How does Curiosita work?
Let’s start by explaining what Curiosita is. It is the professional learning team at BEPS, which is made up of the Physical Education, Art, Music and Italian teachers. This is in many ways an unlikely mix of teachers to have in one professional learning team. Put in very simple terms, it has come about because when I first started at BEPS 3 years ago these teachers were commonly referred to as the “specialists”. As a group of 4 teachers they went to a Learning Community and took one quarter of the students and taught them their ‘speciality’ for an hour. This meant that each child did each ‘speciality’ for one hour a week for the whole year. The teachers often felt that they were not involved in the professional learning run at the school because a lot of this time was looking at developing professional teams and other curriculum areas such as maths. Also they often felt that they were not an integral part of the school but just there to ensure that we could give teams their professional learning time throughout the week. They lost considerable learning time swapping students between curriculum areas, sometimes had problems within the class because they didn’t get time to develop relationships with the students and get to know them, and they provided ‘reports’ for every student at BEPS, all 430 – 470 of them.
As a staff and wider community we believe that these ‘specialists’ are an integral part of the school and contribute significantly to a rich and varied curriculum. They are the vehicle for engaging some students, providing students with a different way to express and show their learning and thinking, and give students another way to make their learning visible. Hence, over the last few years we have tried to bring them into closer alignment with the whole school and provide them with the support and coaching that is available to all other professional learning teams at BEPS.
From this Curiosita was born!
They have taken a number of professional risks developing their team, working through changes in curriculum, trying to work more closely with the individual Learning Communities and supporting each other. They have developed the reflective aspects of their practice, and that of the students in their subject area. This has not been easy and I want to publicly thank them for the effort they have gone to develop their team and improve their practice.
2017 and the Victorian Curriculum and the Arts
The introduction of the Victorian Curriculum has meant a number of changes for all staff at BEPS. The introduction of the four capabilities: Digital Technology; Critical and Creative Thinking; Ethical Capability and; Personal and Social Capability, have required us all to rethink our curriculum, our assessment and the resources that we need. For example our new robotic equipment. The Curiosita team now need to cover different curriculum areas. Art will now cover Media and Visual Art, Music will cover Music and Dance and Italian will include Drama.
…how we will enable The Arts, LOTE and PE to become the glue within our curriculum?
We see that these combinations are logical. Teaching students the skills associated with Media and Visual Arts, or Music and Dance, allows those skills to then be used within the LC to improve student engagement and widen the range of techniques students have to communicate with others and show their thinking.
Drama has been clearly shown to improve reading, comprehension and pronunciation for any language. Hence it makes sense to combine this activity with Italian in 2017 as it is already a technique used when teaching Italian.
This term Art, Music and Italian teachers have been working to develop their skills to facilitate inquiry in their practice and curriculum area, and support each other to enable critical thinking, observation and reflection, and work in closer alignment with the LCs.
It is essential that we enable these teachers to build the Arts curriculum at BEPS because of their proven ability to improve: student English (reading, writing, and speaking and listening) and communication skills; mathematics; motivation to learn; critical and creative thinking; and through promoting a positive learning environment. We as a school, we will continue to reflect on how we will enable ‘The Arts, and LOTE’ to become the glue within our curriculum.
During the rest of this year we will e trialling the running of Art, Music and Italian as intensive one term subjects. By doing this students will have more time in each curriculum area as there will be less time lost as students move between the three different areas and maintain momentum and enthusiasm for the subjects as they are not so fragmented. We will be asking for your feedback on this change later in the year.
Physical Education (PE)
Our structure for Curiosita and LC professional learning has changed this year. We are not running all four curriculum areas at the same time. We have taken PE out of the mix. Peter or Shona take approximately 1/3 of the LC at a time for PE. This enables the PE teachers to give students greater choice in the activities and sports that are done in class, strengthen student engagement and give more student voice through the student PE team.
PE is important because it helps students increase physical activity, improves engagement for many students and have a more positive attitude toward physical fitness. Children learn to see the connection between physical health and general well-being. The PE classes at BEPS, encourage students to try out a range of physical activities and take the risk to try something new. They are offered a wide variety of activities and sports, and some students have discovered activities that really engage them. For example Lacrosse, is proving to be very popular with some students who have not displayed a lot of enthusiasm for some of the more common sports. PE also improves student outcomes through participation in PE where they learn to build social skills such as teamwork, sportsmanship and respect for others. PE helps students improve attention and brain function, and helps them to concentrate and develop problem solving skills. Hence, at BEPS students have one session of PE a week and we also have whole school sport and the opportunity for students to participate in sports and athletics within the wider community.