Junior Campus Blog

By May 21, 2014 Blogs, Primary Campus News

ARLINGTON Junior Campus

The Junior school is always a hive of activity. Below is a snapshot of what the kids are up to at Arlington. By Alistair Rayner (Head of Arlington Campus/Assistant Principal) .

CYBERBUSTERS

On 16 May 2014 the 8/9s & 10/11s children participated in an incursion called Cyber Busters. A drama duo carried out an engaging, thought provoking and entertaining play, which detailed to our children some of the ways in which cyber bullying may occur. It taught our children to recognise when in fact cyber bullying was occurring, strategies to deal with cyber bullying and reasons why you should never become involved.

It combined important messages about cyber safety and relationships, with humour and rap songs. It was a great morning filled with information, laughter and fun.

All facets of electronic bullying were explored, including:

• Internet
• Emails
• Web Sites
• Social Networking
• Chat Rooms
• Mobile phones
• Text messages

Issues tackled:

• How to prevent cyber bullying
• Friendship
• Self-Esteem

Families may wish to explore the following reflective questions with their children:
How has the Cyber Busters presentation made you re-think cyber bullying?
Is it confronting to realise you may have participated in cyber bullying, possibly without even realising?
Have you gained a better understanding of how it feels to be a victim of cyber bullying?

A SUCCESSFUL FIRST WEEK BACK 2014

It has been a wonderful to start the new school year with a fresh feel on campus free from too much chaos. This allowed us to provide the support our kids needed to engage in their new learning experiences, play, and meet new friends and teachers. I enjoyed meeting many parents at the Fireside chats and I hope you all will stop by to visit throughout the school year. I encourage all of us to start out the school year considering ways to organise time during the school week. Often, as everything speeds up, we need to pause, regroup, and set priorities again.  However, this kind of support will produce healthy happy kids gaining confidence to continue to do their best.

Below I have noted a few items that you may like to know about as the year gets into full swing.

PATHS (Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies)

PATHS is an evidence-based whole-school curriculum. Our classroom teachers will teach it from Nursery School to the 10/11s, and concepts and skills are embedded across the school. PATHS teaches Self Control, Emotional Understanding, Self Esteem, Peer Relations and Problem Solving.

PATHS has been found to:
• Decrease aggressive behaviour
• Decrease anxiety and depression
• Promote a happy, safe and positive school culture

PATHS is not designed to be implemented as an isolated program. It provides a framework for school-based approaches to social/emotional competencies, behaviour and values education, as well as community engagement. It promotes shared understandings, shared language and consistent management of behaviour across the whole school community.

PARENT TEACHER MEETINGS

In Term 1 we are replacing the traditional end of term Parent Teacher Meetings with the opportunity for you to make your own individualised time to meet with your child’s classroom and specialist teachers. At this weeks Fireside chats teachers offered parents the opportunity to make a time to meet but if you were unable to attend please contact the relevant staff members to book in a meeting. It is expected that teachers have met with every parent in their class at least once in the first six weeks of Term 1. If more than one meeting is required please make alternative arrangements with staff.

LOST PROPERTY

We have a new location for lost property items this year. A black bench seat with a removable lid is now outside my office at the back of the house. Please regularly check this seat for any lost items. We make every effort to return named items so please attempt to label all of your children’s belongings. Twice a year lost property is emptied washed and donated to charity.

SUNSMART

In line with the Junior Schools SunSmart policy children are required to wear a hat when playing outside throughout Term 1 & 4 and they are encouraged to apply sunscreen. Children without a hat during these times are requested to stay in the shade or play inside.

SUNSMART

In line with the Junior Schools SunSmart policy children are required to wear a hat when playing outside throughout Term 1 & 4 and they are encouraged to apply sunscreen. Children without a hat during these times are requested to stay in the shade or play inside.

LCD INTERACTIVE PANEL

We have recently purchased a new LCD Interactive tilt panel and PC for use by our children. We have been looking for an attractive alternative to interactive whiteboards for our classrooms for many years. We think we have found it now! The 55” EDUSS Multi-touch Interactive LCD screen can be operated via direct finger touch. It will allow our children to gather together in groups to collaboratively carry out research for their projects, use the educational software included which will assist their learning and it can be used for presentations. No need for a data projector, which casts shadows on the screen as children approach and shines its light into the eyes of anyone at the front of the classroom. On top of these benefits, it is mounted on the custom-built LCD Touchscreen Mobile Trolley it is fully height-adjustable, making it accessible for children of all heights and abilities. We invite you into the 10/11s room where it is stored for you to have a play.

FEUERSTEIN PROGRAM

We are introducing a trial of a program called Instrumental Enrichment with the children in the 11s, which will be running twice a week for a 45-minute session on Thursdays and Fridays.

Instrumental Enrichment is a program that was developed by Reuven Feuerstein to help all students to become more effective learners. This program complements all curriculum areas; it does not replace any area of curriculum.

The tasks presented to a learner within the Feuerstein program:

• Provide learning experiences through which each learner develops insight into how they are going about their learning
• Show how learners can enhance their learning and improve their thinking skills and their work habits
• Enable them to become more skilled at defining problems, making connections, seeing relationships and becoming aware of their own learning styles.

In this program the learning is conducted through what Feuerstein calls ‘instruments’. The instruments this trial will focus on are Organisation of Dots and Orientation in Space. The overall goal of these exercises is designed to teach students how to plan and solve problems.

The Feuerstein programs have proven to be successful for:

• Students struggling with mathematics, science and other subjects
• Students with disabilities and learning difficulties
• Gifted students
• People of all ages and abilities.

This program is based on the belief that intelligence is dynamic and modifiable, not static and fixed. There is considerable evidence for these beliefs, which challenge traditional beliefs about the fixed nature of intelligence and the differences in potential of individuals. The implications of brain plasticity for education are both exciting and far reaching and we are very pleased to have two teachers, June McKenzie and Deb Heyes, who have been willing to undertake Feuerstein training, which has been supported through Independent Schools Victoria.

2013 Arlington Whole School Meetings | Recommence

We are excited to announce the re-introduction of Whole School Meetings to the Junior School at Arlington. Please read below to see our action plan for these events, which is populated with feedback, from our children and staff, gathered last term. We look forward to our first meeting next Thursday 24 October. Unfortunately, for parents there was strong feedback from the children that the meetings were for them to have their voice heard and they preferred parents not attend. I will keep you up to date with how things progress.

Dreams/Purpose (your thoughts)

➢ We don’t like the name ‘meeting’. Would prefer something like ‘Gathering’
➢ Want it to be meaningful not tokenistic
➢ Not to be used as a whinging post but we do want children to be heard
➢ Bring issues to the event but don’t discuss and debate. Find a time for a forum for this.
➢ Gather in the Hall or outside
➢ Community mindedness/values/activities which promote caring and generosity amongst the age group
➢ Not for parents
➢ Not a forum for children’s performance

Actions/Format

➢ Ensure children feel empowered to act or find solution.
➢ Allow Emergency Meetings
➢ Come together to sing or dance or play games
➢ Different groups run meeting
➢ Appreciation gift for another group
➢ Set a shared understanding of appropriate behaviour for a whole school meeting
➢ Examine the Courage document
➢ Meeting with agenda established before event for teachers to check relevance
➢ Each year level should lead a meeting
➢ Actions though out before meeting

Timing

➢ Keep meeting to 20-30 minutes but if the group is engaged then keep it going
➢ Maximum of once a month or 2 a term
➢ After Fruit on a Friday?

The Plan?

1. Two meetings Term 4 (Week 3 – 8/9s & Week 8 – 6/7s) after Fruit on Thursday
2. Week 2 classes develop shared understanding of appropriate behaviour for circulation before first meeting
3. Agenda planned in Week 2 and circulated to all start of Week 3 for preparation
– Sharing of class learning/project/concept/blog
– Sharing of learning from a specialist area
– Discussion of an issue of whole school concern with participants wanting to speak listed and prepared
– Guest speaker/alumni (optional)
– Share section of Courage document with accompanying story/clip to match to bring relevance
– Reflection of meeting the next day in morning meeting

Spooky The Musical Review

The Arlington Spooky Musical production was a wonderful success last week. The 3 performances thrilled and delighted the audiences who were treated to an action packed, fast moving storyline that contained many humorous and witty lines that only our children could get away with delivering. The performance paid testament to the children’s and volunteer parents’ dedication and commitment throughout the eleven week production elective program. It was a pleasure to witness the 8 elective groups work together for months to bring Spooky to the stage. So much goes into presenting a successful production – creating an original storyline using the children’s voice, directing, costumes, hair/make up, sets/props, hall decoration, marketing, acting rehearsals, catering and filming – and all of it was done with that special brand of Preshil enthusiasm and creativity that made me very proud to be part of the experience.

