Wednesday, 5 February 2014

A new year and a new role

Whilst this blog has enjoyed a brief hiatus as I enjoyed summer- reflecting and recharging (and celebrating my engagement party!) it is back to business. This year I have a new role at school, in the position of curriculum leader for year 11. This position works hand in hand with the Year 11 Coordinator, and together we manage the pastoral and academic needs of our year 11 students.

The happily engaged couple
I am looking forward to sharing stories with you from my experiences in this new role - it has been a week today and what I have to report is that I obviously had more free time than I appreciated as a classroom teacher - it is meeting after meeting!


At the end of last year during a whole staff briefing, we were presented with a list of 'non
negotiables' or directives around planning for teaching and learning. All units developed at St
Joseph's College for the 2014 year need to adopt these characteristics.This pedagogical model
has been developed by an action research team at our school, known as the learning
landscapes committee. As we are now one week into teaching, it is a good time to reflect on
whether we have started to properly realise what the learning landscapes committee was trying
to achieve. 

I had the opportunity to sit in on a professional learning team (PLT) team meeting this
morning, for a subject that I will no longer be teaching, but am still involved with for an
action research project I am carrying out. We discussed how we are hoping for the unit to
progress, and talked about the ways in which the students would learn the physics concepts
and ideas we wanted them to, and how the subject would be contextualised (in this case,
through design of an energy efficient eco-house, as a term long project). As we discussed the
logistics and the curriculum demands, I was pleased to see that most of the non-negotiables
were raised without specific reference to them. 

It appears that we are taking them on board!Does your school have non-negotiables or
some sort of preferred pedagogical model?

These non-negotiables are unit characteristics that support the realization of the learning goals
outlined in the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (2008) and
those identified by the staff of St Josephs College. These characteristics will form the basis
from which a preferred pedagogical model for St Josephs will be established, and include:

1. Units must cater for a continuum of learning tasks employing shallow to deep thinking

2. Units must cater for differentiation of student ability, differentiating in:

a. product, and/ or
b. process, and/ or
c. tasks, and/ or

3. Units must incorporate ongoing, timely feedback from the teacher (assessment for learning) to the students; from the student to the teacher (assessment of learning)

4. Units must be have structure; a beginning, middle and an end

5. Units must incorporate an significant element of direct instruction

6. Units must incorporate a significant element of student directed learning (inquiry/ investigation/ project etc.)

7. Units must incorporate applications of appropriate technologies

Action Research - watch this space

I am currently conducting action research to evaluate whether contextualized science subjects have a place within our schools curriculum. Last year, I was part of a team running a contextualised subject as a pilot to the subject I was intending to run this year, in order to continue the action research project.

Whilst I am no longer teaching that subject, I will still be involved with year eight science, and the physics component of this course, in order to finish my action research. I am seeking to make the teaching and learning of science congruent with the practice of scientific inquiry in local and global communities. This is within the bigger goal of developing an effective science program at St Joseph’s College through authentic and relevant project based learning. This research is supported by a grant from the Catholic Education Office Melbourne (CEOM).

I look forward to sharing updates with you via this blog!