Creating optimal learning environments - film

Covered in this illustration of practice:

The policy states that high expectations and effective, explicit, evidence-based teaching create optimal learning environments (policy statement 1.1.1), and high potential and gifted students from all backgrounds have access to quality learning opportunities that meet their needs and aspirations (policy statement 1.3). This illustration of practice was filmed at Lansvale Public School’s preschool and epitomises these statement points.

Lansvale has a large number of students from an EAL/D background, who have access to quality learning opportunities that are meeting their needs. This is being achieved through the teacher’s high expectations, her commitment to knowing her students well, effective use of differentiation, and compelling use of provocative questioning.

Creating optimal learning environments - film

Transcript of Lansvale Public School - Preschool (5 minutes 18 seconds)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are advised that this video may contain the images, voices and names of people who have passed away.

Creating an optimal learning environment in a pre-school. HIGH POTENTIAL and GIFTED EDUCATION.


Lien Chai Pre-school Teacher - Lansvale Public School NSW

Lien Chai: So, we are part of Lansvale Public School. We are a pre-school that's situated in South West Sydney.

Our families are predominantly from a South East Asian background, with Vietnamese being the main language spoken, followed by Chinese, Khmer, Arabic and English.

The Early Years Learning Framework underpins everything that we do. But our program, here has a really strong focus on curiosity, creativity, STEM experiences and really celebrating the whole child.

When you come to our pre-school, you'll notice that these are different learning areas. So, we have construction, dramatic play. We have, you know, numeracy and literacy experiences, all these experiences and the materials are quite open-ended so that, you know, caters to the varying needs of our students.

Our learning experiences have learning intentions are quite visible. And it also has strategies for us to scaffold the children’s learning. So, for us to differentiate, we might sort of change the learning intention or change the scaffold by changing the way that we might ask questions or we might change the way that we demonstrate how to use certain materials based on our knowledge of the children that we are working with.

Last year we had a child who was already reading and writing at pre-school and we were able to identify this child through our parent teacher interview in the beginning of the year.

Well, we worked really closely with his parents. He was very, very shy, reserved child, and their goal was for him to be more confident in speaking in front of his peers. So that's what we did for the whole year, just giving him opportunities to perform at assemblies and concerts and doing little presentations in front of his classmates and just using spontaneous opportunities for him to lead experiences.

He was quite interested in Pyramids. So, one day I posed the question. I said, is it possible to make a pyramid out of Lego? And his mum told me that night he went home and he actually Googled lots of images of Lego pyramids. And he came back to me and he said, oh, the Lego pyramid is just lots of squares but the squares keep getting smaller as you get to the top. So, what we did was the next day we had lots of pictures of pyramids and we had Lego bases and we had Lego pieces. And of course, when he came, that was the first activity he went to and he built this amazing pyramid successfully. But then to further challenge him, I said, well, is it possible to actually hide treasure in there like the Pharaohs did back then? And he said no, initially said no, because the pyramid, there's no holes in there.

So, then I took one block out and I said, oh, actually, we can make it a bit hollow. And that's when he went back and he actually realised that he could actually take pieces out. And I gave him some glass beads as treasure and he put them in and he had all these little beads into the Lego and he was just so proud of himself. And I asked him one more question in in the end and I said, well, you've hidden the treasure, but how are you going to remember where the treasures hidden? And that's when he ran. He got a piece of paper and he drew the level of the pyramid and he put a little X marks the spot where he’d hidden the treasure.

In early childhood settings where there is intentional play-based learning that caters to the child's individual needs. Your child is going to succeed whether they are high potential children or not, because it puts them in the driver's seat. They're driving the learning themselves and us as educators. Our role is just to scaffold that learning as best we can.

[title on screen] Find the talent Develop the potential Make the difference

[title on screen] NSW Government logo

[title on screen] © 2020 NSW Department of Education

Find the potential

Develop the talent

Make the difference

Copyright 2020 NSW Department of Education

We acknowledge the contribution of the following groups in developing the policy:

NSW Primary Principals Association

NSW Secondary Principals' Council

The NSW Teachers Federation

The NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group

The Federation of Parents & Citizens

Associations of NSW

The Isolated Children's Parents Association

Gifted Learners with Disability Australia

Gifted Families Support Group

Academics and consultants from across

NSW, Australia and internationally

Departmental staff



School leaders and teachers

End of transcript

Questions for professional learning

For school leaders:

  • What principles of the Early Learning Framework align with the High Potential and Gifted Education Policy?
  • How does the early learning setting at Lansvale Preschool better recognise and serve the needs of high potential children through creating an optimal learning environment?
  • What programs and practices do you run in your early learning setting to promote engagement, challenge and wellbeing for all students? How do these programs and practices cater specifically for your high potential and gifted students across all domains?
  • High potential and gifted children often form friendships with older children and adults. What opportunities exist in your school to actively encourage these relationships?

For teachers:

  • Lien proactively addressed parent’s expectations for their children. What processes do you have in place to facilitate open communication with parents of high potential and gifted students? How do you use this information to inform curriculum programming, differentiation, and a quality learning environment?
  • Which learning characteristics in the early years might identify the needs of high potential and gifted students? Do you consider the rate and relative ease of learning across domains? What about differences in thinking, literacy and numeracy, readiness, interests, humour, and play?
  • Describe the counterproductive learning characteristics that may be present in high potential and gifted children in their early years? What adjustments do you make to the learning environment for these students?
  • How do you encourage the strength or passion areas of interest for young high potential and gifted students across the domains?
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