I would like to give my special thanks to all of the parents and teachers who worked so well with our children to bring this magical world of musical theatre to life. Each of you set a wonderful example for our children with your commitment and kindness coupled with your dedication and attention to detail.

Finally, I extend my thanks to all of our families and friends who supported our children and attended the production. Your enthusiasm as an audience and generous support is always greatly appreciated.

The bar has been set high as we contemplate our next performing arts project. A professionally shot video of Friday’s performance including the short documentary of the Making of Spooky the Musical will be available for purchase soon. It is also not too late to purchase a T-shirt from reception.

Hope you enjoy the rest of the photos in our events gallery here.

Arlington Approach to Homework

We believe that “Children grow within their relationships at home and at school and their development is influenced by the experiences they have, especially those from birth to 6-7 years of age. These things largely determine the kind of people they are. They reach out to each stage in their living and learning with confidence, in the light of the warmth and security that has gone before. The home is of far greater importance than the school in the child’s early years, but the school supports, and builds on, what is based in the home.
Margaret E .Lyttle

We encourage parents to help children to foster curiosity, exploration and critical thinking and to confidently engage at home about their learning experiences.

We acknowledge:
• Positive family interactions are vital
• Children require relaxed non structured time to pursue their own learning
• The importance of all learning opportunities
• The value of creating links between home and school experiences
• Children need life skills as well as academic skills to cope with life beyond school and home
• Children participate in a wide range of after school activities
• The importance of parents and teachers working together for the benefit of all children
• All learning is connected
• Learning can and will happen naturally at home or elsewhere in a child’s world.

Parents are encouraged to view class blogs to make connections with their child’s experiences at school and to see this as an opportunity for linked learning with the home environment.

In the early years we urge parents to read, to tell stories and play games with their children ensuring a balance in all areas of living and learning. We aim for parents to feel reassured that experiences at home are just as important as experiences at school and they are encouraged to role model the values they would like to instil in their children.

In the upper primary years a variety of suggested home learning experiences is made available via class blogs that encourage continuous learning. Teachers may offer recommendations for different activities dependent on each child’s learning style and individual needs. These activities may include but not be limited to:
• Conversation prompts or questions related to class blogs
• Recommended books for home reading
• Educational apps and other online learning opportunities
• Suitable written activities
• Family maths games
• Personal projects
• Painting, drawing and making
Children of all ages are encouraged and welcomed to share their home learning experiences with their Preshil teachers and peers.

Assessment for Teaching – A partnership with the University of Melbourne

Assessment and evaluation at Preshil is a carefully considered and ongoing journey. When we assess children the individual child is at the heart of the process and assessment/evaluation is viewed as the beginning of children’s learning and not the end point. Children at Arlington are not ranked against others, instead a thoughtful blend of both formal (diagnostic) and informal (observations) assessment strategies are used.

Arlington is extremely fortunate to be involved in a three year research project with the Assessment Research Centre at the University of Melbourne along with a selection of other government, catholic and independent schools. The research project is based on the work of Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development (ZPD). This zone is the gap between what the child has already mastered and what they can achieve when provided with support. The study will help us as teachers continue to foster a developmental approach, which was a key part of Margaret Lyttle’s thinking, with the focus being firmly on students’ readiness to learn and individual differences in their capacity to respond to ‘scaffolding’ of their learning. The three areas that we will be focusing on will be literacy, numeracy and problem solving skills.

The 8s, 9s, 10s and 11s children and their teachers will be directly involved in this study. This will include the children being assessed twice a year using the Assessment Research Centre’s online system. The system helps teachers select assessments at each child’s stage of development in order to gain the best information to plan their teaching. The benefit for Preshil is the support for the development of effective, collaborative professional learning for our teachers in helping all our children to flourish in their learning.

Welcome to 2013

Welcome back to a new school year! Preshil is an outstanding school for children to grow and prosper in a uniquely creative and individualised environment.

I want to extend a special welcome to those of you who are first-time children, parents or staff. The early years and primary years is a very special time, with tremendous growth for children, socially, emotionally and intellectually. Helping your children grow through this period of their lives and become healthy, whole, caring people who know how to use their minds well is rewarding work. I am delighted to be in partnership with you to help maximize your child’s potential. Preshil offers a variety of experiences with small student to staff ratios, which provides very special learning opportunities for our children.

The beginning of every new school year is an exciting time. Here at Arlington we have 3 new teaching staff members joining our team. Oriana Ramunno in the Nursery School, Natalie Jensen in the 10/11s and Emma Cutting as our new piano instrumental teacher. Also, Ann Collacott becomes our receptionist in the office. Please welcome these new staff members with a warm Preshil smile. They have all commenced work already in their respective areas of the school and look forward to becoming part of the Preshil community. A tremendous amount of energy goes into the start of every year. We all want to start it right, to give our children the best possible beginning to help them make it a successful, productive, and happy year. To this end, we will help both new and returning children settle in their environments making Preshil a school that is safe and productive for everyone. In partnership with families Preshil will continue to be a school community in which every person feels respected, valued, and is encouraged and supported to achieve personal bests.

This year Arlington staff will be working closely with and be supported by the Austin Health, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAHMS) through our involvement in the CAMHS And Schools Early Action program (CASEA). CASEA is a program designed to assist schools and families to support primary school-aged children’s social, emotional and behavioural development. The main aim of the program is to enhance skills in understanding and expressing feelings, as well as getting on with others. The program will begin for staff next Wednesday 30 January with a series of professional learning sessions which are designed to up skill teachers and build on their knowledge and base regarding mental health issues in the school setting.

The topics to be covered on the day will include;
1. Feelings and Behaviour: Promoting Social and Emotional Learning
Broad introduction to social/emotional learning

  • Self control
  • Emotional understanding

 

Brain development
Promoting self control and emotional understanding in the classroom

2. Self Regulation
Understanding self-regulation
Ways to support children to develop self-control
Behavioural; emotion-coaching; environmental and sensory approaches

3. Emotion Coaching
Emotional intelligence and how it works
How to read and reflect feelings
Managing anger in the classroom and the schoolyard
Problem solving

Follow up professional learning that addresses more specific school priorities and processes will continue throughout the term. Targeted early intervention approaches for a small number of identified children and families will occur in Term 3.

Again, welcome to the new school year at Preshil. We recognize that without your support we will not be able to reach our full potential as a school. So, please do become involved, in whatever way works for you, whether that be talking with your children about their school experiences and schoolwork, volunteering to help with an activity, or contacting us to give us your thoughts and ideas.
Please feel free to stop by my office or contact me at any time via phone or e-mail if I can be of assistance.

Reporting Term 4

As I write, staff are extremely busy drafting and proofing their student’s descriptive reports in preparation for distribution at the end of Term 4, which is marching ever so, close.

Our key aim of reporting students’ progress to parents is to ensure that parents are provided with accurate, useful and timely information about their child’s progress at school and to provide a point of discussion between teachers and parents to assist with the next steps in student’s learning.

Here at Preshil we are extremely fortunate that our parents see themselves as partners in their children’s education. They are motivated to work collaboratively with us in achieving the best possible outcomes for their children. Successful partnerships rely on shared key understandings: alignment of values; common language and meaning; open-door policies; collaboration, sense of mutual obligation and responsibility, and open and transparent accountability. It was with these items in mind that we worked on better using and describing our current mandated 5 point reporting scale. Through discussion and collaboration amongst the Arlington staff we have established the Preshil – Arlington Campus Developmental Learning Continuum. On the front page of your child’s end of semester report you will find the following,
which aims to continue to expand and explain our approach to assessment and reporting. I welcome any feedback as we continue to improve our methods of reporting student progress to parents.
Preshil – Arlington Campus

Developmental Learning Continuum

At Preshil, assessment and evaluation are ongoing processes. Rather than compare and rank children against one another, we prefer to utilise a range of assessment and evaluation strategies both formal and informal to monitor the progress of each child.

“Preshil does not give marks or prizes. It is fundamentally opposed to setting one child against another, believing that all should be free to develop happily and fully without fear of failure or hazard of contempt. Children move along at their own individual pace”
(Margaret J.R.Lyttle)

The Preshil – Arlington Campus Developmental Learning Continuum summarises each individual child’s depth of knowledge, understanding and range of skills. Word descriptions matched to the continuum are embedded in each child’s report to best articulate their individual achievement and progress.

Arlington Developmental Learning Continuum

Open to Learning

The child is observant in the learning area and is curious and eager to develop their knowledge, skills and understandings. They have experienced some success and are ready to become more adventurous.

Learning with Support

The child is developing knowledge, skills and understandings in this learning area. They have engaged in many learning opportunities and have experienced success with support.

