This year at Willmott Park there are some new and exciting changes to the Writing curriculum, with the introduction of the 6+1 Traits of Writing, The Writing Process, Jolly Grammar and Jolly Spelling.
The Six plus one Trait is a way of teaching, modelling, and assessing writing. The Six Traits of writing are Voice, Ideas, Presentation, Conventions, Organization, Word Choice, and Sentence Fluency. It creates a shared writing vocabulary that is common across the school and enables consistency from grade level to grade level. The Six Traits model allows teachers and students to focus on one or two elements of writing at a time creating a more manageable and effective way for students to learn how to write. It also is a means of providing specific feedback to students through the assessment of their writing.
The Writing Process shows students the process an author goes through to produce a piece of writing. Students are explicitly taught each stage of the process and by practising them they achieve success as a writer.
In Prep, students are undertaking Jolly Phonics which is an evidence-based, synthetic approach to learning phonics. Grade One and Grade Two students are undertaking the Jolly Grammar and Jolly Spelling program for four sessions each week. In these sessions, they continue to build their phonological awareness as well as various skills necessary for writing, such as, sentence structure and conventions.
The Reading program at Willmott Park Primary School is implemented and continually refined within the scope of the latest evidence and research into how a child learns how to read. Our aim is to ensure we are developing skilled, competent, and engaged readers through the lens of the best possible methodologies.
We begin by developing students’ understanding of synthetic phonics and phonological awareness through the Jolly Phonics and Heggerty Phonemic Awareness programs, alongside the Victorian Curriculum. This allows us to establish the bedrock of necessary skills to ensure our students become competent readers. As our students progress through the school we continue to build on these skills with explicit instruction in phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary, oral language and comprehension.
We support our students through a tiered intervention approach, ensuring that we can meet our students with the learning they need when they need it. This tiered intervention approach is supported by our Tutor Learning Initiative Tutors in the Learning Lab, our INSPIRE program in Grade One, and various tier two and tier three intervention programs throughout the school.
At our school we also want our students to love books and love reading; and as such we hold a busy Book Week every year and feature Book Clubs in some classrooms, author and illustrator visits, visits to the local library and other initiatives.
This year at Willmott Park, our students will develop a growth mindset when it comes to Mathematics. We have all heard people say, ‘I am not a maths person’, or ‘ I was never good at maths at school,’. We have set a challenge at Willmott Park PS to change what we say and how we see Mathematics.
The beauty of maths is all around us. We see it in nature, through patterns and symmetry. We use timetables to organise ourselves at home, school and work. We will develop students understanding of Numeracy by using manipulatives. We are creating an environment where students are encouraged to take risks and mistakes that are celebrated. Yes! You read that correctly, mistakes are celebrated! As is it widely recognised that mistakes create pathways in our brains to understand what went wrong, how to correct it, so as not to make the mistake again.
Our Mathematical Program follows the Victorian Curriculum, and we create engaging activities that often involve students collaborating on a problem together. Within the curriculum there are Four Maths Proficiencies: Understanding, Fluency, Reasoning and Problem Solving. Teachers plan activities that encompass these, as it allows students to be able to learn new skills and apply them. The students are encouraged to explain and justify their solution to their peers. It is exciting to see a classroom where the students are leading the discussion by questioning each other and asking them to clarify their explanation.
One important aspect of Numeracy is fluency. Often when we hear this word, and we think of being the fastest one to solve the problem. At Willmott Park fluency is viewed as the ability to retrieve previously learnt skills and apply them to a different problem. Sometimes this may take some time and there may be errors. Our teachers skilfully question and scaffold the student’s learning to achieve success, when completing these problems.
Our activities are based on the ‘low floor, high ceiling’ model, which means all students begin the task with some independence and then there is adaptation or differentiation to ensure they are challenged and experience success. We encourage inquiry-based learning, where students are provided with activities which are open ended. This helps students to think deeper and more creatively.
We want students to see themselves as lifelong mathematicians and to inspire creativity and fun within their learning process.
At Willmott Park PS we want our students to be, curious, creative, and critical learners. We believe that Inquiry based learning is an integral part of an ever-changing global community.
This year the Learning Specialists introduced the evidence based, Kath Murdoch Model of Inquiry to the staff.
The process is as follows:
Tuning in – provides students with engaging, multimodal experiences that gives them the big ideas of the topic.
Finding out –challenges students’ thinking and allows them to ask more questions and learn other skills to gather more information.
Sorting out – allows students to organise their information and decide what they will use and how they might present their information.
Going further – enables students to investigate areas of personal interest based on the initial topic and present another perspective or dimension to the topic.
Making Conclusions – students evaluate their learning and the skills they used during the inquiry. They begin to draw conclusions and making connections to the Inquiry topic.
Action –students decide what action they might take to show their learning, or how to relate their learning to real-life situations.
This process includes an immense amount of Student Agency and encourages students to lead their learning. The teacher acts as the facilitator of knowledge, stretching their thinking with questions that keep them engaged and focused. Then in collaboration with the teacher and their peers, students begin to ask questions, which helps them develop their research and questioning skills. In this environment students follow their own driving question, either in a small group or independently.
The teacher works with the different groups, providing them with the skills and questions to keep them on track and wanting to know more.
It is a powerful learning cycle that assists students to become confident and capable learners. Students are the drivers of their learning whilst the teacher builds the repertoire of skills needed. The leadership is shared in an Inquiry classroom. Responsibility belongs to everyone and so do the celebrations of all the milestone steps. Expectations are high and technologies embedded throughout.
We look forward to celebrating all our successes with the Willmott community. We encourage parents/carers to ask their child about their unit topics and what amazing information and skills they discover as they navigate these throughout the year.