Learning in Practice Volume 1 Number 1 November 2017
About the Barker Institute:
About the Learning in Practice Journal:
Provides a centre for research, reflective practice, professional learning and innovation in education
Is a resource hub that facilitates the ongoing development of learning for teachers, allowing them to stay abreast of emerging practice, constantly striving to refine the quality of teaching and learning
As a leader in Christian education, Barker College aims to both demonstrate and inform best practice. This journal was developed to showcase a range of initiatives and research projects from across the School. It explains the rationale behind innovations in practice and archives pivotal developments in Barker’s academic, cocurricular and pastoral realms.
Looks to develop collaborative ventures with other institutions and providers, initiating research and innovation combined with the implementation of new projects and programs for the benefit of students, staff and the broader community
Shares current research and issues with parents, professional bodies and educators around the globe through ongoing symposia, forums, lectures and conferences
Dr Brad Merrick Dr Greg Cunningham Mrs Amanda Eastman
Barker Print Room
Barker stands at a pivotal moment in its history and the importance of acknowledging and honouring the diverse contributions of so many across the School is timely as we plan for our exciting future. The Barker Institute was developed in 2014 as a means of drawing together the best of emerging research in learning, professional development of staff, combined with innovative practice and approaches in education. The Barker Institute has contributed significantly to these areas, while also providing a means for our learning community to participate in the local, national and international conversation around education and all that it involves in an ever-changing world. This publication is our first volume of â€˜Learning in Practiceâ€™. It is a testament to the work of many and their willingness to annotate and archive the rich experiences that contribute to the life of Barker. By reporting on different aspects of the 2017 year, this journal has allowed us to take a snapshot of different projects, subjects and areas of investigation that contribute to the rich tapestry that is so special and unique to our school.
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I warmly encourage you to read and reflect on the wide-range of articles in this, our first edition and I thank all of those who have contributed to the development and publishing of this journal, whether as an author, editor or participant in one of the many stories told. Your willingness to be part of this process is significant and I thank you for your effort to be part of this publication. Together in learning, together in life.
Mr Phillip Heath Head of Barker
Foreword – Learning in Practice – The Barker Institute Journal This Learning in Practice Journal is a compilation of different moments in time across the breadth of Barker. Our focus on quality teaching, motivation and engagement, breadth of learning opportunities, the development of the whole student and collaboration are some of the key aspects of the journey for all of our students, accompanied by their teachers. Undertaking and reporting on research is a key component of the Barker Institute’s focus, combined with telling the stories about the various layers of learning and involvement that make Barker the thriving place that it is every day. The stories and reports in this journal are all situated within the context of the school setting. They have been published with two key purposes in mind, firstly to share these important stories with the broader learning community. Secondly, the journal allows different vignettes of the Barker fabric, whether co-curricular, teaching and learning, pastoral or research to be archived
and remembered in the future. I would like to thank all the contributors for sharing their areas of passion and acknowledge Mrs Amanda Eastman and Dr Greg Cunningham for their work in editing, formatting and checking articles for this journal. I would also acknowledge Mrs Susan Layton for her oversight of the finalisation of the journal and Mr Glenn Quevedo for his assistance in the layout for publication. I am very pleased that we can share this inaugural issue with you and trust you enjoy it.
Dr Brad Merrick Director of Research in Learning and the Barker Institute
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Contents Teaching and Learning A More Formative Assessment Approach to Middle School 8 Jeremy von Einem A Coeducational Future 13 Melissa Brady Darkinjung Barker: A year in review 16 Jamie Shackleton Shaping blended learning at Barker 19 James Stewart, Su Temlett, Paul Harmon and Andrew Mifsud Redefining the Senior School to Promote Independent Learning through eTime 26 Jeremy von Einem Developing Hearts & Minds through Philosophical Instruction: A short review of the Hearts & Minds Program in 2016-2017 Matthew Hill Establishing our Darkinjung Barker Reading Programs Michele Studd History as Argument Kath Driver
The Barker College of Teachers: Developing Capacity in Teachers 43 Dr Greg Cunningham and Len Nixon NELP: Clarifying and Changing Practice around Academic Enrichment and Extension Greg Longney STEM Education and the Water Industry Nonie Taylor
Co-Curricular Barker Bunker then and now: the first five years and the next five years Alex Butt and Alison Cox
Barker Girls Rugby Sevens Trial: Breaking Stereotypes 62 Alex Butt and Alison Cox A year in the life of Barker Robotics : Engaging students for a lifetime Lael Grant
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Pastoral How the Middle School encourages boys to look beyond themselves Tim Eastman and Damien Whitington
Learning to Lead Through Service: Barker Service Partnerships 73 Simon Walker and Dean Bunn
Research Reflections from the ‘Barker Journey’ study: 2016 interviews 78 Amanda Eastman The final interview of the Barker Journey: a glimpse inside the thoughts of our veterans from 2008-2017 Dr Brad Merrick
Using Video and multimedia to engage Year 7 students in recreational reading Melanie Webster
Reflections on the College of Teachers’ Inaugural Year 92 Dr Brad Merrick and Dr Greg Cunningham Hope: An action-research project on student wellbeing 97 Malyn Mawby A year in review: The Barker Institute in 2017 102 Dr Brad Merrick
About the Authors 108
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Teaching and Learning There is currently a range of exciting initiatives across the School in the realm of teaching and learning. This collection of articles explains a range of developments pertaining to classroom activities, assessment programs, professional growth and the establishment of Darkinjung Barker. Barker Institute Learning in Practice â€˘ 7
A More Formative Assessment Approach to Middle School J R von Einem Director of Academic Performance
Learning in Practice 2017 Vol. 1 (1) © Barker Institute 2017
Abstract In 2016 the Heads of Department met to discuss a new approach to assessment in the Middle School. The cumulative assessment approach that NESA mandates for HSC courses is not one that encourages deep learning, but was designed to reduce the pressure on students by spreading the assessment load from a single external examination to a school-based assessment. Using data from student surveys about their perception of assessment and the work of educators such as Black and Wiliam, the Heads of Department discussed the need to develop a more formative approach to assessment. This paper describes how that approach will look for Stage 4 at Barker over the coming years. This article is part of a longer paper written for the Heads of Department, based on these discussions.
The Need for a New Model of Middle School Assessment The Heads of Department Symposium of 1 April 2016 was held to discuss assessment practices at Barker. It had been identified for some time that the current assessment approach puts too much pressure on students and that student learning was not the focus of this approach. For some time now a top down approach had been adopted, where the NESA (formerly BoSTES) mandated HSC assessment structure had been applied to Years 7 – 11. While there was a need for such an approach to apply to Years 10 and 11 in order to have students prepared adequately for their HSC year, there was no obligation by schools to follow a similar assessment plan for these or earlier years. This brought into question our reasons for having an HSC style assessment program for Middle School. The benefits of such a program were that it allowed for an organised way to rank students to produce a final mark (which can be used to award prizes and set classes for the following year) as well as enabled staff to identify a student’s strengths and weaknesses in set areas. However, there were significant questions to be asked about whether it did this at the expense of broad student learning and student welfare. Wiliam (2011b) states that this approach encourages a shallow approach to learning and teaching. He writes that students know they only have to remember the material for two to three weeks until they take the test on that material, and then they can forget it, so there is no incentive for the student to gain a deep understanding that is needed for long-term recall. For their part, teachers tend to set tests that never go beyond what they have taught; because the tests are predictable, students who are motivated do well, so both teachers and students feel good. This regimented approach assesses performance at only a snapshot of time and provides few opportunities for formative assessment practices. Such a program often provides less opportunity and little reward for students to show creativity in tasks.
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It had been increasingly the case that students were showing signs of significant anxiety or stress and this model for assessment appeared to be a major contributor. Year 7 and 8 students had over 30 assessment tasks to complete each year and their focus was on getting through this process. With every task there was an element of stress. Some stress is a good thing (in the form of ‘worry’ about performance in a test) but a stressful assessment program conducted over several months made students apprehensive or even anxious. In the last ten years schools have noticed a greater number of students exhibiting work-related anxiety. Surveys of students at Barker had shown that they see assessment tasks as causers of stress but faced with an option of more tasks with lesser weightings, they overwhelmingly choose fewer tasks with greater weightings. To a student, a task is a task, whether it attracts a significant weighting in the assessment program or a significantly lesser weight. Black and Wiliam (1998) in their seminal paper, Inside the Black Box – raising standards through classroom assessment, describe a concern about the impact on learning where feedback is given by reporting marks over comments. Black and Wiliam (1998, p 5) write that …where the classroom focuses on rewards, ‘gold stars’, grades or place-in-theclass ranking, then pupils look for ways to obtain the best marks rather than at the needs of their learning which these marks ought to reflect. One reported consequence is that where they have any choice, pupils avoid difficult tasks. They also spend time and energy looking for clues to the ‘right answer’… Our current assessment program focused on formal assessment tasks that often limited the scope of what was being assessed. The richness of day-to-day activities performed in class was diminished by a more narrow assessment regime. Rich formative assessment tasks allow greater breadth in feedback across a range of objectives rather than focussing mainly on the knowledge, understanding and skills domains. Black and Wiliam describe the importance of feedback and formative assessment on student learning and its importance in providing advice on what the learner can do to improve rather than making comparisons with other students. Hattie (2009, p 14) synthesised over 800 meta-analyses about influences on achievement to present a perspective on key influences on achievement. He ranked these influences by effect size and noticed that some actions greatly influenced achievements, while other actions had considerably lesser influence. He found that everything worked to some extent. Hattie took an effect size of 0.4 as a meaningful indicator of a worthwhile action. The work of Hattie (2009, p 297 – 300) showed the following actions produced significant effect sizes (and effect size in brackets): 1.
Self-reported grades by students (1.44)
Providing formative evaluation by teachers (0.90)
Teachers providing feedback (0.73)
Setting challenging goals (0.56)
As identified by the vast bodies of work by Wiliam and Hattie on the significant effect size on student improvement by different measures, there was a need to develop a model of assessment for Middle School students at Barker that focused on formative assessment strategies that also allowed for opportunities for goal setting and self and peer reflection and reporting.
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Wiliam (2011a, p 69) states “…it seems obvious that to get anywhere, it helps to be clear about where you are going, and yet, until recently, sharing learning intentions and success criteria with students has not been regarded as important.”
The Role of Marks in Monitoring of Student Progress While the research is clear that a better model for assessment would be based on formative assessment and that there would be many benefits that flow on from such an approach, it was still important that the School track a student’s performance longitudinally over time. This can be done both qualitatively and quantitatively, but for valid comparisons to be made over five or six years then there was still a place for marks and grades in reporting student achievement. The task was to provide a structure that allowed for this while taking advantage of the benefits of a more formative assessment approach.
Using Rubrics to Evaluate Student Performance The Heads of Department at Pymble in April 2016 agreed that different assessment models are needed in Stages 4, 5 and 6. The exact nature of these models was yet to be determined, but the Heads of Department created a ‘road map; for future work, including: a.
An emphasis on more formative assessment, particularly in Stage 4
Assessments that will encourage a student-driven learning culture and inform teaching practice
Education of the school community (students, parents, staff) will be of prime importance
Reforms to the student reporting and future tracking process need to be aligned with any future assessment models
Further discussion to occur on whether to report marks as well as A-E grades
Timeline: Stage 4 reforms to be finalised by end 2016 for implementation in 2017
In addition to this, from the work of Hattie and Black and Wiliam outlined above, any new structure must provide opportunities for students to:
know what success looks like
have meaningful conversations with staff and parents about where they are at and where they need to go
reflect on their own learning
set meaningful goals
be reported on (formally) more frequently without significant added workload on staff
The proposed change to Stage 4 Assessment was to provide rubrics against which performance would be mapped. A rubric is a set of scoring guidelines for evaluating student work. A rubric allows a student to see where their current performance lies against known criteria. It also allows them to see what a better performing student might look like. There is 10 • Barker Institute Learning in Practice
a lot of power in ‘sharing learning intentions and success criteria’ to direct a student’s future performance. Departments designed rubrics that showed a continuum of achievement criteria (or descriptors) against a set of course related objectives, skills or understandings. These were written in student-accessible language with an even progression through successive criteria. To ensure a level of consistency across subject departments, a common language for key terms was developed. While the objectives against which performance is mapped differed between departments, there was consistency in the criteria for each level of performance. The focus was on how a student can improve rather than making a definite and lasting judgement on a student’s ability. The rubric was the mechanism for driving conversations about how a student was performing against the criteria.
Formal Assessment The formal assessment program for Years 7 and 8 would be reduced to two whole cohort assessment tasks per year (one per semester). It was envisaged that one of these tasks would be the Semester 2 examination and the other task a similar styled task during Term 2. In order to enable a student’s progress to be validly tracked then similar tasks were required. By removing all other assessment tasks, a teacher could then concentrate on the learning and teaching cycle, providing feedback via the rubric as an ongoing practice. Regular classwork, homework, class tests, projects, participation in class discussions, oral answers etc. could be used to provide a teacher with information as the correct placement of a student on each part of the rubric. Teachers would continue to collect and assess work in the usual way but use this work to provide evidence for their professional decision about a student’s progress on the rubric. Data collection should be a less formal process. The aim is to remove opportunities for assessment by stealth. Some other advantages of this structure might be a reduction in stress as students are concentrating on learning rather than preparing for a constant stream of assessment tasks, opportunities for goal setting using the rubric can be explored, the nature of Parent Teacher Night should be more constructive and informative and greater feedback to parents via a new reporting system would allow for more frequent and timely information.
Different Work not More Work One of the aims of this approach was to reduce the number of formal assessment tasks on students and to reposition the focus on to student learning. The everyday acts of teaching and learning would inform a teacher’s judgement about where a student is placed on the rubric. This didn’t mean that teachers needed to plan lots of little tasks and tests. In fact, nothing would be gained if all staff suddenly implemented a program of a class assessment schedule. Everyday activities performed in class, homework, participation in class discussions and activities would help the teacher make decisions about a student’s placement. Wiliam suggests that a better name for formative assessment is responsive teaching. Information gathered in the classroom informs the next cycle of the teaching and learning process
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While staff and departments have saved time from a decrease in administration of common assessment tasks, more time is spent looking at evidence and discussing where typical students in their class fit on the rubric. This is to establish some consistency across all staff. Professional conversations, viewing of work samples, and analysis of class data drive this process. While some may see this as more work, in reality it is just different work. In some ways these discussions should enhance the teaching and learning process.
References Black PJ and Wiliam D 1998, Inside the Black Box: Raising standards through classroom assessment, Kingâ€™s College London School of Education, London Hattie, J 2009, Visible Learning, Routledge, Oxford. Wiliam, D 2011a, Embedded Formative Assessment, Solution Tree Press, Bloomington, Wiliam, D 2011b, What Assessment Can and Cannot Do, Pdf, accessed 19 May 2016, <http://www.dylanwiliam.org/Dylan_Wiliams_website/Presentations.html>.
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A Coeducational Future Learning in Practice 2017 Vol. 1 (1) © Barker Institute 2017
Melissa Brady Director of Coeducation Transition
Abstract In late 2016, Barker announced a move to coeducation by 2022. Here, the Director Coeducation Transition, Melissa Brady, examines research behind coeducation and Barker’s plans the future.
full of the for
A Barker education is characterised by a focus on preparing our students for life beyond the Mint Gates. Students who commence school in 2018 will be considering retirement around 2080. Planning for an as yet undefined future is difficult. Transferable skills like collaboration, managing differences, problem solving, resilience and an interdisciplinary approach to learning, all help to prepare our students for a world that is rapidly changing. What is not changing is that the work place is for both genders. The Barker College community values our abiding commitment to a strong academic program and to effective pastoral care delivered in an authentically Christian setting. The School has considerable data to support this claim and countless generations of Barker College students testify to the positive experiences they enjoyed here. This is particularly the case since the introduction of coeducation in the Senior School in 1975. A survey of current and former Barker College parents conducted in 2015 revealed that the top three reasons for choosing Barker for their child were the provision of a balanced education, quality of teaching and a focus on student welfare and well-being. Providing a single-sex education was not in the top 20 reasons. The vast majority of research into the impact of segregating the sexes at school was conducted prior to 2000 (Bennett, 2015). Much has changed in both a national and global setting in this time and it is therefore prudent to canvass more contemporary research into this field. In the latter part of the 20th Century and the early decades of the 21st Century, there has been a significant global change in the roles and status of women. In the past, segregated education tended to channel young men and women into gender specific careers and this is no longer the case. There have been studies, for example a 2012 study from the University of Pennsylvania, that analysed data from South Korea which concluded an advantage to single-sex education. However, there are an equal number which draw no such conclusion and the claim that girls achieve higher academic results in a single-sex environment is now only supported by 17% of post 1995 research into the debate (Bennett, 2015).
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The research is unable to control variables such as Socio-Economic Scores (SES), family background, individual differences in each learner and school culture. One cannot sustain a research based argument that one system is better or more effective than another whilst being unable to account for a wide range of variables. No two schools or learners are the same; it is difficult to substantiate a claim that a study on this can be definitive. Various studies (Robinson and Smithers, 1999, Mansfield, 2013, Pahlke, Hyde and Allison, 2014, Cherney and Campbell, 2011) state that the difference in academic achievement between single-sex and coeducational schools is negligible once family background, SES factors and school culture are taken into account. Gill (2004, p.118) even goes as far as to state that ‘internal qualitative variables may be even more important in their capacity to affect the quality of school experience’. In fact, the differences in the learning styles of one group of students alone are far greater than the differences between boys and girls on a vast range of measures. The most important task for Barker is to provide a well-rounded and balanced education for all our students. Most Independent Schools, including Barker, were established well over 100 years ago and in a very different world and with very different attitudes towards the roles of men and women. Given the changing world we live in and the stereotypes that can develop in single-sex environments, we are not convinced that it is appropriate to expect our children to develop a real understanding of gender equity when from an early age they are separated and told they are different. At Barker we are of the view that coeducation and a more inclusive and diverse community, can go some way to addressing the challenges facing the Australian community. It is clear that in the 21st Century all social institutions have undergone considerable change and occupational fields that were once dominated by one gender no longer exist. Given this, the demarcation of schools along gender lines is thoroughly out of date for progressive environments (Gill, 2004, p.118). Barker College is committed to the future and preparing students for a rapidly changing world. Full coeducation is one part of that commitment. A report into coeducation in the United Kingdom in 2006 stated that there has been a reduction in the number of single-sex schools by over 80% in the last 40 years (Asthana, 2006). The fact that segregation persists in Sydney is curious given global trends. In Sydney, there are very few coeducational Independent schools. Only 4% of Independent school places on the North Shore are for coeducation. Parents are offered very little choice. Independent single-sex schools dominate the Sydney Morning Herald end of year league tables, primarily because of the standard of teaching, school leadership, parent support and higher than average Socio Economic Scores. The fact is that most Independent schools in Sydney are single-sex. Single-sex schools will therefore top the performance tables – there are very few alternatives. However, the number of single-sex schools in Australia is declining and the Australian Bureau of Statistics recently published data which claimed that at the present rate of decline single-sex schools would not exist in Australia by 2035 (ABS, 2017).
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The educational landscape has changed immeasurably in the last decade to the point where what was considered cutting edge in 2000 is now old news. The students who are now sent out the school gates at the end of their tenure will have on average 17 different jobs and 5 different careers throughout their professional lifetime. None of these will be based on gender. Contemporary education is about teaching students how to be flexible with their knowledge and understanding. Today’s students are taught to apply knowledge to new situations, look at cross curricular integration through project based learning and most of all the ability to adapt to new situations. We are about sending Barker students into the world equipped with the skills they need to be future ready. A Barker education typifies the ‘presence of a supportive community of teachers…and the whole school community (being) committed to the principles of gender equity and the fulfilment of individual potential’ (Gill, 2004, p.121). This is what will ultimately determine achievement and a great school experience for our young people.
References Asthana, A. (2006), Why Single Sex education is not the route to better results, The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2006/jun/25/schools.gender2 Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2017, Participation in Education: Government and nongovernment schools, https://tinyurl.com/y7dsrlon Bennett, S. (2015). Gender relations in elite coeducational schools. Unpublished PhD thesis, Deakin University. Cherney, I. D., & Campbell, K. L. (2011). “A league of their own: Do single-sex schools increase girls’ participation in the physical sciences?” in Sex roles, 65 (9-10), 712-724. Gill, J. (2004), Beyond the Great Divide, UNSW Press, Sydney. Mansfield, K. C. (2013). “The growth of single-sex schools: Federal policy meets local needs and interests” in Education policy analysis archives, 21, 87. Pahlke, E., Hyde, J. S., & Allison, C. M. (2014). “The effects of single-sex compared with coeducational schooling on students’ performance and attitudes: A meta-analysis” in Psychological Bulletin, 140(4), 10 42. Robinson, P., & Smithers, A. (1999). “Should the sexes be separated for secondary educationcomparisons of single-sex and co-educational schools?” in Research Papers in Education, 14(1), 23-49.
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Darkinjung Barker: A year in review Jamie Shackleton Darkinjung Barker Campus Co-ordinator
Learning in Practice 2017 Vol. 1 (1) © Barker Institute 2017
Abstract This article provides a summary of life at Barker’s Aboriginal compass. It details the highlights and hurdles of its inaugural year, telling an inspirational story of growth, perseverance and hope.
The first year of Darkinjung Barker has shown me a true understanding of the needs of our Indigenous students. The documentation is right, the media reports are right, we need to be able to do more Australia wide to close the gap in Indigenous education. Prior to starting on this project I was, to be honest, a little naive and I have been possibly sheltered from the true needs of these people. We are only looking at a small snapshot of the Indigenous community, but we have uncovered a true reflection of what has been reported on for so long. We have a range of families who are quite well adjusted to the daily running routines of a school environment. They will offer assistance, have the children well groomed and well fed. On the other end of the scale we have some families that have for generations never trusted or had a good experience with the education system. Their children suffer from a lack of a positive outlook on school from home. The parents and grandparents are distrusting of the ‘white man’, but in the last year, I have seen a change, a positive change. I have been let into their world and I have been told things that up until now have been withheld. This is a great sign. We have children that are high needs. We are working on a daily support structure that helps them with their academic but also behavioural needs. It isn’t easy as the range of these needs can fluctuate daily. The academic needs of the children are far beyond anything that we could have imagined. Our initial testing uncovered some alarming results that have the majority of children working at least twelve months behind their chronological age, some as far back as four years behind. We have a large challenge ahead of us, but with the right resourcing, teaching and learning spaces and staff, we will be able to turn this around. We are only a year into this magnificent project and we can already see positive results. There are many questions that are starting to arise in regards to 2017 and beyond. As the year progresses, I think that we will need to address these and have a positive and informative plan that will be well in place prior to the commencement of the 2017 academic year. We have had a great year up here at Yarramalong. It has been a full of excitement and new expectations. With NAPLAN now complete for another 12 months, the children can now relax into a normal school routine. It is a stressful time for the little ones. We worked hard with the staff from Bunnings. We approached Bunnings and asked if it would be possible to donate a vegetable garden for our children. They were very generous and have now donated two! NITV came for a visit. They have been very interested in our school and they
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have wanted to do a story for some time. They spent the day with us, interviewing staff and students. Wednesdays take us down to Hornsby for our fortnightly visit. The children enjoy a range of activities, working with Year 11 and 12, from library and art to the magical world of Science, Health, swimming and agriculture. Our school is surrounded by a mixture of old and new. We have the traditional school house and cottage, but nestled in between is the Nyang Shack, a new multipurpose room that will predominantly house our younger children for the morning session. This room is also a kitchen and meeting place. We look out across our field to see a variety of bird life and an abundance of gum trees that we can sit in the shade and learn. The outside environment becomes our classroom. We are able use a multitude of spaces to educate the children. We are not limited by the one area. The recess and lunch periods returned sound to the dormant school grounds. Not a day goes past that we don’t have a visitor just pop in to say hello. We have former students, staff, locals and inquisitive, friendly members of the community, all excited that our new school has returned a sense of joy to the valley. Our partnership with the Yarramalong Community Centre has been important. As we are limited on space, the kindness shown by the YCC Executive has been very helpful. We have made some significant developments academically with the children. K-6 uses the Jolly Phonics’ Programme. It is a multi-sensory program that teaches children literacy through synthetic phonics. With the significant developmental challenges that we have it is already producing great results. Sharyn Bailey commenced in late May (2016) as an additional Teacher Assistant/ Teacher’s Aide. Sharyn is highly experienced and she has been a wonderful asset to our staff. She will also be quite influential and a positive role model in the development of Chernita West. Our administration is now in full swing with Mrs Amy Shackleton joining the ranks. This role is developing to be an important part of our small community at Yarramalong. I am finding that with an administration assistant, the parents and community are making a strong connection with her. In our short time at Yarramalong, it has become apparent that this role is a need and so the connection between Barker, Darkinjung, parents and community is developing really well. During the year we have had some important events that should be mentioned. We had excursions to the Maliga Art Show. This is an art show that highlights the artistic brilliance of the local Indigenous school children. We have been invited to submit works to this show in 2017. We also have had a visit from Mrs Karen McNamara, our local Member for Dobell. She spent a few hours with the children. Mr and Mrs Gamson made a visit on behalf of the OBA. The children and staff were delighted with time they gave to us and the gift of OBA hats that they received. NITV and ABC Lateline turned our children into stars! It was a busy time but some great positives came out of the stories. The BCPA and Darkinjung parents enjoyed a lovely morning tea event. This was a wonderful experience for both parties. I know how valuable that connection will be. Registration was a huge event. Mrs Jane Williams from BOSTES made a visit. She was truly impressed at the work both academically, but also how we have developed a school in such a short amount of time. It has been a massive team effort from all staff and for that I’m truly grateful. 2016 brought with it some new challenges; possibly the primary one is space. Both rooms are at capacity with the vast array of teaching resources that it takes for a classroom to function, add to that the children and staff and it is getting quite crowded. I have seen the children’s attitude to school change. It is now a place that they know well, are comfortable in and respect the teachers and environment. We have commenced testing for this term to track the children’s development from February to August. This data will then allow me to put into place a whole school plan for the upcoming year. NAIDOC week is an
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important time in the Indigenous calendar. We enjoyed a wonderful celebration of NAIDOC. It was such an amazing experience for everyone that was involved. NAIDOC is the coming together for awareness of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait People. In Monday the final week of Term 2, we had the Year 3 and 4 boys travel from Hornsby to Yarramalong. This was the first time that we have had a class from Barker travel up to our campus. There have been conversations where our children will go after they leave Darkinjung Barker. Two of our students will head into Year 6 next year (with the possibility of another one starting), It is a very exciting time for the families. We have nearly travelled once around the sun since commencing at Yarramalong. This time last year I could not have imagined that we would be standing here reminiscing on such a successful first year of Darkinjung Barker. The anticipation and anxieties of starting a new school seem like it was such a long time ago. We are a school, a functioning school working on the beginning steps of supporting our beautiful children as they embark on their education journey. I would like to encourage you to visit our beautiful part of the world. To the many staff and visitors that we have had in 2016, Iâ€™d like to say thank you for your contribution to the lives of our children. I want to thank you for allowing me to take our school into the Indigenous community. It is very rewarding, not only for the students but to me also. The growth in these young, proud Aboriginal children is amazing.
