Whole School Programs

The West Leederville Way

WHOLE SCHOOL PROGRAMS

WLPS has well-established curriculum programs, to support improved student outcomes and engagement with the curriculum. The programs were implemented over a number of years, through a highly-consultative process, to address the specific needs of our students in our context. Staff have undertaken considerable professional learning applicable to the programs, and the implementation of the programs remains a key focus on the agendas of Phase of Learning meetings and whole-staff meetings.

Writing – Talk 4 Writing

The Talk for Writing (T4W) approach is used in all year levels at WLPS. It is a unique, evidence-based program developed by Pie Corbett and advocated for by The Dyslexia Speld Foundation (DSF).

T4W reflects the school’s pedagogical choice of The Gradual Release of Responsibility Model. The program moves students from imitating a text, to innovating on a text, to independent application. A key feature of the program is the way in which children ‘talk the texts’ to internalise the required language structures.

The T4W approach relies heavily on formative assessment, which is another priority of WLPS. Through the implementation of ‘cold-tasks’, teachers are able to target their teaching on a whole-class, small-group or individual level, and adapt the model texts to suit. The relevant language structures become clear learning intentions and are taught explicitly through the use of writing ‘toolkits’. Teachers provide regular feedback on these, making learning visible and answering the fundamental questions of “where am I going?”, “how am I going?” and “where to next?”.

Overall, the T4W approach closely matches the pedagogical approaches and strategies of the school. The staff at WLPS has seen a significant improvement in the writing abilities of students since the implementation of the program.

The T4W approach has many commonalities with First Steps Writing.

Reading

At WLPS, teachers create print-rich classroom environments which support and nurture their community of readers. Students’ enjoyment of reading is fostered, and they are encouraged to regularly explore and interact with print and to take risks when reading. Our teachers implement a comprehensive approach to reading instruction, which is largely reflective of the First Steps Literacy materials. They:

  • Plan for the use of a range of reading procedures. These include: reading to students, modelled reading, language experience, shared reading, guided reading, book discussion groups and independent reading. The use of these reading procedures reflects the Gradual Release of Responsibility Model. Modelled reading, reading to students and language experience reflect the ‘I Do’ phase, where teachers lead instruction and students observe. The shared reading and guided reading procedures reflect the ‘We Do’ phase, where teachers guide instruction and students participate. Book discussion groups and independent reading allow students to practise reading strategies, collaboratively or independently. This represents the ‘You Do’ phase.
  • Vary student group structures.
  • Use a range of assessment tools.
  • Use a range of age-appropriate and levelled texts. At WLPS, students are exposed to a vast range of texts, including print, visual and multimodal. This provides them with the opportunity to experience different organisational features, text structures and language features. Texts are chosen for instructional, functional or recreational purposes. For example:
    • decodable readers are used in the early years to provide explicit and systematic instruction when students are learning to read and spell
    • levelled guided reading texts, of varying text types and genres, are used in a range of year levels to practise reading strategies. These are often integrated with other learning areas.
    • novels with increasingly complex themes are analysed by upper primary students. These may also be integrated with other learning areas.
    • informational texts of varying levels are used across the school when students are taught to access and use information.
  • Explicitly teach reading strategies. These include: predicting, connecting, comparing, inferring, synthesising, creating images, self-questioning, skimming, scanning, determining importance, summarising and paraphrasing, re-reading, reading on, adjusting reading rate, sounding out, chunking, using analogy and consulting a reference.
  • Promote the development of students’ semantic, graphophonic and syntactic understandings. In order to comprehend texts, students need to simultaneously draw on each of the cueing systems.
  • Semantic cues are associated with overall meaning and the ability to make connections with a text. These cues include the students’ cultural and world knowledge, their knowledge of the topic and their knowledge of vocabulary.
  • Graphophonic cues refer to the relationship between sounds and symbols and word structures. Students use this understanding to identify unknown words.
  • Syntactic cues involve the structure of language. Focussing on grammar, the order of words in sentences, and the organisation and structure of whole texts, help students to determine if what they are reading ‘sounds right’.
  • Integrate reading across different learning areas

In additional to the whole school strategies outline above, within the different phases of learning unique techniques are used that are appropriate to the students’ developmental age and curriculum requirements. Some of these additional strategies include, but are not limited to, Novel Studies, Author Studies, Readers’ Theatre and Co-operative Reading.

