Walcha Central School kindergarten students have been busy settling into a new routine for the last four weeks. Not only will they face five full days of school - they are also the pioneers of a new way of learning for students in kindergarten, year 1 and year 2.
Sony Rogers is the experienced teacher leading the charge. Mrs Rogers has been the head of the primary department for a while, and this assistant principal is now passionate about the investigative learning process.
"Investigative learning is an exciting and dynamic approach that places the child at the centre of the curriculum and provides a rich range of personalised learning opportunities that are reflective of the child's age, stage of development, and interests," Mrs Rogers said.
"It provides a learning environment that is an invitation to explore, experiment, investigate and discover that learning is fun, productive and achievable."
Both students and teachers are very excited about and are thoroughly engaged in our investigative learning practicesSonya Rogers
Proponents of investigative learning say it gives students the opportunity to follow their interests and learn through hands-on experiences and is a research-based approach, which increases student motivation and engagement dramatically.
Following an inspection by Mrs Rogers of how the process works at Balmain Public School in Sydney, and her subsequently undertaking a training course, the new way of teaching was introduced to the school at the beginning of this term.
Mrs Rogers says she can already see the difference in how well the children settle down to focus on the formal teaching part of the day after their 60 minute 'investigative' start.
"The experiences of the children and the explicit teaching that takes place during investigations are used as a springboard into the formal teaching of the day," she said.
"These experiences have been planned intentionally by the teacher, building on the child's interests and connecting to the core curriculum. Both students and teachers are very excited about and are thoroughly engaged in our investigative learning practices."