Pedagogical Model VOAR
VOAR is the Pedagogical Model created by Colégio de S. José based on four educational pillars:
- Vinculações: Affective attachment
- Ousadia: Boldness, entrepreneurship
- Autonomia: Autonomy
- Responsabilidade: Responsibility
In an affective environment (vinculações), with a culture of excellence, the students are educated for autonomy, responsibility, initiative, creativity and critical thinking. Each learner is regarded as unique, concerning their characteristics, motivations and personal and learning development phase .
Developing projects in an autonomous and collaborative way, the learners are challenged to build their own knowledge.
The time dedicated to Autonomous Work occupies a significative time span in the weekly school schedule- every afternoon. During that time the classes are divided in small tutoring groups,which work autonomously under the discreet orientation of their tutors.
Their work is individually planned in the Student’s Diary and evaluated, by themselves and by their tutors, every two weeks. Each tutor is responsible for 6 to 10 students.
The whole school premises have been refurbished. The classrooms have different, unconventional pieces of furniture. Now they are cozy, inviting rooms.
In Colégio de S. José life is managed with the active participation of the learners. They elect their leaders and hold Class Assemblies and School Assemblies in which they debate important issues and take decisions. The elected students have an authority that is recognized by all the school community.
In our Kindergarten, each child is assumed to be a unique being, who is given to us to help grow in all his/her potentialities, with our utmost care and great attention.
In their adaptation period to this new space that opens up in their lives, we count on the physical presence and support of the parents. The parents are indispensable at this adaptation stage so that it may be calm, joyful and uneventful period. We expect that they will give us all the indications about the important things for their children in order for the school to host them with the utmost care and great attention, from the very first moment. We want the children to feel good, happy and to have all their needs addressed to.
As far as our pedagogy is concerned, Colégio de S. José always adopts Project-work methodology. In these projects, the children work in small groups and grow aware of the world around them and, at the same time, develop a great interest and enthusiasm for knowledge work.
Our focus on mother-tongue and Mathematics are always present through the development of activities which, in spite of being playful, involve the children seriously in their development and learning.
The acquisition of oral English is carried out on daily classes in which the children always develop several activities talking to their native-speaker teacher, learning vocabulary and short everyday life sentences.
At this age, any knowledge acquisition is as much lasting and decisive as the more diverse interactions the children will have through the manipulation of materials. These will allow them to explore, classify and reflect. Colégio de S. José is equipped with a wide range of pedagogical materials, created to stimulate the children’s development and their learning.
In Primary school (1ºCiclo do Ensino Básico) the children start studying, laying the main foundations of all their following learning process. In Colégio de S. José we dedicate a great attention to this level of teaching, which will be determinant in the student’s school life.
Portuguese, Mathematics and Social and Experimental Sciences are taught by teachers graduated at this level of teaching. Apart from these subjects the students also have classes of English (everyday), Physical Education, Choir and Religion, with specialized teachers.
Our adopted pedagogical model is “Teaching is Investigating” (“Ensinar é Investigar“), whose fundaments lay in the active construction of knowledge and essential thinking skills.
All the teaching contents are organized in Projects which, within the Social and Experimental Sciences topics integrate, through an articulated approach, Portuguese and Mathematics. Project-work raises the students’ curiosity for knowledge and allows them to learn how to plan their work, to research, to organize information, to communicate and to defend their findings.
This way they become autonomous and responsible children, organized and with good working habits, developing capacities which will be very important for their further studies and future lives.
As soon as the children learn how to read, their engagement in reading is strongly fostered, not only during school time, but also at home. That’s why we count on the strong and active support of the parents.
We are not only concerned about the children’s learning process, the development of their reasoning skills, is also a school’s priority. The construction of their mathematical knowledge is carried out through challenges that are presented to the children. By solving these challenges and by discussing their resolution processes with their colleagues and teacher, they are not only learning Mathematics, but also developing different forms of reasoning, which are more elaborate and complex. This methodology has been applied in countless research projects carried out in several countries, Portugal included, and have revealed to be very effective.
In Colégio de S. José, the pedagogical system follows and reinforces the approach used in the previous grades of teaching, promoting growing levels of autonomy and responsibility.
Every student has a tutor who is their reference leading and supporting their personal growth and learning process.
Project work, carried out in groups or individually, is still one of our most common strategies. It’s a privileged form of knowledge acquisition, as it promotes, at the same time, de development of a wide range of essential skills, such as: problem-solving, work planning, experimenting, researching, collecting information, selecting and systematizing, presenting it, either in written or in oral form (with the support of visual or computer aids), defending their findings through argumentation and, finally, evaluating the whole process.
Not only knowledge, but also these acquired skills, are an enormous asset in the lives of our learners either as students or in their future professional lives.
Another strategy, which is very relevant at this teaching stage, is Autonomous Work. According to their teachers’ indications, each student plans their work for a certain period of time, normally two weeks. This plan is discussed upon with their teacher/tutor and is developed with all the teachers’ support, whenever it is considered needed or when they ask for it.
Students’ help, among themselves, is fostered as a way to develop the value of solidarity, being meaningful both for the helped student and the helper. When they have to explain, the students get to a superior level of knowledge. Once the work is done, it is then evaluated by the students themselves and by the teachers/tutors. Finally, the parents are informed about the plan and respective evaluations and can then add their comments and suggestions.
In some subject-matters, the students elaborate portfolios, including the pieces of work which they consider more representative of their learning process. A portfolio can always be improved by replacing or including new productions. These portfolios are a source of information the teachers use to evaluate the level of knowledge of their students. They are considered the most complete form of evaluation as they value the learners’ effort and competence.
This type of methodology makes the students more responsible, helping them to organize their time and to acquire autonomous working habits and study techniques.
The students’ love for reading is greatly fostered in a reading competition, throughout the whole year. They have to choose books from the National Plan of Reading. Apart from this activity the children are encouraged to use some of their free time, at home, enjoying the pleasure of reading a good book.