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volume three



Mrs Michelle Carroll Welcome


Mr Tim Collins A Few Simple Tools


Ms Merran O’Connor Redefining Intelligence


Ms Asuko Okumura Courageous Language


Ms Kanako Yokouchi Inclusive Education Through Language


Mr Adrian Puckering Are We Paying Attention?


Mrs Virginia Midgley Green Thumb Science


Mrs Michelle Carroll Ignite the Curiosity in Every Child


Mrs Melissa Dods Alice the Musical


Mrs Lisa Cook The Importance of Deliberate Practice


Mr Fiachra Barry An Odyssey Overland


Mrs Loretta Iacuone Help Your Daughter’s Education


Mrs Jenny De Nardis Learning about Technology: The Only Limit is Imagination


Mrs Jan Rouse Propagation Provides Practical Education


Mrs Vicki Marinelli Life is A Big Canvas


Mrs Penny Campbell The Gift of Story Telling


Ms Sue Macgeorge Origins of Communication


Ms Sandra Ching Building a Foundation of Mathematical Knowledge


Mrs Amanda Ladbury-Webb Why it is Good to Talk Mathematics


Mrs Virginia Guest Artful Collaboration


Mrs Sue Collister Don’t Count the Days, Make the Days Count


Ms Lilly Dusting Cross-curricula Approaches to Creativity


Mrs Karen Reddish Positive Learning Experiences in Health and Personal Development


Ms Gwen Hackel Making French Connections


Ms Amanda Bennett Selecting a School for Your Child


Mrs Kim Waters Tournament of Minds


Mrs Lola Ballis Why do we Write in the Early Years?


Miss Kirrilly Wootton Heyington to Highlands 2016


Ms Jo Lynden-Bell Celebrating our Culturally Diverse Community


Ms Mary-Anne Keratiotis Creative Versus Analytical Thinking


Mrs Mary Karvounaris Growth and Development through Study Tours


Mr Chris Jones The Positive Psychology of Helping Through Sport


Ms Lee Brandt NASA Space Camp


Miss Tessa Dunstan School of Play


Mrs Michelle Carroll Pledge of Remembrance


Mr Tom Crebbin The Thread that Binds Us All

101 Ms Georgina Stride The Four Leaf Clover Program 105 Mr Tim Tainsh What is STEM Education? 109 Mrs Jessica Easton Getting Ready for Prep


St Catherine’s School enhances student learning experiences through our exceptional staff. Our School is committed to ensuring effective recruitment and development of dedicated and well qualified educators who are passionate about education, girls’ wellbeing and advances in pedagogical practice. In 2016, St Catherine’s celebrated our 120th anniversary as a leader in girls’ education. Our School’s success over this time can only be achieved through the dedicated work of our educators. As a School, we remain committed to enabling our teachers to be leaders in their selected fields of expertise, strengthening

and fostering their professional development to ensure our School’s culture of curriculum innovation continues. The articles published in Conscientia showcase the passion, commitment and innovation our staff bring to the classroom every day. Through avenues such as St Catherine’s School Blog and Conscientia, our teachers are recognised for their expertise and showcased as the inspirational mentors they are to our students. Please enjoy the 2016 edition of Conscientia. Mrs Michelle Carroll Principal


Name: Mr Tim Collins Title: Deputy Head of Music Date: 4 February 2016


Music composition should be encouraged in young children the way art, literature and drama are, explains Deputy Head of Music, Mr Tim Collins. Mozart, Beethoven, Bach. These names loom large in the collective psyche when discussing classical music. Their talent and skill seem unassailable. Individual compositions such as Beethoven’s 5th Symphony are recognised as pinnacles of Western artistic achievement. The notes enshrine an experience that we can choose to immerse ourselves in over and over again. This journey can inspire us, or connect us with humanity, or make us feel like a better person. Some say this piece describes Beethoven’s internal struggle over whether he should end his life or not after learning he was going deaf. A composer going deaf! Luckily he chose to carry on composing “for the betterment of mankind.” These composers were all highly skilled improvisers (much like Jazz players); but it was the invention of music notation that allowed the architecture of such works to be mapped out on a grand scale. These ideas could then be modified, developed and ultimately communicated to large forces of musicians. In his book Big Bangs (Chatto & Windus, 2000) English composer and broadcaster, Howard Goodall lists notation as one of the five dramatic turning points in Western music’s development.1 You could sit back and bathe in the sounds of Beethoven’s masterpiece, but the best way to understand it, is to make one yourself. Young people are often not encouraged to create their own compositions. This is puzzling as children create their own art as soon as they can dip their fingers into paint, create their own plays as soon as they can talk and write their own stories as soon as they pick up a crayon. The music that young people make is so often re-creative. The performance of a popular song or master work is lauded before that of an original composition. ‘But composing is too complicated. There are so many rules’ are words one often hears.

Mozart was composing at the age of five. You just need some basic tools and a context. One of the most powerful tools is ‘the Triad’. This is the building block of 99% of the music we (in the West) listen to. Triads come in several flavours but just a single one can elicit an emotional response. Major = happy/sunshine, Minor = sad/ dark. A few triads placed one after another begin to tell a story. You only need a few chords to make an impact. Even then, the same chords seem to be used over and over. Melbourne band The Axis of Awesome has identified 75 songs that use the same progression of chords, songs including Under the Bridge, Red Hot Chili Peppers, You’re Beautiful, James Blunt, Where Is the Love, Black Eyed Peas and Forever Young, Alphavill) to name a few. Hence, while some compositions are purely abstract, most are designed to lead the listener on a journey. It is difficult to simply pluck a composition out of the air. Composers need an emotional context. It gives the composition a reason. Malala Yousafsi is a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest recipient of the Nobel Prize. At the age of 15 she was shot in an attempted assassination. She became the inspiration for our students to write string quartets, based on a simple progression of triads. Each student carefully chose their progression to evoke the elements they felt important about her story. It was not long before students encountered the same musical issues Beethoven did. “How do I make this experience more profound? How do I make it longer? How do I change moods? How do I create excitement, pathos?” It is then that we investigate in detail the mechanics of what he, or other successful composers did. Mr Tim Collins Deputy Head of Music 1 Howard Goodall, Big Bangs, The Story of Five Discoveries that Changed Musical History (Vintage Books, London, 2001) 2 The Axis of Awesome – 4 Four Chord Song https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pidokakU4I


Name: Ms Merran O’Connor Title: Director of Student Wellbeing Date: 11 February 2016


To avoid being trapped in the limits of our emotional habits we must strive to apply a growth mindset to our emotional, as well as intellectual, capacity and educate our students to do the same. The notion that intellectual capacity and emotional makeup are fixed personal attributes has been robustly challenged in the fields of psychology and education. The term ‘growth mindset’ was coined by Stanford University Professor Carol Dweck, who concludes that ‘growth mindsets’ improve both wellbeing and learning outcomes. Some of Dweck’s most ground breaking research is based on the neuroplasticity of the brain and the fact that intelligence is not ‘fixed’ but can ‘grow’.1 Likewise, neurological research into the role of our emotions and behaviours, demonstrates that emotional responses are a set of abilities that can be nurtured and developed throughout our lives. Our role as teachers is to provide a supportive environment to allow students to take intellectual risks with their learning and also to teach strategies to manage their emotional responses. The key ingredient in enabling such a mindset is emotional intelligence. The benefits of improved emotional intelligence are now well known and the role of schools in developing these key competencies is becoming increasingly important. Research has shown that students with high IQ may underperform if they do not have well developed emotional intelligence, often known as EI or EQ. The inherent relationship between thought and emotion has led to extensive studies of the correlation between emotion and reason. It may be useful to think of emotional intelligence as that balance between emotion and reason; the ability to recognise, express and manage our emotions in a way which is appropriate to the given context. Importantly, EQ, like IQ, should be seen as a capacity which may not yet be fully realised, and research has shown that EI strategies become habits through repetition.

In addition to the correlation between emotional intelligence and academic buoyancy, the weThrive: Wellbeing@St Catherine’s Program places a strong focus on fostering emotional intelligence as the basis of key life skills such as empathy, cooperation and communication. The skills of self-awareness and management and social awareness and management, can be taught and nurtured. These skills also contribute to improved personal wellbeing and relationships at School and beyond. Our recently established partnership with Swinburne University’s Emotional Intelligence Unit, has enabled access to evidence based resources which can be tailored for our students. The Swinburne team have extensively researched the role emotional intelligence plays in our lives personally, socially and academically.For the past ten years, their research has focused on ways to improve emotional intelligence in school-aged children and adolescents. As educators of the next generation, we should not underestimate the role emotional intelligence plays in the workplace and for career prospects. Renowned US author, Daniel Goleman has described the importance of the ‘Portable EI skills’ of Connection, Empathy and Communication for young people requiring 21st Century career skills vital for jobs that have not yet been invented.2 Key skills employers have noted as imperative in the 21st Century workplace are: • listening skills • confidence • motivation • teamwork • cooperation Ms Merran O’Connor Director of Student Wellbeing 1 Dweck, Carol S Mindset: The New Psychology of Success 2007 Ballantine Books 2 Goleman, Daniel Emotional Intelligence 1996 Bloomsbury Publishing, London


Name: Ms Asuko Okumura Title: Japanese Teacher Date: 18 February 2016


Why do we learn another language? For most, learning a new language can usually be related to work, travel or holidays. However, languages also broaden and open your mind to new cultures and people, evoking a greater sense of compassion, empathy and acceptance of differences. Languages can also provide health benefits with research finding language improves hearing and working memory.1 Studies have also shown adults who speak two or more languages can experience delays against Alzheimer’s and dementia.2 So it seems the reasons for learning new languages can be social, academic, economic, physiological and emotional. During my recent Study Tour to Japan with a group of 18 St Catherine’s Years 9 to 11 students, I discovered another reason why languages provide deeper learning and life skills than just understanding new words and sounds. Learning another language challenges your courage. The Study Tour involved a 16 day learning experience for our Japanese students who had been learning Japanese since Year 7. The Tour immersed the students in the culture of Japan and required the girls to utilise all the knowledge they had acquired in the classroom, to find their way around the new country. During the Tour, we spent time at St Catherine’s Sister School, Aichi Shukutoku Junior/High School in Nagoya. St Catherine’s has been privileged to work in partnership with Shukutoku School since 1991 with our reciprocal student exchange program. In August 2015, 16 students from Shukutoku School spent time at St Catherine’s School, where our students hosted them. This time, we stayed in their homes. Without a doubt, the home stay element of the Study Tour was the biggest challenge for our students. Immersing themselves in a totally foreign culture and language required great courage

from all of our students. They had to overcome their fear of speaking Japanese and making mistakes in front of their peers and their host families. It was gratifying to witness the personal growth of all our students as they gained confidence, not only in the Japanese language, but also in themselves. The Study Tour provided the students with first hand experiences in the Japanese culture including kimono wearing, Koto (traditional Japanese stringed musical instrument), calligraphy and Art classes. They also visited various form groups where they played games, had question and answer sessions in English and cleaned classrooms or corridors with Japanese students (in Japan students clean their classrooms after school every day). The girls also participated in club activities, which they learnt is very different to the multitude of options and flexibility provided at St Catherine’s, with Japanese students usually only joining one club, and rarely changing until graduation. The opportunity to learn a language at School and experience Study Tours such as this, provides our young girls with access to other cultures and promotes friendship across the world, evidenced in the warm welcomes and strong bonds our girls received from the Japanese students welcoming us at Shukutoku who had spent time at St Catherine’s. It is a personally enriching experience to guide my students through their navigation of the Japanese language and culture and sharing my love of language with them. Ms Asuko Okumura Japanese Teacher 1 www.pnas.org/content/109/20/7877.full 2 www.neurology.org/content/75/19/1726.short


Name: Ms Kanako Yokouchi Title: Japanese Teacher Date: 25 February 2016


Learning a language, different to the mother tongue, encourages inter-cultural understanding, tolerance and respect in society. On 21 February 1952, a group of students was shot and killed by police for demonstrating in protest for Bangla to be recognised as one of the two national languages spoken in Pakistan. Since 2000, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) has proclaimed this day as International Mother Language Day and the day has been observed to promote linguistic and cultural diversity. The bravery of the students, and the brutality of the police was a drastic series of events that seem unfathomable and incomprehensible in today’s society. Why then, was the recognition of Bangla of such importance to the students and the police? What intrinsic powers are hidden within languages? Languages, though seemingly mundane in their natural acquirement at an early developmental stage by most people, are still what separates humans fundamentally from every other animal. Though every animal has its own language of some kind, human language evolved, not only as a means of sharing information, but as a means of cooperation.1 The truly unique feature of human language is its ability to transmit information about intangible entities – concepts such as empathy, appreciation and tolerance. Such ability gives human beings the unparalleled facility to cooperate with each other in numerous societies all over the world. However, in our globalised culture, a common view is that remaining monolingual is acceptable. It is true that due to globalisation and technological advancements, the 7,000 languages currently spoken in the world are increasingly under threat. Only a few hundred are dignified with resolute application in the international education system and less than a hundred are utilised in the digital world. Yet, linguistic

diversity allows for expansive educational development by broadening communication and thinking abilities and fostering a richer appreciation for different perspectives. Languages are the most powerful instrument to preserve and extend heritage and inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue. It is fundamental to communication and, without languages, unique modes of thinking and expression may be lost and consequently, lessen cultural diversity. Multilingual or bilingual approaches are promoted by UNESCO as important factors for inclusion and quality in education. The learning of another language, different to that of the mother tongue, is an essential component of inclusive education, as it encourages inter-cultural understanding and tolerance, and ensures respect for different groups in society. Such quality education which encompasses the development of the whole individual is the foundation for empowering people and their societies. At St Catherine’s School, students have the opportunity to learn three additional languages aside from English, with some students electing to study two languages in their Senior years of schooling. This positive support of language education is an undeniable attestation of the irrefutable value of cultural and linguistic diversity and the esteem in which it is held by the School community. Ms Kanako Yokouchi Japanese Teacher 1 Harari, Y.N, Sapiens A Brief History of Humankind, Vintage, London, 2011, p.27


Name: Mr Adrian Puckering Title: Director of Curriculum Innovation and Development Date: 3 March 2016


If attention is the key ingredient to learning, we need to teach the fundamentals of attention. Recently I read with great interest ‘catastrophic doomsday’ reports concerning the ‘obliteration’ of concentration, attention and focus due to our fascination, perhaps even addiction, to smart-phone technology; some reports went even further, suggesting how the average Western 15 year old now has an attention span somewhere between an amoeba and a goldfish. The reports though were not just confined to the Western teenager, indeed certain nations in Asia (notably Taiwan, South Korea and Japan) have named internet addiction as the number one health crisis amongst youth; it has long been known that the social and emotional circuitry of a child’s brain is developed through contact and conversation, so it would seem inevitable that more time spent away from people, and more time spent focused upon a digitalised screen, would lead to social and emotional deficits. None of this of course is particularly new. In 1977, the Nobelwinning economist, Herbert Simon, when writing about the coming information rich world, warned that what information consumes is “the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” We are living in an information age like no other, and therefore we need, as educators, to focus more on attention than ever before – and, here is my argument, attention is grabbed by engagement. And here lies the crux – engagement, attention, can in fact be amplified by the use of digital resources; the most precious resource in any digital system in fact is not the interface, nor the processor, or the memory, not even the network. The most precious resource is human attention and every variety of attention has its uses. The very fact that almost half our thoughts are daydreams suggests the ‘wandering mind’ must have some advantages, but it is also true we learn best with focused attention. As we focus on what new things we are learning, the brain begins to map that information on to what

we already know, making new neural connections. When our mind wanders, our brains activate a host of circuits, ‘chatter’ if you like, that actually have nothing to do with what we are trying to learn and, lacking focus, we are therefore unable to map the new information and it is forever lost to memory. Quite simply, it remains unlearnt because we lacked attention. Attention, or focus, therefore is the key to success in the learning process and perhaps we are on the very threshold of being able to harness digital resources to improve student engagement, and therefore attention. Rather than digital resources bringing the obliteration of attention, they are perhaps somewhat of a saviour. Thinking back to your own education, were you ever taught how to focus? Were you ever taught about how the brain functions in terms of mapping information and committing it to memory? For most, we never were. Some individuals were more gifted than others, and the ability to sit and focus was considered a characteristic rather than a science, as a trait rather than as something which could be taught and therefore improved. The digital world is not going away and if we believe the constant tidal wave of texts and email, calls and notifications, is leading to the obliteration of attention – and if we also believe attention is the key ingredient to successful learning – then we need to address it. We need to teach the fundamentals of attention. In Years 7 and 8, over the next term or so, all students will be involved in a program entitled ‘The Science of Learning’; as well as investigating how to be a better learner, a central pillar of the program examines how our brains learn. Focus and attention, in a digital world, is explored in all its wonderful colours, ensuring our students are fully harnessing the benefits of technology in their learning. Paying attention to attention – now there is an idea. Mr Adrian Puckering Director of Curriculum Innovation and Development


