At the first three years of schooling. By the

At Sunset Primary School the junior school team, consisting of 60 Year 0-3 students and 3 experienced teachers in three single cell classrooms, has been exploring play based learning. The focus has been on oral language learning as it relates to reading, writing and maths. Alongside this is the need to build resilience, self-management and collaboration as part of future focused learning.We have decided to further develop the change initiative implemented in Terms 2 and 3, 2017 based on the question:  “How do we get our children to communicate effectively through play-based learning?       During the first initiative we focused on increasing oral language opportunities and participation. KLST 2 was used to measure pre and post initiative oral language levels. Increasing oral language opportunities in the classroom and during play based learning time saw students’ KLST2 oral language stanines improved from between two and five stanines for all but 2/39 students.  Initially the focus was on finding ways to develop oral language- oral into reading, writing and maths. This need arose from the low achievement levels of students against literacy and mathematics national standards, especially in the first three years of schooling. By the time students are in Year 6 the achievement levels more closely reflect national norms. PLD was accessed through funding from local trusts, and assistance from the RTLB to facilitate both pull out, tailored oral literacy and literacy programmes alongside a focus on developing play based learning pedagogy.Lev Vygotsky (1978)  stated that “By giving our students practice in talking with others, we give them frames for thinking on their own.” We believe that play based learning is an effective pedagogy for this. If we go into primary school classrooms throughout New Zealand and look for the ‘play’ it is often difficult to find.  Schools seem to have become ‘academically’ driven, and forget to include play as an across curriculum ‘pedagogy’ for engaging learners. Students who are at play engage with each other, negotiate, sort out arguments and establish friendships. They imagine, explore and invent. They take risks, develop new ideas and put their ideas into action. This is where learning takes place.Acts of play seem to have become a thing of the past. This is in spite of the research that indicates otherwise. Fisher et al (1999) state that, “When we view play as a learning process, we gain a broader perspective on the key skill sets that young children must develop to be successful in school and in the 21st Century.” Schools are also concerned about students being ‘school-ready’ when they start school, particularly ensuring that the transition to school is smooth for the child. If schools were to adopt a play-based pedagogy, reflecting the early childhood curriculum,Te Wh?riki, this pedagogy could then thread throughout all levels of primary school. Underpinning Te Wh?riki (2017) is “the vision that children are competent and confident learners and communicators, healthy in mind, body and spirit, secure in their sense of belonging and in the knowledge that they make a valued contribution to society.” (pg 5)Further to this, Te Whariki also points out that recent learning theories “build on Vygotsky’s ideas that learning leads development and occurs in relationships with people, places and things, mediated by participation in valued social and cultural activities. In this framework, play is an important means by which children try out new roles and identities as they interact with others”. (pg 63)Students in many schools get fewer opportunities for play, whether it is free, supported or purposeful play. As educators we understand the social, emotional, intellectual and cognitive benefits of play based-learning, so why aren’t we brave enough to put some free play back into our classrooms? Our project moving forward into 2018 is to continue to build play based learning and thereby build learner capability to be able to communicate and collaborate effectively in order to achieve and progress in their learning. Our question is, “How can we capitalise on play based learning pedagogies to ensure that oral language opportunities are accessed and developed by students more effectively?”During the initial 6 month period of the project (February to July 2018) we intend to:Continue to build our own professional knowledge, understandings and practices for PBLShare our understandings with colleagues, parents/whanau and the Board of TrusteesPrepare ongoing reviews on aspects of the programme and share these with staff, parents/whanau and the BOTContinue to refine, develop and document  our rationale and approach to share with all stakeholdersReport to ERO on our journey and findings during Term 1  Closely monitor all students using KLST 2, JOST and anecdotal information Develop our system and approach to recording individual and group learning journeys, and exploring how these can be shared with stakeholders: such as Learning Stories Stakeholder views and attitudes have been closely considered in the introduction of play based learning (PBL) pedagogies to the school. In this setting stakeholders who are impacted by this project include: students, teachers, support staff, the Principal, parents and whanau, the Board of Trustees (BOT) and ERO. Students embrace PBL with ease. It is vital that expectations are made explicit and that rules are consistently managed. In this setting many of the PBL opportunities are set up outside the classrooms and are shared. Systems and expectations have had to be carefully considered in order to make this work for both students and teachers, including those in the wider school.Our students need to be critical and creative thinkers in order to face the demands of being 21st century learners. Play contributes positively to a child’s sense of well-being. It enhances a child’s natural capacity for intense and self-motivated learning.  