Bringing mathematical concepts together with Geography, Visual Arts, History, Technology and Literacy was the aim of Year 1 teacher Mrs Jane Harrison’s inquiry-based learning project A Kirribilli Walkabout.
In a project which has caught the attention of the Mathematical Association of New South Wales, Mrs Harrison collaborated with Head of Junior School, Mrs Sharon Portlock, and e-Learning teacher educator, Ms Maria Emmi, to develop an integrated unit of work with real cross-curriculum connections.
Inquiry-based learning, Mrs Harrison explains, is “emphasising the student’s role in the learning process. Rather than the teacher telling the students what they need to know, students are encouraged to explore, ask questions, and share ideas.”
A Kirribilli Walkabout began from the Indigenous perspective, with scientist and educator David Harrington invited to address Year 1 about caring for places and mapping the local area. The students then embarked on a day’s walk around the local area, exploring the landmarks and taking photographs of significant places with their iPads.
“From those photographs the students identified the Maths concepts of lines and shapes in natural, built and managed environments. They used presentation software, Keynote, to label different quadrilaterals and polygons they found in the photos, and used a sketching app to work on and explore symmetry.
“For the Geography outcomes, we investigated the features of places and how they can be cared for, collecting and recording geographical data and information through observation and visual representation.
“Art was also integrated into the inquiry question, because the students then drew the significant places, and made a ‘map’.”
Mrs Harrison points to a large laminated poster in a grid format, beautifully illustrated with the Harbour Bridge, city buildings, cranes, trees, Luna Park or ships in the Harbour. “The students coded a robot to visit each of the significant places on their map, based on a story they had written.
In the recent school holidays, Mrs Harrison travelled to Tweed Heads with Mrs Portlock and Ms Emmi, to present a workshop at the Mathematical Association of New South Wales (MANSW) Annual Conference.
Mrs Harrison is full of praise for the passion and enthusiasm her Year 1 students bring to their learning. “I just love their inquiring minds, their creativity and the fact they're just so capable. They're making connections between learning all the time.
“Even though they're little people, they're little people with big ideas.”