Learning & Teaching
An overview of Learning and Teaching at St Joseph's
At St Joseph’s our vision and mission is for every student to leave St Joseph’s as proficient, engaged and enthusiastic readers who are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge for the future.
We believe passionately in educating students through explicit, evidence-based and structured literacy practices.
Our teaching and learning model is based on The Science of Reading. Proficient reading involves a variety of strands coming together to develop skilled reading and at St Joseph’s we follow a clear sequence of learning. Students are explicitly taught in the two key areas of reading; language comprehension and word recognition. These areas are further broken down into the areas of background knowledge, vocabulary, language structures, verbal reasoning, literacy knowledge, phonological awareness, decoding and sight recognition.
In the junior levels, St Joseph’s students are explicitly taught to develop their word recognition through a synthetic phonics program called Little Learners Love Literacy. As they move through the school they are engaged in evidence-based teaching that moves students from the ability to decode and recognise words on a page to becoming proficient readers with accurate comprehension of what they read.
Teachers closely monitor and foster each child’s sequential skill development with regular assessment. We also provide evidence-based intervention programs called Mini Lit and Macq Lit to support our students when required.
Writing at St Joseph’s follows a clear sequence of learning based on the ‘Talk 4 Writing’ model. Teachers use formative assessments to identify appropriate teaching points for a genre including but not limited to narrative, persuasive, informative and procedural text. This initial assessment or ‘cold task’ provides an interesting and rich starting point that provides the stimulus and content, allowing students to draw on their prior learning. Assessment of their writing helps the teacher work out what to teach the whole class, different groups and adapt the model text and plan. Targets can then be set for individuals.
Teaching begins with a creative ‘hook’ that engages the pupils, with a sense of enjoyment, audience and purpose. The model text is pitched well above the pupils’ level and has built into it the underlying, transferable structures and language patterns that students will need when they are writing. This is learned using a ‘text map’ and actions to strengthen memory and help students internalise the text. Activities such as drama are used to deepen understanding of the text.
Once students can ‘talk like the text’, the model, and other examples, are then read for vocabulary and comprehension, before being analysed for the basic text (boxing up) and language patterns, as well as writing techniques or toolkits. All of this first phase is underpinned by rehearsing key spellings and grammatical patterns. Short-burst writing is used to practise key focuses such as description, persuasion or scientific explanation.
Once students are familiar with the model text, then the teacher leads them into creating their own versions. A new subject is presented and the teacher leads students through planning. With younger pupils, this is based on changing the basic map and retelling new versions. Older students use boxed-up planners and the teacher demonstrates how to create simple plans and orally develop ideas prior to writing. Ideas may need to be generated and organised or information researched and added to a planner. Shared and guided writing is then used to stage writing over a number of days so that students are writing texts bit by bit, concentrating on bringing all the elements together, writing effectively and accurately. Feedback is given during the lessons, as well as using some form of visualiser on a daily basis, so that students can be taught how to improve their writing, make it more accurate, until they can increasingly edit in pairs or on their own.
Eventually, students move on to the third phase, which is when they apply independently what has been taught and practised.
Mathematics is also given special emphasis at St. Joseph’s. We base our program on the Victorian Curriculum and closely monitor and track each child’s sequential progress. Students are consistently assessed using a variety of both formative and summative assessment. We use Essential Assessment to understand clearly where students are at and what their next steps in learning are.
Students follow a clear progression of learning with both key curriculum knowledge broken into “I Can Statements” for students and teachers to clearly track progress. Maths strategies are also clearly and sequentilaly unpacked into a progression.
Students are provided with clear and explicit teaching in the areas of number and algebra, measurement and geometry and statistics and probability. Students are also engaged in mathematical investigations that provide engaging real-life scenarios for students to learn mathematical concepts.
At St Joseph's we follow a clear model of teaching that focus on students moving from a concrete understanding of mathematics to a pictorial representation and then finally onto an abstract understanding.
Students participate in workshops targeting specific needs and attend weekly Problem Solving sessions, focusing on Mathematical Proficiency. Support programs are also in place for specific students requiring additional assistance.