What are REAL Projects?
REAL Projects are hugely engaging and designed to ensure that all of our children succeed and love to learn. REAL Projects involve taking a creative approach towards the planning and delivery of lessons in order to immerse the children in their topic as they prepare work for their final outcomes at the end of each term. The knowledge that an authentic audience will see their work gives the motivation to ensure that it is completed to the highest possible standard.
Each term, the curriculum is planned around an essential question which drives the children’s learning and the teachers’ planning, ensuring an integrated, cross-curricular approach. Projects have a clear timeline with milestones and mini outcomes for pupils to achieve, all leading to a final outcome which ensures that learning has purpose and an authentic audience. The children’s learning is enhanced by visits / visitors and real-life tasks. Core subjects and skills are integrated into the project and we plan and design learning opportunities that are relevant and engaging and have real world outcomes. Parents are kept informed of their child’s projects and learning through termly newsletters.
The REAL Project approach contains certain key aspects:
We endeavour to find out what interests the children and how they want to learn. Children have the opportunity to contribute to their learning with ideas for their projects. We plan and design learning opportunities that are relevant and engaging and have real world outcomes.
Learning environments (or eco-systems) take on the appearance of a time, place or event being explored and are changed with every new theme. Classrooms have a variety of flexible learning spaces, which can be adapted for different lessons and which allow children to make daily decisions about how they would like to learn.
Challenge Based Learning
Developing problem solving, independence and resilience in pupils is a central part of our teaching. Children are presented with challenges related to their project which require them to organise themselves, plan and carry out the task and choose how to present their learning. The staff act in a facilitating role, using questioning to support rather than direct. Challenges can be across all curriculum areas, can be used to introduce, embed or extend skills and provide pupils with an opportunity to take ownership of their learning.
Launch days are designed to spark the children’s interest in their new project. The days are carefully planned to incorporate a wide range of skills and activities both in the classroom and out, appealing to all of the senses. This leads to the children being fully immersed and engaged in their new project within a short space of time.
The final outcome of a project, which might be a product (such as a machine or an artwork), a performance (such as a theatre piece or a debate), or a service (such as giving a lesson to younger students), creates a focus for the project that gives it a feeling of purpose from day one. Pupils are aware of the final outcome and more importantly the deadline from day one of the project. This gives their work a clear purpose and embeds the need for high quality, world-class outcomes.
It is important that the outcome be something that the children (as well as other people) value. Ensuring that the audience for a final outcome extends beyond the school community, ultimately aiming to provide a service, increases the pupils’ motivation and engagement. So far at Alverton, outcomes have included exhibitions, magazines sold in a local shop, a website, an art exhibition at a local gallery, a charity auction and a stall at the town’s farmers’ market. Parental involvement and interest has increased and the school has reached out into the wider community.
Peer critique is the way in which children reflect upon and improve their learning through multiple drafts to produce high quality outcomes. Using exemplar pieces, for example to introduce a writing genre, and creating a rubric from this which then provides children with a toolkit on which to base their learning, children critique and redraft their work until it becomes ‘beautiful work’ of which they are extremely proud. Critique and multiple drafting are particularly used when writing and when completing pieces of work which are intended for a final product. Children have the opportunity to look at work from a range of their peers, providing warm feedback and helpful suggestions and supporting each other in the development of their work. Children are asked to follow three main rules when completing critique sessions: Be Kind, Be Helpful and Be Specific.