Learning Independently

The child has a reliable understanding and knowledge of the learning area. They display competence in applying their knowledge, skills and understandings independently.

Extended Learning

The child has comprehensive knowledge and understandings in the learning area and has a high level of competence in the processes and skills. They are able to apply and see connections to other learning opportunities.

Transferring to other Learning

The child has an extensive knowledge and understandings in the learning area and has achieved a very high level of competence in the processes and skills. They can apply and demonstrate these skills to new situations and instruct others.

Smiling Minds Pilot Project

I am pleased to comment that staff have begun to implement the Smiling Minds pilot project into their days with the children.  This program was mentioned in the e-bulletin late last term when co-founder and past Preshil student James Tutton introduced staff to it in a staff meeting.

The program is a pre-emptive mental health and wellbeing program.  It’s core objective is to teach young people a life skill; one that will help to manage stress, increase awareness of negative emotional states, improve attention and focus and help prevent mental health issues in later life.  Smiling Minds aims to raise awareness of the importance of emotional health and well being by providing a proactive, resource based program on Mindfulness Meditation.  This is one of the most effective ways of teaching us to pay attention; to be more mindful.  It is not about clearing the mind, but rather focusing our attention on the present moment; being aware of and acknowledging our present thoughts and actions, without judging them in any way.

Smiling Mind complements the general capabilities of ‘personal and social capability’ and ‘critical and creative thinking’ and is being introduced into our classrooms predominately during morning meeting time or at a point of the school day where our children may need a calming and refocussing time.  Implementation of the program involves daily meditation including:

1. Set up and brief participants
2. Mindfulness Meditation practice (listening to an audio recording), and
3. Debrief

The above three step process takes approximately 15 minutes.
The program is designed to initially run over an 8-week period.  A new subject is introduced every week in the Introductory Session, with complimenting Daily Mindfulness Guides and takes Home Activities.
I look forward to the feedback our children provide on this pilot program.
You can find out more about Smiling Minds on their website at smilingmind.com.au

Australian Curriculum Framework

Having recently attended a seminar which gave an overview of the Australian Curriculum Framework and an understanding of AusVELS for Victorian schools, which is how Victorian schools intend to implement the curriculum, we have begun to think about the challenges of how to facilitate its content into our current curriculum. In doing this we will have the following statement at the forefront of our thinking;

At Preshil we prefer not to place emphasis solely on what is taught, but also how and why we teach children as we do. Our guiding principles, our belief in the child, how we perceive the role of the teacher and what we believe the purpose of education to be, compel us think broadly about curriculum.
(Arlington Curriculum Document)

The Australian Curriculum represents the development of a national framework for curriculum from Foundation F-12 that has grown from successive national declarations of schooling in Australia, culminating in the 2008 Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians.

The Australian Curriculum sets out the core knowledge, understanding, skills and general capabilities important for all Australian students. It describes the learning entitlement of students as a foundation for their future learning, growth and active participation in the Australian community. It makes clear what all young Australians should learn as they progress through schooling. ACARA is responsible for the development of the Australian Curriculum from Foundation to Year 12. The development of the Australian Curriculum will occur over three broad timeframes (stages).

All Independent schools in Victoria must implement the Australian Curriculum. The implementation of the first stage of the Australian Curriculum (English, Mathematics, History and Science) for Foundation to Year 10 will proceed in 2013.

For Preshil children this will continue to mean that they will be supported in their development. We will continue to take a holistic view of their learning process in relation to the formulation of this new curriculum. Integrating academic disciplines within meaningful and authentic contexts, working from the children’s interests and fostering an ongoing love of learning will be paramount.

Term 3 Electives

Our Term 3 electives program has now been running for 3 weeks and the children once again seem totally enthralled in their sessions. It was quite evident when I was reading our children’s reports at the end of Semester 1 just how much they had learnt from their involvement in the program and how much they enjoyed the opportunity to try something new.

The electives program brings together children from different classes. As a result cross-age friendships evolve based on common or shared interests and are more meaningful when children are able to share their ideas, knowledge and skills. Demonstrating a positive attitude toward their learning, committing to a longer-term, extended task, persisting and building on prior knowledge is one of the main objectives of electives. Children are able to work cooperatively and collaboratively with others and to reflect on their learning over time. Depending on the activity chosen, they sometimes encounter problems, which may require creative solutions. We provide a wide variety of diverse experiences that cater to different interests, skill levels and reflect all of the Intelligences (musical – artistic – physical – naturalistic – spatial – mathematical – linguistic – interpersonal).

This terms electives offerings are;

TERM THREE ELECTIVES

5s & 6/7s
8/9s & 10/11s
Olympic theme activities
Woodwork
Digital Art on iPads
Basketball skills
Sewing
Chinese Cultural Activities
Song & Dance
Choir
Percussion

We have four more weeks of the program left this term. If you would still like to volunteer to assist in any of the areas listed above please do not hesitate to contact me.

Welcome back to Term 3

It was wonderful to return to the Arlington Campus after our two week holiday break. In my conversations and engagements with the children they impressed me with their willingness to embrace new learning and to reconnect with classmates whilst sharing stories of holiday adventures. Those who have visited the office area of Arlington House will have noticed the reconfiguration of the reception desk and adjoining office space. It is hoped this will improve our presence and communication in this important part of the school and accommodate Bronte (Director of Communications & Development) and Cressida our new Registrar in a much more central area.

Focus Groups

Last week in the 10/11s we introduced focus groups on a Wednesday morning. At this time the children gather according to their literacy and numeracy needs and work with a range of existing and visiting staff. The aim is to ensure each child is fully engaged in learning according to their developmental needs and to allow them to perform to their potential. They will be guided through activities that nourish their personal development as well as their literacy and numeracy skills. These groups will remain fluid for the remainder of the year and it is quite possible that a child in the 10/11s is part of a number of focus areas. I thoroughly enjoyed the interactions I had with ten of the students in my Mathematics focus group and I look forward to further challenging their intellect for the remainder of the year..

Coming Up

We have a number of other important and exciting events taking place for the Arlington children in the coming weeks. Some of which include; the commencement of the Term 3 Electives program next Tuesday afternoon for the 5s,6/7s and Friday afternoon for the 8/9s & 10/11s, the next phase of the 11s transition program to Blackhall/Kalimna and a Working Bee on Sunday 12 August.

I look forward to reporting back on these and other events as the term progresses.

LOOKING BACK

What the 8s and 9s said about The Artist in Residence Project 2011

Our emerging writers in the 8s and 9s recount their experiences and reactions from their work with Penelope, our Artist in Residence.

IF WALLS COULD TALK 2011

By Laura

Tea cups and teddy bears’ paper and pots put them together and what have you got? Puppetry!

The 8s and 9s did a performance and installation. It’s a unique take on the history of Preshil. It all started when we went to Mug’s old house and got some old objects and we played around with them and made stories about them. Our puppeteer Penelope helped us use our puppetry and we really improved.

NEWS  ARTICLE

By Sasha

Last term I really looked forward to the activities that the teachers had planned because the teachers always have SOME fun things up their sleeves. One of the things that the teachers did not teach us is puppetry. But the person who did is called Penelope. She does puppetry as her job. It is so interesting! I love the activities she does. Everyday is so different and so fun! On the first day Penelope came she gave us visual diaries. They are to store our ideas in. You can even store your dreams if they’re interesting to you. With Penelope we formed 7 groups with some of Margaret’s old things that Penelope found in the house. I was in the group of the cigar box. When we opened it…it had pen refills – that type of stuff. But that was our project but Penelope has done some puppetry as well as that. We did all types of puppetry like Bunraku puppetry. We’ve done sorts of Bunraku puppetry with teddie bears’ paper and news paper. But another puppetry we did was object puppetry. So how this worked is that everyone brought in a vegetable or a fruit and if you forgot someone would give you one (one of those people was me). But anyway, the teachers we paired us up. We had two minutes to practice with our patterns and then we all would have a turn at performing.

Only a few weeks ago our class started an experiment. We got vegetables, fruits, paper and milk that kind of stuff. We were reporting how they change over six weeks. They all changed either a bit or heaps. We used our visual diaries to record what was happening.

The experiment continues.

Over all it has been a great experiment and it will keep going! I rate it 9.8/10!

THE GHOST

By Jasper

Penelope was making a ghost puppet, it shattered and it started to grow and sucked Penelope in, then Duncan and Will and Elissa too. It ate the Tens and Elevens and the Sixes and Sevens. Then it took over the whole school. The Tens and Elevens were terrified.

I didn’t know what to do! Then Max came and tried to stop it with a knife but he got eaten. It flew to the Sixes and Sevens room where it took my brother and munched his head off.

It went to the grocery shop to buy some ketchup and mustard to eat with the teachers. It captured the teachers and covered them in the mustard and ketchup and then ate them.

