Philosophy of Learning - Senior Years
Bethania Lutheran School is a Christ-centred community supporting the educational journey by providing dynamic, innovative teaching and learning, within a nurturing environment.
Philosophy of Learning
We believe that every student is a unique individual created by God with their own special gifts, strengths and needs. In order for students to build their own positive image of themselves as learners and contributors to their communities they are provided with relevant, purposeful and appropriate learning experiences. These learning experiences are structured and presented in a variety of ways with opportunities for both success and personal challenge. Students are encouraged to take ownership of and contribute direction to the learning experience. The school facilitates this learning by providing timely and purposeful feedback and learning environments which promote a positive atmosphere of trust and safe risk taking
Senior Primary Years Core Values and Beliefs
Students need real, genuine relationships with peers and adults.
Students learn best in an environment of open, honest, spontaneous interactions and connections. Positive relationship is not just necessary, it should be explicitly taught, encouraged and practiced. Learning occurs best within the context of healthy and positive relationship with peers and affirming adult interactions.
- Classrooms are an open place where issues are solved honestly, with realistic outcomes and followed up to ensure they have been fully resolved
- Positive relationships and interactions are modelled by adults together with explicit instruction and forums for discussion
- Students are encouraged and given opportunity to explore their own solutions to issues within a safe and encouraging environment.
A supportive and positive learning environment encourages risk taking, resilience and independence
A positive learning environment provides routine, structure and stability, this helps students feel secure and confident to take risks and be supported in their choices. Students must be encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning and given choices in the direction of their learning. Problem solving, resilience and creativity are encouraged, taught and modelled with the aim of producing motivated, independent, lifelong learners.
- The use of iPads enable students to engage productively with relevant technology, deepening their understanding of content and skill
- Providing stimulus materials and programs that challenge children’s ideas, raise questions, encourage discussion and ongoing exploration. Best attempts will be respected.
- Individual strengths and weaknesses are explored, built upon and encouraged within many settings including working collaboratively within a group.
- Investigative tasks encourage students to make their own decisions and take responsibility for their own learning.
Learning involves the attainment of skills and knowledge that have applications and connections to real life experiences
Students learn best within integrated, rich, relevant, connected, challenging and interesting learning contexts. Students are challenged to explore, question and engage with significant ideas and practices so that they move beyond superficial understandings and skills to develop higher order, flexible thinking and applications.
- Project Based Learning with links to realistic problems and challenges that require deeper thinking, understanding, questioning and reflecting.
- Opportunities for formal justification and analysis of ideas, actions, theories and decisions.
Families are an important part of the teaching team
Learning within the school is maximised when home and school work in partnership. Education is a joint endeavour with students’ families that is facilitated by positive links of communication that flow in both directions.
- Allowing for participation of parents to provide support, expertise and insights.
- Frequent communication both positive and negative with caregivers in different formats both formal and informal. ‘Working together’ is part of our vocabulary.
- Personal contact via telephone, email or face to face is encouraged early to develop a personal relationship between home and school.
Students have individual learning styles and needs
Children in the senior primary years need varied, multiple, technology rich and multimodal opportunities and experiences to gain knowledge and understanding. Individual learning styles require a variety of flexible teaching approaches and opportunities to learn and communicate their learning. Each student’s contribution is encouraged and valued both as individuals and as a part of community.
- Agile learning spaces encourage students to make choices about how and where they learn best
- Use of online learning platforms and digital applications to present and share content and ideas
- Utilization of a range of teaching strategies that support different ways of thinking and learning e.g. Bloom’s Taxonomy & Multiple Intelligences
- Activities include those which do not have a right or wrong answer, every child experiences success and effort is encouraged
Students bring with them their own beliefs and knowledge that we value and build upon
Progress occurs by building on prior knowledge and experiences and making links to new concepts and skills. Basic skills provide the basis upon which all other learning is founded. Learning is facilitated when the interests, skills, backgrounds, concerns and perspectives of students are reflected in the learning program.
- Actively seeking to establish children’s’ knowledge, beliefs and skills as part of planning. Planning lessons and tasks that follow sequentially and build in complexity.
- Explicitly linking new ideas with the language and perspectives the children bring to the classroom
- Creating an environment of encouragement for students to contribute personal stories to class discussion
Assessment and feedback are a part of learning to facilitate growth and learning
Respect for each other is valued, and consistent. Purposeful feedback, praise and direction are employed constructively to monitor student growth and guide future planning. Recognition for achievements and opportunities for the assessment of all learning types is vital. Students are encouraged to reflect on their own learning. Assessment should be purposeful, wide ranging and where possible, real life.
