Kindergarten -Year 2 classes at Good Shepherd are implementing the InitiaLit program which is a comprehensive whole-class literacy program, developed by MulitLit (a research based initiative of Macquarie University). InitiaLit teaches children how to read and spell through daily lessons that are delivered using research-based pedagogies. Oral language and vocabulary are developed through engaging with quality children’s literature.
In grades 3-6, we move from ‘learning to read, to reading to learn.’ With the Australian Curriculum as our base, the teaching of spelling and writing are supported by the programs “Effective Spelling” and “Seven Steps to Writing Success” respectively.
Built on ten Big Ideas, which are covered each semester in each grade from 3-6, “Effective Spelling” requires a ‘word-conscious’ classroom whereby children, with support, explore how words are constructed and connected, looking through phonological, orthographical and morphological lenses. Vocabulary (the set of words known or understood by a learner) development is a crucial aspect of literary growth and is developed through exposure to literature and a study of words. Focussing on vocabulary is also an integral part of the InitiaLit program as it supports reading and enhances comprehension. Children grow into more capable readers and writers if they have a broad vocabulary and a strong command of oral language. Sharing texts and discussing new words is a simple way to build both the vocabulary and oral capacity of students.
The “Seven Steps to Writing Success” is a clearly structured framework which prioritises the authorial (ideas)side of writing and the process of planning, drafting, editing and publishing. The Seven Steps approach emphasises quality over quantity and follows similar pedagogical approaches to InitiaLit - repetition, chunking, lots of verbal exchange and consistency.
At Good Shepherd…
“Mathematics is at the centre of thinking about how to spend the day, how many events and jobs can fit into the day, what size of space can be used to fit equipment or turn a car around, how likely events are to happen, knowing how tweets are amplified and how many people they reach.” – Jo Boaler
Mathematics learning is informed by the Australian Curriculum version 9 and is organised around six key content areas of Number, Algebra, Measurement, Space, Statistics and Probability. These strands are sequentially developed to become more complex as students advance through their school years. To become efficient mathematical thinkers, students also need to develop the skills of mathematical reasoning and proficiency, including a sound understanding of and fluency with the concepts, skills, procedures and processes needed to interpret contexts, choose ways to approach situations using mathematics, and to reason and solve problems arising from these situations.
Teaching and learning experiences at Good Shepherd provide students with multiple opportunities to visit and revisit each content strand. Our teaching practices move students at a brisk pace through previously taught concepts, to revise and consolidate understanding. Explicit lessons introduce new concepts, and provide opportunities for students to demonstrate and practise their understanding in guided and independent situations. In all cases, students are expected to be active participants in their learning.
Each classroom is very well-resourced with a range of manipulatives ( e.g. counters, unifix cubes, 3D objects, paddle pop sticks) to enhance understanding and support hands-on learning. All classrooms have electronic whiteboards enabling students to participate in multi-modal interactive lessons. Quality online mathematics resources are used to enhance learning, with Chromebooks and iPads available to all students in K-3 who are not part of the BYOD program.
Quick and automatic recall of number facts is important in building students’ confidence and capacity to more efficiently access the Mathematics curriculum. The Rocket Math program supports this and has been rolled out across the school since 2022. It is a student-centred program, designed to build automaticity in the recall of basic operations. It begins with writing and recognising numerals and progresses through a developmental sequence of operations and applications.
Mathematics concepts are integrated in other areas of the curriculum, providing authentic contexts for mathematics in its broader sense. For example, statistics for migration in the Year 6 HASS (History and Social Sciences) curriculum, distances thrown or jumped in athletics track events, recognising and reading numbers in information reports or creating graphs to show results in Science investigations.
Our goal is that all students come to believe that they are mathematicians who will be able to persevere to find solutions and make sense of real life situations.