Our Language of Learning

Our Language of Learning

The Sunnyhills GEMS were trialled in 2018  as a foundation for teaching, learning and behaviour at Sunnyhills. The GEMS recognise and empower the front section of the New Zealand Curriculum and Tataiako as they are designed to introduce, support, develop, celebrate and explicitly explore the concepts of the Key Competencies and the Cultural Competencies in a way that makes sense to our students, our staff and the wider school community. This diagram is how we see the Key Competencies and the Cultural Competencies weaving together and underpinning our GEMS

We believe that in order to achieve Growth as learners, and as people, the other three GEMS (Empathy, Mana and Self-Belief) must be understood and developed to support our learners and our learning community holistically. 

In class, our learners will be using their Learning Powers ​(dispositions/competencies) that enable them to be better learners. The Learning Powers “I statements” are drawn directly from our Sunnyhills Vision.  They are the foundation for our Language of Learning, where students work towards developing their Learning Powers and these will be recognised at celebration assemblies and in our parental reporting from 2019.

Learning Powers Rubrics A3 horizontal table (1).pdf

In association with our Learning Powers we use the Learning Pit ​as a tool to support and guide students in the development of critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinking. You can see the Learning Pit has our GEMS embedded in the mountain, so learners can dig deep within themselves and apply the GEMS (Learning Powers) to help them move forward. The Learning Pit can help learners identify it is okay to have a learning dip (challenge) and use this poster (left) as a visual strategy to help them get out of the pit, to be resilient, and don’t give up. The Learning Pit encourages learners to willingly step outside their comfort zone. As the Learning Pit is designed to help students think and talk about their learning. It can help develop a growth mindset (Dweck, 2006). At Sunnyhills, we have already introduced the concept of developing a growth mindset and each part of our GEMS requires a mindset that encourages learners to be their very best in all settings.

The last part of our Language of Learning is the Sunnyhills Learning Pathway.  Although this process may have been traditionally used to describe “Inquiry Learning” or topic studies we believe no matter what the learning context or curriculum, we believe learning takes this pathway.  Inquiry is a process that can find a home within a specific discipline but can also help students think across disciplines 

This pathway is a four step process for our learners: 

1: Get Thinking - During the “Get thinking” stage of the learners inquiry the learners should be exposed to lots of different experiences and ideas to challenge them to think and wonder, activate interest and raise questions about the world around them.  The ignition stage requires considered planning from the teacher in order to engage the learners and activate their curiosities.  Our learners will pose thoughtful questions and be ready to develop new understandings.  The learners wonderings, an initial snapshot of their level of understanding around the key concepts of the Big Idea, will be recorded at this stage. The learners will begin to develop questions about the Big Idea, and these questions will form the key direction of their Inquiry.  It is crucial that this stage is fun, exciting and stimulates a thirst for learning and the need to find out more. 

2: Explore - This stage is where the learners begin to find out more about the Big Idea, and start to explore their own personal questions and wonderings through research, experimentation, experiences, collaboration and communication. This is where they consolidate their prior knowledge and collect information.  They will then sift, sort and classify information deciding on its relevance. This stage may provoke more questions to gather deeper understandings and is primarily student driven.  The learners still need to be explicitly taught the skills of researching, experimenting, recording, triangulating and cross checking information, predicting and critical thinking in order to ensure the quality of exploration.

3: Make Meaning & Connections - This stage is where learners build upon the knowledge they have already gathered.  The skills of analysing and synthesising, interpreting and organising are key.  Learners will link ideas, identify patterns and relationships and investigate any gaps in understanding to create new concepts and pathways of thinking.   They begin to test their assumptions and ideas in order to prove or disprove their understandings.  Our goal is for students to start shaping, creating or sharing something that demonstrates their understanding of the subject matter. 

4: Share & Shine - This stage is about presenting, explaining, sharing and celebrating both the final product and the learning journey. The learners wonderings, are revisited and compared with their new understandings. As well as new knowledge it is also important to reflect on the skills and strategies used to gather, analyse and use information.  Likewise it is important for students to reflect on their thinking (metacognition) and identify the thinking skills they explored throughout their inquiry.  This stage is also about children taking follow up action or instigating change as a result of their findings.