As Canterbury Primary School analysed the results of their school review, Principal David Wells and Leading Teacher Carly Pluck discovered that they wanted to improve student and staff wellbeing. Part of this work with their school council also identified that they had an opportunity to make their school values more explicit in the learning done by students.
The end result was Comic Con, a program that linked together areas of the curriculum across the whole school, taking advantage of the lessons learned as part of the New Pedagogies for Deep Learning (NPDL) partnership.
'The purpose of Comic Con was really to embed the school values across everything we were doing and the super hero was a good vehicle,' said Carly, a finalist in last year's Victorian Education Excellence Awards.
'Super heroes are a natural way of teaching students. This child-friendly language teaches them about real-life responsibility, integrity and respect. They know these values because their super heroes show them.
'We also wanted to engage the kids in their learning and we wanted them to form their own identity. To list their character traits, their strengths, their skills, their hobbies… they've written books about their hero but everything that they have done is about themselves translated as this character.'
As part of the Comic Con program across the school, teachers of all year levels have been able to embed this theme into cross-curriculum learning. In English, students have been learning about language and onomatopoeia used in comics. In science, has been push-and-pull, friction, all the different forces that super heroes work in and in maths students have measured distance and then calculated the speed that the super hero would run.
'Our Comic Con is about making learning real and relevant and it was informed by the lessons of NPDL,' said Carly.
'NPDL is a great program because it opened our eyes to what was possible. It's about preparing our students to take their learning further, going deeper and if they do go that far it still makes sense.'
Principal David Wells is ecstatic his school has been able to come together in this enormous undertaking. Starting with seeding the school values, teachers have been able to allow students to take the lead in their own learning while keeping it consistent with the curriculum. The result has seen Canterbury Primary School build a values-based community that begins in each classroom that spreads consistently across the school.
'Teaching is a partnership, so we have to have genuine input from the students or they're not going to engage with the professional,' said David.
'Comic Con has shown us what rich learning and what deep learning experiences we can get from this partnership and how this can be transferred right across the curriculum, seeing how and where it can be applied in maths or English or science.'
For more information about the NPDL partnership, see: New Pedagogies for Deep Learning: A Global Partnership