Orange Public School's Paradigm Shift


Centring Aboriginal Values and Processes for Cultural Inclusion:

Orange Public began working with 8ways as part of their participation in the Make It Count project, a longitudinal study on maths for Indigenous learners. Initially they used 8ways as a model to help conceptualise an Indigenous learning cycle specific to their school, following Aboriginal community direction in developing the cycle, then utilising a local Aboriginal designer to create a graphic representation that all could own and be proud of.

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This consultative work utilised much of the original framework, changing the names of the pedagogies to make them more locally relevant, and adding an additional item relating to evaluation. This has been an extremely valuable addition to the body of shared knowledge that is 8ways, as we previously have had little focus on assessment as pedagogy.

Embedded Assessment:

School-based research indicated a need for continuous assessment, including pre- and post-testing, with hands-on assessment items built-in throughout. It was also decided that students should self-assess on a graphic chart of key indicators. The team is committed to embedding authentic assessment tasks in integrated units of work.

Community Connectedness:

This has proved to be the key factor for success in Indigenous student engagement, and is the most clearly demonstrable outcome of the program to date. There are 15-20 Aboriginal community members regularly attending meetings, as opposed to negligible community involvement prior to the project. Additionally, pride in Aboriginal identity has measurably increased, with more students being willing and proud to self-identify and assert their Indigeneity. There has been a 15% increase in the number of students officially identifying as Aboriginal, since the beginning of the project. This indicates a significant shift in school values and attitudes towards Aboriginal culture and community.

This all began with the establishment of a community advisory group for Indigenous pedagogy, with a particular maths focus. The advisory group continues to have direct input into unit planning and curriculum design. They also put out a quarterly newsletter. In addition, they have established an ongoing project whereby community members are leading the planning and construction of an Indigenous space in the school, including an ethno-garden and a roundhouse. The garden symbolically represents the Indigenous learning cycle used in teaching and learning across the school, incorporating sacred sites, songlines, dreaming stories and local histories.

Explicit Pedagogy and Scaffolding:

The project findings to date have highlighted the importance of explicitly modelling assessment items and tasks, including the provision of key ideas, indicators and criteria for students at the beginning of learning sequences. All maths units are now designed according to the school-community's Indigenous learning cycle, in which there are two steps that specifically address the elements of scaffolding and explicit pedagogy.