Sunday, 11 November 2018

Practice Fields Lead to Quick Wins for Learners

Staff are currently working in action research teams to help bring the St Pat's vision for our community of learners to life.  In the midst of a twelve month initial research period, self-motivated staff are trialling smaller projects to further engage and motivate learners.

Based on the work of theorist Edgar Schein as shared at the Schools That Deliver Innovation Masterclass, the trialling and testing of new ideas is vital for organisations to progress and succeed. Self-motivated action learning projects by staff are referred to as practice fields. The current St Pat's practice fields are resulting in quick wins for St Pat's learners.
Taken from the Schools That Deliver Innovation Masterclass June 2018
Seesaw Practice Field (Link to the St Pat's vision narrative.. We utilise technology to communicate learning and strengthen home school partnerships).
Year 1
Seesaw is a way to share children's learning in real time with parents and family members. This leads to opportunities for authentic learning conversations. Year 1 started with Seesaw to communicate the children's reading goals. There was immediate positive feedback from families and the children loved it. Now the app is used to share work problems and engage the parents in the children's learning. Other classes are very interested in exploring the use of the Seesaw app for 2019 and will talk further with Anne, Kim and Jacinta, the Year 1 teachers.
Acknowledgement @syliviaduckworth for this image
Flexible Furniture Practice Field Year 5 & Year 1 (Link to the St Pat's vision narrative Both students and teachers are excited about learning).
Year 5
The Year 5M class are the senior pilot classroom for flexible furniture. They have been trialling the furniture for three school terms since the start of the year. Feedback from students and challenges for the teacher were shared with staff. Together, our Year 5M teacher and the children made a recommendation going forward. The flexible furniture gets the big green tick with both the students and the teacher excited about learning in a classroom with flexible furniture. Thanks to Lisa Maraschiello for sharing the slideshow. As a result of the success of this practice field, the other Year 5 class and two Year 6 classes will start the 2019 year with flexible furniture.


Year 1 
The Year 1W class are our junior school pilot class for the flexible furniture. Like the seniors, the juniors don't sit on the same seat. They can choose which space to sit at. By allowing the children to choose, the teacher is relinquishing a form of control or management of the children. This is not easy for a teacher to do. However, as with the senior class, the junior children respond by making positive choices about where they choose to learn. This contributes to a genuine excitement for learning. Kim Wilson's recommendation is to give the children choice in your classrooms, with or without the flexible furniture.

Mental Toughness Practice Field (Link to the St Pat's vision narrative.. A healthy mindset, coupled with resilience and well-developed social skills ensures all learners are equipped to deal with life’s challenges, and have the skills to positively resolve conflict and communicate their ideas and emotions).
Year 3
The Year 3 classes have been participating in a Mental Toughness Pilot. They are about to complete a final assessment to understand the success of the programme. This practice field has taken place over two terms. Based on the initial benchmark assessment, our children scored high on the Mental Toughness scale at the start of the pilot programme. Staff believe that we already have programmes in place that contribute to a high level of "mental toughness" for our St Pat's learners. Once the post assessment is complete, a recommendation or otherwise of the programme will be made.

Collaborative Planning Practice Field (Link to our vision narrative...Ongoing data tracking leads to learning that is differentiated therefore optimising engagement).
Year 5
The Year 5 teachers are trialling a different form of planner. The new planner was in response to a staff meeting exploring ways to show evidence of adjustment in teaching for NCCD (Nationally Consistent Collection of Data). The goal was to show additional support and explicit teaching strategies thereby indicating differentiated teaching and to do so efficiently and effectively. The newly designed collaborative planning document is an adaptation of other models. Teachers can contribute to the document and use different colours to indicate special events and specialist programmes as well as include digital links to resources. The Year 5 teachers have found the new collaborative planning document invaluable.
An Emergency Teacher who came into one of the Year 5 classrooms was able to follow the planning document and felt confident and well informed with teaching the class.
Based on the outcomes of this practice field, the collaborative planner will be explored further with staff at the next planning day with a goal to use it across the school for 2019.
Acknowledgement to St Pat's teachers Lisa Maraschiello and Paul Jones
Spelling & Grammar Practice Filed (Link to the St Pat's vision narrative.. Ongoing data tracking leads to learning that is differentiated therefore optimising engagement).
Spelling (Year 1, 3, 5) 
Analysis of student data led to research around a consistent, differentiated approach to spelling and grammar across the school.
Our Teaching and Learning Leaders and colleagues are using The SMART Spelling approach as part of a practice field in Years 1, 3 & 5. Teachers are finding that the children are successfully transferring their learning to reading. Language such as 'diagraphs' is being used by the juniors along with hand gestures for spelling rules. The new school timetable for Term 4 which includes two equal play breaks during the day, lends itself well to a two hour block for literacy including a 15 minute daily spelling slot. Children are responding positively to this explicit and personalised learning approach. A final review is planned for the end of Term 4 and a recommendation for 2019 across the school will be made.
  Grammar (Prep, Year 2, 4, 6)


Grammar matters and should be taught differently is a research article that clearly captures the need for a grammar revolution within all schools. Our DP Liz Hills worked with teachers to explore the Victorian Curriculum and develop a Scope and Sequence to trial and potentially replace the current reliance on text books. The new approach to grammar is driven by an emphasis on learners reading quality literature.

