Modern Teachers

Reporter: Lynda Kinkade

What's the result when you add two very passionate teachers, subtract 50 textbooks, add 50 students and minus the traditional teaching techniques?

Well it equals success.






= A+

Yvonne Reily had never taught maths in her life... when she was handed a textbook and sent to class.

"i wanted them to get a mark that was compatible with state.. and they smashed that. When you go in pick a card off the table and sit down." Said Yvonne

In a calculated move... the Scottish born scientist... left the maths book behind..... and teamed up with fellow teacher Jodie Parsons creating a new way of teaching...

"Find a student or students that match your card..." Said Jodie Parson

"I was probably teaching grade 4 mathematicians.. the grade 7 textbook was way beyond them. We started investigating things in 2008 and by 2009 we kind of had a program that Jody and i were happy with and then 2010 we were rolling it out across the 3 campuses." Said Yvonne

Imagine a high-school class without homework... the freedom for students to work at your own pace... this is it... an education evolution...

"we have voluntary homework... homework can be helpful to some students its not great for everybody... there's no published material that says its great for everybody.." Said Yvonne

These Sunshine College teachers leave it to students to choose from three levels of difficulty... although they all learn the same concept.

"We like to think everyone in our classroom is working at maximum capacity..." Said Jodie Parson

"The brightest guy in the class could be the most disruptive class.. so you need to give something that's meaty..." Said Yvonne Reily

The new teaching method initially divided many parents and teachers...

"some have been teaching for many years and quite like going into their classroom and running their classroom in a traditional manner.." Said Jodie

Principal Tim Blunt embraced the novel idea....

"Our approach is designed to accelerate all students through the school." Said Tim Blunt

The activity based teaching is now used in math classes for years 7, 8, and 9 at all three campuses.

The West Melbourne suburb of Sunshine is considered disadvantaged in some respects... for almost half the population.. English is a second language.. the same can be said for this school.. but with teachers investing time to improve their techniques ... the sun is certainly shining here...

While their overall results are on par with the state average... their improvement is huge.

and the transition from this way of learning.. into the senior years doesn't appear to hold anyone back.

"The anecdotal evidence is the kids are more equipped to talk about their maths, articulate their maths." Said Yvonne

16 year old Harris Vasilaras ... results have improved so much during the past 4 years.. she's now focussing on science and maths for senior years and plans to become a vet.

"It might work for them for them - but when you look at the research the general agreement is you need more structure - more discipline." Said Dr Kevin Donnelly

Former principal Dr Kevin Donnelly is Director of the Education Standards Institute and says "only a week ago there was a report from the OECD looking at how Australia ranks in terms of the world - our classrooms are only average in terms of noise disruption, time on task - those countries that do better than we do - Singapore, Hong Kong, Finland - they have a more traditional approach to the classroom."

Despite those concerns teachers from across Victoria.. South Australia, and Queensland... have visited the school looking at introducing a similar program.

Schools in countries as far away as Scotland & America are also learning a new way forward from this humble school from down under...

"Once you start you cant go back.. its just makes sense." Said Yvonne

Telephone: (03) 8311 5200

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