Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Primary Earlwood has used colour and song to connect parents and students to its vision for learning.
About 120 parents attended a special assembly on October 16 which introduced the five colour-coded learning values that drive teaching and learning at the school – Challenge (purple), Collaborate (orange), Create (green), Share (yellow), and Persevere (red).
Students sang about the values to the tune of Pharell Williams’ hit Happy, before parents were invited to observe the principles in practice. Back in their classrooms, students were challenged by research questions, created sculptures from aluminium foil, shared a virtual journey through Google Expeditions, persevered with mathematical problems and did other activities.
Principal David Casey said the values were the product of two years of research and collaboration between the Our Lady of Lourdes’ teachers and leadership team.
“We had our own beliefs about learning and created a Wordle [word cloud] where people added their thoughts to build up a database of words. After that some common themes started to emerge. Collaborating, creating and sharing were strong.
“We also looked at current innovators and showed staff YouTube clips of them talking about what students deserved and needed in the future. That was inspirational.”
Mr Casey said all staff were invited to have their say on the values chosen. “There’s no one here who can say ‘I don’t believe in this’. Everybody was given the time and courtesy to speak, contribute, discern, and discuss.”
Parents were given postcards which summarise the principles so when their child speaks about doing “green” or another colour work at school they will know what it means.
“We’ve made it colour-coded as an easy way of remembering what the vision for learning incudes,” Mr Casey said. “I’m really excited that the community are feeling enthusiastic about it.”
Year 2 teacher Lisa Steel’s class were wowed by the Google glass and iPhone gadget that allowed them to see three-dimensional footage of places without leaving their classroom.
“It’s challenging them to think in different ways and challenging me to teach in different ways,” she said. “They’re sharing with each other as they’ll be able to talk about it together, and we’re sharing the world with them.”
Emily Tsambas, whose son Yianni is in Year 2, said the vision’s structure was amazing.
“It’s easy for the kids to relate to colours, so when they throw a colour instead of a word, it’s easy for them to understand and follow through,” she said. “I think kids need consistency and I believe it will take off.”
Yianni, 8, enjoyed the expedition. “I think it’s very creative,” he said. It’s really cool for kids to experience things like this.”
Year 5 parent Ruth Geisler saw daughter Eliza research the challenges around early rail travel in Australia. “Eliza prefers to learn at her own pace and loves to explore, so this investigative style of learning really suits her,” she said. “I was also impressed by the perseverance principle because it encourages the children to continue learning if they face challenges. Having a child doing the HSC at the moment I see how having those kinds of principles reinforced at this age is very, very important.”
Learning values at a glance:
Purple = Challenge
Orange = Collaborate
Green = Create
Yellow = Share
Red = Persevere