Project Based Teaching & Learning in the Primary In spite of the numerous innovations introduced in the recent past, education in the primary years still seems to be stuck in traditional approaches to teaching and learning: teachers pass on information to the students in a structured and segmented fashion. More often than not, children find this information irrelevant and thus motivation and interest, key to learning, are lost. A project-based approach to teaching and learning shifts the focus from the teacher to the student, making the latter pursuers of knowledge rather mere receptors. The idea behind taking a Project based approach is simple: rather than learn English, Maltese, Maths, Science, History, Geography, Art, Drama, Music, PE and Religion, children would learn all the above through the exploration of a theme. Ideally the themes would be explored throughout the years (from year 3 to year 6, assuming that in the Early Years the Emergent Curriculum is practiced). For instance: one project theme could be The Sea. A project could take 4 to 6 weeks to complete. It would include some of the Learning Outcomes for every year group. So the idea is that as the children go from one year to the next, they would delve into a theme in greater detail. This would give rise to the need for a team of educators whose job would be to create these Projects, with the Learning Outcomes clearly identified for every project, together with the resources needed. However, it would be advisable to allow the students and teachers themselves to come up with more ideas on how to explore the theme further. Early Intervention Many children complete their primary education with very poor literacy and numeracy skills. These children can be identified very early on. Unfortunately the present classroom set up does not allow the class teacher to provide the intervention needed. The Reading Recovery program seems to be very successful. Perhaps one could consider providing this service to children who are struggling accademically even further. I would suggest that children who are struggling with the mainstream curriculum are grouped together and given the intervention they need (similar to that provided in the reading recovery sessions). This might be unpopular with the academics (UMI in particular) as they might argue that one would be creating socially discriminatory contexts. However, ask any teacher and they will tell you that that is the only hope these children have of actually improving their literacy and numeracy skills.
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