February 28, 2020

Learning Community

At our recent information evenings, key educational leaders at CGGS have shared the work that we are undertaking with external experts to shape the learning opportunities for our students. Understanding current thinking and developments in education beyond our school is vital as we challenge ideas and engage our staff in wide-ranging professional learning.

We are delighted to continue to partner with a number of national and international experts to ensure that our work is supported by the best research.

A few examples of our projects include:


> Early Learning Centre:  Early Learning STEM Australia (ELSA) Pilot 2020
Led by Angela Follacchio (Early Learning Leader), our Early Learning Centre (ELC) has been selected as one of fifty preschools to take part in the 2020 ELSA Research Project (University of Canberra). The ELSA project is a play-based digital learning program to explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) practices and concepts.  The curriculum presented will have both hands-on and digital activities and the activities encourage children to ask questions, make predictions, experiment and reflect on what happened and why.

> Curriculum Connections Project (with Ann Beck)

Led by Emma Hinchliffe (Deputy Head of Junior School) and Charlotte Forwood (Director of Learning Design and Development) with consultant Ann Beck, teachers will continue to develop curriculum across all year levels, with a particular focus on literacy, numeracy and inquiry units.
In 2020 embedding of STEAM within inquiry units continues to be a focus.  Under the leadership of Charlotte Forwood, a number of Junior School staff will join Senior School staff in this year’s ISV and Harvard Making Thinking Routine Project in order to broaden the use of thinking routines across the curriculum.

> Idea into Action Project (Harvard Graduate School of Education)

As part of Camberwell Girls Grammar School’s involvement in the Idea Into Action Project with Project Zero at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and ISV, teachers have been using bespoke tools to engage with and sustain changes in curriculum design and implementation. Project Zero researchers, Dr Flossie Chua and Professor David Perkins have been using feedback from CGGS staff to further develop these tools with the aim of providing them to educators globally. Charlotte Forwood and Emma Hinchliffe will be presenting our work at the Education that Matters Conference presented by Harvard Graduate School of Education in Melbourne in May 2020.

> Reading Program

Emma Hinchliffe, Charlotte Forwood and Lisa White (JS Learning Enrichment Coordinator) have worked with Foundation – Year 2 teachers in redeveloping the reading program to reflect a strong research base and current pedagogy. Our recently launched program ensures that oral language underpins our teaching and learning. Learning to read involves the development of language comprehension skills as well as word recognition. These are the two core elements of The Simple View of Reading which informs our teaching and learning practices. There is a strong focus on systematic, explicit instruction in the areas of phonological awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension. Parents interested in learning more about best practice in reading instruction may find the following website useful:


Senior School

> Year 8 Healthy Minds Program (with Dr Tom Nehmy)
The Healthy Minds Program was developed by an award-winning clinical psychologist Dr Tom Nehmy from Adelaide in South Australia. After working as a clinical psychologist in government, corporate and private practice, he became concerned about the number of clients (both children and adult) who exhibited signs of unhelpful thinking and behavior that could have been prevented.

Dr Nehmy’s observations developed into his PhD research project at Flinders University that has subsequently given rise to the Healthy Minds Program. Published in the prestigious international peer-reviewed journal Behaviour Research and Therapy,Healthy Minds teaches the skills of effective emotion regulation, helpful decision making and balanced thinking.  Healthy Minds was awarded the Flinders University Vice-Chancellor’s Prize and is developing an international reputation in health and education as a highly effective program.

Supported by Nirvana Watkins (Deputy Head of Senior School – Wellbeing Curriculum and Programs), Dr Nehmy will deliver the program to the Year 8 students during two special conference says on 23 April and 25 May. Further information will be explored in the students’ health and wellbeing lessons and parents will also receive a module to outline the ideas and skills examined.

> Year 9 Cognizance Project with Jared Cooney Horvath
Led by Nirvana Watkins in 2019, we piloted the Cognizance Project through Independent Schools Victoria and University of Melbourne researcher Jared Cooney Horvath. In 2020 we will again take up this program.

“Cognizance” is a term referring to an awareness and appreciation of knowledge, in terms of human perception of our own understanding. We sometimes use the term to refer to our consciousness as learners and how our own knowledge is shaped. There are elements of both metacognition and neuroscience captured the term.  The project aims to teach students the fundamentals of metacognition, the ability to control thought processes, and to give them the tools to take charge of their own learning. Our goal is to teach students how the brain works so they can use this knowledge to impact both study and life.

Students engage in a series of lessons titled ‘Hacking the Brain’ that look at understanding the importance of stories, the basics of neuroplasticity, how the brain deals with errors and the role of memory.

> Point: Development of Senior School Programs using the CGGS ‘By design’ learning framework
Led by Kate Manners (Deputy Head of Senior School – Teaching and Learning) and Charlotte Forwood (Director of Learning Design and Development) with consultant Summer Howarth, classroom opportunities have been developed to actively promote collaboration, connection to the real world and use of a range of digital tools for creation. In Years 8 and 9 our core and elective subjects enable students to create high quality work that reflects not just their knowledge of subjects but show their understanding of these within authentic real- world contexts.

Nurturing mindsets where the focus is on growth, not perfection is something that we work exceptionally hard at, so that our students value and enjoy a lifelong relationship with learning, not just the result that they might achieve.

At Year 9, students undertake an exciting ‘seasonal’ learning series including”

– A Dignity Conference as part of their Service Learning program

– Two days exploring the world of Artificial Intelligence (AI) through multiple lenses, and completing the AI For Good Challenge, a collaborative initiative of Microsoft open to students across Years 7-12.

– A city experience conducted under the theme of ‘You, Me & Us’. Art and design are the basis for the creation of collaborative installations that are then displayed at CGGS. Students also utilise a design thinking process, submit a proposal to Melbourne City Council on how to improve the liveability of Melbourne, informed by the different perspectives they explore.

– Our World of Work program. These two days have a specific focus on introducing students to the CGGS Careers Program. Students purposefully explore #myfuture and the mindset and actions that will enable their successful transition to the future of work. They have the opportunity to identify and foster a variety of transferrable skills and create resumes, establishing an e-portfolio and practice interview skills.

– Making Thinking Routine Project – (ISV and Harvard Graduate School of Education)

Under the leadership of Charlotte Forwood, a number of Senior School staff will join members of the Junior School to engage in this year’s ISV and Harvard Making Thinking Routine Project, in order to broaden the use of thinking routines across the curriculum.

Whilst I have outlined some of the projects for this year, there are many other department priorities that are also continually reviewed and developed. I will share further developments throughout the year.

We are so fortunate to have such a highly motivated and engaged staff at CGGS!

Warm regards,

Debbie Dunwoody