At the end of January, six DataWORKS consultants went “Down Under” again to train teachers and administrators across Australia. The training focused on Explicit Direct Instruction (EDI) and the roll out of the Foundation – Year 6 Australian English curriculum created by DataWORKS in 2015.
DataWORKS’ partnership with Good to Great Schools Australia had us first training on Thursday Island, a tiny island in the Torres Strait just north of the Cape York Peninsula in northeastern Australia.
There, Dr. Silvia Ybarra, John Hollingsworth and Joe Ybarra visited Our Lady of the Sacred Heart School and met with Principal Sharon County. DataWORKS spent three days training a dozen teachers in EDI Lesson Design and Delivery. The teachers at Sacred Heart were excited to start the 2016 school year with some engaging new strategies.
Later in the week, DataWORKS headed to Broome, Western Australia, to train more than 100 teachers from across Western Australia at the University of Notre Dame Australia’s Broome Campus.
Here for the second year, Hollingsworth and Ybarra, and a team of DataWORKS consultants, rolled out the Australian EDI English Curriculum and trained teachers and teaching assistants how to use all of the curriculum components.
In 2015, DataWORKS developed for teachers an interactive pacing calendar broken down into sections for reading, writing, vocabulary, spelling, and grammar. The pacing calendar is linked to all of the curriculum components, so each day teachers simply click on the pacing calendar and start teaching the content that pops up. In addition, the curriculum has a built-in flexibility that allows teachers to differentiate the lesson by using a reading passage with a higher or lower reading level to suit a student’s individual needs.
Three days of intense training gave teachers a chance to become comfortable with EDI strategies as they practiced delivering lesson components and working with the DataWORKS Engagement Norms. Even the daily rain showers failed to dampen the enthusiasm for the versatile curriculum as teachers shared stories of the positive changes they had already seen during the first year of implementation.
One of the teaching assistants commented that she was so impressed that, after using this curriculum for the first year, her Year 1 students had surpassed the level her own children were at in Year 3. Others commented that by the end of the last term, they were amazed to see Foundation (Kindergarten) students reading and writing on their own.
This year’s training also included breakout sessions for advanced teachers who found success with the curriculum last year, as well as for instructional assistants and aides who are vital to successful implementation of the program.
Teachers who had used the curriculum last year were excited to take it to the next level, and teachers new to the program looked forward with anticipation to getting started. By the conclusion of the training on Friday evening, everyone was exhausted but ready for the start of a great school year.
The development of an Australian English Curriculum and training program was part of a grant from the Australian Government that was awarded to Good to Great Schools Australia (GGSA) to help improve the literacy of children in remote primary schools across Australia.
GGSA reached out to DataWORKS in 2014, and Explicit Direct Instruction became the solution to improving literacy in some of these remote communities.
“The teacher delivering effective instruction to the student; we think that is what schooling is all about. The cornerstone of the relationship between the teacher and the student is effective instruction,” said Noel Pearson, founder of GGSA in an article for The Australian.
After one year of Explicit Direct Instruction and the DataWORKS-GGSA Australian English Curriculum being used in the classrooms, teachers have reported significant gains in reading fluency, reading comprehension, writing, and grammar. Below you can check out some of the student quizzes collected from Term 4 last year!