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R E S E A R C H A N D I N N O VAT I O N EDITION 3 2019


Contents From the Principal.............................................................................................................Page 3 From the Editor.......................................................................................................................Page 4 Our People..................................................................................................................................... Page 6 Stop Talking, Start Listening: Empowering Teacher Voice to Effect Positive Change...................................Page 10 Enhancing a Love for Mathematics....................................................Page 14 Valuing STEM as a way of teaching and learning.............................................................................................................................Page 16 I have never lived in a house without a bookshelf................................................................................................................................. Page 18 Placemaking in the Visual Arts................................................................ Page 21 Introducing the Pymble Ethics Committee...........................Page 26 Brains versus brawn in the Pymble Rowing program: Research informing practice........................................Page 28 The art of asking questions.............................................................................Page 32 Five Ways to Wellbeing: The Middle School Wellbeing Day......................................................Page 34 Embedding fine motor activities into the Preparatory School curriculum...................................................Page 40 Notes...................................................................................................................................................Page 46


FROM THE PRINCIPAL

The term ‘professional knowledge landscapes’ (Charteris & Smith, 2017, 609) is very relevant for Pymble; a diverse and vibrant community of learners. Every day, there are examples of reflective practice, student-teacher co-construction of knowledge, and the development of research capacities amongst teachers (Charteris & Smith, 2017; Cloonan, 2019).

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his edition of Illuminate welcomes you into Pymble’s ‘professional knowledge landscape’; it’s an opportunity for us to proudly showcase the work of our talented teaching staff. Educators at Pymble are already engaged in conversation with students, parents, community members, university academics and one another about how we will ‘teach in depth [and] help students see the relevance of what they are learning’ (NESA, paraphrased, p.v). This is an ongoing iterative journey as we review our own teaching and learning culture and practices to best deliver excellence in education for our girls. Having worked for five years at the Child Health Promotion Research Centre as a Senior Research Fellow, a centre focused on intervention research, it is refreshing to see our staff gather data, think scientifically and make decisions based on evidence. Congratulations to our Director of Research and Development, Dr Sarah Loch, who inspires, leads, questions and supports all Pymble educators to engage in action research and reflective practices. Our 2019 education research conference, Impacts and Imprints, emulated the focus of our research culture, showcasing the

work of educators who are passionate about their craft along with having a willingness to work with others, share stories in a collaborative manner and together build better educational outcomes for young people. Thank you and congratulations to all the staff who have contributed to this edition of Illuminate. I’m hopeful the articles within it inspire, excite, possibly challenge and nurture your own thinking around excellence in education. DR KATE HADWEN

PRINCIPAL References Charteris, J. & Smith, J. (2017). Sacred and secret stories in professional knowledge landscapes: Learner agency in teacher professional learning. Reflective Practice, 18(5), p.600-612. Cloonan, A. (2019). Collaborative teacher research: Integrating professional learning and university study. The Australian Educational Researcher, 46(3), p. 385-403. NSW Education Standards Authority. (2019). Nurturing Wonder and Igniting Passion: Designs for a future school curriculum. Retrieved from https://nswcurriculumreview.nesa.nsw.edu.au/ pdfs/interimreport/chapters/NSW-CurriculumReview-Interim-Report.pdf

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FROM THE EDITOR

The skills and attributes of Australian teachers have been in the spotlight for some time now as legislation reshapes how teachers plan and manage their professional learning requirements and opportunities.

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ymble nurtures a professional learning culture that celebrates creativity, engagement and critical thinking. Just as learning is dynamic for our students, we are agile in our professional learning for our teachers, enabling all teachers to be involved in targeted professional learning that is responsive to their own needs for growth as Pymble teachers. The initial teacher education (ITE) landscape in Australia has also been rapidly changing, with teacher education programs at university responding to requirements for pre-service teachers to: achieve an increased Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR); provide evidence of personal attributes to assist in a

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teaching career; pass a compulsory online literacy and numeracy test; and, complete a formal Teaching Performance Assessment before graduation (Turner, 2019). Plans are progressing for the introduction of a Teacher Success Profile assessment where psychometric measures of ‘superior cognitive and emotional intelligence’ (New South Wales Government 2019) will be required from graduating teachers aspiring to work in New South Wales public schools. Such reforms are rooted in the goal of raising the standards of new teachers to support ‘quality teaching [and…] improved student outcomes, and… set the foundation for a high quality teaching workforce’ (AITSL, 2015).

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FROM THE EDITOR At our inaugural Pymble Research Conference in October, keynote speakers Dr Kimberley PressickKilborn and Dr Sandris Zievots, from the University of Technology Sydney, School of International Studies and Education, highlighted one strategy their faculty has developed to meet the need for teacher education students to be better prepared for the challenges ahead. All undergraduate Education students at UTS now complete a research unit to place the practice of action learning and practice-based inquiry at the centre of their learning. Dr Pressick-Kilborn and Dr Zievots asked the conference audience to reflect on the very provocative question: should all teachers be researchers? What do you think? Those attending the conference were admittedly biased towards a ‘yes’ vote and a rich discussion evolved around the importance of teachers building an inquiry stance, normalising inquiry and using data to inform and improve practice. As teachers, we so often work in areas of knowledge and understanding that we need to also build our capacity in dwelling with problems, challenges and ideas we do not fully understand

enable research and innovation. These have led to flourishing initiatives in the areas of Literature, Visual Arts and Mathematics. Contributors also reflect on the role of professional learning at Pymble and how personalised inquiry supports excellence in our classrooms and beyond – including in the College Rowing squads. The Pymble Ethics Committee has also commenced this year and in their article, student members of the group share insights into how an ethical stance must be developed in conjunction with the other skills required for research projects.

We considered the question of how our incoming colleagues and their initial teacher education, including a strong grounding in research skills, will create further change and improvement in our professional.”

The question of whether all teachers should be researchers is one worth pondering and if the answer is ‘yes’, we must also ask ‘what sort?’ and ‘for what outcomes?’ DR SARAH LOCH DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

Dr Pressick-Kilborn and Dr Zievots asked the conference audience to reflect on the very provocative question: should all teachers be researchers? What do you think?” Amy van Arkkels presenting at Pymble’s inaugural Research Conference

We considered the question of how our incoming colleagues and their initial teacher education, including a strong grounding in research skills, will create further change and improvement within our profession. In this edition of Illuminate, we celebrate the inquiry of Pymble teachers who received grants to

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References Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. (2015). Action Now: Selection of entrants into initial teacher education, Guidelines. AITSL: Melbourne. New South Wales, Department of Customer Service. (2019). https://www.nsw.gov.au/news-and-events/news/new-standards-for-nsw-teachers/. Retrieved 5/11/19. Turner, K. (2019). Teachers must show’ emotional intelligence but how will it be measured? (And other questions). EduResearch Matters, Nov 4.

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OUR PEOPLE

Contributors

Tricia Allen Tricia Allen is the Director of Teaching and Learning at Pymble Ladies’ College and a Doctoral Candidate at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, in collaboration with the Gonski Institute for Education at the University of New South Wales. She believes that every student at Pymble has the right to demonstrate growth through a personalised learning environment so that she develops a passion for learning and scholarship, self-assurance, and a capacity to contribute meaningfully to society. Students are no longer the passive recipients of knowledge; they are the co-creators of their own learning experience. Tricia Allen DIRECTOR OF TEACHING AND LEARNING

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Christina Charalambidis Christina Charalambidis is passionate about Visual Arts and its impact in educational contexts. Her approach to teaching and learning has been shaped by a strong commitment to nurturing confidence in students’ development in artmaking in harmony with critical thinking. Armed with a personal interest in the way collaborative art projects unite artists in a collective vision to offer something of artistic and cultural merit to communities, her work gave students a valuable opportunity to engage with a key artist in Australia’s contemporary art scene. Christina Charalambidis STAGE 4 VISUAL ARTS CO-ORDINATOR

Illuminate EDITION 3 2019

Chantelle Durrant

Kathryn Edwards

Chantelle Durrant has been teaching in primary schools for more than nine years. She has experience teaching in co-educational and girlsonly environments in both Stage 3 and 4. Chantelle is passionate about providing learning opportunities that incorporate Design Thinking and STEM. She encourages students to engage with and value the process of creating a solution as opposed to focusing on the final product. Chantelle hopes to continue promoting STEM in the Junior School through sharing her passions and new skills, developed through engaging in the Kate Mason Professional Learning Grant.

Kathryn Edwards began her teaching career at Pymble in 2001. She worked as a classroom teacher before moving into a Learning Support role in the Junior School. While Kathryn took time off to have her family, she completed her Masters of Education (Special Education) where she developed a passion for early intervention to support early learners. Kathryn returned to Pymble in 2017 as a Learning Support teacher in the Preparatory School and has a love of learning herself, which she encourages in her students. Kathryn Edwards PREPARATORY SCHOOL LEARNING SUPPORT TEACHER

Chantelle Durrant JUNIOR SCHOOL TEACHER

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OUR PEOPLE

David McKinlay

Melissa McMahon

Jamie Mitchell

Simon Pennington

David McKinlay has been teaching History for more than 30 years. He became a History teacher to help students value the present through understanding the past and to contribute to ways in which students build empathy and become more critical in their thought. David embraces opportunities to engage in professional reading, research and discussion with colleagues. He holds Masters degrees in US Studies and in Education, is a former Supervisor of Marking in the Extension History course and is passionate about American history. Beyond History, David loves scuba diving and he is a qualified instructor in this sport. He also travels widely to historical sites and may one day combine his interests to study marine archaeology.

Melissa McMahon is the Director of Professional Practice at Pymble Ladies’ College and a passionate English teacher in the Senior School. She has held a variety of curriculum leadership roles over the past 23 years and is a strong advocate for teacher agency, autonomy and voice. Melissa firmly believes that the quality of the teacher in the classroom has a significant impact on student outcomes and she is committed to creating the conditions under which teachers can thrive.

Jamie Mitchell is a Year 6 teacher at Pymble Ladies’ College. She is a Mathematics specialist and is eager to share her passion for Mathematics with the Pymble teaching community. Jamie aims to ensure all students enjoy Mathematics learning activities and she is committed to facilitating their participation in supportive and inspiring classrooms. She is dedicated to implementing current research-based practices at the College.

With expertise in sports coaching, leadership, pastoral care and teaching, Simon Pennington joined Pymble in 2015. Since that time, he has been committed to improving the Rowing program in his role as Director of Coaching – Rowing. In addition, he has helped establish the Pymble Athlete Education Program. Simon completed a research project as part of his Master of Education in Educational Leadership and he used the findings to help shape strategies in Pymble’s Rowing program He is committed to developing ways Pymble rowers can succeed in their chosen sport, and ultimately be better people as a result of their participation in the program.

David McKinlay STAGE 5 HISTORY CO-ORDINATOR

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Melissa McMahon DIRECTOR OF PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE

Jamie Mitchell JUNIOR SCHOOL TEACHER

Simon Pennington COACHING DIRECTOR – ROWING, AND PYMBLE ATHLETE EDUCATION PROGRAM (PAEP) CO-ORDINATOR

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OUR PEOPLE

Contributors

Mandy Reynolds

Geraldine Roberts

Alison Tedesco

Jacinta Wells

Mandy Reynolds joined the Pymble staff in 2002 with expertise in the fields of Modern History and English. She has been teaching for more than 30 years and is passionate about giving every student an opportunity to thrive in their learning and love of English. She is particularly committed to forging a strong connection between students’ pastoral and academic experiences in English. Her approach to teaching and learning is marked by a focus on student engagement, a dedication to rigour, and a desire to engender in students a genuine love of language and literature. This enables her to develop supportive relationships that give students of all ability levels a sense of confidence and empowerment in their secondary school learning journey.

Geraldine Roberts has taught across all primary levels in her teaching career and commenced at Pymble in 2013. She has a keen interest in the area of Learning Support. In the Preparatory School, Geraldine has experienced how the pivotal role intervention activities enhance the foundational years of learning. The importance of fine motor skills and the concurrent relationship between literacy and numeracy is of particular interest to Geraldine.

Since joining the Pymble  staff in 2016, Alison Tedesco has been actively promoting STEM in the Junior School. With a background in Kindergarten to Year 6 co-educational teaching, Alison has taught Stage 3 for the last four years.  She is passionate about developing inquirybased, student-centred learning opportunities and authentically integrating STEM to foster critical and creative thinking. The opportunity to engage in professional learning through the Kate Mason Professional Learning Grant has opened the doors for Alison to pursue her favourite parts of education and to gain skills in new areas.

Jacinta Wells joined the Pymble staff more than 10 years ago and has been teaching in the secondary setting for the past 17 years. At Pymble she has held the roles of Hammond House Coordinator, an Upper School Student Co-ordinator and, for the past two years, has been the Deputy Head of Middle School – Year 8. Jacinta believes in creating optimistic, caring and supportive learning environments in which students can strive to build positive relationships, resilience and develop a lifelong love of learning. She is dedicated to supporting students to develop authentic and practical strategies which help them thrive and flourish in both their wellbeing and their learning.