Name: Mrs Virginia Midgley Title: Science Teacher Date: 17 March 2016


St Catherine’s Science and Sustainability Program provides students with practical Science knowledge. Thirteen years ago, when I first arrived at St Catherine’s School, I felt like I was in the Mad Max movie; Fury Road. Our Science garden was desolate! So began the journey to teach the students about plants; how to propagate them, how to care for them and how to enjoy the fruits of their labour. Over the years we have integrated this practical learning into our Year 7 Science curriculum. Our journey began with an invitation to be part of the Melbourne Zoo’s Orangutan Browse Plantation Project – a sustainable partnership where schools grow and harvest browse plants for the Zoo’s orangutans to play, sleep and nest in. Our Science Department implemented the project into the Year 7 Science program and began with students enthusiastically tending to a selection of sunflowers, broad beans and impatients they have planted in various locations around the School. Before embarking on the Browse Plantation Project, students received a visit from Melbourne Zoo’s Education Officer, who spoke about the endangerment of the Orangutan species, their habitat, the types of non-toxic plants they could grow for the orangutans, how they would approach their garden design and how to cut the plants for delivery to the Zoo. In conjunction with the project, students completed the Horticulture – Growing Plants Award through SPECTRA (Science Program Exciting Children through Research Activities). Through this program, the Year 7 students learnt and developed their knowledge of Horticulture and Botany, including pH levels of soil, the process of seed germination and recording plant growth. Armed with this comprehensive knowledge, the students oversaw their first successful harvest of browse plants

for the Melbourne Zoo’s Orangutan Browse Plantation Project in 2009. The success of the program led to an invitation to Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots at Melbourne Zoo. Students, along with myself, and fellow Science teacher, Mrs Rouse attended the International Year of Forests Youth Summit in 2011. Students from Years 5 to 8 were invited from around Victoria to meet and hear from Dr Goodall and participate in a series of activities that celebrate the ‘International Year of the Forests’. There were a number of performances and guest speakers who shared their conservation experiences and achievements. Eight schools, including St Catherine’s, were invited by Melbourne Zoo to showcase their conservation programs supporting the International Year of Forests. This was a fantastic opportunity for students to meet and learn from a leading conservationist. With the outbreak of myrtle rust in Victoria, the Melbourne Zoo was no longer able to accept the ginger plants from our Science Garden. The Science staff then adapted our program to the St Catherine’s Science and Sustainability Program (SSSP). Students have watched over the years the production of lettuce, sunflowers, a large variety of tomatoes, rhubarb, celery, carrots, potatoes, garlic, rosemary, parsley, basil, chili, kaffir limes, daisies, zucchinis, pumpkins and finally the St Catherine’s Rose. 2015 marked the establishment of the St Catherine’s Rose Garden which will enable propagation of the Roses, applying scientific method, within this program. Some have said to me I must have a green thumb – hardly. I use my knowledge of Science and I persevere. So have a go at planting your own herb garden. Remember the two essential ingredients – sunlight and water and you cannot go wrong. Mrs Virginia Midgley Science Teacher


Name: Mrs Michelle Carroll Title: Principal Date: 21 March 2016


Professor Ian Chubb, Australia’s Chief Scientist (2011–2016) provided a provocative Keynote Address at the National Education Forum this week in Canberra. He described a need to “ignite the curiosity in every child” and demanded an educational re-focus to increase the number of students studying Mathematics and Science. In 2015/16 the Australian Government launched the National Innovation Science Agenda, recognising the centrality of the STEM/TIDE (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects in ensuring national prosperity well into the 21st Century. A major objective of the National Agenda is to increase opportunities for women in the STEM career areas; the Agenda further stated: Only one in four IT graduates and fewer than one in 10 Engineering graduates are women. Additionally, women occupy fewer than one in five senior research positions in Australian universities and research institutes, and around one quarter of the STEM workforce overall. We need a concerted, national effort to overcome the cultural, institutional and organisational factors that discourage girls and women from studying STEM, and that limit their opportunities to pursue STEM careers. Over the next five years, employment is predicted to increase in professional, scientific and technical services by 14% and in health care by almost 20%. The ABS has estimated STEM-related jobs, such as ICT professionals and engineers, have grown at about 1.5 times the rate of other jobs in recent years. Google Australia’s Head of Computer Science Outreach, Sally-Ann Williams, said women comprised only 3% of applicants to study IT at university, “yet we know that 75% of all future jobs will require STEM skills and the vast majority of them are technical skills.”

Echoing Professor Chubb’s call for action and deliberation of the Strategy was an article in The Australian last week – Girls Barking up the Wrong Tree – highlighting that girls outsmart boys in Mathematics and Science but are shunning the “money-spinning subjects at school.” After tracking 58,000 Victorian students between Years 7 and 12, the University of Melbourne discovered boys are five times more likely than girls to study Physics and nine times more likely to study Information Technology for the Victorian Certificate of Education. The study found girls who were good at Mathematics still tend to favour Biology and Human Development, subjects that can launch a career in allied health but are limiting to other STEM industries. The study revealed that despite shunning Science studies, girls outperformed boys in every STEM subject in senior school. In essence, girls should be encouraged to study Mathematics, Physics and IT, even if they think they are not good enough. In every field, the girls performed better, on average, than the boys. At St Catherine’s, our STEM agenda in our Junior School has included the development of the 2016 STEM Morning program, the introduction of a specific classroom-based STEM subject for Year 3 students and the inclusion of a now well-established CREST (CREatvity in Science and Technology) program across all Barbreck classes. The CREST Program is written and supported by our Head of Science, Ms Vanessa Jackson-McRae. In the Senior School, the development of the TIDE curriculum at Years 7 and 8 (Technology, Innovation, Design and Engineering) last year introduced girls to coding and this year, girls are participating in the Solar Boat Challenge. These subjects will be further extended in Years 9 and 10 Electives with offerings including advanced Mathematics and Science programs. Mrs Michelle Carroll Principal


Name: Mrs Melissa Dods Title: Junior School Music Coordinator Date: 24 March 2016


The benefits of being part of a School musical are broad and far reaching, impacting on the student’s emotional, social, physical and cognitive development. In 2015, all students in Years 5 and 6 celebrated the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s famous story Alice in Wonderland by working on the Junior School production Alice The Musical. Over a 10 week period, we embarked on a journey which immersed the students in an intensive period of personal character development and team work as the dialogue and songs were learnt, characters developed and dances rehearsed. Students, teachers and parents were all involved, taking on many important roles to enable such a large production to reach its full potential. The benefits of being part of a School musical are broad and far reaching, impacting on the student’s emotional, social, physical and cognitive development. Involvement is a great way to teach students about commitment, perseverance and self-discipline. When a child is part of a production they become aware of the many others who are depending on them. They are part of a whole cast who are relying on them to play their part to the best of their ability. Lines, songs and dances need to be rehearsed until they are memorised.

As the weeks go by it is wonderful to witness the selfconfidence of the students grow and strengthen. The students start to take risks as they perform for each other, developing confidence in their abilities and expressing their ideas. The social interaction and risk taking inevitably builds a strong bond of trust between cast members and between the cast and production team. Cooperation and collaboration underpin the whole process, involving students in discussion, negotiation, rehearsal and performance throughout the 10 week production period. Making creative choices together, thinking of new ideas and developing these ideas in new ways, creates a sense of teamwork and gives a strong sense of ownership. The commitment and hard work of the students as the final week of performances drew near was outstanding. Students could be seen helping others to master a particular dance sequence or deliver a line, assisting with props and staging and offering ideas and last minute changes to a staging dilemma. Before we knew it the final performance of Alice The Musical had arrived. What a journey! There was a real sense of excitement and achievement. It was now time to share the famous Wonderland with our family and friends. Lights, camera, action! Mrs Melissa Dods Junior School Music Coordinator


Name: Mrs Lisa Cook Title: Music Teacher Date: 14 April 2016


“Practise with your fingers and you need all day. Practise with your mind and you will do as much in two hours.” – Leopold Auer For some string players in their early years of development, practice can be overwhelming. The process is often rushed with the furious flapping of fingers up and down the violin while intently staring at tiny black dots. Scales, exercises and pieces of music are played with great intention. The clock is set and the countdown begins. First there is the technique which consists of 10 minutes of scales and exercises. The next 20 minutes is the ‘fun part’ as the student plays through pieces, generally from start to finish, avoiding anything other than a cursory glance at the difficult sections. Thirty minutes and the practice is done, the violin is packed away and the student is satisfied (for now). The next practice (probably not the next day) mimics the last and after a week some students seems to have made little, if any progress, leaving them feeling frustrated and perplexed. Why are the same mistakes occurring if the student has dutifully completed three or four practices in a week?

other students were spending on their practice and he became concerned that he was not doing enough. “The right kind of practice is not a matter of hours. Practice should represent the utmost concentration of brain. It is better to play with concentration for two hours than to practise eight without. I should say that four hours would be a good maximum practice time. I never ask more of my pupils, and that during each minute of the time the brain be as active as the fingers.” Auer is not unique in his thinking. According to K. Anders Ericsson, a psychologist and scientific researcher from Florida State University, it is not the time you spend on developing your skill but it is the way you spend your time. “When most people practise, they focus on the things they already know how to do. Deliberate practice is different. It entails considerable, specific, and sustained efforts to do something you can’t do well—or even at all. Research across domains shows that it is only by working at what you can’t do that you turn into the expert you want to become.” Ericsson explains that an expert is not someone born with innate talent but rather someone who “reflects a life-long period of deliberate effort to improve performance in a specific way.”1

Research indicates this type of practice could be a waste of time and may only improve the undesirable habits already in existence and potentially create more. Whilst the motions of practice have undeniably been put into place it lacks focus; the key element of deliberate practice and therefore the difference between a good practice and a great practice. Of course, schools with good Music programs understand that the links to deliberate practice and the habits discussed in lessons and implemented at home, have marked benefits to all learning.

Students learning the Suzuki Method are exposed to this type of training from their very first lesson. Dr Shinichi Suzuki was a humanitarian, an educator of children and the founder of the worldwide education movement.

Without focus the student is spending more time on the same thing with little or no result. This is the type of mindless practice Leopold Auer was referring to in the opening quote. His student, Nathan Milstein was confused at how much time

Although his philosophy is related to the development of the whole child rather than just the development of their violin skills, Dr Suzuki’s method reflects key components of deliberate practice – constant feedback (and encouragement

“Music ability is not an inborn talent but an ability which can be developed. Any child who is properly trained can develop music ability just as all children develop the ability to speak their mother tongue. The potential of every child is unlimited.”2


from the parent), high repetition, numerous opportunities to perform and the utmost attention to detail in each daily practice. Every piece is broken down into separate left and right hand practice. Through this method, there are many students who have indeed become experts in the art of playing violin. Admittedly, not all students have this desire, but it may be that some students (and families) think that they are incapable of reaching such an elite level because they do not have the belief that they can attain the necessary skills within the time available, or that ‘they are not a musical family’. Deliberate practice has been used in a wide range of disciplines –from musicians and athletes to CEOs and chess grandmasters. In the abovementioned article, Anders Ericsson refers to a novice golf player who, after the initial stages of learning, focusses his energy on the basic strokes. This continues for some time with an obvious marked improvement from the initial onset of learning, but now the shots have become more intuitive and 300 golf balls later the golf player has plateaued. According to two psychologists in the 1960s, Paul Fitts and Michael Posne, this is the third stage of acquiring a new skill. This stage is experienced by all of us and for some probably more than once. Fitts and Posne suggest the first stage of skill acquisition is cognitive – where we put great amounts of energy and focus into what we are doing. It is exciting because like our golfer we can see instant improvement in our new skill but it is also full of mistakes. The second stage is termed the associative stage. We begin to enjoy what we are doing and find there are less mistakes in the process. Finally, we have the autonomous or intuitive stage, where we are comfortable with our skill and slide into auto pilot mode. This is where we left our golfer in the example above. After 300 golf balls there was no thought or focus to push for the next level or to better the handicap.

However, what if there was a chance to replay a shot over and over again, exactly the same shot, and get instant feedback after each try? There would be renewed energy and an incentive to try again, to improve the handicap, to drive a ball further, to have set goals with designed focus and perhaps encourage friends to strive further to improve their own abilities. It has been acknowledged that instant feedback is an essential component of deliberate practice. It prevents the same (unintentional) mistake from being automatically practised again. So how is the furiously finger flapping violin student able to obtain this in weekly practice? Instant feedback given by a teacher or mentor after each practice session is obviously not practical, however having the student videoing a part of their practice is certainly viable. The Music Department at St Catherine’s School prides itself on its collegiate approach to the delivery of a sequential program, tailored to the individual needs of students. Staff constantly consult with each other to keep refining successful teaching techniques. We are able to embrace the best from the past and the wonderful legacy of Music literature that exists from the last 1,000 years, as well as Contemporary music (both Popular and Art) and the most up-to-date technologies that support learning. The marrying of existing knowledge, knowing how our subject fits within the School, its wider educational goals and the constant discussion and embracing of new innovations are of benefit to staff and students alike. Today, we have technology at our fingertips. There are programs specifically designed to provide instant feedback to Music students and teachers are able to set certain parts of a piece for the student to practise.

In the application SmartMusic, which we have been trialling at St Catherine’s, students view a music piece on their PC and play along with it. Notes incorrectly played are automatically highlighted providing the student an immediate indication of what they need to work on. They are also able to send the recording back for appraisal between lessons.

My advice is practise smart, not hard. This is mentally demanding because all the concentration is on weaknesses instead of strengths. However, there is no point in pursuing something in a practice session if it is not working no matter how focussed you are. Sometimes you need to stop and move to something else or just walk away.

Encouraging a student to take advantage of this type of tool has seen them more determined and motivated about the way they practise and it has allowed the student time to reflect on their own performance. In violin lessons for example they now see and hear why a shift in the left hand did not work. Perhaps they will recall their teacher explaining the process for correct shifting, the importance of the correct left hand position and the reason for moving on the existing finger already in place.

Plan the practice and write down the expectations for the current session. It is always good to visualise a plan as it makes it more tangible. Decide whether the practice will be on phrasing, string crossing, shifting, vibrato or articulation. As practice becomes more mindful this process will seem less daunting. Practise at a time when energy and focus are at their peak. Keep the practice an appropriate length for the age and stage of the student.

It is essential that the music is broken down into manageable pieces but first the aim of the goal needs to be identified. Then the problem needs to be defined:

In essence, deliberate practice can be used in any field. It is designed to improve performance and to stretch abilities. In our ever developing fast paced society, time is a luxury and our most valuable commodity. It does not matter if we are discussing perfecting violin technique or improving your game of golf. If you are going to practise anything and make it count, then you may as well do it properly.

• Analyse the problem – what do I want this note to sound like? • Identify potential solutions – what is causing the note to sound like this? • Test the different solutions – what differences can I do to make it sound better? • Implement the best solution and reinforce the change to make it permanent – which one works the best for me? • Monitor implementation – does the change continue to produce the result I am looking for?

