2013 PLT teams

Hi everyone.

Hello Senior Campus Staff.

I assume everyone is waiting with baited breath for details about exactly our P&D groups structure for 2013 will be, as the first meeting of these groups will be next week (Week 3)! Some changes have been made to this which are outlined below.

At the beginning of this year, the College Leadership team discussed the fact that the same group is called a PLT (Professional Learning Team) at the Junior Campus and P&D (Performance and Development) groups at the Senior Campus. Because of this, we have decided to adopt the PLT term, as professional learning really is the main focus of these groups.

Towards the end of 2012, the Campus Leadership Team reviewed the current work, progress and functionality of the P&D groups currently operating. For the first time in my time at this school (2007-now) these groups will be remaining largely unchanged into 2013 as we felt that most of these teams have been making progress, encourage and enable staff professional learning and are likely to enable us to achieve our new strategic plan objectives. For me, after switching from one group to another each year since P&D groups have existed, I think this is a good indicator that we are starting to get this process right!

There have been a small number of changes to the teams and the makeup of each team due largely to logistical reasons rather than issues with any of the groups.

Summary of changes to PLT’s for 2013
1. The competency based assessment group spent a lot of their focus on improving VET, specifically in the context of an external VET audit in 2012. As this process has concluded, it was decided that this group could no longer make a significant contribution to achieving our purpose of ‘growing together as adaptable, confidant, successful learners and citizens’.
2. SWPBS is a significant long term initiative which have a large impact on what happens in our classes and already has an established team, which meet voluntarily. This group will remain unchanged and will met during PLT meeting time.
3. The make up of some groups has changed to due staff changes between 2012-2013, which has left some groups to big, too small, or without representation from some KLD groups. Significantly, we will be running only 1 inquiry learning group, which will be led by Paul Crutchley and Sue Coffey. Being a larger group, this group will do some of it’s work in smaller groups, but very much aligned with each other.
4. The ‘Applied Learning’ group (which was previously the VCAL group) has broadened it’s scope to become the ‘Engagement’ group. This reflects a change in the groups direction during 2012 where the started to move away from designing Applied Learning programs, to focussing the key elements of these programs, which are designed to improve engagement and depth of understanding, so that these elements can be applied to all classes, even ones where the applied learning format may not be possible or appropriate.

So, the PLT groups for 2013 are……

PLT                              Leader
eLearning                     Mark Seijbel
Engagement                Aden Wyers
Inquiry Learning          Paul Crutchley, Sue Coffey
Formative Feedback   Chris Lehner
SWPBIS                      Nicole Ashton

Please check out the attached document for the details as to who is in each team.

Have a great weekend!!

2013 PLT group members

Exploring our values

It is important the we all have a good understanding not only of what our common values are, but how this inform our day to day behaviours and practices. The videos below provide examples of teachers behaviours that we can use to exaimne the values that they hold.

Password for all videos is tcuser


Clip 1 – Mr G’s class

Mr G Dance Class ( Summer Heights High ) from Aden Wyers on Vimeo.

Clip 2 – History (Causal Reasoning)

HistoryCausalReasonongWW1 from Aden Wyers on Vimeo.

Clip 3 – Algebra

Algebra -Think of a Number from Aden Wyers on Vimeo.

Clip 4 – Fractions

FractionGame from Aden Wyers on Vimeo.

2013 VCAL Program

Hi Everyone!

Chris and myself have been hard at work getting our head around what a really good VCAL program at TC in 2013 would look like. We thought that some people would appreciate an update of where we are at and what we are working on at the moment.

The plan was to spend Term 3 working out the conceptual framework for the new program – starting with the question “what are the main principles/elements we want to include?” and then at the beginning of term 4, present this to staff and get expressions of interest to be involved in the program next year. During term 4 is when we will work with the interested staff to plan the nuts and bolts of the program.

So, where are we?

