Teaching & Learning
“Effective teaching is not a set of generic practices, but instead is a set of context driven decisions about teaching.” – C.Glickman
Knox Park Primary School’s Instructional Model acts as a guideline or set of strategies on which our approach to teaching is based. Our instructional model is underpinned by the ‘whole-part-whole’ methodology of Swanson and Law (1993). This practical methodology offers a helpful framework for student learning.
Our instructional model aims to:
- Effectively ensure all students have equal access to our educational programs.
- Support our school to develop a shared language about teacher practice.
- Engage and motivate teachers to consider how their teaching practice can best support student learning.
Student wellbeing is at the centre of our Instructional Model. Starting our school day with morning connections ensures that we set a positive tone for the day. We know that if our children feel safe, happy and comfortable at school they will be ready to learn.
Three Overarching Elements for Our Instructional Model
Learning opportunities are provided within a meaningful context.
Consistent usage of Learning Intentions and Success Criteria to establish and maintain the learning journey.
The tempo of the lesson is specific to learners’ needs.t.
Knox Park Primary School Instructional Model
At Knox Park Primary School, English is an umbrella term for the important disciplines of Initial Reading, Reading Comprehension, Spelling and Writing. We group them under one approach to acknowledge the fact that we cannot have one without the others and that to have proficiently literate students, we need to be highly knowledgeable and skilled in each of these disciplines.
English – Reading
We are not born knowing how to read; we have to be taught. The very first step in the reading development process is to teach students to decode the words on the page. Knox Park Primary School uses Write 2 Read (W2R) as its explicit systematic synthetic phonics reading program. W2R is based on the Alphabetic Principle which states: The English language possesses 26 letters that individually or in combination with one another, are used in English Orthography to represent the 44 phonemes of the English language.
When the English written words are broken down into their smallest units of sound we end up with 72 common letter and letter combinations called phonograms. Phonograms are practised daily using flashcards and mnemonics. The focus phonograms being taught are run through twice; The first time the teacher prompts the students with the sounds that match the phonogram and the students echo the sounds back, the second time the phonograms are repeated by students, who say the phonograms aloud on their own. The teacher supports them as required.
After the phonograms are introduced in isolation, students then utilise their phonological awareness to effectively segment, blend, analyse and manipulate the sounds in words to decode them. These skills we use to decode words are referred to as our Reading Tools. Students are taught to use their knowledge of the phonograms, 31 spelling rules and the reading tools to become competent readers.
Once students are able to extract the words off the page, we move from an oral comprehension focus to a reading comprehension focus. Reading comprehension requires a student to develop their knowledge in vocabulary, language and text structure, language reasoning, and background knowledge.
Book Club offers students in Years 3-6 an authentic shared reading experience through which they can read, discuss, share and read some more. The rich, student-led conversations provide opportunities for real and purposeful development of comprehension.
English – Spelling
Reading and spelling are the inverse of one another and therefore we teach our students at Knox Park both simultaneously. Knox Park Primary School’s systematic synthetic phonics approach to reading and spelling is based on the Write 2 Read (W2R) program. W2R is based on the Alphabetic Principle which states when we break written words down into their smallest units of sound we end up with letter and letter combinations that represent each sound in the word, called phonograms.
After the phonograms are introduced in isolation, students then utilise their phonological awareness to effectively segment, blend, analyse and manipulate the sounds in words to read and spell them. These phonological awareness skills are divided into two sets of processes referred to as our Reading Tools and Spelling Tools. Students are taught to use their knowledge of the phonograms, 31 spelling rules and the reading and spelling tools, to become competent readers and spellers.
English – Writing
‘If they can’t say it, they can’t write it.’ Ros Wilson
The Writer’s Workshop Model
The principles underpinning the writer’s workshop draw heavily on the work of Donald Graves, motivated by an emphasis on authenticity and ‘writing as a process’, where individual interest and choice are fundamental to students becoming independent writers. This approach makes stronger links to the planning of each element of literacy, ensuring that Speaking and Listening, Reading and Viewing and Writing are intertwined. A strong focus on the development of oral language is paramount from oral storytelling to articulating their choices to achieve intended purpose.
This approach aims to:
- Support all staff to develop a common understanding in how to teach writing using appropriate tools, programs and approaches to develop writing skills.
- Engage and motivate students to write meaningful and purposeful pieces both within and outside of the classroom
- Develop student voice, choice and agency through the writing lens
All students have a Writer’s Notebook which is a personalised book that becomes a collection of ideas / seeds that inspire independent writing. Students have the opportunity to add to this over time, inspired by personal experiences and/or prompts from their classroom teacher or their personal lives.