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Shaping blended learning at Barker James Stewart Director of ICT & eLearning
Learning in Practice 2017 Vol. 1 (1) ÂŠ Barker Institute 2017
Su Temlett, Paul Harmon and Andrew Mifsud ICT Integrators
Abstract Educational ideology has made the shift from a teacher-centred to a student-centred approach. Strengthening this shift is the development of Web 2.0 technologies that for the first time are able to facilitate 21st century teaching and learning practices. Blended learning provides an environment that fosters the requirements of a student-centred education, allowing schools to draw on the best features of both online and face-toface (F2F) learning, where the student is placed at the centre of the learning process. This paper provides a summary of the BL@Barker strategic plan, designed to facilitate blended learning at Barker College.
Shifting educational ideology The mainstream model of education is a remnant of the industrial revolution of the early 1800s where the objective was to create a system that could prepare large numbers of students for a predictable career in the most economically-efficient way (Toffler, 1980). The majority of these students were expected to fill positions as factory workers, in trades or other careers that required a basic education. Learning was therefore focused on recalling facts rather than understanding content. To achieve this goal, inspiration was drawn from the success of the industrial factory model which favoured efficiency and standardisation (Leland & Kasten, 2002). Students were grouped by age and sometimes gender, placed in a classroom organised into rows of desks and taught a standardised curriculum all at the same pace.
The aim of education today Today we see a vastly different environment. Educational institutions face the challenge of preparing students for a less-certain job market. Indeed, students may find themselves entering careers that did not even exist at the time of their schooling (Frey & Osborne, 2017). In dealing with these circumstances, social and political ideology asks that students are exposed to a deeper and broader education, where students gather, evaluate and understand content and concepts, not only recall information (Kong et al., 2014). Students are required to develop non-cognitive skills and 21st Century competencies like the Four Cs: communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2013). In short, education today is expected to provide learners with the opportunity to unlock and achieve their full potential independently (Prain et al., 2013). The challenge, however, is that this ideological change is fast outpacing systemic change. It is widely recognised that these needs are at odds with a system that was designed to standardise education (Horn & Staker, 2015). In order to meet these new goals, education must therefore shift from the teacher-centred model to a student-centred approach (Adams Becker et al., 2017). Barker Institute Learning in Practice â€˘ 19
Student-centred education Student-centred ideology relies on active and deep learning where students are directly involved and invested in the discovery of their own knowledge. Through collaboration and communication, students engage in experiential learning that is authentic, holistic and challenging. There is increased responsibility and accountability on the part of the student allowing greater autonomy and ownership over their learning. The student is not solely dependent on the teacher; rather, the two parties demonstrate a mutual respect for one another, collaborating and learning together. As a partner in learning, teachers intentionally create organised and cohesive experiences to assist students to make connections to key concepts (Nave, 2015). Student-centred learning encourages a reflexive approach to the teaching and learning process on the part of both teacher and learner (Lea, Stephenson, & Troy, 2003). Through the development of the metacognitive process, students reflect on their thinking in a curriculum and assessment environment built on meaningful performances of understanding in real-world contexts. The challenge for teachers is to adapt this approach into a school environment designed for teacher-centred learning. Horn and Staker (2015) identify a number of relevant issues. First, teachers often juggle to differentiate a lesson to a room full of mixed ability students, while students are left waiting for individual direction and assistance. Second, a student-centred approach is competing with a system that puts the emphasis on time spent in class, rather than mastery of material. To cater for a mixed ability class and meet syllabus expectations, a teacher will find that they must simply move on to the next phase of their program, even if a portion of the students do not fully grasp the content. Finally, in an era where curriculum is expansive and broad, deep learning becomes challenging. These issues can put an enormous strain on both teachers and students (Sandholtz, 1997). Schools that move to a student-centred approach therefore face the challenge of rethinking the core structure of teaching and learning. Rather than adapt the factory style model of education to suit student-centred learning, many schools are leveraging the features of blended learning to transform education practices (Horn & Staker, 2015).
Blended learning In essence, blended learning is an approach that combines the best elements of online learning and face-to-face (F2F) learning (Figure 1), creating an environment that supports and advances student-centred learning.
Figure 1: Blended learning diagram
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In online learning, individual students learn any time, in any place, on any path and at any pace; in F2F learning, students experience fundamentals of social learning theory. Metaanalyses (Bernard, Borokhovski, Schmid, Tamim, & Abrami, 2014; Means, Toyama, Murphy, & Baki, 2013) have shown that student achievement can be considerably higher in blended learning environments when compared either Â to fully F2F or fully online courses. While there are many approaches to blended learning, there is evidence to suggest institutions should craft their own model to fit their unique circumstances and goals (Horn & Staker, 2015; Tan, Yeen-Ju, & Neo, 2015). It is for this reason that in mid-2016, an eLearning committee was established to explore what blended learning can look like at Barker College. Through these meetings, research and consultation, the BL@Barker strategic plan was proposed.
BL@Barker plan The BL@Barker plan is summarised below: 1.
A learner-centred approach remains an overarching theme at Barker College, recognising that learners may include students, teachers and the community.
The school constructs a style of blended learning, adapted from Horn and Stakerâ€™s (2015) flex model. This will define blended learning at Barker College in the following manner: i.
Classes operate in a F2F environment, with sequenced online resources and activities providing a backbone throughout the course.
Where appropriate, the teacher will use online material to provide more flexibility in the style, pace, place and time of individual student learning. Direct instruction continues to play an important role in F2F lessons, but should be strengthened by online content.
iii. F2F lessons should focus on activities where teachers and students initiate projects and discussions to enrich and deepen learning. 3. A BL@Barker model is adopted (Figure 2), allowing teachers to conceptualise the intentions of blended learning and to evaluate current practice. This model is built upon five interrelated concepts: i.
Values: teaching and learning in a blended learning environment should uphold the Barker College values.
Literate: blended learning should indirectly foster digital literacy skills.
iii. Integrated: the use of ICT should enrich the learning experience, providing opportunities that would be otherwise impossible or impractical. These tasks should be integrated within a cohesive online environment. iv. Personalised: where possible, blended learning should seek to personalise the teaching and learning for every learner, allowing some control over time, place and learning style. v.
Authentic: blended learning encourages tasks which challenge learners in real-world contexts, fostering communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking. Barker Institute Learning in Practice â€˘ 21
Figure 2: BL@Barker Model
Description of this environment The BL@Barker plan may be described through a number of components, beginning with the learning management system (LMS). The plan calls for an LMS that is capable of providing an online course approach, whilst allowing integration with related ICTs. It is for this reason that the plan recommends that the current LMS is replaced with a system that fully meets these criteria. Within the LMS, online courses should be structured to present the key learning phases within a unit program. Course pages will be situated within the online course, providing learners with instruction and activities to demonstrate their understanding. Blended learning can be achieved in a number of different types of activities, some of which are listed in Figure 3. Whilst the online course structure will be the backbone of the course, F2F lessons will be essential to add depth, enrichment and ongoing feedback and assessment. Level of Learning
Types of blended learning activities
Creating Designing, constructing, planning, producing, inventing
Programming, filming, animating, video/blogging, mixing, web publishing, webcasting, directing or producing â€“ used to create a film, presentation, story, program, projects, media products, graphic art, vodcast, advertisement, model.
Evaluating Checking, hypothesising, critiquing, experimenting, judging, testing
Debate or panel (using webcasting, web conferencing, online chat or discussion), investing (online tools) and reporting (blog, wiki, presentation), persuasive speech (webcast, web document, mind map-presentation mode), commenting/moderating/reviewing/ posting (discussion forums, blogs, wiki, chat room, twitter) as well as collaborating and networking.
Analysing Comparing, organising, deconstructing, interrogating structuring
Surveying/polling, using databases, relationship mind maps, online SWOT analysis, reporting (online charts, graphing, presentation or web publishing), mashing and meta-tagging.
Applying Implementing, carrying out, using, executing, editing
Simulation games or tasks, editing or developing shared documents (wiki, video and sound tools), interview (eg. making podcast), presentation or demonstration tasks (using web conferencing or online presentation tools), illustration (using online graphic, creative tools).
Understanding Recognising, listing, describing, identifying, retrieving, naming, locating
Building mind maps, blog journaling, wiki(simple page construction), categorising and tagging advanced internet (Boolean) searches, tagging with comments or annotations, discussion forums, show and tell (with audio, video webcasting).
Remembering Recognising, listing, describing, identifying, retrieving, naming, locating
Simple mind maps, flash cards, online quizzes, basic internet searches (fact finding, defining), social bookmarking, Q&A discussion forums, chat, presentations.
Figure 3: Taxonomy of blended learning tasks (Churches, 2008) 22 â€˘ Barker Institute Learning in Practice
Benefits of BL@Barker Teaching and learning at Barker currently occupies the space between and including F2F and blended learning (see Figure 1). This means that learners may encounter entirely F2F classes, F2F supported by eLearning, as well as blended learning. The BL@Barker plan first and foremost aims to provide a unified vision for the way ICT is used to improve the teaching and learning experience. Once blended learning is embedded into the Barker infrastructure, a number of correlated benefits will come into play:
Visibility: Learning will be made visible, allowing students to see their learning sequence and pathway anywhere, any time (Horn & Staker, 2015). Learners absent from F2F lessons for a period of time may continue to advance through the online component of the course, minimising disruption.
Interaction: Teachers will develop deeper connections with learners as more time can be dedicated to F2F discussions, individual instruction and applications of content (Krause, 2007; Stevens, 2016).
Personalisation: Learners can have greater control of the time, place, pace and style of learning, allowing a more personalised learning experience (Leana, 2011; Ronfeldt, Farmer, McQueen & Grissom, 2015). Learners will benefit from having time to view, review and revise content at their own pace (Hew & Cheung, 2014; Song, & Kapur, 2017).
Mastery, extension, enrichment and learning support: Mastery paths can be activated, directing students to relevant content and assessment based on their level of understanding, ensuring learners advance once an understanding of content has been established (Hattie, 2009; Horn & Staker, 2015). Individual extension, enrichment and learning support can all be factored into this environment.
Assessment and goal setting: Teachers can manage formative and summative assessment through the blended learning environment, allowing learners to track their growth and formulate associated learning goals, guided by research around the growth mindset model (Dweck, 2010; Masters, 2013), and formative assessment (Black & Wiliam, 2009).
Analytics: Teachers will have access to powerful analytics that can be used to identify individual student needs, or to evaluate the effectiveness of teaching strategies.
Cohesion: Learners will experience a more cohesive online environment, where content, tools, and tasks are seamlessly integrated into the learning sequence. Learners and teachers will save time and avoid frustration when accessing and distributing resources, providing opportunities for a deeper exploration of content. Overarching instructional design will also allow learners to have a clear understanding of course requirements and writing structure, whilst creating a common language for teachers across the campus (for example, the way writing strategies are delivered), placed within the structure of the chosen approach to learning (for example, TfU or PYP).
Collaboration: Online courses foster collaboration amongst teachers of a course, where the best resources for each lesson may be shared within the faculty (Jokinen & Mikkonen, 2013). Additionally, teachers, learners and the wider community may be given access to online courses, where appropriate, allowing a collaboration that transcends time and place, and may provide more authentic learning experiences. Barker Institute Learning in Practice • 23
Flexibility: Teachers will be granted greater flexibility to work with individuals and groups as required, drawing on the power of the LMS to manage individual learning paths. Learning can occur in both traditional and non-traditional physical learning spaces.
Digital literacy: Teachers and learners will be indirectly learning digital literacy and digital citizenship through blended learning activities.
Professional learning: Teachers can complete professional learning and development through internal or external blended learning courses. This can be used to engage teachers in target areas for the School, such as the chosen approaches to learning or the Writing Across the School (WATS) and formative assessment programs.
Conclusion The BL@Barker plan provides the community of Barker College with a clear educational vision for implementing blended learning: to provide authentic learning experiences for every learner, every day. The BL@Barker model places an emphasis on authentic and personalised learning experiences, combining 21st century skills and learner-centred approaches. The model ties into the Barker approaches to learning as well as other significant trends such as formative assessment, writing and growth mindset. The model can be used to assess any learning activity and provide a target for teachers in their delivery of content. Finally, this plan urges innovation in content delivery, assessment and feedback, advising educators to ensure each learner is empowered, informed and prepared for their future.
References Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Davis, A., Freeman, A., Hall Giesinger, C., and Ananthanarayanan, V. (2017). NMC Horizon Report: 2017 Higher Education Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium. Bernard, R. M., Borokhovski, E., Schmid, R. F., Tamim, R. M., & Abrami, P. C. (2014). A metaanalysis of blended learning and technology use in higher education: From the general to the applied. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 26(1), 87-122. doi:10.1007/s12528013-9077-3 Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (2009). Developing the theory of formative assessment. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability, 21(1), 5. Churches, A. (2008). Bloom’s digital taxonomy. Available at: http://edorigami.wikispaces. com/file/view/bloom%27s+Digital+taxonomy+v3.01.pdf Dweck, C. S. (2010). Even geniuses work hard. Educational Leadership, 68(1), 16-20. Frey, C. B., & Osborne, M. A. (2017). The future of employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerisation? Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 114, 254-280. doi:10.1016/j. techfore.2016.08.019 Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. London: New York: Routledge. Hew, K. F., & Cheung, W. S. (2014). Using blended learning: Evidence-based practices. Singapore: Springer Singapore. Horn, M. B., & Staker, H. (2015). Blended: Using disruptive innovation to improve schools. John Wiley & Sons. 24 • Barker Institute Learning in Practice
Jokinen, P., & Mikkonen, I. (2013). Teachers’ experiences of teaching in a blended learning environment. Nurse Education in Practice, 13(6), 524-528. doi:10.1016/j.nepr.2013.03.014 Kong, S. C., Chan, T., Griffin, P., Hoppe, U., Huang, R., Kinshuk, Institutionen för medieteknik (ME). (2014). E-learning in school education in the coming 10 years for developing 21st century skills: Critical research issues and policy implications. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 17(1), 70. Krause, K. (2007). Griffith University Blended Learning strategy. Document number 2008/0016252. Lea, S. J., Stephenson, D., & Troy, J. (2003). Higher education students’ attitudes to studentcentred learning: beyond ‘educational bulimia’?. Studies in higher education, 28(3), 321-334. Leana, C. R. (2011). The missing link in school reform. Stanford Social Innovation Review, 9(4), 30-35. Leland, C. H., & Kasten, W. C. (2002). literacy education for the 21st century: It’s time to close the factory. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 18(1), 5-15. doi:10.1080/105735602753386315 Masters, G. N., & Australian Council for Educational Research. (2013). Reforming educational assessment: Imperatives, principles and challenges. Camberwell, Victoria: Australian Council for Educational Research. Means, B., Toyama, Y., Murphy, R., & Baki, M. (2013). The effectiveness of online and blended learning: A meta-analysis of the empirical literature. Teachers College Record, 115(3), 1-47. Nave, B. (2015). Student-centered learning: Nine classrooms in action. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard Education Press. Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2013). 21st century student outcomes. Retrieved from http://www.p21.org/storage/documents/P21_Framework_Definitions.pdf Prain, V., Cox, P., Deed, C., Dorman, J., Edwards, D., Farrelly, C., Yager, Z. (2013). Personalised learning: Lessons to be learnt. British Educational Research Journal, 39(4), 1-23. doi:10.1080/ 01411926.2012.669747 Ronfeldt, M., Farmer, S. O., McQueen, K., & Grissom, J. A. (2015). Teacher collaboration in instructional teams and student achievement. American Educational Research Journal, 52(3), 475-514. Sandholtz, J. H. (1997). Teaching with technology: Creating student-centered classrooms. Teachers College Press, Teachers College, Columbia University, 1234 Amsterdam Ave., New York, NY 10027. Song, Y., & Kapur, M. (2017). How to flip the classroom – “Productive failure or traditional flipped classroom” pedagogical design? Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 20(1), 292-305. Stevens, M. (2016). Space for all: Middle level students in blended learning environments. Voices from the Middle, 24(2), 50. Tan, H., Yeen-Ju, & Neo, M. (2015). Exploring the use of authentic learning strategies in designing blended learning environments. Journal of Science & Technology Policy Management, 6(2), pp. 127-142. doi:10.1108/JSTPM-01-2015-0004 Toffler, A. (1980). The third wave. New York, NY: Bantam Books. Barker Institute Learning in Practice • 25
Redefining the Senior School to Promote Independent Learning through eTime
Learning in Practice 2017 Vol. 1 (1) © Barker Institute 2017
J R von Einem Director of Academic Performance
Abstract How should Barker College best prepare students for post-school education? Are the current structures within the Senior School appropriate to produce students who can be independent learners and thinkers, students with good skills in research, communication and collaboration, able to face the challenges and demands of tertiary study as well as be positive contributors to the global community? It is also clear that good executive functioning skills (ability to prioritise work, manage time, self-regulate, organise, set goals and plan) are essential to success in and beyond school. This paper investigates an approach to promote independent learning and improve executive functioning skills in Year 10 students using a program called eTime.
The Barker Senior School is designed (and advertised) as a ‘bridge to university’ and, as such, the pastoral care system exists where the Tutor is each of their student’s ‘critical friend’ and guide through the latter years of their secondary schooling. In the same way, the relationship between teacher and student evolves as each student progresses through the school to be a less formal one and more of a facilitator of student learning rather than a more traditional didactic approach. It is appropriate that our approach be re-examined from time to time. There were a considerable number of comments made by staff to the Education and Care domain working group of the 2014 Strategic Plan primarily requesting that the School investigate ways to make students more independent in, and responsible for, their own learning. Recent conversations between Senior staff and representatives from the tertiary sector have also supported developing an approach that leads to greater independence. Anecdotally, it is suggested that while independent schools appear to elicit much from their students in terms of results and hence improve their chances in securing university places, once at university, students revert to their own natural abilities with many struggling with the demands of higher education. By building greater skills in working independently at secondary school, Barker can prepare its students for tertiary study better. Over 85% of Barker students progress to university. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the School to prepare its students for this transition.
eTime Commencing in Year 10 in Term 1, 2015, non-practical core courses were taught as usual, but one period per fortnight was reserved for a tutorial system called eTime. Class teachers (or academic departments) set work to be completed by students in these tutorial periods. Students were randomly assigned to a tutorial group that was indicated on their timetable
26 • Barker Institute Learning in Practice
for each of these subjects. Students were responsible for deciding what work was to be completed in each such session. The classroom teacher, initially on a fortnightly basis, would sign off on completed work. Students were responsible for when they completed work and in what order. Students would access work through the School Portal (work would be placed in the learning management system at the start of each teaching cycle). A factor to consider at that time was the ability of the School’s wireless internet system to cope with increased demands. It is was also important that the work set by individual teachers or departments was seen as meaningful work that helped to facilitate the understanding and development of the student. As students were the arbiters of which piece of work was completed and when, they decided the priority of each piece of work. It was hoped that over time, assessment work, homework and tutorial work would blur into just ‘work’, as tutorial work would be seen as instrumental to their understanding of course outcomes. Practical classes already had a significant project-based approach and so these were excluded from this program. The program included all non-practical, core classes that had at least a 6 period per fortnight exposure. The expected gain arising from this programme was a greater independence of students in managing their learning. Students had a greater say in how they completed work and therefore increased control in their learning. It was expected that some students would flourish under this approach, while others might require more initial support. Some students would fail at being able to plan and prioritise tasks and this is an important phase of their development. Students should be able to fail. On the other hand, some staff had difficulty coming to terms with slightly less control of the content and learning and teaching processes. Some staff and departments found that their work was not being completed as students appeared not to find it meaningful to their understanding of course work. There was an iterative process in the first year while departments adjusted to the nature and scope of their work in preparing students better. Tutors were not responsible for following up on students who did not complete tutorial work. Departments needed to think why students had chosen not to complete their work. For example, was it a problem with the work not being meaningful enough to the student? Similarly, teachers should not have spent the next period of regular class time going through the work in great detail or re-teaching the work because they felt students had not sufficiently grasped the material. This would mean a nett loss of teaching time from the overall program and this would be unsustainable. Again, this lead to a rethink of the type of work given to students. The program allowed for academic departments to set different types of tasks such as making use of the ‘flipped classroom’ through online preparatory lectures, inquiry-based learning opportunities and other imaginative uses of digital content. More traditional work such as practice work, drill and review work and making summaries also formed part of tutorial work. It was hoped that another benefit was the way in which a student views the teaching staff. As teaching staff were involved in supervising tutorial groups, students sought assistance from these staff when completing work. This allowed staff to see what work is completed in other departments (and possibly better inform their own teaching) and this also enabled students to see staff not as holders of all knowledge, but people who helped explain instructions and suggest ideas without necessarily knowing or giving the answers. This can help the studentteacher relationship. Barker Institute Learning in Practice • 27
In 2015 this program was open to Year 10 only and the aim was to extend it to Years 11 and 12 in 2016. Students would be designated a tutorial room for each tutorial period (and be in almost randomly designated groups), but over time some students who had demonstrated an ability to work responsibly could be allowed to work in other areas of the School. On the other hand, students with less developed executive functioning skills could attend learning support during these times so they could be taught more explicitly. It was decided not to extend the program to Year 11 and 12 at this stage. This would be ‘the way that the Senior School operates at Barker’. The Senior School is not a bridge to university in name only, but also in how it functions.
Feedback and Reflection Over the two-year period (2015 – 2016), much research went into what worked and what did not work with eTime. Students and staff were surveyed multiple times to determine what material seemed to work well as well as attitudes to the program. The attitudes were mixed. Some students really appreciated the opportunity to decide which work they did and when. Occasionally, they used eTime periods to study for upcoming assessment tasks and did their eTime work at home. This was an excellent use of eTime. These were generally the students who already had good executive functioning skills. However, many students did not have a positive attitude towards eTime. Students were concerned about the amount of work that was given to them in eTime. This was a fair criticism as we initially instructed staff to provide at least an hour’s worth of work for the hour-long eTime period. On reflection, a student in a classroom with a more teacher-centred approach would be passive for most of the time and the amount of written work might be very small. This was being substituted by an hour of written work, which led to a negative attitude towards eTime. Students at schools such as Barker are used to very directed lessons where the teacher ‘does most of the work’ and students passively absorb the material without the responsibility for deciding what they have to do and when. They simply do what they are told. This can be a comforting arrangement for the lower to middle ability student. However, the higher ability student can find this approach limiting and frustrating. Students thought the ‘best’ eTime work was that which directly related to what was going on in class, and hence they saw its relevance. Feedback from staff was also mixed. There were some staff who changed how they taught to fit the program. Many had concerns that work was simply not being completed. Teachers with a more traditional approach were sceptical about the ability of the student to learn anything without their direct guidance. Information about students’ concerns was fed back to Heads of Department, particularly about the type and nature of work set. At the end of 2016 it was decided to make some changes to eTime. This involved changing the two-week cycle of sending out and then returning work to a shorter timeframe. This allowed staff to link the eTime work better with what was occurring in class. Staff were encouraged not to call specific work ‘eTime work’, so that class, eTime and homework would all be things that could be considered as just ‘work’ and thus could be completed in eTime periods at the student’s direction. Surveys in 2017 have suggested that this has made a positive impact on the attitude of students towards eTime. Preliminary data shows that our aims are beginning to be fulfilled.
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Developing Hearts & Minds through Philosophical Instruction: A short review of the Hearts & Minds Program in 2016-2017.
