Video transcript - Developing student agency through STEM learning

[Narrator] Alstonville Public School is a primary school of almost five hundred students in the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales. We are part of the Lennox Coast network of schools and are situated in a semi-rural farming setting.

Kirstin Beck, Relieving Principal:
We started our journey into STEM learning in 2015 and since that time, we've had a transition from stage three to the whole of the school using STEM learning and developing student agency.

Cassandra Marsh, Assistant Principal:
After looking at our intended outcomes for students and whether they've been achieved, the biggest priority was student agency and ensuring that students were not spoon-fed.

The ability to collaborate and take risks was another priority and as they're getting more and more familiar with design thinking in the 21st century fluencies, we can see that these outcomes are heading in the right direction.

Year 5 student:
I quite like STEM learning, it's very different to our usual learning, it helps us make our own decisions and learn the way we want. We did this thing last year called the "Envirocar Wars" how we could design our own car. We could choose from, different energy categories, and a hybrid category. You could just let your imagination run free.

Kirstin Beck, Relieving Principal:
The parent involvement in our students learning has grown exponentially, it's off the charts. We have parents coming in as experts in the classroom, sharing what they know and the skills that they have in places where our teachers don't have skills. We have parents coming in to discuss student learning at student led conferences, where the student is the centre of the conversation, and they lead the conversation about their learning.

Mark Hurtz, Year 6 Teacher:
Inside of my classroom, one huge part of having successful STEM units and project-based learning units has been allowing students to take ownership of their learning and the directions within units of work. That's been so critical in the success of STEM at our school.

We develop and implement a range of rubrics for learning and assessment, and collaborative learning tools which really allow the students to understand what the unit of work is about, what syllabus outcomes they're going to cover, and where to next. So there's always a point in time, point of knowledge that they need to understand, and where they are continually moving towards the end of the unit.

So from the beginning of a unit students know, and plan for their own learning, for their own investigation, and their own opportunities for reflection, feedback and improvement upon their final products.

Kirstin Beck, Relieving Principal:
Community and parent engagement has been incredibly evident and we've gathered evidence and evaluated with them, so we've called 10% of our parent population to determine how successful our future focus learning plans were, inclusive of STEM, with the local community.

Kirstin Beck, Relieving Principal:
We had many, many schools come and visit to learn from our students and teachers, and again the effect that that has on the students ability to discuss their learning and show ownership of their learning has improved as well as our teachers.

Sherie Salt, Assistant Principal:
The students are producing amazing presentations, videos. They've got voice and choice in how they'll present their learning. They've learnt to draw on each others' strengths and they're more engaged than ever. We've gone out into the community, and we've engaged with lots of different community members such as farmers, the tourism industry, local community groups. We've got connections with the high school so students are coming down and teaching us programs that we never thought the students were capable of, we've been doing 3D modelling, things that have really ignited these things in the students that we never thought possible.

Year 5 student:
STEM's good because it lets you learn your own way, and the way that suits you best.

Year 6 student:
Since our school started STEM, I've noticed that we've been able to take charge of our learning, so instead of the teacher saying "okay you should be up to this part "of your learning by now", we get to work at our own pace, and we get to decide what part in our project we wish to do first.

Year 5 sutdent:
With STEM, we use feedback to improve our learning, so then we get better and better, and we use multiple versions of our project until we're happy with it.

Year 6 student:
STEM has impacted my learning because it allows me to work independently, and gives me a lot more freedom.

Year 6 student:
STEM is all about teamwork and most importantly, student ownership. For work this year we had a project called "Market Day" and it was about three or four people in a group, and you had to come up with a really good idea to raise money for our school. Everyone from five and six, they each had a group, and there was a lot of different ideas, I think we ended up raising

2,000 something dollars, so that was Market Day.

Year 5 student:
It gives you the opportunity to learn the way you want to learn. Instead of saying "oh you have to do this, "you have to be doing this, now this" you get to decide when you want to do things, and how you want to do things.

End of transcript

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