As I reflect on the learning taking place at Googong, there are many occasions where I see evidence of deep learning, where through the process of experiencing and reflecting, imaginations are captured, and a student’s thinking shifts from the familiar to a new understanding. Making sense of the new, reflecting on the old, wondering about other possibilities, asking questions, looking from different angles, experimenting through trial and error, learning from mistakes and linking ideas are all contributors to deep learning experiences. It is the richness of experiential learning that provides a solid foundation for education and that which will continue to promote deep thinking, powerful learning and life-long skills for all our students.
In a recent article on experiential learning, my interest was piqued by the discussion on the elements which promote deep learning. For deep learning to occur a once familiar, concrete concept is challenged by a problem or scenario outside their usual experience or understanding. This process stimulates new thought, inquiry, reflection and questioning. From their work over the span of thirty years in the field of experiential learning, Alice and David Kolb advocate for learning which requires students to “grapple with conflicts and contradictions and resolve them through collaboration”. These are the learning experiences which spark independent thought processes. The notion of grappling, collaborating and reflecting are dispositions promoted by Guy Claxton in his Building Learning Power framework. Grappling with conflicts, noticing, making links, being absorbed and collaborating are skills we are seeking to grow in our students daily, and that which I see so clearly through the many learning experiences in our school each day.
Our annual awards are a very special part of the year. Throughout the year our students have earned many Merit Certificates for the specific effort that they have put into their learning. These merits are hard earned and when a student has received 5 merits they get to have a special morning tea with the Principal. The really special part is getting to choose the cake that the Principal bakes for them.
At the end of the year, we recognise the achievement of our students with our annual awards. These awards recognise the specific attributes of learning and being part of our community that we value the most.
Each award is aligned with our core aspirations of: know and discover; understand and dream; and grow in faith. All awards are named in honour of prominent Australians and recognise their contributions to our society. The student awards are:
- Douglas Mawson Award for Knowledge and Exploration
- Connor McLeod Award for Great Ideas
- Fiona Wood Award for Creativity and Innovation
- Shane Gould Award for Sporting Achievement
- Richard Tognetti Award for the Performing Arts
- Elizabeth Kenny Award for Christian Character and Service
This year saw the introduction of a new staff award, the Ian Hewitt Award for Googong Learning. This award is presented to the staff member who has demonstrated servant leadership, enthusiasm and creativity in the classroom to bring to life the school’s core aspirations. In doing so, they have created an authentic learning environment which has challenged and engaged the students in their learning.
Ian was the Foundation Principal of The Anglican School Googong and is leaving our school at the end of this year. He believed that the three core aspirations of ‘know and discover, understand and dream, and grow in faith’ were the essential components required to ensure our students were equipped for life beyond school. He was instrumental in bringing this vision to life but also recognised that it required exceptional teachers to put this vision into practice for our students.
The inaugural recipient of the Ian Hewitt Award for Googong Learning was Portia Bellew.
Congratulations to all of our 2017 award recipients, you have each shone in these areas which are most important us.
We had a proud moment last week when three of our Year 3 students attended the opening of Googong’s newest park, Yerradhang Nguru. The naming of the park recognises the connection that the Ngunawal people have as the traditional custodians of the land on which Googong is built.
Yerradhang Nguru means Gumnut Camp and was chosen to indicate that this was an area frequented by the Ngunawal people as they moved along the pathways in their travels. A ‘camp’ for them was a place to take a break and look around. Ngunawal representatives performed a traditional welcome to country and cleansing ceremony with didgeridoo accompaniment which our students participated in.
Aboriginal place names have been assigned to other key locations in Googong where the names make a meaningful connection with the indigenous habitation and use of the land. The four locations that received new Aboriginal names were Googong Common, Hill 800, ‘The Gumnuts’ park and Montgomery Rise park. Googong Common is now Bunburung Thina meaning small lizard track and the park at Montgomery Rise is now Munnagai Woggabaliri, which means come and play.
Hill 800 has been renamed Nangi Pimble which means see the district or look at the district. This is the area that our students planted some Allocasuarina verticillate (Drooping Sheoak) trees on earlier this year. This particular species is a primary food source for the Glossy Black Cockatoo (the bird on the school’s logo).
I am very pleased to advise that the next Principal of our School will be Ms Merryn Clarksmith, who is currently Deputy Principal of St Luke’s Grammar School in Dee Why, Sydney.
Merryn has over 15 years’ experience in leadership positions in Christian schools. Before joining St Luke’s in 2016 she was, from 2008, Head of Senior School at Rouse Hill Anglican College. Formerly, she was at Northolm Grammar School in the Sydney suburb or Arcadia, where, over a ten-year period, she held the positions of Dean of Senior Students and Assistant to the Deputy Principal, among others.
Merryn is a graduate of Macquarie University from which she has a Bachelor of Arts and a Diploma in Education (English/Drama). She also has a Master of Educational Leadership from the University of New South Wales.
We are delighted that Merryn will join us from 1 January next year, allowing a seamless transition with Ian’s move to Trinity Christian School. Before then I will plan a families’ evening so that you get the chance to meet Merryn as soon as possible.
The educational philosophy at St Luke’s is very similar to our own, and places children at the centre of their learning experience. Merryn is very committed to the approach and has indicated her enthusiasm for the programs we have in place at Googong.
We are very fortunate to have someone of Merryn’s educational and leadership experience, and Christian commitment, led to us. Her approach is nicely summed up in the following extract from her application:
In leading a school … I strive to reflect Paul’s words to the Colossians, imploring us to “clothe ourselves in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” as we interact with each other.
