This week, I was delighted to host a guest at Lowther Hall, Mr Ollie Lovell an eminent Australian educationalist who visited the School to chat about teaching and learning and to plan some professional learning that our staff will undertake in the coming months. Ollie hosts a podcast called the Education Research Reading Room (or ERRR) which sees him interview an expert in education from around the globe each month, to talk about best practice teaching and emerging trends in research and practice. One of the topics we enjoyed discussing during our time together was how understanding the cognitive process from a neuro-scientific perspective can assist students to undertake the kinds of practices that will help learning to transfer from their limited working memory during class instruction into the long-term memory, from which they can hopefully retrieve the knowledge for many years. 

I had the opportunity to take Ollie to chat to a number of Year 7 students about their learning so far in Senior School and the work they have commenced in the Tangara program about the brain. These girls have started to explore the ways in which they can ensure they are paying attention to what needs to be learnt and considered how they might minimise distractions that they may encounter either within their own minds or in the broader environment. This work forms an important part of our curriculum that sees teacher provide explicit direct instruction to the girls about how they can best learn. Ollie also visited Blinkbonnie House and Raymond House where he saw intentionally designed learning experiences and talked to senior staff about instructional design. Some of you may be interested to listen to Ollie‘s podcast. He particularly recommends the episode he has recorded with Daniel Willingham, which resonates with the theme of learning to learn I highly commend Ollie's work to you: It forms part of my regular listening regime. I look forward to welcoming Ollie back to Lowther Hall in the coming weeks and months as our staff work with him to undertake the Certificate of Instructional Coaching. For those of you wanting to support your girls at home with their learning, you can assist them with the following steps: 

1. Knowing what to focus on (ask them to explain the task they are doing). 

2. Remove distractions (assist them to be in an uninterrupted environment. Remind older girls to turn off phones and notifications). 

3. Process (assist girls to break things down into small chunks and articulate what they will do first, second, etc.).

4. Connect (help girls to link new knowledge to prior knowledge - ask questions like "what is this similar to?" or "what can you connect this to in your mind") 

5. Retrieve (assist students to revisit their newly acquired knowledge by helping them test themselves, use flash cards, repeat or recite knowledge or vocabulary) 

It takes a community to raise a good learner and we have a wonderful collection of people to assist our learners to be their best! 

Ms Elisabeth Rhodes