Learning in Practice 2017 Vol. 1 (1) © Barker Institute 2017
Dr Matthew Hill Developer of Hearts and Minds Research
Abstract A key element of the Hearts & Minds program at Barker College has been the development of thinking skills that students can utilise in the classroom and beyond. After assessing three pilot programs in Semester 2 of 2016 the Hearts & Minds program has expanded to consist of year-long courses in the areas of Philosophy & Rhetoric for Year 9 students, and Philosophical Discussion for Year 7 students. These have sought to develop students’ discussion skills, metacognitive skills, deeper thinking, logical thinking, and independent thinking. Review of existing programs will inform continued growth in 2018.
Introduction In the middle of 2016 the teaching staff at Barker College were presented the 2016-2018 vision of the Hearts & Minds program at Barker. The vision presented was that students would develop a skill set, to strengthen participation in regular classrooms, producing thinking at its best in school and beyond. As a response, the teaching staff were asked to reply online by completing the sentence “A thinking skill that I would like my students to be trained in is…”. Most of the 72 responses could be categorised in one or more of five groups including discussion skills (26 responses), metacognitive skills (15), deeper thinking (15), logical thinking (15), and independent thinking (8). To target each of these areas it was appropriate for the Hearts & Minds program to initially focus on Philosophy Education.
Philosophical Instruction I see philosophy as “reflective critical enquiry” (Grayling, 2009, pviii). Philosophy Education is based on proposing questions which “(a) lack answers, (b) lack decision procedures for finding such answers, and (c) nevertheless deal with issues that students find intensely meaningful” (Lipman, 2014, p.13). Therefore participation in philosophical activities requires students to develop critical thinking that is both deep and logical (Winstanley, 2009). When students seek to answer philosophical questions in community they learn how their discussion skills can be improved (Fischer, 2009) and are required to provide independent thought (Winstanley, 2009). As students are asked to reflect on their own thinking they are engaging in a metacognitive process. In this way Philosophical Instruction develops the skills that the Barker College hope that the Hearts & Minds program may provide for their students.
Barker Institute Learning in Practice • 29
2016 pilot programs Therefore, through the rest of 2016 there were 32 staff members who were trained in teaching philosophical material through three pilot programs. •
Philosophy & Happiness – 4 weeks of 30 minute lessons with Year 7 students which heavily emphasised philosophical discussion skills while considering the emotions associated with happiness. This was taught by the 16 Year 7 house associates who each support a small group of approximately 12 students.
Philosophy & Rhetoric – 8 one-hour lessons with Year 9 students which taught persuasion through the framework of Aristotelian rhetoric and applying it to various academic and social situations. I taught most of these lessons assisted by two other members of staff.
Philosophy & Society – A collaboration with the Christian Studies department where 3 one-hour Hearts & Minds lessons were delivered in the Year 12 Christian Studies classroom exploring different worldviews.
Each of these pilots was a success. While there was still room for development and teachers were able to identify individual activities that could be refined or didn’t meet the stated purposes, there were many elements that really excited teachers and students. Work samples and surveys of teachers and students revealed that the pilots met many of the desired aims. This also ensured that there were opportunities for feedback and reflection in order to develop the pilots as they became year-long programs in 2017.
2017 Philosophical Instruction programs at Barker College – expanding programs and involving staff In 2017 the Hearts & Minds Program facilitated Philosophical Instruction through two yearlong programs. These included a course on Philosophical Discussion with Year 7 students and Philosophy & Rhetoric with Year 9 students. (It is worth noting that there has been continual involvement in the Christian Studies program, as philosophical discussions involving wrestling with ideas and offering a personal response are fundamental to the way that Christian Studies is taught at Barker, however at this stage it is beyond the scope of this paper.) For these year-long programs to be implemented new content needed to be developed and a team of staff members from around the School was recruited for the development process. This also required greater staff involvement in teaching. Therefore, by the end of the first semester of 2017 there has been almost 50 staff who have been trained in techniques of Philosophical Instruction in the year since July 2016. Year 9 Philosophy & Rhetoric Philosophy & Rhetoric is all about persuasion. Students are to reflect on why some arguments come across as more convincing than others and consider Aristotle’s three modes of rhetoric as a framework. The purpose is not only that they may be more persuasive themselves when participating in class discussions and examination responses for any school subject, but that they may also be able to better assess arguments presented to them in the classroom or beyond such that they may ensure that they are being persuaded towards ideas that are true and meaningful. The specific knowledge and skill outcomes are presented in figure 1. Based on these objectives it is clear that this course promotes every category of thinking skill requested by the Barker staff in 2016 especially discussion skills, metacognition, and logical thinking.
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Knowledge and Understading Outcomes
Students develops knowledge and understanding about -
The Student -
1. Various features of a convincing argument
P1 discusses why some arguments are more convincing than others P2 identifies features that make an argument convincing
2. How logos, pathos and ethos contribute to the persuasiveness of an argument
P3 describes the factors contributing to the success or failure of logic in an argument P4 demonstrates how appealing to emotions in an argument can persuade a listener to take action P5 discusses the importance of the character or status of the author in relation to the persuasiveness of an argument
3. The function and tole of arguments at school and in daily life
P6 discusses various situations where the need for persuasiveness arises P7 explores whether using persuasion techniques is ethical in various circumstances
The students develops skills to -
The Student -
4. Communicate information in a manner that is persuasive to the audience.
P8 practices simple communication tasks utilising specific rhetorical skills
5. Engage with various points of view in a meaningful manner
P9 develops arguments supporting points of view that they may not hold themselves P10 practises discernment when listening to the ideas of others in the class or various texts.
6. Use rhetoric in academic, professional, and social situations
P11 applies rhetorical concepts appropriately in sections of essay and short answer academic tasks P12 applies rhetorical concepts appropriately in speech writing
Figure 1: Year 9 Philosophy & Rhetoric course objectives and outcomes
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A particular strength of the 2017 course was that rather than only having one person developing the course and three people involved in teaching it, there were 12 staff involved in resourcing or teaching the course. The 12 staff represented eight different subject departments including English, Music, IT, Mathematics, Science, Design, Commercial Studies, and Library Services. Each student had one teacher, however the diversity of the teaching team provided a richness to the overall Year 9 student experience where all students have made progress in each of the outcomes but each class in slightly different manners. The teaching team met regularly and will conduct a review at the end of 2017 using student work samples and survey data to ensure that the optimal learning experience is offered to the 2018 cohort and beyond. The 2017 course had strong links to content studied by year 9 students in English and Commerce and links to content from other subjects is an area that will continue to be explored. Year 7 Philosophical Discussion In 2017 the focus of the year 7 course was on developing skills in the area of philosophical discussion (discussion being the most popular category of thinking skill requested by the teaching staff in 2016). While the topics of the three modules ranged from important psychological issues of happiness, identity, and relationships, the teaching team were instructed that the topics were to be seen as stimulus for cultivating helpful discussion habits. To this end, every lesson was to include some explicit reference to a set of five philosophical discussion rules that were presented in the format of an A3 colour poster (figure 2). These rules are a slight modification of a set of discussion rules advocated for by the Federation of Australasian Philosophy in Schools Associations (FAPSA).
Pay attention to the person who is speaking Give other people a chance to speak Speak to other students rather than to the teacher Build upon other peoplesâ€™ ideas No put-downs
Figure 2: The five discussion rules that provided the framework and objectives of the year 7 Philosophical Discussion course. 32 â€˘ Barker Institute Learning in Practice
After each module the teachers have been asked to provide feedback on their studentsâ€™ progress and particularly to what extent they were adhering to the discussion rules. Teachers have reported that the lessons are challenging but exciting. They have suggested that some students find the discussion exercises difficult but that these skills that they are developing are not unattainable, rather that they will just take time. Regarding how often students are demonstrating adherence to the discussion rules, the results are presented in figure 3.
Students adherance (5 = Always)
To what extent students are following the discussion rules during Module 1 and 2
5 4 3 2 1
Pay attention to the person who is speaking
Give other people a chance to speak
Speak to other students rather than the teacher
Build upon other peopleâ€™s ideas
No put downs
Figure 3: Teacher survey responses at the completion of each module detailing how often the students displayed adherence to the discussion rules. Teachers responded on a scale of 1-5 where 5 = Always: >95% of the time, 4 = Consistently: 80-90% of the time, 3 = Usually: 60-80% of the time, 2 = Sometimes: 25-60% of the time, 1 = Rarely <25% of the time. This scale of measurement is used for other Barker reporting systems.
Figure 3 shows that most of the rules are being followed around 60-80% of the time. This is encouraging about the ability of the year 7 students to participate in discussion. It is also clear that students have been following every one of the rules more of the time during the second module than during the first indicating that students are growing in their discussion skills. There is still room for growth. At the time of writing this paper the third module on relationships is yet to be completed and therefore there is only data from teachers from the first two modules of 2017. By the end of the year there will be one more set of data from the teachers and the data will be able to be compared with survey responses from students.
Barker Institute Learning in Practice â€˘ 33
Conclusion Based on data collected from teachers and students, and three pilot programs in 2016, the Hearts & Minds program has been able to implement year-long courses of Philosophical Inquiry targeting skills essential for the classroom and beyond. Since the middle of 2016 there have been almost 50 staff members and approximately 1150 students involved in the Hearts & Minds programs at Barker. Analysis of data from 2017 will allow for continued refinement of how Barker may best be developing the Hearts & Minds of every one of its students in the years to come.
References Fischer, R. (2009). Philosophical Intelligence: Why Philosophical Dialogue is Important in Educating the Mind. Philosophy in schools, (pp. 96-104). Continuum International Publishing Group. London Greyling, A. (2009). Forward. Philosophy in schools, (viii-ix). Continuum International Publishing Group. London Lipman, M. (2014). The Educational Role of Philosophy (with a new commentary by Phillip Cam). Journal of Philosophy in Schools, 1(1). Winstanley, C. (2009). Philosophy and the development of critical thinking. Philosophy in schools, (pp. 85-95). Continuum International Publishing Group. London
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Establishing our Darkinjung Barker Reading Programmes Learning in Practice 2017 Vol. 1 (1) © Barker Institute 2017
Michele Studd Head of Learning Support
Abstract The opening of our Darkinjung Baker Campus was met with great excitement and anticipation. In the first few weeks of Term 1, students and staff were busily getting to know each other, daily routines were being established, learning approaches were being formalised and the process of assessing each of our students’ reading strengths and areas of need had begun. The results of these assessments provided staff with a clear direction for the focus that our reading program needed to take. This information guided the design we adopted for both our class and homework reading programs. This paper provides an overview of the assessment tools used, the reading data highlighted by these assessments, along with the approach we adopted and types of activities we incorporated into our programs. Throughout this first year, our reading programs have continued to be fine-tuned as our students’ reading needs have changed. The end-ofyear testing results have highlighted that our students have made good progress with their reading skills. These positive results have been very encouraging, but each staff member recognises that it is vital that we continue to monitor our students’ reading performance closely and make ongoing changes to our programs. Student: Hi, my name is Allan and I love to read. Interviewer: What books do you like to read? Student: “Sam” and “On the Mat” (proudly holding up the class readers). Interviewer: What is your favourite book? Student: “Pig the Elf” (a book from the Books in Home programme). Interviewer: Why is it your favourite? Student: Because it is so, so funny.
This interview was recorded at the completion of the first year of operation of our Darkinjung Barker reading program. This student’s pride in his developing reading skills along with his growing love of books is in total contrast to his attitude to reading at the beginning of the year. At the beginning of the year, he, like some of his other classmates, appeared to have little interest in books and reading. The reading program we have developed and implemented is informed by ongoing teacher observations and assessment data. It aims to develop and strengthen each of our student’s reading skills, to foster their love of books and reading and to develop their confidence, allowing them to see themselves as readers.
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Initial assessment – The Five Keys to Reading While our initial reading skills assessments highlighted that some of our students had scored ‘at’ or ‘above’ grade level, what was of great concern were the significant reading skill gaps possessed by many of our students. A range of curriculum-based measures and standardised tests was selected to assess the students’ reading strengths and areas that required further development. The specific skill areas being assessed were focused around the essential components of a quality literacy program. These reading components include: phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, reading fluency and comprehension. In addition, spelling assessments for the older students and Concepts of Print assessments for the younger students were completed. Analysis of the assessment data provided us with a clear programming direction. In general terms, our students’ perceptions of themselves as readers was poor: self-efficacy levels were low and a common response in attempting to read a ‘difficult’ word or being asked to answer, in some cases, even a literal level comprehension question was simply to say: “I don’t know”. This response was often instantaneous. It appeared that the students did not possess, nor could effectively access a bank of strategies either to decode a word or search a text to find the answer to a comprehension question. A number of the students also found it challenging to sustain their focus and to even attempt to read what they perceived as being too long. In one case, a student refused to attempt to read even one word from a short paragraph of writing given to him. The student’s immediate response was “that’s too much”. Encouragement by the assessor for the student to “have a go” was met with a determined, “NO, I don’t want to!” Our programs needed to address a broad range of literacy skill areas as well as foster and increase each student’s reading engagement and self-efficacy. In terms of our students’ ability to decode words successfully, we needed to develop and strengthen their phonological awareness skills (ability to hear and manipulate sounds) in conjunction with their phonics knowledge. We needed to model and teach comprehension skills explicitly and to develop our students’ vocabulary knowledge. We had to create opportunities for each of our students to engage in and practise their reading regularly.
Fostering a love of reading As the year began we realised that it was vital that our students were provided with daily opportunities to engage with reading. Generous donations ensured that we could surround the students with books. Daily book readings by the students’ teachers as well as visitors provided our students with rich and enjoyable opportunities to engage with reading. It has been heartwarming to see the increasing levels of engagement and enjoyment in reading across all of our students. Book reading sessions are now characterised by class choral responses to repeated rhyming lines within a story, students offering character/story predictions, asking questions and finding detail and, of course, lots of laughing and giggling!
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Our reading programmes Our reading programmes have continued to develop throughout the year, designed to address our students’ learning needs and to target their reading gaps. The programs have operated using either a whole-class or small-group approach. In addition, for some of the older students who have required targeted intensive support, individual programs have been implemented to supplement other elements of their reading programme. Our daily reading group sessions are comprised of a range of activities. Systematic phonics instruction along with explicit phonemic awareness activities are key and distinct components of our reading program. The scope and sequence of the letter sound as well as phonological awareness skills’ introduction has been determined by the Jolly Phonics Programme and the English K-10 Syllabus. The younger students learn, identify and read/write letter sounds (and the Jolly Phonics’ actions that match the sound) during each session. Students are engaged in a range of word blending and segmenting tasks. They particularly enjoy our ‘Action Hero’ activity where they have to blend/segment the sounds of secret words. Structured book reading sessions provide opportunities to build vocabulary and comprehension skills as well as to strengthen the students’ phonological awareness skills. Students also have multiple opportunities to practise their reading using our phonic-based readers. The older students complete their phonics and phonemic awareness activities in conjunction with their spelling activities. Differentiated and targeted weekly spelling lists/activities are used in small groups. The structured whole-class reading sessions provide the opportunity to reinforce and develop vocabulary as well as the students’ comprehension skills. The students have been taught to use the 4H reading comprehension strategy to allow them to search for information actively. Students also practise their reading throughout the day in their reading groups as well as during peer and buddy reading times. A group of the older students also complete individual reading program lessons to supplement their class based programs.
End-of-year testing The end-of-year testing highlighted that our students have made good growth in all aspects (accuracy, fluency and comprehension) of their reading and in their spelling. They are now far more willing to ‘have a go’ and to engage with texts/words directly. The students were able to apply a range of active reading skills (including re-reading and think-and-search skills) to answer their comprehension questions. This was in stark contrast to the typical student response (“I don’t know’) at the beginning of the year. In the end-of-year spelling test, students were checking back over their words and sounding them out to make sure they were correct. One student, excitedly under their breath, commented: “I know this” when one of the spelling words was read out. Another student, who at the beginning of the year only attempted one of the test spelling words and then refused to go on, attempted over 50 words in the end-of-year test. The confidence levels of each of our students has also risen significantly – they now see themselves as readers. Comments such as “I’m a good reader now”, “Mr Shack, are we doing reading now? I love reading” and “Can I read to you now?” affirm and highlight the students’ pride and growing confidence in their newly-acquired reading skills.
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References Hempenstall, K. ‘Read about it: Scientific evidence for effective teaching of reading’, The Centre for Independent Studies, accessed 17 November 2016, <https://www.cis.org.au/ publications/research-reports/read-about-it-scientific-evidence-for-effective-teaching-ofreading/>. Moats, L. Whole-Language High Jinks. How to Tell When “Scientifically-Based Reading Instruction” Isn’t, Thomas B. Fordham Institute, accessed 17 January 2017, <https:// edexcellence.net/publications/wholelanguage.html>. Moats, L. (2010). Speech to Print Language Essentials for Teachers, 2nd edn, Paul H. Brookes, Baltimore, Maryland. Overview of phonological and graphological processing skills K–6 n.d., NSW Education Standards’ Authority, accessed 10 November 2016, <http://syllabus.nesa.nsw.edu.au/ assets/global/files/english_k6_asm1.pdf>. Reading Doctor. How Do Children Learn to Read? accessed 12 January 2017, <http://www. readingdoctor.com.au/how-do-children-learn-to-read>.
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History as Argument Kathryn Driver Assistant Coordinator of History
Learning in Practice 2017 Vol. 1 (1) © Barker Institute 2017
Abstract At its heart, history is an argument. It involves generating an inquiry worth pursuing, researching divergent accounts of the past, developing a thesis and substantiating it with evidence. In my History classes, we have been using various approaches to hone the art of the argument by deciding on and defending issues of significance, conducting debates, putting historical figures on trial and using a spectrum to make judgements. An aim of these activities is to ensure an argument becomes the foundation of students’ written work. However, learning to make reasoned arguments also has intrinsic value as a touchstone of a democratic society.
The Art of the Argument The genesis of an argument lies with a question. It is appropriate that a teacher develops questions that will assist students to make judgements about the past. It is perhaps more beneficial that students have the opportunity to develop their own questions. Hence, in my Year 11 Modern History class, after a number of weeks studying the Romanovs, students were required to develop and answer a question about the Romanovs that we had not yet explored. Developing these questions was instructive in itself as it enabled students to understand how to pursue an astute line of inquiry. The topic was not the key to generating meaningful research, the question was. As Grossman notes, “Having abandoned two generations ago the notion that legitimate historical inquiry focuses mainly on high diplomacy, ideas, politics, and culture, we now tell our students that any subject can be an object of useful research. What matters is less the propriety of the topic than the acuity of the question [my emphasis]” (2015). In order to respond to a question and develop theories about the past, students need to conduct research. Arguments are never conducted for the argument’s sake. Instead, they are developed to draw sound conclusions based on where the weight of the evidence lies. It is one of the great boons of thinking historically that it trains a student not to make uniformed claims, but to research and consider multiple strands of thought before deciding on a point of view. Indeed, “the fact that any historian worth his salt reached conclusions based on the evidence found, rather than reaching a conclusion and then searching for evidence to support it, seemed to be one of the strengths that marked doing History out as being a very worthwhile activity” (Randall, 1999). When my Year 11 students conducted research on the Romanovs, they were encouraged and assisted wherever possible to consider divergent views found in contemporary and recent accounts, among Russian and Western historians, among supporters and critics of the Tsar. Analysis of contrasting accounts allowed students to appreciate the fact that history involves contention and interpretation, and that some accounts were more trustworthy than others. This assisted them to make their own judgements.
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Establishing a strong thesis statement enables students to develop and structure an argument. A thesis statement could be the observation that ‘Alexei’s haemophilia contributed significantly to the fall of the Tsar’. A strong thesis statement could be the claim that ‘Alexei’s haemophilia contributed significantly to the fall of the Tsar because it took his focus away from the business of ruling.’ This thesis is better because it posits a claim, is able to be extended and defended and inspires further thought or even counter-claims. Based on careful analysis of the research, a thesis statement needs to be supported by evidence. Evidence should, in fact, both fuel and furnish an argument. This is not a static process. Students should always have the opportunity to revise their stance as they continue to discover, analyse and interpret the evidence. The final stage in the development of an argument is its delivery. In my Year 11 class, I allowed students to present the fruits of their inquiry about the Romanovs as they saw fit. The important aspect was not the trappings of an entertaining presentation (although delivery is not unimportant), as much as it was the validity and substance of the argument. Students were also subject to questions from their peers to test the depth of their understanding and enable them to change their mind based on challenges to their position.
The Argument in a History Classroom The development of an argument in such a prescribed manner does not always happen in a History classroom. However, activities that help students construct arguments do. A regular feature of our History classrooms are discussions of significance. In order to determine significance, students need to make judgements and consider other points of view. A way of equipping students to do this is to ask them to select or rank events according to their significance, to defend their decision and to change their position if necessary:
When my Year 10 class examined the rights and freedoms of Iindigenous Australians, I asked them to consider the fundamental significance of the 1967 Rreferendum. I listed four possible options and asked students to hold up the number of fingers that corresponded to the option they had chosen. They were required to justify their choice to the class and, after listening to the arguments made by other students, could revise their selection.
My Year 12 Modern History students explored the power struggle between Stalin and Trotsky for control of the USSR. We made a list of reasons for Stalin’s success and I asked students to choose the one they believed was most significant. We listed the four reasons most students identified and those who were prepared to defend a reason stood together in one corner of the room. Each ‘corner’ had the opportunity to persuade others of their point of view. At the end of the activity, students could move to the corner that was most convincing.
Debates can be used to further students’ understanding of significance. They can also equip students to make judgements beyond significance as they debate issues of effectiveness, responsibility, justice and motivation.
In Year 11 Modern History we studied the contentious origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. We looked at a timeline of occupation and read various claims to the land of Israel so that we could have an informed debate about whether the Arabs, Jews or an external power had more right to this territory. This prompted discussion about what constituted
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a valid claim and helped students to understand that ingrained and incompatible views prolonged the conflict.
In Year 12 Modern History, we utilised debates frequently to decide whether the Treaty of Versailles was too harsh, whether War Was Communism was introduced in the USSR for practical or ideological reasons, whether Lenin, Stalin or the secret police was most responsible for the terror that gripped the USSR in the 1930s, whether the decisions in the Nuremberg Trials that followed World War Two were justified or victor’s justice. These debates were particularly useful for students who would need to develop and substantiate written arguments under time pressure.
Putting historical characters on trial was another method I used to enable students to develop arguments about the past. These trials assisted students to rely on evidence to prosecute or defend the actions of particular individuals. They also compelled the students to understand that an argument depends on perspective and context:
As a culminating activity at the conclusion to our study of JFK, four of my Year 10 History students were asked to assume the characters of LBJ, Dulles, Castro and Khrushchev to be put on trial for JFK’s assassination. The focus here was not on the classic question of ‘Who killed JFK?’ but on what motivations these men would have to arrange the assassination in the context of a powerful CIA and an entrenched Cold War. Other students played the part of eyewitnesses, prosecution team, defence team, judge and jury. After listening to the conflicting accounts, to historical evidence, condemnations and justifications, the jury decided who was ultimately responsible for JFK’s demise.
Debates and trials push students in many instances to assume a pre-determined point of view. There are other approaches that enable students to see judgements as malleable and nuanced, including the use of a spectrum. A spectrum gives students a visual understanding of the nature of arguments beyond the black and white.
In Year 11 Modern History, we overtly consider the usefulness and reliability of sources. When we studied the origins of the Arab-Israeli conflict, I distributed a variety of sources from various perspectives and contexts and asked students to stand on a spectrum to indicate how useful and reliable each source was. Students were asked to justify their position on the spectrum, they could adjust their position after reflection and discussion, and they could visually see that judgements about evidence could differ and still be defensible.
The Value of an Argument “History is an argument, often very forceful and divisive. But that is how the pursuit of history advances and why it is also such a civilising activity… robust argument is the lifeblood of a free society and it should be encouraged.” (Lay, 2011) People with vested interests have long distorted and exploited the past for political purposes. We might be tempted to think that this is a mark only of dictatorial states, but it is a danger in democracies as well. As Nougayrede explains, “we worry rightly about the impact of fake news, but today’s nationalist passions are even more deeply rooted in the distortion of history, which citizens in many countries lap up despite the fact it is poison.” (2017). Our students of History have the opportunity to understand that arguments can be worth
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pursuing, they can be anchored in evidence, they can undermine baseless assertions, they can provoke thought and they can be revised. Reasoned arguments might just be a very valuable gift they can give to our society.
References Grossman, J. (2015). Everything Has a History. American Historical Association: Perspectives on History: https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-onhistory/december-2015/everything-has-a-history Lay, P. (2011). History is an Argument: Defending David Starkey. History Today. http://www. historytoday.com/blog/2011/09/history-argument-defending-david-starkey Nougayrede, N. (2017) Fake news is bad. But fake history is even worse. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/04/fake-news-fake-historyturkey-china-rewrite-past Randall, K. (1999) The Value in Studying History. History Review Issue 34. http://www.historytoday.com/keith-randell/value-studying-history
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The Barker College of Teachers: Developing Capacity in Educators Learning in Practice 2017 Vol. 1 (1) © Barker Institute 2017
Dr Greg Cunningham Director of Teaching and Learning Len Nixon Teacher Coach and Commercial Studies’ Teacher
Abstract Coaching in education is increasingly being recognised as a pivotal dimension in school improvement and an critical means in building teaching and learning capacity, develop confidence in classroom practice and even leadership skills. The ultimate goal, however, is to improve the learning outcomes and wellbeing of students.
