Author: Mark Venn-Dunn
Head of Boarding at ACS Cobham
I began my own boarding school journey aged 11. It was here that I met an inspirational House Master – he was approachable, supportive, and selfless; going above and beyond the call of duty. From then on, I knew I wanted to go into education and have now taught for over 18 years in both state and independent boarding schools.
My first year at ACS Cobham since becoming Head of Boarding in September has been fantastic. Both the school and the Dormitory have a very clear community ethos at their core and it is the most integrated school I have experienced, with the staff, students and the entire school community working well together.
Author: John Baddeley
Theatre Technician at ACS Cobham
The EJ Poularas Performing Arts Centre (PAC) at ACS Cobham
The new EJ Poularas Performing Arts Centre (PAC) at ACS Cobham is a fantastic facility for our students to learn more about the technical side of the performing arts and gain more of a holistic understanding of the subject. Since its opening, the PAC’s versatility as a stage space and its professional facilities has encouraged students to get involved with all aspects of production, from lighting and sound, to design and directing.
A weekly Stagecraft club has built up a body of enthusiastic students keen to learn about how backstage techniques can enhance performance. Developing general stagecraft techniques, students have learnt to programme the lighting and audio systems and how to use these facilities to craft and produce different effects on stage.
Author: Tony Eysele
Head of School at ACS Cobham
Students need to develop life skills which prepare them for the world of work and not just hone their academic knowledge; an international perspective, an ability to collaborate, problem solving, communication and lateral are just some of the skills that are highly sought after by employers. The role of our teachers at ACS Cobham, as the facilitators of learning, is not only to encourage a love of learning, but to equip our students with skills to last them for life.
At some point, all teachers have experienced the struggle against student chatter in the classroom – so how can student conversations be structured to enhance learning?
Many teachers, ourselves included, have found it challenging to create opportunities for students to speak to one another in meaningful ways about class content, but with ties to achievement, the student-centred classroom, differentiation, and many international standard sets (including a significant portion of the CCSS), communication and speaking skills are essential to the 21st-century student. Research also strongly suggests that when learners are exploring a concept for understanding, trying to answer a question, or trying to solve a problem, they are more successful if there is an opportunity to engage in dialogue with another learner. With this in mind, we recently led a team of our colleagues in an endeavour to increase opportunities for structured student conversations, and we discovered for ourselves the significant impact speaking and listening activities had on our students.
Our research was conducted through a project with the ACS Centre for Inspiring Minds with the goal of providing teachers with the time and resources to create, reflect, and share effective methods in student dialogue. We included students to get perspectives from all stakeholders in the learning process; they provided us with valuable data on determining the effect of participating in structured speaking activities:
69% of the students surveyed believe that speaking or listening is the most important academic skill (over reading or writing). However, 73% reported receiving the least amount of classroom instruction on how to effectively speak or listen; research on language use has shown that approximately 40% of class time should be used in dialogue in order to maximise effective learning.
We found increased interaction opportunities lead specifically to the following: