Modern Learning Environments

Melbourne Visit

A MLE requires a change in mindset and education pedagogy to create an environment that becomes more engaging for students and teachers.

The Enabling e-Learning Ministry site share the story from 3 News of the new Hingaia Peninsula School, and their Modern Learning Environment

What are the key dimensions of a modern learning environment?

Programmes and environments that:

  • are learner focused and flexible
  • value students for who they are and provide support
  • are open to participation and contribution, consider the local community to be part of the learning environment, and where students have a sense of belonging
  • provide physical, emotional and social safety
  • are interconnected and engage family and whānau
  • are not timetable driven
  • use technology to support innovation and creation
  • incorporate assessment for learning
  • do not require a compromise with tradition, and where language is constantly evolving
  • encourage students to see themselves as part of a bigger world.


What should/could we start doing?

What should/could we stop doing?

What should/could we continue doing?

Tuesday 17th June

Broadmeadows Valley School -

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Principal: Andy Jones new school in 2009 - roll 310
Learning Coaches appointed who deliver PL around inquiry process, external consultants.
Focus on pedagogy that supports open learning spaces, the relationships with spaces, how to monitor individual achievement etc. Broadmeadows is a socially disadvantaged community.
Principal led process of merging four local schools that had property issues and practice challenges, reform of pedagogy, including secondary.
30% Maori Pacifica roll.
School manages an early care centre onsite and has a secondary school as a part of the campus with a shared resource focus. Policy state wide around this model of learning community from eCe to tertiary, including health access.

Notes to share from Tour

5 years old, result of a merger (Schoolgen project) of 4 schools in 2008, which was a policy response to four failing schools in the areas. Decile 1 in comparative terms. The school shares a site, an educational precinct is how it is described, a special development school onsite for children with high special needs, a 7-9 campus basically an intermediate school but it directly connects to a senior secondary campus. There is also a 0-kinder on site, long and short day care and maternal support centre onsite. The project was an $80 million project to improve educational outcomes in the area, it was the lowest performing area in OZ, unemployment was extremely high, social disfunction at every sector. Multi cultural and ESOL needs are high. Lots of middle eastern refugees, and a local immigration institute that the school works with. currently a far more concerted effort in the community to meet the high needs. Lots of local programmes to work closely with the indigenous community. Adult learning programme onsite and a community learning hub consultant with a pathway to employment and recruitment as a focus.

Strong impact on the community through the variety of interventions and responses that have been put in place in the last five years.

Neuro Science and a lot of work around cognitive intervention, learning experiences for kids. Andy completing a doctorate with John Hattie.

Massive intervention at 5yr old level. 1:1 daily support. 5 teachers with 40 new entrants. Are we catching kids early enough?

High levels of collaboration and collaborative practice, use Timperly inquiry model as a way to align assessment and practice. Coaches work 3 days a week with teachers. Open and discreet learning spaces, focus on flexible learning spaces and how the space matches the learning requirements and how we can trade resources appropriately for the time and space.

Music playing all around the school prior to the day beginning, and the whole school is participating in structured physical movement and development.

School is structured into learning neighbourhoods, vertically structured

PCDEL: 3 weeks is a chunk of learning, coaches present the data, video evidence, etc and the team will look at what the effectiveness of the learning chunk has been, what was the value added. The coach will walk through and identify children that are not keeping up and immediately take them aside and provide a boost so that they can keep up with the learning. It is a responsive approach.

School has been solely formed on sound pedagogical constructs. When the school was set up a lot of work was put into taking apart the historical norms of education, and a new responsive pedagogy based on what works for kids and teachers, both have a similar model for needs development.

Studio arts programme built around concepts of provocation: students buy into workshops. Teachers present a panel discussion of a video of what happened last week. Can you see how this group was working, and this group etc and reflect on how things went. Groups of kids are in 3 or 4.

Have a psychologist on site, social workers etc that work to support teachers to meet the needs of kids as it is seen as far more effective for the teacher to be delivering intervention as opposed to kids leaving the class and doing a separate programme.

Principal and DP have had a all admin work removed and they only focus on professional learning and enhancing teacher pedagogical capacity.

Intensive teaching needs to be balanced with intensive relaxation, therefore the staffroom is totally left aside form timetables etc, teaching stuff.

Inherited staff and about 80% got turned over in 5 years as a big move from individual classroom practice to massive focus on collaboration.

Social worker run a Parent Ambassadors programme, which has proven an effective way of engaging with parents and getting them into the school. They started this programme as a way of changing perception in the community as parent swede aware they could come into the school, or that they could contribute to the life of the school. One example of the initiative was a planned event based around Mothers day. This initiative involved holding a mothers day breakfast, catered for, had a speaker who was a student that talked about her relationship with her mum around the school and how this has impacted her learning and her future. This component of the programme was really impacting, word got around and now they are talking about this being an annual event and as a result the Mum’s that came along wanted to know how they could further get involved in the life of the school. In short, the event provided a platform to start further conversations about school programmes. All parents that contribute, the school makes sure to capture and record all of the time that they spend within the school so this can be used in their CV’s.

Pacifica Programme: 22% are Pacifika and the data showed that the kids are under-performing. Their families did not come in to the school. Bridging works is a programme they have developed to engage with these communities across Melbourne. 6 months of development went into the development of the programme, which was focussed on how do we bring culture into the school. The essence of the programme is about forming identity. Who we are, how we are grounded and where we are from. Lots of song, dance, performing arts with a sustainable focus. This is another example of identifying a need, initiating a response that is predicated on research and impact is measured and reviewed, reflected on.

In the classes:

Learning Chunks: a learning chunk is a focussed programme of learning that lasts for three weeks. Children are in mixed ability groups but within that group have an explicit need, the need may be across levels, but the need remains consistent. The teacher will have this group for three weeks planning an explicit programme of learning for this group and will them use data at the end of the three week period to report back to the team to review the value added during the learning chunk. Kids that are moving through the learning can move from their group to another. The team leader during this time is very important as they are outside of the teacher and their groups and monitor the bigger group, identifying formatively children that are not engaging, not progressing etc and at a highly responsive level.

Three hours on release time once a week is provided for each team to meet together with the coaches to look at the effectiveness of the learning programmes. What we expect our staff to be able to do is respond to the needs of the children effectively. Leadership architect the mainframe and teachers plan the details.

Assessment starts every year with a high degree of rigidity and structure and becomes far more organic and formative as the year progresses.

Don’t have staff meeting, have professional learning team meetings, these are the three hours once a week during school time and one hour after school. Have a15 minute Monday meeting with a nuts and bolts session. Focus is on creating time for professionals to, talk about professional issues and growth thats what we privilege and preference.

Preps go into prep class for about 6 months. After 6 months "some of the little fish escape into the other rooms and some of the bigger fish swim back too"

What space matches their current learning and students can "buy" resources and negotiate with teachers

Neighbourhood leader sweeps through and looks for needs and hot spots to take groups and be highly responsive and the immediacy of response

Analogy of sports coaching. You alter the programme/practice immediately!

The golden thread is the level of teacher collaboration and the building and capture of their knowledge to design the learning experiences to lift student achievement.

Intensive teaching means need a quiet relaxing area for staff. "An apartment in the city"

Community engagement -parents weren't sure whether they were allowed in the school or how things worked

Gave them some roles for targeted support

Pop up cafés

Invite them to come for class tours - facilitated by lead team with quick chat and then a wander

Wanted parents to be agents of change for the school and to help with parental involvement

Parent ambassadors

We architect the mainframe. Teachers plan the detail.

Appraisal - we value evidence. That's what we privilege and preference

Broadmeadows Primary -

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Principal: Keith Mcdougall, Associate principal - Connie Concetta roll - 300

Focus on safe secure learning environment which has come from a focus on developing understanding of neuroscience. Developing learning behaviours rubric. Also focus on executive function, how the brain works in a learning situation. Applied working memory (Judy Willis and John Hattie) and self regulation. Focus on developing kids that can self regulate and talk about their feelings/attitudes etc that impact their learning.