Geraldine Roberts PREPARATORY SCHOOL LEARNING SUPPORT TEACHER

Mandy Reynolds

Alison Tedesco JUNIOR SCHOOL TEACHER AND ACTING CO-CURRICULAR STEM CO-ORDINATOR

Jacinta Wells DEPUTY HEAD OF MIDDLE SCHOOL, YEAR 8

HEAD OF LEARNING AREA: ENGLISH

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OUR PEOPLE

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Pymbl

S ETHIC ttee i

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The Pymble Ethics Committee with Dr Alan Rome Lucy Fang, Carina Ma, Teresa Su, Tiffany Tang and Charlotte Wardell (Year 11 2019) are student members of the Pymble Ethics Committee. With fellow committee member, History teacher, Dr Alan Rome, the group worked together to reflect on the importance of ethical thinking and the role an ethics committee plays in school-based research. The Pymble Ethics Committee was formed in 2019 to review, give feedback on and approve applications from Pymble staff, students and external researchers wishing to research within the College community. Support and training for students and staff wishing to submit an application for research is available. Dr Alan Rome HISTORY AND LEGAL STUDIES TEACHER

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TEACHER GROWTH Stop Talking, Start Listening: Empowering Teacher Voice to Effect Positive Change By Mrs Melissa McMahon, Director of Professional Practice and Ms Tricia Allen, Director of Teaching and Learning

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eacher agency is a critical factor in fostering teacher leadership and hence contributing to a broader learning culture within a school context. Therefore, when teachers become agents in their own learning, they are more likely to provide leadership to others. Both agency and leadership are processes that inform each other’s practice (MacBeath & Dempster, 2009). Where teachers experience agency to lead within their professional learning practice (O’Brien, 2011), it is argued that there is greater scope for growth and development, because ownership of, and responsibility for one’s learning, are fundamental to its value to the learner. Change is unlikely to occur unless there is teacher agency evident through a sense of ownership of the decision-making change process (Day, 2002) and unless it is shared. The OECD Teaching and Learning Survey Australian Report (2019) shows that only 39 per cent of teachers feel that their profession is valued. In the 2013 survey, 97 per cent of teachers reported being formally appraised, but almost half in Australia (43 per cent) feel that this has had little or no impact on the way they teach, with 62 per cent saying they feel it is largely administrative and is detrimental to job satisfaction. It is our mission to create the conditions under which Pymble teachers can thrive. To what extent do our teachers feel that the development processes we facilitate enhances their practice and keeps their passion alive? How do they feel we can best meet their needs? To understand our teachers’ needs, we needed to stop talking and start listening.

In a collegial way, teachers planned strategies to achieve their targets. They observed each other in the classroom striving to meet their goal, gave feedback and collected evidence of impact.”

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Pymble has a well established and respected culture of teacher reflection and growth. We provide a professional learning model at Pymble that enables all staff to work collaboratively so that they grow their pedagogical practice and knowledge to achieve teaching excellence. Since 2016, teachers across the College have been involved in Reflect Review Renew (RRR), a development process that designed to promote teacher

Illuminate EDITION 3 2019

growth through ongoing observation, reflection and feedback. Under this model, teachers were organised into cross-curricular coaching triads and used the Growth Coaching Framework to set goals for their own improvement, aligned to the standards. In a collegial way, teachers planned strategies to achieve their targets. They observed each other in the classroom striving to meet their goal, gave feedback and collected evidence of impact. They then reflected upon the feedback and evidence and assessed progress. Central to RRR were quality teaching conversations about teachers’ own growth and using evidence to inform these conversations. The evidence was uploaded and stored centrally in a new Canvas course that gave teachers the experience of being a student in a course.

Reflect

Consolidate and Collaborate

Engage

REFLECT REVIEW RENEW Evaluate

Feedback

Learning

CARE

COURAGE

INTEGRITY

RESPECT

RESPONSIBILITY

Figure 1: Reflect, Review, Renew process

Throughout 2018, we conducted two surveys of staff and established small focus groups to hear teachers’ voices about their experiences of RRR. Whilst the intention was collegial conversation about practice, some staff

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PROFESSIONAL INQUIRY members articulated that they experienced the process somewhat differently, as reflected in the quotes from staff below: [I need] TIME to work on practice carefully, thoroughly. It is so valuable but was at the end of the to do list for much of the time in Semester 2. I feel that there is never enough time to do anything properly and that RRR while worthwhile, is difficult in terms of requirements to upload everything. I think some people still do the RRR as a tick a box so perhaps really focusing on the goals on what we are doing in class would be really good so people don’t think it’s an “extra” or something more to be done. [RRR needs to be] more autonomous, [where we are] able to choose our critical friend. It is very stressful. Instead, perhaps we could just showcase a teaching tip each staff meeting. Somehow needs to be more “organic” and less forced - more choice in how to present our learning e.g. video, portfolio, reflections, work samples. Perhaps work in teams or small groups based on interest. Could also be linked to grade/team goals so these don’t become “tick a box” activities - there are so many goals and priorities floating around it can be hard to focus on and achieve one thoroughly. Teachers were clear in what they wanted from the process: Choice over focus, choice over the who, the how, time, autonomy, less focus on paperwork, more focus on areas of passion. To preserve the philosophy of RRR and the intent of reflection, collegiality and growth, we listened to the teachers and adapted RRR to a revised model of Reflect, Review, Renew, Professional Learning (RRRPL). This model was implemented at the start of 2019, incorporating evidence informed changes to enrich the experiences and professional learning of all staff.

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THE CURRENT MODEL OF RRRPL 2019

own internal capacity. Pymble’s PLCs are formed on the basis of shared goals with staff consultation and goal alignment. In 2019, the focus of the PLCs centred around core themes of assessment and feedback, questioning, critical and creative thinking, research, collaborative learning and differentiation.

In the new model, teacher choice is absolutely central. Teachers choose their focus area for development based on their professional learning needs and are also given the choice to be in a Professional Learning Community (PLC) that is either faculty-based or cross curricular. A We advertised for teachers to professional learning community become PLC facilitators and were is a group of individuals who have inundated by enthusiastic teachers committed to meet regularly for wanting to guide their peers. an agreed upon Every facilitator amount of time was trained to build Every facilitator guided by a leadership capacity was trained common purpose. and supported with to build leadership They provide a comprehensive capacity and supported forum for learning, protocols and with comprehensive assessing, planning resources to structure protocols and resources and reflecting as a the sessions, yet also to structure the sessions, team while creating encouraged to design yet also encouraged to a collaborative their own path for design their own path for environment learning in the PLC. learning in the PLC.” where teachers The 31 facilitators can share, problem were assigned a solve and set critical friend, an goals that will strengthen teaching experienced leader of professional and learning. The aim should result learning, who could help structure in improved student learning and and facilitate sessions throughout outcomes. Professional Learning the year. We established a Canvas Communities focus on learning course with a page for each area outcomes, indicators of success of focus and populated it with and best practice and are a tool by resources to support the teachers which teachers can continue to and facilitators. grow professionally through their

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TEACHER GROWTH Arguably, the most important and most challenging aspect was carving out time. We knew teachers had to have time, space and access. As a result, assembly time was leveraged for teachers to meet in their PLCs. Whilst most teams meet during assembly time, at least two faculties were rostered on to supervise assembly on a rotating basis. Alongside this new process, the professional learning opportunities contained in the Professional Learning Catalogue allowed staff to specialise in areas of interest across the year in smaller, targeted groups. This supported teachers in their professional learning in addition to the NESA registered RRRPL course. Many of our teachers also expressed an interest in undertaking research for their professional learning in 2019. This has been incorporated into the new RRRPL program as well as the Professional Learning Catalogue, led by the Director of Research and Development. Teachers are encouraged to publish their research in the College journal, Illuminate. We are also very proud of the Teacher Toolkit. This is an online space consisting of innovative learning strategies created by our teachers, for our teachers. We have a Teacher Toolkit team across K-12 who create content and encourage other teachers to contribute as well. In 2019, teachers are experiencing RRRPL as a process that is more organic, less rigid and more autonomous. We have preserved the intent of RRR, but shifted the focus from accountability to responsibility, from random groupings, to groups with shared goals, from compliance to commitment. We hope that these shifts will heighten teacher engagement with the process and afford increased opportunities for rich teacher dialogue and reflection.

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Teacher comments from a recent survey of facilitators have validated these changes: Having less rigidity in the process has seen a more positive outlook and level of participation of group members. Meeting during assembly is a really appreciated change. The time is effectively used to focus on PL [professional learning] and at a good time of the day where people have the energy to proactively engage. The most valuable outcome in this process is the resource of time. It has provided the opportunity for collaboration, that is otherwise not available. It’s allowed room for valuable professional dialogue and exchange, which has a huge amount of currency when communities and institutions are trying to manage change and develop cultures and thinking around practices. I had a great opportunity to touch base with group members and share feedback about what everyone was doing in their classrooms re differentiation and during this time I asked for feedback about the impact RRRPL has had on their own teaching practice overall. The response was positive and overwhelmingly indicative of the way teachers value the opportunity and support provided by the College to develop their professional journey. Having time to work towards a goal. Having a team to bounce ideas off and to observe us. Having common areas of focus. These are all beneficial.

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PROFESSIONAL INQUIRY With this movement towards professional learning communities, learning becomes something larger than the individual; where connections are made to communities and cultures.”

Sree Raniga, Rebecca Cassidy and Nadia Merchant working together on a professional learning project

Learning is a process of participation in communities of practice where learning increases across time through engagement and complexity. With this movement towards professional learning communities, learning becomes something larger than the individual; where connections are made to communities and cultures. The notion of agency whereby people are reflective, self-organising, self-governing and practical reflects the social nature of education. It is an active process which places emphasis on ‘collective agency’ where people work together based on shared beliefs and common aspirations. Bandura (1997, p.22) argues that “learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do”.

References Bandura, A. M. (1977). Social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Day, C. (2002). School reform and transitions in teacher professionalism and identity. International. Journal of Educational Research, 37(8), 677-692. MacBeath, J., and. Dempster, N.. (2009). Connecting Leadership and Learning. London: Routledge.

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This further emphasises the role of self-efficacy and role modelling in teachers’ day to day lives. Therefore, the changes to RRRPL acknowledge the complex nature of teaching and the increasing demands on teachers’ time. RRRPL will continue to evolve based on teacher feedback. The revised model encourages a deeper appreciation of the teacher as a professional but also as a change agent in relation to what happens in the classroom and beyond when we stop talking and start listening to teacher voices.

O’Brien, J. (2011). Continuing professional development for Scottish teachers:Tensions in policy and practice. Professional Development in Education, 37(5), 777–792. OECD. (2019). TALIS 2018 Results (Volume I): Teachers and School Leaders as Lifelong Learners, TALIS, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/1d0bc92a-en.

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MATHEMATICS Enhancing a Love for Mathematics By Miss Jamie Mitchell, Junior School Teacher

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n April 2019, I received the Pymble Parent Association Professional Learning Grant which allowed me to attend a Mathematics Conference in the United States of America. I attended the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Annual Meeting and Exposition in San Diego. It provided me with the opportunity to share ideas and passions with researchers and teachers of the international Mathematics education community. I am a Mathematics specialist and have a strong passion for Mathematics. I wanted to attend this conference to bring ideas back to the Junior School and share my new understandings and planning ideas.

Keynote speakers at the National Conference of Teachers of Mathematics Conference: Graham Fletcher has been a classroom teacher, Mathematics instructional lead, and Math specialist. He has presented his problem-based learning strategy throughout North America. Graham advocates for best practice in elementary Mathematics and seeks new and innovative ways to support students in their development of conceptual understanding. He had a focus on solving problems to learn Mathematics, and not learning Mathematics to solve problems. The three main focuses of Graham’s planning for teaching were conceptual understanding, procedural fluency and application of knowledge to new tasks. This inspired the strands of mathematical proficiency in the Maths Investigation Time (MIT) program discussed below. Monica Tienda and Barbara Lynch are Middle School and High School Mathematics teachers. Their presentation on student mistakes and misconceptions focused on the importance of reflecting on learning tasks and methods while creating constructive Mathematics discourse in the classroom. Specific routines in the classroom enhance discourse that additionally links to the layout of the MIT program.

POST-CONFERENCE RESEARCH

The San Diego Convention Centre where the NCTM National Conference of Teachers of Mathematics Conference was held in April 2019

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After attending the NCTM Conference I was particularly interested in student autonomy and passion in Mathematics and I had the opportunity to implement an action research project in the Junior School. My project monitored students’ perceived enjoyment in Mathematics through a student-choice intervention program named the MIT program. MIT allowed students to be in control of their own learning and their passions strengthened through discussion.

