Planning learning experiences for every student
Explore curriculum planning strategies to optimise learning for every student in every classroom.
In NSW classrooms there is a diverse range of students. Effective teachers use a toolbox of evidence-based strategies to plan learning experiences for the full range of students. Three schools share curriculum planning insights from their experiences in 2022 as early adopter schools implementing the K-2 components of the English K-10 Syllabus and Mathematics K-10 Syllabus.
Cambridge Gardens Public School is situated on Darug Country in the Penrith valley at the foot of the Blue Mountains. The school opened in 1978 and has approximately 400 students in 16 classes from Early Stage 1 to Stage 3. The school community is diverse and includes Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students, students learning English as an additional language or dialect, high potential and gifted students and students with disability. Students, staff, and parents work in purposeful partnerships to provide quality learning and teaching for all.
Carenne School is a large School for Specific Purposes (SSP) with 114 students. The school is located on Wiradjuri Country in Bathurst in the Central Tablelands region of NSW. There are 14 support classes on site and 3 support classes at the Macquarie Tutorial Centre (MTC), located off site.
The school caters for students from preschool to Year 12 with moderate to severe intellectual disabilities, autism and additional complex learning needs. The school community is diverse and includes Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students, students learning English as an additional language or dialect as well as high potential and gifted students. Carenne School has a strong sense of community with parents and carers playing a vital role in the shaping of their children's education, with a focus on individual student needs.
Wairoa School is a School for Specific Purposes (SSP) in North Bondi, located on Bidjigal Country. Wairoa School is committed to providing high quality educational opportunities for every student to acquire values, skills and positive attitudes to achieve their full potential and be successful participants in their community. Students at the school have moderate to severe intellectual disability with many students having other needs, including autism, physical disabilities, sensory needs, complex behaviours, and health and medical needs. The school community is culturally and linguistically diverse, with students coming from a language background other than English or identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. Curriculum is delivered through technology-rich learning programs which are accessible and engaging for our students.
Curriculum planning for every student – Engage phase
Watch Curriculum planning for every student – Engage phase (1:58).
I'd like to acknowledge Darug people, the traditional custodians of this land. Come and sit down. A good friend is happy to see you. Tread softly on this grass with respect for those past and present and all who have come to learn with us. Thank you for walking with us and strengthening our Dreaming.
Really start with that, celebrating diversity in our classroom. I think, understanding that we have such a vast array of learners in our classroom is really important when we go into anything, so celebrating the diversity, understanding that one size doesn't fit all. So, we could have, you know, an Aboriginal learner who has a disability or a high-potential student that is also EAL/D.
As a whole school, we have discussed in our collaboration meetings what it looks like for each student, what it looks like at Carenne, and then, that's lead really nicely into the micro-learning which we have completed as a team, so not individually.
We have discussed, we have pulled apart, we've made it really relevant to our students in our classes. It's been huge that the teachers have sat together. We've completed the learning, we've had the discussion, the really robust collegial discussion throughout the micro-learning, so that we can make it relevant for the students who are in front of us.
This year has been my first year teaching. So as a beginning teacher, I had to learn how to cater for students and their needs. I had to undertake a range of professional learning in order to know my students.
Our teachers understand the need for understanding student need, and then to making sure that that is reflected in their teaching practice, to ensure that all students have success in their learning.
Teachers in the video suggest strategies that helped them in the Engage phase of curriculum implementation. These strategies were used as they prepared to implement a new curriculum to optimise learning for all students.
- Identify and celebrate diversity amongst the students.
- Create opportunities for collaborative planning and programming to make learning relevant for all the students in their setting.
- Identify and access professional learning opportunities.
1. Which strategies in this video could you use as part of the Engage phase of curriculum implementation?
2. Choose one strategy. What could be some next steps to integrate this strategy into your curriculum planning?
Curriculum planning for every student – Enact phase
Watch Curriculum planning for every student – Enact phase (4:42).
When implementing the new syllabus at Cambridge Gardens Public School, we've really had to think about what inclusive planning practices we use as a staff to support the full range of learners within our learning environment, and that includes our EAL/D learners, our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, our high potential and gifted learners, and our learners with a disability. In order to meet the diverse needs of our students, we use the Universal Design for Learning framework to support our curriculum planning. This is a proactive, flexible, evidence-based approach, that enables more of our students to engage in and access their learning in a more meaningful way.
