Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Term 3 Timetable

Welcome to Term 3! Here is our class timetable for this term.
There are quite a few changes this time around so please take note should you need to take your child out of school for a medical appointment or similar.

The key areas that I would like to bring your attention to would be:

- An increase in Visual Arts lessons as we have our school Art Show and Auction coming up.
- Public Speaking lessons so your child may participate confidently and successfully in the upcoming School and 'Sydney East K-6 Public Speaking Competition' for Botany Bay, Port Jackson & geographically close Network 8 schools.
- Room for the odd 'debating day' on Thursdays as the need arises (this also assists with our Public Speaking component).
- A Science Unit will be run within the COGS unit.

Thanks again for your support!


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Changing Education Paradigms

This animate was adapted from a talk given at the RSA by Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert and recipient of the RSA's Benjamin Franklin award.
For more information on Sir Ken's work visit:

Friday, June 24, 2011

Happy Child

Today I came across this website and you may find it helpful in your family life.

It is called and is an online tool to assist parents with various emotional challenges your child may face as they grow. It is a collection of articles, audio and blogposts so is a great starting point for a whole range of information about parenting (and teaching emotional literacy) - you can also sign up for regular e-newsletters.

It covers a whole A-Z of areas including anger, playground conflict, motivation, cultural difference, positive discipline techniques and empathy.

As a Teacher I will defnitely be taking the time to read through this website in more detail in the coming weeks!

Go Back To Where You Came From

I'm sure many of our class parents are aware of the SBS show 'Go Back To Where You Came From.'

'Go Back To Where You Came From' documents the provocative and compelling journey of six ordinary Australians tracing-in-reverse the steps of modern-day refugees to Australia.

Although challenging, I believe this show may be suitable for showing to some students (particularly in Year 6) with parent supervision. At times there is quite a lot of swearing, however, I believe the gravity and challenge of the issues and situations presented far outweighs the problems one might have with the language.

If you would like to visit the website to watch the three episodes in the series they are available here.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Expanding Horizons

Our school has been involved with the NSW DET's 'Expanding Horizons' project for just over two years.

Part of this has been our school's attempt to develop a relationship with a sister school located in China. So far, we have had a few communication exchanges but there is still far to go.

There will be an Expanding Horizons concert taking place at The Sydney Opera House on Monday the 15th of August. Students from our school will be taking part, you can find out more here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

When Girls Bully Girls

I would like this post to focus on bullying that occurs between girls. I have been doing some reading recently and I'd like to introduce you to the idea of 'relational aggression.' I think this would be known more commonly to us as 'passive aggression.'

The reason I bring this up is because relational aggression tends to be most intense and apparent among girls in fifth through to the eighth grade - according to the National Association of School Psychologists (USA).

Acts of relational aggression can include:
- rumour spreading
- secret-divulging
- alliance-building
- backstabbing
- ignoring
- excluding from social groups and activities
- verbally insulting, and using hostile body language (i.e., eye-rolling and smirking)

These acts are very common - I'm sure we have all experienced them at some stage, regardless of our gender or age. What is more interesting to me (right now) is why students engage in this type of aggression. Typically the reasons include:
- jealousy
- need for attention
- anger
- fear of (or need for) competition.

The consequences on the victim of course, can be devastating, and should not need to be listed.

One reason girls choose this type of bullying rather than more direct acts of harassment is that the bully typically avoids being caught or held accountable. Girls who appear the most innocent may indeed be the most hostile in their actions and as a Teacher, this continues to concern me and keep me on my toes. Many perpetrators indeed get away with their actions because of their positive reputations or academic success and I remain aware and vigilant in relation to this.

How can we help as teachers and parents? Well at this point I agree with the suggestion that friendships should be encouraged based upon mutual interest, rather than social status. In the classroom this is very easy - group tasks are set according to the area of study, and students are closely monitored and evaluated. We undertake Bounceback emotional resilience activities and participate in Circle Time.

However outside of the classroom, if your child is a potential victim, this means organising more structured activities for your child. Developing your child's skills so they are better than just 'good' at something is so important - being able to feel positive and assured of personal strength is vital as far as keeping an individuals confidence buoyant and feelings resilient in the face of uncertainty.

This self confidence and self assurance should transfer and become useful when a young person finds themselves in increasingly unstructured social activities and environments - and these are inevitable as your child approaches adolescence. The fact that a parent continues to 'hang around' their child can easily be translated as 'helicoptering' and can end up a source of further anxiety for any young person.

As your child approaches adolescence I believe it is important also to engage actively in 'letting go' - but ensuring your child has the right tools to move forward is also integral to social success. I believe this is the necessary focus in moving any potential relational aggressive situation to a more positive and less anxious place.