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JUNIOR SCHOOL Students used an online tool to aid reflection where mathematical prompts assisted in articulating their learning choices and enjoyment. This provided students with exposure to Mathematics terminology and promoted further Mathematics discourse in the classroom. The data relating to student choice of activities will inform future programs as it focuses on student feedback on their experiences. This data indicating students’ perceived enjoyment regarding student-choice learning tasks will inform the results and next steps in my action research project. The main focus for teachers will be to encourage Mathematics discourse in the classroom.” MIT: Maths Investigation Time interactive displays found in all classrooms across Years 3 to 6 at the Junior School

THE MIT PROGRAM The focus of the MIT program allowed students to find enjoyment and a love for Mathematics through selfdirected choices and personalised learning tasks. The program:

THANK YOU TO THE PPA I am very grateful for the Pymble Parent Association for allowing me to participate in such exciting professional learning opportunities early in my career. I am more passionate due to this experience and believe this has helped me to disseminate lessons learnt within our Junior School.

• Encouraged student choice between three strands of Mathematics proficiency

THE PYMBLE PARENT ASSOCIATION PROFESSIONAL LEARNING GRANT

• Was delivered in Junior School Connect classes in order to encourage discourse between students of all abilities

This grant enables Pymble’s academic staff members to undertake professional learning to enhance their own learning and enrich the experiences of students within the College. Past grants have enabled teachers to investigate programs and pedagogies overseas, and to develop research partnerships. Pymble invests in our people so they can invest in our students and deliver rich, challenging and innovative learning.

• Promoted a love of Mathematics The MIT program took place for one hour each fortnight in Term 3 and was completely student-centred. Student-centred learning allows teachers to discern how emotionally engaged students are in Mathematics and whether this changes due to student choice and learning context. This program took place in Junior School Connect classes where there is a strong focus on autonomy and teachers could act as facilitators. The main focus for teachers was to encourage Mathematics discourse in the classroom. The purpose of the MIT program is for students to have autonomy in their learning, empowering them as mathematicians.” The three strands of Mathematical proficiency from which students selected their learning tasks were Number Sense, Problem Solving and Real World Investigations. These three strands allowed students to extend from fundamental understandings to application tasks.

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Year 6 students working collaboratively on problem solving activities involving addition and patterns

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KATE MASON GRANT Valuing STEM as a way of teaching and learning By Mrs Alison Tedesco, Junior School Teacher and Acting Co-Curricular STEM Co-ordinator and Mrs Chantelle Durrant, Junior School Teacher STEM is, first and foremost, a way of teaching that helps prepare students for learning and working in the real world where they will spend the rest of their lives. (Jolly, A., 2016)

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esearch shows that 65 per cent of today’s primary school students will end up in jobs that have not yet been invented (AISNSW, 2016). This statistic emphasises the value of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) teaching and learning in creating learners who are critical and creative thinkers, capable of working collaboratively to solve problems. STEM education develops the skills that have been deemed necessary for the students of today to be successful in working and learning in the real world.

The activities were short and allowed us to fail fast and adapt and improve our ideas quickly. While in the United States, we also visited Pembroke Hill School, a leading K-12 school in Kansas City. We participated in Science lessons in the Primary School Science laboratory as well as a coding class in the Middle School. We toured the STEM classrooms, makerspaces and technology rooms on campus. This afforded us an amazing opportunity to network with teachers at the school and to share our passions, resources and ideas. IMPACT OF THE CONFERENCE A report from the Office of the Chief Scientist (2017) states that older

students lose interest in Mathematics and Science from Years 4 to 8. Yet, it is predicted that by 2030, Australian workers will spend 77 per cent more time using Science and Mathematics skills (Education Council, 2015). As Stage 3 teachers, we believe we have both the opportunity and the responsibility to engage and inspire students in these areas through providing an abundance of opportunities to explore the many facets of STEM. Our aim is to increase the engagement, confidence and passion for STEM subjects at Pymble Ladies’ College and to see our girls leading in this field in years to come. Since the conference, there have been a number of initiatives implemented in the Junior School.

In 2019, we received the Kate Mason Grant, which enabled us to attend the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association’s (ITEEA) 81st Annual Conference “Technology and Engineering Bring STEM to Life” in Kansas City, March 2019. It was at this conference that we had the opportunity to further our professional learning in STEM. We selected this conference as ITEEA is an established global organisation and sessions were run by highly experienced STEM leaders and educators. Workshops at the conference were hands on, providing us with the opportunity to experience STEM activities as students ourselves. The workshops focused on authentic integration of STEM across the curriculum.

Chantelle during a specialist Science lesson looking at slides to determine properties of materials

Ali and Chantelle with the Primary and Secondary STEM specialists at Pembroke Hill School

Ali doing the same

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Pymble Ladies’ College


JUNIOR SCHOOL

Year 6 students showcasing their solutions on how to keep people and their communities safe in a bushfire

• Junior School STEM Day. In Term 3, students in the Junior School participated in a range of engineering challenges run in Connect classes. Stage 2 students explored Spheros and designed a marble run to set specifications. Stage 3 students engineered a freestanding paper tower and a car capable of moving down a slope. • Integration of STEM in Stage 3 Science and Technology units of work (see case studies, right, on Year 6 Bushfires and Year 5 Mission to Mars). • Coding with micro:bits. Students explored elements of Javascript block code and used these skills to design solutions in their Project Based Learning activity. • Using Tinkercad and 3D printing in Mathematics and Science in Years 5 and 6

Year 5 students showcasing their spacecraft prototypes designed to collect information from Mars

CASE STUDY 1: YEAR 6 BUSHFIRES

CASE STUDY 2: YEAR 5 MISSION TO MARS

Year 6 students worked through the design thinking process to generate a solution to help keep the communities affected by bushfires within Australia safe.

Year 5 students were asked to create a spacecraft capable of collecting information from Mars. They worked collaboratively through the design thinking process to determine the information they felt was important to collect and how best to collect it. Students then designed a prototype of a spacecraft, and incorporated a micro:bit as a sensor to collect that information.

Students investigated bushfires in their local area, locating areas most at risk. They empathised with the perspective of a particular stakeholder group in the local area, for example firefighters or homeowners. Students identified one issue for that stakeholder group regarding bushfire emergencies and designed a possible solution to help people affected by bushfires to prepare, survive and/or recover. They created a prototype to model their solution and showcased this to the Junior School. Prototypes incorporated app and website design, drones, 3D printing, micro:bits and iMovie.

We would like to thank Mrs Kate and Mr Peter Mason for the opportunity to participate in this professional learning opportunity. The experience has strengthened our passion for increasing STEM education and opportunities in the Junior School. We will continue to share our learning with colleagues and the wider community by working to integrate STEM across multiple curriculum areas.

References AISNSW (2016). Designing STEM units of Learning in the K-6 Classroom. Association of Independent Schools of NSW Professional Learning, 14 August, 2016. Education Council (2015). National STEM School Education Strategy: A Comprehensive Plan for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education in Australia. Retrieved from http://www.educationcouncil.edu.au/site/DefaultSite/filesystem/documents/National%20STEM%20 School%20Education%20Strategy.pdf Jolly, A. (2016). STEM by Design: Strategies and activities for grades 4-8. London, United Kingdom: Taylor & Francis. Office of the Chief Scientist (2017). Science and Maths in Australian Secondary Schools. Retrieved from https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/ wp-content/uploads/2-Science-and-Maths-in-Australian-Secondary-Schools-datasheet-Web.pdf

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EXPERT-INRESIDENCE I have never lived in a house without a bookshelf By Mrs Mandy Reynolds, Head of Learning Area English

The origins for this article stemmed from the exciting opportunity provided to 2019 Year 12 Standard and Advanced English students through the Jeanette Buckham Expertin-Residence Grant. In being awarded this grant, Pymble’s Head of Learning Area – English, Mandy Reynolds was able to secure a two-day residency at the College with Emily Maguire. Emily is an Australian author and journalist who has been shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award, the Stella Prize and the Australian Book Industry Literary Book of the Year Award. Mandy has enjoyed history and literature since she was in high school and since becoming a teacher has remained committed to a love of reading and the power of words, and to sharing that love with her students. Understanding oneself as a learner is an essential component of being an educator, and Mandy is passionate about giving Pymble students the opportunity to discover their strengths and articulate what it is they love and are fulfilled by in their studies. This article asks readers to consider the place that reading has in that journey.

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y parents had ‘bookcases’ in all our bedrooms – they were filled with our childhood favourites and we knew that we would never throw away a book, as they were part of who we were. They were security, adventure, imagination. Now, as I write in my study, I am reminded of who I am. Behind my desk is a neatly stacked bookshelf representative of the place in my life that I now frequent. At one end of the bookshelf – the reading I return to at different times of the year – Hattie, Seligman, Sandberg and the like. The books that provide opportunities for reflecting on my practice. At the other end and scattered across the other shelves, are titles that are favourites or hold literary power that reflects both ordinary and extraordinary lives. Over the last decade, there has continued to be an ongoing discussion about the growing trend towards teenage aliteracy. Academics have long recognised that in the age of the electronic device, coupled with the English teachers’ concerns busyness of our 21st century lives, an about the need for students inevitable lack of interest in reading for to engage in sustained reading pleasure has been the result. English is supported by research in the teachers’ concerns about the need renewed understanding about for students to engage in sustained the importance of foundational reading is supported by research in good reading.” the renewed understanding about the importance of foundational good reading. This research also indicates that parents, peers and teachers have a pivotal role to play in the promotion of reading through encouragement, conversation and modelling. For English teachers, while our pursuit and passion for reading in our own lives has obviously shaped the careers which we now pursue so ardently, I believe that it has also shaped who we are as individuals. Ask any English teacher about the ever-growing pile of books on their bedside tables as they wait expectantly for those moments when they can re-enter imagined worlds or take up the opportunity for new understandings or experiences. The introduction of a new Stage 6 English syllabus at the end of 2018 was pivotal in the English Department’s ongoing consideration of the wider impact that syllabus changes in the final two years of schooling would mean for all students at Pymble. It was during this writing and reflecting process about the reading and writing capacity and capability we required of our students in Stage 6, that the reality that the girls were busy, screen-loving teenagers re-emerged. I think that at the heart of the syllabus requirements lies a very simple question: How do we establish reading for pleasure for our students?

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ENGLISH It is not something new – it is at the heart of every lesson and every moment in an English classroom. But it is the challenges of changing cultural screen practices that continues to trouble teachers of English and, equally, many parents. In our daily practice the English teachers at Pymble expose our girls to a broad range of texts, authors, genres and styles and we are supported by amazing librarians who try to build passion for reading. However, the reality remains that many students have read very little other than what is required of them for their English classes. Some of the girls can relate stories about the fact that their parents are too busy to even read a newspaper, so that even news has now become a snatch-and-grab from electronic media sources. As a department, the opportunity to use our new syllabus modules, Reading to Write in Year 11 and The Craft of Writing in Year 12 to “develop students’ capacity to respond perceptively to texts through their own considered and thoughtful writing and judicious reflection on their skills and knowledge as writers”, is our challenge (NESA HSC Syllabus 2018). During the time of planning and writing new syllabus modules, the opportunity to apply for the Jeanette Buckham Expert-in-Residence Grant was advertised. In being awarded this grant, I was offered the opportunity to contract an expert to engage with the girls, to enhance their learning and enrich the experiences of both the students and my staff. The Director – Partnerships, Ms Angela Schumacher, assisted in finding us the suitable expert: Ms Emily Maquire. Emily also holds the position of Writer-in-Residence at the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney, a unique opportunity which allows a creative writer to collaborate with some of the leading medical researchers in

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the country. Emily is most notably the author of five novels, the most recent of which, An Isolated Incident, was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award, the Stella Prize and the Australian Book Industry Literary Book of the Year Award. Emily also worked as a freelance journalist and essayist for 15 years. Her writing has been published widely including in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Monthly and The Weekend Australian. She has also contributed to various national radio and television programs, including ABC TV’s The First Tuesday Book Club and Lateline, and Radio National’s Life Matters. My decision to engage Emily was really then the result of the many conversations that followed between us. She shared her passion for reading and her writing insights which she hoped to share with our girls. While her credentials were extraordinary – teaching writing workshops at writing centres, universities and schools around Australia, running the Writing NSW’s Year of the Novel course for six years and working with The Writing Workshop developing and teaching creative writing courses, it was her passion for reading and the crafting of writing that won my heart.