The Anglican School Googong
Saturday saw the sun shining on what was an amazing day for 10 of our year 3 and 4 students as we headed up to our ‘backyard’ in the Snowy Mountains. After an early departure from Googong, we set out from Guthega for our snowshoe expedition. For most of these students this was their first time on snowshoes so what a treat they had with a blue-sky day on some great snow.
This trip is part of the school’s outdoor education program and helps our students learn a wide range of new skills, work as part of a team and push themselves beyond their usual experiences.
Over the course of the day the students learnt many new skills and had a wonderful time experiencing the snow from a different perspective. After an initial walk along the trail to Guthega Dam where we learnt a few snowshoeing techniques we headed ‘off track’ towards the Rolling Grounds.
We walked to an area which had a deep stash of snow and learnt some snow craft skills from Mr Hewitt. Here we learnt how to: cut blocks of snow to build snow walls to protect us from the wind; make furniture in the snow so we could sit on a snow seat; and we even got to build a small snow cave which was amazingly warm and quiet.
The snow walls that we built came in very handy to hide behind during the snowball fight as well! Thanks to all of the parents who helped make this day possible. We all had an amazing day and certainly hope we can get out to do this again.
We’ve had a great day of celebrations to mark Indonesian Independence Day. This year has been particularly special for us as we have had Pak Adel and Ibu Titin from our partner school, SMP Katolic Rajawali in Makassar visiting and joining in our celebrations.
Our day started with a visit to the Indonesian Embassy where we were welcomed by His Excellency Mr Yohanes Kristiarto Soeryo Legowo, the Indonesian Ambassador. We then joined the Indonesian community for their flag raising ceremony.
Then to wrap up our day we had a great evening with our whole school community joining us for dinner followed by the students performing a number of traditional Indonesian songs and dances. The whole school sang Pelangi Pelangi which is a lovely traditional song about the rainbow being a creation of God. Then they performed Marendeng Marampa from Toraja, South Sulawesi. This dance is to motivate people from Toraja to be strong in their lives. They also performed Gemu Fa Mi Re which is a dance from Maumere, Flores to invite people to enjoy life and always feel happy.
To finish with our choir provided us with a great performance of the ‘Great Australian Bight’ to add a uniquely Australian flavour to the evening to enhance our intercultural understanding.
What a great way to celebrate with our Indonesian partners, on this their special day.
2018 is fast approaching and it was an exciting time today when we saw our students in the new school uniform for the first time. This included some of our students in year 2 and 3 as well as one of our new students who will join us in year 7 next year.
Meanwhile, we have welcomed Eleisha Smyth who has joined us as the Senior School Teaching and Learning Coordinator. Eleisha is seen here with our Principal, Ian Hewitt and one our first year 7 students.
Eleisha is beginning the designing of our cross curricular projects which will encourage our students not only to be citizens who make a positive impact on their community, but lifelong learners who dream big, stretch themselves, and see their potential as world changers.
As we prepare for our senior school, Eleisha is preparing a rich and invigorating program to ensure our students will be stretched in their knowledge and application of the curriculum. Projects will develop a sense of pride for the students as they create ‘beautiful work’ to share and inspire others. This could be in the form of a performance, a creation, an innovation, a development – creatively presenting what they are learning in authentic ways. Learning this way creates meaning beyond the school walls and empowers learners to achieve at the highest levels.
With our senior school facilities taking shape there is also a great deal of unseen work taking place in the background to prepare the learning that our students will be engaged with. For our senior school students, much of their learning will be centred around project-based learning.
As the students make meaning for themselves they understand how they learn and through this, they will become more confident learners. Through wide project based learning, self- discovery, connections with community members, trips to places of interest, and the relationships with teachers we are creating a sense of purpose for our learning. In creating successful learners we use Professor Guy Claxton’s approach which he calls Building Learning Power. He defines the 4 Rs of Learning Power as:
- Resilience – being ready, willing and able to lock onto learning
- Resourcefulness – being ready, willing and able to learn in different ways
- Reflectiveness – being ready, willing and able to become more strategic about learning
- Reciprocity – being ready, willing and able to learn alone and with others
Learning is not isolated, rather it is integrated and relevant to the world in which our students live. In addition to this, the students learn in real time and interact with the latest technology and have access to view and create on digital platforms.
The Anglican School Googong is a place where children know and discover, understand and dream, and grow in faith.
For some insight into project based learning and building learning power in schools, have a look at these UK schools who are leading the way in these areas:
PBL and Arts: Empowering Students to Craft Beautiful Work
See how School 21 brings cross-curricular, arts-infused project-based learning into every classroom.
XP School – Learning Expeditions
XP is a mainstream 11-19 secondary school in Doncaster, UK. This short film is about how our school came about, what it is all about, how we do things and why.
Landau Forte College – building learning power in action
This Learning at Landau video aims to provide an insight into the unique learning environment and what makes learning at a Landau Forte academy different.
Our Stage 2 building program is well underway in preparation for our first year 7 students to commence in 2018.
In preparation for the commencement of the Senior School with year 7 in 2018, the expansion of the Junior School and the increase in staff numbers Stage 2 will comprise:
- A number of flexible and specialist learning areas
- 2 general learning areas
- Shared/flexible learning area
- Maker classroom (messy space for design technology and art)
- Hospitality and textiles area
- Science laboratory
- New staff administration area
- General office areas
- General meeting room
- First Aid room
- Staff offices
- Staff work areas
- Staff amenities
Many of our students are enjoying the view of the construction activity from the playground. Like them, we too are excited about this stage of development and look forward to its completion in preparation for the commencement of the 2018 school year.