Holistic Education

30 August 2017

James SlomanWith the QCS test for our Year 12 students just around the corner, exams looming and assignments in full swing, it is timely to reflect on the academic pathway towards an outstanding educational experience for all of our students. This is one part of the well-rounded and holistic education that we seek to provide every child. In amongst the values, spiritual, pastoral and co-curricular pathways that are so outstanding, the work we do in focusing our teaching on what students need to know and what they need to do with this knowledge remains the centrepiece of the classroom experience. Knowledge is so much more than simply recalling information. It is the understanding of how to use this knowledge to question, explore, inquire, apply and evaluate that is perhaps even more important. These so called higher order thinking skills are one part of future proofing our Moreton Bay children for life beyond school. One way for parents to determine what the higher order thinking skill in their child’s study is to refer to the assessment task sheet and their exercise books.

As teachers, the evidence of whether a child has learnt what we set out to teach lies in their work. While this includes their work books, homework and other examples, the main evidence is in the assessment. In an assignment for example, the task itself and the criteria sheet will give insight into what the teacher will access. For example, if the task and the criteria sheet specifically reference a specific skill then that is what must be the focus. Look for specific verbs which will advise what has to be done. Words like compare, apply, create, judge, critique, justify and argue are examples of these. If for example the focus in the assignment is to “create a compelling argument using evidence to justify” then there will be times during the unit of work where these skills have been explicitly taught. This will be evidence in the exercise books, homework and other examples of student work undertaken in the lead up to the assessment item.

We have been trialling what we call ‘progressive reporting’ in various ways across the colleges. The purpose of this is to create a transparent and cyclical feedback between student and teacher with the opportunity for parents to be witness to this. We are about to commence a review of this to be led by the academic staff and any feedback from parents will be very much appreciated. While not wanting to pre-empt the findings of the review, it would appear that “Seesaw” in the Primary School has been enormously well received and the platform in the Secondary School has been unnecessarily burdensome for teachers and clunky in implementation. This will need to change but the observation from my interactions with many parents is that they have appreciated the transparency, respected the work teachers put into providing a high quality flow of feedback to their children and they also appreciate the enormous levels of professionalism demonstrated by our teachers in contemporary instructional practices. While this is work that we can continue to develop and refine, it is indicative that the academic pathway to the outstanding student experience is progressing very well.

Mr James Sloman
Executive Principal
slomanj@mbc.qld.edu.au

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