Kindy onsite and managed by the school, also boundaries Junior High school. 5th highest performing school in the state of Vic and 14th in the country.

Staff performance management systems robust, high expectations with non negotiables in place. Shift in focus to concept driven lessons which are learning behavioural in intent.

External appointment of coaches for learning, including school coach for the leadership to support in the achievement of school goals.

Programme for junior very focused on oral language, each child at 5.5 receives at least to 4 weeks of intervention, needs based so that when they hit year one they all are at standard on beginning. Similar support exists until end of year 2, with a one to one focus where possible, after year 2 it becomes small group support. Older students (yr5) are trained to mentor younger students as peer support as a form of intervention. Every year 6 has to perform a community service to the school, this might be breakfast club, sport, etc

Notes to share from Tour
Regeneration project, which means there were too many schools and not enough kids. What it meant for Broadmeadows was simply to move sites.
Moving from the traditional buildings they did not say this is how it is going to be moving into the open learning space. There was no PD about this and teachers were given a lot of license to see how it could work. Teachers were given a choice whether they worked collaboratively or independently in the open space.

Secondary and Primary do not work closely together, although they have tried to bridge the gap.

Start at 8:35 and finish at 3pm. Every day is starting with fitness. Lit and num in the morning and the afternoon in different focus teaching areas.
This year they are trying a multi age approach in the Grade 3, 4, 5’s. All teachers in this area are team teaching. Research based approach based on developing leaders in the vertical levelling. The impact on teaching has not been huge as the focus is on teaching to the children’s needs. Some of the challenges around this have included the discovery that there are not as many leaders as they may have hoped and also some of the bigger kids have not been as positive an influence as maybe hoped.

The school has a lot of support staff and a huge amount of resourcing goes into intervention as they firmly believe that if they get them young…
LLI programme for reading development, they describe it as Reading Recovery on steroids.

Learning behaviours focus. This is about teaching kids how they learn what they learn. Kids weren’t understanding why they needed to learn what they were learning and how their bodies and brains were functioning within the process of learning. COGMED is a programme that the school uses to support student learning. It is a computer programme for half and hour a day and children work through the programme for 5 weeks. It has been seen as a more beneficial programme from the coaching side of things rather the computer programme. It was noted that the children who were being removed from the classroom to go and work through the COGMED programme, were coming back to class very unsettled and this was proving challenging. The teachers decided to go through the programme themselves to see what might be causing the kids to be unsettled, and discovered that ti was very tough and made them brain dead!

Three areas of focus in the learning behaviours:
conceptual learning
learning behaviours
executive function - working memory

In developing this approach they developed three teams across the school and had to go and read as much as they could on learning behaviours. The mandate from the Principal was to learn as much as you can and then apply it to your practice.

Kids need to be accountable for their learning, know why they are learning

Developed a booklet on Executive Function which include a section on physical activity section, IT and ….?
The booklet provides a wide range of activities that can be implemented in the classroom to grow working memory in kids so they are growing their executive function within their learning programmes.

Case management team, 5 on the team, and includes a psych who is employed two days a week (they have their own), and a Speech therapist two days a week. Each person had a case load of kids who were identified as having social, emotional, academic needs. Before a teacher can identify a child who may need to go to the team, the teacher has a series of steps that they have to go through before the case will be considered by the team. This is reviewed weekly.

Wednesday 18th June

Silverton Primary School -

Principal - Tony Bryant – roll 400

Use of coaches in curriculum areas to grow staff capacity, getting teachers talking and moderating student learning.
All teachers in the learning spaces are responsible for all kids.
Principal has been at school for 20 years so the Open Learning pedagogy is well embedded. Big focus in the school on self-directed personalising learning. Children have “Discovery” time for 2 hours each day, which is totally student led learning in areas that they are interested in or passionate about. Self directed learning is a focus for 20% of the curriculum.
Notes to share from Tour
Silverton School: Principal - Tony Bryant – roll 400
Use of coaches in curriculum areas to grow staff capacity, getting teachers talking and moderating student learning.
All learning in the learning spaces are responsible for all kids.
Organisation for learning/ expectations:
Professional learning communities - outline expectations for working within a community.