Another thing that's been really successful, when we're planning to the edges for all of our learners, is making sure that we really look at students from a strength model, not a deficit model. And that's about, again, really knowing our students and making sure we celebrate how they can learn and all of the things they bring to the classroom.
Well, I'm the best and that's for sure.
Planning here at Carenne is very much a team approach. We have spent a lot of time working together, pulling apart the new curriculum. We have had a lot of collaboration with experienced teachers, beginning teachers, and looking at how we can best implement the best teaching and learning programs for our students.
So another way that we plan for the whole range of students is we have a look at the units of work that have been released by the Department of Education for English and mathematics, and we really contextualise these so that they suit our students in our school setting.
How I adapt the units for my students in my class is that I go back, and I really have a look at the curriculum. I have a look at the learning intentions, the success criteria, also look at how that can work in the student's IEP goals. And then, the content access points have really been a game changer with the new curriculum and have made planning and programming for me so much easier. I have to be considerate of all the students' needs and how they can be best met for optimal learning for all children, so with that in mind, I need to consider things like, how can I use augmentative communication systems for those children who can't physically talk and speak, yet I'm giving them a voice. How do I also provide lessons or activities for those children who can't hold a pen and give me a written response? So I incorporate communication devices for some of the students. They're using, visuals, our core communication system here at Carenne, to be able to engage, participate, and to give an answer to the activities, to give a voice to their learning.
We will use the framework when we are planning for these experiences by asking those internal questions, questions such as, how will the content that I provide be challenging for all students? How can I plan for multiple options in my lesson to ensure that students are engaged and motivated? How will I provide flexible ways for students to demonstrate and express their understanding?
We include multiple options by giving students opportunities to contribute to class discussions, so a lot of the students have the opportunity to communicate or to share their thoughts and opinions by using gestures or signing as well as our core communication visuals. Lessons are adapted using these visuals and incorporating sign, so that students are provided with the equal opportunities to engage in their learning.
What you need to do, again, is all your students, what are all your students doing? You take your outcome, Iand look at the access points. Here at Wairoa, we then look at the content, and then we use a scaffold of all, most, and some. It seems like an awful lot of work to prepare all these resources, to write your unit of work, but a lot of these techniques we use throughout the day, so you build up your skill level. And the benefits are that all your students will be engaged.
[End of transcript]
Teachers in the video suggest strategies that helped them in the Enact phase of curriculum implementation. These strategies were used to plan teaching and learning experiences for the full range of students.
- Use the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework.
- Recognise the strengths students bring to their learning and build on those strengths.
- Contextualise resources developed by the department.
- Access relevant resources and providing challenging content to optimise learning for all students.
1. Which strategies in this video could support you and your school when enacting the new curriculum?
2. Choose one of these strategies. What could be some next steps to integrate this strategy at your school?
Curriculum planning for every student – lessons learnt
Watch Curriculum planning for every student – lessons learnt (2:05)
One of the greatest things I have learned as a teacher using the new curriculum is that I have learned to challenge myself. So some of the things that, strategies, teaching strategies I may have used in the past, I'm now testing myself, challenging myself to try something new, other options, to engage students.
The lovely thing is that all the students now, they completely engage, they look forward to our daily activities. And it's nice to see the other children, the peer interaction, that has improved in the class this year.
When I first began using these teaching strategies, I realised that what was working well for one small specific cohort of students was actually beneficial for all.
So we always go back to the syllabus as we know, that the syllabus outcomes and content are inclusive of the learning needs of all students.
We really need to have that good understanding of the syllabus, of the outcomes and content and what's expected to be taught. Then moving into now your students, and planning for that. Providing the resources and the necessary adjustments to meet the needs of all our students so that they can reach their potential and excel at school.
So I guess it comes back to that metacognitive work. Obviously, the universal design for learning is an absolute fantastic framework but it's really up to the craft of the teacher to be able to identify the right choice for their learners now. It's about knowing your students and how they learn. It's about having that rigorous internal professional dialogue to be able to identify the right strategies for the learners in your classroom.
[End of transcript]
Teachers in the video shared some of the things they learnt when implementing a new curriculum.
- Challenge yourself to try new options to engage students.
- Understand that what works well for one can often work to improve learning for all.
- Ground curriculum planning practices in the syllabus.
- Know your students and how they learn.
1. Which of the teachers’ learning resonated most for you?
2. What does this mean for you and your curriculum planning practice?
Enrol in Curriculum planning for every student in every classroom (AC00180) in MyPL for more information on strategies to optimise learning for every student.