It helps build creative and critical thinkers, and lets children test social boundaries. Play produces curiosity, openness, optimism, resilience and concentration. It enhances a child’s memory skills, develops their language skills, helps regulate their behaviour, advances their social skills and encourages academic learning to take place. Parents and whanau are important stakeholders. They have had the opportunity to attend parent workshops based on PBL. All who attended were very positive, with some stating that they do not know how to play with and talk with their children and some parents who think that the typical classroom environment is causing more stress for their children.  This has been alluded to by Aiono (2017) who states “the current system is causing increased anxiety, school-reluctance and low levels of self-esteem and self-efficacy.” This is an area we need examine further during our six month project. Shared pedagogy, understanding and vision is vital for the success and sustainability of any programme in a school. This is an ongoing area for development as we work to ensure that all stakeholders see and experience the benefits of PBL for our students. This is especially important for all staff of the school, including the Principal. Setting up play-based learning activities in classrooms is often viewed as involving a loss of power. Imagination is  required to come up with ideas, organisation time, materials, activities and spaces. The classroom may be noisy and messy. Students will be talking, moving about, laughing and negotiating. Teachers and their leaders often  perceive a lack of control and behaviour management as noise levels increase.However, when we take a look inside early childhood centres none of these things bother the teachers. Clear expectations, consistent rules and consequences have been set in place. It is accepted and expected that there will be noise, mess, laughter and negotiation.The New Zealand Curriculum (2007) identifies several values and key competencies that we must strive to teach our children. These can all be developed through play-based activities, and include innovation, inquiry, curiosity, and sustainability, respect, thinking, using language, and managing self, relating to others, participation and contributing.We know that children become intrinsically motivated through play-based learning. We know that it is our role as educators to motivate and engage students in learning. We want and need to develop and promote lifelong learning. The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) (2007) vision for young people is: “to be confident, connected, actively involved, and lifelong learners”.Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, the parallel curriculum for M?ori-medium schooling, aspires to: “develop successful learners, who will grow as competent and confident learners, effective communicators in the M?ori world, healthy of mind, body and soul and secure in their identity and sense of belonging. They will have the skills and knowledge to participate in and contribute to M?ori society and the wider world”.  Studies reveal a link between play,particularly symbolic, pretend play and the development of language skills. Fisher et al (1999), analyzed 46 published studies on the cognitive benefits of play. The findings showed that “sociodramatic play” – when children pretend together – “results in improved performances in both cognitive-linguistic and social affective domains.” Further to this, research by Pepler and Ross (1981), Wyver and Spence (1999), Walker and Gopnik (2013), and Buchsbaum et al (2012) supports strong links between play based learning and the enhanced development of oral language in young children.  Embracing PBL at Sunset Primary School has required ongoing dialogue and robust discussion with colleagues within the team, and with colleagues throughout the school, to ensure that a school-wide pedagogy is developed. We need to continue to develop this culture of sharing and celebrating what is working, and encourage the next step for our colleagues in the middle and senior team.  In the junior team we can see the direct benefits for our students on a daily basis. Oral language is improving. The recent KLST 2 assessments (refer above) show huge gains over time. Continuing assessment and tracking of this nature Using digital technologies to enhance our oral language/ play based learning programmes will be something that needs to be continually worked on: as the only way to capture student voice, student photos or video is on teacher owned phones.  Ipads that have been purchased by a small number of children: will be used by all children, to access oral language apps such as Lingokids: to engage and support boys with grammar, as well as girls. Or Buddy’s Talking Flashcards which will enable children to talk to and with a robot enhancing their acquisition of new vocab.  We are also digitising the learning stories of our students so that we can capture their learning through play.   We will be able to share these stories with parents through the Seesaw app or the currently used, ClassDojo app: which will enable children and teachers to upload stories, photos and or video to the app at any time . This has meant giving ourselves permission to observe children at play, listen to their conversations, take photos and videos, engage in conversation, and identify ‘teachable moments’.  