Year 9 has experienced a facelift this year, with a new structure to the academic programme, a new home in Gilray and a few new faces too.
The rollout of Integrated Studies for the 2019 Year 9 cohort had the following intentions:
- Create a place of transition from Year 8 to Year 9, regardless of which school students were coming from.
- Create a deeper understanding of learning dispositions and abilities due to an increased amount of contact time. In Integrated Studies Year 9 students now have 9 periods a week with their teacher learning English, Social Studies and Philosophy.
- Create a strong basis for relationship building and pastoral care between school, students and home
- Provide a setting to build strong habits, culture and foundations for the students time at John McGlashan College.
Our four Integrated Studies teachers are also the Form Teachers for the Year 9 group. These four classes now take residence in Gilray block which has given the group a 'home base', a place to come and connect and mix during interval and lunch breaks. The Year group Dean, Jo Mullenger, also has her office at Gilray which enables her to have consistent contact with the boys.
Strategic timetabling has provided times when all four classes are in their Integrated Studies classes at the same time, allowing for thoughtful and targeted team teaching. The boys have enjoyed mixing across the classes, engaging with other students and working with different teachers.
We have introduced two specific tools to help us achieve these goals:
1 - Seesaw as an online reflection tool, journal and portfolio. All parents should have received invitations to join in Term 1 from your son's teacher. Please contact them if you have not.
2 - A diary. Each Year 9 student was provided a paper diary to use. We are focused on helping the boys strong habits that will help to be successful. Being able to organise themselves is absolutely key as part of being able to self-manage.
Two terms along and we are already witnessing positive results due to these changes both academically and socially. We have investigated a number of really thought-provoking topics and been able to follow the interests of the students in each area.
Our big idea for the year is 'Communities' and seeking to understand:
- how they form
- how they organise themselves
- how they cope with a crisis
- how they thrive
We have an ongoing intention of making connections between the year group as a community, our local community, the New Zealand community and our place in the international community.
One of the highlights of Term 1 was engaging in the novel 'Refugee by Alan Gratz'. Through this text, we have investigated the three settings and looked to understand what lead to our main characters being in the position of seeking refuge. The engagement in this story has also served as a springboard to engage the boys in personal reading, often and consistently. This has been a strong focus across all classes and is a habit we are keen to help the boys build.
We have had a visitor from a former refugee who has resettled here in Dunedin. It was quite confronting for the boys as our young refugee is a high school student here in Dunedin, this created a new level of reality for the boys, moving fiction to fact.
Snippets of our learning include:
Used gummy bears to show their understanding of the different structures of government. I am informed it was a delicious lesson.
Classes have used digital storytelling to capture the myth of Kupe discovering New Zealand and the forming of our first communities.
We have experimented with Keynote as a design tool to experiment with using visual images as a form of communication. It is also a task that challenges problem-solving and creativity skills. The is a precursor to using the animation techniques in Keynote and expanding on students abilities to create slide presentations that enhance their information.
Classes have combined to share their learning:
As part of the structures of government focus, we had a visit from Dunedin North MP Michael Woodhouse who shared his story of becoming a Member of Parliament, a member of Cabinet and now a member of the opposition. The boys asked really interesting questions and were able to develop a clearer understanding of concepts like how new laws are created. The students have written letters to members of local and national government to share their views on the issues that concern them.
We have written, we have read, we have researched, we have presented, we have spoken, we have discussed, we have created and we have enjoyed every minute.
We have a busy Term 3 planned for the mighty guys from Gilray and we can't wait to get started...but maybe a few weeks rest, with a good book, first!
Integrated Studies Teachers: Donna Smith, Melissa Bell, Anita Veitch, Rebecca Rapson, and Chris Knopp.