Mrs Lisa Cook Music Teacher 1 The Making of an Expert, K. Anders Ericsson, Michael J. Prietula and Edward T. Cokely, Harvard Business Review, July-August 2007 Issue 2. Dr Suzuki, Nurtured by Love, Alfred Music; 2 edition (June 1, 1993)


Name: Mr Fiachra Barry Title: Overland Trek Supervisor Date: 28 April 2016


Each year, as part of St Catherine’s Outdoor Education Program, Beyond Boundaries, a team of 11 Year 10 students are invited to complete the Overland Track in Tasmania. The students endure seven gruelling days of intense physical exertions in a constantly changing environment. The Overland Track is one of Australia’s most famous bush treks. The Track runs for 65 kilometers from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair. The Track winds through terrain ranging from sheer mountains, temperate rainforest and wild rivers to alpine plains within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. The hike undertaken by St Catherine’s students takes six days to complete. The weather however can be unpredictable, such as the severe weather warning in 2015 resulting in snowfalls in November. Participants camp every night in designated campsites, except in the event of such weather warnings, where huts are available for use to ensure their safety. To qualify for the opportunity to take part in this iconic Australian experience, students must apply and complete an interview, as places are limited to 11 students. This is a limit imposed by Tasmania’s Parks and Wildlife Service. A restriction on the number of hikers on the Track each day helps to reduce the impact of people upon this pristine environment. Some of the spectacular sights encountered along the Track include: • Lakes (Lake St Clair, Lake Will, Lake Windermere and Dove Lake) • Mountains (Cradle Mountain, Barn Bluff, Mount Ossa, Mount Pelion East, Mount Pelion West, The Acropolis and Mount Rufus) • Waterfalls (Hartnett Falls, Ferguson Falls and D’alton Falls)

The challenges faced by the students on this expedition are not just limited to the undulating terrain of Tasmania. Whilst completing the Overland Track, the students, as a group, need to carry everything they need during their hike. This includes all food and camping equipment and clothing for a variety of weather conditions. The Overland Track is a unique opportunity offered to Year 10 students at St Catherine’s, one in which they develop their team working skills in order to negotiate the challenges of an unforgiving, but spectacular environment. It also offers them an opportunity to showcase their resilience. If anyone doubts the tenacity of the girls at St Catherine’s, they need only see them tackle the Overland Track and those doubts quickly evaporate. Mr Fiachra Barry Science Teacher Overland Trek Supervisor


Name: Mrs Loretta Iacuone Title: Year 2 Teacher Date: 5 May 2016


Helping your daughter achieve her best results goes beyond academic achievement. Her success is determined by a continuous chain of interacting skills whether they be social, physical, emotional or academic. When I was nine years of age, my parents decided to take a six month, family holiday to Europe. The whole intention was to introduce my brothers and me to our extended family and immerse us in our heritage and Italian culture. Of main concern was our education, as my parents did not want us to be faced with the repercussions of missing out on half a year of school. We were travelling by ship, so we took all of our school books with us. Dad kept reminding us to do our work but the adventure of travelling was far more exciting. In fact, it is only because I have had to teach long division that I eventually learned the process, but the experiences were endless! On our cruise we travelled through the Suez Canal watching men lying on their bellies ready to fire at us (there was a civil war at the time – travelling through there would be unheard of today)! We stopped at many places such as the pyramids in Cairo. While all these adventures sound very exciting I did learn, at a very early age, that there is no power such as the power parents have over their children’s education. My father in particular knew that this experience empowered our education. He was always so willing to nurture our quest for knowledge and never tired of answering any of our questions. Not everyone can afford an expensive overseas holiday but there are many ways parents can help their children’s education. It begins at home and is reinforced in the classroom. Before asking the teacher

for extra homework or if your daughter completes her homework quickly, try some of these suggestions: Play: Play helps children learn and develop socially. The Australian Toy Association (ATA) says that children with access to a wide range of toys are more likely to be challenged and stimulated, in turn assisting them to develop thinking power and promote personal and emotional wellbeing not to mention physical development. ATA President David Hendy believes parents do not need to go out and spend up on expensive playthings, “play can be playing with some boxes out the back; it can be anything.” He then goes on to say that “too much screen time and organised activities like sport was limiting the amount of time kids had to play. The reality is we have tried to fill our kids up with so much we are taking away their initiative to develop their own imaginations. Kids need imagination. They need to be able to create their own games and their own friends. Imagination is really fantastic when you are a child.” Playing Board/Card Games: Board games and card games can teach important social skills such as communicating verbally, sharing, waiting, taking turns and enjoying interaction with others. Board games can foster the ability to focus and lengthen your child’s attention span by encouraging the completion of an enjoyable game. Socialising: When accompanying your child to a social function, allow your child to work out her own conflict with minimal intervention. This helps to build invaluable problem solving skills. Head of St Catherine’s Early Learning Centre and Junior School, Mrs Alana Moor says, “If we want children to meet challenges, face problems, overcome them and bounce back, or have the determination to work their way through them, they must at times be ‘stubborn thinkers’. That is, to think their way through a problem with a determination to solve it in the best way they can.


Too often adults can be tempted to ‘step in’ and rescue. By doing so, adults potentially rob young learners of the absolute joy of finding their own solution and meeting some success. ‘I did it’ is such an empowering statement. Children need to be allowed to make mistakes and take risks because they learn though experience. Life is all about trying new things, occasionally making mistakes, learning from them and not repeating them. Exercise: Walk rather than drive to School every day. Not only are you keeping fit and building a relationship with your daughter, you can include other activities that can help build academic skills. For example, writing down the directions to go to School using left and right, street names, etc. A map of the route to School can then be drawn or vice-versa. You can talk about distance and perhaps time yourself with a goal to improve your timing to get to School. Cooking: This is an invaluable skill. Children can help you prepare shopping lists, work out the quantities of ingredients needed, weigh the ingredients and check on the cooking time. Take your daughter shopping to buy the ingredients. Read how much each item costs, estimate the cost of all the items. Let her pay at the checkout working out the change she should receive. Look at the packaging noting the different forms of measurement for weight, liquids and length. Travelling: When travelling, provide children with a street directory or map and discuss directions. Point out speed limits, distances to towns, populations in towns, etc. When you are driving along in the car, ask children to guess how far it is to the next light post, the next town, etc. Calculate the distance travelled or the distance yet to travel. Involve the whole family. Measure the distances with your speedometer.

Calendar: Keep the calendar up to date. Mark any special events on the calendar, e.g. family and friends’ birthdays, outings, holidays, excursions etc. Look for patterns in the number squares. Encourage children to make their own calendars or to keep a diary. Public Transport: Encourage your child to read a timetable to work out best times, travelling time etc. Be positive! Praise your child’s success. Encourage your child to have a go and to investigate and make discoveries for themselves. Encourage them to find their own answers. Do not be too quick to tell them the answers. While academic success is important, there are many other skills just as important or more, to help your daughter achieve her best results. It goes way beyond academic achievement. Her success is determined by a continuous chain of interacting skills whether they be social, physical, emotional or academic. Mrs Loretta Iacuone Year 2 Teacher


Name: Mrs Jenny De Nardis Title: Year 5 Teacher Date: 12 May 2016


Imagination, creative thinking and problem solving are some of the skills our children need to take on this ever evolving journey of education.

blown away with the experience. Using the ‘cardboard’ the students can take a virtual tour of anything or anywhere in the world with 360 degree vision. It brings the world to you.

Good pedagogy cannot be replaced by technology. The connections and relationships we as teachers develop with our students are irreplaceable and will remain to be the most important aspect in students learning. However, technology is a must in classrooms of today and if utilised effectively, can enhance teaching.

There were also wonderful apps shown to us on the Teaching, Learning and Technology Professional Development Conference run by St Catherine’s School. These included 4D Anatomy, Eon Experience, Zaption, Elements 4D and Layer. It inspired all teaching staff to the wonders of technology and also how we can utilise these technologies to enhance our students’ learning.

A chance meeting and discussion with a colleague introduced me to several ideas and, in conjunction with my fellow Year 5 teaching colleague, Genius Hour was launched at St Catherine’s. Genius Hour involves students completing research projects on anything they are interested in or passionate about so long as it is a non-google-able question. Many class discussions followed as the girls decided on their topics. The girls embraced Genius Hour wholeheartedly and were very excited to explore the different apps. One particular app called Plotagon proved to be quite popular. This involved students selecting characters, expressions, entering dialogue and scenes. The students then manipulated the characters to present their findings by typing in the dialogue for each character. Topics were quite diverse, from genetics, history of ballet, how their family was affected by war to interior decorating. Technology is constantly changing and evolving and as educators we need to learn about the latest app appropriate for our students. At a Teach Tech Play conference I attended there was a session on Google Expeditions using a Google Cardboard 3D viewer. I shared this with my students and they were

Coding activities in our classrooms are also equipping students with the 21st Century skills required for jobs of the future. Coding helps students understand how computer programs work and students engage in various activities to make images move and perform tasks. St Catherine’s is also trialling some amazing Virtual Reality technology in the classroom that brings a hands on 3D program to a whole new level. Technologies such as this ensures that future learning for our students will be a very exciting one. While academic success is important, there are many other skills just as important or more, to help your daughter achieve her best results. It goes way beyond academic achievement. Her success is determined by a continuous chain of interacting skills whether they be social, physical, emotional or academic. Mrs Jenny De Nardis Head of Junior School Physical Education Year 5 Teacher


Name: Mrs Jan Rouse Title: Science Teacher Date: 19 May 2016


The Propagation Education Conservation Exploration (PECE) Program has generated many diverse learning opportunities for our students In 2012, Dr John Varigos approached the Science Faculty at St Catherine’s School regarding participating in a joint project with the Australian Native Orchids Society (ANOS) to educate Year 8 students about native orchid propagation and conservation. Dr Varigos’s idea for the program was based on an orchid propagation program at the Writhington School in the United Kingdom. It was a logical extension to the Horticulture programs already developed in Year 7 and so the St Catherine’s PECE commenced. The Program, now in its fifth year, involves an introductory talk with Dr Varigos, where students are introduced to the diverse world of orchids. Students are always amazed to find that orchids have many structures enabling them to attract pollinators, such as disguising flowers as female wasps, so as to trick an unsuspecting male wasp to call by and pick up pollen or passing it onto another flower. This completes the process of pollination and fertilisation in the reproduction of orchids. Students are also introduced to the propagation of native orchids and why this must be done in aseptic conditions. The next stage of the Program involves students completing a practical session, where they use a Lamina Flow Unit to provide an aseptic (sterile) environment in which to propagate native orchid seeds. Native orchid seeds are very small, in fact, dust like in appearance. Orchid seeds rely on a symbiotic relationship with a special fungus that lives in the soil in their natural habitat to assist with germination. To simulate these conditions in the

laboratory a special agar medium is produced and the orchid seeds are placed. This is called plating and at all stages the equipment, medium and the students must be kept sterile to avoid contamination of the agar. The plated orchid seeds are then placed under grow lights in the laboratory and tracked. After a period of six months, the seeds are re-flasked to enable future growth. Further along, the orchids are planted in pots ready to be released back into the natural environment. In early September, the Year 8 students undertake a field trip to the Anglesea Heathland, home to over 80 species of native orchids. Students identify conservation issues relating to the area as well as exploring, identifying and photographing the orchid species in bloom. The evolution of the Program has generated many diverse learning opportunities for our students. The practical skills of the Year 8 students have developed with the guidance of the laboratory staff, in particular Ms Wendy Stevens. She, along with Mrs Virginia Midgley and I have received expertise tutelage from Mr Richard Thomson, an expert in this field, who provided us invaluable advice regarding the aseptic propagation of the native orchids as well as sourcing materials and suppliers for the Program. This all culminated in our presentation of the St Catherine’s School PECE Program with Dr Varigos at the ANOS National Orchid Conservation Symposium in 2013. This was a privilege as native orchid experts and academics in the field were fellow presenters. The program has been embedded in the Year 8 Science curriculum in the Biological and Science as Human Endeavour Strands. Mrs Jan Rouse Science Teacher


Name: Mrs Vicki Marinelli Title: Art Teacher Date: 26 May 2016


Art should be experienced first hand I recently picked up a greeting card which had a quote from actor, Danny Kaye, that read, ’life is a great big canvas and you should throw all the paint on it you can’, I read this card about the same time I heard the news that Inge King, a prolific sculptor, had died at 100 years of age. It made me ponder the life and accomplishments of this significant Australian sculptor whose oeuvre has influenced many artists including several sculptural projects at St Catherine’s School. As a sculptor who minimalised and controlled colour, King definitely ‘threw paint’ at her life canvas. As a teacher, I believe students should experience Art first hand. While the internet has empowered us to become much more visually sophisticated by enabling artworks to be viewed from around the world, it also packages the artwork up neatly with back light shining through the image giving the artworks a sense of sameness, almost as a commodity. Unlike seeing it on a screen, real art is complex and the tactility, scale and form of sculpture can be challenging. The current Year 10 cohort went to the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) to experience Inge King’s work two years ago and were faced with mostly highly abstract, often minimalist, artworks that were lacking in a subject matter. The ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ were more pertinent walking around the forms of these sculptures. When one realises King was a 98 year old Jewish woman who had fled Nazi Germany, married an Australian artist in London and emigrated to Melbourne, one ponders why this woman continued to make sculpture after facing such adverse conditions. Impressively, King was able

to refine and develop her art ideas to the extent that her accomplishments were acknowledged with a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in January 1984. Melbourne in 1951 was vastly different from the thriving arts scene evident today. In fact, King was quoted saying that Melbourne was ‘like a can of flat beer’. On arrival, King found groups of painters but not sculptors. Faced with a new country, little resources, speaking another language, isolated from an artistic community and bringing up a young family, did she stop making art? Not at all. King started the hugely influential sculpture group called ‘Centre 5’. She made beautiful jewellery to make ends meet and developed sculptural maquettes which cut down the costs of foundry and construction until she could find funding for more permanent work such as Forward Surge, 1976 outside of the NGV and Rings of Saturn, 2006 at Heide Museum of Modern Art. I wonder what it was about King that prevented her from giving up. Sculpture is so physical and an artist needs space, technology and money to create these artforms. I have watched videos about King available online that portray her on a construction site building large scale public artworks and I also wonder how she obtained the technical expertise to pull off such sculptures. The answer is most likely what we consistently teach our Art students: • work at it; • refine your ideas; • trial your techniques; • pay attention to your processes; and • look for the unexpected successes.


When it goes wrong: • see if you can modify it or rework it; • expect it to go wrong; and • learn from it. Do not plan in your head: • document your journey; • learn the characteristics of your materials and media intimately; and • expect to get better at art making with experience and practice. It will not happen without hard work: • do not give up; • push; • develop; • refine; and most of all • make art, make art and make art.

Inge King had a long career making art but it does not matter what your career may be – learning and practising art develops life skills. Just like in art, in life you have to work at it, refine your ideas, trial your techniques, pay attention to your processes and look for the unexpected successes. In life when it goes wrong, see if you can modify or rework what you are facing. Expect things to go wrong and learn from it. Do not plan in your head. Document your journey. Do not give up. Push, develop, refine because ‘life is a great big canvas and you should throw all the paint on it you can’. Mrs Vicki Marinelli Art Teacher


Name: Ms Penny Campbell Title: Early Learning Teacher Date: 2 June 2016


Stories encourage information retention and broaden understanding of the wider world. ‘Once upon a time’…four simple words that have the power to evoke vivid childhood memories and transport the listener into the world of imagination and limitless possibilities. Stories are an inherent part of our lives and a powerful tool for connecting with children. Story telling evolved long before written language. It is the oldest form of communication and connects people and communities across all languages and serves as an authentic medium for preserving cultures, beliefs and values. Stories encourage information retention and broaden understanding of the wider world. Children love listening to stories and research recognises the importance stories play in early brain development. In our increasingly busy lives it is vital we take the time to engage in meaningful interactions with children and expose them to a wide vocabulary. Listening to stories provides time to stop and relax without the stress of movement, lights and noise. Consistent engagement during the first five years is critical to shaping a child’s language, cognitive and socio-emotional skills. There is concern at the increasing number of children across all socio-economic strata commencing school with poor oral language skills. This greatly impacts on their reading readiness and can continue to impact on their future learning. Exposure to a rich and diverse vocabulary has a direct link with children’s reading comprehension. Our high tech world of screen dominated communication cannot deliver the personal connection of a live storyteller.

Story telling is interactive and establishes emotional bonds through connecting with another human being. It also provides numerous opportunities to introduce the listener to the light and shade of culturally rich language. The pathway to children’s comprehension of real life skills and connections is grown through daily interactions with meaningful adults, not technology. Listening to stories helps enhance children’s listening skills and understand more. Instead of talking they have time to sit quietly and relax. Stories ignite their imagination as they visualise what they are hearing and immerse themselves in another world. Listening to stories encourages thinking skills, hypothesising, and problem solving. It also promotes an understanding of relationships. Children are able to see different perspectives and develop a sense of empathy. They have opportunities to think about how characters would feel and use their own experiences to think how they would feel in similar situations. It provides a safe way to explore strong emotions. Every storyteller brings their own interpretation and special magic to the stories they share. As children listen to stories they hear the rhythm and pattern of words. This contributes to language development and provides an awareness of form to assist children create their own stories. They become increasingly willing to share their thoughts and ideas, ask questions, accept different viewpoints and consider new ideas. Stories can originate from many different sources including, real life experiences, provocations and observations, traditions and our imagination but as J.K. Rowling stated, “There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.”