Then, all of a sudden a purple wind blew it away and it was never seen again.

THE 8S AND 9S PROJECT

By Lily

The 8s and 9s have been doing a fun project about the history of the school. I really liked it. It involved puppetry, visitors and lots of other stuff. One of the visitors was Elizabeth. She told us that when Preshil first started there were only five students. One of the students was her mum.

A POEM

By Sia

Penelope

Preshil history,

And stories.

Puppets, bears and newspaper,

Science, mouldy fruits and vegetables, cloudy water.

Hall installation,

Excited, happy,

Sia

LEARNING FRENCH AT ARLINGTON

Why learn a language other than English? At Arlington we acknowledge the important role that Languages education plays in preparing children to participate effectively as global citizens of the 21st century.
For many years it has been acknowledged that learning another language enhances the learner’s understanding of and insights into their own language. Writing in the 1930s, Lev Vygotsky, whose ideas had a significant impact on current educational theorising, commented on the heightened understanding of one’s own language gained by studying another:

It has been shown that a child’s understanding of his (sic)native language is enhanced by learning a foreign one. The child becomes more conscious and deliberate in using words as tools of his thought and expressive means for his ideas…The child’s approach to language becomes more abstract and generalized…The acquisition of foreign language in its own peculiar way liberates him from the dependence on concrete linguistic forms and expressions

(Vygotsky 1986).

Learning a language:

  • develops an understanding of how languages work which leads to improved literacy skills, including English literacy;
  • helps children develop critical thinking, analysis and problem solving skills;
  • teaches students about other peoples, their ideas and ways of thinking;
  • inspires interest in and respect for other cultures;
  • enhances employment and career prospects;
  • contributes to social cohesiveness through better communication and understanding; and
  • contributes to economic, diplomatic and strategic development. 
(The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development)

Below are some snapshots of the children’s learning in French

Liza and Kate in the Nursery School made drawings of themselves following French instructions as the work.

Let’s start with  la tête, les yeux, la bouche, les cheveux, le cou, les bras, les doigts, le corps, les genoux, les pieds.

The children in the 6s and 7s engaged in the learning of the vocabulary in the Eric Carl’s Book Ours Brun, dis-moi. Together they viewed a selection of visuals and used gestures to consolidate the terminology.

The children are always encouraged to develop their speaking skills and share their work with others.

The children in the 5s have been learning more terminology related to fruit and associate the colours.

Une tomate rouge, un citron jaune, un kiwi vert. They drew and labelled un kiwi et une orange and showed fruits from their lunch boxes.

The children in the 8s and 9s have been  reading aloud familiar material from the unit Les trois petits cochons using correct pronunciation and intonation.The children use visual cues to understand what they say and hear (gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice).

The children add new lists of words in their cahier working cooperatively to assist and support each other in the writing activity.

In the 10s and 11s, children engaged in the learning of vocabulary related to a trip to the zoo with the song Allons au Zoo!

Qu’est-ce que c’est comme animal? C’est un éléphant. un éléphant?…un éléphant.

Qu’est-ce que c’est comme animal? C’est un hippopotame. un hippopotame?… un hippopotame.

Qu’est-ce que c’est comme animal? C’est une girafe. une girafe?…une girafe.

Qu’est-ce que c’est comme animal? C’est un chimpanzé. un chimpanzee?…un chimpanzé.

Qu’est-ce que c’est comme animal? C’est un kangourou. un kangourou?…un kangourou.

Qu’est-ce que c’est comme animal? C’est un tigre. Un tigre?…un tigre.

Qu’est-ce que c’est comme animal? C’est un tigre non non c’est un lion. Un lion?…un lion

Qu’est-ce que c’est comme animal? Shhh, c’est une tortue, Une tortue? une tortue Il y a tant d’animaux!…

The children in the 10s and 11s have also been engaged in creating a French comic strip. They are using their vocabulary and extended research with the use of ICT and/or dictionary to create an original comic strip.

French Electives have provided the children with an opportunity to create lots of amazing thing. The children have experimented with different forms of artwork and cooking.

During one activity in our elective program the children explored Vincent van Gogh and his art. They viewed a selection of images of some of van Gogh’s famous paintings and investigated the ideas shown in the paintings. Some children then decided to create an outdoor scene that showed ideas about where they live or go to school whilst others chose to create a landscape picture of someplace they have visited.

French cooking has also been a big hit with the children.

Nous sommes chanceux d’avoir Dominique travaillant avec nos enfants. Le programme de français est riche et créatif.

WHAT ARE VALUES?

Values are the ideals that give significance to our lives; that are reflected through

the priorities we choose, and that we act on consistently and repeatedly.

Brian Hall (1994:39)

Margaret Lyttle founded Preshil in 1932 with the motto ‘Courage’. While many practices in education are the legacy of a previous time or of a mind set appropriate for a different era this motto is certainly still relevant today and a big part of what we value and believe.

At Preshil we are dedicated to preserving the values of progressive education. These values are embedded within our overall curriculum provision at the school. This is evident through our project work in which we encourage children to ponder, engage with, examine and explore issues, see life from different approaches and thereby develop both an innate sense of empathy for different viewpoints and considerations, as well as an intellectual curiosity about our world. But how can we make these values more explicit?

This term, the children were encouraged to engage in conversations about the values at Arlington. Some of the questions posed to the children included:

What does it mean to be an Arlington graduate?

What are the characteristics of a child who is graduating from Arlington?

What is their concept of courage?

Stella D: School should teach kids that not everyone is the same and you don’t have to think what everyone else thinks.

Rupert: Courage

Michael: Respect of your surroundings

Ava: It is always nice to leave with respect and know that you are leaving here with a lot of knowledge and you have been learning about things in different and interesting ways.

Kaye: Courage is important because in life you need courage for a lot of things like if someone is in danger and there is no one else around. If you don’t have courage you wouldn’t be able to help.

Aurelea:  Well, knowledge, friendship, respect and courage. I have learnt to stand up for myself. I have also got a lot of confidence. This is a big one for me because when I was little I was very shy. In this school I am normal.

Harry L: Knowledge and courage and also I think we should also leave with the ability to speak in another language like French.

Lucas: Knowledge because of all the things we have learnt. Also courage because you need courage when you are playing sport and you get hurt

Bobby: Friendship and courage and a good education. Stand up for yourself

Will: I think friendship is important and friends help you when you are sad. I have learnt to be myself and not to try and be someone else.

Jeremy: I think you should leave here with good social skills and being able to help others when needed. I have learnt that it is ok to really be yourself. It really doesn’t matter what other people think if you are confidence with yourself.

Lilith: I think children should leave Arlington knowing what it feels like to be respected as a person.

Rupert: I think we should leave with courage. When you are older and run a business you would need to have courage to fire someone. That would be something big.

Harry M: I have learnt to speak my mind better. If I don’t like something I will now speak up.

Rather than asking the children in the Nursery School about values I asked them what they thought the word ‘Courage’ means.

Sonny: Being brave, fighting scorpions

Ethan: Brave and running really fast.

Moss: Trying to do something that is hard and being fierce. Like when I went skiing I didn’t think I could do it because it is hard and then I could do it.

All children need opportunities to practice values if they are to make the values their own. This has implications for how we promote the children’s voices and children’s participation in all areas of our work at Arlington. School values are made explicit with the assistance of the school community.

At Arlington we believe in deliberately investigating the congruence between our practices and what we value and believe as an ongoing project. We need to continue to have many conversations with the children and the wider community and this will assist us in redefining our values for today. These will then be ‘our’ values rather than values that are imposed from outside.

The conversations continue…

MUSIC WEEK

Research shows that children who receive music as part of education do better on standardised testing, tend to have less discipline problems in school and tend to have a sense of belonging to something. From ukelele playing through to instrument making, open music sessions, strings concerts, rehearsals, playground activities and Oz Opera, – the benefits of music-making was truly heard and celebrated around the school by the old and young, able and not-so-able.

Music is inherent in who we all are. Music is part of every culture in the world. Music is part of who we are as a people.

THREE WAY CONFERENCES

Next week we are introducing three way conferences between the teacher, child and parent(s). We are excited by this new initiative and hope to receive feedback from parents and guardians regarding the process. The children will be responsible for leading the discussion and will reflect on their learning. At Arlington we see a child’s learning and education as a shared responsibility that actively involves the participation of the child, their family and the school staff. By involving the children and their parents in this process we believe this helps to dispel the belief and traditional hierarchy that often exists in schools that is based on assumptions of ‘teacher knows best’. This practice fits with our belief that assessment and evaluation should not be ‘done’ to children, but rather should be a participatory, democratic undertaking.

