Good Afternoon Everyone and Welcome to the Week 6 Newsletter. Busy time ahead still. I have just come from the first whole school run through of the Aussie Rocks Concert to be held in two weeks (Thursday 5th December). It struck me that we have entered that exciting time of year already where we begin to prepare for the end of year events and celebrations. The staff are also in the middle of writing the Semester 2 Academic Reports which captures student achievement and learning for the last two terms. It is truly one of the busiest 4 weeks of the year. Good Luck everyone!!!!
In this newsletter, I will provide parents with a summary of data that we have collected from the Online PAT assessments which we do every 12 months. Emily will outline the importance of Spelling in the Teaching and Learning Update while David will discuss the upcoming season of Advent and why it is so important in the lead up to Christmas in RE Matters.
Staffing Announcements Week 6
In Week 4, the staff elected to maintain the current access to RFF model of 120 minutes a week. While this might not mean much to parents in those technical terms, what it does mean for the students is that we will continue to offer specialist PE and Music lessons alongside Specialist Librarian lessons each week in 2020. This allows classroom teachers to take some administration time to plan, prepare and review classroom pedagogy and student learning.
Happily, Mrs Chapman and Mrs Spencer will continue their roles as specialist music and Librarian teachers in 2020.
However, Mrs Cath Nankervis has let me know that she has accepted work with Sports in School Australia (similar to the Primarily Active Organisation that comes to our school) next year. In doing so, she has explained that she will not be applying to for the PDHPE teaching role here at CCW in 2020. While we are excited that Cath has found opportunity to work in a PE specialist role in the SiSA organisation, we are saddened to know that this means she will not be continuing with us. I want to acknowledge Cath's work in our school this year. It has been a significant change of culture bringing in a PDHPE Specialist into our school and Cath's work has made that change very positive and productive. I have no doubt the success of the PDHPE specialist teaching role will continue in her stead and the staff's support of the model itself as an option for RFF is testimony to Cath's role here at CCW. She will be missed. We will of course complete appointment of a new specialist PDHPE teacher for the RFF model in 2020 as soon as possible. I look forward to having an announcement for you in the coming weeks.
PAT Assessment Data Summary
Progressive Achievement Tests (PAT) are an online standardised testing platform for all grades that allow schools nationwide to gather data on both achievement and their progress over a 12 month period. It is also a very powerful tool in that for every trend or challenge we track in either a group of students or an individual, there is some corresponding teaching resources that can be the focus of learning in the coming weeks. It is important to note that while PAT data can be used to assist teachers in completing reports, they are supplementary to the achievement data teacher collect from the work completed and achieved in class.
From a whole school point of view, I use the data to glimpse the levels of achievement trends we have across each grade. Once again we are very proud of the achievement data we have collated for the PAT assessments in 2019. Below are two graphs of the whole school distribution of achievement levels grouped into three categories of Below, At and Above expected Stanines. This is similar to NAPLAN bands in that students participating in the test Australia-wide are grouped together in bands/ stanines based on what they are achieving against the standardised test. It is wonderful to see our data weighted significantly toward students achieving at and beyond expectations. A class by class run down of the same data is in the link below the graphs.
But this is only half the picture. Our greatest challenge is not the level of achievement alone, but the growth or value added that has resulted in the last 12 month period at school. Have we supported, guided and promoted student learning to at least the expected 12 month growth and better yet more than.
Below are two documents that outline how we have done in this regard. Certainly there is much cause for celebrations in the attached documents but equally there are challenges to us as teachers to know our students and ensure their continued growth from year to year. This is Excellence in Education for all.- No matter where you start, excellence is the growth you have achieved. I invite parents to look at these two documents at their own time. There is a lot in each and even more data behind the document. I can commit to all parents that the staff have been working with this data and rising to the challenges it sets for us and a few but very important students needing our help in the coming months, in Maths more so than English.
Resilience and Independence
It is a very topical debate when we begin to consider how we build resilience, and Independence in our kids. Of course we want to make things go smoothly for them, keep them safe from any danger and limit the potential for mistakes. However, exposure to these things within a safe environment is exactly what builds the skills of resilience and independence that are needed to cope when they happen in real life. And sadly, they will happen. For a child to learn resilience, they need to be out of their comfort zone. For them to learn r independence, they need opportunity to do jobs that would otherwise befall parents. If we are to equip our kids with the skills to cope outside of our four walls and that of our homes, we need to provide them with the practice while they are still within them.
Why do I mention this? I want to challenge students (and parents) to begin to undertake responsibilities here at school and to follow the processes we have to meet those responsibilities. Namely the notes from home and lunch orders. We have a clear system of collecting notes and lunch orders every morning within the classrooms. Many classes have reminders in place as the students enter the room or while roles are being marked. To place the notes in the bags and lunch order in the baskets without reminding shows great responsibility and Independence. It also has two important benefits from a whole school perspective.