Being proficient with spelling and grammar will make our learners better writers and readers and will strengthen outcomes, ensuring the curriculum has a positive and meaningful impact ( linked to the St Pat's vision narrative).
The St Pat's Practice Fields lead to quick wins for our learners.

Friday, 17 August 2018

Conference to reality ; Shift happens together


The whole staff are involved in decisions regarding Action Research. Any research is relevant to the needs of our learners and is used to strengthen outcomes, ensuring the curriculum has a positive and meaningful impact (excerpt from St Patrick's vision narrative, 2018).
Special thanks to the Schools That Deliver team for the inclusion of some of their slides.
Four of us participated in the Schools That Deliver Innovation Masterclass. We were engaged, motivated and energised during two full days that moved each of us out of our comfort zones. 

We thought long and hard about the way to share our learning with colleagues so that the whole staff could benefit from the experience. We decided to run two professional learning workshops, the second a "mini" version of the first to cater for part time staff.
These slides are a synopsis of the staff workshops:



Our biggest challenge overcome ( the whole staff are involved...)
During the first workshop staff searched for solutions to the greatest challenge for research teams; how to be inclusive of all staff. Sixty-eight percent of our staff work in a part time capacity. This includes specialist teachers, admin staff and those taking long service leave across the year. Finding a time to meet when everyone is present is challenging. Some solutions tried by research team include :
  • Vary meeting days and times 
  • Collaborate through Google docs. 
  • Fluid meetings across a fortnight period. 
Staff unanimously agreed to resolve the challenge by being productive and forging ahead within action research teams. The onus is then placed on individuals to take personal responsibility to be involved in the most practical way possible. Taking personal responsibility moves us above the magic line.
You can read more by Brendan Spillane at this link
Exploration to information gathering - Where are our four research teams at three months on ?
1. Leadership & Management - A focus on various forms of feedback. The team are currently reviewing an article entitled The Power of Feedback by Hattie and Timperely ( Links to our vision narrative...We value rich, regular, quality feedback and ongoing support to achieve personal learning goals).
2. Teaching & Learning- An investigation of different inquiry models, reviewing existing practices and a consistent inquiry language across the school ( Links to our vision narrative.....Both students and teachers are excited about learning, involving themselves in rich, open ended tasks both inside and outside the classroom ).
3. Well Being & Growth Mindset - Information gathering from staff and parents in relation to a "healthy mindset" and key skills that children require when they leave our school. They plan to collate the information and use 10/4 voting to refine their focus (Links to our vision narrative....  A healthy mindset, coupled with resilience and well-developed social skills ensures all learners are equipped to deal with life’s challenges, and have the skills to positively resolve conflict and communicate their ideas and emotions).
4. Our Faith Community - Began with a broad focus on Catholic identity and have narrowed it down to prayer. They are exploring prayer and Christian meditation in light of the Catholic Education Melbourne curriculum Horizons of Hope and other prayer resources. (Links to our vision narrative.. Our staff teach and model Catholic values making our faith real and relevant to the students. We practise daily prayer and promote fluidity between our parish, school and parent body ).

Practice Fields
One of the key messages from the conference was to trial and practice ideas to ensure they fit our context. At present we are trialling and supporting the following in some classes and year levels:
  • Seesaw for assessment in Year 1 classes (Link to our vision narrative.. We utilise technology to communicate learning and strengthen home school partnerships).   
  • Flexible furniture in a Year 1 and a Year 5 class (Link to our vision narrative..  Both students and teachers are excited about learning, involving themselves in rich, open ended tasks both inside and outside the classroom).
  • Mental Toughness pilot in Year 3 classes (Link to our vision narrative..  A healthy mindset, coupled with resilience and well-developed social skills ensures all learners are equipped to deal with life’s challenges, and have the skills to positively resolve conflict and communicate their ideas and emotions).
  • SMART spelling teaching method being trialled by the Teaching and Learning Leaders in a Yr 1, Yr 3 and Yr 5 class (Link to our vision narrative.. Ongoing data tracking leads to learning that is differentiated therefore optimising engagement.
  • Year 5 teachers are trialling a collaborative planning document utilising explicit teaching prompts - We do, I do, You do  (Link to our vision narrative...Ongoing data tracking leads to learning that is differentiated therefore optimising engagement.
  • What does learning look like at St Patrick's now ? How can we capture and celebrate all of the rich learning happening at our school and share it with each other and our community ? We agreed to collate photos and create a video to trial as a benchmark for what is happening at present (Links to our vision narrative..We celebrate with our school ....and use technology to communicate learning....)

Spaghetti Marshmallow Reflection -in -Action Design Activity

Staff Feedback
Staff have shared their enthusiasm about building relationships with other staff beyond the usual year level groups within research teams. This is strengthening staff unity and collaboration going forward.
A personal reflection after the conference resulted in the creation of a short video. You can read more about the development of the video and the narrative accompanying the video at this link.