Our Mathematics Approach
Overview Knox Park Primary School is committed to improving student outcomes in all areas of Mathematics. The Mathematics curriculum is organised by the three strands of Number and Algebra, Measurement and Geometry, and Statistics and Probability whilst also valuing the proficiencies of Understanding, Fluency, Reasoning and Problem Solving as fundamental to learning mathematics and working mathematically. These capabilities enable students to respond to familiar and unfamiliar situations by employing mathematics to make informed decisions and solve problems efficiently. Put simply, the curriculum content are the nouns of mathematics whilst the proficiencies are the verbs and both are required to create confident learners of mathematics.
At Knox Park Primary School our children develop mathematical understandings and skills that can be applied to ‘real life’ contexts. We offer a balanced approach with our mathematics sessions embracing the philosophy of concept, skill and apply whilst also ensuring there are multiple opportunities to develop the proficiencies of understanding, fluency, reasoning and problem solving.
Mathematics investigations offer students an opportunity to explore and engage with mathematics in a less structured format. These open-ended tasks encourage students to make connections between the task and their prior learning, draw on that knowledge to consider possible ways the problem could be solved and persist with their attempts to solve the problem. These all connect to real life experiences.
Our Digital Learning Approach
“Digital learning aims to empower students to move from confident users and consumers of digital systems and technology to being discerning and creative problem solvers, equipped for an increasingly knowledge-based economy and society.”
– VCAA (Victorian Curriculum)
Knox Park Primary School’s philosophy for Digital Learning is to move children beyond simply having an understanding of or being passive users of technology to becoming skilled and adaptive creators, developers, engineers and critical users of technology in an ever changing world. Digital Learning also covers digital literacy skills to help empower children to use all forms of technology safely, whilst learning practical steps on how to avoid its dangers to protect themselves.
The teaching of Digital Learning is a critical component of a 21st Century education at Knox Park Primary School. Digital Learning is fully integrated into all areas of the curriculum and is utilised to enhance learning opportunities.
All classrooms have access to digital technologies with Foundation children utilising iPads. Children in Years 1 & 2 have access to shared laptops and the school provides for a 1:1 laptop program which is currently offered to all children from Years 3 to 6.
The use of digital technologies is supported by our Digital Teaching and Learning policy. We ensure that we remain at the cutting edge of digital learning through regular reviews of our curriculum, our digital policies and safety practices. Coding begins in Foundation classes.
Coding encourages children to think critically and strategically to solve problems—often simple puzzles like getting an onscreen character to move around a maze. Visual blocks are often used to represent programming concepts and terminology, such as ‘procedures’, ‘loops’ and ‘conditional instructions’. Popular coding software including ‘Scratch’ are used to create code using tiles.
A natural progression from coding is with the use of Robotics. A robot is a mechanical device that can be programmed to follow a set of instructions. Robots have processing units, sensors to help them perceive things in the surrounding environment and motors and actuators so that they can move. Robots also have the added programmable functionality of lights, sounds and speech recognition. Our Robotics Program is expanded in complexity as children progress through the school.
“If you tell a student something, you’ve forever robbed them of the opportunity to discover it for themselves through inquiry.” Curt Gabrielson
There has been a consistent push to implement initiatives aimed at increasing the focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects in government schools and we ensure that Science is a timetabled subject at our school.
Hypothesise, Inquire, Analyse
At Knox Park Primary School, the emphasis is on the exploratory nature of Science. Each class uses the STEM lab to observe, analyse, reason question and investigate, using the Primary Connections framework as a basis for the teaching and learning of Science. This approach is based on a guided inquiry model, where children are immersed in hands on activities that foster the skills of hypothesising, inquiring and analysing information.
Students use prior knowledge to consider processes and make predictions.
Students participate in hands on experiments, observing results and recording data
Students analyse their findings to draw conclusions and solve problems.
Children use their prior knowledge to develop explanations of their experiences of scientific phenomena, whilst also being given opportunities to represent and modify their developing understandings. They are actively engaged in the learning process with teachers taking on a role.
“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.” – Margaret Mead
At Knox Park Primary School we follow a guided inquiry approach to the teaching and learning of the Humanities and Health curriculum, which is aligned to the Victorian Curriculum. Guided inquiry is designed to actively engage children in the learning process, helping them to develop their capacity to take an active role in their learning as well as develop investigation skills.
The hallmarks of our Inquiry Approach are:
- Strong emphasis on process over product
- Taking learning further to create an action that has a positive impact on the community
- Evidence of student voice
- Learning is social – children learn from each other and from other primary sources
- Prior knowledge is activated and built upon
Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate Teaching and learning progresses through five phases: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and Evaluate. These phases of learning also mirror the learning process that children undertake when they are exploring Science.
Each term, the Humanities or Health unit begins with an immersion phase where lessons are prepared and delivered by the teacher that engages the students and hooks them into the curriculum content. It captures their interest, provides an opportunity for them to express what they know about the concept and provides an opportunity to generate questions of inquiry.
