English at Fitzroy Primary School is taught through a workshop model, which is a powerful teaching method that allows differentiation; it meets students’ individual learning needs. Underpinning your child’s learning is the development of a positive relationship between home and school so that the school and families can work together in the achievement of the students’ individual learning goals and the students know that they will be supported at both home and school.
The Reading Workshop begins with a mini-lesson that involves explicit teaching of strategies and skills. This is followed by independent reading: time spent reading appropriate texts ‘Just Right’ for the student and putting into practice the strategies taught in the mini lesson. The students then engage in authentic talk about their books and share their learning with their peers and the whole class. During independent reading the teacher is working with individual students or small groups, supporting their growth as readers and enabling students to attain specific reading goals.
The Writing Workshop has the same structure and commences with a mini lesson that focuses on a particular aspect of writing. This learning is then reinforced through application in individual, small group or independent writing. During independent writing time the teacher is working with individual students supporting their growth as writers, addressing concerns and enabling students to attain specific writing goals.
In 2018, we introduced a new component to our writing program and will continue to develop this during 2019. This new approach involves the students participating in a fortnightly session dedicated purely to writing. This session is called ‘Big Write’ and the focus is on the development of four main aspects of writing known as VCOP.
Vocabulary: words or phrases that make you go ‘wow’.
Connectives: words that connect sentences, ideas and paragraphs together.
Openers: interesting ways to start a sentence.
Punctuation: all punctuation including punctuation used for added effect.
The idea of ‘Big Write’ is, ‘if children can’t say it, they can’t write it’. This approach encourages the development of language and listening skills in order to develop students’ writing ability. As part of the preparation for this session, students will be given ‘Talk Homework’ where the development of conversations is encouraged. Your child will come home with a new topic each fortnight that you can discuss with them in order to help with the content of their writing. The ‘Big Write’ is a celebration and a chance to show how much the students have learnt in writing.
Spelling & Vocabulary
Spelling and vocabulary are taught through both the reading and writing workshop in addition to following specific programs.
At Foundation and Year 1 the students develop knowledge of sounds and letters through the Little Learners Love Literacy program. They are taught to read and write the letters that are introduced in a systematic way throughout the year. High Frequency words are matched to the Little Learners Love Literacy program and are introduced in a sequential way.
In Years 2 to 6, students are also taught in an explicit and systematic way using the Smart Spelling approach. This approach is new to our school this year and was chosen because it has achieved excellent results for students at our partner school. The Smart Spelling approach uses the four important areas of knowledge to teach spelling and develop vocabulary. Phonological knowledge is the ability to break words into syllables and individual sounds. Orthographic knowledge is a visual skill that involves choosing the correct letters that make a sound in a word. Etymological knowledge is the study of where words come from and morphemic knowledge is how prefixes and suffixes change the meaning of base words.
Home reading is a vital part of our reading program and allows your child to reinforce what they are learning at school. In addition, reading to your child will assist in developing their vocabulary, create a mutual love of reading and make you a role model for your child. From Foundation to Year 3 the students have a home reading bag that includes a writing book that they use to write a response after an adult has listened to their reading. At the beginning of the Foundation year this will mostly be the parent supporting the child by reading the book to them, looking at the pictures and discussing the content. Looking at the letters and discussing the sounds they make will also assist your child.
Students also have access to Reading Eggs at home and school. This is an online program that supports the school program in an interesting and engaging way through reading games and activities.
Additional assistance is provided for students who are identified as at risk in terms of reading, writing and oral language through targeted small group support. Our Literacy Support Program offers special assistance to children who need extra support with the development of their literacy skills. A trained teacher offers this support across the school by working with individuals and small groups of students in an intensive program. We also run a narrative oral language program each week through a language specialist company. This program targets students who need extra support in the acquisition and use of oral language.
Fitzroy Primary School has an ongoing commitment to excellence in Mathematics. Through a partnership program with the Department the school has access to a Maths Specialist program. Fitzroy Primary School is committed to the recommendations of the National Numeracy Review; that all principals and teachers recognise that, while mathematics can be taught in the context of a mathematics lessons, the development of numeracy requires experience in the use of mathematics beyond the mathematics classroom, and hence requires a whole school and an across the curriculum commitment. This program has an extension program for students performing above expected level, and an after school program that focuses on targeted maths areas, and a regular program for Foundation students.
The specialist (Nick) is there to run, coordinate and assist in the Mathematical development of students (and teachers) from prep to year 6 and beyond. The program is coordinated and run by Nick who has specific criteria set down by the department that includes student learning outcomes and a comprehensive and sustainable assessment program. The specialist program also ensured that Nick undertook Professional development in all aspects of Mathematics.
Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program
Fitzroy Primary’s kitchen garden program provides engaging and educational gardening and food experiences for all our students.
The school has had a long history of operating a gardening program but in 2013 with the help of a dedicated team of parents and support from Medibank we were able to install a purpose built kitchen extend the program to include regular cooking lessons for our Year 3-6 students.
Our Foundation to Year- 2 students also have the opportunity to experience regular gardening classes, with visits to the kitchen.
The program is run in conjunction with the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation and has proven educational and health benefits. The kitchen garden program is guided by seasonal harvest, student interests and the festivals and events which are important to our diverse community at Fitzroy Primary School.