The professional coaching of teachers has grown quickly in school environments in the last ten years. Coaching articulates itself in a number of areas that includes a range of coaching programmes designed to augment and enhance teaching practice as well as leadership coaching opportunities in the development of succession planning. Educationalists have embraced coaching in all of these school contexts. As these coaching initiatives develop, school leaders concomitantly seek to establish a strategic approach to what arguably is part of the core business of schools: to develop capacity in both students and teachers. In this context, coaching may be part of initiatives related to educational leadership, enhancing professional teaching practice, student success and wellbeing and community (including parent) engagement. In particular, it is clear that teacher quality is a critical factor in student success and coaching has been shown to have a positive impact on teaching practice in the classroom. Coaching focused around teaching practice can take several forms. It can be led by school leaders, by specialist instructional coaches and by teachers coaching each other in peer based arrangements. What does a cwollaborative coaching partnership look like?
Teachers work with a peer in a high trust relationship.
Teachers asks their peer to collect ‘data’ on them. This data collection is aligned with the teacher’s specific classroom needs and own developmental needs.
Follow up coaching conversations between teachers and peers occur that establish goals and actions.
This concept is nothing new - the best teachers have always done this. For the first time, the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers provide us with a common language as to what highly effective teachers need to know and do, and describes what good leaders also need to do to support their teachers. Increasing research evidence
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within highly effective schools is that a coaching approach is essential. It points the leadership of the school to create a coaching culture where these collaborative partnerships will flourish. (McKinsey and Company 2010) So what does a school leader do to lead instruction? Years of experience in a Principal role, and now in supporting other school leaders grappling with this question suggests that the following guidelines/principles will be a helpful place to start:
Leaders set the direction and priorities within the school using participative processes with their community and board.
Leaders seek over the medium to longer term to create a culture in their school where feedback is sought and welcomed.
Leaders communicate these in a way that will influence the coaching conversation between peers.
Leaders conduct performance conversations with the next level of leadership within the school (e.g.; Assistant Principals) where this exists, or directly with teachers in small schools.
One of the key focus areas of these conversations where the school has a middle management level, will be how the Middle Manager will lead the teachers they manage. At least one of the focus areas of these conversations between Principal and Middle Managers is how they interpret the school’s direction, within their specific context and conduct coaching conversations with individual teachers, to support them in setting goals and actions relevant to the needs of their students. The teacher is interpreting the school’s direction and the Professional Standards within the context of their individual skillset and knowledge base, via performance conversations with their manager. The teacher’s focus areas are always informed by the needs of the students. The outcomes of these performance development and review conversations would be recorded and referred to in subsequent performance development and review meetings. This is the accountability aspect of the performance development and review process and may include iSMART goals and strategies that the coachee has committed to implementing. This process is collaborative and the coachee is expected to be professional and selfdirected in how they interpret the school’s priorities. Leaders are a “leader as coach” and model the approach in the way they conduct themselves. In moving towards the establishment of a coaching culture at Barker, a significant initiative has been undertaken in the creation of the College of Teachers in 2016. As a professional practice arm of the Barker Institute with Dr Greg Cunningham as its Director and Len Nixon as the foundation Master Coach, the College of Teachers develops a system of clear principles and purposes of coaching. Here teacher coaches are being equipped with coaching skills to ensure that staff are trained sufficiently to coach well. In this way, bringing a ‘coaching orientation’ to each conversation in which professional educators participate provides critical, incidental support for the establishment of a coaching culture. Indeed, without this orientation permeating informal conversations, more formal coaching initiatives are likely to be subtly undermined. How What might a coaching conversation look like? From the flourishing of peer coaching
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in education literature together with important insights emerging from the fields, the Growth Coaching Model (Goals, Reality, Options, Will, Tactics and Habits) provides a useful (and critical) framework of coaching steps that are achievable and which, in turn, enhance selfefficacy and the likelihood that professional growth may be achieved. Small steps also allow for tentative movement in a certain direction so that if it works, then more effort and energy can be channelled in that direction. If not, then other actions in other directions can be implemented. Harnessing the power of a school improvement strategy requires more than setting up an action plan and providing high-quality professional development. It requires that the strategy is translated into instructional improvement through discussion of collective meaning making new understandings of instructional patterns, increased expectations for the kinds of tasks students can tackle and deep understanding of what creating such tasks entails. If our ultimate aim is to make the changes in instruction that will lead to improvements in student learning, we must engage in dialogue that is likely to help change practice.
8 steps to coaching
what do you need to achieve?
what is happening now?
what could you do?
what will you do?
how and when will you do it?
how will you sustain success?
celebrating the results
ÂŠ2009Â growth coaching international
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References Campbell, J. and van Nieuwerburgh, C (2018). The Leader’s Guide to Coaching in Schools. Fink, S. L. and Markholt, A. (2011). LEADING for Instructional Improvement – How Successful Leaders Develop Teaching and Learning Expertise. Hargreaves A, and Shirley D, (2009). The Fourth Way – The Inspiring Future for Educational Change. Hattie, J. (2012). Visible Learning for Teachers, Maximising Impact on Learning – Effect Size McKinsey and Company, (2010). Capturing the Leadership Premium – How the World’s Top School Systems are Building Leadership Capacity for the Future O’Bree, M. (2009.) The Leadership Coaching Guide – Growth Coaching International Patterson, K, Grenny, J, McMillan, R, and Switzler, A. (2002). Crucial Conversations – Tools for Talking When Stakes are High Pink, D. H. (2009). Drive – The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us Timperley, H. (2015). Professional Conversations and Improvement-Focused Feedback: A Review of the Research Literature and the Impact on Practice and Student Outcomes, prepared for the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership, AITSL, Melbourne. Campbell, John and Christian van Nieuwerburgh (2018) The Leader’s Guide to Coaching in Schools. Fink, Stephen L and Markholt, A (2011). LEADING for Instructional Improvement – How Successful Leaders Develop Teaching and Learning Expertise. Hattie, (2012) Visible Learning for Teachers, Maximising Impact on Learning – Effect Size Hargreaves A, and Shirley D, (2009). The Fourth Way – The Inspiring Future for Educational Change. McKinsey and Company (2010) - Capturing the Leadership Premium – How the World’s Top School Systems are Building Leadership Capacity for the Future O’Bree, M (2009) – The Leadership Coaching Guide – Growth Coaching International Patterson, K, Grenny, J, McMillan, R, and Switzler, A, (2002). Crucial Conversations – Tools for Talking When Stakes are High. Pink, Daniel H (2009). Drive – The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Van Nieuwerburgh, C., (2012). Coaching in Education – Getting Better Results for Students, Educators and Parents.
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NELP: Clarifying and Changing Practice around Academic Enrichment and Extension
Learning in Practice 2017 Vol. 1 (1) © Barker Institute 2017
Greg Longney Head of Academic Enrichment and Extension
Abstract This paper presents a series of reflections on the writer’s experience as a participant in the National Emerging Leaders (NELP) Program run by the Association of Independent Schools (AISNSW). The change project being undertaken focuses on the curriculum area of academic enrichment and extension. The paper reflects on how distributed leadership and growth coaching, as features of the NELP program, have contributed to the change project.
The National Emerging Leaders Program (NELP) has given me the opportunity to undertake a change project in the important area of academic enrichment and extension. This has coincided with my appointment to oversee the development of this curriculum area from the start of 2017. The NELP program has supported the development of this change project by promoting an understanding of distributed leadership. Alma Harris (2014) describes distributed leadership as “mobilising leadership expertise at all levels in the school in order to in order to generate more opportunities for change”. The process of clarifying and changing practice through this project has seen leadership distributed to many staff within the College. In Harris’ terms, the change project has been an experience where leadership has been based on expertise rather than title alone. Another significant feature of the NELP program has been an emphasis on peer coaching. The development of a coaching relationship with a staff member from the partner schools (Caulfield Grammar School and Barker College) has provided participants with regular opportunities to test out their thinking in relation to the direction of their project. Coaching conversations have worked to keep participants on track and to provide guidance, through questioning, to overcome the challenges of leading and managing change. John Kotter (2017) advocates an eight-step process for leading change and I have adopted Kotter’s model as a framework for my project. An important first step has been identifying what is meant by the terms enrichment and extension. Typically, the terms enrichment and extension are used interchangeably to refer to aspects of a curriculum that pertain to the most able students. At Barker College, we hope to deliver academic enrichment for all students, based on the belief that everyone deserves to have an enriched curriculum experience. By contrast, academic extension programs seek to serve the intellectual needs of our most able learners. Kotter identifies the first step in a change project as creating a sense of urgency. In terms of looking at enrichment and extension in schools, this is no easy task. Academic extension is quickly associated with gifted and talented education and this usually brings forth a number
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of preconceived ideas and myths (NAGC, 2009). Common views are that all students are gifted and that gifted programs are elitist. Whilst these views were not articulated to any great degree in preliminary investigations for this study, they do present as a barrier to creating a sense of urgency as they can lead to a position where curriculum change in the areas of academic extension and enrichment appears to be less of a priority than other curriculum areas. Barker College has a strong record of producing very good academic results and, by this narrow measure, it can appear that academic extension practices are well refined. Nevertheless, there has been a general level of agreement that, as a school, we need to do more to meet the needs of our most able learners. Creating a sense of urgency has been assisted by the School’s decision to move to full coeducation. As part of the preparation for this transition, a series of working groups met during Term 1, 2017 to discuss all aspects of school life. The working group focused on curriculum allowed me to speak with teachers from across the school and hear a wide range of views about current approaches to academic enrichment and extension. Over a series of meetings, a core group of staff with an interest in enrichment and extension formed and a coherent set of priorities emerged. One of the small but significant decisions of this ‘guiding coalition’ was arriving at shared definitions of what enrichment and extension mean in a Barker College context. The group arrived at the following:
Academic enrichment programs enhance the learning experiences of all students, regardless of ability level. Most academic enrichment is built into departmental programs and is accessed by all students in the normal delivery of the academic program. Other programs complement departmental programs and are accessed by all students. In addition, some programs are available to all but only access by a few.
Academic extension programs are designed to extend the learning of some students, where those students have demonstrated a high level of intellectual ability. Extension programs recognise the specific learning needs of gifted and talented learners and modify programs to support these needs. Modifications may be required in the content, process, and product of learning.
Based on these definitions, the group identified the following priorities to improve the delivery of academic enrichment and extension programs across the school:
Improve alignment between Junior School, Middle School, and Senior School Programs
Initiate an agreed program of regular cognitive testing to ascertain and monitor intellectual potential.
Review current streaming arrangements in the high school with a view to creating more genuine extension classes. The characteristics of these groups would be the same as Junior School Aspire groups (compacted curriculum, increased challenge, the scope for personal interest and inquiry).
Investigate the use of inquiry units in the High School (7-10) as both a vehicle for enrichment and an accelerator for extension.
Consider opportunities for academic acceleration relevant to the Barker context. Susan Assouline’s (2017) work is important here.
Initiate a program of staff professional to support the implementation of these initiatives.
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Returning to Kotter’s first step of creating a sense of urgency, the list above represents a clear set of priorities across the school. The ability to work with teachers from K-12 revealed that we need to do more to shape a coherent plan of enrichment and extension. Middle School programs need to build on Junior School programs and place greater emphasis on tracking students as they move from sub-school to sub-school. Furthermore, a great deal of discussion centred on the role of inquiry models of learning as vehicles for effective academic enrichment and extension. As it prepares for IB PYP candidacy, the Barker College Junior School is well advanced in the implementation of guided-inquiry units with a focus on the IB Learner Profile. Our ‘guiding coalition’ hopes that units of inquiry, with a similar transdisciplinary focus, can be introduced and embedded in Years 7-10. The would contribute to the goal of having greater continuity between Junior, Middle and Senior School programs. Guided-inquiry has the potential to support effective academic enrichment for all students and can also be an effective model for a consistent approach to academic extension. In terms of enrichment, well-structured inquiry units will create opportunities for students to deepen their learning by making connections across subjects. This will become a feature of Middle School programs from the start of 2018 with plans for collaborations between History and English (Year 7), Science, Geography and English (Year 8), Science and History (Year 9) and Mathematics and Commerce (Year 9). Furthermore, inquiry approaches also serve the needs to students who require greater intellectual challenge. For students, who are likely to master content and concepts more quickly than their peers, teachers will find time for personal inquiry by compacting the curriculum. Curriculum Compacting (NAGC, 2017) is a technique for differentiating the curriculum that focuses on replacing content that students already know with new content. This new content is likely to be characterised by greater complexity, greater abstraction and more opportunities for students to pursue areas of personal interest. In these ways, a guided-inquiry model used selectively and purposefully, has the potential to be at the heart of the College’s enrichment and extension program. This approach will be implemented in 2018 for extension classes as part of the review of ability grouping (streaming). With a focus on distributed leadership, supported by peer coaching, NELP has brought this change project to the point where the author can confidently implement changes to enrichment and extension practice in a specific school context. The next instalment will focus on the remaining parts of the Kotter model: enabling, generating and sustaining change.
References Assouline, S. (2017) Presentation at GAFE Forum, Newington College, Sydney. March 18, 2017 Harris. A. (2014) Distributed Leadership Retrieved from https://www.teachermagazine.com.au/articles/distributed-leadership Kotter International (n.d) Retrieved from https://www.kotterinternational.com/8-stepsprocess-for-leading-change/ National Association for Gifted Children (n.d) Retrieved from https://www.nagc.org/mythsabout-gifted-students National Association for Gifted Children (n.d) Retrieved from https://www.nagc.org/ resources-publications/gifted-education-practices/curriculum-compacting Barker Institute Learning in Practice • 49
STEM Education and the Water Industry Nonie Taylor Science and Mathematics Teacher
Learning in Practice 2017 Vol. 1 (1) © Barker Institute 2017
Abstract In this article I am going to address three questions:
What is STEM Education?
What has STEM got to do with the water industry?
How can STEM education be done well?
When I was at school I wanted to make a difference with my life. I hated the idea that there were people in the world who did not have access to clean drinking water and sanitation, and that is what drew me to engineering and the water industry. After university, I spent 13 years in the water industry, working for a major water utility in Sydney. I enjoyed my work. I knew every day that I was making a difference. However, a couple of things became increasingly apparent to me: we need good people to solve the problems we will face. People with passion for what they do, and an ability to sink their teeth into difficult problems and come up with new solutions. This need sent me back to university, and into high school education, with the desire to ‘win’ more people over to the STEM subjects – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
So what is STEM Education? STEM is an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. In today’s society, STEM is all around us – the way our food is produced, the way we connect with our friends and families, our health, our jobs, our leisure are all “profoundly shaped by technological innovation and the discoveries of science” (Australian Office of the Chief Scientist). In addition, 75 % of the fastest growing occupations require STEM skills and knowledge (Australian Office of the Chief Scientist). So as a nation, we need our school graduates to have a greater understanding of STEM subjects if they are going to be prepared for the future ahead. Sadly, however, there has been a decline in students choosing STEM subjects in school, so as a nation we are not equipping ourselves with the skillset we need to carry Australia into the future (see Figure 1: Year 12 Students studying STEM 1992 & 2010) .
Figure 1: Year 12 Students studying STEM 1992 & 2010 The Government has identified this as a major issue for the future of Australia, and has committed money (over $17 million) through a variety of initiatives to restore the focus on and increase the update of STEM subjects in primary and secondary schools. Why? To equip young adults with the necessary skills for the economy of the future. 50 • Barker Institute Learning in Practice
Year 12 students studying STEM Proportion of Year 12 students (%)
Source: Senate Standing Committees on Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. Inquiry into the shortage of engineering and related employment skills, 2012
What has STEM education got to do with the water industry? STEM Education is important to our nation as a whole, but now let’s think about STEM in the context of the water industry. There are a number of challenges that have been identified as specific to the water industry. Limited resources, environmental pressures and population growth mean we will need a workforce who are more innovative, and willing to try new ideas. Increased automation of the water industry means we will need a workforce who are increasingly technical. Finally, the issues with attraction and retention of employees to more lucrative industries (such as mining), and loss of ‘inhouse’ knowledge as a result of the aging workforce means that the water industry needs to be able to attract and keep the right people with the right skillset (Australian Water Association, 2012; Department of the Environment, 2009). We are facing a skills shortage in STEM subjects at the same time as there is more pressure on us to do more with less, to be more innovative, with less impact on the environment, and with new technologies. We also need to have an industry that attracts the right people – we need great minds, great communicators, great decision makers and great interpersonal skills. We need to give opportunities for people to see what the water industry does and why it is an exciting place to work. We also need to be able to communicate the issues the water industry faces with the public in a way which is relevant to and makes sense to them. For these reasons, STEM education is critical to the future of our industry.
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How can STEM Education be done well? There are some general strategies which have been demonstrated to increase students’ engagement with STEM subjects. They include:
Engagement from a young age – it is often too late in high school to start getting students interested in STEM subjects. I’m amazed at how many Year 7 students have already decided that Science is too hard and that they don’t like it.
Integration across the curriculum – where STEM education does not just happen in the Science/Technology/Engineering or Mathematics classrooms – it is incorporated throughout school curriculum.
Project Based Learning – rather than subjects being taught separately, students learn through solving a problem that spans across subject areas.
For example, at Barker College students engage in a CO2 dragster project where they use IT software to visualise their projects, Mathematics for graphing and calculating speed, Science to understand the forces involved and benefits of streamlining, Design and Technology to design and construct their project, and English to write their instructions. Students are supported by teachers from the various subject areas, but learn to see the separate subjects as interlinked to achieve the final product.
Another example is the Hotbox Composting project where students design a box for composting which they then need to market. This project incorporates the programming of controls to monitor temperature, moisture content and ventilation, uses the students’ knowledge gained from Agriculture, and also Economics and Commercial Studies to plan their marketing.
Connections with Industry – a great strategy for STEM education, and particularly one which would be a great opportunity for the water industry, is to give students the opportunity to work with ‘real-world’ STEM professionals.
An example could be through working with local council to investigate a local waterway together. The Water Educators Network has put together some resources for investigating local waterways that councils or other water industry partners could utilise with schools.
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At Barker College, the Sydney University Marine Research Station at Lizard Island partners with Year 11 Biology students to contribute to the long term survey programs. Students get to see scientists in action, and the research station benefits through the assistance provided by the students.
CSIRO runs a ‘Scientists in Schools’ program where STEM professionals can visit schools and share their experience.
Conclusion STEM education is critical to the future of our nation, and more specifically to the water industry. Organisations need to consider the role that they are playing in supplying the future with enthusiastic, passionate, water industry professionals who have the right set of skills to face the challenges of the future. We need to ask ‘what kind of water professionals do we want for the future?’, and ‘what role can I play in finding them?’.
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References Australian Water Association 2012, Water Industry Skills Taskforce - National Skills Forum Report, Nous Group, Sydney. Department of Education and Training 2015, Restoring the focus on STEM in schools initiative, Australian Government, Canberra, accessed 21 April 2016, <www.studentsfirst.gov. au/restoring-focus-stem-schools-initiative>. Department of the Environment 2009, National Water Skills Strategy, Australian Government, Canberra, accessed 20 April 2016, <http://www.environment.gov.au/system/ files/resources/d97a452b-c31f-4660-929f-4540c84fdaad/files/national-water-skillsstrategy.pdf>. Kennedy, J, Lyons, T & Quinn, F 2014, ‘The continuing decline of science and mathematics enrolments in Australian high schools’, Teaching Science, vol. 60, no. 2, June 2014, pp.34-46. Office of the Chief Scientist 2013, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in the National Interest: A Strategic Approach, Australian Government, Canberra, accessed 20 April 2016, <http://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/ STEMstrategy290713FINALweb.pdf>. Water Services Association of Australia – An Assessment of the skills shortage in the urban water industry, 2008
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Co-curricular Barker College has a reputation for offering a remarkable co-curricular program, characterised by diversity, inclusivity and exceptional performance. In particular, these articles showcase the substantial growth in the girlsâ€™ sports program in recent years.
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Barker Bunker then and now: the first five years and the next five years
Learning in Practice 2017 Vol. 1 (1) © Barker Institute 2017
Alison Cox Director of Girls’ Sport Alex Butt PDHPE teacher
Abstract Since opening its doors in 2012, the Barker Bunker has been a highly-utilised facility to not only increase girls’ participation in physical activity, but also to help to improve sports’ performance. The dynamic nature of strength and conditioning, technology, training age and knowledge of our students and the advent of modern media in the exchange of ideas and accessibility to information has meant that in order to ensure the best possible experience for our students, our programmes also need to continue to evolve. We take a look back to the origins of the Bunker and also take a sneak peek at what the future holds for this much-loved facility.
Barker Bunker Background “Barker Girls will be physically and health literate and have the comprehension, capacity and commitment to lead and provide a healthy active life in an ever changing global society”. Despite the excellent fitness facility within the school, girls utilising the Barker Fitness Centre were few and far between. Where lifting weights is seen as an important part of the boys’ “masculinity”, girls felt intimidated in such an environment. However, internal research showed that girls wanted to do additional physical activity on top of the compulsory sport program for the same reasons as boys do, because it offers them social status, respect and connectedness to the school environment. A survey was conducted to investigate physical activity patterns and attitudes to physical activity and sport of adolescent girls. The survey’s primary aim was to gather information on attitudes towards compulsory sport, changing nature of girls sport throughout their schooling and motivations and barriers towards participation at a school level. A report by Schofield et al (2002) identified that “the involvement of girls and boys during the early primary school years is almost identical”. However, “involvement decreases at a far more rapid rate than that of their male counterparts through their teens and beyond”. Through the results, we were able to identify a number of research-based strategies to address the declining physical activity levels of adolescent girls. Although the survey was optional and students completed it in their own time, over 50% of the current cohort (Years 10 - 12) chose to complete the survey. A typical Barker student through the compulsory sports program would expect to participate in 4 - 5 hours of sport a week incorporating two training sessions plus a competition fixture. Surprisingly, 25% of students engaged in more than five hours of physical activity at Barker per week 56 • Barker Institute Learning in Practice
and approximately 75% engaged in additional physical activity outside of the Barker community. The major activities in which girls’ participate outside of Barker are fitness centre-based activities in particular, small group fitness classes (e.g. Zumba, pilates, yoga) and cardio machines. Sport is an important part of the culture of Barker. It is assuring that 83% of respondents identified that they enjoyed compulsory sport at Barker with an even higher number believing they actively participate in and commit to the compulsory sport program. This is also reflected in high training attendance rates currently occurring. Interestingly, the girls were able clearly to identify the health benefits of being involved, but the social aspects and connectedness to the School were two factors that were extremely important reasons to be involved in the School’s sports’ programme. Improved quality of life, general health, management of body image, self-esteem, anxiety/stress levels, sense of self-worth and improved connectedness with the school and peers were all seen as benefits. The survey also highlighted that the single most important aspect of physical activity for girls is the social component which generates greater confidence in a single sex environment. The staff involved, coaches and the School itself with the wide range of activities all positively correlate with participation in physical activity. Of particular note is that 82% of respondents would participate in sport at school even if it was not compulsory. This we believe illustrates that contrary to popular belief that girls choose to reduce their physical activity during adolescent years. However, with adequate support and encouragement, the trend can be reversed. Interestingly, although girls’ attitudes towards physical activity and sport on the whole are positive, there is an alarming statistic that on a scale of 1 - 10 (10 being confident) the average rating of 4.93 indicates that girls do not have the confidence to enter a traditionally male fitness centre on campus. However, over one third of the students surveyed utilise a fitness centre outside of Barker and 89% of students would utilise a “girls’ only” facility if it were available on campus. Despite this rating, girls did not identify confidence in their own ability as a limiting factor for participation in physical activity. This leads us to question why then do girls not utilise available facilities on campus and choose to use external facilities? The answer to this question lies in the choice of activities. Girls choose to participate in structured activities where they rotate through cardio-based activities or participate in small group exercise classes. They steer clear of weight training which we would infer is due to limited knowledge of this area of exercise. This information led to the development of a facility which would meet the needs of girls allowing for structured circuit training and small-group activities in an educational setting with overall aim of “bucking” the trend of reducing exercise patterns during adolescents.
Barker Bunker – The first five years The Development Plan for Girls’ Physical Literacy provided a strategic approach to increase participation in physical activity, widen access and improve levels of performance in girls sport. The original model relied heavily on the Canadian “Sport for Life” elements, which helped to develop clear pathways, clarify roles and responsibilities and make the best use of resources to further girls’ sport and physical activity development.
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It provided a picture of where we are now and a vision for the future of Barker girls’ sport, involvement in the community and to set clear actions and targets to get there. The original Barker Bunker Model had three phases outlined below. An old unused drama studio was refurbished to provide a small Cardio Area (including treadmills, bikes and rowers) and Group Fitness Area. The Centre had a group fitness timetable which included Yoga, Spin, Pump and Zumba. Staffed by qualified instructors, students were also able to get a basic screening and individual program to complete.
Barker Bunker Model Phase 1 Learning to Train
Phase 2 Training to Train
Learn Specialist Activities
Build an Understanding of Training philosophies
Learn Fundamental Techniques and build general fitness
Key Outcomes: •
Be competent in performing a range of technically proficient strength, flexibility and cardio activities
Monitor Heart Rate and adjust exercise intensity accordingly
Address any limitations and/or restrictions present.
