Learning at Play

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Our students have eagerly watched and begun to enjoy the new backyard play space in the Junior School. The aim of this space is to foster imagination and creativity through play. Loose parts play is a type of play that supports invention, divergent thinking, problem solving and offers a sense of wonder to children. There are materials that can be moved, carried, combined, redesigned, lined up, and taken apart and put back together in multiple ways. There are materials with no specific set of directions that can be used alone or combined with other materials. Albert Einstein told us that “Play is the highest form of research” and this is our desire for the children, to learn through play. When using the Backyard, the children must ask themselves a series of questions: 1. Do I feel safe? 2. Am I actually safe? 3. Are other around me safe? It is a pure joy to watch and listen to our students play so freely.

Further reading on play can be found at: https://www.kidsmatter.edu.au/mental-health-matters/social-and-emotional-learning/play-children-learn-through-play/play-helps

Beautiful Work

By | School Updates, Uncategorized
The notion of beautiful work is central to project based learning and requires skill, dedication and perseverance. The vision for Googong’s first Year 7 student project was to combine the different skills and elements of the various curriculums with an appreciation of the local environment and the ability to exemplify the core notion of beautiful work. Classified Tails is the culmination of an in-depth study of Googong fauna, through which the students developed a interest in the welfare of the native fauna with the impact of the development of the Googong Township. The project brings to the ‘new’ Googong, an understanding of the ‘old’ Googong, the importance of heritage and the important interactions between the environment and the community. Through a process of drafting and re-drafting until the product reached a level of excellence, the students demonstrated beautiful work, and a publication which met a borad range of curriculum outcomes from Science, Geography, Music, English, Art, Technology and History.
For our community, this project provides an insight into the ‘other’ residents in our neighbourhood and places value on their existence. For the environment, it shows that we place importance on conservation. For the School community, it shows that we are both concerned for and interested in the local context, history and heritage. For our students, it shows that we value authentic learning and see benefit in framing learning in a relevant context. Our students have applied considerable effort in realising this project, and their hard work has resulted in a tangible resource which embodies rich learning experiences and beautiful work where elements of the curriculum, the local environment and their context are linked. It has also become evident to the students that education is the key to changing our world.
The students had much fun in this learning process, in which they have spent time at Googong Dam, time outside the classroom in the natural environment, time working independently and interdependently, time creating, time refining and all the while, building their own capacity as learners. The project required each student to choose an animal of interest to them, research the animal, study the animal in its native bushland, imagine life as that animal here in Googong, design a lino print and create a soundscape. Through the production process our Year 7 students have built an understanding of their impact and place in the local environment and in the world. The students should be immensely proud of this published work, which presents their exploration into the Googong fauna, from all angles of the curriculum.

Deep Learning

By | School Updates, Uncategorized

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.

Annual Awards to end our year

By | School Updates

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.

Students at the Opening of Yerradhang Nguru

By | School Updates

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).

New Principal Appointed

By | School Updates

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.

John Richards
Chair, Board
The Anglican School Googong

Snowshoe Expedition

By | School Updates

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.

Indonesian Independence Day Celebrations

By | School Updates

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.

Growing school, new uniform – 2018 here we come!

By | School Updates

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.

Empowered Learners

By | School Updates

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.

Senior School Building Update

By | School Updates

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
    • Reception
    • 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.

Tree planting leaves three generations on a high as they come together for Founders’ Day at The Anglican School Googong

By | School Updates

While Canberrans were celebrating Canberra Day, just across the border students from The Anglican School Googong and their families were hard at work creating a new sanctuary to protect the vulnerable Glossy Black Cockatoo.

Together, they started planting trees on the highest hill overlooking the new Googong township. The hill, known as Nangi Pimble by its traditional Ngunawal landowners, provides a panoramic view across Googong and will be home to the town’s new water supply reservoirs.