The Board of Trustees, as stakeholders and representatives of the community, has a vested interest in and responsibility for student achievement and well-being. We believe that PBL allows our students to develop both in a meaningful, engaging and motivating student-led context. Regular updates and evidence through summative  reports will be essential to the success of this project. In part this also relates to the need for ongoing curriculum budgeting that enables the purchase of consumables.  The school is currently under a longitudinal review by ERO, and will be visited by ERO in Week 5 of Term 1. ERO has shown an interest in PBL and Oral Language development at the school during 2017, and we expect that there will be a high level of interest in reviewing the impact of this focus when the team visits. When considering stakeholder groups we have looked closely at Rogers (2002) Diffusion of Innovation Model.The Innovators for the programme will be the three staff members directly involved.  Early adopters in this project are most likely to be the students themselves.  There has already been a high level of uptake, enthusiasm and excitement for PBL and oral language opportunities with this group in 2017.Other teachers have attended a full day workshop on play based learning, and have been part of ongoing discussion about the PBL pedagogies. This group is likely to form the early and late majority, along with some parents /whanau, some BOT members, and the Principal.The laggards are likely to be two teachers, some BOT members and a small number of the community,and this group will need ongoing support and snippets of research to review as part of the communication process. It may even be productive to have them observe children during play based learning time and joining in with the children.  Leadership by us will be vital to this project’s success. The leadership theories we have reviewed with this in mind include AgileServantTransformativeDistributivePedagogicalLearning CentredThese styles will be used as part of a shared framework, with differing theories being most appropriate at different stages of the project. The overarching theory is that of Agile Leadership, as this underpins all that we do in relation to the focus on the needs of learners. Servant Leadership also underpins the project, as the team will need to demonstrate servant leadership in order to bring other stakeholders on the journey. When first presenting the project we will use transformational leadership to create shared impetus, communicate effectively, and build high standards and set clear goals. Transformational leadership seeks to create a positive change in those who follow.During the project distributive leadership will be evident through teamwork, high levels of participation, empowerment, risk taking and sharing leadership with others who have expertise. Distributed leadership is primarily concerned with the practice of leadership rather than specific leadership roles or responsibilities.(Jones et al Dist leadership 22-23)Pedagogical leadership will be crucial in this context, as our learners are the centre of our planning. (Bishop 2010 How effective leadership reduces educational disparity)(Robinson et al School leadership and student outcomes, BES) Describe and implement….MilestonesC21 skills throughoutPre- Inquiry:Ask the question: How might we……Month 1KLST2 pre-test all junior children in years 0-3. Choose 8-10 children to take part in TALES for Terms 1 and 2. Set up the  TALES oral language programme in conjunction with play based learningTrain senior children/ grandparents/ adults/ parents on running the TALES programme – train with questioning techniques – have prompt cards for training, for tutors and for facilitatorIf senior students are going to be tutors, allow them to have a play with all the kits to familiarise themselves with them and to give them a chance to ‘play’ firstHave a  teacher run the programme for 3 weeks each, every morning for 30 minutes during fitness time,  Mon to Thursday. Keep an attendance record for tracking purposes, and make sure tutors are using the prompts and allowing play timeHold a parent/ stakeholder meeting early term 1 for the chosen children: Give the expectations for them for their children to be a part of the programme. Give children an incentive programme to be a part of it – tell parents that we have done this tooPLD staff meetings to look at future focused learning and play based learning pedagogies and part of a review of ####Seek out the early adopters, majority adopters, laggards – how can we motivate them?Run PLD with staff and show them some possible maker stations they could use in the classroomMonths 2-4In 2018 it is envisaged that Sunset Primary will become a BYOD school.  This will enable the use of digital technologies such as ipads, tablets, and cellphones to be utilised in the classrooms alongside chromebooks,netbooks and laptops, by the children.  Have apps enabled on ipads to allow for oral language – language acquisition such as “Buddy’s talking flashcards” “Talking Tom” “Talking Ginger””Puppet Pals” and “LingokidsUse the “SeeSaw” app to collaborate with parents during the oral languge programme Building greater parent engagement….launching something like Seesaw sharing app?Use play-based learning to encourage oral language and/ or language acquisitionSet oral language tasks for parents to complete on an incentive type programme as part of a daily homework projectHave oral language games that are played daily using the Oral Language game book from RTLB Use lots of oral language activities such as think pair share, group talk, feedback time, cooperative learning thru talkPLD sessions with staffOngoing parent workshopsDiscussions with EROEstablish/upskill Early AdoptersServant Leadership parents and whanauField trip with staff, BOT, interested parents, to institutions implementing play based learning Month 5 Reflect/revisit Survey Monkey for staff, BOT, parents/whanau?How are we going with bringing the laggards on board? Where to nextMonth 6Critique and evaluate Discussions with staffInterim review for BOT and parents/whanauAs an innovation spreads (Robinson 2009)  Our team members aim  to be agile leaders; we have moved from leading from the top like waterfall leaders to sharing the leadership between our team on a continuous platform, with not one teacher leading the way and not in one particular style but adapting and changing to the needs of the children, the staff, the parents and the BOT.  