Primary News

On Thursday 19 July our STEM Institute opened its doors to the youngest members of our College community and to those children joining us in Prep in 2019. With a range of hands-on experiments and opportunities to play with technology such as Bee bots and Spheros, the children had a thoroughly enjoyable time. It is important to immerse young children in the wonders of STEM at an early age to build their confidence and curiosity, which lays the foundations for later skill development and inquiry. And besides that, it’s a lot of fun!

The students in Upper Primary have many opportunities to engage with STEM related activities and were recently invited to participate in this year’s Innovation Challenge.  The Innovation Challenge Club will meet on Tuesdays during lunchtime, throughout Term Three and early in Term Four. During this time, groups of students will develop their innovative ideas that solve a problem that they have identified. They will prepare a presentation to showcase the purpose and effectiveness of their innovation and these presentations will be judged and shown to the community in Week Four of Term Four.

St John’s Innovation Challenge and STEM program is one of a kind. Our children are taught the skills they need to participate in entrepreneurship and innovation in a sequential manner from Kindergarten to the senior high school years. They are prepared to participate on the world stage in competitions and events such as the Conrad Challenge, with finalists travelling to NASA in the USA.  And their eyes are opened to global issues that need creative problem solving. Our students are taught the values and attitudes they need to become leaders of the future and to have a positive impact on the world.  St John’s students are very fortunate to be involved in such a holistic and effective program and for our teachers, they are so excited to see the amazing ideas the students generate and the passion they develop for doing good.

Our teachers are always seeking to keep abreast of new educational initiatives and to ensure that their teaching is in line with world’s best practice. And so during the holiday period a number of teachers participated in professional development workshops with the International Baccalaureate and others conducted study abroad. One of the areas we are currently investigating is oracy.

Just a few decades ago, before children were born into the current globalised world of screens and online communication, young people learnt to talk effectively at home through plenty of opportunities for having discussions with family members and practising their speaking skills. Today, there is clear evidence that many children are not experiencing the same level of oral communication in their pre-school years. This has resulted in children entering school with weak oral language skills, which has an impact on their comprehension and their ability to communicate verbally and in written form. The impact of poor oral language skills can be felt throughout primary and secondary school and beyond.

Educators in the UK have developed an explicit Oracy program to support the development of oral language skills, which does not only include a focus on the ability to speak clearly, but also focuses on the ability to comprehend, to listen carefully, build vocabulary and take turns in conversation. We often assume that children can understand meaning and how to speak well because they can talk, but how well they communicate, learn to read and write is based on the strength of their oral language skills – not just their speaking ability. ‘Children’s speaking and listening lead the way for their reading and writing skills, and together these language skills are the primary tools of the mind for all future learning.’ (Roskos, Tabors & Lenhart, 2009)

We look forward to sharing more information about this program in the future, as it enhances our current curriculum and has a positive impact on our students’ language development and English skills.

Last Friday, our students participated in a NAIDOC Chapel Service. NAIDOC Week is celebrated in July each year to acknowledge the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The students listened to a Dreamtime story teaching us to be peacemakers and they heard version of the Lord’s Prayer written by Rev Tim, an Aboriginal person from Tasmania:

Great Spirit, Creator of all,
From the stars to all the earth,
Loved and respected be your name,
May it be that all should live your way,
Following your plan.
Help us to find what we need for today’s journey.
Forgive us when we go wrong
As we forgive others.
Have compassion on us when we are being tested,
Do not abandon us to fear and evil.
Our hope is in your new community.
You are the one who can transform all creation,
making everything new,
now and forever. AMEN

Best wishes for an excellent term,

Sandra Hawken
Head of Primary

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