Penrhos College has earned international acclaim for its success in positively impacting learning and enhancing student engagement through a program of consultation with Global Digital Citizen Foundation founder Lee Watanabe Crockett.
Penrhos’ Early Learning Centre fosters a future-focused learning culture, in which students are engaged in exploring and solving real-world problems. Lee Watanabe Crockett’s ‘Shifts in Practice’ guides teachers to shift from a content-driven process to learner-centred inquiry.
Teachers use ‘essential and herding questions’ to guide young learners through inquiry processes that are aligned to the Australian curriculum. For example, the curriculum requirements revolve around endangered animals and the needs of living things. This inspired Penrhos’ Kindergarten learners to identify and explore the essential question ‘how best can we help animals to survive?’. Their inquiry followed the design thinking model Solution Fluency outlined below:
Lee Watanabe Crockett’s Solution Fluency – Adapted by Penrhos College for younger learners.
To start off the Discover stage, the Kindergarten class was visited by Ecologist Mandy Bamford, who spoke to the girls about a range of endangered species in our local area. The girls wandered outside to identify local animals and spotted a lonesome Carnaby’s black cockatoo – this sparked the girls’ emotional connection with the subject and naturally stimulated high-level learner engagement.
Mandy explained there used to be lots of these birds in the area, as Penrhos was founded on a pine plantation in 1952. The girls learned how the Carnaby’s black cockatoos had to adapt to a new life in pine plantations outside of the metro area to survive the loss of 1,000 hectares of native bush around Perth each year. For this reason, Mandy entrusted the Carnaby’s black cockatoo as the bird’s guardian, College’s totem and the perfect subject matter for this project.
To provoke inquiry as part of the Discover stage, the class then attended an excursion to Kings Park to find out what would be required to create the perfect environment to support the black cockatoo.
“We went to see if the environment at Penrhos has all the black cockatoo needs.” – Audrey
“Kings Park had everything – food, banksia and gumnuts, water and shelter.” – Emmy
From the excursion, the girls moved into the Dream stage, where they explored a range of possibilities to develop solutions to their identified issue and attract the black cockatoo back to live and breed at the College.
“I think Penrhos needs more water and banksias for the cockatoos.” – Rella
“We need hollow logs for them to use as a nest.” – Katyayani
The Design stage of the project led to the identification of a need for a water fountain outside the Kindergarten classroom, as the Carnaby’s black cockatoos require access to fresh water. During the Deliver stage, students carefully decorated the tiles which will be part of the fountain.
Our four-year olds are now looking forward to the final Debrief stage, where they will see the difference their solution makes to the question ‘How best can we help animals to survive?’.
The entire Early Learning Centre looks forward to welcoming more bird life to Penrhos College thanks to the hard work of our Kindergarten students and their purpose-built water fountain.
Members of the Penrhos community are invited to hear from inspirational educator Lee Watanabe Crockett from the Global Digital Citizen Foundation as our keynote speaker on Wednesday, 29 January 2020, brought to you by P&F. Head to the website calendar for more details. https://penrhos.wa.edu.au/events
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