How and what we teach
The core purpose of Park Orchards Primary School is to provide an inclusive and rigorous learning environment that challenges and engages young people to grow as passionate learners. The school seeks to develop motivated, creative and independent learners who demonstrate strong social values and whose leadership, resilience and self-esteem are evident when interacting with the community.
Our school encourages its students to strive for excellence in all their endeavours. To achieve this, the school provides sequential teaching and learning programs that deliver a comprehensive, broadly based and inclusive curriculum.
Independent Reading Workshop
The Independent Reading Workshop is a framework for reading instruction that provides students with a supportive environment and involves them in authentic reading experiences that focus on the strengths and needs of each individual student. The basic philosophy behind the Independent Reading Workshop is to allow students to spend an extended amount of time reading authentic texts that interest them daily and to provide opportunities to talk about literature. The goal of a Reading Workshop is always to develop life-long passionate readers.
Basic Structure of the Independent Reading Workshop
- MINI LESSON: Mini-lessons come from what teachers know about their students and are focused on a topic or skill that they know many of their students need.
- INDEPENDENT READING FOR ALL STUDENTS: During the independent reading time, students books of their choice or guided reading books, chosen by their teacher. During the independent reading time, students develop the stamina to read for an extended time. During this time, the teacher conducts individual reading conferences or leads small group reading and discussion. The teacher assists their students to understand themselves as readers, focus on improving a skill or strategy, and set goals for their reading.
- SHARE TIME/CLOSING CONVERSATIONS: The focus for these conversations is to share a skill or strategy, something students learned as readers, or one of many conversations about being a reader and the reading community in the classroom.
Literature about the Independent Reading Workshop:
Independent Writing Workshop
The Independent Writing Workshop, like the Reading Workshop, is a method of teaching writing using a workshop method. Students are given opportunities to write in a variety of genres and this helps foster a love of writing. The Independent Writing Workshop allows teachers to meet the needs of their students by differentiating their instruction and gearing instruction based on information gathered throughout the workshop.
Basic Structure of the Independent Writing Workshop
- MINI LESSON: The mini-lessons for Writing Workshop teach concepts, strategies, and techniques for writing while encouraging students to write in different genres or styles.
- INDEPENDENT WRITING FOR ALL STUDENTS: Most time of Writing Workshop is devoted to independent writing. During this time, students are prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing their pieces. Depending on the age and abilities of the students, independent writing can be as short as 15 minutes or as long as 45-60 minutes.
- SHARE TIME/CLOSING CONVERSATIONS: Sharing is an extremely important component of the Writing Workshop. During the share portion, students contribute what they did during their independent writing time, either with the whole group or with a peer. This gives students the opportunity to observe and learn from each other.
Literature about the Independent Writing Workshop:
At P.O.P.S. all teachers use Sound Waves to teach spelling. Sound Waves is a word study program designed to develop reading, spelling and writing skills through phonemic awareness. Phonemic awareness is essentially a knowledge and understanding of the sounds and sound patterns of our language. The Sound Waves approach uses a sound-to-letter strategy, which acknowledges that sounds can be represented in more than one way. The Sound Waves approach focuses first on the basic units of sound in our language – phonemes. It then explores the letters that represent these sounds and how they can be put together to form the words in our language.
The four most important teaching steps in any Sound Waves week.
- Identify the Sound
- Sound Waves Student Book Activities
- Correct the Student Book Activities
TEACHING WITH PROFICIENCIES IN MIND
At P.O.P.S. all teachers use the Mathematics Workshop Instructional Model. Teachers deliver a curriculum that builds group knowledge, teaches self-talk and gives students the skills to be independent thinkers and learners in keeping with the four proficiencies as outlined by the Victorian Curriculum:
A strong emphasis is placed on the teaching and learning of mathematics to all students. Teachers plan for and implement a structured mathematics program, with daily whole class and small group instruction. Lessons provide opportunities for students to practice and consolidate deepening knowledge to develop fluency in their numeracy skills. Students are provided with tasks that challenge their thinking and provide them opportunities to collaborate with their peers.
KEY COMPONENTS OF EFFECTIVE LEARNING IN MATHEMATICS
The indicators of effective Numeracy programs include:
- Assessment occurs throughout the academic year and the results are used to inform the teacher and the learner. Time each lesson is set aside to understand a student’s progress and provide feedback to learners.