Children also benefit from being exposed to a variety of story books. They gain an appreciation for books and an understanding of the purpose of print whilst also forging an ongoing enjoyment of books and reading skills. Stories are a regular and popular part of the daily program in the Early Learning Centre at St Catherine’s. The storytellers vary, often it is a member of staff or parent, however the children are also eager participants. Stories are valued not only for their content but also for the relationships they strengthen within our educational community. The Early Years Learning Framework (DEEWR 2009) outlines in Outcome 5: Children are effective communicators ‘who engage with a range of texts, obtaining meaning from them and sharing the enjoyment of language in a variety of ways’. To facilitate this, educators in the Early Learning Centre ensure the children have access to a wide range of fiction and non-fiction books both in the classrooms and the

Junior School Library. They have opportunities to immerse themselves in the wonder and richness of ideas, illustrations and language. There is always time to enjoy and explore stories. Very often the children develop an attachment to particular stories and can be observed relating the stories to their peers or sitting quietly enjoying the illustrations. They frequently express elements of favourite stories through their play and in their own stories. Stories have the power to form connections both personally and with the wider world. No matter whether a story is read or told it is a gift we can all share. Mrs Penny Campbell Early Learning Teacher


Name: Ms Sue Macgeorge Title: Science Teacher Date: 9 June 2016


The beauty of teaching Science is the more you learn, the more there is to wonder. The challenge of teaching Science is making content accessible when so much is unobservable.

new situations, something which is particularly helpful when under examination conditions. My hope is that the foundation is set for students to continue to learn and wonder.

The well-known saying ‘communication is the key to success’ is highly relevant when teaching VCE Biology. The subject focuses on cell to cell communication including the role of neurotransmitters – the chemical messengers of the body – to coordinate muscle and gland responses.

Interested in learning more? Find out what alcohol, Botox and biological warfare have in common below!

The role of a Science teacher is much like that of a neurotransmitter, a messenger organising and communicating information in a sequenced, organised and pertinent manner.

Neurotransmitters; how nerve cells communicate with each other.

VCE Biology is a modern and relevant subject that brings Science to life for students when explained through familiar contexts. To facilitate student understanding in VCE Biology at St Catherine’s School a variety of strategies are undertaken, including: • the use of analogies to bring real life understanding to complex concepts. For example, how molecules cause cellular responses can be compared to a party invitation arriving by mail and the chain of activities that it triggers or how enzyme concentration can affect the rate of reaction is comparable to the number of turnstiles available at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. • exploring the complexity of protein structures through the tactile use of pipe cleaners. • the use of lollies to model biological molecules. • animations to bring microscopic concepts to life. Creating meaningful connections to the Biology curriculum for students ensures they have more confidence and success in their biological general knowledge. Everyday examples clarify and extend scientific concepts and assist them to feel comfortable in applying their knowledge to

What do alcohol, ICE, Botox and biological warfare all have in common?

Nerve cells communicate with other nerve cells using electrical impulses along the nerve fibres (axons) to the synapse. This is followed by a chemical component, the neurotransmitter, to transmit the nerve impulse across the synapse (the gap between two nerve cells) to the next nerve cell or muscle cell. There are two main classes of neurotransmitters; excitatory and inhibitory. One example of an excitatory neurotransmitter is acetylcholine. These transmitters cause an electrical impulse to occur in the next cell (usually a muscle). The students have learnt that there must be specific complementary shaped receptors for the neurotransmitter on the next cell as well as a critical concentration of the neurotransmitter. This allows positively charged ions enter for the next neuron to respond with an electrical impulse. Not all neurotransmitters are excitatory. Inhibitory neurotransmitters prevent the next cell from responding. One inhibitory neurotransmitter is called GABA. When it attaches to its receptor in the post synaptic membrane, chloride ions with a negative charge enter the post synaptic neuron. This makes the firing of another electrical impulse less likely.


These excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters work together to allow fine coordination of our nervous system that we can take for granted. What we put into our bodies can affect this fine coordination. • Alcohol (ethanol) binds to the GABA receptors and the chloride ions continue to enter for longer. It also increases the amount of GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter, released from the presynaptic neuron therefore the neurons are less likely to fire, explaining some of the sedative effects of alcohol. Ethanol also reduces the effect of an excitatory neurotransmitter which is an important chemical for learning and memory which may explain some memory loss associated with drinking. • Botox is the trade name of a drug based on the botulism toxin.When locally injected in small amounts, it is used to treat severe muscle spasms or uncontrollable sweating, and can be used for cosmetic purposes. This is because Botox blocks the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, interfering with a muscle’s ability to contract. • Sarin (the nerve gas used in the Tokyo subway in 1995 and in Syria in 2013) interferes with the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine at the post synaptic membrane. The neurotransmitter does not get broken down in the synapse as it should. Acetylcholine accumulates which causes a lack of control, particularly of the muscles associated with breathing and death results. Ms Sue Macgeorge Science Teacher

http://readingroom.mindspec.org/wp-content/ uploads/2015/03/neuron-structure.jpg http://vce.bioninja.com.au/_Media/synaptic_transmission_med.jpeg Biological Sciences Review November 2013, Vol 26, Number 2, page 34 ‘ How Alcohol Affects the Nervous System’ by Oliver Freeman http://outreach.mcb. harvard.edu/teachers/Summer05/RaymondBroadhead/Synapses_and_Drugs.pdf http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=25769 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SarinThese excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters work together to allow fine coordination of our nervous system that we can take for granted.


Name: Ms Sandra Ching Title: Curriculum Liaison Coordinator Date: 16 June 2016


Mathematics is one of the core subject areas within the St Catherine’s Junior School curriculum. It assumes a very important position within the education of all our students. As educators, we realise that the provision of solid and thorough introductions to the intricacies of Mathematics creates opportunities for students to learn and understand Mathematics better and take this knowledge to higher levels as they progress through their education and beyond. In our ongoing commitment to delivering innovative and current teachings in Mathematics, St Catherine’s undertakes regular investigations and evaluations of new resources. International studies of mathematical achievement, such as that undertaken and reported by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2012, that evaluated the skills and knowledge of 15 year old students, reported students from countries such as Shanghai China, Singapore, the Republic of Korea and Hong Kong China had average scores well above the OECD average of 494. Students from Australia had an average of 504 which was above the OECD average but well below that of Shanghai China (613), Singapore (573), Republic of Korea (554) and Hong Kong China (561).1 The question we, as educators, must ask is ‘how do these countries teach Mathematics so effectively?’ Our research included evaluating programs based on the teaching methods utilised in high achieving countries, particularly Singapore, the Republic of Korea and Hong Kong. Following this, PR1ME Mathematics was introduced as our core Mathematics text. PR1ME is based on a concretepictorial-abstract approach that works towards a development of metacognition and mathematical thinking, mastery of skills and an approach where problem solving is central.

The benefits of this program throughout the Junior School include the sequential establishment of concepts through comprehensive and well tested teaching methods, the use of a common language and the building block approach allowing students to construct their knowledge and understanding of Mathematics through a consistent School based program. Areas of the Australian and Victorian curriculums that are not detailed in PR1ME Mathematics are still taught at each class level which results in a School wide program that is comprehensive, rigorous and engaging. PR1ME Mathematics is a very challenging program, however after a period, our students’ understanding of concepts and abilities to solve problems demonstrated consistent improvement. To further develop our students’ use of problem solving skills there is also the opportunity to participate in Mathematics groups, before and during School, such as STEM in the Morning and the Years 5 and 6 problem solving groups. St Catherine’s also offers activities extending students’ mathematical knowledge and in some cases, competing against students from across the country and the world through events such as the Mathematics Olympiads, Australian Mathematics Challenge and ICAS in the upper Junior School. Ms Sandra Ching Curriculum Liaison Coordinator Year 6 Teacher 1 The Making of an Expert, K. Anders Ericsson, Michael J. Prietula and Edward T. Cokely, Harvard Business Review, July-August 2007 Issue


Name: Mrs Amanda Ladbury-Webb Title: Mathematics Honours Program Co-ordinator Date: 14 July 2016


Mathematics is rarely just about solving a problem and obtaining the right answer. More often than not it is the journey, or method as mathematicians call it, that is more valuable than the final result. The practices of describing, discussing and justifying the method and, therefore, the result, all form part of the processes of mathematical communication. Communication skills are highly sought after in the workplace. Top of a list of 10 employability skills compiled by a range of UK based Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) companies is “Communication and Interpersonal Skills: the ability to explain what you mean in a clear and concise way.”1 Demonstrating that a proposed method is appropriate, and an identified result is correct, is essential for any technical analysis to be of value. Real world examples include making a calculation of the strength of a bridge, the value of an investment, or the efficacy of a medical treatment. The success of any STEM project depends not only on technical expertise but the ability to communicate effectively with expert and non-expert stakeholders. The Mathematical Association of America and MIT both place considerable importance on the communication of Mathematics. They identify two aspects of mathematical communication from a learner’s perspective. Firstly, “learning to communicate” which equips students with the skills to explain their solutions. Secondly, “communicating to learn” which deepens students’ understanding of Mathematics through the processes of describing and discussing the subject matter. One of the opportunities the new Mathematics Honours Program at St Catherine’s is for students to practise and strengthen their mathematical communication skills. The small group environment creates opportunities for verbal

communication and collaboration between students. Students are regularly challenged to explain their ideas and solutions to their peers – a task that demands a deeper conceptual understanding than just arriving at the answer for themselves. This is “communicating to learn.” The Mathematics Honours Program also aims to strengthen students’ written mathematical communication skills with increasingly high expectations placed on rigor and precision in written solutions through Years 7 to 9. Students are “learning to communicate” and are encouraged to write up solutions to complex multi-step problems such that they can be read and understood by a peer. At the Year 9 level, the Program provides opportunities to explore more formal notation and structures of proofs. At this level, the challenge for students is not to just successfully solve the problem but also to optimise the written solution in a concise and elegant manner. In the Junior School, a variety of structured approaches to presenting written solutions are explored. These include logic charts, systematic tables and diagrams. This year the Year 6s have enjoyed creating their own logic problem clues and then swapping them with each other to solve. The benefits of practising and perfecting mathematical communication skills are many. They can increase understanding of the subject material, improve performance in examinations, develop valuable workplace skills and foster enthusiasm for the subject through discussion and sharing of ideas. Enthusiasm is infectious which is why it is good to talk about Mathematics. Mrs Amanda Ladbury-Webb Mathematics Honours Program Co-ordinator


Name: Mrs Virginia Guest Title: Junior School Art Teacher Date: 21 July 2016


Creating collaborative artworks provides students with an opportunity to come together, share ideas and learn from one another. It develops self-confidence, empathy, acceptance, accountability and the pursuit of a shared goal. Teaching Year 6 Art classes is shared by two Art teachers at St Catherine’s. Collaborating on curriculum design and decision making is an integral part of the teaching role and is then modelled for the students who are also encouraged to work collaboratively with one another. This collaborative approach, coupled with the positive learning outcomes for students, make the planning of Year 6 artwork appealing and invaluable. In the upper Junior School, students are approaching a time in their lives when they may test boundaries, possibly compare themselves to their peers and question their own identities. Creating collaborative artworks provides students with an opportunity to come together, share ideas and learn from one another. It develops self-confidence, empathy, acceptance, accountability and the pursuit of a shared goal. To commemorate the centenary of the Anzac landing at Gallipoli, Year 6 students completed a collaborative textiles unit in their Art classes. All students were required to research the origins of the Flanders Poppy, as a symbol, and to make a range of felt or knitted poppies which would be sewn together to make a commemorative wreath. Individually, students explored and practised a range of decorative stitches, refining their fine motor skills and developing their own aesthetic and self-expression. Red felt petals were cut out, embroidered and beaded to create unique and individual representations of the Flanders Poppy. Collaborative aspects of the task included whole class discussions sharing new techniques and skills learnt and

implementing design modification processes for their poppies. Learning how to collaborate cohesively whilst maintaining individuality was a key understanding for the students. They developed not only a deeper understanding of how their classmates thought and worked, but also an appreciation of the advantages of working in a group. When engaging in whole class research and discussions, the students learnt about the symbolism of the poppy and findings were shared regarding the significance of the Flanders Poppy. The personalisation of the impact and significance of the events of the First World War on future generations was explored and students were asked to share their own family experiences, linking them to the topic. After exploring the universal symbol of the poppy and wreath, we then concentrated on Fromelles and the lost battalion that was recently found and reinterred. To gain some resonance, and strengthen understandings of our task, I shared my own family connection to the Battle of Fromelles. Some students and their parents attended the Fromelles Service held at the ‘Cobbers’ statue near the corner of St Kilda Rd and Domain Rd, Melbourne. Following a moving recount of the Battle of Fromelles, delivered by Australia’s Governor-General, His Excellency the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd), guests were invited to lay their wreaths. St Catherine’s School students laid the poppy wreath at the base of the statue. Attending the ceremony and laying their wreath allowed participating students the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the whole textiles task and experience firsthand the symbolic meaning of the poppy. Witnessing the girls respond to the sombre atmosphere, service and people present, with such confidence, empathy and respect, was both moving and heartening.


Ordinarily, student artwork is exhibited in the confines of the Junior School. For the students involved, the sharing of their artwork with the wider community, many of whom were important Australians, was a new and exciting experience. To receive positive feedback about something you have thoughtfully designed and created is a rewarding experience for an artist of any age. The experience of collaboratively designing, creating and sharing an artwork was both powerful and rewarding for the students. There were multiple connections made at both an intellectual and emotional level. The creative expression of a collaborative group, working together purposefully, enabled the students to achieve a highly personal and meaningful artistic outcome. Mrs Virginia Guest Junior School Art Teacher


Name: Mrs Sue Collister Title: Director of Boarding Services Date: 28 July 2016


Boarding is a unique experience that brings our students together from across Australia and around the world.

Gratitude – the readiness to show appreciation and return kindness

In my family, the late great boxing legend, Muhammad Ali has always been a hero. Our bookcase features many books written about him, both as one of the most significant and celebrated sports figures of the 20th Century and, as a significant voice for African Americans in the USA. As the Reverend Jesse Jackson (an American civil rights activist) stated at the time of Ali’s death “without Muhammad Ali there would have been no President Barack Obama.” My favourite Ali quote and the theme for Term 3 in St Catherine’s Boarding House, Illawarra is “Don’t count the days – make the days count.”

Mindfulness – focusing one’s awareness on the present moment

During my teaching and boarding career, and as the mother of four adult children, I have had the opportunity to listen to a number of outstanding speakers who have influenced the way I think and act. Earlier this year I was fortunate to be a member of the audience in St Catherine’s Hall when Hugh van Cuylenburg, from The Resilience Project talked about his career and the steps to resilience. Hugh was inspirational in the way he outlined his simple steps towards resilience. As I took notes it became very clear how we could adopt many of his principles in Illawarra. During his presentation Hugh stressed how vital it is to build resilience in adolescents to assist them to develop better mental health. With statistics for the number of people suffering from mental health issues being high, and the fact that 65% of adolescents with mental health issues do not seek help, it is essential we empower our young people. The three keys that The Resilience Project teaches to improve resilience are:

Empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of others On his website Hugh explains that every time you do something kind for someone else your brain releases oxytocin. Benefits of this include increased levels of happiness and positivity and increased self-confidence. This fact led to the development of our inaugural Illawarra Random Act of Kindness Week in May, where each boarder was provided the name of a fellow boarder to treat with a random act of kindness. The boarders loved this week and decided on many ways to treat their special friend. Many chocolates, small posies of flowers and messages of support and friendship were left anonymously on girls’ beds and outside their doors. During dinner the following week everyone had the opportunity to share who their secret boarder was and we all decided this would become an annual event. During one of our Sunday afternoon activity sessions the girls created a Gratitude Tree on the back windows of Illawarra. Post it notes and pens were left on the table and everyone was asked to write something that had gone well for them each day and attach it on the tree. Over a couple of weeks the tree blossomed with many messages of ‘what had gone well for them that day’. Two notes left on the Gratitude Tree by girls during Random Act of Kindness Week were, “really appreciated receiving such a cute card and flowers” and “I got a lovely gift from my secret person.” Other messages referred to understanding something at School, doing well in a test or sharing something with another


boarder. Perhaps these three messages sum up Illawarra best “blessed to have 45 sisters,” and “I made the right choice” and “my friends are the best.” The Gratitude Tree is still there and the girls continue to add their messages! There are many ways to practise mindfulness and perhaps the way that works best at Illawarra is what happens around the couches in the lobby when the girls are doing our jigsaw puzzles. Much like the effects you receive from colouring in, the puzzles provide the boarders time to put down their phones, relax and share creating a picture. We have also practised other types of mindfulness and will use the colouring books during Term 3. The empathy shown by the younger boarders to their older peers is evident each day through the respect and support they show each evening during homework time. The boarders are always encouraged to participate in the range of co-curricular activities offered by St Catherine’s and this afternoon as I sit at my desk writing I know the younger girls are at the Victorian Schools Band Competition, an Athletics Personal Best Carnival, a Netball competition, Music lessons or making a start on their homework. The girls in Illawarra are focused on making every day count towards their future and the staff have embedded a culture of resilience which underpins everything we do. As the Year 12 boarders enter their final weeks of Senior School, never has the quote “Don’t count the days – make the days count” been more relevant. Mrs Sue Collister Director of Boarding Services


