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PRIDE challenges

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A new way to think about homework

Students, the principal, and a parent discuss PRIDE Challenges in comparison to traditional homework, and how PRIDE represents "learning through doing".

"Our motto here is ‘learning together with PRIDE’ and PRIDE is an acronym for our values – partnership, participation, respect, responsibility, integrity, identity, determination and excellence. The PRIDE challenges are those values and they are also infused with the key competencies lived at home through home learning."

Neill O'Reilly


A new way to think about homework

Sam: The difference between homework and PRIDE challenges is homework is you take this book home and you have to write stuff down and it is basically school work after school. But with a PRIDE challenge you get to choose and you get to, it is more fun and you get help from your mum and dad so it is more involved with your family.

Neill O’Reilly: For each school that does this it has to be about their vision, values, beliefs, motto if you like. Our motto here is "learning together with PRIDE" and PRIDE is an acronym for our values – partnership, participation, respect, responsibility, integrity, identity, determination, and excellence. The PRIDE challenges are those values and they are also infused with the key competencies lived at home through home learning. So that is why it is critical to me that when each school designs this they think what are our values, what is our vision and how do we make that live through our home learning? Because I challenge schools, despite what you do through your newsletter, despite what you do through your website, despite what you say your vision, values, and beliefs are, the thing that gets to parents is the home learning or the homework because you are imposing that on their home. So you need to think about how that measures up with your vision, values and beliefs and then communicate that through the challenges you send home.

Julie Barrowcliffe, parent: One of the benefits for us that we have really noticed with Lyon is the fact that he sets his own challenges and he strives to achieve them. He is really leading his own learning by pushing himself. For example, at the start of this year there wasn’t a singer for rock band. Lyon played bass for rock band last year and he came home and told me he was going to be singer for rock band. His singing wasn’t fantastic but he learnt a song and he practiced and practiced. He went for trials and they picked him. And just two weeks ago he got up in front of a full assembly of parents and teachers and children, which I think were about 700 in total, and he sang with the rock band, solo, miked up, head up, proud as punch, and it was fantastic. 

Neill O’Reilly: So the pathway awards PRIDE challenges are based around five categories – service, giving, PE and the outdoors, excellence in the arts, and academic excellence. And that is because we don’t want it all to be just head, pen, and paper. We want the children to be learning through doing.

Students: The PRIDE challenges I’ve done so far are washing the car for mum, cooking a three-course meal, and researching the Franz Joseph Glacier over on the West Coast.

My first PRIDE challenge I did pizza and it was yum.

The last PRIDE challenge I did, which was completed yesterday, was read to the junior classes in the library and I made a poster at home telling them all about it like I was in the library from 1 o’clock to 1:30.

Neill: The exciting thing for the parents is when they get the booklet home they almost breath a sigh of relief because what they are looking at are things they enjoy doing in the home. So making a meal, or doing the 20 hour famine, or going for a tramp, or a bike ride, or swimming, or visiting an elderly person, or doing some form of collection, or doing some sort of academic challenge, or doing some art or craft. So the parents often look at it and think "wow this is a relief". It is there in black and white, it takes the whole year, there is no urgency to get it done on Friday, they can build it in with their year plan, their holiday plans so it gives them a lot of flexibility. There is an expectation that the teachers are in the class between 8:30 and 9 every day so that when the parents do have questions they can come and chat to the teachers about it.  A critical part of this is that notion of a learner focused relationship – so the teacher being there to give feedback. And Hattie’s research talks a lot about the effectiveness of homework and the key ingredient is feedback. So the PRIDE challenges won’t work if the teacher doesn’t take notice. So even if it is two minutes to look at what they have done, give them some feedback and say that’s fantastic or tell me about how you achieved that and whether or not they need to be pushed a bit further to do a bit more. So it is about that relationship between child and teacher.

On the front of all our PRIDE challenge booklets is a photograph of a group of children, they are the children who completed the challenges in the previous year. 

So our challenges start at year 3, it’s a whole year to do it, it is then scaffolded – year four it gets a bit harder. So if you have to run a certain distance in year 3, year 4 you have to run further. If you have to collect a certain amount of money in year 3, year 4 it is more. Year 3 you have to make one meal, by year 6 it is three three-course meals with mood, music, lighting, and setting the menu. So they get harder and harder. The children at the end of the year they say these are the things we think you should do differently, these are the things that went really well, these are the things that we think are too easy. We also set up a PRIDE challenge reflection sheet. And it basically says, here’s what I’m going to do, here’s when I’m going to do it by and the bottom bit says these were the plus, minus, and interesting, some form of reflection. The reason for that is I didn’t want this to turn into more pretty schoolwork, because the learning is through the doing. So I didn’t want them to end up with these beautiful little presentations. Having said that, if they want to, that’s great. But it is a high trust model. All the children have to do is bring in some evidence or artefact to say they have done the activity, then the teacher has a chat with them and then ticks it off. 

So it becomes like part of the culture of the school. This is something you can do at our school. And I am actually really passionate about the idea that the more children choose to do with their learning at primary the more successful they are at secondary because they are choosing to be involved in all sorts of learning activities.

Updated on: 23 Jan 2011