Increased participation and confidence in an active enviroment
Key Outcomes: •
Students are Physically literate
Understand the role of warm up, cooldown, nutrition, hydration in relation to Physical Activity
Increased Aerobic Capacity to build general endurance.
Individual responsibility for health and ability to take a problem solving approach to training
Phase 3 Training to Compete Objective: •
Develop and Refine Sport Specific endurance, strength, speed and skills
Develop and Refine competition skills including mental preparation
Key Outcomes: •
Be empowered to take responsibility and be accountable for their traning, performance and other aspects of their sporting life in cooperation with their coach
Compete under a variety of conditions, maintaining good technique under pressure
The student participation in the Bunker soon far exceeded expectations and in only three years had outgrown the original facility leading to a revamp of the C-Block Lecture Theatre to provide what has affectionately become known as B2. The facility expansion led to an additional combined cardio and strength room, allowing the former cardio area to be
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transformed into a spin cycle studio thanks to the very generous donation of equipment by the BCMA (Barker College Mothers’ Association). With this expansion in 2015, programmes also expanded with continued research into long-term athlete development models and functional competence and the Barker Girls Physical Literacy program has continued to develop. The Bunker was now not just being used as a fitness resource for students, but it has become an integral part of the school community, running group fitness, individual programs, supporting first teams through physical conditioning and injury-prevention strategies, overseeing a mental health exercise program for at risk-students and instructors supporting PDHPE programmes through to coordinating in-house specialist group fitnessbased activities to support the practical application of the PDHPE curriculum. The timetable expanded to include stretch sessions, Pilates, run club, equipment circuits, boxing, pump, express cycle classes and an introduction to Olympic Lifts. Despite the increased offerings, the core of this facility remained, ensuring that we not only provide “fitness” services but also focus on educating students on the “why”, ensuring that the students will not only be physically competent within the Mint Gates but also physically literate when moving beyond them.
Barker Bunker – The Future We are constantly looking at ways to help students reach their goals and aspirations regardless of their ability level. There are recommendations based on quality research for virtually every facet in a training programme. However, despite the amount of research at our fingertips, what still remains is somewhat of a grey hole in terms of recommendations in what is the best way to approach a training plan for a twelve month, multisport adolescent athlete that is also a full-time student. The last five years have provided the necessary time not only to research but experiment with a variety of models for performance improvement. We are now at the point where the Bunker is established enough to develop our own unique philosophy on student athlete development remembering physical literacy for all students regardless of ability is a critical pillar for the continued success of the Bunker. The focus on what we have termed “Integrated Sports’ Performance” is the next phase of our Barker Bunker not only helping students to achieve their goals, but also managing their welfare so that they can be at their best both on the sports field and in the classroom. Using the latest research and technology, our integrated sports’ performance model brings together four important components in a multifaceted approach not only to maximise sports performance at all levels, but also to help reduce the risk of injuries and overtraining. The Bunker has been branded and will have three main strands (Integrated Sports’ Performance, Athlete Development and General Population), fundamentally the same as the original setup, but allowing for a more expansive program in the area of sports’ performance and the integration of compound lifts as a main component of individual programs due to the expansion of our students’ movement vocabulary.
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The elements of each strand are outlined below.
First Team Athletes
Group Based Classes (eg. Spin & Pilates)
Individual Conditioning Program
Periodised Conditioning Program
Neuromuscular Fatigue Testing
Lactate Testing for Threshold Sports
Workout of the Day
Lifting Fundamentals Individual Programs
Neuromuscular Fatigue Testing
The first stage of implementation of the Bunker specific model will see the Integrated Performance Program phased in throughout 2017. The four components which make up our Integrated Sports Performance Model are: Movement Quality Training which is focused on improving the efficiency of students’ movement patterns and joint mobility including targeted muscle activations through individualised movement preparation programs designed from a functional screen. Sport Specific Training is linked directly with the College of Coaches in support of sports coaches at all levels to ensure the quality of each and every training session.
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Performance Conditioning is primarily aimed at developing productive and purposeful complementary sessions which ensure our students not only have the functional capacity to perform at their required level but also continue to become resilient performers. With any physical activity, significant demands are placed on the body and thus; Recovery forms the last essential pillar of our model. There are many aspects which fall under recovery from nutrition to sleep, but one interesting component we will be looking at is Neuromuscular Fatigue Testing through the use of Kinetic Gymaware Linear Transducer Device, enabling coaches to individually adjust student training loads to help minimise the risk of overtraining. Further details of the General Population and Athlete Development components of the uniquely designed Bunker program will be released in 2018/2019. The Bunker has grown significantly since it was first established in 2012 and it is a credit to both the staff and students who have worked in partnership to ensure the continued growth of such an amazing facility. While maintaining one eye on the future, the Bunker will continue to evolve, ensuring the facility continues to not only meet the needs of our students and provide the best possible experience, but also access to the highest quality programs.
References Schofield L., K. Mummery,, G. Schofield and H Walmsely (2002). “Adolescent Girls and Inactivity: insights from the Central Queensland adolescent physical activity study” in ACHPER Healthy Lifestyles Journal, 49(2), pp. 17-22.
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Barker Girls’ Rugby Sevens Trial: Breaking Stereotypes Alison Cox Director of Girls’ Sport
Learning in Practice 2017 Vol. 1 (1) © Barker Institute 2017
Alex Butt PDHPE teacher
Abstract The inclusion of Rugby Sevens in the 2016 Rio Olympics combined with the Australian Women’s team achieving the coveted gold medal has been instrumental in significantly increasing exposure, and hence interest in, Rugby Sevens participation. However, the social acceptance of girls being involved in full contact sport is still developing. Injuries will remain the number one concern with a lower tolerance within the community to see girls with “traditional contact injuries” such as concussions and broken noses. Barker, in conjunction with NSW Rugby, conducted a trial competition for girls in Term 1, 2017. The program was thoroughly enjoyed by students and resulted in substantial media coverage identifying Barker as leading the way in this developing sport. Despite the positivity around the trial, it is also important to analyse all aspects of the program – in particular the injury risks.
Background In 2016, Rugby NSW approached Barker to be part of a Rugby Sevens Pilot program involving the hosting of an Inaugural Schoolgirls Rugby Sevens Competition. On the back of Olympic success and increasing interest in the sport, Barker jumped at the opportunity to be involved in this developing sport. Prior to being involved, students were required to participate in either 5 development sessions run throughout Term 4, or a Development Day held in the January holidays to ensure all students had the minimum necessary skills for safe participation. These sessions were conducted by Rugby NSW with a total of 37 students participating in the development sessions. For Barker students, Rugby Sevens was an additional sports choice meaning that they had to participate in their chosen summer sport and then commit to 2 additional trainings and weekly fixture. Despite this, 26 students selected to continue with the sport throughout Term 1, leading to the development of two Barker Rugby Sevens Teams (Red and Blue). A development competition was established, with 6 teams from Barker, St Ives High, William Clarke College and Gordon Rugby Club. The competition was run concurrently with the Barker Invitational Touch Football Comp run on Friday evenings with each team participating in 2 x 14 minute games (7 min halves). Referees were supplied by Rugby NSW. Despite a significant amount of wet weather, all teams participated enthusiastically in the competition. Barker Blue showed great dominance against more experienced teams finishing 3rd overall in the tight competition. The Barker Red Team had a stellar debut, remaining undefeated throughout the season. The grand final was played on Number 1 Oval, with Barker Red securing the first Rugby Sevens Premiership against Gordon narrowly 2-1. Fox Sports was also there to film the event with a 5 minute segment being run on the national “Kick & Chase” program. 62 • Barker Institute Learning in Practice
Future of Women’s Rugby Sevens
After a 92 year absence, Rugby was reintroduced into the Summer Olympic Games in Rio 2016. The combined new sevens format and Olympic inclusion has seen a substantial increase in participation numbers worldwide. The World Rugby Sevens Series allows for a professional pathway for athletes (male and female) and has also been adopted as part of the USA College program and in 2017 a national Australian university women’s competition will also be established. The Australian women claiming the inaugural Gold Medal has also ensured maximum media coverage for the sport leading to increased awareness and appreciation of the skills required for participation. Sevens is still in its infancy and The HSBC Future of Rugby Report (Curry & Warwick 2016), highlights that Women’s Rugby is the fastest growing sport in the world. It is estimated that in 2026, approximately 40% of Rugby players worldwide will be female (leading to approximately 6 million female players worldwide). Locally, women’s participation has increased by approximately 1/3 from 2015 to 2016. Most Rugby clubs now run a separate sevens program with many clubs having Junior girls teams (U10-U18) involved in the “sizzling sevens”, a Saturday evening competition run by Sydney Junior Rugby Union throughout the year. It should be noted that most Rugby is often played co-ed up until U12 with a gender split for U14-U18.
Injury surveillance The biggest concern with Rugby participation is the higher injury risk from being involved in a contact sport. Currently, there is not a lot of data around for the injury incidence rates of sevens competition, particularly for school-aged athletes. Cruz-Ferreira et al (2017) and Gabb et al (2014) both found that injury incidence in sevens was higher than those reported for 15-aside variant. It should be noted that muscle-tendon injuries were significantly higher possibly due to the greater speed of play leading to increased energy transfer during tackles and more running and turning manoeuvers that can possibly cause more severe injuries. Interestingly, Peck et al (2013) found that males had a 30% higher injury rate than females in Rugby. Females had higher rates of lower limb injuries and were 8 times more likely to suffer a serious injury, particularly non-contact ACL injuries however this is consistent with other sports such as Football and Netball.
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Rizi et al (2017) looked at injury incidence for Rugby Sevens university players identifying 59.3 injuries per 1000 player hours and noting that hip flexor tightness, speed and agility were important components with slower and less agile players 2-3.5 times more likely to sustain a serious injury. Tackling is obviously the primary source of injury and although the injury rate is considerably high, it should be noted that schoolboy injuries in 15-a-side game occur at 16 per 1,000 playing hours compared with 43 per 1,000 playing hours at the elite level. It would be anticipated that based on those predictions, we would expect the incidence for Sevens to sit around 18 injuries which is comparable to Football on 18 injuries per 1000 players hours but higher than Netball and Basketball on 14 per 1000 player hours. In terms of the Barker Sevens Program injury surveillance, although injury incidence was similar when number of participants were taken into account – Sevens injuries were predominantly Head/neck injuries and of greater severity when compared to Touch Football. As a contact sport vs non-contact sport this would not come as a surprise. In comparison to other Barker Sports, Rugby 15s has a 3 fold risk of injury when compared to Basketball however similar incidence of injury when compared to Football. Being noncontact does not eliminate the risk of injury although does tend to reduce the severity risk of the injury, particularly in regards to head injuries. It should also be noted that cross field games are also likely to have higher injury rates than full field games – once again linked to the higher number of tackles occurring in a game.
Severity of Injury
Low = First Aid Mod = Hospital High = Ambulance
Injury Site Face
Changing nature of female sport There is no denying that women’s sport has come a long way in the last 10 years. The unprecedented rise in the popularity of women’s sport in the last 12 months particularly has given women’s sport a huge boost at both a national and international level. Increased professionalism, media coverage and sponsorship dollars have resulted in sport now being a feasible career choice for women. Traditional gender stereotypes have been smashed with the introduction of the Women’s Big Bash, AFL and Rugby Sevens competitions.
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Unfortunately, there remains an underlying social bias against females playing contact sports. Perceptions that females are fragile or inferior lead to increased sensitivity around injury rates. However, female contact sport is pushing the boundaries and providing an environment where gender norms and accepted conceptions of masculinity and femininity can be renegotiated. Our students will take inspiration from the determination and dedication of female athletes. It is important that as these athletes inspire the next generation of girls to participate in sports, Barker also needs to continue to challenge barriers which exist in society and demonstrate that girls can excel in any manner of activities if only given an opportunity. Traditionally, male dominated sports such as Rugby Sevens do empower our girls and give an undeniable self-confidence and respect from the majority of the male members of the community.
References Cruz-Ferreira A, Cruz-Ferreira E, Santiago L & Taborda Barata L (2017), Epidemiology of injuries in senior male rugby union sevens: a systematic review, The Physician and Sportsmedicine, vol. 45, no. 1, pp. 41-48. Curry, A & Warwick, C 2016, The Future of Rugby: An HSBC Report, HSBC, pdf, accessed 20 May 2017, <http://pulse-static-files.s3.amazonaws.com/worldrugby/ document/2016/04/06/18bcfa47-a9e3-41d2-ac3ccef46e12abfe/The_Future_of_Rugby_-_ An_HSBC_Report_.pdf>. Gabb, N, Trewartha, G, Kemp, S, Stokes, K (2014) Epudemiology of Injuries in a Women’s International Rugby Sevens World Cup Squad, British Journal of Sports Medicine, vol. 48, pp. 596-597. Peck K, Johnston D, Owens B & Cameron K (2013) The incidence of injury among male and female intercollegiate rugby players. Sports Health, vol. 5, issue 4, pp. 327-333. Rizi R, Yeung S, Stewart N, Yeung E (2017). Risk factors that predict severe injuries in university rugby sevens players. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, vol. 20, issue 7, pp. 648-652.
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A year in the life of Barker Robotics. Engaging students for a lifetime. Lael Grant Robotics’ Co-ordinator
Learning in Practice 2017 Vol. 1 (1) © Barker Institute 2017
Abstract Problem solving, team building, forward thinking and sustainability are key concepts that have had to be built by our successful Barker Redbacks Robotics Team. They have done this through trial, experience, reflection and strategy learned during their journey in the First Robotics’ Competition and through examining the progressive development of passion, skills and capabilities for future students. This has resulted in a robotics program that is building momentum throughout all stages of Barker College. This has grown in breadth to include First Lego League, First Tech Challenge, First Robotics Challenge and now VEX Robotics. There is something special in competition that sparks innovation. The first six-minute mile, the moon landing, the rapid development of smartphones, self-driving cars, and soon, the Hyperloop. Humans thrive on the sharpening of the wit and the mental stimulation that rigorous competition can bring. Combine competition with vision and suddenly you have inspiration. Barker Robotics has achieved incredible success this year, inspired by competition on a global scale and the vision of being a top ten FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) teams in the world. During 2017, the Barker Redbacks competed at competitions in Shenzhen (China), Sydney (twice) and New York City. The team achieved phenomenal success, winning all four regionals and qualifying for the World Championships in Houston, Texas, where the team qualified fifth in playoffs and won all the way through to the division finals. At the end of competition season, the team was ranked 20th in the world out of a total pool of around 4500 teams. Students have only six weeks to build their robot, receiving a new challenge every year in early January and then bagging their robot mid February to be sent to competition. Following this, there are six weeks of frenzied competition which for the Barker Redbacks included winning the competition in Shenzhen, running between the awards ceremony and the pit while packing up and then hurriedly flying out to Sydney to begin competing in the Southern Cross Regional the next day. In New York the students reconstructed the robot from multiple separate checked luggage pieces into which the robot had been separated. Once assembled they faced the challenge that the ball shooter just didn’t seem to shoot quite as effectively. Such are the diverse learning experiences for these students on the world stage! As with every competition, time is limited and the desire to succeed is enormous. It is every team’s dream to defeat NASA sponsored and mentored teams or finally to make it to ‘Einstein’ where the top six teams in the world vie for the right to be the World Champion. Of course, success is not really achieved in the six weeks of build season or the following six weeks of competition. In such a short time frame what the team really sees is the fruit of years of development, training and planning.
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Robotics provides students with a pathway for growth. When students enter the program they may not know how to design a drivetrain or even heard of what a gearing ratio is. They may not be able to calculate trajectories for balls or design a ball shooting mechanism in CAD. However, within three years, a robotics student in the FRC program will be doing all of that and much more. They will learn to cut their own custom parts using Computer Aided Machining (CAM) as well as construct their custom ball shooter or climbing mechanism or gear pickup and then work with the programming team to provide integrated systems control using sensors and feedback loops. This year, the robot was shooting balls at a speed of over eight balls per second, emptying a full robot hopper of balls in under eight seconds into a funnel only 2.2m high. Perhaps more impressive is that in 2016 the same team won their first ever regional, and was summarily knocked out of champs after qualifying only 31st and not proceeding to the elimination rounds. The team had experienced great success, winning the Sydney Regional, almost winning the Canada West Regional, but failing because the robot was unreliable, breaking the drivetrain almost every ten matches. That failure sparked significant reflection and development for the future. In late 2016 the team implemented student and mentor feedback at the end of every year in order to gather data for continuous improvement. This resulted in a wholesale redesign of the team, with structured off-season skill development programs, implementation of subteams for robot design and greatly limited hours during build season to reduce student commitment from what was twelve hours a day to a maximum of seven hours a day. Accompanied by a deliberate emphasis on early planning and effective communication with parents and teachers, students were empowered and encouraged to prioritise and schedule their incredibly hectic, though purposeful lives. In correspondence with parents, the Robotics Co-ordinator received messages exemplified by this postscript to an email: “received X’s school report …. best ever thanks to Robotics and the resultant engagement with his whole school life”. Robotics provides students with the connection and inspiration to apply their learning in Mathematics, Technology and Science in very real, holistic ways. This results in a depth of learning and substantial increase in engagement. One of the joys has been seeing this authentic application evidenced in other realms with one of our 2016 Team Captains, Oliver Nicholls, receiving the NSW Young Scientist of the Year (Yr10-12) award for his window cleaning robotic drone. In feedback provided by students in the 2017 end of year survey, our students continuously highlighted that they felt that they grew significantly from being in the program. Interestingly, many comments in the qualitative feedback received mentioned that some of the key skills they learned were ‘soft’ or indirect skills.
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Core skills and capacities such as communicating with parents, team mates and mentors, time management, group work and ‘synergy with the team’ were commonly identified themes; not the immediate skills you might expect from a robotics program, but pivotal to the effective running of a team with over thirty-five team members building, competing and travelling together in the high-pressure environment that is the three-month season of FRC. Along with that were comments on improved skills or the need for improved skill in the core robotics areas of CAD, CAM, programming and mechanical design. These provided us with important points of reference as we prepare for the year ahead. One of the key weaknesses our mentors identified at the end of 2016 was a high skill level in a limited number of team members. This introduced unnecessary reliance on those team members which compounded their stress and time commitments. It also had the side effect of introducing fragility in the team as losing core team members for academic and sporting commitments would result in significant delays or detriment to the program, especially at critical times like the end of build season or at competitions. One of the redesigns of the program at the end of 2016 was the introduction of a comprehensive skills development program. The program was gamified with ‘badges’ awarded for ‘levels’ of certification, which allows a team member to ‘level up’ to a sub-team leader or a specialist in a particular area during build season. This is also tied into other desirable promotion positions such as Team Captain. This has resulted in significant upskilling across the whole tea. For example, our certified CAD specialists grew in number from one eighth of team members now to be three quarters of the team. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was also one of the most positively commented on aspects of the team organisation in our 2017 season feedback. Our students have seen that a broadly and highly skilled team is capable of building a robust, high-performing robot, evidenced by no lost games due to maintenance in 2017 and significantly shortened pit cycle times. Our goal is simple: to provide the best possible robotics experience to the greatest number of students we possibly can. If we do this well, then we have the potential to compete at elite levels on a global stage. This requires highly skilled students that make robot design decisions, game strategy decisions, media and public relations presentations, business plans and involvement in every possible part of the program. To achieve this, we have partnered with VEX Robotics to bring the competition to Sydney. In the Middle School we have started a little under twenty teams with around sixty students involved. The learning curriculum VEX provides is comprehensive. It allows an accelerated growth path for small team numbers which results in high student engagement. In the Junior School we are continuing to build capacity through the FIRST Lego League (FLL) program, where our students recently qualified for Nationals. We are planning to introduce VEX IQ to further extend our students STEM problem solving skills across the entire College. By the end of 2019 the program has the enviable problem of having an FRC team that is likely to reach a team size of over 100 students. This would be one of the largest teams in the world. We are currently working on developing systems to help ensure a continually effective team. We are delighted that we are inspiring such passion and innovation in our students. More than that, we are excited to see our students sharing what they learn with their peers in schools around us, in China and globally. The Robotics program at Barker has allowed students to find their voice in a range of exciting and innovative areas as part of the team and competition structure. The skills and learning opportunities are diverse and the level of growth in the Barker Robotics program seem to indicate that it an area that will be sustained for many years.
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Pastoral Barker College is committed to all aspects of personal growth, not just academic performance. The articles in this section outline some of the ways the students are cared for and explain the research behind our pastoral initiatives. In these ways, we seek both to support our students during their schooling and prepare them for life beyond graduation.
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How the Middle School encourages boys to look beyond themselves Tim Eastman Head of Holt House
Learning in Practice 2017 Vol. 1 (1) © Barker Institute 2017
Damien Whitington Middle School Chaplain
Abstract Research suggests that providing adolescents with opportunities to look beyond themselves is critical in the development of emotionally intelligent, content, compassionate and successful adults. This article outlines some of the ways that the Middle School seeks to encourage this way of thinking and being. It has been encouraging to observe the personal growth and satisfaction that the students have gained from these experiences.
There is no doubt that the Middle School years are formative years in a boy’s development (Barber, 1999; Barratt, 1998; Penman, 2004). They are growing, both physically and mentally and learning more about who they are and who they want to be. It seems significant then that these boys need to be provided with opportunities to ‘look beyond themselves’ during their time in the Middle School. Lythcott-Haims (2015) sees ‘thinking about more than themselves’ as an essential skill in preparing children for adulthood. It is in the Barker College Middle School that students are exposed to and participate in activities that allow them to look beyond the Mint Gates and to develop a sense of empathy for the bigger picture. Middle School House Groups provide the backbone for these lessons, helping to develop the ‘whole person’ in initiatives that encourage students to think about issues from different perspectives. In 2016/17, House Group and Middle School initiatives, combined with regular Chapel services, have allowed students to develop in this crucial area. House groups in the Middle School have stood for many years as a microcosm of the Middle School, building community and creating a sense of belonging. It is in these House groups that students have been exposed to different initiatives that sit alongside the School’s mission. In the last year, House groups have supported individual charities as a way of developing a sense of giving. More so, students have taken a real interest in these charities and looked to raise awareness to the same degree as material goods or money. Andrew House students for the last seven years have supported the TEAR Fund to raise awareness for those less fortunate in other countries. Matthew Arnot, the Head of Andrew House, states that “the appeal of the TEAR Fund is that rather than just giving to those less fortunate, it seeks to equip those who are less fortunate so they will become self-sufficient and able to provide for their family’s needs in the future”. Students are exposed to the basic needs of others and the difference that a small act of charity can make. Andrew House boys raise awareness around the school and then set up a stall where items can be bought for those in need. Each year, a new group of boys takes on this initiative and continue the good work of those who have come before them.
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For over ten years, Boyce House has supported the Exodus Foundation through a can drive. Each student brings in a tin of food which is used by the Exodus Foundation to support those who struggle to afford basic necessities. Richard Clezy, the Head of Boyce House, says that “the small act of thinking about the needs of others, for even just a minute, helps instil a sense of thoughtfulness and kindness”. It is these acts of kindness that developmental psychologist, Marilyn Price-Mitchell (2003), claims are responsible for real happiness in children. She states: “Unfortunately, we don’t make children happy by simply enabling them to be receivers of kindness. We increase their feelings of happiness and well-being, reduce bullying and improve their friendships by teaching them to be givers of kindness”. Another example of the acts of giving in the Middle School can be found in Pain House, who recently supported Darkinjung Barker with a book drive. Students and families were encouraged to donate books that they no longer needed so that they could boost the amount of reading material available at this campus. Campbell Smith, the Head of Pain House, used the analogy of families sharing to explain to the boys the importance of this initiative. This act of giving allowed students to dwell on the importance of education, especially reading, and how their donations would serve the needs of these students for years to come. In addition to the charitable work and awareness-raising campaigns, Middle School students in Holt House have been encouraged to think beyond themselves in a new initiative introduced to recognise the fantastic work done by teachers in the School. Students were given the chance to nominate a teacher who had made a difference, someone who had gone above and beyond for the benefit of their students. In nominating, students were encouraged to write down the reasons they were nominating a particular teacher. Three teachers were chosen who received substantial feedback from students and who were presented with certificates in a Holt House meeting. The whole process challenged students to think about their experiences and determine key factors that made their learning experience more meaningful. It was affirming to see the reasons for nominating vary so much between students. Comments included: “She shows care for the students” and “She is very good at controlling Year 9 boys!”. Altogether, the opportunity for boys to reflect on the work of others proved useful in building their emotional intelligence. Holt House will continue this initiative each semester, providing the students further opportunities to express their gratefulness. Individual Middle School students have also looked to promote causes that they hold close to their hearts. Gurman Soni, one of the Middle School Seniors, shared a story with the Middle School during Chapel of the great work that Lifeline does for a boy he knows. Gurman organised for the Chapel offertories for one term to be used to support this worthwhile cause. He stated: “Through their services, they have brought a smile to many people’s faces. With all your help, we can help these young children and give them a reason to live”. The encouragement in the Middle School for these kinds of initiatives has helped students like Gurman to actualise their passions and it affords others the chance to see these endeavours. Middle School Chapel, attended once a week by all Middle School students, provides yet another opportunity for students to reflect on the deeper things of life, something that they rarely get the chance to do. These services, led by Middle School Chaplain, Damien Whitington, allow the school community to pause in the busyness of daily routine. Whilst we recognise that many students come from different backgrounds and diverse belief systems, there is value for everyone in Chapel. At the very least, the community is challenged to think beyond themselves. An even better outcome being that they are able to grow in wisdom and character so that they become citizens who contribute more to society than they take. Perhaps even more importantly, is the hope that students can experience God and enjoy a relationship with Him. Barker Institute Learning in Practice • 71
Over the last year in chapel, students have experienced two series. The first was called ‘Get your Timing on,’ which was inspired by Chapter 3 in the book of Ecclesiastes. Students were encouraged to think about moments in life that are not straightforward and they explored timing in the areas of speaking, listening, joking, being serious, accepting ideas, critiquing ideas, tenderness, resilience, mercy and justice. Lythcott-Haims (2015) states that it is essential in this day and age for students to be able to think things through and figure things out for themselves, to “hold a concept in their brains and reason with it” (p176) before deciding on a solution. The second series was titled ‘More to the Story,’ which was inspired by Nobel Peace Prize winner, Daniel Kahneman’s research on thinking fast and slow. Students heard about areas of life where their ‘fast’ brains operate, but how they often need their ‘slow’ brain to help them think critically and not to accept information at first glance. The Bible often represents situations that seem strange according to the ‘fast’ brain, but when the ‘slow’ brain is switched on, it can be seen how clever the Bible is in the way it makes sense of life. Students were encouraged to think about concepts such as loving your enemy, the benefit of silence and where self-worth comes from. In these series, students were challenged to look beyond themselves in the way they think and respond.