While her credentials were extraordinary – teaching writing workshops at writing centres, universities and schools around Australia, running the Writing NSW’s Year of the Novel course for six years and working with The Writing Workshop developing and teaching creative writing courses, it was her passion for reading and the crafting of writing that won my heart.” In September, Emily came to Pymble for two consecutive days and worked with students in Years 10 to 12 in a variety of formats. Her opening lecture delivered insights about her own experiences as a young woman and immediately engaged the girls with possibility. She reflected poignantly on her early life as a child whose parents had a huge love of books and, although with very little money, made sure that their children visited the public library once a week. Her funny, anecdotal stories about her English teacher in Year 9, who decided that her quest to be a writer was “rubbish” certainly engaged the girls. Her reflection that “the experience with that teacher is one of the reasons why visiting a school like Pymble with teachers and librarians and students who value books and writing so much they

Australian author and journalist, Emily Maguire, with Pymble students

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EXPERT-INRESIDENCE invite writers along to talk about why and how we do what we do, well… makes my heart sing”, was important. Emily told the girls that “It’s why, when I say I’m so happy to be here, I really mean it. There’s nothing that heals the wounds of my teenage discouragement more than being here with you all for the next couple of days sharing my love of writing and reading.” Stirring words from a very modest and very successful woman. Emily workshopped with our staff on the day before her time with the girls and provided us with the tools to facilitate the workshops she had designed for the girls in both Year 11 and Year 12. She also provided a clever consideration of the use of setting and characterisation using Shakespeare’s Othello as the focus. In her smaller group workshops, she worked with the girls on relevant aspects of their course work in the Extension classes. Her reflections about writers and writing were pertinent to the girls. Her observation from her adolescence that “most of the writers of the books I read lived overseas or had been dead for years” was well received by the girls! She suggested that “writers were, in [her] experience, pretty much mythical creatures”. Emily encouraged the girls in suggesting that the lesson she hoped they would take from her experience, “is that just because you have never seen stories like the one you want to tell, it doesn’t mean they’re not worth telling. It means there’s a big storyshaped hole in the world and maybe you’re just the right person to fill it! You’ve got to resist the ‘no one cares’ in your head. If you care about this story, this piece of writing, chances are someone else out there will too. Maybe a lot of people”. She quoted the poet Adrienne Rich who said, “When a woman tells the truth, she is creating the possibility for more truth around her.”

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The girls were engaged and To encourage and support the value thoughtful learners across the of recreational reading, the English two days with Emily and there Department will continue with our was certainly a buzz in the Senior new initiative: in-class silent reading Centre about writing. In the staff opportunities for all English classes room she planned and developed from Years 7 to 10. The first ten her presentations and workshops minutes of every English lesson is in response to the girls’ questions designated reading time. Students and feedback. Other highlights for are encouraged to bring a novel of me were watching the girls come to their own choice to class as best ask her questions after a lecture or practice for deep engagement a workshop, watching staff engage in the reading process. The wide with her about the books they have reading program, whereby students read or would like to write. And can select, discuss and read in the most of all – two special days talking library once a fortnight, will run and writing about concurrently. We the importance of will continue to Emily encouraged reading and writing. show our girls that the girls in reading and writing suggesting that the lesson A few days after are an invaluable part she hoped they would take Emily left us, and of their life. Marcel from her experience, “is the conversations Proust noted in On that just because you have were turning back Reading, “some never seen stories like the to the reality of our memories of youth one you want to tell, it own lessons, I heard are lost in daily life doesn’t mean they’re not Paul Macdonald, but regained in worth telling.” the owner of the pages we read The Children’s during those years”. Bookshop in Beecroft, speak on the The opportunity to engage an expert radio about his decision to close in her field was a chance to immerse the specialist children’s bookshop the girls in a world of possibility in November. The store has been and hopefully shine a light on the open for almost 50 years. A man importance of wide reading and the phoned the station to thank Paul craft of writing. for allowing his children to become voracious readers. He told the story of his children who had run down to Paul’s bookshop in Beecroft every afternoon to read. The caller said that his children, now in their late twenties, were still voracious readers and he said that their love of reading had shaped who they have become. He wanted to thank Paul for his contribution to his children’s lives. I felt the echoes of Emily’s message to the girls once again and a reaffirmation of the importance of reading and writing for every individual. We have asked Emily to return to Pymble in 2020 and we are currently working on possibilities for future opportunities for the girls.

Pymble Ladies’ College


VISUAL ARTS Placemaking in the Visual Arts By Ms Christina Charalambidis, Stage 4 Visual Arts Co-ordinator Christina acknowledges and thanks the Ex-Students’ Union, Ms Tricia Allen, Mrs Julie Shaw and Ms Kate Howie for their support in realising this project.

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lacemaking is a buzzword. It gets thrown around by a lot of design gurus, architects and even marketing strategists. Placemaking is about creating spaces that speak to their communities and inhabitants and centres around the connections humans form with their spaces. Its origins are timeless – think about cave paintings and rock carvings, and one immediately conjures the importance of place as a signifier. We’re all experts at placemaking in our personal spaces as it’s how we identify and connect to our environments. On a larger scale, people behind such efforts are mostly artists, curators, designers, architects and community consultants. We were fortunate to host guest artist-in-residence, Jason Wing, to join our Pymble community and share his expertise in placemaking through an art project. At the heart of public placemaking is a sense of generosity and kinship. The outcome is driven by a collective effort, aiming to create connections and pride within the spaces we occupy and share. Placemaking identifies our spaces as safe, inviting and cared for and it manifests a communal ownership that invites us to belong. But, above all, placemaking privileges the process of collaboration in communities. In this process, specialists work alongside community members and assume the responsibility of co-creating their projects through a process of research and consultation.

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Guest artist-in-resident, Mr Jason Wing, sharing his story with Middle School students before their art project commenced

The power of a collective consciousness brings with it the force of amplified imagination, innovation and creativity and this tends to be a very motivating tool in large-scale collaborative projects. Jason Wing’s motivation to explore narratives, histories and cultural connections to urban and natural sites, was what inspired his observation of the beautiful and varied natural surroundings that set the backdrop to the expansive buildings and precincts around the College. With this, the theme for Pymble’s project became one of growth, informed by nature, but a metaphor for much more in our educational context. Our College motto, All’ Ultimo Lavoro – Strive for the highest, denotes perpetual growth and so the inspiration grew to transform a stairwell and a brick wall and aspire towards imagination and collaboration.

At the heart of public placemaking is a sense of generosity and kinship. The outcome is driven by a collective effort, aiming to create connections and pride within the spaces we occupy and share.” THE FERGUSON HOUSE STAIRWELL PROJECT Set around the Visual Arts precinct and the Jacaranda Courtyard, we joined minds to transform the unloved stairwell leading up to the Ferguson building. The Year 8 Visual Arts elective students and Indigenous scholars prepared stencils to represent their identity and creative interpretation of place. Armed with spray cans, students filled the stairwell and footpaths with an array of stencils of ferns, gums, palms, figs, local birds, hand prints and jacaranda blossoms as the key motifs. In its completion, the mural

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ARTIST-INRESIDENCE in the stairwell sets the scene for a vibrant and creative space. It also achieves its purpose in identifying the Visual Arts precinct by offering a greater purpose of inviting creative inspiration, warmth and cheer to those who walk through the staircase, pass by or simply catch a glimpse of it on their daily business. The outcome of such a project speaks to Robyn Ewing’s (2010, p.9) claim “that immersion in the Arts can improve an individual’s sense of enjoyment, purpose and identity, positively changing the direction of people’s lives. The Arts, it is argued, by transforming learning in formal educational contexts, can ensure that the curriculum engages and has relevance for all children.” In its completion, the mural in the stairwell sets the scene for a vibrant and creative space. It also achieves its purpose in identifying the Visual Arts precinct by offering a greater purpose of inviting creative inspiration, warmth and cheer to those who walk through the staircase, pass by or simply catch a glimpse of it on their daily business.” WHAT DID WE LEARN? Jason’s generous efforts working with a large team of art students provided an opportunity to learn about conventions in art practice outside of the gallery context. Students have been engaging in the study of installation art in the classroom in their titled unit ‘Transforming the Everyday’. Given Jason’s mural practice is situational and site specific, he offered some great insights about the way contemporary artists collaborate with others to produce meaningful and inspiring installation works in public spaces.

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The energy, effort and exchange that galvanises a large group of people is one of the greatest rewards when collaborating, and in this instance, students found opportunities not only to engage with the artist but each other in a collective effort to transform their everyday. The foot traffic up and down the stairwell has certainly increased. Some stop and chat in it, some pause and hold their attention for a moment, and it’s this kind of attraction that placemaking aspires to achieve. To quote Duncan Read, board member of 107 Projects Space Redfern, “Places are a mix of complex influences – starting with connections to landscape and song and storylines that pass over them, and relationships to the buildings and materials we add over time. People who understand this, tend to shape meaningful places that attract people who then create stories of their own.”

Jason Wing at Pymble; an example of his installation art

ABOUT THE ARTIST

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ason Wing is a Sydney-based artist who strongly identifies with his Chinese and Aboriginal heritage. Jason Wing (Biripi people) began as a street artist and has since expanded his practice to incorporate digital media, sculpture, installation and painting. Influenced by his bi-cultural upbringing, Wing explores the ongoing challenges that impact his wider community. Calling into question our understanding of history and of our current socio-political reality, Wing repurposes everyday objects and imagery, creating works that are both visually commanding and deceptively simple. Wing’s work is held in both private and public collections including the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; Artbank, Sydney; Blacktown Council, Blacktown, NSW; and the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, Virginia, US. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney and a Bachelor of Graphic Design, Sydney Graphics College. Written by Penelope Benton, March 25 2019, used with permission from NAVA (National Association for the Visual Arts)

References Ewing, R. (2010). The arts and Australian education: Realising potential. Australian Council for Educational Research: Camberwell, VIC.

Pymble Ladies’ College


VISUAL ARTS

AUDIENCE Student body Teachers Community members

ARTWORK Mural Stencilling Spray painting Site specific natural motifs -jacaranda blossom, foliage Spirit figures Indigenous cultural motifs Vibrant colour scheme

ARTISTS Year 8 Visual Arts students Indigenous Scholars Jason Wing Maddie Gibbs (guest contributor) Teachers SITE LOCATION Pymble’s Jacaranda Courtyard and Ferguson stairwell

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ARTIST-INRESIDENCE Student Voice: “I really enjoyed this project as it was very hands-on, and we got to watch the space turn into a masterpiece.” Phoebe “I have heard Year 7s talking about the floor of the art building and it makes me proud. I’m proud because I contributed in the artmaking of this project. I feel amazed at how the stairway has transformed every time I walked through from how it looked in the past.” Evelyn “This opportunity to work with Jason Wing was amazing as it showed me another way of art-making. It taught me new techniques and ways to see/ interpret things. This experience also taught me that there are many more ways to transform a location. Something else I loved about this experience was being able to try something new as this experience took place outside and I was able to use a different type of technique. I think that this project also helped transform the college and represent it in a fun, colourful and different way.” Bonita “During the time of Jason Wing being here I have learnt a lot about artmaking. I also believe that the art has brought more cheer to the art space and made it much more enjoyable to walk into the bright colours and it doesn’t feel as empty. The work will make people want to come to the art building and have more interest in it and it is showcasing the real creativity of art. I enjoyed having a professional artist come in and show us their work ethic and how they have changed different aspects of the world through their work.” Ingrid

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VISUAL ARTS

“Previous to this experience, I have never spray painted. Therefore, it was interesting to try this new media and the varied techniques you can do with the particular material. An additional engaging aspect of this involvement includes the creation of a large mural inspired by our surrounding flora and fauna. This created a really nice result of a mural which connects the art building to the rest of the school. Overall, personally, I believe this was a great practice to put new skills in action.” Asha “I’ve also learned about the style of art Jason does and how it not only changes a canvas but changes an environment. The impact on this ‘change in the environment’ is spectacular! It just brings this happy vibe to everyone and really makes us feel creative. Overall, I really enjoyed this experience and really want to do it again!” Alina “I feel like I have impacted the College by transforming my spaces and the spaces that new Pymble girls will use in years to come. I think that transforming spaces has a positive impact on our school community because when girls walk around the school campus as see the installation artwork, it will make their day and put a smile on their face.” Claire “I have learnt how to create an artwork with a lot of people and how more than one person can make an artwork.” Rachel “Transforming these quite plain and kind of dark spaces has brought some colour and brightness and feeling into them. This feeling will encourage the Pymble community to walk through it and as the

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entrance of the art building it is an excellent representation of the creativity in art.” Lucy “I learned that spray painting can create really beautiful artworks, I really felt and recognised how art can really transform a space. I found it engaging and awesome to work with an artist who does something that I have really enjoyed. I think that by transforming that space, it adds beauty and connection to that space.” Jessica

RESEARCHERS

“I think that it changes the atmosphere for when people move from the other parts of the school into the art building. I found it really fun to be a part of this artwork”. Emma “Jason taught us the importance of art and how it doesn’t always have to look the prettiest, sometimes it’s about the meanings and morals behind it. I enjoyed this aspect because Jason was able to show us his work and what it meant to him. I found this very engaging as it teaches us the wide ranges of making art interesting and impactful to society”. Jenna “I enjoyed working with Jason as he taught me that art comes in many different forms and you don’t have to make a pretty painting for it to be classified as an artwork”. Mimi “Gaining tips and insights into how a professional installation artist such as Jason Wing creates his art, plans for his art and identifies meaning in them was a unique and really useful aspect of the unit”. Alex

Arts experiences are frequently embedded in community initiatives. In the words of Maxine Greene: The arts, in particular, can release our imaginations to open up new perspectives, identify alternatives. The vistas that might open, the connections that might be made, are experiential phenomena; our encounters with the world become newly informed. Greene, M. (1995) p.18. Releasing the imagination: Essays on education, the arts and social change. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Much reporting and evaluation of arts-based projects focuses on the outcomes for project participants and the artists involved in the development of the work. There is less attention paid to the impact of such creative projects on those who access them as audience members. This seems a shame given that it is these impacts which clearly demonstrate the power of the arts to motivate personal and social change and engage the hearts of individuals across all strata of society. Osmotherly, J. (2007) p.29 HighWater Theatre: The Partnership. Melbourne: Osfield Consultants

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RESEARCH SKILLS Introducing the Pymble Ethics Committee By Lucy Fang, Carina Ma, Teresa Su, Tiffany Tang and Charlotte Wardell (Year 11 2019) with Dr Alan Rome, History and Legal Studies Teacher

WHAT IS ETHICS?