Name: Ms Lilly Dusting Title: Visual Communication and Design Teacher Date: 4 August 2016


Creativity can be somewhat difficult to define, however its expression certainly extends further than the realm of the arts. The creative student is motivated, independent, curious and intuitive. To be creative, a student is required to read critically, establish the problem, think logically and work towards a resolution. This is a practice embedded in many subjects — with or without a visual component — but taught explicitly in an Art subject through a design process. In this context to think creatively is defined as the ability to state the problem quickly, be flexible in an approach and select the most appropriate resolution. Design thinking strategies, which help students see their work from a range of perspectives, are integral to a 21st Century worldview and span over a plethora of occupations, some of which will not even exist until students themselves create them. Although this learning is an area of key knowledge in the Study Design, the process of problem defining and problem solving through abstract thinking is applicable to most subject areas. This is not a new way of thinking. Embedding arts practice and design thinking into most subject areas, without allowing it to be a mere accessory, has proved a positive step towards students’ enhanced understanding of content. This begs the question – should design thinking be a separate entity? Should we be teaching creativity in an umbrella approach where the knowledge and skills are transferable? Or do we need to collaborate more purposefully in our endeavour to create a more unified curriculum? I often find that students encounter some difficulty in applying knowledge from one area of study to another. Again, this is nothing new, however when writing new course work I attempt to address some of these issues in my own classes. Cross-curricula practice is a vital step forward in encouraging the act of transferring knowledge. Last year

the Year 11 Visual Communication Design class created typographic quotes based on the English text The Outsider, which they had studied previously. Students had extensive knowledge of this text and were able to openly discuss the meaning behind their given quotes, sharing ideas with the group about potential approaches. This discussion led to the generation and development of relevant imagery that reflected underlying concepts within the text – avoiding the temptation to create something ‘just because it looks good’. Each year we study the Bauhaus movement, which has strong links to what is taught in 20th Century History. Not surprisingly, students who achieved the best results were those who had gained an understanding of historical context and could draw on this in response to a visual stimulus. This year, students will be looking at designing promotional material for a School club or subject area. The aim is to allow students to collaborate with others within the School in an ‘apprenticeship’ approach to gain a ‘real-life’ experience – writing a brief based on client need, applying design thinking in a folio process, meeting with the client and pitching their final idea. This outcome will take design out of the classroom and into the broader community, where relevance and ownership helps to drive creativity. Creative thinkers are intrinsically motivated to change something they are dissatisfied with. This is not limited to creative subjects but stretches widely across the curriculum. By fostering creativity in the classroom and allowing for meaningful cross-curricular practice we can begin to develop the entrepreneurial culture that is vital in an ever-changing society. Ms Lilly Dusting Visual Communication and Design Teacher


Name: Mrs Karen Reddish Title: Physical Education and Personal Development Teacher Date: 11 August 2016


St Catherine’s ensures our students explore the implications of decisions, encouraging increased self-awareness of the challenges and changes they are experiencing in the early adolescent years, creating a sense of support and understanding amongst their peer group. The Years 7 to 10 Health and Personal Development curriculum is designed with a strong emphasis on student participation and non-judgemental discussion, with an underlying focus on the physical, emotional and social changes associated with adolescent maturation. Units of work explored include development and maintenance of respectful relationships, assessment of risk-taking behaviours, decision making processes and the factors that influence adolescents in their decision-making and actions. These, including peer group pressure, self- esteem, alcohol and other illicit substances and social media are all discussed in a positive, supportive environment. Students explore the implications of decisions, encouraging increased self-awareness of the challenges and changes they are experiencing in the early adolescent years, creating a sense of support and understanding amongst their peer group. The research findings of Professor Nick Allen from Melbourne University’s School of Psychological Sciences are particularly relevant to our students in the lower levels of the Senior School. Professor Allen’s presentation on The Adolescent Framework reveals the emotions and mental health of adolescence and how these impact learning and decision making processes. Within his presentation, Professor Allen comments that there is a direct correlation between the onset of adolescence, brain development and gender and that these factors have an impact on decision making. He also says that young women who experience the early onset of adolescence may face very different physical and emotional impacts

than their peers, including hormonal differences, physical changes and reduction of participation in sports, all of which have the potential to trigger stress, feelings of isolation, concerns over body image and self-esteem issues. The onset of adolescence can be a baffling and confronting time. As Health and Personal Development educators, we have a responsibility to provide a safe platform to discuss ‘real life’ issues and help our students navigate this significant period of their development. Facilitating these discussions also requires educators to be highly cognisant of the broad differences in maturity levels of our students. It is important to strike the right balance for the discussions, so all students can participate. Student reflections below demonstrate the positive learning experiences we are providing our students: “I have really enjoyed Health and Personal Development. I particularly enjoyed the Year 9 course as I found it was relevant, interesting and inspired a lot of class discussion. I liked the approach that was taken, as it was not condemning people’s choices but rather providing helpful information on how to get yourself out of difficult situations during adolescence and adulthood.” “I have thoroughly enjoyed Year 10 Health. I feel like this subject informs us about world issues relating to women, but it also covers relevant issues in our lives and I have been able to express my opinion but also learn.” Mrs Karen Reddish Physical Education and Personal Development Teacher Reference Professional Development Session with Professor Nick Allen, Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, The University of Melbourne.


Name: Ms Gwen Hackel Title: French Teacher Date: 18 August 2016


Asking students to understand why they should learn a language is never an easy task, in particular when the language is French and France is so, so far from Australia. However, this is not true for St Catherine’s girls. French at St Catherine’s is strong and not just because it is taught from the Junior School. There is a real love for the language and the French exchange opportunities in place at our School foster this passion. It is important to note that French is spoken not only in France but in over 50 countries – ranging from being the official language to being a cultural legacy. Our nearest French speaking neighbours are in Asia, in the old French Empire Indochina and in Oceania with the main country being a French Territory, New Caledonia, which is merely a three-hour flight from Sydney. French is also taught as a second language in many countries, just like here in Australia, one such country being Serbia. When an opportunity arose to make a connection with a school in Serbia, I seized it with both hands as a wonderful opportunity to promote the learning of languages, my passion. It was not the typical exchange situation start-up. An old French school friend of mine, a teacher of French (as his mother tongue) and now in charge of training teachers in bilingual schools in Serbia, got in touch regarding a professional project I could be part of. The Serbian teacher in charge of the bilingual group got in touch early in Term 1 and from then two projects were established for our respective students to engage in. The first one being a self-introductory letter and the other a description of our respective schools, both projects allowed for correspondence with a person of a similar age also learning French at a confident level. Both of St Catherine’s Year 11 French VCE teachers and our new Serbian counterpart saw it as a great experience to offer our Year 11 students. This collaboration linked our students

with other French students across the world and also provided them an opportunity to learn about another country and talk about theirs. These projects extended our students’ learning outside the classroom and enabled them to use French as the lingua franca (vehicular language) in their written exchange. As an educator, the instant reward was indescribable. It is truly empowering to witness, and heart-warming to see, the positive impact these projects have had. We had not anticipated how our students would react, however our students’ responses were incredible and contagious. The girls’ enthusiasm to find out how and who was a real tribute to how much they value their learning of French and they have seen the relevance of the language used outside of the classroom. Collaborations such as this provide our students with a time to shine and show how much of the language they actually know. They have observed that languages actually know no boundaries and in that respect, they are growing as global citizens in this modern world. The power of ‘pen pals’ is often forgotten and underestimated. There is nothing like the old fashioned way of handwriting a letter. It adds that personal touch we lose in electronic mails, it shows care and thoughts of what we write and how it is conveyed. There is value to a pen pal exchange that in turn benefits our students. Life-long friendships usually emerge from these opportunities. We are looking forward to a flourishing relationship with X Gymnazija ‘Mihajlo Pupin’, and who knows, we might receive in the near future a postcard “From Serbia, with love” from one of our students. Ms Gwen Hackel French Teacher References www.britannica.com/place/Indochina http://uk.france.fr/en/information/french-overseas-territories


Name: Ms Amanda Bennett Title: St Catherine’s School Registrar and History Teacher Date: 25 August 2016


Selecting a school can be a difficult decision to make with a multitude of factors to consider. Having worked as School Registrar at St Catherine’s for eight years and a teacher for 18 years, I advise many parents to follow a three step process of research, making a shortlist and attending school tours to streamline the selection process and pinpoint the right school for their child. Generally, the starting point for researching a school begins with viewing potential school websites and creating a shortlist. At this stage, parents can feel overwhelmed if they try and explore too many options. This is where word of mouth is an incredibly effective and powerful research tool for parents to utilise. Seeking the opinions of current and past parents, students and alumnae provides firsthand opinions and real life experiences which can greatly assist parents during their initial research to shortlist prospective schools. The next step for families usually involves contacting the School Registrar or Admissions Department to determine place availability and scheduled campus tours. The first interaction with a school can have a huge influence on the parents’ feelings about a school. Parents need to feel their enquiry is welcome and appreciated and feel relaxed about asking for information. Generally, parents should enquire about class size, curriculum breadth and focus, cocurricular opportunities, facilities, pastoral care, the level of contact between parents and teachers and the educational philosophy of the school. Importantly, parents should also consider what differentiates the school from others. Many of the enquiries received at St Catherine’s School are concerning the benefits of single sex education. At St Catherine’s we firmly believe in the benefit of an all-girls’ school environment. In a recent article published by The Age,

it was stated that “both anecdotal and research based evidence, supports the idea that girls’ schools are better able to create an environment and opportunities needed for girls to succeed and develop intellectually, emotionally and physically.” 1 Research recently compiled by The National Coalition of Girls Schools also suggests there are a number of reasons why girls thrive in single sex-schools. These include academic achievement, building self-confidence, a cultural dedication to how girls learn best, development of leadership skills, heightened career aspirations and the championing of girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) 2, learning areas all recognised as critical to 21st Century workforce opportunities. A recent Melbourne University study also found girls at single-sex schools grew in confidence and achievement in STEM subjects when moving from a co-educational school 3. The Age also reported that “post – school they are more likely to pursue tertiary study and careers in STEM subjects, hold leadership positions, and earn higher wages than girls in co-ed schools.” Most importantly, as President of the Alliance of Girls’ Schools Australasia, Fran Reddan, articulates “girls’ schools provide an environment where students feel safe to express themselves, are more confident, more willing to take risks, ask questions and engage in healthy competition.”3 Another consideration for parents is school size. At St Catherine’s our small size, along with our one campus advantage ensures all our students – from the youngest in ELC to our VCE students – learn in one central and encouraging community. Small Year levels and low class numbers allow for personalised academic and pastoral care which fosters high self-esteem, resilience, empowerment


and achievement of each student’s personal best, all this while maintaining a broad and extensive range of subjects and outstanding co-curricular activities. Lastly, parents must organise a school visit, either on a private tour or through scheduled open mornings run throughout the school year. The initial experience of a school environment is vital to the decision making process. It is where parents and their child can assess if the school fits them and vice versa. It is critical they experience the school in action to gain an honest insight into the school culture, observing student/teacher relationships, respectfulness of students including how they wear their uniform and conduct themselves, classroom etiquette and whether the students appear cheerful and engaged. This first visit can form a lasting and pivotal relationship with the school. St Catherine’s also has a proud boarding reputation offering facilities to international and rural families. Given it is often difficult to visit the School for families considering boarding, St Catherine’s visits rural, regional and international education expos to offer parents opportunities to learn more about our School closer to home. In Australia, St Catherine’s participates in expos in Wagga, Deniliquin, Albury and Hamilton. The Head of Boarding and teaching staff travel to these expos and parents are able to gain an excellent insight into boarding and School life at St Catherine’s. Internationally, the Registrar attends exhibitions and visits Australian education agents in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Penang and Kuala Lumpur on a regular basis. Education is a lifetime investment. Whilst the final enrolment decision is usually made by parents, a school must also feel right for the child, as the individual who will be attending the school. A school’s values and ethos must also match the family’s beliefs and ideally its facilities should align with

the child’s strengths. Keep these considerations in mind and the process of selection will be far more enjoyable! Ms Amanda Bennett St Catherine’s School Registrar History Teacher References 1 Reddan, F, The case for girls’ schools, The Age, 16 August 2016 2 Megan Murphy, Executive Director, The National Coalition of Girls’ Schools, The Girls’ School Advantage: Top Ten Reasons to Attend an All-Girls School, 14 April 2016 3 Jacks, T, Why you should send your daughter to an allgirls school, The Age, 4 August 2016


Name: Mrs Kim Waters Title: English Teacher Date: 1 September 2016


It was the first day of Term 3 and the students participating in the Tournament of Minds competition were faced with the task of selecting a challenge which, in two teams of seven, they would work on for the next six weeks. Long-term challenges fall into one of four categories: Language Literature, Social Science, Maths Engineering and Science Technology. Choosing a challenge would be the first of many decisions the teams would need to make. It required good communication and unified learning. That is what Tournament of Minds is about. The team members came from Years 7, 8 and 10. For some, it was the first time they had had the opportunity to work with students from another Year level. The students who had participated before took on the role of mentors to the new students. Tournament of Minds is not only about teamwork and communication – it is also about leadership and encouraging fellow students to do their best. When the teams decided on their challenge, they began the task of solving their problem. This involved coming up with a creative response and writing a script for a 10 minute performance. One group, who chose the Science Technology challenge, had to create a scenario for survivors of a catastrophic event which included devising a machine that would send a coded message. The other group, who chose the Language Literature challenge, had to bring together a cast of well-known characters from books, films and songs and imagine a scene in which the characters revealed their true personalities. At first, the competition seemed a long time away, but the six weeks went quickly and suddenly the day arrived. On a Sunday morning in the middle of August, Deakin University’s Burwood campus swarmed with primary and

secondary students, carrying large cardboard cut-outs and boxes with a range of props and costumes. Having registered and submitted the required forms, the St Catherine’s School’s teams made their way to their allocated rooms. Here, they performed their long-term challenge in front of two judges and an audience of friends and family. When they finished their presentation, the excitement was not over. They still needed to compete in a spontaneous challenge where they were given an unseen problem to solve in four minutes. Once again, skills of cooperation and creativity were brought into play. St Catherine’s School has been involved in Tournament of Minds for many years. It has provided students with a chance to test their problem-solving skills and work collaboratively with a group of like-minded students. Here are some of the comments made by participants this year: “What we ultimately learnt was to work as a team and complete the script with the help of every single member of the group, not just one member,” Catherine Liu “I really enjoyed working with girls from other Year levels and by the end of it I knew them all much better.” Elodie Ferrali “I loved the idea of working as a team instead of individual work because that meant everyone had a responsibility,” Mayuri Muralidharan One of the objectives of Tournament of Minds is to ‘stimulate a spirit of enquiry and a love of learning’. For the students who have competed in the competition, this has certainly been the case. Mrs Kim Waters English Teacher


Name: Mrs Lola Ballis Title: Year 1 Teacher Date: 8 September 2016


Just like reading every day is encouraged, fostering a love of writing every day should also be encouraged.

the sound of a snow blizzard. There are endless examples of images to inspire writing. The writing then begins!

When we write we are present in the moment and our senses are alive.

Through the use of the visual image and sound, the beginning of a narrative, a recount, an information report, a poem or a song transpires. There is silence in the room and all that can be heard is the sound from the image. When it is time to put pencils down, excitement lights up the classroom as there is a willingness to share their work with their peers. As I am observing my students writing, I am heartened by the pure enjoyment on their faces, capturing the experience and moment they feel.

