The Purpose of the @ Xavier Project

The Timperley project provided schools in the Diocese an opportunity to work with Professor Helen Timperley and Professor Linda Bendickson using the Spiral of Inquiry as a research method to bring about improvement in schools.

The Spiral of Inquiry used Scanning, Focusing, Developing a Hunch, Learning, Taking Action, and Checking as the main principles to bring about improvement.

The Spiral of Inquiry

The Timperley project provided schools in the Diocese an opportunity to work with Professor Helen Timperley and Professor Linda Bendickson using the Spiral of Inquiry as a research method to bring about improvement in schools.

The Spiral of Inquiry used Scanning, Focusing, Developing a Hunch, Learning, Taking Action, and Checking as the main principles to bring about improvement.

The @ Xavier Story — using the Spiral of Inquiry

The initial work in the Timperley project began in 2012, by the Leadership team of Xavier High School who scanned the available evidence to determine what was going on for the learners at Xavier. There were serious concerns around low academic performance across the school. The scanning phase suggested that low academic performance at the school needed addressing immediately. In focusing on the available data it became clearer that our HSC results in English coupled with our available Naplan data would suggest that there was a specific problem with our students ability to write effectively. During the focus phase of the investigation it became clearer that students also identified that writing was an area where they lacked confidence and skill. The hunch became that our students required intensive intervention to improve student writing outcomes. The focus then became explicit teaching of writing skills using the vehicle of collaboration.

The action phase was enacted with the development of the targeted Year 7 intervention program known as the Timperley project. Three KLA’s, HSIE, English and Religious Education would be charged with the responsibility of teaching explicit writing skills to our Year 7 cohort in a collaborative environment. This meant that three classes of Year 7 would be grouped together at a time, to gain the benefit and expertise of three teachers in the one open learning space to improve student writing outcomes. These writing focuses would center around the nine Naplan writing skills and each Semester the Timperley team would explicitly teach three of the nine skills to their cohort. External testing and marking of a summative task would be used to determine if this approach was successful. The first phase of initial data testing in 2014 would suggest that there has been improvement in over 50% of the cohort in Sentence writing and paragraphing. There was also indications that improvement in cohesion had occurred in 30% of the cohort. The continuation of the spiral of inquiry then involved continual working around the spiral to achieve success.

The project began teaching explicit writing skills in Semester Two of 2014 with Year 7. In 2015, it grew to incorporate and include Year 7 & Year 8.

The Key Principles of the @ Xavier Project

  • Explicit teaching of Writing Skills- Nine Naplan focus areas
  • Collaboration: Co-teaching, co-planning, co-assessing and co-reporting
  • Three Key Learning Areas- English, HSIE and Religious Education
  • Use of Schoology as a Learning Management System and an online reporting tool

Explicit Teaching of Writing Skills

Nine Naplan focus areas:

  1. Sentence Structure
  2. Paragraphing
  3. Cohesion
  4. Punctuation
  5. Narrative
  6. Vocabulary
  7. Persuasive
  8. Spelling
  9. Grammar

These nine areas of explicit writing focus areas are to be embedded into the program for English, HSIE and Religious Education at Stage Four.

Each Semester the focus will be on three areas of explicit writing. In 2015 these areas are:

Year 7 Semester One
  • Sentence Structure
  • Paragraphing and Cohesion
Year 7 Semester Two
  • Punctuation, Vocab, Narrative and Persuasion
Year 8 Semester One
  • Vocab, Punctuation and Grammar
Year 8 Semester Two
  • Spelling, Persuasion and Narrative.

Collaboration

The vehicle of teaching explicit writing skills in the @ Xavier Project is collaboration. Teachers work in teams of three to plan, assess, report and teach. An allocation of time is to be negotiated amongst the team members for the purposes of collaboration.

Co-planning

Teachers are expected to meet and discuss planning of lessons and common tasks. Teachers may choose to allocate lessons to different teachers in the cohort based on expertise. Teachers are expected to use formative assessment to determine lesson focus and to improve student outcomes.

All teachers in the cohort are responsible for 
  • the planning, programming, resourcing and delivering of lessons to the cohort
  • embedding the key focus areas for the Semester into their teaching sequences
  • developing, planning and delivering meaningful, authentic and academically rigorous programs
  • developing, planning and delivering differentiated programs to cater for the learning needs of all students
  • developing, accessing and sharing of relevant, meaningful and authentic resources to support, promote and enhance the learning of students
  • saving all learning materials to Schoology, Google Drive and the Q drive to ensure access for all team members to a rich and diverse resource bank for all teachers
Co-teaching

All members of the cohort are to work together to deliver the lesson for the three groups of students in the one open learning space.l This may take a variety of formats and utilise a variety of student grouping to achieve the learning objectives of the lesson. All members of the team are expected to contribute to the lesson.

