Courtenay Gardens P.S. Non fiction Writing in Victoria!

Recently, a professional learning team from Elsternwick Primary,  visited a school, Courtenay Garden’s P.S. in Victoria that focused on non fiction writing implementing the research of Douglas Reeves.

Courtenay Gardens P.S. ,a school located in the growth corridior of the outer south eastern suburbs of Melbourne, has 850 students. The school has students from a cross section of the community and has some additional funding based on factors of disadvantage.  

The schools has spent the last 3 years implementing, a student writing program that has a large non fiction  genre focus. The program now has students perfoming well beyond students in similar communities.

Why?

In point form for me:

  • There is a single focus of professional learning [noting that success in this work will spill over to other domains in learning – student writing].
  • All adults in the school are allocated individuals [even the office staff] and small groups of under performing students to work on every day to improve their understandings [10.30 – 10.50 am – I think].
  • There is a strict culture of students in classroom not wandering corridors [toilet breaks, student monitoring roles]
  • The schools timetable negotiated through staff consultative processes specify expectations for the year [i.e. when to put certain displays up, when to have assessment data uploaded, when to finish reports] and by the look of the school the expectations are monitored. .
  • There is a leadership team who have researched the learning improvements and insist on standards.

There were other things I noted i.e award winning internal TV studio but the thing I noticed most of all was the absolute generosity of spirit – i.e. all material were distributed free. Thanks for the inspiration!

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1 Response to Courtenay Gardens P.S. Non fiction Writing in Victoria!

  1. Sarah Salter says:

    Lots to reflect on there Mark. I have also bee thinking a lot about the structure of the writing program and what aligns with what in a curriculum sense. For example, I have seen many schools which let their inquiry drive their writing ie alignment of text types with whatever they are studying in inquiry. What I noticed from visiting Courtney Gardens was that it was the other way round. The writing drove the inquiry and other things as well!
    So if a school has an improvement focus for example – writing, then it gets pride of place in everything that is done. It drives everything else. I need to get my head around how the rest is achieved within such a singular agenda. I like it however because in the scheme of things, it certainly reflects Douglas Reeves work.
    His point of view about the balance between non-fiction and fiction writing is worth investigating further. I want to add to the balance argument from a conversation in a PLT yesterday when we were discussing the teaching balance between the structural and the deeper issues of writing ie authors voice in different genres etc. What balance is there then. The discussion ranged from a 70-30 balance to a 95 – 5 balance. If a teacher spends 30% of their teaching time on spelling and punctuation versus 70% on teaching the text type and all associated with the craft of writing in that genre. Fascinating discussion ensued – I’d like to see any research on that.
    Other schools are well wort the visit as they challenge our thinking so effectively.

Interested in your thoughts