We have some guiding principles that form the basis of our investigation which have come from the VCAL design as well as our own reserach into engagement and how people learn. We will be trying to implement a program that;
– is AUTHENTICALLY engaging for students – seen as meaningful and they have a personal involvement with it
– is PROJECT based – students a big concept that they need to explore and unpack to work towards
– has links to the REAL WORLD – students research, work on, develop things outside of the school/class
– involves student choice and promotes AGENCY – the student being active in independantly seeking and constructing their own learning.

Our next step was to identify the types of programs that could be implemented that would involve these elements – each of which has it’s pro’s and con’s. We identified 3 broad options.

Integrated class project that contributes to the running of the school (running deb ball, running canteen).

This would involve a class of students using a big, useful, practical activity to work towards most of their VCAL outcomes. It is likely that all students would do a VET that is linked to the project and a work placement that is also relevant. School time would be split between running the project, doing projects that reserach aspects of the project and contribute to VCAL outcomes, and participating in some ‘masterclasses’ which focus on VCAL outcomes that are difficult to integrate into the project.

We visited the Grange P1-12 school in Hoppers Crossing where VCAL students ran the canteen. There were a number of factors that we really like and some which we did not think were applicable to our needs.

Advisory Model

This would involve students identiying areas of personal interest and working with an ‘advisor’ instead of a teacher. Each student has a ‘Learning through Internship” (LTI) where they have a community mentor in their interest area and their work at the their internship is linked to what they are doing at school. This is slightly different to the curent work placement arrangements as the work they do in their interneship is linked to their project at school. They each design a personal learning plan with their parent, advisor and mentor and spend a large portion of their time at school working on their own research projects within their interest area.

This structure is centred around the idea of student ‘agency’  and the idea that “the way to learn how to be an adult is to do adult stuff”. It is based on the ‘Big Picture’ Model of schools which began in the US in the late 1990’s and is now starting to take off in Australia. We attended a Big Picture network meeting yesterday to see what they are all about and were quite impressed with how things work and the results they are getting. This model would give us the best opportunity to incoporate the principles mentioned at the outset but is the most aspirational – higher levels of staff understanding and training would be required to use this model.



We spoke with Elliott Washor who founded the first big picture schools in the US via Skype yesterday who showed us the story of Caine’s arcade which illustrates perfectly the idea of student agency and the type of things we would like to see our students being able to do.


Caine’s Arcade from Nirvan Mullick on Vimeo.

Mixed model

Our third option is a mix of the two. An overall theme/project that applies to every VCAL student, with some common activities, projects that every student does, but with an individual element that each student can work on. An example of this could be a school business that produces and then sells goods and services to the community. Students would continue developing some of the skills they have been learning this year through the virtual enterprise program and take turns to have roles within the business, and do research projects to increase their understanding’s of certain areas. Each student would also need to construct or provide some service for the business. Some students might make and sell coffee’s another could build chairs etc.

Our inspiration for this idea was from Nagle College in Bairnsdale. They have a school e-store where the public can buy products online using their credit card. We are still intending to visit Nagle but have ben unable to to so far.


If you have any feedback, ideas etc based on what we have so far, please feel free to let us know. We will be making a decision in consultation with the leadership team about which of these is the best models, and presenting this information along with explanations, rationale’s etc to staff in Week 2 of term 4. Once the overall details are finalised, we will be able to start involving interested staff in the planning process.

Also, any advance expressions of interest in being involved based on what we have so far are welcome.




Why is differentiation so difficult?

I think one reason it is hard for us to differentiate the learning in our class is our well ingrained idea of teacher control. The only real way to have every student engaged is to have each student doing something that is relevant and meaningful to them – which necessarily means everyone doing something different. A lot of the curriculum we have to work with as well as our long held habits make it difficult to do this. If we think that differentiation means the teacher having to design more than one program, this means that designing 3 tasks would do a better job than just one, but to do it properly we would all have to design 25 different tasks and then do this in 5 different classes! I’m pretty sure there’s no teacher on the planet who can design, implement and assess 100+ programs! If we think like this, we will always think that differentiation is a noble ideal but way to time consuming to actually do.

