There is a lot that teachers do in addition to planning, teaching and assessing. They play an integral part as leaders in our school. Below are a few things they are involved with this year.
North Perth Primary School teachers have spent the last two years developing and implementing an Explicit Teaching Lesson Structure. This evidence-based structure is also used as a basis for our peer to peer observations. For these observations teachers are in groups of three and will observe another teacher and also be observed teaching. This happens in Term 1 and Term 4.
We also survey all students from Year 2 to Year 6 to provide feedback to teachers on their explicit teaching. The data is used by teachers to reflect on their strengths and to focus on areas that can be improved.
Professional Learning Communities
At North Perth Primary School we have introduced Professional Learning Communities (PLC) teams to our staff structure in 2016. These are groups of teachers in similar year levels who meet together regularly. The main purpose of the PLC is to decide how we can best use evidence-based research to improve our practice to further increase student achievement at North Perth Primary School. Each PLC has a teacher leader from within the group.
The leaders meet each week to analyse and discuss data collected from across the school. They then select research-based instructional strategies and assessment techniques. These are used to improve classroom instruction and enhance student performance. Leaders are responsible for facilitating professional discussions in their own PLC and promoting collaboration across year groups.
Each teacher is also a member of one Curriculum Team for English, Mathematics, Science, Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS), or Technologies. These teams are separate to the PLC and include teachers from all phases of learning. The purpose of the Curriculum Teams is to develop and implement a whole school approach to the curriculum, including scope and sequences, whole school plans, common moderation and assessment tasks, purchasing and maintaining resources etc… All teachers are a member of a PLC and a Curriculum Team.
A priority for North Perth Primary School is for students to improve their writing skills. This has been identified as the main area for improvement. In 2016, the PLC leaders and leadership team worked with the North East Metropolitan Language Development Centre Outreach Service planning for improvement in writing. One outcome would see the implementation in classrooms of the Talk for Writing and Seven Steps to Writing Success programs during 2017. Here is a little about each program. The Seven Steps to Writing Success is aimed at upper-primary while Talk for Writing can be applied at all year levels.
Talk for Writing (T4W)
Many students find the writing process, both fiction and non-fiction, extremely challenging. These students may have wonderful ideas, but struggle to get their thoughts onto the page. Even those who read reasonably well can experience difficulty with written expression.
T4W is a unique process that uses spoken activities to develop writing skills. Quality writing is created by first expanding and developing students’ oral language skills and then teaching the necessary steps for exceptional sentence, paragraph and text construction.
T4W has the potential to dramatically improve students’ writing. The approach also offers students with learning and language difficulties an opportunity to develop stronger writing skills. Feedback from students indicates that they find T4W ‘fun, engaging and motivating.’
Seven Steps to Writing Success – What are the Seven Steps?
Think of them as the building blocks to great writing. Isolating writing skills into individual steps ensures students don’t get ‘bogged down’ with writing the whole piece. They gain confidence in each building block, and then they pull it all together to become creative and engaging writers.
Brightpath is another exciting introduction in 2017. Brightpath is a tool we will be using to help assess and evaluate students’ writing. It is based on over a decade of pioneering research at the University of Western Australia. Teachers compare their students’ work to calibrated exemplars to arrive at a scaled score. The process of comparing students’ work to the calibrated exemplars promotes reliable teacher judgements. These judgements are comparable across teachers, schools and over time. The software records the results and reports a range of formative and summative information to teachers and principals. This provides an informed basis for developing teaching programs targeting the needs of individual students. (See website)
It was identified in NAPLAN and Australian Council for Education Research (ACER) data that students were displaying difficulty problem solving across all strands of Mathematics. At the end of last year and the beginning of 2017, teachers participated in professional learning focusing on problem solving. This year a whole school strategy is to implement a common format to problem solving. The KSAR Approach has been introduced and used to improve students’ abilities to problem solve.