Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Parent Bookshelf

In the last School Holidays I was finally overcome with curiousity, so I bought and read 'Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother' by Amy Chua.

If you would like to borrow it and read it for yourself just let me know and I am happy to lend it to you, I can send it home with your child.

I wont tell you what I really think of it, but I certainly think it's worth a read!

As quoted on Amazon.com:
Chua imparts the secret behind the stereotypical Asian child's phenomenal success: the Chinese mother. Chua promotes what has traditionally worked very well in raising children: strict, Old World, uncompromising values--and the parents don't have to be Chinese. What they are, however, are different from what she sees as indulgent and permissive Western parents: stressing academic performance above all, never accepting a mediocre grade, insisting on drilling and practice, and instilling respect for authority. Chua and her Jewish husband (both are professors at Yale Law) raised two girls, and her account of their formative years achieving amazing success in school and music performance proves both a model and a cautionary tale.

Government Homework Project

Our Government Homework Project is due this Friday 3rd of June.

The homework posters have started rolling in, so I thought I'd place a few of them here for parents to see!

'A Day in Barack Obama's World - American Government in a Nutshell'

Thursday, May 26, 2011

National Sorry Day

Today we had a class visit where we discussed the Stolen Generation and the importance of 'Sorry Day' to Australians.

You can visit the National Sorry Day website here.

The original 'I have a dream' speech.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Learning Difficulties?

I will have been Teaching for 9 years this October, and I am yet to meet two children with the same needs.

In this time I have taught in privileged schools and also those with great need. I have taught at High School, Primary School, University and adults at ESL College.

Throughout this time I have realised that it may seem difficult for parents to approach the class Teacher should they have questions relating to their child and any perceived difficulty with learning. I think because it's hard to describe the problem and use current language, the research is constantly updating and different countries use different terminology - this can become very confusing, especially with the internet.

I am currently reading a fantastic book called 'The Brain That Changes Itself' by Norman Doidge and it mentions a wonderful school located in Toronto, Canada called 'The Arrowsmith School.'

They have created an excellent 'Description of 19 Learning Dysfunctions' which may assist you should the question of learning difficulty arise.

Of course if you believe your child has a learning difficulty it's best discussed with your family's GP as well as the class Teacher. Most Public Primary Schools in NSW have a 'Learning Support Team' and you can always ask your school for contact details or information on their policy and procedure.

Key to any response to learning difficulties is coordinated communication, and I encourage parents to persevere with their enquiries; sharing any information they gain with their child's school.

Compass Activities

This week in Maths we have been focusing on Pie Charts.

Many students have enjoyed learning to use a compass, and every single student in my class would benefit from some more practice!

For many students, the first thing to do is to buy a quality geometry set! *wink*

Here are some fun printable activities from Art4Maths suitable for a rainy day or may fill time on a spare weekend.

Compass Activity 1

Compass Activity 2

Compass Activity 3

Here is a fun and basic 'designs with circles' website.

Perhaps your child would like to construct an old fashioned looking compass? A compass rose is the elaborate round design on a map that indicates directions. The directions are a little more complicated, they are located here.

If your child shows a more comprehensive interest, this fantastic printable pdf booklet from the Met Museum in New York is both beautiful to read, and the activities at the end are more challenging.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sydney Story Factory

This morning I read an article in the SMH about a new initiative called the Sydney Story Factory.

The aim of The Story Factory is exciting - to launch a creative writing centre which inspires kids to tell their stories. It will officially launch at The Sydney Writers' Festival this weekend and a centre is planned to open in Redfern later this year.

You can visit their blog here, and read more about it in the SMH.

This week is Sydney Writers' Festival and there are so many activities to participate in. My husband Mark and I will be in the audience of the 'Q&A Sydney Writers Festival Special' on Monday evening. I believe we will be sitting behind the panel, so if you are a viewer of ABC's 'Q&A' be sure to look out for us - Mark is the tall one (probably with his hand up to ask a question!)

If your child has a keen interest in creative writing (and I know there are a few in the class!) it would be worthwhile to keep your eye on this project.

If you have skills and interest in writing yourself the centre is also looking for volunteers.

A happy weekend to you!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Working Together

With lots of recent testing taking place in our classroom (NAPLAN, Maths Olympiad, Class Assessment across numerous subjects for half yearly reports, Selective Schools for Year 6) and yet more to come (ICAS) I have focusing lately upon group work and collaborative learning. This is so my class may experience a range of different learning experiences and feel more comfortable and familiar with the class as a whole.

In my classroom these group activities have mainly taken on the form of class debating, short class drama tasks, bounceback lessons and our assembly performance.

I'm so happy to report that Term 2 is the time of year where my class members really begin to grow more familiar and confident with each other.
When we sit in a circle with so many beaming, open faces ready to share I really feel like the extra effort in structuring and delivering a groupwork lesson has paid off. In a group learning task I find students are largely more motivated, ready to learn and willing to share with one another, the Teacher, and the school community.

