University of Melbourne validation
At the end of last year, we received the 2021 Effective Thinking Cultures Evaluation Report – an internal assessment of our strategic approach and efforts to develop the quality of instructional practice in BGS classrooms to optimise learning and the development of our students as self-regulated learners.
Notably, we submitted the report for external evaluation to validate the rigour and integrity of its research methodology, findings and recommendations. We were privileged to engage with the Centre for Program Evaluation (CPE) at the University of Melbourne in this process.
It was affirming to receive their evaluation and positive endorsement for the quality of our report, along with their congratulations on our commitment and skill in the research process, particularly during the pandemic’s disruptive and challenging circumstances. This validates our strategic goal of building the School’s capacity as a learning organisation – a collective culture in which we seek to expand our capacity to continually improve through the evidence we collect about our teaching and our students’ learning.
Overall, the report provided a strong endorsement of our progress in developing cultures of effective thinking, as well as detailed recommendations for strategic focus in 2022. Read more about Effective Thinking Cultures (ETC) below.
BGS Effective Thinking Cultures
It is important to establish effective classroom routines with our students at the start of each school year. At BGS, teachers dedicate much of their time to this pursuit as it pays significant learning dividends down the track. We also focus on supporting each boy’s development as an effective thinker and learner.
BGS Effective Thinking Cultures aims to develop each student’s thinking skills, building their capacity to apply their knowledge strategically and meet unanticipated challenges in various contexts. The end goal is to build each student’s capacity to be an independent and self-regulated life-long learner.
Consolidation and Preparation time
Effective thinking and learning capacities are developed over time through a school-wide culture that prioritises constant and intentional exposure to these skills. One of the ways BGS has done this is by introducing daily Consolidation and Preparation (CP) time: a period where students have time to make sense of their classroom experiences and plan the next steps in their learning.
In CP time, boys focus on effective strategies for consolidation, preparation and revision. Having the opportunity to develop and repeat these self-directed strategies in a dedicated, structured period encourages boys to develop productive personal and academic habits.
Consolidating means bringing learning together in a meaningful and coherent way. Activities that help consolidate learning include: using graphic organisers to represent understandings; reviewing and editing writing; undertaking exercises to check detail and increase precision; and identifying questions or uncertainties to seek assistance from peers or teachers.
Students may also spend CP time in preparation for upcoming lessons by reading, viewing and reviewing essential material or completing pre-quizzes. Preparation leads to more active and insightful engagement in learning activities and is essential to maximise learning, reduce anxiety and build good scholarly habits.
Revision is the third aspect of CP time. Building easily retrievable knowledge networks in long-term memory is a foundation of academic success. Until an idea or an understanding is stored in long-term memory, it has not been learned. Students are encouraged to regularly and repeatedly review consolidated ideas, procedures, and understandings to improve memory function.
This week, students were provided with a CP Time Student Handbook that details how the time can be used most productively. This information will be explored and reinforced in the coming weeks by CP teachers, Form Tutors and Heads of Year.
Parents can support their son’s engagement with CP time by showing an active interest in how and why he is using this time, and encouraging him to optimise the opportunity it presents.
This year, we will focus on improving the various structures and programs we have implemented over the past few years and allowing them to develop and mature. Among these is the Years 7 and 8 Applied Thinking subject and CP time for all our students.
We will also maintain a strong focus on professional learning activities for teachers. These activities build their theoretical understanding of the learning process and their skill in implementing learning strategies, particularly those evidenced to elicit student thinking.
A third focus will be to continue building the leadership capacity of our academic middle leaders, who are vital to ongoing improvement and innovation in our educational program.
We are proud of our progress in developing and implementing our Effective Thinking Cultures, and we are determined to build on it.