Junior School

1

Term 3 Week 2


On the final day of Term 2, our Junior School staff participated in Foundation to Proficiency Level Two THRASS training. This has followed the initial training undertaken by all Junior School staff in December 2018.

The THRASS approach underpins the teaching of handwriting, spelling and reading skills in the Junior School. THRASS is not a program, but rather an approach to these skills. It permeates through our classrooms; students may be "THRASSing" out the origin (etymology) of a word in music, they will be identifying key graphemes and phonemes during a reading session and referencing the THRASS handwriting songs while learning their handwriting. 

This approach has recently been further strengthened with the development of a Junior School Scope and Sequence in English. This research-based Scope and Sequence outlines the approach to the teaching of English in the Junior School and provides a consistent structure. 

The outcome of this is that every reading session in the Junior School includes explicit reading instruction, an element of skill development, a THRASS component and reflection opportunities. During writing sessions, students are integrating grammar and punctuation into their writing, explicit writing instruction occurs every day and students continue to reference the THRASS chart when selecting a spelling choice. Recently the Junior School has invested in the purchase of new take home texts, which means every student across the Junior School is reading a variety of genres on a nightly basis. In fact, over 3000 texts are read by our students on a weekly basis. 

In acknowledgement of the success of the THRASS approach in the Junior School, Mr Bill Garland,  Head of Junior School, will be joining myself down in Melbourne on 2 - 3 August 2019, presenting Canterbury’s journey over the past twelve months at the official THRASS conference. During this conference we will have the opportunity to learn from our peers and share the successes of the Canterbury approach. We look forward to sharing our learning with the entire Canterbury community on our return.

During this final day of training, our Prep team had an opportunity to share the success of i-Time in the Prep classrooms. i-Time is based on the Walker Learning Approach and is focused on supporting the development of the individual child. In our Prep classrooms, i-Time occurs four times a week, with students actively involving themselves in a series of ‘stations’ which encourage students to actively investigate a range of skills and experiences for life, through explicit guidance and support from the classroom teacher. This helps to enhance student oral language, sparks curiosity, encourages initiative and builds resilience while continuing to focus on the development of a literate and numerate learner. 

During Maths in the Junior School our teachers have been focusing on the strategy of ‘one entry point and multiple exits’ for all students. Through open ended, rich tasks, students in Maths have been working on their ‘I can’ goals to enhance proficiency in the areas of understanding, fluency, reasoning and problem solving. For example, students in Year 2 are spending money at a fictional shop to connect their learning to the real world, while problem solving how they calculate change. 

Students in Year 4 are ‘visiting’ a fictional theme park called Leisureland, where they budget their expenditure for the day and then take this learning further by ‘creating’ their own theme park within set financial parameters. This allows each student to work at their ‘zone of proximal development’. This has been supported by our students working through their My Numeracy tasks through Essential Assessment, which again, target their individual goals and areas of development. Examples of these rich tasks can be found in the weekly snapshots on Canvas.

We recently trained 21 of our Year 6 students to become mediators to support the Bridge Builders approach across the Junior School. Our students were trained by Jocelyn Chirnside from Empowering Life Skills. Throughout the training, the students were trained to mediate. Through the mediation process, they will be helping our students in Prep – Year 2 to resolve conflict in the playground and build bridges in their relationships with each other. The training included guidance in:

• calming younger students,
• establishing rules for mediation,
• identifying problems and listening,
• brainstorming solutions,
• demonstrating how to solve a conflict - what to say,
• guiding younger students to practise,
• being encouraging, and
• assisting in making friendly choices to foster success.

This peer mediation approach allows the Year 6 students to build leadership skills for peer tutoring, coaching and support. Students will be empowered to facilitate problem solving through improved communication and help continue to make our playgrounds safe and happy places.

Mr Luke Van Leuveren
Director of Teaching and Learning (Junior School)