MATTAPOISETT — When it comes to answering the question, “What shall we learn today?” Old Rochester students say it’s stress relief—amongst other things of course.
When it came to implementing new learning strategies for the next school year, Old Rochester Regional district administrators went straight to the source and asked students what they want to learn. In a new learning strategy in the tri-town adopted by members of the Joint School Committee on March 22, priorities include learning stress management, how to make friends, and how to solve problems that are close to home.
It turns out that for students between grades 5-12 in the tri-town, social and emotional help is a priority. “That means helping them learn methods to deal with stress, with how to socialize and make friends,” Assistant Superintendent Elise Frangos said. The second priority for students, meanwhile, is learning about cultural connections: diversity, different cultures and student heritage.
When it comes to direct classroom learning, students reported that they wanted “authentic, hands-on” projects to work on, and a clear, fair grading system. Students are also looking for support in specific areas. In what she described as a surprise, Frangos explained that 370 students said they wanted to become better public speakers. Students weren’t the only people queried, though. Parents, especially of middle schoolers, had their own ideas of what their children should be learning.
Both parents and students agreed that mindfulness and stress management are important skills to study. Parents also want to see their children learn planning and time-management skills, and to see schools prioritize science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.
“So,” Frangos said. “How do we synthesize all those wants and needs into a plan that honors the responses we received?” In the future, the school district will be implementing “Project and Problem-Based Learning.” The learning strategy, Frangos said, is something that already happens often in the district.
In project-based learning, students work in teams to solve questions, often that have local and realistic value. “It would be like asking students how to fix water run-off in the tri-town,” Frangos explained. She added that because the learning strategy is based on teams giving presentations, the students will gain valuable public speaking, research and teamwork experience. “It really prepares students for the workplace or a university.”