrutiny (KS 1, 2, & 3)
Peer and Public Scrutiny create an authentic and meaningful context that students require to grow into the world and to understand how all the skills that they learn at school are applicable in the world they live in. It allows parents to view their children as holistic beings rather than grades and numbers. They receive rounded feedback on their child’s progress on various skills that are relevant in the real world.
Peer scrutiny builds self worth in students as the support from the teaching community and peer group endorses student’s talents, tells them what they are good at and how they contribute to their community.
Public Scrutiny builds self confidence as the child goes outside their comfort zone to face an audience that may not always be indulgent and supportive. The child learns to improvise as the public poses questions that are new and the child has to draw from the depth of his understanding to answer them.
Parent Partnership (KS 1, 2, & 3)
The goals, values and processes of a school must be overtly communicated consistently both for parents who are familiar with the program and those who are new. When parents and students understand the philosophy of the school they feel more comfortable and secure. It is the child who benefits when parents, teachers and students have a shared language and point of reference.
The Parent Partnership is the various means through which knowledge of the child is shared and partners learn from each other. It strengthens the relationship and understanding between all the stakeholders and increases accountability for the school. When the parent is an active participant in the student’s learning, it creates a sense of overall ownership, pride and wellbeing.
Making Learning Visible (MLV) (KS 1 & 2)
The overall goal of Making Learning Visible is to create and sustain powerful cultures of learning in and across classrooms and schools that nurture and make visible individual and group learning. It makes the complex world simpler and creates awareness of the school’s work and the student’s learning process among the parents. Making Learning Visible is NOT a ‘reporting’ but a sharing. Over time it enables parents to contribute in positive and meaningful ways for their child’s growth.
Mastery Project (KS 3)
The personal project towards mastery is a two-month long journey of personal growth, driven around a question chosen by the students from an academic domain of their choice. It is also a platform for students to pursue a line of thought in the chosen domain, question it, delve into it and stretch and apply that understanding in unfamiliar situations. This moves away from the traditionally accepted performances that are rote, ritualistic, or conventional and sets them on the path to being disciplined learners. As Howard Gardner describes in “The Unschooled Mind”, a ‘Disciplinary Expert’ is a skilled person of any age who has mastered the concepts and skills of a discipline or domain and can apply such knowledge appropriately in new situations.
Although there are aspects where students interact with others and develop inter-personal skills, it is primarily an introspective journey.
It culminates in a jury presentation where students make visible the process of research and apprenticeship.
Personal Project and Jury (KS 2)
The personal project is a month-long journey of personal growth, driven around a question that really matters to the student. It culminates in a jury presentation where students are able to make visible that they are enabled (i.e., more competent and less helpless) and on the path to empowerment.
The personal project is an opportunity for students to show to themselves and to others (teachers, peers, mentors, and parents) what skills and knowledge they gained during the years in Key Stage 2. As the project is student-driven, students are valued and acknowledged for who they are. Hence, the students’ well-being is nurtured and promoted.
Provocation and Installation (KS 1)
Learning happens when interest is provoked in some area and a student is motivated to explore further. Curiosity is the first step that starts the learning process. It may be sparked by chance or constructed intentionally in a learning environment. Although children are naturally curious about many things, learning will only take place once that curiosity is deepened into interest. Interest leads to real learning. In the natural progression of learning through the years, this may be followed by passion that can result in self-actualization. True education should lift students towards that self-actualization, whether it is coming through dance, sports, or classroom activities.
The natural process of learning can be integrated into the framework of the regular curriculum. Exposing students to a variety of inspiring influences at every stage of their growth in school provides the “hook” that opens up the curiosity and potential for every child.
Provocation is the means by which curiosity is sparked. Exploration helps teachers to identify in what areas the students’ interest lies. As the teacher encourages the class to persist with an idea, an installation is created. The installation is the end product of their idea. Emphasis is on the process of creating the installation since it is this process that leads to meaningful learning.
Reflection (KS 1, 2, & 3, Teachers)
Deep learning (learning for real comprehension) comes from a sequence of experience, reflection, abstraction, and active testing. Reflection provides an opportunity to make connections and make meaning of experiences.
For both students and teachers, regular examination of performance is necessary for improvement. It helps you identify areas of success as well as areas that need improvement. With this knowledge, strategies can be identified and implemented for enhancement of performance. Therefore, reflection is an integral component of all classroom processes and practices.
Revisiting (KS 1, 2, & 3)
Experiences that are meaningful and to which strong connections are made are more readily stored in the brain. The brain has two kinds of memory – long term and short term. Research shows that the more times a learner accesses new information – words / concepts / skills – the more opportunities he has to file it into long term memory.
Revisiting shows what information the child has filed. If the learning process or the unit design has been able to make the ‘relevance’ of the concept ‘visible’ to the children, their filing cabinet will show it.
Each student may revisit the same concept or experience in different ways. It is a window into each student’s individual learning journey, giving the teacher valuable information about individual experiences and meaningful moments. When students share their diverse learning, the other children benefit and their own learning widens and gets reinforced. It is also a good springboard to discuss strategies to address discrepancies.
Student Led Conference (SLC) (KS 1 & 2)
The most effective way to augment a learning process is to take ownership – because only ownership brings about the highest degree of motivation. How do we encourage our students to take ownership? How do we make them ‘see’ their own learning journey and reflect on it?
Student Led Conferences are a powerful means to achieve this. Students are put in charge and asked to assume the responsibility of assessing their own learning and reporting on it. Students present their work to their parents, individually, in a formal setting in school.
This one-on-one time with parents gives students the opportunity to explain their learning journey highlighting what is meaningful and important to them. This is a paradigm shift from the usual parent teacher conferences in which a student is very often not present. Even if students are present, they are often silent recipients of evaluation from the teacher. In Student Led Conferences, the student is in charge of the meeting and parents get a more comprehensive picture of their child’s time at school.
Thinking Routines (KS 1, 2, & 3)
Traditionally, good thinking has been defined as a matter of cognitive ability or skill. Certainly, good thinkers have skills. But, they also have passions, attitudes, values and habits of mind that play key roles in thinking. Good thinkers have the right “thinking dispositions.”
A thinking disposition is a tendency towards a particular pattern of intellectual behaviour. For example, good thinkers have the tendency to identify and investigate problems, to probe assumptions, to seek reasons, and to be reflective.
Integrating thinking routines within the curriculum attempts to teach the basic skills needed in society to function in the real world. When developing thinking skills is set as an explicit agenda, the group’s collective, as well as individual thinking, is valued, visible and actively promoted as part of the regular, day to day experience.