- Effort, perceptions and attitude are valued and commented upon
- Evidence from assessment is used to inform planning
- Learning and achievements are displayed and celebrated
Independence is developed within secure boundaries that articulate high standards
Social, moral and ethical boundaries allow students to learn in a safe learning environment that encourages success. High expectations of achievement and behaviour are communicated clearly and each student is supported to reach these expectations. Students are encouraged to explore some freedom and choices in their learning within an environment that articulates and encourages excellence.
- Opportunities for students to make individual and collaborative decisions about learning directions, goals, assessment criteria and demonstrations of learning.
- High social, moral and ethical standards are articulated, modelled and expected of all students
- Learning goals are set high with the expectation that all students can attain success, some with scaffolding to aid their progress.
A culture of value and respect for individuals and communities is important in the senior primary years.
The development of the whole child is vital in producing contributing members of community. Moral and value based issues must be addressed with thorough, relevant and purposeful discussion and treatment. A respectful mind is taught, modelled, encouraged and practiced. Students are best valued for their individual stages of development through rites of passage that are celebrated within the learning environment. Leadership skills must be encouraged and taught as a goal for every student.
- Academic, spiritual, physical, maturational, emotional and personal progress and growth are honoured and acknowledged within the class and school context
- Students are given leadership opportunities and responsibilities both within the school and also through service to the wider community
- Restitution and restoration techniques are taught and practiced within everyday school activities.
- Individual contributions and opinions are sought and respected.
The Teaching and Learning Cycle
The planning phase involves the development and preparation of learning experiences and units of work in order to maximise student learning opportunities to meet curriculum guidelines. Teaching strategies, classroom organization, agile learning environments, the use of digital media, available resources, prior knowledge and experience of students, opportunities for student direction and the learning styles/needs of the children must all be considered during this phase. Consideration of student demonstrations of learning and expectations of student performance are also to be planned for at this time. In this phase teachers consider the types of student assessment data they will collect and analyse to inform the direction of their teaching program to best cater for their students' needs. Good teaching starts with evaluating what the student knows and determining what the student needs to know next. Careful planning creates the most appropriate teaching and learning experiences to lift the student to the next level of understanding.
Implementation & Instruction
Implementation in the senior years occurs in four stages that grow in complexity and demand on the child. All four stages of instruction must be given equal value. These stages are; modelling, shared experiences, guided learning and independent exploration. In the modelling, or becoming aware phase, teachers provide explicit support to engage with new learning and make links to prior knowledge and skills. Students are clearly made aware of new ideas or skills through the intentional design, delivery and modelling of these by the teacher to the students. In the shared experiences, or exploring phase students are encouraged to use their learning in familiar contexts through interactions that promote children’s personal understandings. Children are encouraged to explore new objects, representations and social practices through the provision of shared experiences that all students can process and reflect on. During the guided learning, or making connections phase children are assisted to begin representing their ideas and understandings. Students are encouraged to transfer their learning across familiar contexts and prompted to engage with and talk about the new learning. The final stage is the independent exploration, or applying phase. In this phase students are provided with activities that enable them to demonstrate confident and independent application and recall of new skills or knowledge across familiar contexts. Children should be given opportunity to plan, explain and reflect on their learning and activities should provide for varied levels of thinking and understanding.
Analysing student assessment data tells teachers what their students already know, understand and can do. It also informs the teacher of learning progress and student attainment. Authentic assessment should incorporate open-ended rich tasks that engage students and allow them to demonstrate varying degrees of achievement and progress in relation to learning statements and their learning journey. Assessment is gathered in order to inform future planning, build a picture of a child’s learning and development and record point-in-time judgements. It is important that assessment is streamed through the learning cycle with multiple and varied opportunities to measure students' progress as learning occurs and should be moderated with teaching partners.
Recording & Reporting
Teachers monitor and assess by gathering information and evidence over time to build a dynamic, organized picture of learning. Recording can take the form of checklists, annotated work samples, photographs, standardized testing results, written observations, recorded conversations, paintings & drawings, interview notes, learning logs, concept maps, marked criteria sheets, anecdotal records and objects or artefacts that the children make. This evidence is then reported to parents formally via parent/teacher interviews, portfolios and report cards. Information may also be reported to parents informally via meetings, letter, email, ad hoc interviews and student communication books. Information and evidence of each child’s learning journey should travel with them to the next year level.
Learning plans and units of work should be working documents that reflect the teaching and learning journey of your class. Teachers need to gather, organise and interpret information in order to make judgements about the effectiveness and appropriateness of teaching overviews, plans and programs, teaching strategies, assessment strategies, activities and resources. Evaluation is an ongoing process. Information for use in evaluation may be gathered through student assessment, observations of children, teachers' reflection on their practice, written records such as questionnaires, logs and diaries, records of meetings, discussion with other members of staff including support staff and input from parents and the community
Documents Informing Curriculum Planning in the Senior Primary Years
Christian Studies Curriculum Framework
A Vision for Learners and Learning in Lutheran Schools