Inspired by the ‘Reading across the Curriculum’ learning approach promoted by the Education Bureau of the HKSAR Government, TWGHs Wong Yee Jar Jat Memorial Primary School is planning to reform and introduce a cross-disciplinary Maker curriculum.
Ms Lau Sau-ping, Headteacher of the school, said the education community had been exploring the possibility of consolidating contents of the curriculum in various subjects, meaning to avoid redundant knowledge and skills being taught in different learning areas, thus enhancing efficiency and effectiveness of both learning and teaching.
’We found that our Maker curriculum covered knowledge and skills taught in other subjects,’ said Ms Lau. ‘For example, product description writing can be taught in Chinese or English; product design can be taught in Visual Arts; background knowledge, concepts and theories of the products made by students, such as cars, boats and planes, can be taught in General Studies and Mathematics.’
Ms Lau continued that theme-based learning was another idea that they were currently exploring to connect the learning and teaching of different subjects.
‘For example, after students have read a story in their Chinese or English lessons, we may guide them to be a creative problem solver and try to solve the problems faced by the main character in the story, such as building a raft or a boat to help Robinson Crusoe escape from an isolated island. Students are expected to learn relevant subject knowledge, including the concept of floating and sinking, and even climate and geography, etc. during the process.’
According to Mr Tse Chun-kit, Maker Education Coordinator of the school, the school’s Maker curriculum has been introduced in the Computer and Technology subject, and now they are planning to bring it to the General Studies lesson, so teachers and students can have more opportunities to explore and try new things.
Teachers Working Together
Cross-disciplinary teaching requires cooperation and coordination among teachers of different subjects. Ms Lau said teacher training was significant for broadening teachers’ horizons and opening their minds to new ideas.
‘We organised a school tour every summer for teachers to visit a secondary school with outstanding achievements in STEM or Maker Education. By learning the success stories of other schools, we expected our teachers to understand the reason, process and outcome of introducing Maker Education in school,’ said Ms Lau.
Internal staff meeting and the school-based STEM Fair were also good opportunities for teachers to interact and share their ideas and experience of Maker Education with others.
Ms Lau remarked that introducing Maker Education was not easy, and that’s why having talented and passionate teachers to kick-start the project made a huge difference.
‘School leaders are always very busy with management and administration works. Therefore we really need our teachers who are more familiar with the teaching practices and students’ learning behaviours to take the initiative and lead the project,’ said Ms Lau.
She added that since it was impossible to complete everything at one go, it would be better to have a group of pioneers for the change. When they have gained more experience, they would be more convincing when they try to influence others and bring everybody on board.
Maker Education in TWGHs Wong Yee Jar Jat Memorial Primary School
The Maker curriculum of the school is designed for students to learn about land, sea and air.
‘The curriculum is intended to have close linkage to students, therefore we decided to let them create land, sea and air vehicles which they often come across in their daily lives,’ said Mr Tse. ‘More importantly, the exercise sounds really fun to them!’
The learning process is in three stages. The first stage is ‘Experience’, in which students will play with models and toys to understand the structure and function of the vehicles.
The second stage is ‘Knowledge building’, in which students will watch a series of videos prepared by the teachers to acquire basic knowledge, and then they will go on a field trip to visit professionals and learn more about the production of the vehicles.
In the final stage, students will produce their own vehicles, in a compact size, and they are expected to go through the design cycle emphasised in the General Studies subject.