- A meaningful amount of time is dedicated to developing numeracy skills. Every day students engage in sustained, organised and comprehensive experiences with a focus on developing their four proficiencies of Understanding, Fluency, Problem Solving and Reasoning.
- Literacy instruction is balanced between the four proficiencies. Students experience instruction in the concepts, methods, strategies, skills practice, problem-solving and reasoning.
- Real world context and purposeful connections. Development of proficiency in mathematics occurs when students have rich experiences to investigate, explore and problem solve in ways that are meaningful to them, have a clear purpose and are relevant to their lives.
- Mathematics occurs daily. These events occur with the teacher, with peers, and independently.
At P.O.P.S we use the PrimaryConnections 5Es teaching and learning approach is based on leading education research and encompasses:
- a 5Es teaching and learning model with distinct phases that structure the learning journey
- an inquiry and investigative approach that allows students’ questions to become the focus for student-planned investigations and the basis for developing scientific explanations
- students representing and re-representing their understanding using a variety of different literacies
- embedded, authentic assessment, including lots of formative assessment for learning
- collaborative learning opportunities, promoting more effective learning but also interpersonal skills such as engaging respectfully with other people’s ideas
- identifying linkages within the curriculum and outside of the classroom, to drive authentic and purposeful learning
- a focus on developing evidence-based reasoning and critical thinking skills
- Incorporating Indigenous perspectives
Students whose teachers use our teaching and learning approach have been shown to have higher achievement in science, the literacies of science, and literacy more generally.
For more details visit Primary Connections
Foundation to Year 4
Laying the foundations
As a starting point for learning students engage with their own experiences to help them understand the world around them. Students develop their spatial awareness through a consideration of the local community, the different groups in society and their place in one or more groups. By seeing and hearing about other places outside their experience, their sense of curiosity and wonder leads them to consider how and why other places are different from their own. Towards the end of Year 4 students distinguish and describe the natural and built features of the environments identifying and explaining changes. They make comparisons between a variety of places and develop their understanding of the geography of Victoria. They begin to develop an understanding of the interconnected nature of the world.
In these years students develop their knowledge and spatial awareness about where home, school and the playground are located and where they are in relation to one another. They extend their understanding to the geography of their local area and investigate and describe elements of the natural and human environments. Students develop a vocabulary to describe their observations and investigations.
Early in this stage students are involved in the drawing of simple pictorial maps of where they are in space in relation to other phenomena. Students develop increasingly sophisticated map skills enabling them to visualise and describe location and direction using grids and compass points.
Students explore how and why natural factors and human activities affect their lives. Beginning in their local environment, for example, selecting safe routes to schools (spatial concepts of location, direction and distance) they progress to group and collaborative tasks and consider environmental differences and resource management throughout Australia.
Years 5 to 8
Building breadth and depth
In these years with increasing cognitive development and experience, students begin to develop a breadth of understanding about natural processes and human activities beyond their immediate environment. They develop an expanded understanding of Australia and the region of which Australia is a part – the Asia-Pacific. Students begin to apply the more abstract cognitive processes to environmental issues.
Students apply their spatial awareness in a more sophisticated way to more complex questions and issues through the use of additional core concepts such as spatial interaction, movement, region and scale. Students identify patterns and processes in natural environments and human activities to understand increasingly complex interactions of physical and human phenomena within Australian and other environments and to generalise from particular contexts. They learn to use a process of inquiry that asks: What? Where? How? Why? What ought? They investigate environmental issues and analyse different perspectives and consider possible solutions to current and future challenges to enable sustainable use of resources. They describe and explain spatial changes through time from their own direct observation and by comparing maps, photographs and other visual media.
Students describe specific locations through reading and interpreting topographic and other large-scale maps. They apply their understanding of scale (distance), grids (location), compass bearings (direction) and legend to identify features and patterns and interpret trends when using maps as sources of information.
The History curriculum aims to ensure that students develop:
- interest in, and enjoyment of, historical study for lifelong learning and work, including their capacity and willingness to be informed and active citizens
- knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the past and the forces that shape societies, including Australian society
- understanding and use of historical concepts and skills, including sequencing chronology, using historical sources as evidence, identifying continuity and change, analysing cause and effect and determining the historical significance
- capacity to undertake the historical inquiry, including skills in the analysis and use of sources, and an explanation and communication of arguments.