Students participate in hands on activities in which they can explore the concepts and skills of the focus area. They grapple with problems while being provided with direct teaching of the subject matter. This phase allows children to acquire a common set of experiences and understandings that they can use to help each other make sense of the new learning.
After students have explored the concepts and skills, the teacher (or student) provides explanations for the line of questioning. The significant aspect of this phase is that explanation follows investigation.
This phase provides opportunities for children to apply what they have learned to new situations and so develop a deeper understanding of the concept. It is important for children to discuss and compare their ideas with each other during this phase.
The final phase provides an opportunity for students to review and reflect on their own learning and new understanding and skills. It is also when students provide evidence for changes to their own understanding, beliefs and skills. Children also take the time to assess the impact that their action or activity has made on the community.
“Performing arts is a place for children to trust their ideas, themselves and to explore what is possible.” – Maryanne. F. Kohl.
Our performing arts lessons aim to empower students to enable them to reach their full creative potential.
At Knox Park Primary School, the students attend one 50-minute session of Performing Arts each week. Each lesson is designed to engage, enrich, and excite our children’s imaginations and encourage them to reach their creative and expressive potential.
Lessons focus on the areas of music, dance, and drama, and the skills learned are utilised in a school-wide musical production staged every second year. Children also have the opportunity to take part in choir sessions, practising weekly and performing regularly. In addition, Knox Park Primary School offers externally provided dance group sessions and instrumental tuition.
“To get faster or to get a pb you need to practise! So, getting out there each week to participate should be your very first goal” – Steve Moneghetti
Our physical education lessons aim to give every student a safe learning environment to try new skills and ideas, while building confidence within.
Through Physical Education, we promote the social, emotional, physical, and intellectual development of all children. Everyone has the right to develop lifelong skills in a safe learning community. Physical Education is an important aspect of the education of our children to support them to stay physically active, develop interests in different types of physical activity, build teamwork and other social skills and improve focus and academic performance.
The Physical Education Program from Foundation to Year 2 is based on fundamental motor skills, which include – catching, kicking, running, jumping, throwing, and striking. These skills are the building blocks for the more complicated sports and movement skills that are common to the community. Children from Year 3 are encouraged to enhance their fundamental motor skills further and use them to participate in minor and major games. Years 5 and 6 students are involved in summer and winter interschool sports teams. Years 3-6 students are able to represent the school in swimming, cross country, and athletics at competitions beyond the school. Emphasis is not placed on competition in Physical Education but rather on providing opportunities to develop skills that are then applied in major game situations. At Knox Park Primary School, we have a strong emphasis on teamwork, giving things a go, and doing your best.
“Art is a place for children to learn to trust their ideas, themselves and to explore what is possible” – Maryann F. Kohl.
Our visual arts lessons aim to celebrate the creativity of our students and allow every child to be an artist, giving them the opportunity to express themselves through a variety of art media and techniques.
At Knox Park Primary School, the students attend one 50-minute session of Visual Arts each week. Children explore visual literacy by communicating observations, personal ideas, and experiences. Their art production focuses on the art elements, with various influences from traditional and contemporary artists and art movements.
Each lesson is designed to engage, enrich, and excite our children’s imaginations and encourage them to express themselves through their artworks. By providing our students with a well-rounded art education, we aim to expose our children to a diverse range of materials and techniques, including drawing, painting, printing, sculpture, collage,construction, textiles, modelling, and digital art.
Children are encouraged to admire and appreciate the artwork of others and to acquire the ability to review, modify and enhance their own individual art creations as it progresses. They are also given the opportunity to work on collaborative projects with others, developing communication and cooperative skills.
Our Knox Park biennial Art Show enables children to experience the unique opportunity to exhibit their artwork, showcasing our children’s marvellous original compositions and creations with the school community.
‘’Learning another language is not only learning different words for the same things, but learning another way to think about things.’’ – Flora Lewis
Our languages (mandarin) lessons aim to develop students’ language skills and cultural awareness and prepare them to be a 21st-century global citizen.
The Languages (Mandarin) Program at Knox Park develops language skills sequentially and comprehensively from Foundation to Year Six. Our program endeavours to provide our children with useful communication skills and cultural awareness to prepare them to become enthusiastic and caring global citizens. A wide variety of activities involving listening, speaking, reading, and writing are carefully designed and differentiated to cater to children with different interests, strengths, and backgrounds. These include singing songs; chants and dances; stories and games; role-plays; class discussions; research and cross-curricular projects; real-life language text analysis; and hands-on cultural experiences.
At Knox Park Primary School, children are encouraged to use the language they have acquired whenever possible. This may be in formal situations both at school and at home. There are also whole-school events and excursions that involve experiencing Mandarin and Asian culture in a broader, out-of-classroom environment.