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thics, often described as moral philosophy, is a system of moral principles that influences individual and societal decision-making. Like many philosophical issues, perceptions and opinions regarding what is ethical can often be subjective, thereby requiring examinations of the issue from varying perspectives offered by different people.

THE ROLE OF THE ETHICS COMMITTEE The main role of the Ethics Committee is to review a variety of research proposals held at Pymble and ensure these projects are handled ethically by all members of the College community. The Committee is also involved in promoting ethical considerations with regards to potential partnerships with external organisations. The Ethics Committee is the perfect platform to stimulate discussion about the ethical side of research and how we can minimise unethical conduct in the research sector. The Committee has analysed a variety of research proposals in the College including projects from the Science Department and Co-Curricular Dance area and across a range of age groups from Preparatory to Senior School. By critically reviewing research proposals, the Committee is dedicated to promoting reflective thinking among researchers (both within and external) to the College.

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WHAT PROCESSES DO THE ETHICS COMMITTEE FOLLOW WHEN REVIEWING APPLICATIONS? 1. A preliminary review is conducted individually by each Committee member. 2. The Committee holds a meeting where members discuss the aspects of the research that needs to be addressed. We flag ethical concerns and evaluate the strength and purpose of the project. Additionally, the Committee provides an overall response and outlines recommendations for future actions. 3. This collective feedback is provided to the applicant. Following this step, the applicant may choose to provide the Committee with their adjusted application for review. EXAMPLES OF RESEARCH PROPOSALS THE ETHICS COMMITTEE HAS ADDRESSED Example 1 Two applications that have recently been reviewed by the committee are ‘Attitudes to Science: A longitudinal study Year 10 to 12’ and the ‘Ex-Students Science Survey 2012 to 2018’. The main aim of the first project is to understand the underlying perceptions towards Science held by a cohort of students at Pymble Ladies’ College and how subject selection for Stage 6 is influenced. The second project asks alumni about their post-Pymble studies and the relevance of their secondary school Science courses. Following the process of reviewing applications, each Committee member individually read the applications and evaluated the

ethical strengths and weaknesses. In the first study, by way of example, the main areas of concern for the Committee focused on privacy for students completing the survey, confidentiality of survey results, parental consent in regards to the questions in the survey, overall usefulness of the survey, accuracy of the results and relevance of the questions concerning the aim. Our comments and concerns regarding the applications were raised at the Committee meeting and feedback and recommendations were given to the applicants to ensure questions were ethical and did not breach student and teacher privacy.

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Example 2

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Recently, a beauty products startup approached the College regarding a potential partnership involving the girls’ participation in market research in return for complimentary products. This raised questions about the value of co-operating with a commercial organisation that is typically profit-focused and may not prioritise altruistic intentions. This case encouraged the Committee to consider not merely the impact of research on its participants, but also whether the other party’s ethical stance and values aligned with those of Pymble.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR PYMBLE LADIES COLLEGE TO HAVE AN ETHICS COMMITTEE?

S C I H ET

discussions and debates from a variety of people are often the best way to address those issues. Moreover, the Committee helps students to establish a personal ethical framework that would be immensely beneficial in guiding them through higher education and future careers.

Pymble is an innovative school that invests in research to provide all students with the highest quality education. The Ethics Committee plays a vital role in ensuring that ethical issues pertinent to research and the community WHAT ATTRACTED are addressed within ...ethical STUDENTS TO our own context. issues often JOIN THE ETHICS Some areas of concern have no single and COMMITTEE? that the Committee straightforward attempts to address answer, discussions We believe that the include the privacy Ethics Committee and debates from of participants, the is a valuable way to a variety of people integrity of the research contribute to ethical are often the best and the wellbeing of research from a student way to address research subjects. perspective at Pymble. those issues.” The Committee also An aspect of the provides a valuable Committee that attracts platform for teachers us is the discussion among both and students to discuss ethical staff and students to explore ways issues, increasing ethical awareness in which ethical research can be across the campus. improved. This opportunity allows us to gain greater insight into the WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO HAVE differing perspectives towards STUDENT VOICE? ethics from the varying reflections shared by the members of the The Ethics Committee values committee. By participating in the student voice because our ethical Committee, we can implement our guidelines will have a broad impact thoughts about ethics into practical on all members of the community, applications and see how ethics including the students. It is by has the ability to influence real life including the students’ perspectives decisions and practices. that the most appropriate and thorough suggestions and decisions are made. On a more general note, as ethical issues often have no single and straightforward answer,

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e e t t i omm

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Members of the Pymble Ethics Committee in 2019 Ms Karen Ahearn, Head of Preparatory School Ms Tricia Allen, Director of Teaching and Learning Serenna Di Bello, Year 10 2019 Ms Nicole Delosa, Head of Learning Area Art Design and Technology Lucy Fang, Year 11 2019 Dr Sarah Loch, Director of Research and Development Carina Ma, Year 11 2019 Dr Alan Rome, History Department Mrs Angela Schumacher, Director – Partnerships Teresa Su, Year 11 2019 Tiffany Tang, Year 11 2019 Viveca Tang, Year 11 2019 Charlotte Wardell, Year 11 2019 Dr Kasey Wood, Science Department

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SPORT Brains versus brawn in the Pymble Rowing program: Research informing practice By Mr Simon Pennington, Coaching Director – Rowing, and Pymble Athlete Education Program (PAEP) Coordinator

Developing team work at the January Camp with a climb up Mt Kosciusko

BRAINS VERSUS BRAWN

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earing the story of David and Goliath when I was younger was perhaps the first time I considered it was feasible that brains (intellectual acuity) could defeat brawn (physical prowess). Since then, throughout my career as an educator and Coaching Director in Rowing, I’ve developed a fascination with maximising the use of the brain (through the teaching of psychological skills) to help find a competitive advantage for the students that I’ve taught and coached. Developing the physical strength, fitness and endurance of rowers is essential for success as a rowing coach. The intrigue I felt about using the brain more effectively to help performance led me to conduct an in-depth research study during 2017-18, which culminated in an 18,000 word dissertation, submitted as the research component of my Master of Education degree. This article outlines the key points about the research and demonstrates how the findings are being used to improve the performance of the Pymble Rowing Team through the incorporation of specific strategies. BACKGROUND TO THE RESEARCH STUDY Titled: An investigation into how high school rowing coaches integrate psychological skills development into their coaching practice, the study sought the perceptions of high school rowing coaches about the importance of psychological skills training (PST) to improve performance, the methods used to teach psychological skills and the factors that helped or hindered the teaching of psychological skills.

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Sports performance is often categorised into three interrelated categories: physical performance, technical performance and mental (psychological) performance (Rushall & Pyke, 1991). Sports coaches and sport psychology researchers have agreed that successful sports coaching requires coaches to have knowledge of, and to teach psychological skills to their athletes (Côté & Gilbert, 2009; Foster, Maynard, & Butt, 2016; Gilbert & Trudel, 2000; Gould, Medbury, Damarjian, & Lauer, 1999; Martens, 2004; Orlick & Partington, 1998). Sports coaching research has also asserted that psychological development of athletes is a major priority of sports coaching (Côté, Bruner, Erickson, Strachan, & FraserThomas, 2010; Martens, 2004). Despite this, little research has been conducted from the perspective of the coaches who are often responsible for implementing PST with their athletes. JUSTIFICATION FOR THE STUDY Until this particular study, previous literature did not exist that sought the perceptions of rowing coaches regarding the practical application of psychological skills, specifically in a high school context. Hence, this research has contributed to the existing literature on PST, will inform future studies regarding coaches’ perceptions of psychological skills and has aimed to assist with the development of PST programs specifically for high school rowing programs, especially the Pymble Rowing Team! The research findings may also be transferable across a range of other sports. Pymble Ladies’ College


SCHOLARSHIP RESEARCH METHOD

RESEARCH FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS

A convergent parallel mixed methods research design was chosen as the best method to answer the research questions. Mixed methods research design involves mixing the collection of quantitative (numerical) data with qualitative (non-numerical) data and integrating the two forms to address research questions (Creswell, 2014; Johnson & Christensen, 2014). Although it has sometimes been perceived as the ‘new kid on the block’, mixed methods research has become more widely accepted in educational research. Mixed methods research evolved due to the perceived limitations of both quantitative and qualitative research designs (Lund, 2012). ‘Convergent parallel’ mixed methods research is where both the quantitative and the qualitative data are collected at a similar time and then integrated (converged). This research study used a mixed methods approach as it aimed for triangulation and expansion; meaning the convergence or corroboration of results between the quantitative and qualitative data (triangulation) and expanding the breadth and depth of inquiry by using different research methods (expansion) (Johnson & Christensen, 2014).

The following is a concise summary of the findings of the study; participants perceived psychological skills to be of high importance in high school rowing for performance improvement. Coaches reported that they were generally not satisfied with the amount of time spent on, nor the content of, their PST practices. The most important specific psychological skills that questionnaire participants in the current research identified as being essential to improving performance were enjoyment/fun, team unity, self confidence, motivation/enthusiasm, and focus/concentration.

Quantitative data collection and analysis (QUAN) Compare or relate

Several themes emerged from the interviews: enjoyment/ fun, team unity, time management, goal setting, self confidence, psychological preparation for racing, developing better people through rowing, experiences of using external sports psychologists, imagery/visualisation, and importance of developing effective relationships between student and coach. Verbal instruction was the most common practice of teaching PST and support was shown for a contingency approach to PST – teaching topics depending on the crew’s needs. Lack of time was seen as the most significant hindrance to PST. Participants identified that there was a lack of rowingspecific and high school-appropriate PST resources at the time of research.

Interpretation

Qualitative data collection and analysis (QUAL)

Figure 1: Convergent mixed methods design (Creswell, 2014).

The 2019 1st Eight

RESEARCH PARTICIPANTS The quantitative data was collected from 93 Level 1, 2 and 3 rowing coaches from around Australia through an online questionnaire, delivered through the statistics collation software Qualtrics. The qualitative data was collected through ten semi-structured interviews with the best available high school rowing coaches in Australia – most have held the role of Director of Rowing or similar at schools for more than ten years and have represented Australia in rowing as either an athlete or a coach. The interviews were transcribed and coded (organising the themes into similar categories) before various themes and findings emerged by comparing the quantitative and the qualitative data. www.pymblelc.nsw.edu.au

The power of teamwork among Pymble Rowers

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SPORT HOW THE RESEARCH HAS GUIDED OUR COACHING PRACTICES AT PYMBLE Many of the concepts evident in the findings of the research study have been purposefully and strategically embedded into the way in which our team of rowing coaches deliver our programs. Without giving away all of our trade secrets, the following strategies have been incorporated into our coaching in recent seasons, based upon the findings of the study: Research theme or finding

Specific strategies incorporated into Pymble Rowing Program practices

Fun/enjoyment

Major aim of our coaches for training sessions – “make sure the girls leave the session with a smile on their face and have learnt at least one or two new things”. Use of off-water time and rest times, for fun activities and allowing girls the freedom for these. Developing squad themes – 2018 chose The Greatest Showman and sung each of the songs relentlessly! Christmas Regatta included fancy dress and coaches versus Year 12 race. Measuring fastest possible speed over ten to 15 strokes and recording the crew’s best speeds on the boatshed whiteboard.

Team unity

Major strategic aim of the entire program is communicated through the acronym ‘TEAM Together, Everyone Achieves More’. Focus on achieving regatta point score trophies, whereby each individual is as valuable as any other, regardless of which crew girls are in. This ensures we focus on delivering the best possible resources for each and every girl. Within each crew, coaches teach teamwork strategies throughout the season. Significant focus for coaches being on ‘care’ – for their crew, squad and fellow coaches.

Time management

Fortnightly schedules provided to girls to help plan their time. Advice and mentoring regarding academic performance from coaches and other staff. Ongoing monitoring of each student and some flexibility in programs during busy times. Fridays off for all squads and also most weekends with either Saturday or Sunday off, depending on squads.

Goal setting

Individual goal-setting meetings with all Senior rowers and coxswains in the pre-season, using an online goal-setting program. Early in Term 4 and at the start of racing season in Term 1, all crews complete a crew task, titled ‘Bringing Our Crew Together’ – including a SWOT analysis, crew performance goals, crew standards required to achieve the goals, and rowers’ tips for the coxswain. Race goals communicated clearly in race plans and during pre-race and post-race coaches’ briefings.