References Barber, M. (1999). Taking the Tide at the Flood – Transforming the Middle Years of Schooling. National Middle Years of Schooling Conference. Melbourne. Barratt, R. (1998). Shaping Middle Schools in Australia – A report of the National Middle Schooling Project. Canberra: Australian Curriculum Studies’ Association. Lythcott-Haims, J. (2015). How to Raise an Adult. New York: Henry Holt and Company. Penman, R. (2004). What do we know about the experiences of Australian Youth? A Compendium of Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth Research Reports from 1996 – 2003. Canberra: DEST (Draft Report) Price-Mitchell, M. (2013). ”Acts of Kindness: Key to Happiness for Children and Teens” in Psychology Today. Retrieved 1 September 2017, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/ blog/the-moment-youth/201301/acts-kindness-key-happiness-children-teens
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Learning to Lead Through Service: Barker Service Partnerships Simon Walker Director of Student Leadership & Service Learning
Learning in Practice 2017 Vol. 1 (1) © Barker Institute 2017
Dean Bunn Dean of Senior School
Abstract The following paper explores the way leadership skills and character are cultivated at Barker through a range of service learning partnerships that are student centred, transformative, long term and linked to teaching and learning. The notion of Service Learning (SL) will be explored along with an explanation of the Barker Service Partnerships’ Model and several of the current programs that are available to students.
Learning to Lead Through Service Service Learning (SL) has become increasingly popular in educational contexts due to its potential to enhance student citizenship, increase communication and reflective practice skills, develop empathy and extend student learning beyond the classroom (Bettencourt, 2015). SL is any form of “experiential education in which students engage in activities that address human and community needs together with structured opportunities intentionally designed to promote student learning and development” (Jacoby, 1996, p. 5) Service opportunities enable students to use their abilities in creative ways to find solutions to social and environmental challenges (Bringle & Hatcher, 2011); to engage actively, collaboratively and compassionately and to build respectful partnerships (Bringle & Hatcher, 2011) and to act in ways that are just and bold with the hope that they will help to empower others (Snell, Chan, Ma & Chan, 2015). In the realm of student leadership development, SL is a particularly promising avenue because of its experiential nature (Eyler, Giles, Stenson & Gray, 2001). Through this approach, learning and development can take place in both the concrete experiences and the reflective opportunities provided to the students (Lester, 2015). Barker’s student leadership programme has for many years focused on developing leadership skills in all students regardless of a formal role or title. Students are encouraged to ‘lead without a title’ and to take opportunities where possible to lead through service. This approach stems from Barker’s Christian traditions in which we uphold the character and life of Jesus Christ, a humble servant leader, that “… did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28, English Standard Version). This model has been widely accepted by staff and students across the School and has become the foundation for all our leadership programs.
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The Barker Service Partnerships’ Model In 2015, under the leadership of Mr Phillip Heath, a new strategic plan, “Inspiring Global Hope” was developed. “Inspiring Global Hope” goes beyond a tick-a-box strategic plan, it is an audacious vision that seeks to make the educative process one that is innovative, collaborative and, most importantly, transformative. The Service Partnerships’ Programme was developed from this vision in line with the five areas of action:
Mission and Service
Education and Care
Community, Staff and Students
Planning and Resourcing and Innovation
Transformation and Leadership.
In order to ensure that students and staff are engaged in meaningful and authentic service opportunities that empower others and that align with the goals of “Inspiring Global Hope”, the Service Partnerships’ Programme adheres to a set of four lenses. Each lens provides a framework for assessment and evaluation of a service partnership. These include;
• • • •
Long-term focus Links to teaching and learning Transformative experiences Student-centred involvement with the wider community
Inspiring Global Hope - Goals
Links to Teaching and Learning
Studentcentred involvement with the wider community
Forming meaningful relationships with local, national and global communities. (CS&S) Growing relationships which enable us to make something good, just and compassionate happen in the world. (M&S) Implementing a globally focused 21st century Barker College model of learning that promotes an outstanding educational experience for all K-12 students. (E&C) Being a Christian educational community that inspires innovative solutions to social and environmental challenges. (IT&L) Looking beyond our present successes and implementing creative and new ideas that transform individuals and empower their growth as future leaders. (IT&L) Fostering innovation using emerging research and educational practice, consciously striving to be educational leaders, transforming students and staff to be visionaries of global hope. (IT&L) Inspiring bold and authentic leaders to exercise their compassion as they develop their God given gifts in service to their local and global communities. (IT&L) Using our resources to impact global hope. (P&R
Table1: Barker Service Partnership lenses and their links to the “Inspiring Global Hope” strategic goals. 74 • Barker Institute Learning in Practice
The Barker Service Partnerships’ Program aims to move beyond the ‘mufti-day’ and ‘bake sale’ fundraisers (although they have their place), to a more purposeful SL programme that aims to empower others and to build meaningful and transformative connections between students and those within the local and global community. Students can voluntarily access a range of service initiatives within the programme. This may be during school hours, linked to various co-curricular programs or academic subjects or out-of-school hours within the broader community. The new student leadership position, Social Justice Captain, was also created to maintain the student-centred approach to this service programme. These students are appointed to lead, promote and co-ordinate a range of service partnerships and social and environmental causes within the School. A number of the partnerships are outlined below.
Darkinjung Peer Mentoring Darkinjung Peer Mentoring was founded by a former student eager to see stronger connections developed between the Darkinjung and Hornsby campuses. The program focuses on the principles of mentoring, fellowship and friendship and involves a fortnightly lunchtime programme where Year 11 and 12 student volunteers coordinate a range of games and activities for the Darkinjung students. The impact of this mentoring program is seen in the transformation of students and the deepening of relationships as they learn and interact together.
Hampers for Hornsby Hampers for Hornsby is a Middle School Seniors’ initiative that has be operating for the past four years. The programme involves the shared efforts of the Secondary School student and staff community in donating hampers to be distributed to people in need by St Peter’s Anglican Church, Hornsby. This programme is student-centred and long term with the hope that lasting relationships might be developed between the parishioners of St Peter’s and those whose lives are challenging in the local area.
Timor Leste Service Trip This leadership and service opportunity is in partnership with Rotary Australia who have established long-term connections with local Timor Leste communities. Barker students travel to Timor Leste to take part in the Rotary Youth Programme of Enrichment (RYPEN), a highly-sought after leadership programme offered to underprivileged Timor Leste teenagers. Students work alongside the course attendees, learning language skills and understanding the Timor Leste culture. This program has strong links with the Year 10 Geography unit that focuses on the establishment of independence in Timor Leste and Australia’s involvement in stabilising the country.
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Time out Basketball Timeout is a student co-ordinated basketball programme for children in the local area with disabilities. Timeout aims to help students from Barker and the local community to grow in character and friendship, whilst also giving parents an opportunity to relax and unwind. This programme enables students to exercise compassion and develop empathy and they use their skills and gifts to empower others.
Conclusion The Barker Service Partnerships’ Programme is a growing service and leadership portfolio within the School that aims to provide students with meaningful service opportunities which support and empower the lives of others. Many of the students who participate in these programmes speak of the lasting change that takes place in their own personal development and, more importantly, the empowerment that takes place in those they serve.
References Bettencourt, M. (2015). “Supporting student learning outcomes through service learning” in Foreign Language Annals, 48(3), pp473–490. Bringle, R. & J. Hatcher (2011). “International service-learning” in B. Bringle, J. Hatcher & S. Jones (Eds.), International service-learning: Conceptual frameworks and research, pp3-28. Stylus, Sterling, VA. Eyler, J., D. Giles, C. Stenson & C. Gray (2001). At a glance: What we know about the effects of service-learning on college students, faculty, institutions and communities, 1993-2000 (3rd ed.). Corporation for National & Community Service, Washington, DC. Jacoby, B. (1996). “Service-learning in today’s higher education” in B. Jacoby & Associates (Eds.), Service-learning in higher education. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA. Lester, S. (2015). “Melding service learning and leadership skills development: Keys to effective course design” in Journal of Experiential Education 38(3), pp280–295. Snell, R. S., M. Chan, C. Ma & C. Chan (2015). “A road map for empowering undergraduates to practice service leadership through service learning in teams” in Journal of Management in Education 39(3), pp 372–399.
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Research Barker College is constantly examining, reviewing and improving its practice. These articles offer a snapshot of some of the research being conducted throughout the School. This includes the formal, large-scale work of the Barker Institute and Action Research conducted by individual staff wishing to investigate and sharpen aspects of their classroom practice. Barker Institute Learning in Practice â€˘ 77
Reflections from the ‘Barker Journey’ study: 2016 interviews Amanda Eastman Assistant to the Director of Research in Learning and the Barker Institute
Learning in Practice 2017 Vol. 1 (1) © Barker Institute 2017
Abstract What is it that makes Barker special? The ‘Barker Journey’ study has tracked a group of Barker boys for nine years to examine how their experience at the school has shaped their lives. This paper examines their 2016 interviews and, as they start Year 12, the boys have some fascinating and somewhat nostalgic insights about their School years. In particular, the interviews highlight the range of activities on offer, the strong sense of community, the increasing sense of social justice and morality and the quality of teaching at the school.
One thing Mr Taylor told me in Year 3 … I asked him ‘What makes a Barker student?’ and he said ‘to treat other people the way you want to be treated’ and that’s kind of stuck with me as my nine years have passed. In many ways, this quote is a microcosm of the Barker story. It captures a student profoundly impacted by his teacher, spending the next nine years of his school journey living out the advice given by his role model. This picture of inspirational teachers and cohesive community plays out repeatedly throughout the Barker Journey study. This paper examines the 2016 interviews with a cohort of boys at the conclusion of their Year 11 studies. It helps to ascertain what students gain from their Barker journey well beyond what can be conveyed by marks and statistics. Their stories are all unique, including overseas adventures, life lessons learnt through adversity and eyes being opened to the need for global hope. However, there are also some common themes that resonate very strongly throughout all the interviews and help to capture the impact of the Barker experience.
Diversity It is almost immediately evident that every student’s experience is distinctive. The students in this study are engaged in a diverse assortment of academic and co-curricular aspects of the school. When students were asked about the highlight of their year, the responses included everything from camps and tours to the musical and the play; from watching and playing sport, to cadets; from F1 and Robotics, to Choir and Band; from Mock Trials and Debating to Extension Chinese. Some students, rather than identifying a specific activity, said that being supported in their academic achievement was a highlight with one student reporting that “I have a good time every time I go into each classroom”. Students also seemed really to enjoy all these offerings regardless of their level of success. Some had tried a new sport for the first time, whilst others were aspiring to become professional sportsmen. Some had lead roles in the musical whilst others enjoyed being a member of the chorus or crew. Some began as reluctant participants but ended up gaining much from the experience. For example, one student was hesitant to participate in a sailing 78 • Barker Institute Learning in Practice
camp but in the end he said he “had a blast”. Another contributor said he used only to participate in sport out of obligation, but to his surprise, he was now enjoying basketball. Another student also said he was becoming more appreciative of all the little things - not just the sport, music and drama - but the classes, chapel services, tutor meetings and so on. The diversity was also evident in the range of plans students had for their years immediately following Year 12. For some students, it was a setback in their main interest area that forced them to explore and appreciate other things the School has on offer. One athletic student described his broken leg as a “blessing in disguise” as for the first time, he could focus more on school work and enjoyed seeing his marks improve. Another student said even though he had surgery that went “horribly wrong”, he was able to take a step back and evaluate his priorities. He has consequently learnt to focus on his studies and to enjoy the support within the year group. This collection of experiences showcases the immense variety of academic and co-curricular undertakings that Barker students enjoy.
Equality While the interviews showcased the depth and diversity within the candidature, they also highlighted a sense of unity, equity and justice. The benefits of adding girls to the cohort were discussed at length. Some students reflected on the addition being disruptive at first, but said the boys quickly settled down, matured significantly and made new friendships. There was unanimous consensus that the learning experience was improved by becoming coeducational. One said “I love it, it’s incredible. They give it a different flair”. For some, the primary benefit was the broader range of perspectives in class discussions; for others it was being motivated to be the best version of themselves they could be, while for some it was developing confidence and social skills and in many cases it was the way that the girls helped to accelerate their maturity and dampen the “silliness” that characterised Middle School. Many said “it’s a better learning environment” and it has “encouraged the learning process. You want to learn more so you can discuss things on the same level”. There was a sense that the girls made the classrooms more rigorous and academically competitive. Many students were also able to see how it would be beneficial beyond the Mint Gates, as reflected in the following observations: “Trying to understand everyone is beneficial for education and life beyond as well.” “Segregation isn’t really normal, so having that opportunity before you leave school is a very, very good experience to have as it sets you up.” “It feels a lot more like the outside world.” “It’s changed my approach to things … opens you up to what the outside world’s going to be like.” “You need to be able to go straight into the workforce. It’s good to have that scenario so not only are you mentally prepared but also socially capable.” Some (particularly those in leadership positions) did acknowledge the need to improve the way the girls are integrated throughout the Senior School. They spoke about making 2017 the ‘Year of Inclusion’ and aiming to make the environment friendlier for the girls. It would certainly be interesting to include girls in a similar study in the future to track how they are shaped by their time in the School. Barker Institute Learning in Practice • 79
The theme of equality was not limited to gender equality. One student commented that he thought Mr Heath had played a significant role in growing concern for social justice across the School. Some of the participants in this study had been to Darkinjung, Barker’s Indigenous campus. They described it as a “very different environment” and reflected on their increased awareness of Aboriginal culture. The concern for social justice also spanned the globe. A handful of the participants had been to the Crossroads charity organisation in Hong Kong and had their eyes opened to how blessed we are in Sydney. One reported, “that was the big thing for me, to realise how privileged we are in Australia and how much we can do to help”. Another said, “I realised how lucky I am … there are a lot of people doing it tough … it’s definitely given me a world view and the inclination to help out where I can”. These experiences certainly seemed to be highly formative for the boys involved.
Community Even stronger than the sense of international community was the sense of community within the School. The words “atmosphere”, “culture”, “community” and “people” were commonly cited as the most enjoyable things about Barker and the elements that will be missed most beyond Barker. Some students mentioned specific events that developed this culture, such as coming together to watch sport, Batting for Change and Coffee House. One of the boarders also spoke very highly of the sense of community within the boarding house, saying “you make the best friends you’ll ever make” and emphatically stating that it would be the Boarding House he would miss more than anything. However, for the majority, it was the informal, daily interactions that cultivated this sense of belonging. The students painted a picture of a particularly tight-knit year group. One of the most memorable comments was: “We’re a whole year, not individuals within a year … There has been really good support and we’re building a team to go through Year 12”. In fact, a significant number of students mentioned how much they have valued the time with their year group. When asked what they would miss most about the school, some of the responses included: “My year group. We are all like one big family.” “I’ll miss the environment within the year the most. The mateship, the camaraderie … building relationships that will hopefully last a lifetime.” There was a definite sense the year had become closer since starting Senior School, as many of the cliques had dissipated and students felt that they could talk freely to anyone without being judged. Some students also reflected positively on making friends from other year groups through co-curricular activities. One student insightfully pointed out that co-curricular and community go together and, because Barker’s co-curricular program is “phenomenal”, the development of community is a positive by-product.
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Values It was this sense of community that appears to have had the greatest impact on the students personally. When asked how Barker had shaped them, the most common theme was that their values had been shaped by the people around them – both staff and students. A few commented that they thought the teachers model how people should be treated and have consequently shaped their own interactions. There was definitely a sense that the values were absorbed by being around others who shared them, rather than through explicit teaching: “Barker builds good people. When you’re around good people you become one yourself.” “All the values that the school goes by get instilled into each Barker kid but especially once you’re here for this long it becomes a part of you.” The following quotes show how some students spoke about their values in general terms: “I think it has definitely helped me to be a better person … more morals and values.” “It’s good to enforce values. It’s given me a moral compass.” “Becoming the best possible version of yourself.” ‘’Made me into a better person overall.” “How I carry myself.” Others were more specific about the values they had obtained with some commonly cited ones including compassion, respect, manners, confidence, character, work ethic and responsibility. “It’s led me to be a more compassionate person and help people out.” “You pick up work ethic and social morale.” “I think a lot of the values that are always taught have impacted me … being kind and courteous to others and treating them how you want to be treated.” “One of the values that I take on board is that respect value … before you make any judgment on someone you’ve got to understand and respect someone’s opinion.” “It shows you the way to be exemplars within society. It helps you to build a basis of knowledge and reflection upon oneself that is needed within a modern day society, especially in terms of acceptance … it provides the students with a voice which is what our generation needs to do.” These reflections capture one of the amazing legacies that Barker offers its students – creating wholesome, selfless, hard-working individuals. One student also gave a moving account of how the School had played a pivotal role in shaping his Christian faith: Probably the biggest thing it has done for me is allowed me to make a decision to pursue a relationship with God. As well as that, most of the core values that Barker has are Christian values … all the Christian Studies’ staff are really supportive and allow you to make that decision for yourself. It’s massive for me – it’s the most important thing in my life.
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Teaching Right from the start of the boys’ journeys, it is the teachers, not just the students, who have had perhaps the deepest impact. Some spoke very fondly of their Junior School teachers. In one beautiful moment, a student quoted his Year 5 teacher whose words have had a profound impact on him. He “shaped me as a person” and is still “someone I look up to”. When asked about how Senior School differs from Middle School, almost every student spoke about how the relationship with their teachers had changed and deepened. It was evident to the boys how much the staff care, not just about their results but about their lives as well. Some key quotes included: “While I have developed a lot of relationships with students and made great friendships with them, I have also developed great relationships with the teachers.” “They’re really good, they’re really engaging.” “Someone to reach out to.” The students found these relationships with the staff motivational and inspirational, with many wanting to work hard to make their teachers proud. Their admiration for the teachers went beyond the classroom, with students naming senior staff like “Gilly” and “Thommo” as people whose influence and support was appreciated. Another aspect that students appreciated about the Senior School was the ability to home in on subject areas of interest. They were appreciative of the fact that Barker students can choose from a limitless combination of subjects and have state-of-the-art facilities to develop their skills and interests. The art and tech facilities were praised, along with the teacher dedication that allows these areas to be available at a range of times.
Balance In terms of academic pursuits, many of the students believed there had been a real step up in the expectations and workload in the Senior School. However, all were positive about how they were managing this. One had given up tennis outside of school and one chose to participate in the play but not the musical because of how the timing fitted in with assessments. One missed much class time for robotics, but was confident he had learnt to manage all his commitments now. These examples show the students learning valuable life lessons about prioritising, balancing responsibilities and work ethic. Many had found Barker’s structure and routine invaluable and cited this as something they would miss after Year 12.
Conclusion These interviews capture the value of the Barker experience beyond what can be gleaned from league tables and statistics. When asked what he would miss most, one student responded with a laugh, “I’ll miss everything to be honest”. It is often difficult to define the culture of an institution and as is the case with this quote, it is difficult to isolate exactly what makes a place special. However, when viewed collectively, these interviews capture a place where students can pursue and be supported in whatever their passions may be, while forming deep and transformative relationships and also learning to look beyond themselves to be inspired to become part of something bigger and more important.
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The final interview of the Barker Journey: a glimpse inside the thoughts of our veterans from 2008-2017
Learning in Practice 2017 Vol. 1 (1) © Barker Institute 2017
Dr Brad Merrick Director of Research in Learning and the Barker Institute
Abstract In 2008, a study that investigated the journey of the then youngest members of our Barker Community, our Year 3 classes, has continued to examine the journey of these boys, both collectively and individually, through to their completion of Year 12 in 2017. Using a semi-structured interview combined with field notes and video footage, data was collected and analysed. This small collection of information reports on ways that their experiences shaped their character and, more importantly, how they understand their own learning as they reflect on their personal growth. This paper specifically focuses on the recent interview undertaken with the boys in Year 12 prior to departure from the School.
Background to the study Towards the end of Term 3 2017, I concluded the remaining interviews with the 43 boys as they were completing Year 12. This was a considerably longer process than the interview undertaken in 2008. Whereas the original interviews took around five to six minutes in the Junior School, for many of the boys it was not uncommon to talk for well over half an hour to an hour of time as they reflected personally on a learning journey that many felt had disappeared in the blink of an eye. Here, the significance of the end point in the journey was not in any way lost, but rather quite a powerful means of drawing on the most personal and reflective insights of each boy. Each boy relived their journey since Year 3 and recounted their final recollections as they completed their final days prior to commencing their Higher School Certificate examinations. This vignette of the research is a very brief, yet powerful reminder of the significant impact that the learning process has on the social and emotional development of each student, combined with the more tangible academic progress that tends to dominate the educational experience.
The data and discussion – The Year 12 experience The students highlighted that this year had been ‘the best year ever’ and that ‘they had enjoyed everything, their classes, the social aspect and the teachers’. As they reflected on their journey and what it had meant to them, there was an overwhelming sense of joy and gratitude for all that the Barker experience has constituted for them. This in turn opened my eyes regarding what learning signifies in the present day.
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Their sense of pride in school and community Interesting data emerged from the key questions around the relationships they had developed at school, combined with a sense of pride and value they felt for their Barker experience for which many were so grateful to be part of for the last ten years. The impact and importance of working with a strong co-educational Senior School community and staff who really interact with and share their expertise was evidenced through so many of the responses including:
The value of being around others and the friendships that they had made
The ongoing feedback from teachers and the friendships has been great
There is a strong sense of care from the teachers for each student
Support received from peers and friends along the way
The sense of personal connection with the teachers and students, a camaraderie that has brought the boys closer together as a year group
When the students were asked: “For what are you grateful?”, the personal responses and reflections of the students highlighted the depth of their thought combined with the strong sense of appreciation that they all expressed for having had the opportunity to attend Barker:
The experience of my entire education
Growth as an individual
Support of my parents
Just coming to barker
The people and the teachers; their sheer commitment and passion
Realising how much I have learned along the way
Co-curricular activities, the sport, the sense of wellbeing and the community
Formation of the individual and their character Towards the end of each interview, one of the questions asked to each participant was: “How do you feel that Barker shaped you as a person?” This question elicited a range of very personal responses about their time at the school:
It has taught me about respect and friendship
To be accepting of each other
I have had role models around me
The culture, the interaction and the values that form the whole School from Year 3
It has shaped my moral compass, given me a building platform and allowed me to grow
I have learned to avoid being brash and to respect the opinions of others
It has fostered a sense of empathy and hard work which will stay with me
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Although these only represent a selection of responses, the comments further highlight how the underlying values and interactions that each student experienced on a daily basis, impacted the individual character and personality of the participants whereby they were now acting out the virtues of their experiences, learnt both formally and informally during their time at Barker.
Reflecting on the Journey – How did it feel to the participants? As the final section of each interview and as the discussion drew to a close, the participants were asked to provide a one-word answer to the following statement: “My Barker Journey has been …”. In this one small, yet significant part of the interview, their considered responses (often witnessing the boys pause for a considerable length of time) were incredibly moving, amplifying the thoughts and sentiments that they had for the School and all that it had provided and challenged them with along the way. Here is a selection of keywords from the responses:
Transformative, Insightful, Inspiring, A pleasure,
Memorable, Amazing, Turbulent, Eye-opening,
Unforgettable, Challenging, Sensational, Motivating,
Extraordinary, Incredible, A rollercoaster, Thought–provoking, A gift.