George Booker - understanding Primary maths (great book must buy)
Key is to get teachers to take responsibility for all the kids not just their home groups.

Kids in senior part of school put themselves on the roll when they arrive

Free download - worldwide telescope. Cool space research resource.

Siftables from American company Siftio, check out on Tedtalk

Kids have a home group who is their go to for parents as well. But with learning they are with all of the teachers although it seems for the most part they are in homegroups. So they have whole team collaboration in the learning but have the calm organisational time with you home group.

470 kids at school and get a budget of $4.2 million to run school for the year.
Principals are employed by a school council on a 5 year contract.
School council consists of 15 people half staff, half parents.

Four large learning environments, open learning focus. Each space could consist of 80-130 kids. No ratio supports staffing decisions, these are based on needs.

Very authentic curriculum including radio, tv stations, arts including visual and music, high tech, big science focus, robotics, lots of access to technology and children choose the kind of device for the task. Kids have autonomy to work where they want and the school philosophy is we trust the kids. Windows based platform but do have some apple technology as it meets some needs better. School doesn't have an expectation for every child to have their own device.

Science a big state wide focus and schools are really focused on practical science applications for kids.

Discovery Time goes for two hours a day four days a week all year, it is student directed learning where children focus on something that they are purely interested in. Each child works on their own project during this time, it can be in pairs or individual, it could be media driven, IT focused, construction or arts based, cooking etc

Specialised programmes are used to release staff such as science based initiatives, or arts. This is done as teachers in the team teaching environment are released at the same time.

Each staff member has a critical friend that they observe and they conduct a research project together which is staff driven as far as what the focus of that inquiry is. One week a term is set aside to allow all staff to visit critical friends and observe. There is no release for the research project, and this is shared back to the staff at the end of the year. Time is put aside for this at the end of the year. This is so that teachers are learners just like the kids.

Professional learning can be led by staff, principal, or kids depending on the focus.

School is focused on a culture of learning communities, hence the communities within the school. Advice is to start at the bottom end of the school so that those kids come up through the school. Staff who were resistant to change simply did not get the same level of resourcing and when they questioned were told that when the practice changed they would get the resources :)

When Tony started he felt that half of the staff had retired but no one had told them :)

How are we going to teach in a different way to utilise the strengths of everyone on board.
School using a powered shipping container to archive, great idea and painted it to make it look great :)
Bottom 10% socio-economic, but in top 5% achievement in country

In the library there is a tv connected which plays the news full time so kids are involved with and aware of global issues - tv is on in all classrooms with volume off (teletext message).

Coatesville Primary School -

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Principal: Louise Pearce - roll -720

Strong inquiry based school.
Home group for every child, as a touch base for parents more than anything. Bags kept outside the classroom so that kids don't develop the sense that a space is "theirs".
Moving more to co-teaching and looking at implementing different teaching models this year. All resources are shared and kept in a shared office space. Every week each team is released for 100 minutes together to plan
Whole school has a staff essential agreement which is first staff activity each year and based on school beliefs. These values are then the focus for the first week of school called five days of values where the kids develop their home group essential values based around the staff agreement but in kids speak.
21st century learners don't work in isolation, collaborative learning is about creating space that gives kids autonomy and options about where and how they learn, it's about learning together in a supportive collaborative way. When we are working together it is explicitly. Informal talk, social talk and talking to learn, which is about the key elements of speaking and listening, and developing the language of learning that helps us understand, ask questions, work within a team, which develops skills for life long learning. The environment is also a support as a third teacher.
Philosophy around employment is hire hard and teach easy, interview up to 25 candidates to ensure they get the right person.
Notes to share from Tour
Architect: Better schools today funds released for a school building project development. The thinking is that the school is really the hub of the community and we need to be aware in design of how we create the school as a real presence in the community. The biggest that they can build a school in Victoria is for 450 permanent. Lot of debate between architects and educators regarding whether the space defines the pedagogy or the pedagogy define the space. Architect believes that it starts well before this, it is about our beliefs around what is good, effective teaching and learning. Design comment of worth is that acoustics in the ceiling is very important.