Self-confidence

Ongoing development of each student’s confidence by coaches through positive reinforcement, challenging negative thinking and looking for the positive in each student. Identifying the unique strengths of each rower and coxswain through the VIA Character Strengths survey and having girls identify how they will use each of their strengths to help their crew. Use of Speed Coaches (in-boat GPS device that measures boat speed and stroke rating) to hold certain speeds at set ratings.

Mental preparation for racing

On-water coaching which mentally prepares girls for the challenges of races. Side-by-side training of crews. Use of strategies for race day including present, positive thinking; relaxation techniques; breathing techniques; and structured pre-race routines and race plans. Coxswains’ weekly seminars teaching skills required to lead the crew well on race day from the coxswain’s seat.

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Pymble Ladies’ College


SCHOLARSHIP Developing better people through rowing

A major strategic aim of the Pymble Rowing Program. Teaching girls the life skills and psychological skills that will help them to race better, but also are transferable to other parts of their lives. Using the College Values of Care, Courage, Integrity, Respect and Responsibility as the blueprint for attitude and incorporating Pymble Values as part of the selection criteria.

Imagery/visualisation

Coaches encourage rowers to visualise correct technique through use of video. Coaches help coxswains to run crews through guided visualisation of race plans with their crews.

Building effective working Coaches aim to get to know five things about each rower that are not related relationships between coach to rowing. and athlete

Squad hikes at Thredbo during the January Camp help coach and athletes to bond. Off-water time at camps allowing for crew meetings with coaches and teaching of psychological skills.

OVERCOMING THE BARRIERS TO EFFECTIVE DELIVERY OF PST AT PYMBLE The research study identified several barriers or hindrances that prevented coaches from delivering effective PST. Lack of time was perceived as the greatest hindrance. We have strived to overcome those barriers by looking for innovative ways to deliver PST such as using the online learning system at the College (Canvas) for our coxswains’ education and also for individual student SWOT analysis and goal-setting exercises. We have aimed to utilise the time between training sessions on weekends and during camps to cover PST topics with crews.

• Three consecutive medals in the A-Final of the Schoolgirl Eight at the Australian National Open Schools Championships; Bronze in 2017, Gold in 2018 and Silver in 2019. • NSW State Championships in the Schoolgirl Single Scull and the Under 16 Schoolgirl Quad Sculls in 2019 and in the Schoolgirl Eight in 2018. • IGSSA Overall Point Score winners 2018 and 2019. • NSW Schoolgirl Head of the River Overall Point Score winners 2018 and 2019.

PYMBLE ROWING TEAM – BRAINS AND BRAWN!

• Several crews at all ages and levels winning and top three placing at IGSSA and NSW Schoolgirls’ Head of the River, including the 2018 First and Second Eights.

Since 2017, the research study has helped shape the way in which the Pymble Rowing Program is designed and delivered to the girls. Not only do we look to improve the physical aspects of performance (brawn), we also aim to develop the psychological (brain) components to ensure each individual rower and coxswain is provided the resources and support to achieve their very best possible outcomes. The results since 2017 speak for themselves:

While this small snapshot of race results are an easy way to gauge the success of the program, given one of the major aims of the Pymble Rowing Team is to develop better people, I’m more proud of the wonderful people that the girls have become, as they have made their journey through the Rowing Program, especially as they have been able to demonstrate the psychological skills they have learned.

References Côté, J., Bruner, M.W., Erickson, K., Strachan, L., & Fraser-Thomas, J. (2010). Athlete development and coaching. In J. Lyle & C. Cushion (Eds.), Sport coaching: Professionalization and practice (pp. 63-83). Oxford, UK: Elsevier. Côté, J., & Gilbert, W. (2009). An integrative definition of coaching effectiveness and expertise. International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching, 4, 307-322. Creswell, J. W. (2014). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative and mixed research methods approach (4th ed.). London, UK: Sage. Foster, D., Maynard, I., & Butt, J. (2016). Delivery of psychological skills training to youngsters. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 28, 62-77. Gilbert, W. D., & Trudel, P. (2000). Validation of the coaching model (cm) in a team sport context. International Sports Journal, 4(2), 120-128.

www.pymblelc.nsw.edu.au

Gould, D., Medbury, R., Damarjian, N., & Lauer, L. (1999). A survey of psychological skills training knowledge, opinions, and practices of junior tennis coaches. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 11(1), 28-50. Johnson, B., & Christensen, L. B. (2014). Educational research: Quantitative, qualitative and mixed approaches (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Lund, T. (2012). Combining qualitative and quantitative approaches: Some arguments for mixed methods research. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 56(2), 155-165. Martens, R. (2004). Successful coaching (4th ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. Orlick, T., & Partington, J. (1988). Mental links to excellence. The Sport Psychologist, 2, 105-130. Rushall, B. S., & Pyke, F. S. (1991). Training for sports and fitness. Melbourne, VIC: Macmillan.

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REFLECT, REVIEW, RENEW The art of asking questions By Mr David McKinlay, Stage 5 History Co-ordinator

A

s part of the Reflect-ReviewRenew professional learning program (RRRPL), Pymble’s teacher review process, a group of teachers from different faculties met to further their understanding of questioning as a pedagogical strategy. During scheduled times, teachers read and analysed educational reviews with the aim to trial some of the suggested strategies in their classes. Further time was then given to analysing the results.

Thirty Second Thinking Time Some articles consulted by the group were Effective Questioning and Classroom by Ged Gast and Developing Questioning Skills by Karron G Lewis. Both authors pointed out that leaving enough room for student thinking after a question had been asked was crucial for student engagement with the question. The research stated that most teachers only allow about three seconds before speaking. It was suggested that students be given up to thirty seconds’ thinking time before asking for a response from the class. Through this practice, it is hoped to gain a deeper response and to have more students feel comfortable in responding. This theory was tested during a Year 9 History class in Term 2, during the teaching of the ‘Australia in World War II’ unit. After the lesson the students were asked their thoughts about this new process by filling in exit cards.

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Q:What did students say? Did this approach help their depth of thinking? A: “A bit, but it messed up the flow of the class.” A: “Yes, it made my answers more thought out.” A: “Yes, as it allows you to think more carefully.” A: “No, it made me lose my train of thought.” A: “It did, because I could think about my answer, but I think it’s only necessary for big questions that need detailed thought or deep analysis.” A: “I definitely got more out of the lesson by thinking more deeply about each question.” A: “It allowed me to think through my answers before I spoke about them. This helped me to have more detailed answers.” A: “Allowed us time to thinking of our responses and reasons behind them in depth. You get a chance to perfect your answer and feel more confidence [when] sharing it to the class.”

Q: What about the time? Is 30 seconds too long? A: “Yes, the time was slightly too long and awkward.” A: “It interrupts the lesson – ten seconds would be enough.” A: “I like having more time to consider the question before answering but I think 30 seconds was too long. Maybe having ten seconds would be good or even 15 to 20 but that would be the maximum.”

A: “It was really long and stopped the flow of the lesson.” A: “It was annoying having to be specific with time ESPECIALLY when most people had the answer already.” A: “I don’t think the 30 seconds helped. It was too long and forced my train of thought. Sometimes the time pressure helps us answer questions more quickly.” A: “I thoroughly disliked the 30 second ‘pregnant pause’. I would prefer a 15 second pause to allow for thinking but not stretch it out too much and stop the flow of the lesson.” A: “It was a bit too long and ten seconds would be better.” A: “For more challenging questions sometimes it was a good amount of time to think, but most of the times shorter would have been better. For less complex questions it was too long. It would have been good if we were able to talk with the people around us about our answer in that 30 seconds.” TEACHER REFLECTION “As a teacher, the long periods of time felt contrived and false and stopped the flow and energy of the classroom. Having read the student exit cards, it reaffirmed that more time needs to be given to student thinking before accepting responses but that 30 seconds is way too long for both students and teachers”.

Pymble Ladies’ College


SECONDARY SCHOOL SPIDER WEB DISCUSSIONS The group also considered an article brought to the group from the book The Best Class You Never Taught: How Spider Web Discussions Can Turn Students into Learning Leaders by Alexis Wiggins. Spider Web Discussions involve the students in groups up to fifteen discussing a question. The aim of the activity is for the students to keep the conversation flowing, not necessarily by speaking to the question and dominating the conversation, but throwing to other group members and asking them questions to elicit a response to add the group’s discussion. The teacher observes the discussion by tracing the direction of the discussion and frequency of responses by creating the spider web.

Students in the Year 9 History class were split into two groups. In the first Spider activity, students were asked to comment on their reactions to their visit to the Sydney Jewish Museum, what they found interesting and how it helped their learning about the Holocaust. Even though the students knew the aim of the exercise, two students did not participate in the discussion and the other students did not involve them in the discussion.

The readings believe that the activity brings these attributes to the classroom: Synergetic

Team orientated and balanced

Practices

Ongoing, rehearsed, debriefed. The activity is done regularly so it becomes a class process

Independent

Student runs the discussion with minimal teacher interference

Developed

Discussion gets deep, builds on itself and goes ‘somewhere’

Exploration

This is the main goal; the activity is more than a discussion. It is a discussion-based exploration

Rubric

Make sure you have a clear, concise rubric against which students can easily self-assess their contributions to the discussion

Diagram 2: Spider Web Discussion 2

Having witnessed the activity and having heard teacher feedback of the Spider diagram, the second group was asked to take part in the activity. They were asked to react to a documentary film about the Holocaust called Genocide. This time all the students made sure they involved themselves in the discussion and the more confident speakers brought other members of the group into the discussion. REFLECTION This was an interesting activity for both students and teacher as it was hard for the teacher to remove himself from the centre of the conversation and the activity provided a visual piece of evidence for discussion with the students about their contributions. The class also spoke of the need in the future of the importance, both in a professional and social setting, to be able to not only lead a conversation but allow space for others to participate and also have the skills to bring in and include others in the discussion who are more reticent to speak.

Diagram 1: Spider Web Discussion 1

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References Gast, G. (not dated). Effective questioning and classroom talk. Retrieved from http://www.nsead.org/downloads/Effective_Questioning&Talk.pdf Lewis, K. G. (1995). Teachers and students: A sourcebook for UT-Austin faculty. Section 5 Developing Questioning Skills (119-139). Center for Teaching Effectiveness Retrieved from https://www1.udel.edu/chem/white/U460/Develquestion-skills-UTx.pdf Wiggins, A. (2017). The Best Class You Never Taught: How Spider Web Discussions Can Turn Students into Learning Leaders. Alexandria, VA: ACSD.

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WELLBEING Five Ways to Wellbeing: The Middle School Wellbeing Day By Mrs Jacinta Wells, Deputy Head of Middle School, Year 8

Year 8 students in front of the art installation ‘Wings of Wellbeing’ created on the day.

In Term 2, for the second time in as many years, Year 8 students embarked upon their annual Wellbeing Day. This is a combined Wellbeing and PDHPE day in which we aim to help promote students’ social and emotional skills.

T

o positively impact students’ experience of wellbeing, we use a flexible, simple and useful framework known as the Five Ways to Wellbeing (5waystowellbeing. org.au). The framework is an evidence-based approach that aims to improve personal wellbeing and its multifaceted design aligns with the College’s aim to build wellbeing across students’ emotional, social, physical, academic and spiritual domains. WHAT IS WELLBEING? According to the World Health Organisation (2019) wellbeing is ‘a state in which the individual realises his or her own abilities to

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cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to his or her own community’. Similarly, the Institute of Wellbeing (2017) adds wellbeing is a combination of the ‘positive and sustainable characteristics which enable individuals and organisations to thrive and flourish’. With these definitions of wellbeing in mind, Mrs Victoria Harrison, Head of Learning Area PDHPE, and I embarked upon creating a framework that provided a shared understanding in Middle School of how we could promote wellbeing and embed a consistent language around social and emotional skills.