If you would like to read more about relational aggression I suggest you visit this website.

You can also read about the 'Ophelia Project' that discusses programs to reduce the incidence of relational aggression in young women's lives - I am currently continuing my reading with a focus on this area.

If you think your child may be a bully - this is the article for you! My advice to parents of potential bullies is to be brave and have the courage to listen openly to those around you - you are not being blamed, but the child's behaviour simply must be changed and we need to work on it together.

My 'old favourite' text as far as girls relationships are concerned is 'Queen Bees and Wannabes' By Rosalind Wiseman. You can read more about it and purchase a copy here. Wiseman aims to 'create a culture of dignity' and I couldn't agree more.

We all need to work together to make a young adolescent girl's life a more comfortable place to be - and certainly keep the conversation open so we can aim for improvement.

Finally, I would certainly recommend school or private counseling to any family who finds they are facing challenges with bullying or relational aggression. It will assist in the creation of a coordinated approach and monitor changes and challenges in such situations - often too large or a task for even the most organised and focused family.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Parent Bookshelf

I've had this book on my bookshelf for about a year now and consider it my 'go to text' for any student who is having a bit of a hard time with their confidence, or seems to be experiencing some emotional trouble of varying intensities.

I consider it a valuable text because it not only helps to identify potential emotional problems, it provides checklists to consult and also recommends the next steps should you need further support.

In the words of the publisher:
"In The Optimistic Child, Dr. Martin Seligman offers parents, teachers, and coaches a well-validated program to prevent depression in children. In a thirty-year study, Seligman and his colleagues discovered the link between pessimism -- dwelling on the most catastrophic cause of any setback -- and depression. Seligman shows adults how to teach children the skills of optimism that can help them combat depression, achieve more on the playing field and at school, and improve their physical health."

The author, Martin Seligman is considered the 'father' of the positive psychology movement which provides the foundation for many emotional well-being programs in schools. A welcome relief from the 'self-esteem' generation I grew up with in the 1980s!

Please just pop me an email if you'd like to borrow the book for a read in your own time or, you can purchase the text here.

SMH Education Resources

The SMH Education resources webpage is a welcome opportunity to extend your child should the need or opportunity arise. Great for some 'extra holiday work' or developing your childs interest in current affairs and media.

NSW outcomes are addressed, across stages. In short, this work is relevant to the classroom and is linked to the requirements of the NSW Department of Education! All tasks are designed by local teachers, mostly located in Sydney at both public and private schools.

I would particularly guide you to the activities on offer in the 'Healthy Minds Part 2' section, where a range of writing tasks are on offer, asking the student to respond to sports imagery.

There are also links to a 'Weekly Assignment,' 'Everyday Maths,' and an online, multiple choice 'News Quiz' based upon each week's Sun-Herald newspaper.

This webpage may just become a 'go to' site for those sick days at home, rainy days, or holiday tasks needed to break up the boredom (I can assure you teachers are never bored in the holidays!) Enjoy.

Hitting the nail on the head

Yesterday I found this article called 'Engagement must not stop at the gate' in the Sydney Morning Herald and it was a small confirmation of why I try to stay in touch with our class parents and try to keep them informed of what we are doing in class.

I think the quote below is particularly important:

"Whatever causes this disengagement in a child's education, it will continue right through the school years unless it is addressed. The heart of disengagement with a child is to be blind to certain behaviour and to turn that behaviour into a kind of meaningless white noise. And when the parent begins to get signals - information that would alert the engaged parent - the disengaged parent turns this into white noise, too.

Reinforcing this disengagement is the child. Because the disengaged parent is not involved in the usual parent-child checks and balances, there is an illusory sense of control; the feeling that ''I communicate with my child better than other parents''. In other words, the disengaged parent actually feels more engaged in his or her child's life."

Sometimes it's hard for a teacher to be honest with a class parent, particularly when they too are educated, articulate and opinionated. Parents are not always open and/or tactful in parent-teacher discussions and I think the key message of this article is to recognise the importance of keeping one's child engaged with education, to highlight and address problems as they arise - otherwise, as mentioned in the article, these issues will almost certainly remain well beyond the Primary years.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Left vs. Right Politics

We are approaching the end of our government unit of work and I have found this excellent diagram explaining the (typical) meaning of the 'left and right sides' of politics.

We began discussing these concepts today in class, I was surprised at how interested the students were! Perhaps you could begin your own discussions with your child about the different facets of politics, we only scratched the surface.

This diagram was located on the website 'information is beautiful.' The author has also published a book which is truly amazing, but is more aimed at adults.
Click to enlarge.