The conference will be based around the child’s portfolio. Portfolios have been used in some form at Arlington for several years and now every child in the school has a portfolio. For teachers, portfolios reflect what learning we value at Arlington and highlight why we value it. The portfolio is a record of the child’s process of learning and while we consider products important our emphasis is more on the process. Below is an outline to assist parents in gaining a greater understanding of the use of the portfolio.

Portfolios
At Arlington documentation of children’s work in progress is an important tool in the learning process for children, teachers, and parents. As you view your child’s portfolio, you will learn about their:
•    personal styles;
•    thought processes;
•    accomplishments;
•    strengths; and
•    difficulties.

Portfolios are used to record traces of each child’s:
•    thinking;
•    understandings;
•    interests;
•    evidence of creations;
•    interactions;
•    conversations;
•    friendships;
•    relationships; and
•    work samples.

We appreciate their knowledge, skills and understanding of life through documenting their work.

We believe that documenting and recording your child’s learning in a portfolio is necessary so that they can express, revisit, construct and reconstruct their feelings, ideas and understandings. This reflection has not only become an essential way for children to find their own voices—it has also become a way for them to learn and provide evidence of their capacity for critical thinking, analytic reasoning, and integrative learning. As teachers we often act as recorders for the children, helping them trace and revisit their words and actions – making the learning visible.

Our portfolios capture the blending of process and product. We see this interface as interwoven and complementary—an integrated part of the whole, involving discovery, reflection, evaluation and communication.

Portfolios also show possibilities and future pathways that provide opportunities to scaffold, transform, review and evaluate learning in partnership with others.

They are a way of celebrating and understanding children’s learning and development, particularly when we value the learning processes that lead to the end product. When parents and teachers discuss with the children their understandings through portfolios it promotes a real partnership, especially with decisions about goals for future learning.

We invite you to reflect on the records of your child’s knowledge, understandings, skills and abilities and hope this will provide you with fresh perspectives about your child’s learning. As your child leads you through this process we don’t underestimate the value of reflective learning and hopefully this process will give you a window into just what and how your child is thinking and learning.

“………at Preshil, we are, one and all, learning and living together-teachers, children and parents.”

 

Margaret E. Lyttle

IF WALLS COULD TALK – PRESHIL’S 80TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS


It was a great privilege last week to be invited to open the exhibition that the children in the 8s and 9s have been so engaged with over the past few months with our Artist in Residence, Penelope Bartlau. The Staff at Arlington were delighted when we were successful in being awarded an Arts Victoria ‘Artists in Schools’ grant that allowed us to engage an artist for up to 20 days to work with children and teachers on a creative project. See and read the more about the project on our dedicated page here.

CONFLICT RESOLUTION

It has been terrific receiving feedback from the articles on this blog. There have been a number of parents who read the document ‘Conflict Resolution in the Nursery School’ and questioned the use of the term ‘time out’. In the Nursery School all conversations are ongoing and continually being reflected upon. Since the feedback from parents the teachers have had a follow up discussion on the process that takes place when resolving conflict in the Nursery School.

Instead of using the term ‘time out’, which was derived from the children, it is now called ‘time of reflection’. This allows the child to move to another space and reflect on what’s happened. Having a special place to go to during times of conflict can help children gain perspective during difficult moments. Reflection time is then followed up by a deep discussion as to what happened with all those involved, with the support of a staff member. A child who has been taught strategies for managing various social situations, within a safe environment, is better equipped to handle life’s challenges.  Staff discuss with children about how particular actions made by others can make us feel a certain way. This then leads on to a discussion on feelings and how we can make a friend feel happy again. Usually this is followed by a conversation about what the children could do differently if this situation arises again.

The staff at Arlington have witnessed first hand the wonderful benefits that come from the explicit teaching and talking about social and emotional skills to children. When children have the language and skills that are necessary to effectively express themselves and to navigate their way through a variety of circumstances, they have more energy and time to dedicate to playing, learning and growing in a holistic way.

HAPPENINGS IN THE NURSERY SCHOOL

Two of the boys revisit the female stick insect. While one comments, ‘It’s in attack position’, the other sprayed water on the leaves so, ‘It can suck up the water on the leaves.’
If children start to take care, handle and observe living things, then this will build on their already existing empathy, respect and care towards friends and living creatures as they continue to grow. Observing and caring for an animal instills a sense of responsibility and respect for life and brings increased sensitivity and awareness of the feelings and needs of others—both animals and humans.


The children had so many more wonderful ideas for our city project. We have created our own song about building a city and what we need to undertake this project. One of our teachers, Susan, sat with some children and started to develop a city board outside while another teacher, Anna, sat with two of the children and looked up street signs on the Internet. One of the children was very keen to start making a large collection of signs throughout the day. We would like to encourage families to be part of this project as we value your ideas and resources, so please let us know if you would be interested. Another project that’s underway is the stage. We plan to put up a curtain. The children have decided to they want to use different coloured material. If you have any material at home please bring it in.

When Anna took a few children over to the 5s, another child, Harley, told us that they had discovered a dinosaur bone. He led the children over to the area. The 3s and 4s were very impressed by this and decided that they wanted to hunt for bones in their playground. Five minutes later Harley gave Anna a map, ‘This is for the Nursery children so they know where the bone is’. Some of the girls then used the map to locate the bone in the 5s playground. They were so excited by this, they decided that they wanted to make their own maps and look for bones. This then led to the discovery of another bone, and another map created by another of the children led us on an adventure walk through ‘the old house’ (Arlington House) and out through a secret passage. Many other children were influenced by this and started to design their own maps.


Maps are a valuable bridge between the real world and the abstract world and can prepare children for understanding graphs of math and scientific information. Maps also represent children’s experiences of beauty, secrecy, adventure and comfort. We believe in allowing the children to expand their exploration and learning throughout Arlington, where the unique design of the learning spaces can allow this magic to happen.

“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision; that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood”.
Rachel Carson

TALKING TO PRIMARY AGED CHILDREN ABOUT SEXUALITY

Last week I attended a professional development session on ‘Sex Education’ in primary school with Rosie, our school counselor. Sexuality education includes not only the facts about the human body and how it works, but also about emotions, feelings, attitudes, values, decision-making, relationships and communication. Teaching about sexuality encourages children to develop a coherent set of personal values based upon respecting themselves and others. Children who understand and value themselves and others are better equipped to develop meaningful and positive relationships. Primary-aged children are naturally inquisitive about sexuality education, so it is important they get accurate information from an early age.

Historically, sex education in school has been contentious and subject to public criticism from some quarters. Discrepancies can arise between parental preferences and school delivery of such information. While sexual development of young people is a critical part of their growing and may be seen by them to be the most important aspect of their lives throughout adolescence, we must be thoughtful about the process of developing a program at Arlington. The following quote highlights the need for a strong partnership between school and home.

‘We need to think in terms of a team delivering sex education to young people. On that team are the media, the internet, peers, teachers, parents and healthcare providers. We know that some members of this team will provide less reliable information than others so we must ensure that the more reliable members of the team – teachers, parents and healthcare providers are supported and strengthened in this role. Clearly school programs provide the best infrastructure for these team members to work together.’ (Dyson, 2008).

How much ought to be revealed at which age and by whom?

Next term we are planning a parent information meeting to discuss a school-based sexuality education program. This will provide parents with an opportunity to discuss their role and the school’s role, and find ways to support each other.

The following is an extract of our initial exploration with the children in the 10s and 11s about the idea of teaching sex education at school.

I think we should actually start to learn about it because when girls start puberty they would probably want to know about it. We shouldn’t have to wait to until we go to high school.

I think we should start learning about it because we have got to learn about it some day. When you go through puberty you need to know it is going to happen. We should let parents know because some people have different ideas. Some people are a bit private and prefer that the child doesn’t learn about it at school.

I agree. You might want to learn about it in primary school. We have a friend and they were having their period and they were really freaking out and then they learnt about it. We should ask the parents if it is ok to learn about it. I think we should learn about it at school because your mum and dad might feel uncomfortable telling you about it.

The school should teach sex because well my mum wouldn’t know everything about it so the school would know a bit more I think.

The teachers should teach you about it but parents should give information as well.

You might be uncomfortable with teachers teaching sex. I think you should have the same sex teacher teaching you.

I think we should wait until senior school because some people aren’t really to learn about it.

People should have an option. It they are uncomfortable they shouldn’t do it. You can be a lot better at learning about it if you learn about it in Junior School. Learning more at senior school would have more impact if you already know something.

I don’t think we should learn about it right now because we are just kids. We aren’t going to start doing it until we are older.

Maybe some people do have changes going on already so maybe we should learn about these changes now and the other stuff in senior school. I don’t think it matters who teaches us but some parents might want to teach their own children when they think it is the right time. Others kids may feel uncomfortable learning from their parents.