This may include but is not limited to
  • expert teaching sessions & general information dissemination
  • differentiated groupings and tasks
  • student centred learning groups using the LMS — Schoology
  • workshops on skill delivery for different ability levels
  • interest areas

Note: Co-teaching DOES NOT mean three classes doing an identical task on a three second time delay!

Co-assessing

All members of the cohort are responsible for the development of the common task. One member may be delegated to write the task, but all members are expected to provide feedback in the drafting stage.

All members of the cohort will agree on (Common Tasks)
  • Date of task being handed out and date for collection
  • Marking guidelines that are inclusive of the three focus areas as well as subject specific outcomes
  • Negotiating marking moderation teams or negotiating a single marker for a task
  • Two week turnaround for marking and feedback
  • Explicit and specific feedback being provided to students for the purpose of growth

Formative tasks will be used by the cohort to provide feedback to students on skill development. It is expected that each teacher will record formative feedback for at least two tasks a term on Schoology. This will include a grade/mark and also written comments that specifically state what the student has done well, what could be improved and how the student could improve their response.

Co-reporting

All members are responsible for reporting. It is imperative that teachers of the cohort meet to determine grade allocation based on the Common tasks (two per Semester). These grades are allocated with the KLA.

Considerations

In 2015, it has become apparent that the development of effective teams is crucial to the success of the @ Xavier Project. It has been recognised that the teachers working in the project must be willing and able to work as a fully operational team- sharing, planning, delivering, assessing and reporting. It is vital to the success of the project that all team members are willing and able to work in the teams by making positive contributions, meeting agreed expectations and deadlines, and supporting the cohort by meeting the expectations of the team. It is vital that teams discuss the ‘negotiated expectations’ of their teams and how their team will function effectively.

The expectations should include
  • contributions from each team member
  • meeting deadlines
  • being solutions focussed
  • being a positive contributor
  • negotiated lesson planning, developing and resourcing
  • collaboration ‘guidelines’
  • and negotiations on how to deal with a team member who is not adhering to the team expectations

Three Key Learning Areas

The three KLA’s involved in the @ Xavier Project includes Stage Four English, HSIE and Religious Education. There are currently six classes in each KLA cohort. The Year 7 & 8 cohorts work in two teams of three teachers in 2015.

The KLA Coordinators are expected to oversee the programming, reporting and assessing of each cohort in their Faculty area. Any concerns with staff not adhering to these expectations is dealt with by the KLA in the first instance, then the @ Xavier Coordinator and then the AP- Leader of Learning. The KLA’s are to liase with the @ Xavier Coordinator twice a term to ensure that the teams are working well and are working within the expecations of the project.

The @ Xavier Coordinator leads the @ Xavier project and ensures that teams are aware of and working towards

  1. Allocating and embedding the writing focuses for each Semester
  2. The expectations around each team in regards to collaboration
  3. The organisation of @ Xavier meetings and planning times
  4. The organisation of @ Xavier reporting, assessing and teaching in conjunction with the KLA’s and cohorts
  5. Reporting to the Assistant Principal –Leader of Learning on progress/success/concerns regarding the @ Xavier teams/project/staffing/student achievement
  6. The implementation of new pedagogical initatives to support collaborative practice and developing effective practice in open learning
  7. Coordinating the ‘common’ task to be externally marked
  8. Developing and implementing effective iniativies in the use of data to inform teaching and learning sequences

The @ Xavier Coordinator regularly liases with the KLA’s and the AP- Leader of Learning to ensure that the projects authenticity is respected, renewed and re-evaluated on a regular basis.

Schoology

Schoology is an online learning management system. It is to be used by the @ Xavier teams to assist students in their learning. The @ Xavier project highly values the use of the LMS to build strong partnerships with parents to ensure optimal student growth. Xavier High School recognises and promotes positive and proactive relationships with the parents/guardians of each student to ensure that each student has the greatest opportunity to achieve academic success.

Schoology enables teachers to:

  • Store teaching resources
  • Plan sequential lessons and set lesson objectives
  • Set formative tasks and provide feedback
  • Record student achievement
  • Grade students and provide real time feedback to students and parents
  • Provide students with a variety of learning tools
  • Provide a portal for student, staff and parent messages
  • Deliver student centered lesson modules