As difficult as it is to let go, the only solution to this is greater student choice and greater student control. This can be difficult to accept, particularly when our experiences with many students suggest they wouldn’t be able to handle this responsibility very well. It would also involve incorporating new technologies that make it easier to find out where students are at and give feedback, as the common model of students completing work, handing it in, the teacher marking it and then handing it back is way too time consuming and labour intensive.

I love the first suggestion in the document about differentiating by outcome. If we can have a common process outcome, like “everyone will produce a video about ‘x’, ‘y’ and ‘z’ that is better than their last one” the same resources and general instructions can be provided but each kid is doing something aimed at their own level. If there was a rubric that described what a great video, or a great project looked like, each will come in to the project having assessed their previous work and knowing what they are trying to achieve this time – every student is working on something different to achieve the same thing – at the level that is appropriate to them. This would be impossible if we were designing all these programs ourselves. In this paradigm, students also become at least partially responsible for the feedback side of things.

Once we start working like this our main focus becomes how to we give feedback and assistance in real time instead of how do we teach the information. At the moment the biggest concern people typically have with change is the time it takes to do it, as we are all under the pump. These ideas are important as allow us to work smarter instead of harder.

Welcome any comments.

Research on suspenions – the good and the bad.

As behavioural issues appear to increase, discussion inevitably turns to what interventions are necessary to correct these behaviours. Responses and ideas range from harsh punitive ‘zero tolernace’ approaches to positive approaches to teach students approriate beahviours.

The article below is a short summary of the most recent research into the efects of suspending students

Daymap Activity #3 – Assessment

Daymap Activity #3 – Online Assessments
Level – Intermediate.
Having a central location for assessments and student results enables us to give better feedback to students as well as making reporting a simpler process. At the beginning of next year, all students should have their own netbooks, which means these can be a useful tool for completing and submitting assessments. The daymap site allows us to set, record and communicate results and feedback to students.
Using the tutorial video, you will complete your own assessment task on daymap using an assessment you are already using in class or plan to use in the near future.
The Task:
1. Use the instructions in the tutorial video to create a new assessment for one of your classes.
2. Attach any necessary documents and provide a description of the task.
3. Encourage your students to submit their work online through daymap.
4. Once they have done this, view the tutorial again and miss students work and provide feedback.
5. In class, you can get students to read the feedback given.

Daymap Activity #1 – Curriculum Documentation

Daymap Activity #1 – Curriculum Documentation
Level – Basic.


Curriculum documentation is a starting point for further work to develop and improve our curriculum, whether within our own subjects or across the college. Documenting what we are doing allows us to be better prepared, think further ahead, teach more creatively and collaborate more effectively with our colleagues. As we all have students best interests at heart and constantly strive to improve what we are able to do for students in our classes, documenting classes allows us continually try new things and make improvements to  the existing model that we have, rather than just starting again every year. Also, as a new teacher to the school, the campus or to a new subject, it should be clear what I am expected to teach and where I can find the resources that I need.


In completing this learning activity you will use the college template to document a section of your current course and document this in the appropriate part of daymap, along with any supporting documents. Secondly, you will provide learning aids for students to access relevant to the unit.

The Task:

  1. Use the tutorial video to download a copy of the curriculum documentation template for one of the classes you teach. You can pause, move through or repeat any parts of the video as you are going.
  2. Fill out this document with the current details of your class. You might do this by cutting and pasting information from a document that you have in a different format. If not, you can simply record what you have done in your class over the past week’s.
  3. Once complete, upload this document  the staff/curriculum section of daymap.
  4. If there are any lesson plans, resources, task descriptions or assessments that are used in this unit, upload them to the relevant section.
    1. If there are any documents that students can use for the learning activities, upload them to the student section of daymap.
If in doubt about any of these processes, refer to the tutorial videos, or ask one of the session leaders.