Form II were told that the topic for their Independent Learning Project was the theme “Being Human”. They would be visiting @Bristol, an interactive science centre, where they would have a fun presentation about the brain and then would have some time to explore the centre and participate in many of the activities there.This would be a “starter” for them to think about what they would like to work on for their project. The girls were divided into 4 groups and asked to explore in their groups to begin the brainstorming process.
This visit was a great success with the girls participating with great curiosity and enthusiasm in the many activities on offer. Each group had a camera to record things of interest and could also get photos of certain activities by scanning the bar code on their wrist bands. Once back at school we had a brainstorming tea where the girls began their planning, using mind maps to organise their thoughts. They then had time over the weekend to follow up on their original thoughts in preparation for two days off timetable on the following Monday and Tuesday.
On Monday 15 and Tuesday 16 June each group set to work in earnest, researching relevant topics from some of the excellent books in the library and using the internet. Each group was asked to make a bibliography of their information sources and to be aware of the importance of checking facts from such websites as Wikipedia. It was fascinating to see the different directions each group had chosen to take, and to see the girls organising the tasks on the basis of different skills and abilities.
Miss White, Teacher in charge of Photography, gave the girls a presentation on using visual imagery effectively and Mrs Oakley talked about making interesting presentations that keep an audience’s attention, showing the girls a TED talk entitled “Death by Power Point”. Although this talk was primarily aimed at adults in a business community, the girls listened attentively and demonstrated in their subsequent presentations that they had put into practice the advice given.
Each team had a mentor from the teaching staff to help with support and suggestions but on the whole the girls worked independently and collaboratively. By Tuesday afternoon each group’s display boards were full of colourful and interesting information and images. Some groups had produced handouts, others had devised games, and some had produced Power Points or videos with music to enable their presentations to appeal to visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learners. We had a technical rehearsal to ensure that anything that required the smart board was working properly and in prep on Tuesday evening the girls ran through their presentations for Liz and Su so that they could iron out any minor problems and know what, if anything, they had to tweak.
On Wednesday morning the girls took it in turn to make their presentation to a panel of judges. Although the winner is yet to be announced, all groups succeeded in impressing the judges with the content and style of their presentations. Each group had chosen different directions in which to take their investigations and also had their own unique presentation styles. They demonstrated that they had taken on board the success criteria and requirements given to them as well as advice given by mentors and teachers. The levels of enthusiasm were maintained throughout the process and furthermore the girls, despite being put in groups they may not have chosen, collaborated well and played to each individual member’s strengths. I think the girls would agree this was an interesting and exciting way to learn something new.