When we are old enough to learn about sex we should be taught by someone who has had sex.

It can also involve a lot of learning about your body.

Lots of parents are not comfortable about talking about this so parents would like teachers to do. If your parents give you a book about it…. well it is a bit obvious that they don’t want to talk about it.

I think teachers are good but mums are good with puberty because they have been through it.

I think we should have sex education but I am not sure when. I think teachers should teach it because parents, not everyone has a strong connection to them, whereas everyone knows teachers. Not all parents would be happy teaching sex education.

I think that sex education should be taught in the last year of primary school because some children do start to have changes in their bodies and they might not know what is happening. It should be optional. Personally I think we should wait until senior school as I am not that comfortable with someone talking to me about it. It should be the boys with a male teacher and the girls with a female. Otherwise it could be awkward.

I think it would be good to learn about it before the changes happen to your body. We should get permission form parents before it happens. I personally know that my parents wouldn’t care if I learnt about sex education. Some other kid’s parents might get upset.

Some people find sex education at school offensive and they would like to tell their own children in a way that suits them.

I think we should learn about puberty issues now and reproduction later.

I think if you learn those two things separately there will be a big gap and it would be confusing. They should go together.

I think it would be confusing and they should both be taught in the same year. I think it would be better to teach them earlier than later.

We are probably going to have sex someday but we don’t need to learn about it yet.

I think we should have sex education in year 7 but not now because it is just not right…. it’s just not right.

Twelve or thirteen is a good age unless there is a special reason to learn earlier. Some people are not emotionally ready for it. In our culture nowadays most of the songs make sex look bad and shocking.

People say it is the best thing in the world. Some people say sex is wonderful and really good.

I think we should learn about it in High School. When you mentioned sex education a lot of people laugh. They aren’t mature.

I think we should get permission from parents but I think there should be some sex education at Arlington. Some schools do it like in grade 5 and 6 and if you are moving schools you need to know about it.

We shouldn’t have it at Arlington. Best for senior school

It’s best to do it in senior school because I don’t really need to know yet. I would feel a little uncomfortable.

If it happens it should be a teacher from Arlington not a specialised teacher from outside.

The police band

Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.

Plato

Last week, the Victorian Police Show Band visited Arlington to play to the children. Live music is an important tool in the development of a child’s musical skills. Live music inspires children to develop their own skills set, take risks in their own music making and opens them up to a diverse range of musical styles.

Engaging all of the children from the nursery right through to the 10/11s, the band played an eclectic mix of music, which had the children dancing and singing. The 5’s were so inspired that once they returned to their classroom they made their own instruments and the 6/7s wrote compositions in Music that afternoon after a discussion about the concert. This event demonstrated the power and importance of Music, it’s ability to promote inclusion, confidence, team work and to ensure every child has the opportunity for creative freedom of expression. It was a joy to be part of the experience.

Below are some of the children’s reflections.

Robert: I really liked the police band. They were very talented at what they did. I thought they had just the right amount of songs for both the little and big kids. I learnt that even that even if you are in a job with the police you can still do other things. They were also pretty cool and the singers had good voices.

Ava: I liked the band because it wasnít common to find police people in a band. They taught the little kids about road safety. It was fun being outside and listening to music. It was cool in the front garden. There was a good variety of songs.

Asher: I thought it was great. I loved the dancing.

Matthew: They played my favourite songs and I danced.

Axel: I loved the trumpet.

Jack: I liked the band because there were lots of gold things. Maybe they were trumpets.

Isabella: The band was great. They had trumpets. There were lots of songs. I did sing and I did dance.

Luca: I know my mum was the girl with long hair. She is a good singer.

I am sure the conversations will continue.

Teachers Are Also Learners

At Arlington every person is a learner, and everyone is a teacher. What better role model for children as learners for them to see that their teacher is also an avid, lifelong learner.

“The great teachers are those who are best at helping students gain deep understanding through personal experience, and know the joy and wonder and power of learning itself.”

Geoffrey Caine, 2004

Teachers and administrators at Preshil are always constantly evaluating and refining their craft.

Dominique Jhumun, our French teacher, recently attended a conference at The Association of French Teachers of Victoria. This was a two-day event and Dominique explored engaging children in French through games. She is also exploring learning French through the use of ICT.

Cal Baxter, Michael Price and Jess Brown attended a professional development day hosted by Eltham College with Richard Gerver. In 2005 Richard won the prestigious ‘School Head Teacher of the Year Awardí at the British National Teaching Awards for his work in leading a school on the brink of closure to becoming one of the most innovative in the world.

Anne Nelson Page, Rachel Bowen, Karen Watson, Louise Ward-Nolan and Sue McLean attended Level II First Aide training. The course covered a broad range of topics to enable participants to confidently manage emergency situations, providing care for the ill or injured until medical aid arrives.

Anne also attended a professional development session on the New Victorian Early Years Framework Curriculum with Catherine Hydon, Being, Belonging and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework is the first framework to be nationally endorsed for use by educators in a range of early childhood settings.

Bronte Howell has enrolled in a single subject ‘Innovative Spaces and Pedagogy‘ which she is doing with Ben Cleveland (Alumnus) at Melbourne University. On completion of this subject participants will have the knowledge, skills and understanding to enable them to develop an interdisciplinary vocabulary regarding space and pedagogy. This study was also inspired by the CEFPI conference Bronte attended in Sydney, Connections: Curriculum + Space; Learning + Place. The conference explored, questioned and demonstrated the connections between learning and the built environment through keynote lectures, workshops, site visits, debate and networking.

Louise Ward-Nolan attended Firbank Grammar School to learn more about ICT in the primary school. The presenter was Paul Mears, Head of Learning Technologies at Firbank Grammar Schoolís junior school. We explored different software that can be used with the children.

Rachel Bowen and Jess Brown attended a seminar hosted by Ivanhoe Grammar, presented by mathematician, Michael Ymer. The seminar focused on using activities and games to inspire group engagement and mathematical questioning when using the four processes: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Michael emphasises the importance of making connections to the world around us to ensure mathematical inquiry is meaningful. Michael challenges teachers to question and respond actively to what does and does not work in our classrooms today.

Karen Watson, Elissa McAuliffe and Jane Kirkpatrick spent an inspiring day with Howard Gardner, research professor of Project Zero at Harvard University and author of many books on the subject of progressive education. Professor Gardener incorporates the explosive findings in current brain research into his ideas for educational practice in todayís social, technological and environmental context. He proposes a new enlightenment, in which searching for truth, beauty and goodness, forms the basis of a deeply human, authentic and life-long curriculum, cradled by the development of disciplined, creative, synthesizing, respectful and ethical minds: his ‘Five Minds of the Future’.

Yesterday I attended the first day of a professional development series on the Australian National Curriculum. The Foundation to Year 10 Australian Curriculum for English, Mathematics, Science and History needs to be implemented in our school by the end of 2013.

After teachers return from professional development we encourage an open sharing discussing successes, challenges and discoveries. The staff thrive on these sorts of sessions sharing ideas, exploring possibilities, discussing childrenís learning, agreeing and disagreeing, thinking collaboratively, creating something new and learning from each other.

We are teachers and we are learners too. And we love it.

MUSIC

Monday Ensemble

“Music has the capacity to… exalt the human spirit, transform the human experience and bring joy, beauty, and satisfaction to people’s lives”

Pascoe, 2007

It was a pleasure last week to observe the children and parents involved in the new ensemble group now running on Monday mornings at 8.30 am. The ensemble features an eclectic mix of instruments creating rhythm grooves using a variety of world music. This week we began a Macedonian piece using marimba, untuned percussion, violin and cello. Many children joined in, including children from the Nursery School.

At Arlington we seek to both enable and encourage our children to grow and flourish in their particular music fields. Joining an ensemble develops many other skills as well, teaching children teamwork and cooperation and reinforcing certain social values in their lives. The value of playing music in ensemble as a mode of expression also provides for a lifelong leisure activity or vocation. Its incorporation into the musical program at Arlington recognises the value of musical activities in the development of the child, involving all of a child’s senses and reinforcing many traditional curriculum areas such as maths and language skills. We strongly believe through musical exploration, children will be able to express themselves as thinking, feeling individuals and develop their musical imaginations.

MORE ABOUT OUR ELECTIVES

We have some wonderful opportunities available for our children in our elective program. Some of our past offerings have included: Science, Working with Wool, Circus Skills, Bollywood Dancing, Woodwork, The Human Body, Puppet Making, Mural Making, and more. At Arlington we seek to help all children develop their innate gifts, talents and abilities by offering an elective program that is a hands-on approach to further cultivate curiosity, interest, and skills. Children are given opportunities to explore a variety of interests through elective classes that are project based.  Individual or group projects are presented at the end of each term in a market place celebration in the hall. These programs are run by parents and friends of Preshil, all of whom are encouraged to volunteer and share their knowledge and skills. Through the elective program, children are able to participate in activities they are excited about, experience different teaching styles and form new relationships. Learning at Arlington is intensely personal because it revolves around these successful and meaningful relationships.

