Our Learning Approach

The Kohimarama School teaching team bring a wealth of experience and have embraced a range of learning approaches to prepare our children to thrive in our changing world.

The school’s teaching is based on the New Zealand Curriculum. On this page we describe some of our current areas of focus for bringing the curriculum to life.

Community of Learning

Core to our approach is our ‘community of learning’ philosophy. We believe that students, teachers and parents/caregivers all need to be part of learning. By working together we can maximise the opportunity for our students to reach their potential.

In the broader community, Kohimarama School also actively participates in the local Te Roopu Pourewa Community of Learning (COL). The COL is made up of 5 local schools (Kohimarama, Orakei, Stonefields, St Thomas’s, Selwyn College) and is constantly looking at ways to collaborate on learning and achievements. This year the top priority of the group is developing enhanced ‘learner agency’.

Learner Agency

What is it?

Becoming a life-long learner means taking ownership of your learning and building a level of independence. This is captured in the concept of learner agency. Agency is having the power or capacity to act and make choices. In a learner-centred environment, learners have agency over their learning and classroom systems serve the needs and interests of the learner.

Why is it important?

The student agency approach helps set our children up to be lifelong learners. Research links student agency with:

  • Increased motivation and ownership of learning
  • Increased emotion in learning and therefore engagement
  • Increased neural development (through active learning)
  • Greater differentiation
  • Increased sense of belonging
  • Increased likelihood to continue in schooling
  • Increased achievement

Children who plan their own goals, set weekly schedules and evaluate their own work build up the frontal cortex and take more control over their lives” Bruce Feiler

Sustained higher achievement is possible when teachers use approaches that enable students to take charge of their own learning. Such approaches do not leave the students ‘to discover’ in an unstructured environment. Rather, they are highly structured in supporting student agency and sustained and thoughtful engagement.” Adrienne Alton-Lee (BES 2003)

How are we Supporting Learner Agency in 2018?

The key tool we’re using in 2018 to support student agency is the introduction of the ‘SchoolTalk’ app. SchoolTalk is an interactive learning platform that let’s a students track and manage their learning along with their teacher. Parents and caregivers also have access allowing them to be more involved and aware of their child’s learning progress. This supports our learning community philosophy where we are all involved in a student’s learning.

The introduction of the tool changes the way our teachers design, track and report learning. The teaching staff have been working hard behind the scenes learning the tool and integrating it into their day-to-day activities.

Another benefit of the tool is the ability to measure student progress against the curriculum. Students and teachers can assess gaps and develop personalised learning plans. This has become even more important with the shift away from National Standards.

E-learning for 21st Century Citizens and Learners

A key principle of the curriculum is to encourage students to look to the future. This means being future-oriented and adaptable, adopting a more complex view of knowledge, that incorporates knowing, doing, and being. These ideas are captured in the concept of the ‘21st century learner.’

Dr David Parsons, Associate Professor Massey University, explains the need to teach higher level thinking skills and develop key competencies using technology to prepare students for the 21st century. Source: TKI | Ministry of Education.
Our Approach

One of the key ways we have encapsulated 21st century learning is through The Kohimarama Way. The Kohimarama Way is the set of values and dispositions that underpin our approach to learning and student development.

Our students also engage in e-learning, which is blended into the learning programmes. Students have regular access to a range of e-learning tools and applications. The teaching team are constantly experimenting and refining how these tools are used to achieve learning outcomes.

Our physical learning spaces are another area of focus to support the new ways of learning and the integration of technology into the classroom. As part of an ongoing programme, a number of classrooms and facilities have been upgraded as per our Innovative Learning Environments plan.

Developing Future Problem Solvers

In support of student agency, we arm our students with a range of problem solving approaches. These range from Coasta’s habits of mind, Edward DeBono’s hats, Gardner’s multiple intelligences, to Glasser’s problem solving approach. A recent focus has been the SOLO taxonomy.

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What is the SOLO taxonomy?

A key part of the Kohimarama School purpose is to instil a passion for life-long learning. The SOLO taxonomy (Structure of the Observed Learning Outcome) is an approach that helps the students learn to learn.

How does it work?

When a new concept or idea is introduced to to a student, they work through a process of surface learning through to deep learning and then conceptual learning. The SOLO approach recognises the steps a learner needs to go through to get there and identifies learning outcomes along the way. It helps make it clear to both the teacher and the student what the learning outcomes and purpose of a particular activity or programme are.

Why is it important?

The approach challenges students to think more deeply by giving them a framework for thinking about loose ideas, connected ideas and extended ideas. Ultimately it helps students see that their learning outcomes are due to their efforts and strategies rather than luck or fixed ability.

Environmental Sustainability

Global warming and environmental sustainability is arguably one of the greatest global issues our students will face in their lifetime. So much so that this is now an area recognised in New Zealand Curriculum. The Curriculum seeks to instil environmental sustainability as a core value to be encouraged, modelled and explored.

Kohimarama School has embraced this and has put a number of programmes in place to help our students build an understanding of environmental sustainability and to be empowered to act on this. This is an ongoing initiative  as we work with students to incorporate sustainable practices into their daily lives at school and home.

The school is also participating in the Enviroschools programme which is an action-based education programme where young people plan, design and implement sustainability projects and become catalysts for change in their families, and within the wider New Zealand community. You can find out more about the Enviroschools programme at www.enviroschools.org.nz.

Education Outside the Classroom

Education outside the classroom (EOTC) is curriculum-based teaching and learning activities that go beyond the walls of the classroom. It includes any curriculum-based activity that takes place outside the school ranging from a museum or marae visit, to a sports trip, field trip, or outdoor education camp.

Experiences outside the classroom reinforce learning by enabling students to make connections between what they have learnt in the classroom and the world beyond the classroom. EOTC experiences also give students opportunities to demonstrate the key competencies identified in The New Zealand Curriculum; particularly managing self, relating to others, and participating and contributing.

We are constantly evolving our EOTC programme which includes field trips, school camps, and a range of age appropriate activities.