Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Windsor school, like the majority of NZ primary schools has (and has had for many years) a number of composite classes.
Currently over 50% of the classes are composite. Each year this still causes concern for some families. Today I had a very positive meeting with a group of parents where they asked me about composite class. Here is an overview of the Q & A and discussions.
What are composite classes?
Composite classes are classes where the children may by from two or more Ministry defined year groups (i.e. Rm 15 Y3/4 class)
For a variety of reasons including
- Meeting social needs
- Meeting academic needs
- Allowing children to learn within a more effective group to meet their needs
- Matching children to teachers
- Maximising teacher strengths
- Minimising classroom sizes
There are none according to the research and according to children once they get into them. Research in NZ, the UK and Australia shows that children in composite classes achieve outcomes no different to those in straight year group classes.
Research shows that children in composite classes...
…socially, their development is enhanced. They are more confident, can operate better as part of a group, are more assertive, become more independent learners and better problem-solvers. They also make friends outside of their standard age-groups. In later life, if we have a one year age difference with someone this becomes of no consequence. Veenman (1995).
New Zealand rates as one of the best educational systems in the world. Teachers who are New Zealand trained are sought throughout the world. Why? They teach to stage not age! They teach what your child needs – not a Year __ curriculum from a text book.
No, in fact it will probably improve his ability to cope with delayed gratification (a much lacking character trait in 2012!)
Won’t things be to hard?
No-stage not age
No-stage not age
No. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that Windsor children get more ‘naughty’ as they get older (if fact the opposite is seen)
Yes- and they love it and eagerly anticipate returning and giving things another go
No, although we do try to create groups within the classes so that teachers have (preferably) no more than four groups for reading, writing and maths
What would be some of the implications of having straight year level classes?
Some classes would be 18 others 36. Children would still be taught according to their stage not age but some of their classes would be very large and some very small.They will miss out on some social, emotional learning opportunities
Teachers may become of the belief that they should teach a “Year __ curriculum”- i.e. teach to age not stage.
Don’t we have a curriculum for each year group?
No . We never have. We have a curriculum separated into levels (children in Year 1-6 are expected to move through level 1,2 and 3) The curriculum was designed in the knowledge that learning is not linear and children, regardless of their age have differing needs and learn at different paces.
What about National Standards?
National Standards are an indication of where the Ministry believe that a child should be at the end of each year. This does not mean we should limit children who have already exceed the standard (stage not age) nor reprimand those who do not make the standard by the expected year (this is one of the issues critics of National Standards have- we have internationally recognised educational system and it appears we have taken a step back into the notion that children need to learn in year ‘lots’ and meet a year standard each year…)
This does depend on the school they are going to. Best practice would suggest that if they go to a school that has a straight Year 7 they will still teach according to need (stage), indicators might be maths, reading, writing groups within the class. Differentiated (needs based) home learning (homework) not just photocopied worksheets for the whole class (especially if these do not change from year to year). Learning conferences where the teacher talks about your child and his or her needs…
In summary Windsor practice of having as many composite classes as possible is based on sound research, positive feedback from those who have actually experienced composites and teacher feedback. We will continue to:
-Teach according to need (stage)
- Do all that we can to ensure that the class that your child is in is the 'best fit' for him or her
- Communicate with our families and receive feedback regarding the effectiveness of our teaching and learning programmes
Consult with staff, children and families before we make our decisions about placement each year.
Saturday, February 18, 2012
- We have joined up as an enviroschool
- Our "big idea" is Creating a better world
- Our children are very excited about being back
- Our staff started the year with a fantastic two day retreat exploring creativity, team work and improving literacy outcomes
- Our school is now totally furnished to enable children as lead learners
- Our network and fibre optic cables have allowed us to move to mobile devises to empower children
- Our focus on "Positive and challenging learning environment" in 2012 will see professional learning exploring 'learning-focused relationships' and 'skillful thinking'. It is very likely to dip us into the learning pit as well!
- Our specific targets in writing (Y5&6 boys), maths (Y 4&6 girls), Improving relationships and trust (junior to senior pupils) and CHILL Factor (Children Independently Leading their Learning) provide us with clear direction
- We have a positive and supportive community partnering with us