We are a Christian school which promotes lifelong learning.
Staff, students and families are encouraged to realise their God-given gifts, while developing values and responsibilities to help them become contributing members of school, church and wider communities. Our high quality Christian education is an education in the broadest sense, for we are committed to providing the best opportunities possible for children to learn, to grow and mature into fine citizens.
At the heart of our broad based curriculum are the Australian Curriculum standards, (Adelaide Declaration, 2000). Christian Studies is an essential key learning area, and Lutheran Education Australia’s Lifelong Qualities (values education) is integral to all key learning areas Core curriculum evolves around the Australian Curriculum and the Victorian Essential Learning Standards- AusVELS. Physical, Personal and Social Learning – where Physical Education is central, focussing on skill development, and the building of a lifelong appreciation of the importance of fitness, sport and recreation. Our Perceptual Motor Program allows junior students to develop essential motor skills.
Our excellent sporting facilities enable students to enjoy a wide range of sports. The school, being in a rural setting has a Cross Country course of excellence. School camps begin with sleepovers for the Foundation students (formerly known as Preps) to short trips and progress to week long camps, culminating in a visit to our Australian capital – Canberra. Discipline based learning – along with the basic key learning areas, particularly literacy and numeracy, the Arts is an important aspect of learning.
Our visual arts and music program, including choirs and instrumental music, ensure a vibrant music program, as does our involvement in chapel, concerts and community activities. Individual tuition is offered in areas where student interest is seen.
Interdisciplinary Learning – as well as our learning to learn program, Information Communication Technology receives high priority. The school has a specialist area, and pods of computers are also present within each classroom as are interactive white boards. The Library too is a hub of student activity.
All curriculum is grounded in literacy and numeracy. We strive not only to meet the demands and challenges of an education for students of today, but we plan for the students of tomorrow, by constantly developing curriculum whilst maintaining a sense of tradition.
Below are some of the whole school programs which enhance the learning opportunities for all students:
THRASS is an acronym for Teaching Handwriting, Reading and Spelling Skills. Spelling and literacy as a whole are a priority in this school. If a child cannot successfully spell words then they are less likely to succeed at formal learning. Skills and strategies for learning ‘how to spell’ are a very important part of the spelling process. Even if a child is a able to ‘spell a word’, if they do not understand the process they cannot use this knowledge to spell unfamiliar words. As in maths, it is not just the correct answer that is important, the working memory and understanding of how to achieve the correct answer is vital to the cognitive process (deep understanding) for future learning.
Scientific research has shown phonics is a crucial strategy in the understanding of ‘how to spell’. Knowing the 44 sounds of English and the various spelling choices that represent these sounds enables the learner to understand orthography (the spelling system of our language) and not be confused by restricted phonic patterns. For example, in English the letter ‘c’ does not just represent the sound ( c ) as heard at the beginning of words like cat. It can represent the sound ( s ) as in the words city, cent, Cindy etc. The sound ( f ) is not just represented by the letter ‘f’ but can be represented by the letters ‘ph’, as in photo, Sophie, Philip and Phoebe. The letter ‘y’ does not just represent the sound heard at the beginning of yawn, but more commonly represents the sound heard at the end of words like city, pony and Kelly, or the sound in the words my, tyre, fly and by. Our school is committed to explicit, hands on phonics teaching. We look at phonics patterns within a whole-word approach. That is, if we are teaching the word fish we focus on all the sounds not just one.
Research has shown that students with a more comprehensive vocabulary and a greater understanding of the meanings of words, will more successfully apply words to memory for spelling and are more competent in comprehension and writing. Spelling must be practised. Writing words in context to show meaning is a vital part of your child’s spelling program. The spelling lists that your children will be working on at this school will be compiled by the classroom teacher and will contain words from all subjects focusing on relevant themes. The words will be relevant to their everyday learning, not just an abstract list of words from a commercially produced spelling book. The teacher will be focusing on word meaning, the phonetic structure of the word, links to other words with similar structure and the grammatical use of the word – plurals and tenses.
Your role as a parent is important in this process. Talking with your children about the meaning of words from the relevant classroom themes, using dictionaries and looking at the grammatical changes in words is far more important than ‘rote’ learning a word for testing at the end of the week. The more the learner can see the word in context, understand the meaning, make phonic links and practise writing words in a fun and meaningful way, the more competent and adventurous speller they will become. You will also be building vocabulary for future learning.
Our school has been using THRASS as a whole school program since 2014 as the basis for phonics teaching and the MASUTA Spelling Sequence to develop your child’s spelling skills and strategies. It is important that your child learns the THRASSCHART, so that they are able to use the phonic information to decode (read) and encode (spell) words. Having this knowledge will allow your child to develop skills in reading, spelling, writing and reading comprehension enabling them to reach their full potential in literacy learning.
Big Write and the VCOP Program
One of the improvement targets for this school is to further improve and develop writing. In order to do this we have started a project called ‘Big Write’ and VCOP following a professional development day attended by the teaching staff in Term 2, 2016. You may have heard children talking about this. Big Write and VCOP is a teaching approach created in 2004 in the United Kingdom and has been adapted to suit the Australian Curriculum.
The program is a new teaching methodology for raising standards in writing rapidly and effectively. The method is based on fast, fun and lively teaching of the ‘writing voice’ through oral communication. It gives pupils confidence and the understanding to develop control of a higher level writing voice without requiring the understanding of technical knowledge of syntax and grammatical analysis. This is important as not all primary aged children are ready for the level of technical knowledge and understanding required to access higher order language in this way.
‘Big Write’ is a completely new approach to the teaching of the skills of writing. It is highly effective for students from Foundation all the way through to Secondary School and has an immediate impact on writing standards.
The approach has also been found to be a huge motivator for boys, who are quickly found to become ‘excited writers’.
VCOP (Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers and Punctuation):
The teaching of VCOP is one of the key strands of Big Write.
VCOP is focused teaching of the following:
Vocabulary – teaches a wide range of ‘wow’ words;
Connectives – teaches a wide range of words and phrases for connecting thoughts, ideas, sentences etc;
Openers – teaches a wide range of ways of opening sentences, including sequence words, linking words and phrases and the 3 power openers;
Punctuation – teaches a wide range of punctuation, including power punctuation.
THE DIGITAL LEARNING PORTFOLIO
At Tarrington Lutheran School, students, parents and teachers are involved in Digital Learning Portfolios (DLP) biannually where students lead and share their learning journey during a 3 way conference. In 2016, the DLP will take place on the 17th June and the 14th December.
Focus areas and Indicators
A clear purpose for the DLP is vital so that focus and meaning is established and consistent across the school. Successful implementation requires both students and teachers having input in establishing the purpose which also includes the focus areas and their indicators.
As a staff we felt it important and relevant to develop the DLP focus areas based on 4 themes that already exist at the school which are seen on the banners. The staff brainstormed the types of indicators which encompass each of the 4 focus areas. The students also did the same and so, by clicking on the link below, is what each of the focus areas look like. When students build their DLP, the focus areas and their indicators will assist them in identifying the content.
Click on the link below to access the focus areas and their indicators.