Collaborative learning activities have been very successful for most students in our class - however, as with every task, there are always a handful of students who face frustration and difficulty when they are asked to work in a group.
This article on 'Teaching Kids to Get Along With Each Other' may assist you if your child faces these difficulties. I admit I am not a parent, but this article may offer some extra support or refresh your ideas.

Please find an article written by The University of Illinois at Chicago here that would be very helpful reading for any parent wondering about the benefits of collaborative learning.

Not all parents are convinced of the benefits of group learning - however I would like to advocate that is an essential part of the 'mix' of your child's learning at school and beyond. Besides, how many of us work in jobs where we are not required to collaborate or share at some stage?

Packing for Camp

Last weekend I had a gracious email from one of our students asking about what to pack for our Canberra camp. After some thinking, I realised what your child packs for camp also has an impact on all Teachers in an indirect way (lost property, doing up and lifting over-heavy bags, giving away our own items so a student can stay warm, clean, dry or even safe.) So I decided to have a go!

Please find following a packing list for our Canberra trip:
Canberra Packing List

Please note that this list does not answer the vital questions regarding:
- Medication (to be handed in to class teacher before boarding the bus)
- Technology (will be discussed with students at school)
- Lollies (please use common sense, they tend to get gobbled up on the first day and do not always have the socialising effect that one would hope for.)

I would also recommend that you discuss the packing and unpacking of bags with your child, with at least one practice together taking place before camp day.
What may seem so simple to us can become an anxiety and frustration-inducing activity once your child is alone and responsible for their own items within a pressing schedule.

Iron on labels are vital for keeping items safe and organised. They can be purchased on so many websites with quick delivery options, including here.

In this case, familiarity with a simple procedure such as packing and unpacking can increase your child's confidence and ability to participate in our camp with maturity and independence. We are all looking forward to a fun and informative camp together!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Walk Safely To School Day

This Friday May 20th is Walk Safely to School Day, 2011.

If you would like further information you can visit the website here.
Students at our school are encouraged to participate and we hope you will lend your support!

Students can win a prize by writing about their 'Walk to School' story.

Student Absences

When your child is absent please make sure you email the school directly at:

Please by all means feel free to email me as well, however the school office is the first point of call for all notifications.

I will provide work where I can however I may not be able to do so with short notice (i.e. on the day!) Of course if I have a moment I may be able to send something through however, I am sure you would understand that teaching the class would be my first priority.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My visit to 'From Little Things Big Things Grow.'

The Museum of Sydney just finished presenting an exhibition called 'From Little Things Big Things Grow.'

This exhibition told the story of a group of Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, who said 'That's not good enough' – and did something about it. The exhibition tells some uncomfortable truths and celebrates some 'ordinary extraordinary' heroes.

I attended the exhibition on the final weekend of showing and was so glad I did - there was so much information availble about the history of voting and citizenship rights for Aboriginal people in Australia.

Here are some photos from my visit!
Please note, if you would like to read the text just double click on each photo and a larger image will appear.

Perhaps you would likesuet use this information in the Week 4 component of your Homework Assignment...

The entry to the exhibition:

The explanation at the beginning of the exhibition:

An image of protest:

The 1940s:

The 1950s:

The 1960s:

A voting booth from the time of the referendum:

The Aboriginal tent embassy:

The Freedom Ride:

Aboriginal Citizens called their citizenship papers 'dog tags':

Some information on citizenship:

Friday, May 6, 2011

Raising Exceptional Kids

A fellow teacher recently introuduced me to the resources available on the Australian 'Parenting Ideas' website created by academic Michael Grose.

It includes information on:
- confidence
- resilience
- best behaviour
- boys
- sibling rivalry
- teenagers
- thriving parenting
- bullying

It really would be one of my first ports of call if I was seeking information on these areas, he has an education background and has spent many years studying what makes families tick.

The website also has a weekly email newsletter & facebook option and I would certainly recommend you sign up, particularly as the teenage years approach!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Term 2 Canberra Camp!

Today we gave out the permission note for our Term 2 trip to Canberra, we would like to see it completed and returned as soon as convenient. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to email me here at school.

Please find following a copy of the itinerary - this blog is a lovely place to keep it so it may be accessed at any time.

Enjoy the convenience!

Camp Itinerary Scribd FINAL1

Monday, May 2, 2011

5/6R Term 2 Classroom Timetable

56R Term 2 FINAL Scribd1

Exhibition: From Little Things Big Things Grow

The Museum of Sydney is currently presenting an exhibition called 'From Little Things Big Things Grow.'

This exhibition tells the story of a group of Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, who said 'That's not good enough' – and did something about it. The exhibition tells some uncomfortable truths and celebrates some 'ordinary extraordinary' heroes.

I'm sorry to say that the exhibition runs until the 8th of May - just another week! but if there is any way you can visit - the theme ties directly in with our unit of work this term.

You can visit the website here.

You can also view the 'Gadigal Place' exhibition during your visit, which explores the traditional lives and early contact experiences of the Gadigal and other Aboriginal clans of the Sydney basin. It reveals fascinating stories about how Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people interacted in the early days of the colony.

The 'Gadigal Place' exhibition runs until the end of December 2011.