Pymble Ladies’ College


MIDDLE SCHOOL WHY ARE WELLBEING FRAMEWORKS IMPORTANT? According to the National Framework for Health Promoting Schools (Department of Health, W.A., not dated), schools must promote wellbeing while simultaneously providing highquality and challenging learning experiences for students. A focus on wellbeing has substantial benefits, including: • Pro social behaviours • Retention rates • Teacher wellbeing • Student wellbeing • Social and emotional skills • Academic results, engagement and participation In addition to impacting on the areas above, by supporting students to develop their proactive skills in wellbeing we contribute to a whole school environment that promotes preventative aspects of wellbeing. These include selfregulation and self-awareness which means creating a proactive culture, rather than being solely reactive to wellbeing concerns. This is valuable because schools need to be building everyone’s resources regarding psychological, social and physical resilience when faced with challenges. Thus, we aim to contribute to a school climate that promotes optimal functioning in students and sustainable wellbeing models. WHAT ARE THE FIVE WAYS TO WELLBEING? Connect Connect is all about building relationships with others to support and strengthen oneself every day. Students are encouraged to talk, listen, be present and feel connected. The benefits associated with Connect include fostering friendships and

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relationships. Friendship is one of the highest positive correlations associated with self-rated happiness. People with stronger social relationships have a 50 per cent increased likelihood of survival from conditions including coronary vascular disease and cancer (HoltLunstad, Smith and Layton, 2010). In Middle School, connections are seen in the pastoral structure with students coming together in a face to face environment three times weekly through the Connect Program. Middle School is all about promoting friendships, a sense of belonging and building new relationships. Fun Fridays are particularly valued by the students as a student-run session where girls engage in a variety of activities which have included cookie decorating, skipping competitions and arts and crafts. In addition, the 2019 #letschallkaboutmentalhealth initiative was an opportunity for all Middle School students to write messages of hope to friends and family who have been affected by wellbeing concerns and raise understanding and promote a culture of support around mental health. Keep Learning Keep Learning encourages students to embrace new experiences, recognise new opportunities and surprise themselves. The benefits associated with lifelong learning include positive effects on wellbeing, reports of greater life satisfaction, optimism and efficacy (Foresight Mental Capital and Wellbeing Project, 2008). Middle School students have a busy and diverse academic program that encourages the girls to keep every door open and explore areas of scholarship that are both intellectually challenging and fulfilling. Examples of new experiences in learning in the Middle School include Challenge Café, Hypatia and the Sokratis program.

Saskia and Maya (Year 8) in front of the ‘Wings of Wellbeing’ art installation created on the day.

Be Active Be Active encourages students to do what they can, enjoy what they do and move their bodies. Regular physical activity results in a greater sense of wellbeing, stress reduction and lower rates of anxiety. It also protects against depression (Biddle & Ekkekakis, 2005). In Middle School, we have seen great interest in promoting healthy relationships and reducing the influence of digital devices. The Middle School Leaders run lunch time activities such as Thrilling Thursdays and sporting competitions to encourage students to be active at lunch and build new bonds and friendships. Take Notice Take Notice encourages students to remember the simple things that give them joy. To be aware of new sights, smells and sounds and how they respond to their environment. Being mindful and focusing on the here and the now helps promote a sense of calm and can reduce stress. Being in a state of mindfulness is a positive predictor

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WELLBEING for mental wellbeing (Brown & Ryan, 2003). Students are encouraged to Take Notice through Wellbeing Wednesday where students engage in reflective practices such as journaling, yoga or engaging in a guided meditation through their Connect Program. In addition, during Mental Health Month in October, Middle School students engaged in Wellbeing Challenges for a week. These activities were designed to develop strategies to assist managing personal wellbeing and to support those struggling with mental health concerns. Give Give encourages students to be generous with their time, their words and their presence. It promotes the idea of doing something kind for others such as saying “thank you”, smiling and helping someone. It also encourages our girls to appreciate the role they can play in the wider community. Research shows that engaging in acts of kindness is associated with an increase in wellbeing and positive self-esteem (Lyubomirsky, Sheldon & Schkade, 2005). In Middle School, we have built a strong culture of kindness and encourage students to engage in random acts of kindness. During Term 3, we promoted a week of students displaying authentic and genuine kindness to each other. Students can be nominated for their kindness which is recognised and celebrated at year assemblies with a Values Award. HOW DID THE MIDDLE SCHOOL AND PDHPE TRANSFORM THE FRAMEWORK INTO A PRACTICAL DAY? Be Active

All Year 8 participated in a huge hip hop session at the start of the day. Then, throughout the day, students engaged in physical activities that they had chosen such as yoga, spin box, swimming, skating and dodgeball.

Take Notice

Students also participated in mindfulness and yoga sessions with a focus on breathing techniques and meditation. In addition, all girls were gifted a gratitude journal to reflect on their joys and strengths and develop an optimistic and grateful world view.

Keep Learning

Students were taught to make Mindfulness Jars (glitter jars) as a practical calming technique for managing emotions. All students attended a sleep seminar on the importance of sleep hygiene and building healthy habits around daily routines.

Give

In the Giving session held at the end of the day, students were encouraged to pot a succulent and write a letter of thanks to someone of significance (a teacher, a parent or a friend) and gift their plant and letter to this person.

Connect

The girls moved between activities either as a Connect group or by choice based on their sporting activities. The day started all together in hip hop and concluded with the Giving activity. All students came together to celebrate the new skills that they had developed and contribute to the Year 8 Art Installation – the Wings of Wellbeing. Students took a paper feather and committed to a wellbeing pledge for the remainder of the year, highlighting their joint commitment to positive health and relationships.

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WHAT DID WE LEARN FROM STUDENT FEEDBACK? At the end of Wellbeing Day, an online Google form was used to survey 265 students to gain a sense of the student voice and understand whether the activities provided meaningful learning and wellbeing experiences. Due to limited time, only 152 students responded, however, the results in this sample indicated a positive connection to the Wellbeing Day and provided valuable insights into why the day was a success from the student perspective. The most popular activities were the Be Active sessions in which students rotated through various physical activities that they had nominated themselves. A sense of choice and student ownership over their involvement was key to their enjoyment level, with 55.3 per cent of students giving the Be Active session a ‘high’ rating for enjoyment. This was closely followed by the two activities related to Keep Learning and Give. Forty-eight per cent of students rated the gratitude journals and the mindfulness jars as extremely useful and enjoyable experiences. Similarly, 48 per cent of students found the giving activity to be extremely valuable. In contrast, the sleep lecture, led by an external expert, offered less positive feedback. Most students provided this session with a moderate rating of between two and four out of a score of five. However, the written student feedback also reflected that while this activity was less engaging, students recognised the importance of the session. Student sentiments included; “I will now make sure I think about how important sleep is in my life and use strategies such as not using devices before bed and going to bed earlier to help me be happier”. Additionally, “A strategy I learnt and will attempt to put in practice is getting more

Pymble Ladies’ College


MIDDLE SCHOOL sleep as it enhances academic and sport performance”. So, while the sleep session was considered less engaging, it still offered valuable strategies to students around building their resilience and strategies to support optimal functioning and wellbeing. Moving forward into 2020, we are considering offering choice around expert speakers, with students able to attend sessions focused on developing healthy habits such as sleep routines or healthy eating. Perhaps, like the Be Active sessions, giving students choice over what lectures they attend will help the learning experience become more authentically connected to their real-world experiences. A sense of choice and student ownership over their involvement was key to their enjoyment level, with 55.3 per cent of students giving the Be Active session a ‘high’ rating for enjoyment.

Year 8 students in front of the art installation ‘Wings of Wellbeing’ created on the day.

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Girls engaged in yoga and other physical activities in the Be Active sessions.

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WELLBEING

IN CONCLUSION In conclusion, wellbeing is a whole school responsibility to help students develop their social and emotional skills. One in four young people will experience a mental health condition and half of all mental health conditions will emerge by the age of 14 (Beyond Blue, 2019). Furthermore, according to Mission Australia’s 2016 Youth Survey “the top three stressors for teens are coping with stress; school and study problems; and depression”. Thus, wellbeing as a priority should not just be a focus for wellbeing or pastoral care teams but rather every teacher to promote realistic and useful approaches that help students flourish, thrive and realise their emotional, social, academic, physical and spiritual potential.

Rate how much you enjoyed the Glitter Jars and Gratitude Journals 152 responses

80 80 60

73 (48%)

60 80 40

53 (34.9%)

40 60 20

53 (34.9%)

20 40 0

0 (0%)

9 (5.9%)

0 20

0 (0%)

9 (5.9%)

0

0 (0%)

9 (5.9%)

17 (11.2%) 17 (11.2%)

73 (48%) 73 (48%)

53 (34.9%)

17 (11.2%)

Rate how much you enjoyed the Sleep Connection 152 responses

80 80 60 60 80 40 38 (25%)

40 60 20 20 40 0

14 (9.2%)

0 20

14 (9.2%)

0

14 (9.2%)

38 (25%) 38 (25%)

42 (27.6%)

41 (27%)

42 (27.6%)

41 (27%)

42 (27.6%)

41 (27%)

17 (11.2%) 17 (11.2%) 17 (11.2%)

Rate how much you enjoyed the Giving Sessions e.g. plants and gratitude letters

80

80152 responses 60 60 80 40

51 (33.6%)

40 60 20

51 (33.6%)

20 40 0 0 20 0

80

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73 (48%)

80 60

2 (1.3%)

4 (2.6%)

22 (14.5%)

2 (1.3%)

4 (2.6%)

22 (14.5%)

2 (1.3%)

4 (2.6%)

22 (14.5%)

73 (48%) 73 (48%)

51 (33.6%)

84 (55.3%)

Pymble Ladies’ 84 College (55.3%)

60 80 40


73 (48%)

60

MIDDLE SCHOOL

51 (33.6%)

40 20 0

2 (1.3%)

4 (2.6%)

22 (14.5%)

Rate how much you enjoyed the Be Active Sessions 152 responses

80

84 (55.3%)

I will now make sure I think about how important sleep is in my life and use strategies such as not using devices before bed and going to bed earlier to help me be happier”

60 40 41 (27%)

20 0

3 (2%)

5 (3.3%)

19 (12.5%)

References Beyond Blue Ltd. (2019). Our work with young people – Youth Beyond Blue. Retrieved from https://www.beyondblue.org.au/about-us/about-ourwork/youthbeyondblue Biddle, J.H., & Ekkekakis, P. (2005). Physically active lifestyles and wellbeing. In F.A. Huppert, N. Bayliss, & B. Keverne (Eds.) The science of well-being (pp. 141-168). New York: Oxford University Press. Brown, K.W. & Ryan, R.M. (2003). The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological wellbeing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(4), pp. 822-848. Foresight Mental Capital and Wellbeing Project .(2008). Final Project report – Executive summary. The Government Office for Science, London. Retrieved from https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/292453/mental-capitalwellbeing-summary.pdf Growing and Developing Healthy Relationships, Department of Health, Government of Western Australia. (n.d). Health Promoting Schools Framework: Background teacher notes. Retrieved from https://gdhr.wa.gov.au/-/health-promoting-schools-framework Holt-Lunstad, J., Smith, T.B. and Layton, J.B. (2010). Social relationships and mortality risk: A meta analytic review. PLOS Medicine, 7(7). Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000316 Institute of Wellbeing. (2017). Supporting you and your wellbeing. Retrieved from https://theinstituteofwellbeing.com/ Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K.M, & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology, 9(2), 111-131. Mission Australia. (2017). Annual Youth Survey. Retrieved from https://www.missionaustralia.com.au/what-we-do/research-impact-policyadvocacy/youth-survey World Health Organisation. (2019). Mental health: A state of wellbeing. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/features/factfiles/mental_health/en/

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YOUNG LEARNERS Embedding fine motor activities into the Preparatory School curriculum By Mrs Kathryn Edwards and Mrs Geraldine Roberts, Preparatory School Learning Support Teachers At Pymble, we believe the early years of a child’s education set the foundation for future learning. When it comes to achievement, a surprising, yet robust predictor, is fine motor skills. Fine motor skills are defined as small muscle movements, namely those of the fingers, which include grasping, holding and pinching. These movements come so naturally to most people that we usually don’t think about them and they are essential for early learning. Poor fine motor skills can make cognitive learning and performance difficult because of the concomitant need for fine motor skills in cognitive activities. Fine motor skills are essential for independence and functioning in the classroom and an important component of children’s wellbeing.

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he typical day of a Kindergarten student includes activities that build or display cognitive skills that simultaneously require the use of fine motor skills, including: pencil grasp and handwriting, scissor grasp and cutting paper, folding paper, drawing, colouring, removing glue caps and gluing, painting, using manipulatives in mathematical activities, writing endurance, tying shoelaces and managing buttons, zippers and fasteners. In 2019, we investigated ways to embed fine motor activities into teaching programs to maximise opportunities to build motor skill development for all Kindergarten students. To understand the rationale for this, it is important to ascertain how fine motor skills and cognitive development are inextricably linked with each other and ultimately lead to academic success.

Kathryn and Geraldine presenting their research to colleagues in a Reflect, Review, Renew (RRRPL) Session

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During motor development, we learn how to learn. Unprecedented neuroimaging and neuroanatomy research by Diamond (2000) found evidence for a motor cognition association. The cerebellum is the part of the brain that plays an important role in motor control. While the frontal lobe controls movement, the cerebellum finetunes this movement contributing to coordination, precision and accurate timing. The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is a region of the frontal lobes that plays important roles in cognitive control, executive function, working memory and attention.