Word Study

Science – Primary Connections

Primary Connections 5E Teaching and Learning model

Primary Connections curriculum resources and professional learning program are based on the 5E teaching and learning model. This evidenced-based approach supports active, constructivist learning; students draw on their prior knowledge, pose questions, participate in hands-on experiences, and conduct exploratory and formal investigations, to develop explanations about scientific phenomena. Students are given opportunities to represent and re-represent their developing understanding using literacies of science. They are actively engaged in the learning process. Students develop science inquiry skills and an understanding of the nature of science.

Teaching and learning progresses through five phases: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and Evaluate. The phases of the Primary Connections 5E teaching and learning model are based on the 5Es instructional model (Bybee, 1997).

Numeracy – Effective Numeracy Blocks

The majority of mathematics learning experiences at WLPS adhere to an ‘effective lesson structure’, which reflects The Gradual Release of Responsibility model and explicit teaching. The lesson structure includes:

Introduction

  • Explicitly stated learning intentions and success criteria
  • Introduction of technical mathematical language and use of a word wall
  • Linking to prior knowledge
  • Worked examples
  • Guided practice
  • Targeted questioning, feedback and error-training

Activities

  • Differentiated
  • May be independent or collaborative
  • May be rotational
  • Instructive feedback throughout

Plenary

  • Revisit learning intentions
  • Seeking of feedback from students – formative assessment
  • Short activity (often collaborative) to summarise, consolidate and potentially extend

Teachers use three key resources when planning numeracy lessons: iMaths, Mathspace and First Steps.

iMaths is an investigation-based program, where skills are explicitly taught and practised, and then applied to relevant, real-life investigations. Problem-solving strategies are also explicitly taught and used during the investigations, encouraging the use of higher-order thinking. The program provides plenty of opportunities for differentiation, to cater for the diverse learning needs of students.

Maths Space is an Australian curriculum aligned digital maths program.

Mathspace uses an adaptive learning model, enabling each student to get the most out of the software.

Teachers from Years 3-6 use Mathspace to supplement and reinforce the teaching they deliver to their classes, enabling further differentiation in the activities presented to WLPS students.

First Steps Numeracy is a resource that was created by a team from the Department of Education WA and tertiary consultants at Murdoch University. Although its development coincided with the introduction of the Curriculum Framework, it is still regarded as ‘best practice’; even now that we teach to the Western Australian Curriculum.

The program assists teachers to: build their own knowledge of the mathematics ‘behind’ the curriculum; understand how students learn mathematics; and, plan effective learning experiences for all students. First Steps Numeracy is organised into ‘key understandings’ which students need to understand. The key understandings are:

  • Describe the ideas or concepts that students need to learn
  • Suggest learning experiences to help students to learn the concepts
  • Provide a basis for recognising and assessing what students already know and still need to know
  • Point out any common misconceptions

The program includes diagnostic tasks (formative assessment) for each key understanding, and diagnostic maps which describe the characteristic phases in the development of students’ thinking about mathematical concepts.

Social and Emotional Learning – Bounce Back!

Bounce Back! is an evidence-based program that was created in response to research which identified the most significant coping skills that help young people to become more resilient. The aims of the program are to:

  • Maximise student engagement in learning through a literature-based approach
  • Contribute to a pro-social school culture
  • Promote positive relationships and develop social skills
  • Develop resilience skills that contribute to wellbeing
  • Develop pro-social values

There are two key components to Bounce Back!: Core Values and The Bounce Back! acronym.

The Core Values include: integrity; fairness and responsibility; support, kindness and compassion; cooperation; acceptance of diversity and not judging others; respect; and friendliness.

The Bounce Back! acronym outlines the ten key coping statements:

Bad times don’t last

Other people can help if you talk to them

Unhelpful thinking makes you feel more upset

Nobody is perfect – not you, not others

Concentrate on the good bits, no matter how small, and use laughter

Everybody experiences sadness, hurt, failure, rejection and setbacks sometimes, not just you

Blame fairly

Accept the things you can’t change, but try to change what you can first

Catastrophising exaggerates worries

Keep things in perspective

The school gathers resilience data annually through two Bounce Back! student surveys. The data is collated and presented to staff. One survey measures levels of student resilience and is used to plan teaching emphases. The other measures classroom dynamics and is used to reflect on classroom practice and teacher characteristics.

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