Concluding Observations Although only a glimpse of the journey completed by a series of young adults, this Year 12 interview clearly indicated the depth of connection and strong feelings that each boy had for the School, despite the fact that for each participant, the journey had its own unique direction combined with a myriad of similar curricular and co-curricular experiences, albeit quite varied in the way that each individual engaged in and allowed the various learning opportunities to shape their sense of being while also driving them to follow their dreams and passions. Whether it was the aspirant Year 3 boy who had dreamt of being a NBA Basketball player and looked destined to fulfil his ambition as he was planning a move to a USA College next year, the small boy (now a more than six foot tall young man) who just told me that he was proud of becoming more confident in himself as an individual and that his journey has provided him with the skills to move into the world with a sense of belief, or the young man whose experience in the world of creativity and engineering had made him realise that his passion was now in clothing design, and that he intended to pursue this overseas, every unique and individual journey had the same characteristics of character formation and a personal sense of direction at the heart of their reflection. Whether the students were sharing comments about the significant teacher they had been taught by in Year 4 who had impacted their respect for others, the myriad of musical and dramatic opportunities that allowed them to perform on stage and realise a totally different world of aesthetic experience, the camaraderie of their friends who shared notes and resources to assist them in their learning, the sense of collaboration and connectedness was continually presented throughout the range of personal and collective examples discussed in these interviews. Barker Institute Learning in Practice • 85
This ten-year Barker Journey Study has highlighted that education is so much more than marks, content, lessons or assessments alone. Rather, it includes a whole range of opportunities combined with an intricate web of memories, experiences, interactions and opportunities that shape the being of each student at the deepest level. The boys often noted that although they could not always recall exact detail of their Junior School years, the teachers, the guidance, the encouragement and sense of belief developed in their individual strengths and passion areas were all critical components in their early years. As educators and parents, it is important to keep the broader definition of learning in perspective and to be mindful of the impact of so many experiences that shape each student. This study has highlighted the importance of reflecting on the past and connecting understanding in meaningful and purposeful ways. We should never underestimate just how much impact the environment has on the shaping of minds, character and aspirations of our future leaders. The intention is to continue to track these students as they move beyond the Mint Gates and make their mark in society. We look forward to sharing more of the story in the years ahead as each member of this unique group of participants makes their mark on the world. A unique and highly personal experience as a researcher, it has been a privilege to interview these boys over ten years, completing more than 470 interviews in total. I thank each student for their willingness to share their thoughts and insights between 2008-2017, allowing me to better understand how significant their educational experience was for them. By sharing this information with the parents, staff and broader community in the recent months, it has reaffirmed the importance of a consistent and meaningful educational journey that allows each student to follow their passion, while also having a strong sense of purpose and direction. Most importantly, it has confirmed that for an individual to realise their capacity, the environment is a highly significant component of this journey. The boys who commenced at Barker in 2008 and completed their examinations in 2017 are testament to this indeed.
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Using Video and multimedia to engage Year 7 students in recreational reading
Learning in Practice 2017 Vol. 1 (1) © Barker Institute 2017
Melanie Webster Teacher Librarian
Abstract Promoting reading is a key concern of the library and it supports the school- wide policy of promoting literacy across the curriculum. To this end, all Year 7 students participate in the Library Reading Time Programme one lesson per fortnight. The program objective is to encourage recreational reading by providing a comfortable space where relevant, fun and self-directed reading is facilitated. To inspire further engagement, the use of multimedia was introduced as a stimulus for discussion and critical thinking. Action research was undertaken to investigate the effect of this on students’ engagement. The question asked was: What effect does video and multimedia viewed in the Year 7 reading program have on student engagement?
Background Library Reading Time (LRT) has been running at Barker College for almost fifteen years. It was developed in response to a concern at the time regarding the declining reading rate among teenage boys (Masters, 2014). In collaboration with staff from the English Department, two teacher librarians designed a programme that included key components vital for engaging readers. These were: choice, access, a supportive teacher and a class environment where students feel valued. A mixed format of reading aloud, class discussion, book browsing and silent reading was adopted. Typically, the teacher librarians read aloud from a novel which is followed by a discussion and a period of sustained silent reading. Although this program addressed literacy concerns within the School, statistics show that in Australia literacy scores continue to decline. The PISA Report (2015) confirms that while Australia scores well when compared to other OECD countries, since 2009 literacy results have slowly been decreasing. Some in the media have lamented the death of the book, with screen time sometimes identified as a reason why teenagers are reading less (Denby, 2016). However, in today’s world, screen time is unavoidable. Students use digital media in their normal lives as routine. They operate in a society where communication is multimodal. While the written word is key, more interactive and visual methods of exchanging information have been adopted. As Callow (2013, p. viii) notes, images “pervade our waking hours and sometimes our sleep”. Many educators have welcomed the changes (Dalton & Grisham, 2013) and the potential they have for use in the classroom, to “draw on students out-ofschool literacies to help them perform better” (Sewell & Denton, 2011, p 61.)
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The opportunities of digital media also offer potential for the LRT program in terms of providing a bridge between students’ in-school reading and their lifeworld interests. Consequently, and in keeping with its philosophy of making reading fun and relevant to engage students, short video clips were introduced into the LRT lessons. I considered this visual element would reflect the current “lived” experience of students and would offer more visual learners a way into books they read both in and outside school. The clips selected were designed to complement and build on program content and stimulate further learning opportunities, enjoyment and reflection. They were not a substitute for reading, but rather an additional component of the lesson. To determine if embedding visual stimuli into the course was worthwhile I would investigate the effect video and multimedia viewed in the Year 7 reading programme had on student engagement.
The Research Process Using Stringer’s (2014) cyclical action research model of Look-Think-Act, a predominantly qualitative approach was taken to explore the research question. Stringer notes that action research enables practitioners “to engage in a systematic inquiry and investigation to design an appropriate way of accomplishing a desired goal and to evaluate its effectiveness” (p.6).
The Action Surveys, interviews and participant observations were conducted in class in the related discussion, book selection and independent reading time. Research data gathered was collected from two classes comprising approximately 20 students each through:
Two surveys were carried out: one at the start of the project and another at the conclusion. Survey 1 gave a good indication of the students’ attitudes towards the library and how they judged their school reading and reading in general. The follow-up survey conducted at the end of the research study contained more detailed questions about the use of video used in the library reading sessions. Interviews were conducted with a small focus group of three students and participants were observed during class discussions, book selection and independent reading time. These lessons were carried out in two cycles. The first cycle showed book and movie trailers. Like movie trailers, book trailers are short clips designed to build interest and entice the viewer to engage in a story. In the second cycle, the action was expanded and a more diverse range of footage was shown including news clips, Google Earth, documentary excerpts and interviews. These were to build context, explain key ideas and cover potential gaps in understanding.
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Results and Discussion From analysis of the data three main themes emerged in relation to the use of multimedia to engage students in reading: 1. Promotion of the fiction collection: The first was the way that students took what had been viewed and discussed and used it to inform their reading and borrowing choices via genre. The videos shown made it easier for them to determine the type of genres we were covering in the program and beyond. In one of the interview sessions when asked if they felt the inclusion of “screen-time” into the lessons had been worthwhile, a student responded by stating that: “I think it is worth having because then you can find what book you like and other books”. On several occasions and without prompting, the issue of genre was raised. The videos created visual cues to stimulate students thinking about different genre types and how the Library’s fiction collection is divided into separate categories. Students valued choice and the opportunity to discover and learn about what they like; key outcomes when encouraging students to be engaged in their own independent reading (Merga & Moon, 2016). This was an unintended but pleasing result. 2. Use of multi-media encouraged critical thinking: The second theme was critical thinking and the way students used visual elements to expand on concepts. The discussion that followed the viewing of the trailers indicated that the students reacted to not only what they had viewed, but also the source material. What the students had seen allowed them to explore themes from the novel. For example, after listening to a passage being read and watching the movie trailer for A Monster Calls, students debated if the monster was real or not. They questioned the idea of “the inner monster”. The video served to draw out deep responses and reactions, enabling the students to engage more in the text. One student, to support his point of view, quoted from the book. This quote came not from the section previously read to them, but rather from another section of the book that was used in the trailer. In a short time frame, the students had identified complex themes emerging from the book that had been communicated in both written and visual mediums. While most students responded favourably when asked about videos being used in the lessons, it is worth noting that one student did raise concerns. He spoke about how watching the trailers had impacted on how he imagined characters. For future lessons, re-structuring the lesson might be necessary, with an opt-out option incorporated for those not wishing to view the footage. Students would be allowed to browse the fiction collection prior to viewing of the clip in order to avoid seeing someone else’s visualisation of the book. There is also scope to develop further learning opportunities with lesson content developed to address individual interpretations of texts, how analysis can vary and so on. 3. Use of multimedia enhanced the enjoyment of reading: The discussions that followed the viewing of the videos and multimedia shown indicated that the students reacted to not only what they had viewed, but also the emotions these provoked. When asked to describe what it is they do in the program, many participants responded by saying that they “read and relax.” From the interview responses it was clear that students valued the chance to slow down and take a break from their busy school routine. A positive attitude towards the scheduled reading time was evidenced. In this the teacher librarian plays a critical role, cultivating a secure space where students feel confident to share ideas and enjoy their reading. Showing the videos to students and allowing them to share their thoughts on the book in a conversational setting gave the reading sessions a relaxed and fun tone. Interviews
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with a small sample group of students confirmed that they approved of the use of videos in the lesson. Of the eight students interviewed when asked if they felt “screen-time” in class was worthwhile, all were unanimous in their support. In the surveys, when all of the research participants were asked if they liked having book trailers included in the lesson, 75% indicated that they did. For movie trailers the approval rate was higher, with 90% wanting them to remain as part of the regular lesson sequence. Not a single student selected the response option of removing videos from the program. The different types of video shown were positively received. At the start of the lessons, some students were now asking me what we would be watching in class that day and what we would be reading.
Conclusion Action research has helped determine the success of integrating video into a book based literacy programme. From the surveys, student interviews and classroom observations, incorporating videos into regular LRT lessons has proven to be worthwhile. Classroom discussion and enthusiasm have indicated that students are engaged in what they are viewing and can think about and connect this back to the selected text and the wider fiction collection in general. By expanding access and enjoyment in addition to providing real world connections, engagement is enhanced. Students have indicated that they are happy with the range and variety of content used and preferred videos included in the lesson than without. From a teaching perspective, it is essential that content selected is up-to-date, connects with students and allows for deeper thinking. It must be used to enhance reading and enjoyment rather than distract from it. If selected and shown appropriately, a small amount of “screen time” can have a positive effect on Year Seven students and their reading. The results of this action research project suggest that while consideration needs to be taken in terms of selecting relevant material and managing how it impacts on individual textual analysis, the use of video within the LRT program should continue. Appealing to visual learners and offering another way into the book, carefully selected visual content helped students develop a deeper understanding of texts, made them more aware of the range of genres available and generated positive emotions associated with the act of reading. Video clips and multimedia used have had a positive effect on student engagement.
References Callow, J (2013): The Shape of Text to Come. Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA), Sydney. Dalton, B & DL Grisham (2013): “Love That Book: Multimodal Response to Literature” in The Reading Teacher, Vol. 67, No. 3, pp. 220-225. Wiley, New Jersey. Denby, D (2016): ”Do Teens Read Seriously Anymore?” in The New Yorker, February 23rd. Conde Nast, New York. Denton, S & WC Sewell (2011): “Multimodal Literacies in the Secondary English Classroom” in The English Journal, Vol, 100, No 5, pp. 61-65, National Council of Teachers of English, Illinois.
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Masters, G N (2014): Is School Reform Working? Policy Insights, Issue 1, Australian Council for Educational Research, Camberwell. Merga, M, K & B Moon (2016): “The Impact of Social Influences on High School Student’s Recreational Reading” in The High School Journal, Winter, pp. 122-140, University of North Carolina Press, North Carolina. Thomson, S, L De Bortoli, & C Underwood (2017): PISA 2015: Reporting Australia’s Results. ACER, Victoria. Denton, S and WC Sewell (2011): “Multimodal Literacies in the Secondary English Classroom” in The English Journal, Vol 100, No. 5, May, pp. 61-65, National Council of Teachers of English, Illinois. Stringer, E T. (2014): Action Research Edition Four, Sage Publications, Washington DC.
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Reflections on the College of Teachers’ Inaugural year Dr Brad Merrick Director of Research in Learning and the Barker Institute
Learning in Practice 2017 Vol. 1 (1) © Barker Institute 2017
Dr Greg Cunningham Director of Teaching and Learning
Abstract A central tenet in professional learning is to engage staff in self-reflection of their own practice using a peer-coaching model within a College of Teachers (COT) structure, where staff could nominate or be nominated to be trained as coaches and to work with colleagues across the School (Pre-K to Year 12). The COT model draws on the ‘Growth Mindset’ work of Dweck (2006), seeking to develop professional learning and personal growth from a positive frame of reference rather than a deficit approach. Key reference areas include setting professional learning goals, referencing current practice and then seeking opportunities for improvement. This paper explores the reflections of COT members after a year of involvement in the program.
Background to the Study and the College of Teachers As senior staff reflected on the role of the COT within the school and the emerging thinking and literature about ‘collaborative professional learning’ (Sharrat and Planche, 2016), the importance of connecting with ongoing research data was further highlighted, so the Barker Institute looked to examine the efficacy of the COT through engagement with the existing members. During 2016, the Barker Institute engaged in a reflective process to evaluate the initial success and validity of the coaching framework and its implementation. The methodology employed to collect data from the members of the COT included ongoing semi-structured discussions at meetings and utilising group reflection protocols. These were combined with individual reflection sheets throughout the year which included specific target areas of the COT program. In its first year, the staff co-ordinating the work of the Barker Institute and the College of Teachers reviewed the training and implementation by examining this data for emerging themes. Where appropriate, these personnel and the COT Lead Coach across the School also provided their own perspectives and insights on innovative approaches to practice that could be offered as adjuncts to the coaching process. These included the provision of regular shared ‘open-lessons’ for observations, the creation of small professional learning groups for discussion about pedagogy, the trialling of the coaching process across the school with willing participants and, where possible, the ongoing collection of feedback and data from staff.
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Overview of the research methodology The research that underpins this case study employed a mixed methodology including protocols such as survey, semi-structured discussion and open-ended questionnaires. These types of collection tools are best aligned with an educational innovation (similar to action research) that encourages ongoing collection of data through reflection which then reshapes the focus and clarity of engagement (Mills and Butroyd, 2014). By employing a range of different, contextualised approaches to data collection and thematic analysis, the rich nature of the experience was highlighted and annotated effectively amidst the busy schedules of the teaching staff involved.
Overview of the data collected and analysed There were a range of data collected within the reflection process which was analysed thematically to assist the professional learning community of the School as it moved into the next phase of the COT. Responses were organised and presented to highlight key areas of collective thinking for the N=45 participants. Overarching comments such as: “It is good to see a Growth Model being used to develop awareness of other staff across the School” and “We are now able to build relationships that lead to trust”, highlighted the initial positive impact of the professional learning opportunities that were made available through the COT. The responses from staff continually referenced that the opportunity to work alongside their peers in a non-threatening, supportive environment was the most valuable outcome of the process. Participants consistently noted that this process allowed them to see the professional practice of teaching through a different and sometimes contrasting lens. They often alluded to the variance in learning levels and subjects observed, emphasising that the emerging ‘Growth Model’ used by the School fosters strong cross-curriculum interaction and dialogue. In analysing the responses from participants, the key thematic areas they valued from the COT were: •
Professional conversations and improved communication
Empowering staff and celebrating success in others
Encouraging and supportive atmosphere
Developing open, positive and collegial classrooms
Increased capacity to listen and to reflect on practice
Opportunities to observe a range of teaching styles
Using a model that was both affirming and non-threatening
Opportunities to set professional goals related to practice and reflection
Situations to learn about and manage difficult conversations
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Similar to other innovations in a crowded education setting, participants highlighted the need to be aware of the structural and operational nuances of a school that can inhibit access to professional learning opportunities. This was particularly important to provide participants the very best chance to collaborate in learning from one another. Comments such as “We need to look at the timetable and align coaching with available periods” and suggestions such as “We need to consider the structural aspects of the School and make it a whole school professional learning target” highlighted the need to be aware of the environmental changes needed as educational innovations are embedded in school settings. The data and subsequent findings also reinforced that the overarching Growth Model used by the College of Teachers is an appropriate framework. Although only based on limited surveys and group reflections, the data presented suggests that participants consider that the COT has fostered a clear basis for dialogue and engagement in purposeful reflection, focusing on the coaching-mentoring process and the development of professional conversations. Several participants also suggested that the COT should be a central dimension in the professional learning goals of the School. It would appear that there is a perceived congruence of the COT with the whole-school mission and purpose that offers a strong sense of ‘reciprocity’ which is an important aspect in this collaborative process wherein the leaders and believers (staff) of the organisation feel that they are receiving mutual benefits for their efforts while demonstrating sensitivity to the possible power balances that may exist (Sharratt and Planche, 2016). Many staff referenced the increased sense of capacity, skill and confidence they have gained from their initial involvement highlighting the following skill areas that they had become aware of and fostered: •
Development of trust with other professionals
The ability to be fully present in a conversation with a colleague
Increased emotional connection with others in a professional context
The ability to treat others as equals
The ability to find common ground with others
The capacity to praise others
These attributes are all specifically related to the collaborative process and they highlight how the notion of ‘collective efficacy’ and collaboration are integral skills to develop in a coaching framework harnessed within the COT. Importantly, the data also provided key reference points for reflection and recalibration as the Barker Institute looks to continue implementing this model of professional learning in 2017. These findings are more ‘operational’ in their focus, often alluding to structural or design considerations within the overall organisation. A number of key suggestions were referenced in the data, providing significant insights for staff overseeing the project to reshape future iterations of the COT process. Crucial suggestions from staff included: •
Provision of connecting staff with others who have specific subject or educational experiences. In response, a College of Teachers’ Directory has been created and published for access across the 220 teaching staff;
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Increased allocation of time for staff to meet, observe and coach staff members. Since this request, availability of some period release time has been offered while also assisting staff to align more closely with those who may have similar breaks in their teaching timetables;
Opportunity to review the process continually and to share both the positives and negatives from the experience. Since receiving this data, regular meetings of all COT members are held each term with specific areas of focus and discussion relative to reflection and teaching practice;
Greater access to time. This has been tabled for consideration as the School expands its size and plans for the full implementation of co-education from PreK-12 in the future within the specific reference area researching ‘Shape of the Day’ considerations.
Outcomes of the approach In an educational environment where teachers are expected continually to refine their practice and to modify their teaching to suit the needs of learners best, the College of Teachers’ innovation has filled an important space in the suite of professional learning activities offered to staff at Barker College. As highlighted in the data, there has been a positive response to the COT, particularly the reflective focus and shared learning opportunities it has provided. By aligning the provision of the COT with emerging research and a sustained level of access through the Barker Institute, the qualitative data would suggest that staff are placing a high value on the relationships that this experience is providing for them. As externally provided professional learning opportunities have become so diverse and inaccessible to many staff due to cost and level of access, it is apparent that an in-house, shared coaching experience, firmly centred around ongoing feedback and reflection, has been well received within the School. Given the number of participants (N=45) and the increasing interest in the process across the campus, schools need strongly to consider the provision and design of professional learning for their teaching communities and to create opportunities that provide increased context and relevance for their staff. It would appear that in contextualising professional learning in the school-based environment, there is large degree of authenticity and connection for staff as it has value and personal worth to the participants. Edwards and Martin highlight “one measure of a profession is how it looks after its own” (2016, p.45) and it would appear that the COT experience is catering for the needs of the staff at the School.
Conclusions and recommendations The collective findings and reflection of participants are strongly aligned with Robinson’s (2015) suggestion that “effective practitioners need continuing opportunities for professional development to refresh their own creative practices and to keep pace with related development policy practice and research more generally” (p.127). Participants have certainly enjoyed the involvement and the opportunity to look beyond their own subject or stage level in the classroom.
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The data collected has indicated that staff have the capacity and propensity to engage in professional learning that is both personalised, shared and relevant. Most importantly, these findings suggest the need to provide a supportive environment in which to engage collaboratively. Although initial data has highlighted strong support for the COT, the findings have identified the need continually to reassess the design and implementation of such an initiative, given the ongoing changes in the day-to-day operational structures and demands on staff which, in turn, impact upon engagement in professional learning opportunities. At all times, it is important to remember that a school is a ‘living organism’ and that flexibility is needed to ensure the longevity and success of any educational innovation in the 21st Century.
References Dweck, C.S. (2006) Mindset. The New Psychology of Success. Random House, USA. Edwards, J. and Martin, B. (2016). Schools That Deliver. Corwin Sage. UK. Mills, G.E. and Butroyd, R. (2014). Action Research. A guide for the teacher researcher. Pearson Education. UK. Parsons, J., Hewson, K., Adrian, L. and Day, N. (2013). Engaging in Action Research. A Practical Guide to Teacher-Conducted Research for Educators and School Leaders. Brush Education. Canada. Robinson, K. and Aronica, L. (2015) Creative Schools, Penguin Random House. UK. Sharratt, L and Planche, B. (2016). Leading Collaborative Learning. Empowering Excellence. Corwin. London.
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Hope: An action-research project on student wellbeing Malyn Mawby Assistant to Director of EMT and Computer Science Teacher
Learning in Practice 2017 Vol. 1 (1) © Barker Institute 2017
Abstract The development of metacognitive and positive self-regulation skills is typically associated with academic achievement. This action-research project explored the question: “Does systematic integration of self-regulation processes in a year 12 Software Design and Development (SDD) class impact on student wellbeing?” Would there be positive, negative or no impact on students’ confidence that their effort will bring about improvements? The research population comprised of nine male year 12 students studying Software Design and Development. Findings suggest that there are impacts, both positive and negative.
Introduction The rationale for the action research project was three-pronged. Firstly, the teacher was already committed to developing metacognitive and positive self-regulation skills in academic teaching and learning activities. Secondly, the School’s aspiration to ‘inspire global hope’ presented a worthy challenge. Finally, there was genuine personal curiosity on the impact on student wellbeing, particularly with consistent introspection characteristic of regular selfregulatory practice. The hypothesis was there was an impact. The action-research project started with a literature review. The review presented several challenges with regards to research on wellbeing, particularly the work of Duckworth and Yeager (2015) and the challenges of terminology, measurement and paucity of research compared to cognitive and academic achievement. These researchers also provided a pragmatic approach in establishing constructs and research methodology. The review also paved the way to establishing Zimmerman’s self-regulatory model (1998) as the framework of choice along with recommended pedagogical practices to do so (Schunk & Zimmerman, 1998). Research on self-efficacy (Bandura, 1977) would prove useful even though associated more with cognitive skills as opposed to wellbeing.
Research Design Two action-research cycles were planned, each of which would comprise student selfreporting through surveys, teacher observation and performance tasks measuring the construct of student ‘hope’, or confidence in positive mutability. As Duckworth (2016) puts it: “Hope rests on expectation that our own efforts can improve our future.” Quantitative and qualitative data would be collected and analysed to highlight patterns and trends. A subset of Barker’s revised language on effort for academic reporting – or
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approaches to learning – would be employed as observable indicators of confidence in action. A ten-point scale for quantitative rating of confidence would be subjected to the Wilcoxon test (Clegg, 1983) to determine if the null hypothesis that there is no impact on student wellbeing could be refuted.
Figure 1- Before and After: Confidence levels
Figure 1 shows there was an increase in the number of students aiming to achieve Band 6. There was no change in the average level of confidence that the target goals would be met. However, the spread of rating increased with a huge drop from 6 to 3 by one student.
Figure 2- Before and After: Effort levels
Figure 2 shows the average level of effort students were prepared to put in has dropped. There is a new low of 6. While the most popular rating for “Mastery requires effort and strategies” has changed from 8 to 10, the number of rating greater than 7 is, in fact, lower in the end.
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Presented this way, one could surmise positive and negative impacts. Based on the Wilcoxon test on student self-report data, the null hypothesis could not be dismissed. Teacher observation data, on the other hand, did give a p rating ≤ 0.10, suggesting that the null hypothesis could be refuted. In fact, there were more incongruences between student self-report and teacher observation data using generic ‘confidence’ or more detailed approaches to learning. Further analysis and triangulation were needed to test the hypothesis further.
Figure 3- Data slice by self-reported change in confidence
Four students recorded no change in confidence level rating. These students mostly reported no change in the effort they were prepared to put in either. Two are high achievers and presumably already demonstrating sufficient effort. Their performance task data showed contextual variations in confidence and effort. Weekly surveys and teacher observation data would corroborate observed changes in approaches to learning as well. Three students reported a positive gain. One is a high achiever and recorded the biggest increase in effort he was prepared to put in. He was a glowing example of active hope realising an optimistic belief that effort would bring achievement. This category showed the neatest alignment of triangulated datain which there was consensus data. One student proved fascinating in that the reduction in effort he was prepared to put in echoed his disposition for underachievement despite being generally optimistic and positive. He was a typical example of unsubstantiated hope (vs active hope). Two students reported negative impact on confidence levels. This reduction of hope was further evident in diminished effort they were prepared to put in. Further analysis of the data revealed that both students increased their effort in Cycle 2. One of these students could be viewed as an outlier pulling averages down and had other factors affecting his wellbeing. Similarly, the other student was the only one who did not complete any of the three performance tasks required in the project. What this all suggests is that there were positive and negative impacts on student wellbeing, especially at contextual levels. Even the ones who reported no impact at a high level still demonstrated variations depending on context.
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I hope I do better as I begin to work harder To do well on the project I can argue a few marks I can get at least 20% more in the next exam I do this well in upcoming assessment task I will be able to improve for the final examination I can continue studying efficiently for SDD That I can maintain these marks for the remaining assessments The next project is easier than I’m expecting
Figure 4-”I hope” statements
These ‘I hope’ statements gathered at the end of the action research project, reveal some interesting patterns:
Mostly forward-looking, particularly towards future assessments.
Collectively demonstrate a sense of optimism. Perhaps this explains the increase in the number of students aiming for a Band 6 in the HSC.
