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 teacher observes that children are not being enriched by, or curious about a line of inquiry. Teachers 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 teachers 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, archery and horse riding are options for year 3 (and up, from 2021 onwards) 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.
“Children learning Auslan in schools have the potential to fundamentally change the social fabric of Australia.”
– Drisana Levitzke-Gray, Deaf advocate and Young Australian of the Year (2015)
Rather than offering a non-English language, Woodline incorporates Auslan as part of our learning program. Auslan, short for Australian sign language, is the language of the Australian deaf community. It has developed organically over time, involving a combination of hand shapes, facial expressions and the movement of the hands, arms and body.
Auslan’s reliance on body language is one of the reasons it appeals to us at Woodline. The skill of reading body language is not often intentionally cultivated in children but it’s such a valuable life skill that provides opportunities for children to:
- Sharpen their observational skills
- Be aware of their bodies
- Develop their communication skills. Over 50% of our daily communication is non-verbal, so being aware of the impact their body language has on others is akin to having access to another language
- Draw on their emotional intelligence to interpret the non-verbal communications of others
- We incorporate Auslan into learning (using fingerspelling in conjunction with learning site words for example) rather than teaching it in isolation as a separate subject, because continued practice is the key to mastery, particularly when it comes to language learning. Learning Auslan as a second language gives children an opportunity to develop intercultural understanding and an appreciation for diversity and inclusiveness.
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.