Dawson Park Primary School holiday workshops put focus on high-impact instruction

At the back, left to right: Jared Bussell (teacher at Dawson Park PS – expert in Explicit Instruction),
Annie Fogarty (Executive Chair, Fogarty Foundation) Dr Lorraine Hammond (program lead, Edith Cowan University) with year 3 and 4 students from Dawson Park PS. Pic: Sue Ellery at Fogart Foundation.
At the back, left to right: Jared Bussell (teacher at Dawson Park PS – expert in Explicit Instruction), Annie Fogarty (Executive Chair, Fogarty Foundation) Dr Lorraine Hammond (program lead, Edith Cowan University) with year 3 and 4 students from Dawson Park PS. Pic: Sue Ellery at Fogart Foundation.

IT MIGHT be summer holidays but that didn’t stop a group of dedicated teachers and students from Dawson Park Primary School heading back to the classroom to learn a new approach to teaching known as explicit direct instruction.

The unique, hands-on week of professional development was funded by the Fogarty Foundation, supported by the Smith Family and led by Dr Lorraine Hammond, an expert on high impact instruction, from Edith Cowan University.

Dr Hammond said the approach to teaching was increasingly being adopted by WA primary and secondary schools.

She said the Forrestfield primary school was selected as the host school because it is a high-performing school whose teachers include explicit instruction.

Dr Hammond said the school has achieved outstanding results in recent national testing.

“The aim of explicit instruction is to reduce cognitive load and transfer learning from short to long term memory,” she said.

“Teachers break what they are teaching into concepts and skills and teach these systematically, proceeding in small steps and regularly checking for understanding using questioning techniques and mini-whiteboards.

“There is significant evidence to suggest this is an efficient instructional model and has proved particularly effective in low SES communities, but there is little opportunity for teachers to develop this practice.”

According to Dr Hammond the research on effective professional learning was clear.

“One-off day-long courses don’t change teachers’ practice. This intensive includes plenty of opportunities to enhance instructional skills, engage with in situ coaching in a classroom setting and work with other dedicated educators who have given up a week of their school holidays to become better teachers.”

During the week Education Minister Sue Ellery Forrestfield MLA Stephen Price visited the school to see the sessions in action and talk with the students and teachers.