The notes going to the note bags instead of the office (in dribs and drabs throughout the morning, before and after school starts) will alleviate the traffic in the front office in the morning. Even notes with smaller amounts of money should be placed in note bags (using a sealed envelope with the amount of money on it). In this way, Vanessa is able to prioritise her role at the front desk to assist parents in the office for other reasons and then get out the notes and smaller payments to be receipted later in the morning when the traffic dies down. The worst that can happen is that the note will stay in the bag for a day or two. If we are waiting for it, it will be chased. If it's about getting notes in, so they won't miss out; then perhaps that is the learning. Not the missing out but the possibility that they might. Doing it for our kids might ensure all notes are in and organised, but is this the best way to develop resilience and independence?
Placing the lunch orders in the basket upon entering the classroom would alleviate the need for our canteen volunteers to interrupt the learning within classrooms to check if anyone has forgotten their orders. These well-meaning, last minute reminders tend to disrupt the flow of learning once underway. The worst that could happen is that a student forgets their lunch order but they will not go hungry; the canteen will make do. It's just that they might not get what they want but that in itself, is the lesson that means they will remember next time.
I appreciate that we have students ranging from the age of 5 to 12 at our school. I am fairly confident that everyone would agree that a 12 year old should be doing these things independently but perhaps some would argue not a 5 year old. The point is when do we begin the expectation and how do we ease students into it. I would challenge that the sooner the better. Especially in the school environment when the processes continue to support students to remember and there are "safety nets" if they forget. It would also support our priority of learning in the classroom and efficiency in the office greatly.
I ask that parents and students please consider these thoughts and adhere to school processes with regard to note collection and lunch orders. Our only failure is the failure to try. We owe the gift of resilience and independence to our kids.
Have a great two weeks,
The countdown to the End of Year
In the document below are some important events and details for next four weeks so that all community members are aware of the many opportunities to celebrate the end of the year with the school community.
Volunteers Luncheon 2019
To all our wonderful Volunteers,
You are invited to join us for the Volunteers Luncheon on Friday 13th December 2018 at 12.30pm in The HUB
The luncheon will be as part of the Visual Arts Incursion Day where students will be dressed in Christmas clothes and participating in a wide range of creative art tasks.
It may not repay your generous time and energy but we hope it shows you how much we are grateful for all that you do.
RSVP by Wednesday 11th December. A note Will be sent home Thursday this week or you can email your attendance to firstname.lastname@example.org
2020 Family Discount & Diocesan Pastoral Contribution Form
A gentle reminder that Family Discount Forms are due to be returned to the school by 29th November 2019. If you could please give to your child to place in their classroom notebag.
If you have a Health Care Card that is in the Fee Payer's name, could you please present to the office along with the additional form.
Book Club order forms have now gone home. The last one for the year.
The due date to return your form and money or to have ordered on-line is Friday 22nd November, 2019. Unfortunately no late orders can be accepted as Scholastic charge a delivery fee after this date.
Please make sure your child/children’s name and items to be ordered are clearly marked on the order form. Place order form and money in an envelope and put into the classroom note bag.
PLEASE NOTE: This is the last Book Club for the year.
In this week's focus on student well being, we will be discussing two areas that can sometimes pop up as a child progresses through school, especially at times approaching changes in classes, friendships and teachers; such as now. In the Week 8's newsletter I hope to report to parents about some Restorative Justice Practices we use here at school and how it helps all student better understand their responses to conflict and stress.
Transitions are defined quite simply as change. They are a period where we must adapt to new circumstances, expectations, people, environments or routines. Whether big or small, transitions are a significant part in children and young people’s lives, as well as the learning community.
The link below outlines the impact and importance of transitions, understanding behaviours and early intervention during transition periods and how we can support students in general in this important area of development.
Children and young people are sometimes reluctant to attend school and can become significantly worried or upset to the point of refusing to do so. This is probably the hardest situation we manage or assist with and we are challenged parents and teachers to seek the best solution for the child. The link below outlines the signs, causes and consequences for school refusal.
Our End of Year Mass is just around the corner. Tuesday 3rd December. We would love you to make and effort and support the children with your attendance at this special Mass
Lk 23:35-43 The Crucifixion
In Sunday’s Gospel the good thief simply asks Jesus to ‘remember me’. And Jesus tells him that being remembered by God is paradise. It’s a wonderful way to understand the Kingship of Christ. We know that Christ our King is not about earthly power, land, buildings, riches or might. We know Jesus’ Kingship is not about lording it over us, or making us frightened of his compassionate judgment. The power of Christ the King is seen in his memory, holding every person in this world close; calling each one of us by name.
What a feastday! The final day of the church’s year is when we remember the saving memory of God
As we prepare for the coming of Jesus at Christmas, I’m sure if you are anything like me you eill have a growing list of things to do. Is that list wearing us down or is it preparing us for Christmas? This season of preparation in the Church is called ADVENT.
