Catering for the Individual in the Classroom
A basic tenet of Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School is that each child has her own individual strengths, talents and interests and it is vital that we identify and foster these in each girl. All students benefit from enrichment and a classroom climate that is accepting and offers opportunity for creativity and challenge. When planning curriculum, teachers seek to provide opportunities that allow all students to attain optimal levels of learning. This is usually done within the mixed ability classroom. Students are encouraged to learn in ways that are consistent with their preferred learning styles and to develop skills in other areas.
At Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School there are a range of other structures and techniques which are used to support and enrich individual student learning. The Head of Individual Differences is responsible for the overview of development and implementation of programs which meet individual students’ needs, in addition to the classroom program.
Providing Support for Students
The first step in providing support is assessing and monitoring students’ progress. Assessment is used to identify areas of mastery and conceptual gaps. In the early years of Junior School, there is a great emphasis on assessment to ascertain literacy and mathematical task achievement. Support programs then follow up areas of weakness identified.
When girls enter Year 7 they are also assessed to enable appropriate support programs to be offered in Numeracy and Literacy. The School offers additional support from Prep to Year 12 either by withdrawal of individuals or small groups for targeted teaching or as part of an ongoing program. One example of a specific remediation program is the Maths Peer Support sessions open to Years 7-9 students and Maths Help sessions for senior students.
Providing Information to Staff
Information about school and other educational test results as well as students’ special needs are disseminated to all staff so that they can adapt work and presentation styles to allow for more successful learning.
Providing Enrichment for the Highly Able Student
Students who are highly accomplished in any subject area need work which is complex and challenging. They may be encouraged to work on more abstract tasks or at a faster pace than their peers. Programs for excelling students at Ivanhoe Girls’ include: acceleration, (beginning in Year 9 with Maths), withdrawal programs within class time and enrichment activities both within and outside class time.
There are a wide range of House and Co-curricular activities that give able girls opportunities to excel, such as debating, competitions, and exhibitions of artwork.
At Ivanhoe Girls’ we work hard at providing a curriculum that is designed to challenge all of our students. Girls who demonstrate keen thinking skills or advanced academic ability are supported in the classroom and are also provided with an opportunity to participate in short extension units of work as part of the School’s Ignite program.
Ignite is an enrichment program designed to challenge students’ thinking in a variety of areas. Nominated by their teachers, students in both Junior and Senior School are invited to take part in units that run each term.
Each six to eight week unit offered is developed according to the interests and strengths of the students invited to participate. The units are designed to encourage higher level analytical skills across a range of topics by tapping into students’ natural abilities, aptitude and inquisitiveness so they can further explore and extend their abilities.
Units have resulted in some wonderfully ingenious constructions and insightful exploration pieces including: The Amazing Spaghetti Machine Contest, which included designing and constructing a complex machine with a large number of steps and energy transfers to complete a task. A Poetry/French unit entitled The Language of Song examined a number of French songs as works of art, music and poetry. Mathematics units have included an investigation into Infinity, while scientific topics on offer have included an examination of the Transit of Venus and Murder under the Microscope. Other units in past years have focused on History and Sport Performance.
Most recently, our Junior and Senior School Ignite students explored Robotics. The younger students used the new Lego robotics kits called WeDo2 to learn about design and programming. Senior School Ignite students applied their understanding of gears and basic engineering principles to build a number of robotic devices for which they wrote basic programs. This enabled their robots to complete a variety of tasks such as navigating a course with obstacles to simulate a search and rescue in a natural disaster.
Programs such as Ignite aim to satisfy and foster the inquisitive nature of high achievers and help instill in them a passion for life long learning.
Future Problem Solving
Future Problem Solving is a world-wide collaborative problem solving program in which students work in teams of four to develop skills in research, analysis and judgement of future issues for society and the environment. Each term a new topic is studied. The scenarios which students are given to analyse are set at least 50 years in the future and require creative and novel responses. The first two problems are practice problems, allowing students to learn and develop proficiency in the six steps of the problem solving process. The third problem is undertaken under competition conditions. This means the students must work independently on the previously unseen problem for a maximum of two hours. The team may not use any notes or study materials and the coach cannot be present. Research and understanding of the general topic are fundamental elements of the program. Before beginning the problem solving process, all students are expected to undertake independent research in order to fully understand the issues associated with the topic. It is expected that their work will reflect this research.
Ivanhoe Girls’ has a strong record of success at a National level and invitations to compete at the International competition in the United States of America.
Community Problem Solving
Community Problem Solving is a program in which students apply the problem solving process they have learned in the Global Issues Problem Solving, part of the Future Problem Solving program, to real-life problems within their communities. When competing, the students submit a six page report plus a six page addendum. This document outlines their project’s action plan and the progress made to date including any difficulties they have had to overcome. Reports of problem solving projects are evaluated and winners at each of the age divisions may receive invitations to attend the National and International Future Problem Solving Conference. Again, Ivanhoe Girls’ has a strong record of success in achieving these pre-eminent international invitations. Here they mount a display of their project which includes a three minute video plus scrapbook and display board to showcase their project. The culmination is the presentation of a 20 minute interview with judges to explain their project.