Students at P.O.P.S. focus on:
|Foundation – Level 2||Personal histories|
|Levels 3 and 4||Community, remembrance and celebrations|
|Levels 5 and 6||The Australian colonies|
|Australia as a nation|
The Victorian Curriculum F–10 is structured as a continuum across levels of learning achievement not years of schooling. This enables the development of targeted learning programs for all students, where the curriculum is used to plan in relation to the actual learning level of each student rather than their assumed level of learning based on age.
Foundation stage (F–Year 2)
The focus is on the five curriculum areas of English, Mathematics, The Arts, Health and Physical Education, and Personal and Social capability. These areas all have a standard at Foundation.
Breadth stage (Year 3–6)
Students have the opportunity to fully engage with all learning areas and capabilities, with a focus on English, Mathematics, Science.
Assessment and Reporting
Assessment is the ongoing process of gathering, analysing and reflecting on evidence to make informed and consistent judgments to improve future student learning.
Purposes of assessment
The primary purpose of assessment is to improve student performance. Good assessment is based on a vision of the types of learning we most value for students and how they might best achieve these. It sets out to measure what matters most.
The reporting system at our school involves:
- A parent-teacher conference at the beginning of the school year for all Foundation students. A parent–teacher conversation (’getting to know you’) for Years 1- 6 students early in the year.
- A written report and a parent-teacher conference in June.
- A written report in December.
Teacher parent conversations happen whenever required at parent or teacher invitation.
Challenge and Support Programs
Students who need extra support have Individual Student Education Plans developed with individual goals for all students. From level 1 to 4, Education Support Staff provide support and consultation with the class teachers and parents of students involved. Reading Recovery is provided to eligible children in year one. The program involves a specially trained teacher working one on one daily in thirty minute sessions for twenty weeks to develop reading and writing skills.
Our school is well equipped with a variety of digital ICT resources, such as digital movie cameras and web cams. All classrooms have multiple computers which are connected in a school wide curriculum network. Students also have frequent access to a well-appointed computer laboratory. The school also has six interactive whiteboards installed in every flexible learning space across the school.
Students use learning technologies as a tool for research, communication and to enhance learning in key learning areas. Exciting learning tasks are developed using the skills of research through the Internet and presentation of information through programs including Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Students enjoy communicating with other classes, schools and countries through different projects.
Specialist & Support Programs
Programs which support the core curriculum.
Physical Education is provided through a specialist program with emphasis on Fundamental Skill Development. Students in years three and four are involved in a variety of sport activities weekly within the school. Students in years five and six participate in weekly interschool sport with other local schools. Students are also given the opportunities to participate in district, zone and state athletics, swimming, cross country and team sports. A house system is used within the school for athletics and cross-country school events. Swimming programs are available for all students.
Language Other than English – LOTE
All students receive a weekly session of Mandarin with a specialist teacher, students are involved in learning to speak and write the language as well as appreciation of the cultures. We have a Sister School relationship with Jinling Primary School in Nanjing, China. Our first student exchange trip to China was in 2014 and in 2015 students from our Sister School visited POPS, followed by our second exchange to China in 2018. We have continued this exchange program and developing and strengthening the relationship POPS has established with Jinling Primary School.
Our Performing Arts Centre has visual art and music lessons in well-resourced and modern art and music rooms. A specialist visual arts program is provided weekly by an art specialist. All mediums are taught with an emphasis on student skill development and enjoyment. Students enjoy a weekly music program provided by a music specialist. The program involves music appreciation, percussion and music theory. An instrumental music program is also provided within school hours, students have the option of learning a variety of instruments. Students are also able to join either the Junior or Senior school choirs that rehearse weekly and regularly perform in the local community. Drama is conducted in classrooms and as part of the Music program through concerts and school productions.
Sustainable School Program
We are working towards being a Resource Smart Australian Sustainable School (AUSSI Vic), which is an accredited program through Sustainability Victoria. Projects associated with this initiative have included the vegetable garden and hens, recycling and waste reduction. All classrooms have recycle and compost bins and recycle bins have been placed in the canteen and safety areas. The key concept with this initiative is to give our students the opportunity to develop their understanding of how they can contribute to the sustainability of our planet and the importance of this for all members of our community.