Evidence shows that the blue light in natural light energises and invigorates and helps kids learn. We need to be mindful when designing learning spaces that we have natural light in the spaces.

Spaces are designed to be flexible over time, rather than having movable walls or areas etc. Some spaces are set up for particular areas of focus such as numeracy, literacy etc and teachers move around the spaces dependent on the need, rather than having one space that has to be everything to everyone. Spaces are flexible so that they can cater to a wide variety of modes of learning.

In developing the arts centre they are going to create an actual cafe space for parents to stop in and buy coffee in the mornings, it will be run as a going concern.

IB curriculum leads the school learning design.

Future thinking is looking at how a more multi cultural perspective can be shared through literature perspectives. For example, how as a school, can the stories of Asia be incorporated into the stories and literature that teachers use as resources and how can the staff reflect on their mono cultural views and extend the opportunities that are provided to children.

Big focus on shifting the children achieving at expectation to working above, which is an expectation from a more affluent professional community. Challenge to teachers is how can we extend children though the thinking and programmes available to so that they work to their potential.

Learning intentions and success criteria used with absolute consistency across the school.

Staff culture has been developed to encourage people to have the skills to feel capable to have challenging conversations. There is little value in a school culture of back stroking and praise, the healthy culture is truly demonstrated through people feeling equipped and empowered to approach difficult conversations that lead to improving practice and student learning outcomes.

Middle management had three years of development and coaching developing strong leadership skills and perspectives. Are you a leader all of the time? How as a leader are you taking responsibility for the data and using this to improve student learning outcomes. Strong focus on collaboration between the teams, facilitating the teams to be cohesive.

Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up - Oliver Wendell Holmes
Wayne from Clarke Hopkins Clarke architects - Does the pedagogy come first or the architecture. Neither - it starts with the values and beliefs
Creating purposeful learning settings
No defined front to the class
5 days of quality. 5 days focus on values. Develop essential agreements not rules
Need to get right teachers in right seats. Lots want leadership but they need to prepared to challenge
Need to be seen as leader across the school

Thursday 19th June

Laurimar Primary School -

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PRINCIPAL Jason McBean roll – 500+

School is 6 years old with a staff of 108 leadership structure of principal, 2 x AP, and curriculum innovation leader. All leaders, 28 across the school, and growing leadership with staff is a massive focus with at least 2 workshops a term for leadership development such as dealing with difficult people etc.
Open plan learning focus and big IT push with one to one from grades 1-6
The run "The leader in me" as a programme for developing leadership in kids. Previous principal is now at Hazelglen down the road.
Notes to share from Tour
Started with 113 children 6 years ago and is now 1027 kids, so has dealt with rapid growth of about 300 per year. New school, Hazelglen, has open-end about 1 km down the road, which has released a lot of pressure.
8 in the leadership team. In hub has a leader and an assistant leader. 24 core people who drive the learning across the school.

One of the AP’s, Timothy, takes care of the welfare challenges, large role in such as big school. This role also encompasses the enrichment programme for extending talented kids. He also oversees school wide operations. Work hard on crating robust systems so that the head knows what the hand is doing.

Natasha AP: focus is on curriculum development and innovations within curriculum. Currently looking at revamping the reading programme for 2015. Leads the coaching and mentoring of teachers in the school. Currently big focus on Numeracy and the big ideas within numeracy. How planning and data collection can support in decision making around student learning. School about to become a Google school.

