The Purpose of the @ Xavier Project
The project developed in 2014 has evolved over the last six years in response to the needs of each cohort and the formative data collections that inform teaching and learning programs. Put simply the @Xavier project focuses on the nine strands of writing skills that are identified in NAPLAN as key writing areas in the three subjects of HSIE, Religious Education and English. These three core subjects work collaboratively on developing literacy skills, with the focus on improving writing across all classes. Over the past six years we have seen tremendous growth in our NAPLAN results, particularly with our Year 9 cohorts who have benefited from two years of the project. Additionally, the HSC cohort of 2019, who were the first students to undertake the program achieved fantastic HSC results which many attribute to the focus on developing writing skills in Stage 4 which created a strong foundation for their Stage 6 success.
In each of these subject areas, students are grouped into three base classes in an open learning environment. The benefit of these open learning spaces enables us to work with students in a range of class structures due to the nature of the spaces. Our open learning spaces offer staff great flexibility in the delivery of lessons- there are opportunities for whole cohort instruction, targeted group work, small group work, the use of break out rooms for differentiated work with different groups, as well as, the space for individual research and reflection. Students in these groups have access to three expert teachers who guide and facilitate the learning program utilising the dynamic open learning spaces and opportunities to target student learning through group work, collaboration and differentiated instruction. This style of instruction is much more flexible than traditional classroom structures and enables us to target student learning growth effectively and purposefully.
The benefit of these open learning spaces enables us to work with students in a range of class structures due to the nature of the spaces.
The @Xavier Project - 2020
The @Xavier Project has developed from 2014 to incorporate many targeted learning initiatives such as:
- integrated tasks across the three key learning areas
- Acer E-Write testing to measure student growth
- the incorporation of timetabled specific literacy targets
- the use of Literacy Planet as an online learning tool.
Integrated Tasks: Across English HSIE and Religious Education, students in Year 7 & 8 have the opportunity for one of their tasks to be integrated across the three subject areas. This initiative has had much success and has seen students form meaningful connections across their subject areas. The benefits of an integrated task are:
- the encouragement of deep learning through finding links across content
- development of critical thinking skills that students utilise to transfer knowledge across three curriculum areas
- Improvement of writing and analysis skills as the focus for the task
- the ability to learn from expert teachers across key learning areas
- less assessment for students
Student feedback has been positive, with students stating that completing one integrated assessment was interesting, less stressful and enabled focussed learning. Currently, students across Year 7 & 8 undertake one integrated task per year.
Literacy Targets: Students are being taught explicit literacy focus areas across the three subjects.These literacy focus areas are linked to the nine key areas of NAPLAN and contribute to our students success not only in NAPLAN testing, but as lifelong learners. A new literacy target is introduced fortnightly, which is then integrated meaningfully within English, HSIE and Religious Education subjects. In addition to this Year 7 and 8 have targeted literacy lessons each fortnight delivered by the English team who explicitly target literacy skill development to be embedded across all three subject areas.
Acer E-Write Testing:Acer E-Write is a program that enables teachers to accurately measure student writing growth. Students undertake a short, assigned writing activity twice per term and the data is used to measure growth and possible areas of concern. In conjunction with work samples from class, staff are able to examine this data to inform teaching and learning within classes. This data collection supports teachers in determining which skills need further development, identify cohort trends across the class and to target activity groups addressing the skills that are relevant to each student.
Literacy Planet- Year 7:Literacy Planet is a fun, online learning tool that students participate in for 10 minutes at the beginning of each English, HSIE and Religion lesson. This amounts to around two hours per week of dedicated, focussed literacy development. Tasks that are assigned are targeted and linked to the writing focus areas that are being taught within the key learning areas.
Reading Focus- Year 8: Students in the Year 8 @ Xavier project also undertake a focus on reading skills to assist them in their development of overall literacy skills. This targeted program introduces students to the key characteristics of reading for meaning and comprehension.
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