Many statements, including the backward-looking “I can argue a few marks”, reflect how students internalised the meaning of active hope, where improvements relied upon personal effort, regardless of goal orientation and regardless of reduction in average effort they were willing to put in.
These ‘I hope’ statements dispel any lingering doubts that integrating self-regulatory processes into teaching and learning activities fosters a sense of optimism for positive immutability built on one’s effort. There is an impact on student hope. There is an impact on student wellbeing.
Conclusions/Recommendations The action research project after two cycles yielded an answer to the research question. Triangulation helped dispel discrepancies in student self-report and teacher observation data. Further investigative analysis of data provided a deeper understanding of the impact on student wellbeing. While teachers may arguably intuit the findings, it was substantiated empirically. This action research highlighted that learning, wellbeing and engagement are intertwined. More research is needed to understand this better and determine teaching practices that suit. Data analysis raised further questions: Could contextual hope be generalised within the subject and beyond? Is there a correlation between self-regulation skill and wellbeing and, if so, can it be leveraged? Does unsubstantiated hope (not just active hope) have its place in terms of student wellbeing in an academic setting?
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Based on student performance on an examination at the end of the two cycles, there were academic gains as well compared to performance in a previous examination. Apart from an grwoth in scores, there was an increase in strategy application of specific skills and decrease in non-attempts. There is merit in continuing to develop metacognition and self-regulatory skills. However, teachers must be aware that in doing so also impacts on student wellbeing and the imperative is to find ways to help those students who report or are at-risk of having negative impacts. Action research entailed rigorous and challenging work. It mirrored Zimmerman’s selfregulatory processes with the challenging middle of Assess/Observe or Performance Monitoring arguably requiring most self-discipline. Action research proved to be an excellent method for professional development. The literature review posed cognitive dissonance and inspired ideas for action. Implementing the plan put practice under the microscope and presented another focal point on student development, of wellbeing/hope. Analysis of data challenged statistical skills and uncovered interesting patterns that ultimately answered the research question. This is the crux of the matter: What we do in the interest of student achievement also impacts on student wellbeing. There should be more research to explore this.
References Bandura, A. (1977). “Self-efficacy: Toward a Uniting Theory of Behavioral Change” in Psychological Review, 84(2), 191-215. Retrieved April 16, 2017 from https://www.uky. edu/~eushe2/Bandura/Bandura1977PR.pdf Bandura, A. (1982). “Self-efficacy Mechanism in Human Agency” in American Psychologist, 37(2). Retrieved March 1, 2017 from https://www.uky.edu/~eushe2/Bandura/Bandura1982AP. pdf Clegg, F. (1983). Simple Statistics: A course book for the social sciences. New York: Cambridge University Press. Duckworth, A. (2016). Grit: The power of passion and perseverance. New York: Scribner. Duckworth, A. L., & Yeager, D. S. (2015). “Measurement Matters: Assessing Personal Qualities other than Cognitive Ability for Educational Purposes” in Educational Researcher, 44(4), 237251. Retrieved October 16, 2016 from https://upenn.app.box.com/s/0soslytk4us51po2owxb yj3g1et3al5n Schunk, D. & B. Zimmerman (Eds.) (1998). Self-Regulated Learning: From Teaching to SelfReflective Practice. New York: The Guildford Press. Zimmerman, B. J. (1998). “Developing Self-Fulfilling Cycles of Academic Regulation: An Analysis of Exemplary Instructional Models” in D. H. Schunk & B. J. Zimmerman (Eds.), SelfRegulated Learning, From teaching to self-reflective practice. New York: The Guilford Press.
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A Year in Review: The Barker Institute in 2017 Learning in Practice 2017 Vol. 1 (1) ÂŠ Barker Institute 2017
Dr Brad Merrick
Director of Research in Learning and the Barker Institute
Abstract The Barker Institute was developed in 2014 under the leadership of Mr Philip Heath and the direction of Dr Brad Merrick, looking to place a connection across the core components of research, professional learning and innovation within the broader learning context at Barker College. Specifically, the mission of the institute was to share emerging thinking, practice and approaches to learning with the broader Barker Community and also beyond the Mint Gates, so as to create an inclusive and welcoming environment that fosters learning across all key areas. Throughout 2017, there has been considerable growth and interest in the Barker Institute and this article serves as an overview of the various presentations and areas of coverage included in the internal and external events throughout the year. The Barker Institute www.barkerinstitute.com.au has been an important and successful component of the broader provision of providing access to rich and diverse presentations, research and thinking across a range of settings. Having commenced in 2015, the BI now has well over 30 events each year, which can see audiences ranging from 80 students and parents through to crowds in excess of 400 parents and visitors attending a Community Forum. The beauty of the BI being that throughout the year it provides a range of different learning experiences, across a range of tiered presentations and information sessions. The Barker Institute aims to contribute to education at the local, national and global level through:
Professional learning that is focused on TfU, inquiry, critical thinking and quality student - teacher interactions, fostering a growth mindset for all participants.
Inspired learning that is facilitated through purposeful and collaborative engagement in the latest educational thinking and research.
Innovation that is developed through creative approaches to pedagogy, curriculum development, assessment and purposeful integration of emerging technologies.
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Based around the various needs of the School and the mission of the Barker Institute, the focus of each event is tailored to the needs of the whole School vision and also provided in response to emerging trends in educational research, social issues and other facets of society that have strong relevance and importance across the broader BI audience. This year the following levels of events were provided with well over three thousand people attending these events collectively. The different types of presentations included: -
Community Forums – Open presentations that provide in-depth knowledge and coverage of relevant and connected issues,
Twilight Series – Focused presentations and sessions, in areas of specific knowledge, often presented by past Barker students, staff and parents who occupy roles or occupations that provide interest and contemporary thinking,
Focus on Learning Series – These sessions are specifically designed and developed to create opportunities for interaction with both parents and students across the learning community, focusing on key understanding in the curriculum or assessment, combined with approaches to technology integration,
Parent Forums – these sessions are aligned with the various developmental levels of the students at Barker and allow parents to share in and learn about areas and issues that are important to specific stage levels,
Post Graduate Forum – this is a key event held each year, where staff and interested community members can observe staff as they share areas of research and interest in their relevant field of teaching, research or learning,
College of Teachers sessions – this is where the staff community of coaching is developed with teachers developing skills within a growth framework, and developing knowledge of practice and reflection to improve their engagement in teaching across the school,
Whole staff Professional Learning – on specific allocated staff days, the BI contributes to the organisation and facilitation of speakers, workshops and collaboration across all staff (teaching and administration), to ensure that the broader members of Barker are aware of developments that have relevance to their roles at school.
In 2017 the Barker Institute had several key presenters for Community Forums. The year commenced with acknowledged speaker and leader in the Growth Mindset field, Dan Haesler presenting our first Community Forum in Term 1 as well as a valuable workshop for the Heads of Department and Grade Coordinators at the School. Later in the term, Lisa Maltman who shared her expertise in sleep management for adolescents while bringing an increased awareness to parents and staff. This was followed up with several valuable parent forums across the school combined with some highly successful work with our Year 5 and 6 students, as they kept sleep diaries and monitored their own sleep patterns. In Term 3, Warwick Holmes, Executive Director of Space Engineering at University of Sydney provided an amazing insight in to the development and research into space travel, having overseen the Rosetta Mission for the European Space Agency. This presentation saw well over 4000 attendees captivated by his experience and story about the mission. This was accompanied by a fantastic presentation by the Barker Robotics team. Later in
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Term 3, Christine Nixon, esteemed author, leader and the past Commissioner of Police of Victoria, provided a captivating talk about her latest book ‘Women Leading’ sharing some fascinating insights and reflections about leadership in the current day, and some of the issues confronting leaders as they work in Australia. In Term 4, Professor Gary McPherson provided an insightful presentation about Childhood Musicians which was of great interest. The Twilight Series has proved to be of great success, with a number of parents sharing their experiences across varied occupations around the world. Professor Richard Mackay, who is a cultural heritage advisor to the government provided a fascinating journey into the history and damage to significant artefacts through the Middle East, explaining the context behind these events around the world. His talk was titled “Our Cultural Heritage and Global Hope”. Professor Liam Semler, from the University of Sydney provided a thought-provoking talk called “Teaching Shakespeare in the New Millennium” that alluded to the increased level of ‘systematisation’ within the broader education environment, that is subsequently impacting the content delivered in our educational system and beyond. He referenced this through the lens of his work in English Literature at his university. Annalisa Haskell, Barker parent and CEO of Local Government Managers Australia, offered an insight into the difficulties for young women in the workplace, providing the audience with a number of valuable insights and strategies. Her presentation “The Importance of success and value in career development for young women” was a great success. In Term 4 past student, Mr Andrew Stevens and Chair of the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre, presented our last Twilight Presentation for the year, which saw him discuss how Australia can sustain economic growth and employment in the future. The Focus on Learning Series, was an innovation and new program of sessions that looked to combine opportunities for connected experiences between students and parents within the community. Commencing in February, the first session “Embedding ICT in the Middle Years” invited parents to come and work with ICT integrators, using their son’s iPads to better understand the way that mobile devices can be used in learning, and also how to manage these effectively within the learning process, both at school and at home. This proved to be beneficial for all involved with many parents enjoying the chance to receive a first-hand experience of the way students engage in learning. Later in Term 1, Dr Matthew Hill presented his implementation of the new “Hearts and Minds” program at the School and outlined the way in which he had designed the curriculum for the development of thinking and philosophy at Barker. This was an informative evening that was well received by the attendees. As the year progressed, a presentation on the research into the usage of ICT by parents and students was presented at a forum with both Mr James Stewart, Mr James Denton and Dr Brad Merrick presenting to the students. Towards the end of Term 3, the Director of the BI presented a report on the ten year longitudinal research project –‘The Barker Journey’, which had tracked the learning journey of 43 students who had commenced as Year 3 students in 2008. This evening was well received by many parents, students, teachers and members of the broader community, all of whom were amazed by the data and stories of the boys as they had progressed through Barker to complete their learning journey. The final Focus on Learning Series presentation culminated in an evening which provided training and insight into how to have academic conversations and discussions with students. Looking to assist parents to better understand the way to interpret reports and assessment, providing frameworks and structures for discussions and feedback. This proved to be very successful.
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An interesting and very well received presentation called ‘Ag After Dark” was instigated by the Agriculture Staff and saw a presentation on the development of the coffee industry by Saxon Wright, founder of Pablo and Rusty’s Coffee. This format of having subject specific sessions provided generated a great deal of interest and we hope to develop this area more in the year ahead. The Parents’ Forums were modified in their structure in 2017, seeing the various stages combined for greater access and relevance to parents. In 2017 we had a Junior School Forum, a Middle School Forum and a Senior School Forum, all of which allowed the presentation to be focused and linked to key issues relative to the developmental needs of the students. The Director of the BI, Dr Brad Merrick presented on GRIT at the Senior School Parents’ Forum, examining the current research around motivation, resilience and effort for students, drawing on the seminal work of Dr Angela Duckworth in her book “GRIT – The power of passion and perseverance”. This provided a range of clear strategies and thinking for parents to utilise and for students to adopt in their own work. The Junior School and Middle School Parents’ Forums focused on the emerging research in adolescent sleep behaviour and Lisa Maltman, the Director of the Sleep Connection provided valuable insight for the parents at both of these forums connecting each session to the issues associated with sleep deprivation and the overuse of digital devices. Her Middle School presentation was called “The Importance of Sleep for Better Health, Resilience and Performance in adolescents” and her Junior School Forum saw her report on a two week sleep research project that she undertook with Year 5 and 6 boys, examining their sleep habits. This was called “Investigating the sleep patterns of our Year 5 and 6 students - key findings and strategies for parents to consider” and was an extremely valuable learning experience for the parents that attended. Combined with the ongoing development and implementation of the College of Teachers – Growth Coaching program with staff to develop reflective practice and conversations about teaching, there was also the tenth Annual Post-Graduate Forum which allowed staff to share their knowledge and insight about projects and research they had been developing to interested staff and community members. An important part of the Barker Institute’s role is to share learning and provide opportunities for engagement at a local, national and international level. The Institute continued to develop research programs during the year, working with students on the Extended Stay program in Alice Springs, and also developing research to assist the project groups involved with the transition to coeducation. An important component of the Barker Institute’s role is to tell the story of the many facets of research, teaching and learning combined with the day-to-day experiences of students and staff. In 2017 the BI initiated the first edition of the newly created ‘Learning in Practice’ Journal which saw the first volume published in November. Along with all of the Barker Institute forums and sessions, the Professional Learning arm oversaw the structure and organisation of much of the learning and presentations provided for staff throughout the year, which included work in the area of Formative Assessment, Writing Across the School (WATS), Goal Setting, Blended Learning, all initiatives aligned with the Schools’ ongoing mission and vision for the future. All in all, a busy but extremely diverse and interesting year for the Barker Institute, with a wide array of participants and many interesting sessions made available. We look forward to another successful and engaging series of presentations and events in 2018. Barker Institute Learning in Practice • 105
Glossary Action research An investigation conducted by the researcher within their professional context to enhance their practice. Blended learning A student-centred learning process that synthesises digital learning and face-to-face instruction. Comprehension The ability to elicit meaning from text. Differentiation The process of modifying instruction and tasks to suit the varying needs of the learners. eTime A tutorial time where senior students work independently on set work that complements their classroom learning and hence improves both curriculum knowledge and executive functioning skills. Formative assessment Ongoing assessment designed to produce constructive feedback and shape learning, rather than just elicit ranks or grades. Metacognitive skills Higher-order thinking skills such as the ability to examine and interpret one’s cognitive processes. Phonics A teaching method centred on developing one’s ability to hear, identify and manipulate units of sound and their corresponding letters.
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About the Authors Melissa Brady is the Director of Coeducation Transition. She has a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and is a Nationally Accredited Highly Accomplished Teacher. She has been a member of the ISTAA Experienced Teacher Assessment Panel and she assisted in writing the Experienced Teacher Evidence Guide for NSWIT. Melissa is a member of the College of Teachers and in 2016, she completed the National Emerging Leaders’ Program through the AIS Leadership Centre with a focus on coeducation and emerging trends in educational research and practice. Dean Bunn began his teaching career in 1986 at Shore School where he taught Physics. Committed to hands-on Science, in the early years of his teaching career he stablished an integrated program of science research for Year 10 students and heavily supported the Intel NSW Young Scientist Competition. He authored ‘Physics for a Modern World’ which was published by Jacaranda in 1990. Dean took leave from Shore for the years 1990 to 1992 and returned to his country of birth where he taught Mathematics and Physics at Aiyura National High School. Upon his return to Shore, he took up an assistant’s’ role in the Science Department and was appointed the Head of Science in 1996. Seeking some experience in a co-educational setting, Dean moved to Barker College in 2001 as the Head of Science. In 2008 Dean was appointed to a new position at Barker, which involved the explicit teaching and development of leadership qualities in all students across K-12. The position has expanded into an additional focus on Service Learning and the implementation of programs to provide every student an opportunity to serve beyond the school community. His present position is Dean of the Senior School. Alex Butt is currently a PDHPE teacher and Assistant Director of Girls’ Sport. She is the coordinator of Barker’s Touch Football, Rugby Sevens and Netball Programs and has been involved in various administration roles at both ISA and NSWCIS sport’s level. Her passion is using evidence-based research to guide to develop emerging practice in sports development and performance in schools. Alison Cox is Currently Director of Girls’ Sport. Within this role, she has had the opportunity to influence a change in the perception of Girls’ Sport not only for the Barker girls, but also the broader Barker community. Alison has a clear passion for the promotion and development of schoolgirls’ sport and her ability to do this at multiple levels is evident in her appointment to a variety of administrative positions across the ISA and NSWCIS representative sporting pathways. Dr Greg Cunningham is currently the Director of Teaching and Learning and the College of Teachers. His PhD investigated the influence of reading on student response to visual texts. He has been a visiting educator in the United States and in the United Kingdom and he has presented papers that consider approaches to teaching and learning, particularly in understanding, pedagogy and teacher professional learning. He has represented the Independent Schools of NSW on the Professional Learning Committee at the NSW Education Standards’ Authority. His interests include English teaching, teacher coaching and professional accreditation. A Fellow of Trinity College of Music London, he has also given organ recitals in London, Sydney and South Africa.
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Kathryn Driver is the Assistant Coordinator of History and a member of the College of Teachers. She has an MA in History, focusing on war history and she is interested in the teaching of History for the purposes of fostering critical thinking, developing empathy and exploring the formation of identity. She is passionate about Russian history and the unique development of that state. She has presented on PBL approaches at an AIS History Conference. She was also responsible for co-leading a Project Group set up to consider best practice in pastoral care as Barker moves towards comprehensive co-education. Amanda Eastman is an English and History teacher, but she is passionate about a range of KLAs. This interest has led her to various cross-curricula roles. From 2012 – 2014 she was the Assistant to the Director of Studies, overseeing the implementation of the Australian Curriculum. In 2016 she worked in the Learning Support Department, teaching Fundamentals of English and supporting students with specific learning needs. In 2017, she began working as the Assistant to the Director of the Barker Institute. She has also enjoyed participating in the co-curricular life of the School, having coached Softball and Touch football and been acting CCC of Hockey, Assistant CCC of Snowsports and a Boarding Duty Officer. Tim Eastman is currently the Head of Holt House and a History teacher specialising in Ancient History. In his pastoral role, he has focused on student leadership development, innovation and positive education. He recently completed his Master of Education in Educational Leadership as well as the Arrow Executive Leaders’ Course. His Master of Education Degree saw him investigate mentoring in schools, while his Master of Teaching focused on differentiated instruction. He has a passion for seeing students thrive inside and outside of the classroom and in helping them think beyond themselves. Lael Grant is the Robotics Co-ordinator at Barker College. Over the past two years, Lael has been responsible for growing the Robotics’ program into a thriving and successful school activity. There are currently over 140 students involved across the School in both training and competition teams. Lael is an advocate of STEM/STEAM and has been invited to speak at several conferences including EduTech and AIS Technology in 2017. He has taught Computer Science at senior levels both locally and internationally and has also been involved in setting the HSC Trial examinations for external providers. Lael is passionate about human potential and our capacity for innovation. Paul Harmon is currently an ICT Integrator at Barker College and works directly with staff and students to implement technology into teaching and learning practice. He has close to 20 years’ teaching experience, previously coming from the graphics industry. He has had a strong interest in technology and curriculum for most of his teaching lifetime. He is an Apple Distinguished Educator and has won various awards for technology in the curriculum, including the Minister of Education Award for innovative teaching practice. Paul has been involved in 1-1 programs since 2008 including both laptop and iPad deployments. He was employed at Barker in 2014 and he led the implementation of the 1-1 iPad program in the Junior School.
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Dr Matthew Hill is currently Developer of Hearts & Minds Research at Barker College. His PhD promoted the importance of students’ developing representational fluency for learning and communication in order to be able to succeed in science education. He has worked in research, teaching and educational leadership at The University of Sydney and the University Western Sydney, publishing in academic journals related to each of these areas before coming to Barker in 2016. While maintaining a specific interest in physics’ education research, his work now focusses on developing student capacity in thinking, discussion, philosophical reasoning and personal development. Greg Longney is a teacher of History and the Head of Academic Enrichment and Extension. His Masters of Education (Research) focused on how History teachers understand disciplinary knowledge and how they communicate it to their students. In 2017 Greg has been part of the National Emerging Leaders Program and has conducted a project on the status and role of academic enrichment and extension at Barker College. Greg continues to teach History from Year 7 -12 and he still views the classroom experience as the most challenging and rewarding aspect of his role. Malyn Mawby is a Computer Science teacher and Assistant to the Director of Educational Measurement & Testing. Her previous IT career developing information systems influenced her appreciation for data-based decision-making and viewing teaching practice as a design process. Insights into individual learning needs deepened with completion of post-graduate Special Education studies. Malyn is interested in promoting wellbeing and nurturing the social aspects of learning for both teachers and students. She contributes to face-to-face discussions as well as leverages social media including blogging. Malyn is also a Board Director of ICT Educators NSW, a non-profit organisation providing professional development activities and resources. Dr Brad Merrick is currently Director of Research in Learning and the Barker Institute. His PhD examined the influence of motivation and self-regulation on student understanding and learning. He has co-authored several music textbooks combined with scholarly chapters, articles and papers that explore emerging approaches to teaching and learning, most recently in the ‘Oxford Handbook of Music Education’ and ‘The Routledge Companion to Music, Technology and Education’. He is the immediate Past Chair of the National Executive of the Australian Society for Music Education. His passion is examining new research, pedagogy and emerging practice in education. Andrew Mifsud is an ICT Integrator and music teacher. He is currently researching student perceptions and experiences of secondary school blended learning environments as part of his Doctor of Education studies at The University of Sydney. He has also been involved in a number of action research projects based on social learning sites and he has presented his work at national and international education conferences. Andrew is the NSW Secretary of the Australian Society for Music Education and he is a past recipient of the ASME Music Educating for Life Award for his work promoting professional learning in the music educator community.
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About the Authors Len Nixon has taught for 41 Years. During this time he has been a Head of Department, Tutor and Careers Advisor. Currently, he is the Barker College of Teachers’ Lead Coach. Len is both an author and a co-author of Business Studies’ textbooks and he has taught in Teacher Education both at UNSW and UTS as Method Lecturer. He has also been an AIS Business Studies’ and Economics’ Consultant, RBA Consultant and Occasional Lecturer at Blacktown City Library, UOW, Macquarie University in addition to his Rugby coaching at School, CAS and NSW levels. Len has also been Coordinator of Waterpolo. Jamie Shackleton is currently the Campus Coordinator of Darkinjung Barker College. Darkinjung Barker is situated in the Yarramalong Valley on the Central Coast of NSW. Jamie graduated from UWS Nepean and has been teaching at Barker College for thirteen years. During his time at Barker, he has spent time in the roles of Co-Curricular Coordinator and Grade Coordinator. He has recently completed the National Emerging Leaders’ Program and looks to further his education in the areas of Leadership and Wellbeing. James Stewart is the Director of ICT and eLearning at Barker College. With twenty years of experience in the NSW private education sector, his passion is to develop, facilitate and support information communication and learning technologies to support deep and authentic learning, promote schools as institutions of excellence and to develop in students the digital wisdom and cognitive power to be the global leaders and problem solvers of the future. He is an active speaker in education technology circles and regularly presents at EduTech Australia and National AISNSW ICT Leadership conferences. In his somewhat limited free time, James enjoys spending time with his wife and three children, nature photography, reading a good book or spending quality fellowship with friends. Michele Studd is currently Head of Learning Support. Prior to coming to Barker, she was Director of Middle Years at Northholm Grammar and she has held various Special Education teaching and consultancy roles. Michele’s particular areas of interest include supporting all students to achieve their personal best and working collaboratively with classroom teachers to plan and establish inclusive and effective classroom learning environments. Nonie Taylor is an Earth and Environmental Science, Mathematics, and iSTEM teacher. Prior to teaching, she worked for fourteen years as an advanced wastewater engineer for a water utility company. During this time she was concerned by both the absence of female representation in the water industry as well as the shortage of creative, passionate young engineers to pursue education. She presented at OzWater 2016 on the importance of STEM education to the water industry and she is on the Water Educators’ Network Committee for the Australian Water Association. Su Temlett is currently an ICT Integrator focusing on the implementation of blended learning and the new learning management system, Canvas, across the school. She spent the last nine years as Head of English at two Christian School Australia schools in Sydney. Su trained as a teacher in the UK and immigrated to Australia in 2007. She is currently studying for a Masters in Educational Leadership and Management. Her passion is in exploring and training others in effective innovative pedagogical approaches to learning.
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Jeremy von Einem began teaching at Oxley College, Bowral as the foundation physics teacher. He became Head of Science at Barker College in 1997 and led the staff response to the building of the Foundation Science Building. After two years at Cranbrook School, he returned to Barker College as Director of Studies and remained in that role for 12 years before moving to the role of Director of Academic Performance. He is particularly interested in how educational theory is expressed as actual classroom practice and in improving ways students study and remember information. Simon Walker is the Director of Student Leadership & Service Learning. He recently completed a Master of Education (Educational Leadership) through Charles Sturt University and has presented on the topics of Leadership and Service at the AHISA Leading, Learning & Caring Conference in 2016 and the IBSC Leading & Learning Conference in 2015. He has a particular interest in blending service, leadership and innovation across all aspects of teaching and learning. Melanie Webster worked in public libraries before moving into the education sector. Currently she is a Teacher Librarian in the Secondary School and she is involved with a literacy program for middle-school students. Passionate about reading and helping teens to enjoy literature, she is particularly interested in YA fiction and using multimedia to engage readers, promote diversity and support Australian content. Damien Whitington is the Middle School Chaplain at Barker College. His duties include conducting regular chapel services for students, staff and parents in order to make sense of the Christian faith in our modern age. Having previously studied a Master of Divinity, Damien enjoys upskilling students in critical thinking as he teaches Christian Studies, Mathematics and PDHPE. He is heavily involved in school life at Barker as he participates in school camps, boarding, music lessons, as well as coaching rugby and tennis.
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112 â€˘ Barker Institute Learning in Practice
As a leader in Christian education, Barker College aims to both demonstrate and inform best practice. This journal was developed to showcase...
Published on Feb 7, 2018
As a leader in Christian education, Barker College aims to both demonstrate and inform best practice. This journal was developed to showcase...