Learning to write in the early years is a complex and intricate skill. It requires students to think about a topic, sequence ideas and write a piece which voices feelings, enthusiasm, a personal recount or share information. Sentences are formed within a structure which requires a good understanding of punctuation and a strong focus of the sentence making sense. Students learn to use many describing words as they begin to understand the importance words have to engage their reader and audience of their writing. My Year 1 students have a new addition to our classroom and her name is Coco. Coco is a beautiful rag doll who has been introduced to our class to encourage the love of writing. Every student has the opportunity to take Coco home during a weekend for a sleepover. The creative opportunities of being present in the moment with Coco can be fully explored and used to stimulate original thought for the students’ writing. On Friday night the adventure begins. It is captured by each student as they publish their entry in the writing book. Again, the skills of punctuation, the use of descriptive words, sequencing events and making sure it makes sense, continues to be the focus. One, we all love in Year 1! “Rocket Writing” is a recent technique used in our classroom to stimulate writing in all genres. The only instruction given is to write freely about a digital image displayed on our classroom television. Inspiration from our learners comes from viewing this image. The second dimension is sound. Examples include a camp fire with the crackling noises from the fire, the sound of water in a waterfall or

Through these two examples, a number of points have become evident to me. When you provide students with opportunities to have ownership of their writing experience, they can produce a variety of genre and a desire to write freely, taking risks and enhancing their interest and confidence in writing. As Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” Mrs Lola Ballis Year 1 Teacher


Name: Miss Kirrilly Wootton Title: Heyington to Highlands Supervising Teacher Date: 15 September 2016


“Travel is at its most rewarding when it ceases to be about reaching a destination and becomes indistinguishable from living your life.” –Paul Theroux When someone mentioned Fiji, my mind was filled with images of beautiful beaches with white sand and bright blue water, palm trees full of coconuts and other picturesque postcard scenes. That was until I had the privilege of joining the Year 9 students on the Heyington to Highlands program. By stepping completely outside our comfort zones and taking part in this incredibly rewarding, inspiring and lifechanging experience, we saw a side of Fiji that very few people will ever have the opportunity to witness. After a short flight and an overnight stay in Nadi, we split into our three groups and made the long journey up into the Fijian Highlands. The bumpy ride in the back of a truck was full of laughter, singing and tentative conversations about the times ahead. When we finally arrived at Kenani, our new home, the adventure truly began. Kenani was one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. There were 360 degree views of mountains and you felt as though you were on top of the world. There was a touch of ‘culture shock’ for many of us as we settled in to the traditional bures. A bure is more or less a square house made out of thatched bamboo walls. I quickly learned that the wildlife also enjoyed the comfort of our bures and it became a common occurrence to find a frog or two hopping around the room. Soon after we arrived, our tour leader took us on a short walk to collect firewood and gave us the first glimpse of Nasivikoso, a small and secluded village, enveloped by cascading mountains and lush green forests. The girls were quite keen to see the school, but were not quite as excited when they saw the steep hill it sat on top of. The next morning, we

made our first, of many, ‘hikes’ from Kenani to the Nasivikoso School – excitement levels were at a peak! Not just for our girls, but also for the children bursting out of the classroom windows and doors waiting to welcome their new friends. The Nasivikoso School is home to 250 students from grades one through to eight. The school consists of four classrooms, one library and four incredible teachers, who managed to create inspiring and effective lessons with the bare minimum of resources. I had the pleasure of observing our girls assisting, teaching and learning with the zestful Fijian children. The classrooms were full of enthusiasm and a true passion for learning. There was an ever-present sense of belonging and connectedness that spread right through the whole community. The connections the girls made with their new Fijian friends were authentic and astonishing. From the moment we arrived at the school, our girls felt welcome and comfortable. There was certainly a language barrier, particularly with the younger children, but the Fijian children eagerly listened to every word our girls said. Our girls became the storytellers, the music makers and the assistants that were unquestionably necessary in these busy classrooms. Some of the girls found the classroom experience a challenge initially, but by the end of our time at the school they had found confidence in themselves and were standing at the front of the classroom singing and leading the children in games outside. During our group reflections, it was clear that the girls had gained an incredible amount from the school experience. Beyond the skills they had developed in understanding and assisting younger students, they had learnt many of life’s golden lessons. The common themes during reflections were on the passion the students had for learning, the pride they took in their work, the respect they had for one another, how resilient they were playing outdoor games and of course,


the fact that they were so happy even though they had so little. We recognised there was a lot to be learned from these young children and began to truly acknowledge the differences between what we want and what we truly need. One warm afternoon we ventured up to the local waterfall – a journey that took a lot of stamina and plenty of teamwork. None of us really knew what we were in for, all we had been told was that it would take us ‘awhile’ to get there and it would be worth the effort. I can assure you that there is no way I would have made it up to the waterfall if it wasn’t for the team of Fijian children who willingly, stretched out their arms and pulled me up the steep muddy paths. Even though the journey was a challenge, it was exhilarating to reach the top and provided another opportunity for relationships to strengthen between the girls and the Fijians, as they gained trust for one another and worked as a team to conquer what seemed an almost impossible task. On the Monday of the second week, we journeyed down the other side of the mountain, crossing through farm lands and nine rivers to reach the Village Games. This was the first time the whole group had been reunited since we arrived in Nadi and there was a lot of excitement around seeing one another and sharing the experiences so far. What unfolded was somewhat surprising. After the initial moments of reuniting with the other Villages, our girls returned to our area and stayed together. It became very clear that we were no longer just a group of travellers, we had become a small community where each person felt completely accepted and respected. The Village Games provided an opportunity for some healthy competition in spear throwing, nu-put (shot put with a coconut), wading relays and a hundred metre sprint that would have rivalled an Olympic final. The final event was a ‘sing-off’, which the Fijians, who had come to support their Villages, found absolutely hilarious! You couldn’t help but smile as the girls and teachers, performed some very creative and original music. Watching

the girls, alongside their new Fijian families, participating with enthusiasm and energy to take home the prized Kava Bowl was an incredible sight. Even though the Kenani Kings were not the best Team on the day, the truck ride home was filled with laughter as we reminisced about the awesome efforts of our Team. There was a tremendous amount of learning and personal growth that took place up in those mountains and many positive partnerships were formed. From learning about life growing up as a girl in Fiji, to discovering the natural medicines and the many traditions, we walked away with a very rich understanding of the Fijian culture. The girls reflected on how incredibly lucky and privileged our lives are, with all that we have and challenged themselves to be more grateful. We are so fortunate and take many things for granted in our lives; clean water, the comfort of our homes, electricity and the technology that stems from it and of course all the material luxuries that we have the opportunity to own. We did reflect, however, that the Fijian people may be among the wealthiest and luckiest in the world with the natural beauty of their land, the simplicity of their lives, their unbelievably strong connections with their families and the rich culture that has been passed through the generations. The Fijian people that we met on our travels were some of the happiest and most generous people I have ever met. They welcomed us into their lives and were eager to help us in every way possible. On a personal note, this journey taught me so much about teaching and learning. It highlighted the importance of living in the present moment. It reminded me to make time each day to slow down and appreciate the world around me. I learned a lot about myself; as a global citizen, as a teacher and as a person. It also reminded me of something I have known all along ‘the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.’ Miss Kirrilly Wootton Heyington to Highlands Supervising Teacher


Name: Ms Jo Lynden-Bell Title: Junior School Extension and Learning Support Teacher Date: 6 October 2016


“Today’s world requires that we accept the oneness of humanity,” -the Dalai Lama.

differences offer variety as well as opportunities to learn, grow, value difference and respect cultures and opinions.

At St Catherine’s we are fortunate to have a great many cultures from all over the world represented in our School community.

Broadening our perspectives and developing a better understanding of others is our goal. Allowing ourselves the opportunity to embrace new ideas in turn enhances our own education and builds upon our knowledge. We are then more able to fully appreciate our place in this world and as a part of the global community.

The most recent demonstration of this was at our ‘Celebrating Cultural Diversity’ Assembly in Barbreck. Everyone in the Junior School thoroughly enjoyed hearing from students and teachers alike who shared their own personal stories, facts and information from their varied cultural backgrounds. Some of the countries and cultures we learnt about included Greece, United Arab Emirates, Canada, Israel, India, China and Italy. We also learnt that over 25 cultures are represented in Barbreck alone and many of our students were able to share insight about their own cultural history. It was lovely to see the interest generated by this display and the many discussions that were sparked amongst students from the sharing of these accounts. I heard reports of many great discussions taking place within the classrooms and certainly, it sparked conversations amongst the teachers within our very own staffroom. We enjoyed choral performances, we heard from both our Langley Choir who sang a folk song in Gaelic, and the Heyington Choir who performed a traditional Israeli song in Hebrew. The benefits for our School community having such a range of cultures represented in our student body are many and varied. Teaching and learning within a diverse community creates an enriching environment in our School, we are offered a snapshot into other parts of the world right here within our immediate environment. Our

When we embrace the knowledge, experiences, and perspectives of our peers, our teachers and our colleagues, it helps us understand the richness of life as it is experienced in cultures other than our own. This also allows us to appreciate and value our own culture. Our world is growing smaller every day. Preparing our students for life as part of a globally connected community is an important responsibility that we all share. The diversity within our School helps us by preparing them for adult life and to find their place in the world. Many of our international students are already doing this by immersing themselves within our culture here at St Catherine’s. Our students who sit between two or more cultures are encouraged, supported and shown that our School is a supportive community, where each individual has the right to feel a sense of belonging. Our School is a living, thriving example of many different cultures joining together within a close community cooperatively, positively, respectfully and harmoniously. Whilst we observe that we have differences from culture to culture, it is important to notice that we, humankind, also have a great many things in common. Ms Jo Lynden-Bell Junior School Extension and Learning Support Teacher


Name: Ms Mary-Anne Keratiotis Title: English Teacher Date: 13 October 2016


As an English teacher, I am always surprised by the quality and content of written responses received from students when I completing creative tasks. The wide range of experiences they include in their content, the articulation of a personal ‘voice’, and the revelation of material which exposes their human vulnerability simply cannot be replicated in the overwhelming number of analytical tasks students are asked repeatedly to produce, and which have come to characterise much of our academic assessment of literary skills. Unfortunately, the renewed emphasis on analytical thinking in the new English VCE Study Design, at the expense of creative writing, and the limited amount of time many students now devote to reading for enjoyment, intensifies the disconnection between the individual and lifelong learning – it makes learning transactional and short-sighted. Students often ask: ‘Will I need to learn this for the test, or the exam?’, a measure of the reductionist consequences of teaching content for a specific purpose rather than connecting it more broadly to students’ own experiences and understanding of the world around them. We have come a long way since Charles Dickens’ criticism of the utilitarian model of education as one which simply served the needs of industrialism. Yet the fact that students feel under pressure to achieve in those subjects which prioritise academic ability rather than promote personal expression, suggests we may not have moved as far from institutional education as we would think. Trends in the tertiary sector towards acknowledging the interpersonal skills of students, their community involvement, as well as their ATAR score, reveal a growing understanding of the importance of the whole student. To this end, creative writing and creative thinking become ways of helping students to explore other ways of expressing their personal identity. To this end, many teachers now echo the sentiments of educationalist and philosopher, Nel Noddings, whose body of writing emphasises the role of education in helping students explore

their personal direction in gaining knowledge and skills rather than score-based achievement. She laments that “some people argue that schools are best organised to accomplish academic goals and that we should charge other institutions with the task of pursuing the physical, moral, social, emotional, spiritual, and aesthetic aims that we associate with the whole child. The schools would do a better job, these people maintain, if they were freed to focus on the job for which they were established.”1 Yet the persistent call by author and speaker on education, Sir Ken Robinson, that education should educate the whole child. Has gained traction around the world. He argues that intelligence which is diverse, dynamic, interactive and distinct should not be framed by the narrow definition of academic ability alone. Indeed, he suggests that the increasing accessibility to traditional academic Degrees by emerging economies reinforces the need to redefine intelligence and the purpose of education for the future lest our traditional emphasis makes narrow definitions irrelevant and ineffective in future economies. Our own educational innovation, not only through the expansion of Science and Technology in STEM but also the type of experiential learning that can be gained in the Heyington to Highlands program, suggests that such redefining is well underway. The opportunities afforded by such programmes in helping students explore their place in a changing world becomes fuel for creative and reflective writing in the English classroom. Renewed focus on dedicated reading time in Year 7 English classes guided by the work of Diane Snowball, Educational Consultant on Literacy, and the regular integration of creative writing in the English curriculum go some way towards restoring the balance between creative and analytical thinking. Ms Mary-Anne Keratiotis English Teacher Debating and Public Speaking Coordinator References 1 Nel Noddings, ‘The Whole Child’ Educational Leadership, Volume 63, Number 1, September 2005.


Name: Mrs Mary Karvounaris Title: Year 6 Teacher Date: 20 October 2016


The Canberra Study Tour is an important aspect of the Year 6 curriculum. Learning more about the development of Australia as a nation, from Federation to present day. Students learn and understand the importance and significance of Australia’s British heritage, the Westminster system, and other models that influenced the development of Australia’s system of government as we know it today. Students receive firsthand experience from a diverse range of national cultural institutions and attractions. All these provide educational programs that can immerse students in hands on learning activities, interactive displays and role plays in the areas of Civics and Citizenship, Science, History, Geography, Culture and Art. The Year 6 Study Tour to the nation’s capital is exciting, educational and a journey into the home of the Australian story. It is also an important aspect into gaining independence as the students fly interstate for four days and three nights. Parliament House gave students a chance to observe where Australia’s leaders enact laws and policies that affect our nation. It is the home of Australia’s Parliament and the meeting place of our nation. The visit to this beautifully architecturally designed building offers a unique experience for students to appreciate architecture, the stunning art collection and the beautiful landscaped gardens. Students get to experience and learn more about what actually happens in Parliament House through role play. The students undertook a role play that involved them in ‘passing a bill’ through parliament. This allowed them to see exactly how this is done and what is actually involved in the passing of laws. Students visited the Senate and the House of Representative Chambers and viewed historic documents such as the 1297 Magna Carta. The High Court is one of Canberra’s major tourist attractions and is situated in the Parliamentary Zone. The building is a unique structure, constructed mainly of concrete and

glass. Students visited the three courtrooms and learnt about the history, role and operation of each court. The Museum of Democracy offers students decades of politics as passion echoes through the corridors, making it one of Australia’s most memorable heritage attractions. Students experience an atmosphere of history, they can revisit dramatic events and enjoy the 1920s architecture and fine design. The Museum offers an exciting program of exhibitions and engaging activities which explain how the building, its spaces, and objects connect us with Australian democracy. Learning about our past and present Prime Ministers at School, the students’ knowledge was enhanced through an interesting learning experience enabling them to learn more about these important, and respected people in our government system. The Australian War Memorial is Australia’s national memorial to the members of its armed forces and supporting organisations who have died or participated in wars involving the Commonwealth of Australia. The Australian War Memorial combines a shrine, a world-class museum, and an extensive archive of memories. The Memorial’s purpose is to commemorate the sacrifice of those Australians who have died in war. Its mission is to assist Australians to remember, interpret and understand the Australian experience of war and its enduring impact on Australian society. The War Memorial models compassion for our students as they pass through the Hall of Honour, showing empathy and offering poppies to fallen, or unknown soldiers, who fought for our country. The Royal Australian Mint enriched the students with the history of Australian currency. Learning about how coins are made and discovering interesting facts about the history of coins in Australia. They saw how they are designed and the intricate process involved in making coins. Observing the factory with the robots, Penny and Titan who help with the


lifting of extremely heavy barrels containing unmarked coins was most interesting. The highlight was the gift shop that gave students the opportunity to make a commemorative $1 coin. Included in the itinerary are some recreational activities, as it is important in helping to keep students focused and allow them time to recharge and to take their mind off feeling home sick. Questacon is a fantastic institution with many interesting hands on and interactive exhibits. Cockington Green is another ‘let your hair down’ experience venturing into the delightful and fascinating display of meticulously crafted miniature buildings set within beautifully landscaped gardens. The much loved steam train ride around the garden allows for seeing the things they may have missed. Bowling was another much loved evening activity that was enjoyed by everyone and exhausted the students allowing for an excellent night of sleep. The Year 6 Canberra Study Tour allows students time to grow and develop independence and long lasting friendships while away from home. It is one activity that the students will remember and treasure well into their adult lives. Mrs Mary Karvounaris Year 6 Teacher


Name: Mr Chris Jones Title: Head of Sport Date: 27 October 2016


Open any weekend newspaper and you cannot ignore the one page advertisements for the myriad of organised running, cycling, walking and military style obstacle events on offer around the state. Likewise, log into your social media account and you cannot miss the selfies of people you know – sweaty faced and beaming, clutching their medal of completion after successfully finishing one of said organised events; Aunty Sue who has never run a day in her life, having completed a half marathon in Run Melbourne, your boss, donning lycra at dawn for weeks on end has conquered Round the Bay in a Day, your wife and girlfriends from her mothers’ group teamed up to smash Tough Mudder. The photos speak for themselves – these people have set themselves a challenge and are basking in the glow of rising to meet it head on. But why? What is it that prompts these novices to drag themselves out of bed in the wee hours, push their bodies further than they thought they could, and endure physical and mental strain by choice? What is it that lures them, that motivates them, that allows them to push through barriers they never thought they could? Have you noticed the jerseys and singlets these people are wearing? The vast array of charitable organisations’ branding emblazoned on quickdry fabric? These people are not competing for themselves, but rather, for someone or something beyond themselves – and getting fit in the process is merely an added benefit. According to social psychology, people can display what are known as ‘helping behaviours’ whereby they voluntarily help others without considering whether or not there is a personal reward. Signing up to the Melbourne Marathon in support of the JMB Foundation, or Shane Crawford cycling across Australia to raise awareness of breast cancer and to support the Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) are

perfect examples of people doing just that – wanting to find a way to help someone or help a cause they believe in. Shane Crawford was motivated by the women who had been affected by breast cancer. This experience was a way for him to raise the awareness of breast cancer and the work that BCNA undertake. The journey from Melbourne to Perth allowed him to connect with so many rural communities and offer hope to women with breast cancer and their families. It is intrinsic to want to act, to do something, in order to feel that we are helping others in their time of need. Organised sporting events are the perfect vehicle for this. By signing up to an event in the name of raising money for a charity, we are given a sense of purpose and the gratification of knowing that we are helping people, or organisations, beyond our own lives. Pushing yourself, and seeing what you can handle within your own physical comfort zones, can also allow individuals to show sympathy, and in their own small way, share others pain. Likewise, the organisations people compete for, and support, benefit from this human need to act in times of crisis or hardship. They receive both money and increased awareness for their cause. The organisations themselves have often been borne as a result of individuals having faced hardship and loss. For them, it is the means by which they heal, and a means to continue to do what they can to prevent others from experiencing the circumstances they have faced, or raise funds to support those who have; again this offers a means to help. Within St Catherine’s, the running culture that has been fostered over the last three years has created opportunities for girls to participate in such events. St Catherine’s provides information, training for the students and opportunities for parents, friends and families to be a part of such events. This year, a number of girls and their families ran in the Mother’s Day Classic. We hope in the future we are able to involve the wider St Catherine’s community in these community events.