Advent has a twofold character- as a season to prepare for Christmas when Christs’ first coming to us is remembered, as a season when that remembrance directs the mind and heart to await Christ’s second coming at the end of time. Advent is therefore a period for devout and joyful expectation
In its symbolism, the Church continues to stress the penitential and preparatory nature of Advent. As during Lent, priests wear purple vestments. The only exception is on the Third Sunday of Advent when priests can wear rose-colored vestments. This is designed to encourage us to continue our prayer and fasting, because we can see that Advent is more than halfway over.
We can better enjoy Christmas if we revive Advent as a period of preparation. Abstaining from meat on Fridays, or not eating at all between meals, are good ways to revive the Advent fast.
We can incorporate such customs as the Advent wreath, into our daily ritual, and we can set some time aside for special scripture readings for Advent, which remind us of the threefold coming of Christ.
The Advent Wreath
Traditionally, the Advent wreath has featured four tapers, one for each week of Advent. Three are purple, and one is rose. If you don't have three purple and one rose candle, don't worry; four white ones will do. (And, in a pinch, any colour will suffice.) The colours simply add symbolism to the wreath. Purple reminds us that Advent, like Lent, is a time of penance, fasting, and prayer; while the rose candle is first lit on the third Sunday in Advent, to give us encouragement and to remind us that Christmas is indeed coming.
Faith Formation for Kids
3 Dec: Reconciliation (2nd rite) 7pm @ St Thereses New Lambton OR
4 Dec: Reconciliation (2nd rite) 7pm @ Corpus Christi Waratah
Have a great week!
Religious Education Coordinator
Recent and Ongoing Bushfire Emergencies.
We have certainly had a devastating start to summer. The much predicted combination of tinderbox-dry bush land and hot, windy weather has led to some of the worst conditions for bush fires our communities have faced. Our students have responded very well to decisions we have made about air quality and the children who are particularly affected at such times have proven resilient and adaptable.
Thankfully, the catastrophic emergency warning enacted last Tuesday allowed us to prepare for the worst and be grateful for the best outcomes at the time, in our region at least. We are ever mindful of those families whose homes and properties we under direct threat and those still displaced by the ongoing danger. The conditions not to far north from us were and are horrible.
If you will indulge me, the song below has long been a favourite of mine and I wanted to share it. It was one that continually played in my head when amongst the media coverage I saw the thousands of volunteers and workers risking their lives to ensure the safety of all the members of our community. My favourite line is "Angels do not always live in heaven"; I know where they have been in the last week and a half. I pray today that they can have a well earned break and that our communities continue to be safe from the powers of nature.
It was apt then, that we commemorated Remembrance Day in the same week as the emerging bush fire situation. Just as it is easy to overlook the work of our firefighters amongst the dramatic pictures of the fires, it can also be that we overlook the men and women in the story of history who fought in times of war so that we might live in times of peace. ANZAC does this in April for our Australian and New Zealand forces and Remembrance Day does the same world wide. We held our own beautiful and respectful liturgy here at Corpus Christi and the student stood tall and still as a sign that "We will remember them. Lest we Forget".
Spelling at Corpus Christi Waratah
With a huge focus on Science and Technology, STEM, and Mathematics this year, teachers were certainly busy. However we have looked at all student growth and learning across all areas of the curriculum and one area that has stood out where we could do better is spelling.
Our Infants teachers (Kindergarten to Year 2) are busy teaching decoding skills for reading which include phonological awareness and phonemic awareness. Students are taught through the InitiaLit program that English has 26 letters but from these letters, 44 sounds are able to be made. These sounds are called phonemes.
In Primary (Years 3 to 6) we turn our focus to encoding skills or spelling. There are many programs that can assist with the teaching of spelling and we feel that an explicit and systematic approach designed to support teachers is best.
Spelling is best taught through pattern and regularity. 80% of words follow a consistent pattern with the remaining 20% unfortunately not following a pattern. These additional words are words that students just need to learn how to spell correctly.
Next year teachers at Corpus Christi will focus on spelling being based around learning whole words with an emphasis on meaning and vocabulary development. This is something that is also very important at the Primary level for reading. Students must be able to read the words they are trying to spell, understand what they mean and how to use them.
Spelling rules are probably something you might remember learning at school. It is important that spelling rules are taught in the context of words in a way that builds on learning from prior years. Students will also be taught the most useful 4 spelling rules. Yes! 4 spelling rules, not 24.
Teachers from Year 3 to Year 6 will implement that SMART spelling pedagogy. SMART stands for Say, Meaning, Analyse, Remember and Teach. There will be a simple routine for teachers to follow each week in the classroom. Students will have different amounts of words and words of different complexity, but all students within the class still have the same spelling pattern to focus on. So one student might be learning the word ‘rain’ and another the word ‘container’ but they’re both still being taught the digraph /ai/.
The teachers from Year 3 to Year 6 have spend some time completing an online course learning about SMART spelling and the pedagogy behind it, ready to implement in 2020. We look forward to seeing the reaults of this approach to teaching spelling.
Congratulations to the following students who have been recognised for great learning, awesome achievements, impressive improvements and stand out moments.
All parents are welcome at our Awards Assembly on Friday Mornings from 8.50am but if you are unable to atend, watch this space for when learning that is great.