Ashram College isn’t really a special school by Dutch standards. It’s a public secondary school with about 1800 student ages 11-18. The special part comes in the Chemistry classes of Willy Wijnands. In those classes the student’s desks aren’t set up in rows, they face eachother. In Wijnands classes the students are broken up into teams; teams that learn together. Scrum Teams.
We visited Ashram last week and it is truly remarkable. The bell rings and students file into class; they immediately pullout and post burndown charts around the room. Their learning tasks penned on sticky notes that move from the backlog, to doing to done. Their carefully plotted charts track the glide path to the next test. The students instantly begin working, the teacher says almost nothing. He might weigh in if he sees they are stuck on a particular problem. He might take a task out of the done column and give an impromptu verbal quiz of all the team members to make sure they all truly understand the material. If they don’t, it goes back into “work in progress.”
Here’s a great Ignite talk Willy gave a few months ago about how it works:
I’ve written about Willy and eduScrum before, but it was truly exciting to see how the program has grown over the years. There’re now over twenty classroom instructors trained and certified to teach using Scrum. And now it’s moving beyond Ashram. They’ve set up a foundation. They’re creating an eduScrum guide that breaks down exactly how it works and how to implement it in any classroom. (The English version is due out in a few weeks, and we’ll post a link.)
The teachers are excited because it works. Test scores in Willy’s classes have risen about ten percent. That kind of improvement is being seen by other teachers using Scrum as well. The key, says Willy, is that the students learn together. One might be good at math, another at organizing, another at planning, still another more creative. Blending skills together on a team helps each of them learn, and teaches them to appreciate others skills. One student who told me he used to be bored in class because he grasped the material so quickly, now he says not only does he learn the material better because he helps others with it, he also learns skills like how to work together, how to organize a team, and how to realize a goal. And this from students he might not have ever talked to except for Scrum.
You can see more at eduScrum's site.
-- JJ Sutherland