The school employs one part-time specialist kitchen teacher and one part-time specialist garden teacher to run these sessions and is committed to the outstanding benefits this program brings to our community of learners, their families and the wider school community.
At Fitzroy Primary school the Art program ensures that sustainable links with the broader Art community within Fitzroy are maintained and adhered to a standard of excellence. Visiting artists will both complement and extend the existing curriculum allowing the students the freedom to explore their imaginations and have a creative outlet for ideas and concepts as well as acting as role models and mentors.
Art will communicate observations, personal ideas, feelings and experiences. Students will explore and use a variety of arts elements, skills, techniques and processes, media, materials, equipment and technologies in a range of art forms. They will be encouraged to talk about aspects of their own art works, and art works and events within their community. With the Fitzroy Primary School annual Art Exhibition becoming a must attend event within the broader Fitzroy Community, students will be busy during lessons in art this year creating their masterpieces for display at the exhibition.
Science (Inquiry Learning)
Inquiry learning is an active thinking and learning process that requires the students to form inquiry questions that enable purposeful and worthwhile information gathering, set goals, make plans for finding the information, decide on the appropriate sources of information, evaluate the information they gather and; use their data to form answers that build on and extend their prior knowledge and lead to deeper understanding. Students are both problem posers and problem solvers within inquiry learning.
At Fitzroy Primary School we use the Inquiry Learnin g approach in a range of different curriculum areas and more specifically in the area of Science.
Inquiry learning can take many forms, for example, integrated, issue or problem- based, action led, negotiated and play based. However, inquiry is essentially a student centred learning approach, characterized by students:
asking questions, building on prior knowledge and making their own discoveries
finding information from primary and other sources to answer generative questions and develop deep conceptual understandings
making connections between ideas, learning domains and experiences
reflecting on and taking action on their understanding
At Fitzroy Primary School we use the Inquiry Learning approach in a range of different curriculum areas and more specifically in the area of Science. Our Science program culminates in an annual Science Week event at the school where the older students run activities for our younger students.
Participating in an inclusive Physical Education program is vitally important for young people so they can develop healthy, happy lives. Through this program, students at Fitzroy Primary will learn a wealth of important skills and behaviours that will enable them to build and maintain their physical, social, mental and emotional health. By integrating the complementary skills taught through the Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) program, the students have the opportunity to implement their understandings in different contexts.
To encourage a sense of social connectedness, which is vital for students’ wellbeing, students are encouraged to work together and show good sportsmanship at all times. This is carried beyond the school gates through participation in community programs such as Jump Rope for Heart, Regional Athletics and Interschool Sports. All students throughout the school are provided with the opportunity to participate in a swimming program on a yearly basis. Our swimming program incorporates activities to cater for a wide-range of skills and ability levels and is taught by qualified instructors at local swimming pools.
French Languages Education
Fitzroy Primary School runs a French Languages Education program and this program is taught from Foundation to Year 6. The goal of the French program is to develop knowledge and skill with the French language and an understanding and appreciation of French culture. We do this by developing the students’ skills in speaking, reading and writing in French and by providing regular cultural experiences and activities. The program is based on the Victorian Curriculum.
Our qualified and native speaking French teacher teaches the program across the school. The school has formed a strong partnership with the French Bi-Lingual Association who support the school with the development of our French program and who run a French Bi-Lingual program at the school on a Saturday.
Information & Communication Technology
Students have access to a large lab containing 20 computers, pods of desktops for each learning area, a class set of notebook computers for Years 3-6, class sets of iPads available to all Year levels and banks of iPod touches available in the early years. Students use a mixture of iPads and iPods as a vital tool to support their work in Literacy, Numeracy and Inquiry Learning.
All classrooms have access to Interactive whiteboards and data projectors. These allow teachers to teach specific skills and give software demonstrations. Students can play educational games in groups and display their work for the class.
Teaching teams plan eLearning activities each term. The activities are integrated across all AUSVELS domains and are designed to enhance the curriculum and assist the students to achieve specific learning outcomes.
Our students have access to a wide variety of digital technologies. To ensure that these forms of learning are used well, we teach students cyber safety skills using a variety of interactive programs which are tailored to age appropriate levels. Quality resources and support provided by the Alannah and Madeline Foundation allow us to call Fitzroy Primary School a registered ‘eSmart’ school .
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Excursions and Camps
At Fitzroy Primary School, students in Years three to six have the opportunity to participate in our Camping Program. Students attend a three-day camp at either a bush or beach setting. Activities include visiting local attractions, outdoor activities such as canoeing, team building activities, bush cooking, orienteering ropes courses and much more. These activities are supervised by teachers and staff trained in outdoor education. Camps are an important part of our program and a great opportunity for personal development. Students have the opportunity to make new friends, face new challenges and learn to work together. It is a great setting for teachers and students to really get to know each other. And a lot of fun.
Educational excursions and incursions are regarded as an integral part of the learning process and a fundamental part of children’s education. They provide experiences which stimulate curiosity and create springboards for future learning. Excursions and incursions are not isolated learning experiences but are linked to themes being studied in the curriculum. Written advice on excursions will be provided to parents in advance.