Education is certainly changing as teachers seek ways to improve learning opportunities for students. This is definitely true for Ultima PS.
Ultima Primary School is located half way between Sea Lake and Swan Hill, in the middle of agricultural communities (it knows the effects of the extended drought all too well) with around 30 students, three staff and positioned.
So what are the team at Ultima doing to raise the level of achievement of students? The staff share a belief in three core elements that make successful small schools: Individualised instruction; embedding learning technologies; and community engagement.
This year great steps have been made towards developing individualised learning environment. The whole staff have sought out best practice and have developed a shared understanding of what it means and have established a collegiate support network online.
Students begin their day by viewing their unit of work and then works on these units that are suited to their needs and interest – not necessarily age/grade based. These co-created units focus on critical skills that are needed for students to obtain standards. The context in which students complete their learning is driven by the student.
In the junior room students use developmental play and experimentation to identify what they want to understand with the teacher providing a “guiding role” in their learning. For example, students using a video camera to create a story. At the end of a short session a group of girls had created a small clip that told a series of events in logical order, and formed dialogue between the characters.
The senior room has seen a “shift in power” within the classroom, from the loud disruptive student to the studious self-driven student. As students complete stages in their units they are rewarded which further drives them to complete more. The students have the flexibility to
work at their own pace, reflective of their interest and learning needs, using the technology and learning style they wish, and can request personalised support from their teachers.
The personalised approach is supported with the embedding of learning technologies. Students have access to personal devices and computer equipment in the classroom that can also be taken home. Netbooks, video cameras, etc are some of the equipment used. The most critical element to the utilisation of ICT by staff and students has been the online school based learning environment. Students use the school website to access work, create content, share work samples, complete assessment tasks and request support.