Laura and Jane: Curriculum innovations leader: Coaching and curriculum focus and been in this role for 4 years, also supporting specialist teachers. Other part to the role is being responsible for data, focus at the moment on making data visible, that is making it real across the school for all involved in teaching and learning.

Social emotional learning team which takes care of the Leader in me, You can do it programmes and a range of other programmes.

BASTO educational institute is used for developing leaders across the school.

The schools priority is team teaching approach and utilising the open learning environments.

School Culture underpinned by the FISH philosophy. Workshops are held once a term for staff, and FISH awards are handed out each week. The four elements that the FISH philosophy are,Be there, choose your attitude, Play, Make someones day.

Big focus this year on building community connections and are currently looking at t building a community garden, beginning parent learning sessions with a focus on transition.

IT set up: right from the start it has been a one-one set up. for the last four years this has been a one-one i-pad programme. Movie studio on site and every week a programme is created that is played at the end of the week for all of the school including parents and grandparents. Screens available for every class via apple tv. Focus is on using devices as tools, digital portfolios go home to parents twice a year with the i-pads. Google is a big development moving forward with the school moving to Google classroom in 2015. The school has a school app, which is a fantastic tool for sharing school information.

Co-teaching model: Teacher in buddies within teams. two teachers work together, plan together. At the start of the year they are quite separate and this becomes more collaborative during the year. We can group children across the two classrooms dependent on need and the teachers share the kids. Have tried more than two teachers but it hasn’t worked quite as well, due to relationships mostly.

Social and Emotional Learning Programmes - You Can Do It Programme
Traditional goals of a school have been to focus on academics, but as time has progressed it is apparent that we need an integrated social emotional programme of learning to maximise the results of academic outcomes. Social/emotional programmes need to be explicit and equal to academic learning initiatives. At Laurimar they use You Can Do It and The Leader in Me. They report to parents on social and emotional learning. Every student receives input form these programmes from Prep to Year 6.

5 Key Foundations of successful People
Getting Along

Look up__kidsmatter.org__ for a programme that supports the development of social connectedness and early awareness of mental health challenges.

Confidence: accepting myself, taking risks (defining positive and negative risk), being independent, I can do it thinking
Persistence: putting in effort, working tough, putting in the hard yards

Teaching the ways of thinking and developing the behaviours to support this.

Hazelglen -

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Notes to share from Tour

School uses the FISH philosophy to support culture, just as at Laurimar.
Fish + staff = a great culture
21st Century curriculum is:
Engaging - inspiring curiosity in their world
Relevant - connecting their worlds
Innovative - exploring and creating

Run a curiosity programme, which is basically their programme inquiry or integrated curriculum. Investigations such as history, geography, asian literacy, sustainability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Student engagement in a multi visual world.
This means learning has to be child centred
Mulitmodel - reflective, independent, collaborative
Changing - the space should change all of the time, as the brain needs stimulating. Sometimes when we are driving we all of a sudden end up somewhere as we have driven that pathway many times, same as in learning and our space, it needs to change to simulate focus.
Surprising - increasingly hard in our current world
Choice - kids need choice, empowerment, not just teachers that need to provide choice, so do the environments
Resource rich
Colour - the brain is tuned into colour

Team teaching
This has to be more than architectural, as in open space. Benefits to have teachers working together is great for energising.
Planning can be a challenge in this team teaching environment to get people together all of the time. It does however, often happen all of the time.
Timetabling can be a challenge.
Relationships are critical, investment must be made into relationship building. Some people are not suited to this kind of teaching.
Reflection and personal growth is ongoing in team teaching, like having your own coach all of the time.

Anywhere, anytime learning
Preps: shared i-pads in each classroom
Grades 1-6: 1:1 i-pad program, lease, existing, purchase
95% iPad parent paid
Pd 1day/term - aspiring leaders, inspiring leaders
Large leadership team - 8 grade level leaders, 8 assistant leaders
Expressive education team

Purpose built digital production studio
TV’s and apple tv

Interesting spelling and literacy programme, see Barb as she was very interested in this.