This term the children can elect from the following electives: Cubby Building, Craft, Postcard Production, Cooking, Comedy Writing, Yoga, French Cooking, Health and Wellbeing, Chocolate Making, Quilting or Doll Making. I would like to thank all our wonderful parents and friends who have been part of the program to date.

Below are some comments from the children:

Tayla 6s and 7s: ‘I have learnt how to make pom-poms, dream catchers and dolls out of wool. Electives are fun and I like learning different things.’

Plum 6s and 7s: ‘I have learnt how to make special cards and you can move some of the parts. I also learnt how to make pop up cards. Parents make good teachers because they know things that normal teachers don’t know about. They know things that you don’t usually learn at school.’

Jeremy 10s and 11s: ‘I like to try out new things that I don’t normally do on a day to day basis like yoga. Last term I did an art elective and we went on excursions to art galleries. I learnt how to do etchings.’

Bobby 10s and 11s: ‘I like making food dishes and looking at recipes. I also like learning about drawing. The parents have all been good teachers. Perhaps they have already had experience at it somewhere else.’

CONFLICT RESOLUTION

Beginning in the Nursery School we believe that children should be able to ask relevant questions during the course of a day and the teachers encourage children’s inquiry by asking thoughtful, open-ended questions and encouraging children to ask questions of one another. At Arlington teachers rarely ask leading questions that seek a single ‘right’ answer or binary questions that can be answered with a simple ‘yes’or ‘no’. Instead, we hope to teach children to pose their own thoughtful questions and come up with many different solutions to solve problems.

Last week in the Nursery school we were faced with a problem of conflict between different groups of children. Conflict and disagreements at Arlington are seen as a normal part of life at school and we assist children in building communication skills to solve the problems. We want the children to develop the skills to make friends, to respect them as well to express themselves verbally when someone hurts them or their feelings.

The following highlights the many conversations in the Nursery School.

What is a friend?

Elkan: ‘Someone you want to play with’
Kate: ‘I think you don’t hit a friend’
Evie: ‘If someone is sad you give them hugs to make them better’
Milly:  ‘Joining someone into your game because they like it’
Lillian: ‘If a person falls over you say what’s wrong’
Noah: ‘A person you want to play with everyday.’
Cassius: ‘Play together all day.’
Orson: ’Elkan’
Luca: ’You can tickle them’
Angus: ’A friends is someone you play with’
Maya: ’Matthew’
Isabella: ‘To cuddle’

Why do we have friends?
Sonny: ‘Because if you didn’t have friends you couldn’t play with anyone’
Lillian: ‘You would be lonely’
Ethan: ‘To play and share’
Nat: ‘To make them happy’

How do we make friends?
Ethan: ‘If you see someone you don’t know you say hi what’s your name’
Moss: ‘You say hello after you say you like them’
Evie: ‘If you find a friend, you say can I join in your game?’

What do we do or say when someone hurts you or your feelings?
‘Stop it I don’t like it’
‘Move away’
‘Tell the teacher’
‘Say stop, I don’t like it’
‘Get a teacher’

What should happen to that person who hurts you?
Nat: ‘Time out’
Joey: ‘They should go inside’
Lillian: ‘They should be on their own.’
Arianna: ‘You have to respect them.’

What does respect mean?
Sonny: ‘Take care’
Ethan: ‘Look after’
Lillian: ‘Not break’

Who has time out at home?
Eleven children responded with a yes.
Ethan: ‘I have to go to my room.’

How long?
Elkan: ‘When you’re calm.’
Moss: ‘When I go to my room, I read a book for four minutes and my brother reads for seven minutes.’

As a group the children agreed that it would be fair that we would do the same. If a child is three then time out would be for three minutes and so on.

Kate: ‘You have to look after you’re little friends.’

The teachers have noticed a very positive change in the children’s social behaviour after this valuable discussion. Children are including other friends into their games. If there is a conflict then that child knows the consequences. The conversations will no doubt continue……..

 

LEARNING

Arlington exists to give every child who comes to us the best possible context and opportunities to learn how to learn. Children are learning to monitor and direct their own progress, asking questions such as ‘What am i doing now?’, ‘Is it getting me anywhere?’, ‘What else could I be doing instead?’ Teachers are asking children to reflect on thinking, before, during and after the process, pondering on progress and how to improve. Our commitment is to support children to be empowered learners who are able to take their place in the world.

Each person as a learner seeks to find the niche that they are able to carve, create or spin for themselves, a niche that is connected to others but allows each individual to continue to grow and learn in the world. This kind of educational experience aims to make connections between all types of learning and to see each child as a whole person in their community.

For each child, from their early years, creatively playing and developing their views of the world, to those eager and waiting to move across to the senior campus at Blackhall/Kalimna in 2012, there is a place for them at Arlington. We are committed to providing, and providing well, for all students. Our commitment to supporting children in learning to learn remains paramount.

Preshil is celebrating its 80th birthday and the children have all been developing research projects around our history and birthday celebrations. Of course, this year will be a particular opportunity to remember the extraordinary contributions of the two Margaret Lyttle women in shaping the school’s philosophy and providing continued inspiration.

The first Margaret Lyttle was a brilliant teacher of ‘instinctive genius’ who went back to first principles: her aim was to develop the child’s feelings, sense of independence, security and self-confidence. Believing that the best learning took place through self-directed activity, she produced a prospectus, which stated: ‘Preshil aims at being a school which fits itself to the needs of the child’.

We must always remember that the golden eagle is the symbol of our school, and our motto is ‘Courage’. What did Margaret mean by the word ‘Courage’? How do you interpret the word and what does this value look like today?

Is it about the courage to speak the truth, the courage to own a mistake? Is it about persistence in the face of failure? Is it about having the courage to stand up for what you believe in? Is it the courage to speak our mind and not stay silent, simply because we are afraid that other people might not agree with us? Is it the courage to shape our world? Margaret Lyttle believed that her school should be a model of the world, as we would love to have it. The list could go on and on.

In Term 2 the children were encouraged to continue conversations about the values of Arlington. One of the questions posed to the children was, ‘What does it mean to be an Arlington graduate?’ What are the characteristics of a child who is graduating from Arlington? What is their concept of courage?

At least some of the characteristics of a graduate of Arlington can be linked to the values of the school, values that have been fostered throughout a child’s time at the school. If we hold these values sincerely then they should be evident in each child and in the experiences students have had learning at this school.

What we hope is that graduates will leave the school with a real appreciation of courage. That they demonstrate by their actions and attitudes that they value having been part of the community that is Arlington. We hope that children leave here believing that courage is something to celebrate and that the world is a better place for its courageous thinkers and courageous people in the many senses of the word.

Other values quickly come to mind. To be a creative person, to think and behave creatively in what is becoming a homogenised world, is core to all of us becoming creative thinkers and learners. To be able to develop new ideas and interpretations, to think laterally and imaginatively, evident in art work displayed around the school, in playmaking, music, in play and in writing but also in many other aspects of each of the children who attend Arlington today.

Creativity leads to innovation. Not innovation for innovation’s sake, but if we don’t innovate, adapt and look imaginatively at the possibilities for the future then humans on this planet may face huge difficulties.

Our society is changing and those who will be successful are those who are able to find a new and better way to achieve something. Those who can innovate will be those who get joy from what the world brings forth. We intend that every child should leave the school with a sense of what they have achieved, what they have contributed to the whole and belief in themselves, and a commitment to work hard to achieve something in the world.

In the end, what makes all the other bits of achievement, or creativity, or imagination worthwhile is the relationships we build with other people. Our sense of what it means to be related within our small community, and as a part of the entire globe, connected to the world community.

Values are the ideals that give significance to our lives, that are reflected through the priorities we choose, and that we act on consistently and repeatedly.

Brian Hall -Values Shift (1994)

PROJECT WORK

Through our project work, the learning in which we invite children to partake at Arlington has a sense of purpose, using real tools and involving real skills. We want to give children authentic learning experiences from a very early stage; a big part of our philosophy is putting the responsibility of a child’s education in their hands. In our project work there is plenty of opportunity for children to work together; planning, sharing ideas, reflecting; helping their peers and in turn being helped by peers. Children are encouraged to work in collaboration as opposed to competition. Children teach each other, collaborate with each other, and help each other. They are encouraged to pursue passions and interests, to play, to explore, to invent, to question and to communicate in productive collaboration with others. Below is an example of the project work undertaken in the 5s (aka The Explorers).