A key foundation of positive psychology is known as PERMA. This acronym, coined by Martin Seligman refers to Positive emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishment. Seligman’s theory is that these five elements are the building blocks to wellbeing; that they form the foundation of our ability to flourish in our lives. One cannot ignore the relevance of this to the willingness of seemingly random people who sign themselves up to gruelling sporting events to raise money for a charity. Often borne out of the tragedy of someone they have never met. The positive emotions one experiences from making a commitment, setting themselves maybe seemingly unreachable goals in order to help another person, the engagement felt when having a clear direction and purpose, the relationships and deep bonds that can be formed when one works with others in realising their goals; the meaning that can be found when putting oneself out of one’s comfort zone for a cause beyond oneself, and that deep sense of accomplishment that comes when one crosses the finish line. Positive emotion. Engagement. Relationships. Meaning. Accomplishment. Helping others through sport. This phenomenon is a powerful one – and one which calls upon the human spirit in its most altruistic sense. Mr Chris Jones Head of Sport


Name: Ms Lee Brandt Title: Science Teacher Date: 3 November 2016


In 2016, a group of Year 10 students travelled to the USA on a two week science adventure.

initiatives are showcased here, along with international space artefacts such as the huge Apollo Saturn V moon rocket.

This trip provided a range of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) focused activities during the visit to Huntsville, Orlando and San Francisco.

Students continued their exploration of flight when they journeyed to Orlando, Florida. Here they spent time studying the physics of flight and then experienced free fall at the iFly indoor Wind Tunnel. Later, students toured the everglades in a high speed hovercraft.

The first part of the journey began in Huntsville, Alabama where students participate in a five day program at the NASA Advanced Space Academy (Space Camp). Space Camp provides a global exchange of ideas and inspiration, with students attending from countries around the world, as well as within the USA. This immersive program commenced in 1982 and continues to challenge young people with activities involving teamwork, leadership and decision making. Our students undertook a variety of astronaut training exercises, engineering challenges and team building activities – culminating in an extended duration simulated space mission. This learning experience enabled students to apply their STEM skills to problem solve in a team environment. Trainees were able to select between the Mission Specialist and Pilot tracks. Activities for the Pilot Track include the centrifuge, jet aircraft simulations and survival training. The Mission specialists learn about spacesuit theory and design and were able to undertake SCUBA spacewalk training. Students trained in the Mission Centre Complex Operating Simulators where they were responsible for command and control and conducted Science experiments. The Centre has a Multi-Axis Trainer for spacewalk simulations and a 1/6 Gravity Chair so that students could experience “walking on the Moon”. Students also had the opportunity to visit NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Centre, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, located on site. Many leading aerospace technology

The Kennedy Space Centre provided students with an overview of the history of space flight and the space program. The tour included “lunch with an astronaut”, which provided a first-hand account of what it is like in space. Another highlight was the visit to Universal Studios, which included a ‘behind the scenes’ tour of some of the rides. The final destination was San Francisco, where students toured the island of Alcatraz and spent time exploring the many interactive displays of the huge Science Centre, the Exploratorium. San Francisco also provided a gateway to Silicon Valley where students visited the Intel Museum, gaining an appreciation of the historical development of computers and the computing industry. The final excursion was to the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California. This state-of-the-art facility undertakes nuclear energy research. The NIF has designed a nuclear fusion research device that uses the world’s highest energy laser system to heat and compress a small pellet of hydrogen isotopes so that it is hot and dense enough for nuclear fusion reactions to occur. The nuclear fusion process offers the possibility of an energy source that will provide huge amounts of clean energy if successful. This trip was action-packed with much to offer students with an interest in science, technology and the future. Ms Lee Brandt Science Teacher


Name: Miss Tessa Dunstan Title: Head of Drama Date: 10 November 2016


“Arts education aids students in skills needed in the workplace: flexibility, the ability to solve problems and communicate, the ability to learn new skills, to be creative and innovative, and to strive for excellence.” – Joseph M. Calahan, Director of Corporate Communications, Xerox Corporation This year, Australia celebrated Play School’s 50th Anniversary. What a fantastic achievement for a much loved and iconic part of Australia’s rich arts culture. Even as an adult, I am transported back to my four year old self whenever I hear the theme song. I still have my favourite window (arch), learning the time by watching the rocket clock, drawing along with the presenters, doing basic mathematics equations and singing stories. Play School’s values of encouraging children ‘to think, to feel, to wonder and to imagine’ underpins my own teaching philosophy as a Drama educator. Whether it be a large scale production, classroom activity or an assessment task, my aim is to enable the students an opportunity to explore and create meaningful dramatic work that they can be proud of. At St Catherine’s, the girls are fortunate to have Drama as a core subject in Years 7 and 8, and as a standalone subject, not part of the English curriculum or thrown in with other Arts subjects, as does sometimes happen. These years are foundation years for learning how to navigate the adult world our students will soon be in. Drama allows them the space and opportunities to explore and be a part of that world in a safe environment. The best practice of teaching and learning creates an environment which fosters creativity and nurtures the individual’s attributes and skills. A distinguished and much loved pioneer of Drama education Professor Dorothy Heathcote, was an advocate of Drama being taught in conjunction with all curriculum areas to support and

enhance students’ understanding and knowledge. A well-known example of this is a practice called ‘Mantle of the Expert’. Professor Heathcote’s aim was to allow the students to become the ‘experts’ in their own learning thus creating confident and engaged learners. As Professor Heathcote puts it, “Being treated as experts empowers pupils to actively explore issues across the curriculum, assume responsible roles, solve problems and make decisions in guiding the process and its outcomes.” This brings on special responsibilities, requires language needs and social behaviours. This practice also develops students’ emotional intelligence as they need to ‘read’ situations and negotiate in order to succeed. Brian Edminston, a Professor of Drama in Education from Ohio State University, shares a similar view, “Dramatic playing is essential for children’s learning empathy and self-control. Children learn to empathise as they view the world from other people’s perspectives including those of peers, adults, and people in stories.” A statement or sentiment I am confronted with too often is that Drama is not an academic subject. Having recently attended a Professional Development session at St Catherine’s, I chose to participate in a workshop which looked at the future of employment for our current and future students. It was interesting to hear Charles Brass discuss the skills that will be integral to the students of today and tomorrow. These included creativity, resilience, critical thinking, collaborative learning, communication, as well as being flexible, productive, having leadership skills and using initiative. These skills are the backbone of the Drama curriculum, and are, in fact, needed in most professional fields; medicine, law, engineering, IT, business and more. In one Drama lesson students will negotiate and work together to explore creative ideas, problem solve, research


ideas, plan, write a script and present a performance with focus and energy – all whilst remembering lines, responding emotionally and physically to a situation and taking on board all of the requirements for the task. Why would we not consider Drama as an academic subject when the demands and rigour of it are just as involved as any ‘academic’ subject? It involves analysis of text, of their own work, of others’ work, of professional performances and it is also creative. In researching for this Blog, I came across another Blog by a beginning teacher in the field of Drama who had listed ’79 Reasons Why Kids Need to Study Drama at High School’. I won’t list them all but a few that stood out were: • You will develop higher order thinking skills. We can often be limited by our own attitudes and beliefs. Drama requires us to view things from multiple perspectives, inviting us to share control of a narrative between different players. This automatically widens our perspectives, allowing us to synthesise and evaluate information at a much higher level. • You will learn how to give feedback and take on board feedback. Drama teaches us how to ask questions that help make sense of learning. The two simple questions; ‘what worked’ and ‘what could be improved next time’ encourage students to offer constructive feedback and think critically and positively about their own and others’ performances. • You will discover ways that you can make change, because “Creative people change the world”. Returning through the arch window to Big Ted and Jemima, each week Play School’s shows are centred on a theme. These themes vary but all have real world significance. A theme which they focused on recently was ‘What’s Next?’.

What’s next for the students we teach today and the careers they take on tomorrow is partly unknown. Building and developing these important life skills which will prepare them for their futures is essential. By giving them these tools, the skills, the creative mind and the imagination, hopefully they will be equipped to go through the window and in to their futures with excitement asking ‘What’s Next?!’. “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” –Albert Einstein Miss Tessa Dunstan Head of Drama References http://dramaresource.com/dorothy-heathcote-pioneer-of-educational-drama/ http://www.settlers.org.za/news/blog/the-importance-of-drama.html http://georgiacreativeartsportfolio.weebly.com/week-9— leading-creative-learning-with-drama.html https://sites.ehe.osu.edu/bedmiston/ https://79reasonswhykidsneedtostudydramaathighschool. wordpress.com/references/ http://www.abc.net.au/abcforkids/sites/playschool/ Balkin, A. (1990), What Is Creativity? What Is It Not? Special Focus, from Creative Thinking in Music. MEJ, May 1990. Pp. 29 – 32


Name: Mrs Michelle Carroll Title: Principal Date: 14 November 2016


The Australian soldier grows not old, the flame still lights his eyes Although his body lays to rest, his flag forever flies On the green and gold horizon where the wattles sweep and sway It flies amongst the gardens and the classrooms of today Over ocean streams and backyard dreams, above the sunburnt plain Through harvest yields, on sporting fields, in rainbows after rain It defines a life worth living and a day that must be won For every father’s daughter and for every mother’s son But more than that, the honour claimed in fighting for the free The pride of the Australian soldier burns in you and me When the night is dark and dangerous with the rumble of the storm His courage calls the sunrise and his spirit makes it warm We will not forget their sacrifice – the strength of their endeavour For the choices we are gifted with, that flame will burn forever With a smile that lights the future shining brightly in our scope We will stand as one, together – we will carry on with hope But as we go, we take the words that rightfully belong “I am young and I am worthy, I am brave and I am strong In the face of any challenge, I will strive to rise above I deserve this opportunity to live, to learn, to love I can truly make a difference; my path is up to me At the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, our School observed Remembrance Day. We remembered the lives and events of time past. In the words of T.S. Eliot in 1944, for ‘time past is present in time future’ and in doing this we come to experience a little of what the war poet John Manifold called “the courage chemically

pure,” and reinforce within ourselves what it really means to be Australian in our present, and in our future. As we observed Remembrance Day, I suggested the important thing is not the day or the date, but the act of remembering. In remembering, we think of their unknown courage and self-sacrifice by which they gave themselves, and with that distinctive fellowship we as Australians prize so highly – mateship. It is impossible for us to imagine the hardships they endured in the mud of Flanders, the burning sands of North Africa, the steaming jungles of Burma and on the Kokoda Trail, the degradation of the prisoner of war camps, or the sandstorms of Iraq and Afghanistan. Just about every country town across Australia has a war memorial. Most of them were erected following the First World War, to honour the soldiers that served, mostly those who never made it home. On these memorials is a list of names. But they are not just names. In small regional towns those names listed were known by most. It was also not uncommon to have the same surname appear a number of times as families lost more than one loved one. In Ballarat, where I grew up, there is large Arch of Victory and what follows is a row of trees – the Avenue of Honour. The Ballarat Avenue, at 22 kilometres, is the longest Avenue of Honour in Australia, a total of 3,801 trees extend over the distance. A tree planted for each soldier, sailor and nurse from the district who served during the First World War. It is one of the earliest known memorials to have been planted in Victoria. It represents an egalitarian approach to the commemoration of service personnel where service rank was not a consideration. If you have ever lived in an Australian country town, or have driven through one on your way to somewhere, you will often have passed a war memorial, perhaps Stawell, Horsham or Adelaide and through the Avenue of Honour. Most include a


figure of a soldier in First World War uniform, his rifle inverted, his eyes cast down and, on the column at his feet, name after name of those who have fought and often died in that and subsequent wars. Completing the list of names, the long familiar words: “their name liveth for evermore’ (Ecclessiasticus 44: 14). We have all rushed past memorials like this with barely a glance, let alone a thought to what they represent. I am guilty of this in my own childhood. The Avenue and Arch is less than a kilometre from my old school on the foreshore of Lake Wendouree. But this week we stopped to remember, not just to honour those names from the distant or even recent past, but in contemplating their stories, better understand our own. They must not have died in vain, they did not die in vain. We will honour their memory by achieving what they sought to achieve, by being what they hoped to be. They will continue to live in our memory and in our actions. “At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.” And so, on Remembrance Day, we make present those past lives that have intertwined with our lives. We engage their faces that look out at us from old photographs. We name their names. We recall their deeds. “Their name liveth for evermore.” Mrs Michelle Carroll Principal


Name: Mr Tom Crebbin Title: Junior School Head of Physical Education Date: 24 November 2016


The importance of school spirit and belonging can never be underestimated for students and teachers alike, writes Junior School Coordinator of Sports, Mr Tom Crebbin. “If you want to discover new oceans you must be prepared to lose sight of the shore.” One of my favourite quotes of inspiration that challenged me to leave behind my organised and trusted lifestyle and take on the unknown. It wasn’t really a difficult decision back at the end of Term 3 in 2012 to follow my wife to Belgium as she moved to head office with her Pharmaceutical company. I knew I was leaving a good school at St Catherine’s, where I had enjoyed eight years of enthusiastic Junior School children who loved playing sport, representing their School and improving their fitness, however, the lure of Europe and the chance to teach in another country was consuming. Before landing in Brussels I had researched the large number of International and European Schools in the city and felt there would be many opportunities for a native English speaking teacher. Brussels hosts the EU Commission and EU Parliament, so there are many ex-pats living in Brussels, all wanting their children to be taught in English, as it is seen as the “universal language”. I had sent several CVs to a number of schools in advance without receiving a response, but decided after a few days after arrival I would visit a few schools and introduce myself. The first school I visited was close to where we were living and after five minutes chatting to the secretary I found myself in the Principal’s office being presented with the possibility of teaching Year 2, covering for a teacher on sick leave.

I started work the very next day. Being in the classroom, rather than a sports field, was different for me, but I soon found that children are children whatever the country they are from and “we all smile in the same language” as their motto stated. Following this position I moved to the European School in Uccle which was a school for the many EU workers from all over Europe that called Brussels their home. The school’s most famous alumni was Boris Johnson, Lord Mayor of London from 2008 to May 2016, and now, following Brexit is UK Foreign Secretary. In the primary school we had around 250 students in Year 6. Each country of the EU had a classroom or two. In one corridor you could have a Spanish classroom, a Danish classroom, two English classrooms, a Slovenian classroom, a German classroom and several French classrooms. It was the United Nations of schools with students all being taught their own curriculum, in their own classroom, by teachers largely recruited from their country of origin. The campus went from Year 2 to Year 12, with 5,000 students on-site in a similar campus size to St Catherine’s. I have never witnessed such a mix of cultures and languages in such close proximity, yet in a strange way, it seemed to work. The students of every class had to learn a second language other than their own, with the most popular being English as it is easily the “default language” for most people in the international world. I found myself teaching English as a Second Language for much of my time in the European school and an average class would consist of four Spanish, four German, four Italian, four Danish, two Slovenian and four Dutch. Just for the record – the Danish seem to be the most fluent in English – whilst the French children may have the neatest hand writing, they are the most reluctant to learn English.


