Why Celebrate?

Celebrations of Learning have been occurring at Wairakei Primary for the past five years.

At the end of each term, each team, class, and individual student shares the work that has been produced.  

Learning takes many forms. Often learning is displayed as art work or written stories. At times, it is experiments that are taught. The aim is to have each student articulate what they have learnt and what their next step for their learning is.

Celebrations of Learning are more than a display of student work and more than a party at the end of the year. These events compel students to reflect on what they have learned, how they have learned, questions they have answered, research they have conducted, and areas of strength and struggles. They are powerful opportunities to make learning public.

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High-Quality Work

At the centre of all Celebrations of Learning are the high-quality products and performances that reflect the content and skills that students have learned during the inquiry. Typically, learning examples are modelled throughout the school and presented to our families. At every celebration day there is a wide range of family members who come to support the learning opportunities provided. Families move from class to class, engaging with all students about the learning process.

All students are supported to produce high-quality work in preparation for Celebrations of Learning. It is clear to students why the product matters, and they are held to high expectations. Teachers stress about the celebration. They have spent considerable time preparing for the day and want the display to reflect all the learning that has occurred. When the day arrives and the families are engaged it becomes clear to all staff why these days are important.

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Authentic Audience

Celebrations of Learning are created for an audience beyond the classroom. Preparing work to be shared to our families and students from other classes - the authentic audience.  These ranges of audiences motivate students and create a purpose for them to care about the quality of their work. Presenting work to an authentic audience also raises the stakes and sets the expectation for all students. It motivates students to push themselves as learners. 

Having an authentic audience demonstrates for students that their work is real and important and increases their motivation and engagement. There is nothing like watching a student talk about their learning with their mum and dad. It is so empowering for our students. 

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Communicating Learning

Celebrations of Learning feature students as the communicators. They are front and centre, articulating their learning, the process of learning, and their strengths and struggles. 

Reflection

In order for students to effectively communicate their achievement and learning, they must have regular opportunities to assess and articulate their progress toward learning objectives. Regular reflection on progress during the term creates opportunities for students to set goals and become partners with their teachers in the learning process.  To help prepare students for a Celebration of Learning it is essential for them to reflect on key learning experiences.

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It's also about engagement with our community. The celebration days provided are an opportunity for all families to come on site and move around the school for an hour or so.  Each celebration is slightly different depending on the concept the school is looking at. Without fail, we attract a lot of families who take the opportunity to engage with their child and class teacher about the learning that has occurred.

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What I like about the day is that it is about our core business. It's all about learning.

References

Eleducation.org Leaders of Their Own Learning: Transforming Schools through Student (2014)John Wiley Celebrations of Learning: Why This Practice Matters 

Key words: Celebration of learning, community authentic, reflections High standards. Communication learning Audience

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