Over the next four years, more than 3000 trees will be planted in a four hectare reserve that is being created to provide a passive recreation and educational space for the community and a salute to the area’s rich Aboriginal heritage.

The initial tree planting includes native species like the Drooping She-oak, the primary food source for the Glossy Black Cockatoo which is part of the school’s logo, and gum trees that will provide nesting habitat in the future.

The Denby Family was one of the first to pitch in as students from School rolled up their sleeves to help plant trees in celebration of the school’s annual Founders’ and Grandparents Day when they focus on their community.

Jacob (9) was in Year One when the school opened. This year he is part of the school’s first Year four class.

His parents Simon and Kathryn Denby and grandparents Reg and Norma Gee, from Watson, are regular volunteers at the school which is an important contributor with close ties to the new community.

“The school is inspirational,” Simon said. “The parents all want to be involved, not just for the good of their own child, but for the good of the school and the rest of the community.

“Even though it’s getting bigger all the time, the school still feels like a family – more like a close knit community of friends which is something you don’t often get in a bigger, more structured environment.”

The Denby family moved from their 250 acre farm at Bungendore so they could be more involved and juggle school activities with the pressure of two busy fulltime jobs.

After the tree planting, the Year 3 and 4 students joined the rest of the school community for fun, games and morning tea with visiting parents and grandparents, followed by a family picnic.

Excitement in Year 4 as the Band Program Kicks Off

By | School Updates

Thursday morning was a buzz with excitement with our Year 4 students as they picked up their instruments for the first time as the Year 4 Band Program kicked off. In Year 4, every student is given the use of a school-owned orchestral instrument to study as part of the academic music program. For one of the three timetabled Music lessons a week, students will study their instrument in small groups with a specialist instrumental teacher. This does not come at any further cost to the parents for year 4 students, it is simply part of their music education at the School.

We hope that this year allows students and parents to have a taste of what it is to play an instrument in the hope that they will continue instrumental study in later years and join school ensembles as they are established.

Apart from the sheer joy we see on the faces of ours students as they make music, there are a range of benefits well beyond the music classroom. Learning music can help students’ self-confidence, self-discipline and team work. Music also helps students progress in other important areas such as numeracy and literacy. Music education classes at The Anglican School Googong use a musicianship-based approach to education, predominantly incorporating the methodology of Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodály. Kodály said that true musical literacy involves musical memory and the ability to ‘internally hear what you see and write what you hear’. This means that the musician needs to be able to do more than merely interpret the notation on their instrument. They must also be able to look at a piece of musical notation and hear it in their head without firstly needing to play it on an instrument and also be able to listen to a piece of music and notate it.

When a student can do all of this, they are truly musically literate. This idea of true musical literacy may be a new concept. Those who have had the privilege of learning an instrument may have been taught by interpreting the dots on the staff and associating each dot with a fingering to play. Slowly and with practise, proficiency on the instrument developed. However, many who learnt to interpret musical notation in this way struggle with being able to hear the notes on the page without having their instrument to play it for them and find it difficult to aurally dictate music.

Identifying symbols does not necessarily translate to having a true understanding of the language of music. Therefore, our goal is to encourage and educate our students to be truly musically literate, enhancing their musicianship skills, including their ability to create new music and perform with musical sensitivity.

For further information:

Music Education at The Anglican School Googong

If You Want to Accelerate Brain Development in Children, Teach them Music

A Thousand Thanks to a Thousand Fans

By | School Updates

We’ve just reached 1000 likes for our Facebook page. Thank you to all our followers for your support. We launched our Facebook page in March 2014 and since then our school has been built and we welcomed our first students in January 2015.

Thank you for liking as well as commenting and questioning. We really love it when the conversation and excitement about what we are doing connects with you. Please share our Facebook page with your friends. Let’s get up to 2000 likes soon so we can spread the word about #GoogongLearning and #School22.

To our 65 students and their families – we have lots of friends who love seeing what you do!