The school day was long with classes starting at 8.15am and finishing at 4.00pm with most of the afternoon devoted to electives where nationalities combined to pursue art, board games, dance and many other activities. In sport, football (soccer) was the go-to sport and every inch of the playground was consumed with a game to the point where pitches crossed each other, yet the games went on. The soccer intensity reached an all-time high during the World Cup of 2014. With not any green grass in the school and 5,000 students from Prep to Year 12 it was an amazing institution. The school employed 500 workers and not a week went by without some nationality celebrating their national day and providing the rest of the staff with their home grown wine or traditional cuisine. Teaching in an International School and learning the cultures of different students was a rewarding experience. However, my time overseas also highlighted the importance of having strong school spirit and a sense of belonging to a school community. It made me miss, and appreciate my time at St Catherine’s. On my return to St Catherine’s I now, more than ever, appreciate our School assemblies, providing students, teachers and parents a time to celebrate achievement and recognise effort. The size of classes at St Catherine’s also allows teachers to establish real connections with students and the fluidity of our campus and timetabling allows educators and students to gain the best outcomes and choices. So when it is all said and done “I left the shore, crossed some oceans, experienced some interesting weather and returned with a new perspective on how nice the beach is at St Catherine’s.” Mr Tom Crebbin Junior School Head of Physical Education


Name: Ms Georgina Stride Title: Year 4 Teacher Date: 17 November 2016


In 2016, the cross age friendship program that has existed for many years between the Year 4 students and the ELC Four Year Olds was renamed. The name Four Leaf Clover was chosen to reflect the connection between the Year 4 students and their ELC friends. It was a new name that the students could have ownership of and a visual symbol that can be easily identified by all the students. The Program runs as an integral component of the St Catherine’s whole School Wellbeing Program. It was launched in March with a shared lunch and play between the Year levels. Lunch time was spent getting to know each other and asking lots of questions about one another. This was followed by a play in the ELC playground. The Clover friends then met twice a term to play games, share stories and take part in collaborative activities. We took turns to meet in the Junior School classrooms, the Library and in the ELC. One special session was spent drawing portraits of each other. Clover friends posed with great stillness as each took a turn to draw their friend. Another magical moment was the gifting of picture books published by the Year 4 students for their younger Clover friend. During these sessions beautiful connections have been made and strong friendships have been formed between the children. St Catherine’s Wellbeing Program weThrive:Wellbeing@ StCatherine’s is a whole School approach from the Early Learning Centre to Year 12, that provides a holistic approach to the personal, social, emotional and physical wellbeing of the students. This is achieved through a thematic, integrated and age appropriate wellbeing program. The ELC to Year 2 focus of weExplore – who we are, through learning, through play and Years 3 and 4 weGrow – as people, through relationships with others, through mindfulness and reflection.

The Four Leaf Clover Program is in line with the National Safe Schools Framework which encourages a supportive and connective school culture and a focus on student wellbeing and student ownership. This program benefits both the big and little friends. The Student Wellbeing Hub cites ‘The positive relationships formed between experienced students and those new to the school community can promote the little buddies’ optimal adjustment to school. This has a positive effect on learning and is a marker of future school success. Big buddies can develop leadership skills and empathy, enhancing their self-awareness, self-confidence and self-esteem – characteristics that have a positive effect on learning.’ For the staff involved it provides time for the teachers to step back and observe their students. The Year 4 students take the leading role and the benefits for them include feeling needed and taking responsibility for planning, then implementing activities to engage the younger students. It gives each Year 4 student the opportunity to make a difference and to develop their social intelligence. The sessions encourage them to collaborate and to show tolerance, patience and organisational skills. For the ELC children, it is important that they develop a sense of belonging to groups and communities and an understanding of the reciprocal rights and responsibilities necessary for active community participation. They look up to their Year 4 friend with respect. They feel safe and cared for. This is also a key component of the Early Years Learning Framework, which guides all Early Learning activities in Centres across Australia. The Alannah and Madeleine Foundation’s Better Buddy Framework also cites that a Buddies Framework assists with student transition to Junior School. It contributes to a


positive and caring school culture. It develops pro-social values and skills. It builds self-confidence. It promotes inclusion, develops empathy and discourages bullying. It gives children the opportunity to practise the important values of respect, care and valuing difference. The Four Leaf Clover Program also has a strong link with the Aristotle Building Blocks Emotional Intelligence Development Program. The Year 4 students this year, have worked through the Swinburne University program in their Wellbeing classes. Emotional literacy is very relevant to the School context and its positive influence on personal development and academic achievement is well known. The program has helped each student’s perception, appraisal and expression of their own emotions and in recognising the emotions of others. It has helped the Year 4 students recognise and understand the emotions of their younger friends. The Year 4 students’ enjoyment of the Program has been evident throughout the year. Each session is highly anticipated. The start of each gathering has seen the Clover friends search each other out and greet each other warmly, often with a big smile and hug. The older friends have reflected on the Program this year and comments include: “I love the Four Leaf Clovers because we get to be role models just like the Year 6 girls. When we are with them we learn a lot from them and they learn something from us. I really look forward to seeing them when they are in Prep.” Sophie “You can hang out with a four year old like a younger sister or brother. It is always fun.’”Hannah “The younger Four Leaf Clover friends learn lots from us. They always listen carefully and ask questions. They learn about manners and friendship. They look up to you.” Karen

“When we come over to see them they get really excited and all come running over for a big hug.” Sophie As a teacher I have been involved in establishing and fostering cross age buddy programs in many schools over the years. The fostering of cross age relationships, such as those developed in our Four Leaf Clover Program, are of great benefit to all involved. It helps create a safe, inclusive and connected culture within a school. The Four Leaf Clover Program has been a highlight of the year for many of the participants, both young and old. There have been life long memories and friendships formed. This year the Four Leaf Clover friends have built a true sense of connecting and belonging to the St Catherine’s School community. Ms Georgina Stride Year 4 Teacher References weThrive@StCatherines Wellbeing Program St Catherine’s School (2015) Student Wellbeing Hub (former Safe Schools Hub)-Education Services Australia (2016) https://studentwellbeinghub.edu.au/ docs/default-source/creating_a_buddy_programme Better Buddies -The Alannah and Madeleine Foundation (2010) http://www.betterbuddies.org.au/ Aristole Emotional Intelligence, Swinburne University, Con Stough and Justine Lomas (2015)


Name: Mr Tim Tainsh Title: Year 3 Teacher Date: 1 December 2016


How, and why, has it become important and what has Year 3 being doing in STEM? As a Junior School educator it is a privilege to be given the opportunity to educate, nurture and inspire each student in my care. My role has many responsibilities, but the most important one is creating a learning environment and providing the educational opportunities to equip my students with the skills, capabilities and values to be confident, socially aware and empowered global citizens. One of the challenges I need to embrace in order to fulfil this responsibility is being able to respond to the changing needs and demands of the 21st Century. These demands require me to develop a new approach to education and to prepare my students for future study, careers, and citizenship. One of the most significant challenges facing society, education and the young people of today is the changing nature of work. With many industries and traditional career paths disappearing largely due to automation, globalisation and the constant change created by technological innovation and the internet, there has been an unprecedented and corresponding push in education to revitalise interest in subjects related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). What has caused the push to revitalise STEM learning? With an increasing demand for STEM trained graduates by our largest global companies since the start of the 21st Century and, the low enrolment rates in these fields of study in many countries across the world, it not surprising that we have a shortage of skilled workers in STEM related jobs and careers. The rapidly changing nature of the employment market and, new science and technology skill sets and capabilities required by graduates to have, has presented new challenges for both schools and tertiary institutions globally.

“International research shows that building STEM capacity across the population is critical in helping to support innovation and productivity regardless of occupation or industry. Consistent with this research, industry surveys show that STEM literacy is increasingly becoming part of the core capabilities that Australian employers need. PricewaterhouseCoopers has estimated that changing one per cent of Australia’s workforce into STEM-related roles would add $57.4 billion to GDP.� 1 The growing effects of skill shortages on global economies, and the pressure on individual countries to adapt and secure their nations economic futures, has led many governments to take proactive steps to solve the problem. Whilst many industries adjust and provide opportunities for employees to re-skill or shift industries, schools and tertiary institutions have been targeted by governments globally as holding the solution to this decline in STEM trained workers. Developing knowledge and skills in coding, design process, algorithmic and computational thinking are some of the skill sets required by employees to prepare them for the jobs of the future. These skill sets, capabilities and the STEM related courses to teach them, are now filtering into tertiary institutions and are embedded into the national and state government curriculum statements. There is now mounting research and evidence supporting the shift to more STEM based learning opportunities in education. It is important to note that the push to provide more STEM based learning in our schools and tertiary courses is not aimed at specifically producing more programmers and mathematicians. It is however, encouraging students to study STEM subjects and show them some of the great careers built on Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Technology. It is also hoped that by starting this interest at the school level it will help increase the number of students taking up STEM subjects


in higher education and in their careers and help keep Australia competitive internationally in these important fields.

solving, creativity and communication skills, necessary for future success in a wide range of occupations.

In recent years, politicians and economists have promoted the idea that a strong economy in the 21st Century will prosper through STEM. We know that children entering the education system in 2016 will be joining a very different workforce in 2030. In fact, 75% of the fastest growing occupations now require STEM skills and knowledge and yet, Australian enrolments in almost every STEM subject area at university level have continued to fall over the last decade. Australia has a declining rate of STEM-related course completions which have decreased over the past 10 years from 22 per cent to 16 per cent. In contrast, in Singapore, 34.75 per cent of students graduated with a STEM qualification in 2014. In China 46.9 per cent approximately 1.5 million people completed STEM programs. Strong performance in STEM is critical to future economic growth, encouraging curiosity and reflection in the students of today will ensure we come closer to closing the STEM skills gap in Australia.

STEM education creates critical thinkers through instilling a sense of intrigue and wonder. It encourages children to challenge their world, understand new concepts, make well-informed decisions and pursue new interests.

What is STEM education? STEM education is an interdisciplinary approach to learning which blends the study of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (and ART – STEAM) into a cohesive learning paradigm. Rather than teaching the disciplines as completely separate and discrete subject silos, as they are often referred to, STEM challenges learners to draw connections between their learning and the real-world. STEM focuses on these areas together – not only because the skills and knowledge in each discipline are essential for student success, but also because these fields are deeply intertwined in the real world and in how students learn most effectively. The underlying purpose of STEM education is therefore to equip students with critical thinking, problem

STEM lessons: • focus on real-world issues and problems • are guided by the design process • immerse students in hands-on inquiry and open-ended exploration • involve students in collaborative coconstruction of knowledge • require children to apply knowledge and skills to solve problems and naturally inspire them to seek further knowledge and improve their skills • allow for multiple right answers and re-frame failure as a necessary part of learning. Why is STEM important at St Catherine’s? We are frequently reminded how vital it is that we engage girls in STEM based learning opportunities. There is a significant disparity between the numbers of young women enrolled in STEM qualifications – only 19 per cent. While women make up 60 per cent of the non-STEM based course qualifications. The reasons underpinning this issue range from a lack of female role models, to gender stereotyping and less familyfriendly flexibility in STEM fields. However, regardless of the reason, we cannot afford to lose half of our potential innovative minds and, we should be encouraging women into STEM fields in order to continue to be a global leader in innovation.

Over the years, Australian women have been at the forefront of many important discoveries and innovations in the STEM fields, such as the revolutionary spray-on skin for treating burns victims, developed by Dr Fiona Wood. However, the number of innovations by Australian women is still dramatically lower than that of their male counterparts. This poses the question, if more women were encouraged to be actively involved in STEM fields, how much higher could our national potential be? The solution? Encouraging women in STEM must begin at an early age. In order to change the current gender stereotypes, women must find inspiration from other women and realise their potential to contribute towards global innovation. What has the Junior School being doing in STEM based learning? In 2016, a specialist STEM teacher provided groups of students from across our School a comprehensive curriculum of STEM based learning experiences. In the Junior School, Year 3 were targeted as a commencement point to introduce the STEM concept and skills, with weekly one hour sessions provided during the year. So far, the Year 3 STEM program has exceeded expectations with every girl gaining new skills and knowledge in areas such as coding, electrical circuits and design process thinking. One of the unique aspects of the STEM program has been the ‘hands-on’ nature of learning. In Semester 1, the girls used small construction kits to explore the concepts of electrical circuits, creating moving objects and mini machines using sensors, switches and battery power. They also learnt skills in computation thinking, debugging code and applying these skills to create coded algorithms to solve problems in digital games.

By working collaboratively in pairs, each week the girls were challenged to conceptualise problems, explore solutions, plan, construct and then test their ideas. Often when something didn’t work as planned, they had to check and revise their design and tinker with the parts before they solved the problem. The very ‘hands-on’ and collaborative nature of the age appropriate learning experiences has sparked the girls’ sense of play and enthusiasm for ‘learning by doing’. It has been wonderful to observe the girls’ increasing levels of patience and perseverance driven by their curiosity and determination to solve meaningful and engaging problems. The girls have always looked forward to their weekly sessions with excitement as they anticipate what new things they will build and create. St Catherine’s Junior School STEM program will continue to expand and evolve as students build and transfer their new skills across Year levels and make connections with other areas of their curriculum. Here are some comments from students about the Year 3 STEM program. “I like being able to make cool things and work with your friends. I really like what we can make.” Elisa Wang “You get to use your imagination.” Portia Gowrie “I like that you can create your own stuff.” Natalie Wang Mr Tim Tainsh Year 3 Teacher References 1 https://www.studentsfirst.gov.au/restoring-focus-stem-schools-initiative http://innovationtoolbox.intel.com.au/


Name: Mrs Jessica Easton Title: Prep Teacher Date: 13 December 2016


We all make transitions in our lives. We move house, take up new jobs, join new groups and communities and move into new environments. Sometimes we feel confident about these new changes and sometimes we are apprehensive and feel uneasy. Beginning school for the first time is no different. Each child responds differently to such changes and will deal differently with the transition into school. Starting school is an important time for children and their families. Children who make a positive start to school are more likely to feel at ease, valued and selfassured as learners and have a sense of belonging to their school community. Therefore, the transition and orientation process is essential for developing an optimistic attitude towards school and learning for children. Families play an important role in supporting children to manage the transition to school. Parents can help their children to cope with the changes by developing their social, emotional and learning skills. The following are some ideas for helping your child move into the school environment with ease: • Teach your child to introduce themselves and ask to join in play or, invite others to play • Talk about what it means to be a good friend • Encourage sharing and taking turns • Teach conversation skills such as waiting for a turn, listening without interrupting and expressing ideas • Develop self-help skills such as dressing and undressing, putting on shoes and socks, opening lunchboxes and packaging and going to the toilet and washing hands • Encourage them to ask for help when it is needed • Teach them to take care of their belongings • Develop understanding of rules – discuss the reasons for rules and their importance

• Encourage them to focus on an activity for a period of time and persist until it is complete • Encourage listening skills – listening when someone is talking and when being read to • Help them to follow instructions • Encourage hand-eye coordination by using scissors, throwing and catching balls etc. The summer holidays are a long break for young learners and often it can feel like the first day of school will never arrive. Children may enjoy counting down the days over summer until they begin school. Parents could make a countdown calendar to cross off days or place a sticker over a day, or make a paper chain with the number of links matching the number of days until the first day of school. Over the holidays involve your child in the preparation for school. This includes trying on the school uniform and showing them where it will be kept in their wardrobe, purchasing and looking through the books and stationery needed for their year ahead and organising play dates with friends who will be in their class. Finally, when the big day arrives try to ensure you are as prepared as possible the day before. Remain as calm as possible to reduce any additional stress caused from rushing and remember that children pick up on their parents’ feelings and behaviour so stay as positive and composed as possible. Starting school is a special time in a little learner’s life and with a solid partnership between school and families, children can benefit from a smooth and positive transition to school which can set the tone for their educational journey. Mrs Jessica Easton Prep Teacher


St Catherine’s School 17 Heyington Place Toorak VIC 3142 Telephone +61 3 9822 1285 Email info@stcatherines.net.au www.stcatherines.net.au CRICOS 00574F ABN 90 004 251 816

Profile for St Catherine's School

Conscientia 2016  

St Catherine’s staff share an ethos of commitment. They strive for excellence in teaching practice, and their extensive knowledge can be see...

Conscientia 2016  

St Catherine’s staff share an ethos of commitment. They strive for excellence in teaching practice, and their extensive knowledge can be see...