Where the philosophy is the soul of Woodline Primary, the teaching and learning program is our brain.
Our curriculum is designed around opportunities for real world learning and an education that embeds core foundational skills. It fosters intrinsic learning that is essential for students to develop into self-actualising and self-motivated individuals.
The Australian Curriculum sets the framework for our program, but we have put an emphasis on less breadth and more depth in order to champion ‘mastery’ in learning. This focus on a deep exploration of a subject allows time for individual students to reach a point of understanding and confidence.
Interdisciplinary in approach, cognitive and social features dominate a conceptual landscape which promotes questioning across four major streams:
Rather than the curriculum being a prescriptive tool that remains fixed regardless of student engagement or understanding, at Woodline the curriculum forms a flexible framework that allows for adjustment when a guide observes that children are not being enriched by, or curious about a line of inquiry. Guides are empowered to craft school days however they need, in order to create an environment of flow, curiosity and experimentation.
Education is not about the answers, but rather the questions being asked. With this in mind, we designed a program that encourages children to be inquisitive and fallible. In other words, to take risks.
The teaching and learning program have been designed to bring learning to life for students using seven foundational principles:
A constructivist approach to education that favours learning through actively doing and experiencing as distinct from a traditional academic model in which students are more passive in their learning; instructed using a more theoretical than practical method.
Tailoring teaching to meet the needs of each individual student rather than for example, teaching to the entire learning cohort, then testing at the end and assigning grades. Formative assessment is widely used in a differentiated model of teaching because it allows guides to give students specific feedback while they’re learning, to further their understanding.
Championing ‘mastery’ in learning through an emphasis on depth over breadth
In order to best absorb information, develop skills and build confidence in a particular area, time must be spent delving deeply into the topic, rather than spreading attention thinly across a broad range of subjects.
An approach in which students are invited to question and explore. The teacher’s role is as a facilitator and guide.
A strategy which encourages communication and openness between student and teacher. The concept of classroom negotiation is taken from a democratic model in which a student’s view holds the same weight as that of the teacher.
An approach in which a line of inquiry is examined across many subjects, allowing it to be viewed from a variety of perspectives. For example a unit on identity might see students examining indigenous cultures in a history class, trace their own family tree in Social Studies and observe how their emotions shape their own identity in a Health & Wellbeing session.
Characterisation of ‘the search’ that is essential for real learning. Students need to feel excited about the quest of learning.
The curriculum encourages students to think for themselves, developing critical reasoning. Flexible and responsive, a significant distinguisher of the Woodline curriculum is the role that students play in creating curricular focus points based on their own interests. Characterised by questing, ‘the search’ is essential for real learning. Students engage when their curiosity is sparked, and they are feeling excited about the quest of learning.
It focuses on aspects of learnable capacity, rather than fixed ability; where students are guided to focus on the ‘how’ rather than the ‘what’ of learning. The curriculum fosters intrinsic learning that is essential for our students to develop into self-actualising and self-motivated individuals.
We know that physical activity boosts cognitive and mental health, which is why movement and exercise is built into our daily rhythm at Woodline. Borrowing loosely from methods such as the Pomodoro technique (focussed work periods of 25 minutes followed by a five minute break), we include short ‘bursts’ of activity (a fast-paced game, a yoga sequence, a dance session) after each 30-50 minute learning flow. Even these short periods of activity increase blood flow and oxygen to the learning and memory centres of the brain, which, research shows, helps boost mood, reduce stress and increase general cognitive function.
And it’s fun.
Structured physical activities such as team sports, hiking and horse riding are options for all students, but with the younger grades, we focus on providing plenty of opportunity for unstructured activity: playing games, running, climbing trees, and building forts and bridges with the natural materials abundant on the school property.
Rather than offering a non-English language, Woodline incorporates Auslan as part of our learning program. Auslan, short for Australian Sign Language, is the native language of the Australian deaf community. Learning Auslan is a valuable tool for communicating with deaf people, particularly with deaf friends, family and the local deaf community. Auslan is a visual-spatial language with linguistic elements, including handshape, orientation, location, movement, facial expressions and fingerspelling. Auslan has its own grammatical system that is completely separate from English.
One of the reasons we chose to incorporate Auslan into our program is because it improves visual-gestural communication skills. Over 50% of our daily communication is non-verbal, so learning Auslan enhances awareness of the impact our body has on others.
We incorporate Auslan into learning (for example, using fingerspelling in conjunction with learning sight words) rather than teaching it in isolation as a separate subject, because continued practise is the key to mastery, particularly when it comes to language learning. We will invite native signers into the school, giving our children the opportunity to communicate with the deaf community and learn about their culture and history.
Woodline is set on a 20 acre farm in the magical Geelong hinterland. It’s an inspiring sanctuary for children to play in the grass and trees, discover the natural environment and develop a curiosity about the world.
Conscious of our environmental inheritance, we have implemented an earth-centred learning culture. We bring our observations of our immediate and planetary environment into practice, to form sustainability-focused, action-based learning. Studying and nurturing our environment is not a separate subject at Woodline, rather it is part of our daily school practice. Each class takes responsibility for certain aspects of the farm, whether that be feeding the horses or chickens, topping up the worm farm, weeding, watering, or designing and helping to build bird-repellent enclosures for the veggie patch, as well as participate in composting and being conscious of water and single use products as a matter of course.
At Woodline, Visual Art is an opportunity for children to explore, discover, create and wonder.
The children are invited to experience the possibilities of many different art mediums and styles. A range of mediums are on offer for children to explore through their own self-directed trials and through guided learning opportunities. The children are encouraged to develop an understanding of their own artistic preferences and are supported to develop their intentions and ideas into artistic creations. Just as there are no two children the same, at Woodline, there are no two artworks the same.
The school-wide project is woven into the visual art program. Ideas from the children’s learning spaces and other programs within the school being relaunched in the maker space to allow for new perspectives and deeper understandings.
The children also develop many other skills including interpersonal skills (sharing resources and sharing their discoveries and creations); fine motor skills (through manipulating materials); learning behaviours (such as persistence through a challenging task or courage to try something new); and art theory and history knowledge (through discussions, reflections, learning tasks, and guide feedback).
The visual art program is always evolving because it is student-driven – big ideas are always welcomed and supported!
At the start of the year every learning group will be given the same provocation. The guides will document the children’s theories, ideas and wonderings. They will use the documentation and children’s interests to guide their learning group’s project. The project will run throughout the year and will cover all curriculum learning areas. This year, the project is on Connection and the provocation presented to the children was ‘What is Connection?’
In Term 4, the children will be able to choose a Passion Project. The projects will be planned from the children’s interests and will be guided by experts from the community. Possible projects might involve woodwork, music, animals, design or jewellery making.
Every year the projects will change along with the children’s learning styles and interests.
Children are naturally drawn toward active learning and experimenting with all of their senses through music, drama and dance. At Woodline, our integrated approach to performance arts aims to help students engage the creative side of their brain. Performance arts will be integrated with core subjects such as English, Science and Mathematics. It creates opportunities for children to discover talents, skills and interests that may otherwise not be realised and it is another way of tapping into their multiple intelligences in order to find the way that each child learns best.
A Performing Arts lesson will begin with a quick fun warm up activity. Each lesson will have an intention with the learning of specific skills such as beat motion, movement, expression or voice, the children will be given choice in how to demonstrate their learning. For example, if the children were learning about counting in Mathematics, they might learn or create a song involving counting such as the ants went marching, they could create a skit that involves counting or create a dance that involves counting the beats and movement.