As we are trying to lead this initiative, again, we are seeking to change the way we think and do things, so as to evoke change in others.  According to agilebusiness.org “Agility is not an all or nothing quality but instead should be considered on a continuum”We regard student learning as both a social and communicative process. Oral language is at its centre. We encourage students to share their ideas and support each other. Oral language competence underpins all learning, therefore opportunities for oral language learning must occur across the curriculum.  Encouraging the early adopters – show parents of this years students their child’s results in the klst2 testing, encourage senior teachers to get on board.Building the early majority..This usually means lots of conversations; listening to their interests, goals and concerns; and helping them to see the benefits and how this innovation will align with and support their other goals.Having and nurturing one on one conversations with peopleHave them help us by providing feedback and inputSuggest how you could help them implement one play based activity into their classroom  ” if the leadership does not own it and value it, you will be fighting resistance every step of the way” retrieved from 15 Ways to Promote the Adoption of a New Innovation in Your Learning Organization. (2015, October 18). Retrieved December 5, 2017, from http://etale.org/main/2015/10/28/15-ways-to-promote-the-adoption-of-a-new-innovation-in-your-learning-organization/Bringing the laggards on board! Universal design for learningCompetencies for C21st learnersInnovation adoption curveLongworth and our own play based learning researchPreivous klst2 results from previous programmeEncouraging the early adopters – show parents of this years students their child’s results in the KLST2 testing, encourage teachers to get on boardBuilding the early majority…Bringing the laggards on board! Universal design for learningCompetencies for C21st learnersInnovation adoption curveLongworth and our own play based learning researchPreivous klst2 results from previous programmeSchool policies and practices, PBL rationale and documentationNZCFullan 2014 MOE VisionConnected World 2015-2025   ReferencesBishop, R., O’Sullivan, D., & Berryman, M. (2010) Scaling up Education Reform: Addressing the Politics of Disparity  NZCER PressCultural and Leadership: The Nine Principles of Agile Leadership. (2017, October 30). Retrieved November 18, 2017, from https://www.agilebusiness.org/resources/white-papers/cultural-and-leadership-the-nine-principles-of-agile-leadership Fisher, Hirsh-Pasek, Golinkoff, Singer, & Berk. (n.d.). (1999) Playing Around in School.In Defense of Parents: Sarah Aiono : August 10 2017, Retrieved from https://www.longwortheducation.co.nzNew Zealand. (2007). The New Zealand curriculum for English-medium teaching and learning in years 1-13. Wellington, N.Z.: Learning Media for the Ministry of Education.New Zealand., Ministry of Education. (2017). Te Wha?riki: he wha?riki matauranga mo? nga? mokopuna o Aotearoa: early childhood curriculum. Wellington: Ministry of Education.New Zealand curriculum framework = Te anga marautanga o Aotearoa. (2017). Wellington, N.Z.: Ministry of Education.Novak, K., (2016)  UDL Now! A Teacher’s Guide to Applying UNIVERSAL DESIGN FOR LEARNING in today’s classrooms. CAST. Viviane Robinson, Margie Hohepa, Claire Lloyd, The University of Auckland.School Leadership and Student Outcomes: Identifying What Works and Why Best Evidence SynthesisDate Published: November 2009 Rogers, E. (2002) The Diffusion of Innovation ModelSouberman., Eds.) (A. R. Luria, M. Lopez-Morillas & M. Cole with J. V. Wertsch, Trans.) Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. (Original manuscripts ca. 1930-1934) pg 19Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes (M. Cole, V. John-Steiner, S. Scribner & E. Wittgenstein, L. (1922) Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus  translated by Charles Kay Ogden Lund Humphries, Great BritainThe cognitive benefits of play: Effects on the learning brain© 2008 – 2014, Gwen Dewar,Buchsbaum D, Bridgers S, Skolnick Weisberg D, Gopnik A. 2012. The power of possibility: causal learning, counterfactual reasoning, and pretend play. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 367(1599):2202-12.Fisher, Edward P. (1999). The impact of play on development: A meta-analysis. Play and Culture, 5(2), 159-181. Pepler DJ and Ross HS. 1981. The effects of play on convergent and divergent problem solving. Child Development 52(4): 1202-1210.Walker CM and Gopnik A. 2013. Pretense and possibility–a theoretical proposal about the effects of pretend play on development: comment on Lillard et al. (2013). Psychol Bull. 139(1):40-4. Wyver SR and Spence SH. 1999. Play and divergent problem solving: Evidence supporting a reciprocal relationship. Early Education and Development, 10(4): 419 – 44. 

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