From the Principal

This week we have a special guest introduction from Jason McManus, Vice Principal. 

Why Tintern Grammar is connecting with Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Project Zero

In 2019, Tintern Grammar is piloting a new and exciting initiative in the progression of our unique learning and teaching model, joining the Making Thinking Routine program designed by Harvard University’s Project Zero with the support of Independent Schools Victoria (ISV).  

This action research-based project involves a team of our teachers from across different parts of the school, attending a series of three whole-day workshops at ISV, with cycles of implementation in our classes in between each, supported by on-site observation and coaching by ISV trainers.

This is all part of our Learning and Innovation Strategic Project, which focusses on how we build the underlying capabilities and dispositions that will see our graduates best prepared to achieve their potential and stride with confidence into their future world, whilst simultaneously excelling in their academic assessments.

I am leading the team which includes Adam Kenny, our Head of Boy’s Junior School and Boys’ Education; Kelli Green, our Year 5 Girls’ teachers and Junior School Curriculum Co-ordinator; Emily Mars, our Junior Schools’ Library teacher; and Heather Ruckert, our Career’s Co-ordinator and Year 10 Co-ordinator.

Emily and Heather are also Coaches in our Professional Growth Partnerships (PGP), an internal action research program for all teaching staff that has run for the past three years and has featured groups exploring thinking routines as part of its Project Zero Cultures of Thinking project.

So, what is Project Zero and what is involved in Making Thinking Routine.

Project Zero was founded in 1967 by philosopher Nelson Goodman to focus on learning through the arts but soon grew to look at understanding, thinking, creativity, cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural thinking and ethics to prepare learners for the world they will live, work and develop in. Over time a wide range of projects have sprung from this, including the Visible Thinking and Cultures of Thinking projects.

Visible Thinking aims to integrate the development of students’ higher-order thinking with content learning from across subject disciplines. It emphasized practices such as: thinking routines, documentation of student thinking and reflective professional practice.

Cultures of Thinking, drawing on research by Harvard’s Ron Ritchhart and pioneered here in Melbourne at Bialik College, took this further, looking at how teachers can create cultures within their classroom (or in a school) that make student thinking, learning and understanding more visible and explicit, to build individual and collective learning. Teachers learn how to use cultural forces which are present in every classroom to create this culture: language, time, environment, opportunities, routines, modelling, interactions, and expectations, and also use thinking routines which students use in class to make their thinking more visible.

These projects complement the work of John Hattie out of the Melbourne Graduate School of Education into making learning more visible and the International Baccalaureate (IB) pedagogical framework, Approaches to Learning, which emphasises student ‘learning how to learn’ and developing learning dispositions and attitudes which they will keep and use throughout their lives, even after the content they learn at school may be forgotten.

Mastering the subject content and skills is an essential part of learning and teaching at Tintern Grammar, in line with the Australian Curriculum, the VCE and the IB. This is something we pride ourselves on doing well. However, to best prepare our students for the 21st Century we must do more than this, developing just as effectively a broader set of capabilities and dispositions in our students.

Our Tintern Grammar Compass positions us as a values-based learning community which privileges attributes such as Independence and Confidence, and our IB Learner Profile aims for our students to be Thinkers, Open Minded, Communicators, Balanced and Reflective.

These attributes are ones that Cultures of Thinking and Thinking Routines will assist in developing in our students at the same time as we help them master the curriculum, and we are very excited to be partnering with ISV and Harvard University’s Project Zero in this significant pilot program this year.



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