We started our year with reading the book Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge written by Mem Fox. This led the conversation into the olden days and how Preshil has been around for a long time. Our teacher in the 5s, Jess and Cush, both came to Preshil when they were children and both of them have many stories to tell. Jess let the group know that an artist will be coming to the school to run a project called, “If these walls could talk.” The question was asked, “What would the walls of Preshil say if they could talk?” There was silence while everyone thought, and then one child said, “Well the walls might see the toys come alive at night time”. The project began…

We decided to write a letter to everyone in our community to come in and be guest speakers to tell us about their favourite toys when they were little. We also wanted to have an Old Fashioned Day, and thought that we might learn some good games to play from our guest speakers.

It was great to have a focus of letter writing as we know that people write letters all the time. We received a thank you letter from a parent who received flowers from us, an invitation letter from the 10s and 11s to see the play and Mia brought in a letter her grandma had written her.

We completed our letter to every one and the next step was to deliver them the old fashioned way, via the post.

But what would we need? We decided on stamps and envelopes.

We designed our stamps.

The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity.

Walt Whitman

We wrote up all of the people that we would like to send the letter to and counted them out. There were 14. So then how many stamps and envelopes would we need? We worked out we would need the same amount. And by a stroke of luck there were 14 children in the class so every body would get the chance to put together a letter. We already had 10 photocopies of the letter,

How many more would we need? Imogen thought maybe four more. So we counted on from 10 and discovered she was right. Off we went on an excursion to the office to photocopy four more letters and ask Karyn for 14 envelopes. With vibrant attention and curiosity the children greeted people along the way.

We had a terrific response to our letter with many guest speakers coming in to tell us about their favourite toys and games when they were little. We have continued with letter writing and have used Kim’s thank you letter and Mia’s Nana’s letter as an inspiration.  We have set up a letter writing table with beautiful writing paper, squares to make our own stamps and envelopes. Our learning will continue…………

The stories of childhood leave an indelible impression, and their author always has a niche in the temple of memory from which the image is never cast out…

Howard Pyle

It is through analysis of words, drawings and photographs that we try to understand the learning process and this enables us to learn about and understand deeper how children learn.

ELECTIVES AT ARLINGTON

One innovative and unique approach to teaching and learning at Arlington is our elective program. During this time, regular classes do not run, but learners opt into elective programs run by parent volunteers. This allows parents to offer programs that can’t always be run in learning areas and in short, to extend and enhance the curriculum. At Arlington we are committed to creating a ‘learning’ rather than a ‘teaching’ environment.’ Parents work with children for one afternoon a week for a whole term. Children choose their electives based on their interests. At the end of the term we conclude with a celebration of the learning.

Electives began in Term 1 and the children have thoroughly enjoyed the programs offered and I am sure that parents and children alike have learnt a lot from this process. I wish to thank all the parents, families and friends for their work in first term.

Reflections…

Will: I chose to do gardening because I like gardening. I made a grass head which was a sock filled with seeds and potting mix. It was left in a jar filled with water and over time it grew hair which was grass. In our group we also made a veggie patch which had French breakfast radishes, baby carrots and lettuces.

Laura: I chose sewing and knitting because my Mum is really good at these and she also helped in the class. I also want to be as good as my Mum at these so that is a reason why I chose it as well. I made a cape for my dog and a necklace out of material for me. I realised how fun it could be to sew.

Jack: Creative percussion was interesting. I like the instruments Roland bought in for us to experiment with. I learnt about rhythm and beat.

Harry: In woodwork I built things. I built a boat and I have still got the boat. I built a windmill because it started out as a birdfeeder but that didn’t work so I changed it to a windmill. The teachers were pretty good and I had quite a bit of fun. I learnt how to use a hammer and nails. You need to start it first and then hammer it in.

Andrew: I picked yoga because it sounded the most interesting of all the electives. We learnt many different yoga moves and poses. I realised it was harder than it looked and it was very painful. I had never done yoga before and found it fun. I would definitely do it again.

Ruby: I chose science because I thought it would be really fun and it was. I learnt how to make sherbet and elephant toothpaste. I made sherbet by mixing all these powders together and then it became sherbet. I think we used peroxide in the elephant’s toothpaste and because of this we needed to wear gloves. We also lit an empty tea bag which flew up into the air. It flew in the air because the hot air made it rise.

NEXT: ‘CHILDREN FOR DESIGN’

agIdeas” international design week is one of the largest and most prestigious design festivals in the world. Each year agIdeas brings 40 internationally acclaimed creative people to Melbourne, those who have pushed the boundaries and excelled in their area of creativity.

An eager group of young designers from Arlington attended the agIdeas “Next: children for design”, a conference held in the BMW Edge at Federation Square. The inaugural “Next” was a program of activities aimed at encouraging children to become champions of good design. The activities we participated in included a forum with 500 other children from local schools followed by a workshop with internationally acclaimed designers, culminating in a collaborative creation.

The children were challenged with two big questions “Where does design play a role in your life?” and “How could design make your life better?” The resulting work enabled the children to make their thinking visible on large ‘puzzle’ pieces that fitted together to create a public artwork in the form of a sculptural mural. Some Preshil concepts included a pollution free factory design, a bedroom with a tropical forest inside it and a robotic controlled passenger plane.

By opening children’s minds to the value of good design, they’ll be inspired to become the creative leaders of a design-savvy generation who demand a world that looks and works better.” agIdeas 2011.

A reflection on the learning experience…

Jeremy: We all worked on different pieces of cardboard and we all had the same task to do. The task was to draw or design things that we see or interact with in our everyday life. I drew a selection of things like a how, dresses and my list goes on. The second task was to design something that would make our lives better in some way. I drew a self driven aeroplane. The man then asked people to come up on the stage. I went up. Some people had very out there ideas and some ideas were quite plausible. I chose the aeroplane as I think this would be a good investment for low budget airlines. They then wouldn’t have to worry about paying the cost of a pilot. The day excited me and the topics were very broad so everyone could relate to them in their own way.

If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.~

Sir Ken Robinson

CAMPING: 10s and 11s

On March 29 this year the 10s &11s went to camp at Eumeralla Scout Camp at Anglesea.

The camp was the result of an exhaustive research process taken on by a volunteer committee of children in the group.

The educational purpose of the camp was:

  • to develop interpersonal skills outside the familiar setting of Preshil;
  • to encourage risk taking;
  • to encourage a sense of adventure and commitment to seeing physical challenges through to the end;
  • promote interdependence; and
  • encourage an appreciation of the natural world.

Rory:  We had our lunch on the bus and waved to drivers and everyone shared out the lollies that they had brought.

After we arrived at the camp, everyone put up their tents and sorted out their cabins.  The three main cabins were The Owls with Harry C , me, Robert, Lachie, and on the second night we had David as well.  Then there were the Cuckoos, the girls’ cabin and the Peckers, the mostly 11s cabin.

In the afternoon we went canoeing.  It was enjoyable and the paddling made your arms tired and in my group we had a game of Whale Tiggy, where you put the toy whale in the back of someone’s canoe.

One of the leaders told us about the incredible journey made by the eels that live in the Anglesea River.  Each mating season they make their way out to sea, up the coast of Eastern Australia and out to Pacific islands where they breed.

Afterwards those who wanted went for a frolic in the ocean.

Wednesday morning involved surfing for most and bushwalking for others.  The weather defied the forecast and a ‘totally awesome’ morning was had by all.

Sam:  Surfing was really, really fun!  The weather was perfect and most of us even got a few tricks off.  Not many of us had been surfing before but most of us manage to stand up.  The instructors were really thorough in their teaching and even people who had never surfed got the hang of it quickly.

Jeremy:  Bushwalking was interesting.  We got to look at very interesting plants and trees and there were some quite nice views.  I tried to use some perspective in my photos like trying to make a rock look like a cliff.

A trail ride through the bush at the back of Aireys Inlet was a highlight for many that afternoon and in just one session we trotted and some of us even cantered.  Everyone fell in love with their horse (all of which had names) and much pampering was given after the ride.

Angelica: I’ve never really ridden a horse.  I really wanted to do it because it was new to me so I thought I should try it.  When we first got on our horses I felt very small. My horse was called Pumpkin; I think she had a good temperament!  I liked trotting the best because walking got a bit boring after a while.  When the session was over there was a big tin can there.  It was fun going in it while people rolled you around.  Overall the horse riding was a good experience and it was fun.

The final morning took some of us to the top of the Aireys Inlet Lighthouse, into the cold waters of the Inlet ‘netting’ and along the shore of the Marine Park as part of an estuary discovery session.

Jeremy:  We tried to find marine life in the estuary but no one found anything.  We found a dead puffer fish on the beach though which was pretty cool.

 

 

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