Home' Teacher : March 2010 Contents 54 TEACHER MARCH 2010
Professional development for teachers
has evolved over the years. The program is
based upon developing strength and knowl-
edge from within the school. The ICT cur-
riculum plan identifies the programs and
devices that students are expected to use,
at a minimum, for each year level. Teachers
plan their programs with these requirements
in mind. Their plans are then grouped and
teachers are buddied for peer learning. On
occasions where there's no one on the staff
with the appropriate skill and knowledge
for a specific program, the school engages
outside professionals to work with a small
group of teachers to enable those teachers to
then peer coach the remainder of the staff.
The position of a permanent digital coach
teaching position was filled this year to sup-
port in- class peer coaching and on-the-job
ICT and technical development support.
Hermit Park principal Clayton Carnes
uses Twitter and email to communicate
with parents. The school is converting to
a complete digital administration system,
using Microsoft Office SharePoint Server
for staff notes, email for com munication
and the intranet for document storage.
'Our alliance with Microsoft allows us
to continue innovating at our school and
more importantly, the collaboration allows
us to establish links with schools around the
world at both student and teacher levels,'
Silverton Primary School
Microsoft Innovative Mentor School,
Silverton Primary School in Noble Park in
Melbourne's south-east, has, over the years,
maintained a philosophy of maximising stu-
dent learning by creating a positive learning
environment and emphasising intellectual
For more than 15 years, the school has
been on a journey of innovation in both its
cu rriculum design and teaching pedagogy.
Built in the open-plan design typical of the
1970s, the school has undergone extensive
changes to ensu re that the facilities and
resources support its philosophy. Outside
learning areas have been developed to com-
plement inside learning centres. Outside
learning occu rs in vegetable gardens, cubby
houses, sand boxes, undercover stages and
café areas, and around ponds. Furniture in
all the learning centres has been selected for
its flexibility, to encourage collaborative and
Initially, teaching practices at Silverton
Primary were quite traditional with teachers
having ow nership of groups of students and
personal spaces within each learning centre.
Today, four or five teachers work in four
open learning centres, each with between
100 and 125 students. There's no specific
division of spaces, furniture or resources.
All teachers take responsibility for all of the
students in the learning centre.
ICT has been a catalyst for change. In
the early days, a change in practices was
required to embed ICT tools in the peda-
gogy of teachers. The school established
an FM radio station, run by the students,
which has an instrumental role in the devel-
opment of both oral and written literacy.
The students are always very keen to broad-
cast their work and they ensure what they
broadcast is of the highest quality. The FM
radio station was followed by a school tel-
evision studio to allow students to further
develop their digital literacy skills, as well
as reporting and interviewing techniques.
The curriculum emphasises authentic
learning, allowing the students to have a
voice and take responsibility for their learn-
ing. Personalised learning has become a pri-
ority, with all students from Prep to Year
6 designing their ow n program with the
support of teachers, whose role has become
more of a facilitator. Explicit teaching still
occurs and students are pre-tested so that
personalised instruction can be tailored to
meet their specific needs.
To support such change, it's been essential
tobuildstaffcapacity in a number ofways.In
addition to the traditional professional devel-
opment courses or programs teachers already
attended, the staff com mitted to attend pro -
fessional development one night a week after
school, working together, with consultants
and at times with the students themselves.
The after-school program has significantly
influenced the culture of the school.
A staff 'critical friends' program allows
teachers to observe, film and discuss their
Obser vational rounds taken by the
principal and school leaders, with a small
group of teachers, have led to a great deal
of discussion about practices and increased
consistency in pedagogy across the school.
These kinds of professional development
have led to the creation of a number of lit-
eracy, numeracy and ICT coaching roles. In
2003, an ICT specialist's role changed from
leading groups of students to coaching and
mentoring teachers in the learning centres.
This has had a profound impact on the use
of ICT by all teachers and students, and has
escalated the use of digital literacy in the
Extensive digital resources are used by
the students to aid learning. MP3 players,
digital voice recorders, laptops, netbooks,
PCs, iPods, interactive whiteboards, digital
cameras, flip cameras and video cameras are
extensively used in an environment of trust
and cooperation. Blogs, wikis, SharePoint
for intranet and Mathletics are just some
of the tools used by the students to support
their learning and understanding.
It's the school's aim to prepare students
for 21st- century learning, and to do so it's
imperative that they're given the best possi-
ble opportunities. One of the best opportu-
nities, as a Microsoft Mentor School, is the
opportunity to share and work with other
innovative schools around the world.
Pictured, Dallas Primary School students
using film are actively engaged in learning.
Picture courtesy Microsoft Australia.
For more on Microsoft's Innovative Mentor
Schools and Pathfinder Schools, visit
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