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PREPARATORY SCHOOL Historically, cognitive and motor activities were assigned to separate brain areas, studied separately and viewed as independent phenomena. However, Diamond (2000) demonstrated that the cerebellum is important not only for motor functions but also for cognitive functions and their development are fundamentally intertwined. Both areas of the brain are activated during motor as well as executive function tasks. This view is not only supported by studies using neuroimaging approaches, but also by studies done with patients suffering from brain injuries that lead to cognitive as well as motor deficits. Since Diamond’s (2000) study, research has strengthened and it is now well known that motor and cognitive development are inextricably linked. In this way, children who have greater motor abilities also tend to have better achievement; the hypothesis being that stronger motor skills early in life strengthen the neural connections that also assist children in many academic tasks. This link seems to be particularly strong when it comes to numeracy (Grissmer et al, 2010). More specifically, fine motor skills that involve some level of integration between fine motor coordination and visual-perceptual abilities appear to have stronger associations with achievement as compared to fine motor tasks that do not require an integration component. Visual-spatial integration (VSI) involves the coordination of visual perceptual abilities and fine motor control. It is a skill that allows us to use our eyes and hands in a coordinated and efficient way. VSI tasks involve writing and copying (not tracing) words and pictures onto a new piece of paper. This is a much more complicated task than fine motor coordination, which only involves controlling small finger movements (Carlson et al, 2013). Children with visual-spatial integration difficulties may exhibit difficulties learning to write, draw simple pictures and use classroom tools. It is suggested that the correlation between both visual-spatial integration and maths ability is because both skills utilise visual-spatial processes that are coordinated through a common neural pathway between the cerebellum and pre-frontal cortex. Visualspatial processing is the ability to perceive two or more objects in relation to each other and to ourselves. At its core, Mathematics involves spatial thinking. Visual-spatial integration skills have recently been associated with number line estimation tasks which are known to be a strong and reliable predictor of mathematical attainment (Simms et al, 2016).

and opportunities for our students. Hence, to have the greatest impact it is important that the type of activities we embed have a visual-spatial integration element. However, despite this Visual-spatial empirical evidence, processing is the environmental factors ability to perceive two or such as sociomore objects in relation to economic status, each other and to ourselves. gender and familial At its core, Mathematics enrichment during involves spatial thinking.” early childhood contribute to the development of motor skills and executive functions. Our students come from diverse backgrounds and early learning experiences. As part of Pymble’s orientation process, one-on-one interviews are conducted with each student in September the year prior to Kindergarten entry. An important part of this process is investigating each preschooler’s ability to write their name, grip a pencil, and assess skills such as colouring and cutting. During this orientation phase, 36 per cent of Kindergarten 2020 students exhibited fine motor coordination skills that will require further monitoring and development. In 2019, influenced by the research linking VSI to academic achievement, we incorporated a copying task into our pre-school assessment to help identify students who might struggle with functional visual spatial integration tasks required for classroom participation. Six students were identified to have difficulties with visual spatial integration skills indicating their visual spatial system is not as organised or efficient as it should be. Professional occupational therapy support was recommended to the parents of these students to support their transition to Kindergarten. Examples of results are shown below. Students 1, 2 and 3 are students we identified to exhibit deficits in their visual spatial skill development, compared to students 4, 5 and 6, who demonstrated visual spatial integration skills that will facilitate participation and learning.

Visual-spatial skills can be enhanced through hands-on experiences and promote cognitive ability for a longer period of time than fine motor coordination skills, which reach a ceiling of skill development (Carlson et al, 2013). With improved skill comes greater learning experiences

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YOUNG LEARNERS Student 1

Student 2

Student 3

Student 4

Student 5

Student 6

Examples of a copying task pre-Kindergarten students have completed

Interestingly, four out of six of these students also had weak numeracy skills, supporting the common neural pathway hypothesis linking fine motor skills and academic achievement in the area of numeracy. These students will be monitored closely for possible targeted numeracy intervention in 2020. Only one of these students was identified to have English as an additional language (EAL/D) needs at a high level, which could explain their weak numeracy achievement score. All other students were identified to have no to low EAL/D support needs. So, how does this impact their participation in the classroom? If a student is using the majority of her energy to focus on the mechanics of writing rather than the content, her access to the curriculum is compromised. We were also curious to compare the VSI skills of students who were identified as average or well above average in early numeracy. Interestingly, all students completed the copying task successfully, supporting the hypothesised motor-cognitive link.

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Our Kindergarten students already engage in regular fine motor activities through both planned and incidental activities in their classrooms. Additionally, they engage in a targeted sensory-motor intervention program each fortnight for 20 minutes that focuses on rotational gross motor, fine motor, visual perception and auditory processing skills. The goal of our intervention is to further maximise skill acquisition by embedding fine motor skill building activities into already programmed literacy and numeracy lessons once per week. These activities are aimed at all students in Kindergarten; not just those that may not have had rich motor experiences prior to Kindergarten, or whose genetic disposition has placed them ‘at risk’ of fine motor difficulty. It is also important to note that these activities are not to replace the role of the skilled occupational therapist, but to provide meaningful opportunities to practice and build fine motor skill level through engaging tasks.

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PREPARATORY SCHOOL Fine motor tasks are ‘hands on’ and engage students in their learning. It is well known that learning is enhanced when students acquire knowledge through active processes that help them move from concrete to abstract reasoning. Multisensory instruction and ‘hands on’ learning experiences increase opportunities for student engagement and assist comprehension, retention and deep understanding. Additionally, each of the activities we designed were able to be differentiated so instruction could be personalised to individual student needs. HOW DID WE EMBED FINE MOTOR ACTIVITIES INTO PROGRAMS? Precision in fine motor skills can be developed through experiences involving materials that support building strength in the arms, hands and fingers. To develop and refine motor skills, examples of tools we embedded into lessons included working with playdough, picking up small beads, pegboards, pinching pegs, tongs, paper clips, peeling stickers, lacing, multilink cubes and squeeze balls. Specific fine motor skills that students practiced included bilateral coordination, hand eye coordination, pincer and tripod grasp development, hand and finger muscle strength, precision of grasp and visual perception skills. It was important for the Kindergarten teachers to understand the fine motor skills which were being targeted with each activity. Throughout the Mathematics program we explicitly outlined and defined each skill that was being developed. Below is an example from the Term 3 Mathematics program. WHOLE NUMBER: COUNTING, ORDERING, READING AND REPRESENTING NUMBERS TO 30

FINE MOTOR SKILLS Bilateral Coordination – students bring both hands to the midline and work with one hand to move and thread the string. The helping hand (non-dominant) works as an assisting hand to hold the lacing plate.

Manipulatives are already an essential component of every numeracy lesson. Manipulatives are physical objects that are used as teaching tools to engage students in the hands-on learning of Mathematics. Our challenge was to think creatively to design purposeful and engaging fine motor tasks to further support the programmed Mathematics topic. Activities included: 1. Paper Plate Lacing - Students counted in ones forwards and backwards to 30; this activity was able to be differentiated by counting on from a given number, skip counting, odd or even counting, combinations that add up to ten 2. Students explored multiplication concepts by making ‘groups of’ playdough bugs with peg legs 3. Odd and even number investigations by peeling sticker dots and making equal or unequal pairs of numbers 4. Students investigated fractions by finding halves of materials and cutting halves with scissors 5. Pegboard patterning – students created repeating patterns using pegboards 6. Paper clip patterning – using coloured paper clips on cardboard, students made a patterned worm and recorded their pattern on a mini whiteboard. Fine motor development skills were embedded into across-grade literacy lessons as part of the explicit phonics instruction program. These fine motor phonics lessons included: 1. Using a pegboard and pegs to copy the focus sound

Pincer Grasp Development – by using the index finger and thumb to grasp the tip of the thread, students are building their pincer grip.

2. Pinching wooden pegs to identify pictures of words containing the focus sound to practice segmenting and blending

Hand-eye Coordination – The simultaneous use of students’ hands and eyes as they thread improves hand-eye coordination.

3. Segmenting words by squeezing a tennis ball dog with one hand and feeding it phoneme cubes with the other. Students then blended the cubes together to build the word

Motor Planning – A motor plan is the functional execution of a task which is viewed with the eyes and carried out with the hands in order to complete tasks. Visual Scanning – Lacing cards help students learn how to scan visually.

4. Squishing letter beads into playdough to build words 5. Using fine motor tweezer tongs to place a gem on pictures containing the focus sound from an ‘I Spy’ picture card 6. Building sight words out of multilink cubes

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YOUNG LEARNERS

WHAT DID THE TEACHERS THINK?

Q: What was the level of student engagement and motivation during the fine motor activities?

A: “The lacing plates and the tongs with gems were a particular hit”

A: “At times the girls found the fine motor activities challenging, but they really enjoyed having something to work towards”

A: “I don’t think there was anything that you came up with that I didn’t like. It was a good variety of different things. They loved the tongs and tennis balls”

A: “The girls were excited to participate in these and looked forward to them each week” A: “The students loved doing the activities, they were engaging, colourful and challenging” A: “The students were engaged in the task, enjoyed learning using the fine motor activities”

Q: Do you feel the activities met the target outcome of the literacy or numeracy lesson? A: “They linked perfectly to the outcomes we were trying to achieve” A: “The activities were excellent in terms of targeting phonics and numeracy for the week. Even the extension girls benefitted from each task” A: “They were able to be perfectly embedded into our lessons without modification” A: “Yes, they allowed students to access the curriculum either in numeracy or literacy and build their fine motor skills at the same time”

Q: Did the activities assist in identifying students experiencing fine motor challenges that you didn’t expect? A: “Yes, there were some students who I did not expect to find the activities challenging that actually did” A: “The tennis ball activity was probably the most challenging, but I was able to identify several girls that required additional fine motor work” A: “Yes, there were some students that I wouldn’t have considered had issues with fine motor, but the activities challenged them and they asked for support or asked someone else to do it rather than persevering which was interesting” A: “I was able to observe those students who found fine motor tasks challenging and closely monitor them”

Q: What resources did you find useful and would continue to use? A: “We will use the tongs, lacing plates and playdough as part of free time activities or lesson breaks”

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A: “I am still using the lacing plates and differentiating activities such as skip counting in twos and odd and even number counting. I use the tongs daily in activities for both numeracy and literacy”

Q: What other feedback, positive or negative can you provide? Would you be likely to continue to embed fine motor activities in teaching programs? A: “These fine motor activities will continue to be part of our literacy/numeracy lessons next year as the need is increasing each year. The activities strengthened the fine motor skills of all girls” A: “I absolutely loved the activities and it gave all the girls practice strengthening their fine motor skills” “A: I would definitely like to have fine motor activities in teaching programs because fine motor plays such an important role in student learning and impacts both literacy and numeracy” A: “I don’t have anything negative to say because you had all the resources ready for us and made it so easy for us to be able to slot them into our reading program or during our Mathematics lessons. In future, we would need to plan as a team to do this ourselves” Of further interest, we learned that the link seems to be particularly strong when it comes to numeracy. The research provides compelling evidence for targeted intervention strategies that could be implemented with our students at Pymble. If fine motor skills have the greatest impact on numeracy achievement, then children struggling with early numeracy may also benefit from a fine motor intervention. This process provided the opportunity to share ideas with classroom teachers and model examples of how to embed fine motor skills into the curriculum, thereby supporting the fine motor development of all students. Building foundational fine motor skills through efficient interventions such as embedded opportunities in the curriculum will assist our students reach their highest potential.

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PREPARATORY SCHOOL CONCLUSION This collaborative inquiry-based project deepened our knowledge of fine motor development in young learners. The research indicates that fine motor skills are a very strong and consistent predictor of later achievement, so incorporating fine motor development into the curriculum may help set up our students for longer-term academic success. If we can improve students’ fine motor skills by increasing opportunities for students to practise, then we will support cognitive development, which ultimately leads to improved outcomes and positive self-esteem. Getting to know our students early through this orientation process has given us a head start in meeting our girls’ learning needs. This process provided the opportunity to share ideas with classroom teachers and model examples of how to embed fine motor skills into the curriculum, thereby supporting the fine motor development of all students.”

Kindergarten students using tongs, tennis balls, clips and laces in fun and novel ways to build their fine motor skills

References Carlson A.G., Rowe E., & Curby T.W. (2013). Disentangling fine motor skills’ relations to academic achievement: the relative contributions of visual-spatial integration and visual-motor coordination. The Journal of Genetic Psychology. 174 (5-6):514-33 Diamond, A., (2000). Close interrelation of motor development and cognitive development and of the cerebellum and prefrontal cortex. Child Development, 71, 44-56. Grissmer, D., Grimm, K.J., Aiyer, S.M., Murrah, W.M., & Steele J.S. (2010). Fine motor skills and early comprehension of the world: two new school readiness indicators. Developmental Psychology. 46 1008-1017. Simms, V., Clayton, S., Cragg, L., Gilmore, & Johnson S. (2016). Explaining the relationship between number line estimation and mathematical achievement: the role of visuomotor integration and visuospatial skills. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 145 22-23

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Pymble Ladies’ College


NOTES

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Avon Road, Pymble NSW 2073 PO Box 136, North Ryde BC NSW 1670 Australia Phone: +61 2 9855 7799 www.pymblelc.nsw.edu.au A school of the Uniting Church in Australia for girls from Kindergarten to Year 12, with boarding available from Year 7. © 2020 Pymble Ladies’ College ABN 78 619 140 464.

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