Dear Parents and Carers
After raising excitement levels regarding our new building works, I received news last week that the commencement date has been pushed back to at least the second half of this year. Whilst I was initially disappointed about the new change, I consoled myself with the thought that it would give us more preparation time. It will also allow us to continue to use our shared spaces, such as the School Hall for a greater part of the year which is a positive outcome for our children.
We have decided to repeat the “in house” model of staging a disco, similar to last year’s initiative which was held during school hours. The disco will be held on April 1st and will be staggered throughout the day, to comply with COVID regulations. Children will be allowed to wear appropriate disco clothing to school, whilst mindful that they will still need to be able to participate in normal school activities for the rest of the day.
One of our learnings from last year was that disco dancing was not for all children. We will certainly be mindful of this fact and arrange for alternative activities for those children.
You may have noticed that we have been advertising a Monster Working Bee on Sunday 28th March. We are hopeful that we will receive the support of many parents in order to undertake some large projects on this day. One such project is the beautification of the area immediately outside the (Kindergarten end) corridor. Please let me know of any other issues you feel should be addressed (but only if you have time to come along and help)!
Please keep this date free, we will be providing lunch for all workers and children are most welcome.
Following our first meeting of the Community Council the following parents were elected as office bearers and members.
Chairperson: James Montero (Claudia Year Five)
Secretary: Loretta Power (Sarah Year Five)
Treasurer: Shivani Nangru (Chayan Year Two)
Parent Member: Liesl Taylor (Mikko Year Four)
Staff Representatives: Petra Cole and Daniel Hunt
Ex Officio Members: Graham Pollard (Principal) Fr Simon Falk (Parish Priest)
We are still seeking an additional parent representative. The Council meets in the Staffroom twice a term for approximately one and a half hours. Let me know if you have the time to make this commitment.
May God bless you and your families
Through the Window
Every morning, students gather in the junior playground before the first bell rings. At this time of day, you’d notice lots of movement as students exit cars, or farewell their parents at the gate, place their bag in their class line, and begin to wander the
However, if you look closely, you’ll also see that a few Year 5 students have gently taken the hand of a Kindergarten student to help her find some friends to play with. Mixed teams of older students start to play handball, and include the younger students in their game, teaching them the rules. Teachers on duty move around with students-in-tow, keeping them company until a friend is finally dropped off at the gate. Year 6 students prepare to lead the morning assembly, gathering the right amount of birthday stickers and checking their script. Children on the grassy area laugh and joke together, and share stories of the evening before. Parents and carers wave to class teachers as they leave their children in their care. The bell rings, and teachers greet students at the lines with smiles and friendly banter before we all join in prayer to start the day.
Our school encourages and teaches empathy, which yields kindness and compassion and a desire to be welcoming - qualities most parents hope to instil in their children. Empathy makes us happier and more courageous, too. And people with empathy have stronger personal connections and more meaningful, supportive relationships. Scientists believe that there is a very strong link between social-emotional learning (with empathy as a core component) and academic success. The more social and emotional skills students are equipped with, the easier they will find the social aspect of schooling, and the more they will be able to focus on their learning.
We understand that our littlest people are learning to be 'good, big people'. So staff don't just model kindness and compassionate practices at St Matthew's - we also teach it. For example, our classroom teachers use their read aloud time to help to kick start conversations about difference, kindness, communication and understanding, helping our students to empathise with unfamiliar experiences and emotions.
Empathy is one of the most defining — and important — human qualities, and it's on display every morning here at wonderful St Matthew's.
Yes - you thought you were watching a large group of students waiting for the bell to ring, but it really was so much more than that.
The students and teachers have been wrapping up their prayer inquiry units with lots of classes producing creative work pieces that demonstrate a deeper understanding of the form and ritual of different prayer types and the importance of prayer in our lives. Each member of the school has been working on crafting a prayer according to their learning in class that will be put together to produce a whole school St Matthew’s prayer book to be used during class prayer.
The Season of Lent marks the beginning of the annual Caritas Australia Project Compassion Appeal. Donations to Project Compassion allows Caritas Australia, the Catholic Agency for Internationl Aid and Development, to work with local communities around the world to alleviate poverty, hunger, oppression and injustice. Each year we raise student awareness of people around the world who need support and encourage giving to this cause. Your child can take donations to school at any time throughout Lent and place it in the donation box in their class.
What is Christian meditation?
This year Archbishop Christopher Prowse declared a focus on Christian Meditation in our schools. Our focus grades are Kindergarten and Year Three. Christian meditation is a very simple and ancient tradition of prayer. According to John Main, the greatest challenge of meditation for modern people is simplicity. We are trained to respect complexity. Yet simplicity is not easy to learn and, therefore, it requires discipline. Although he was insistent on the need to practise meditation as an interior and daily discipline, not just as a technique of self-enhancement, he also stressed the need for patience and gentleness in learning the discipline. The students will learn and practise the ritual and form of Christian Meditation particularly posture and breathing.
St Patrick’s Day and 200 Years Catholic Education Mass
On Wednesday 17 March the whole school will come together to celebrate Mass. We will mark St Patrick’s Day and also acknowledge the great achievement of 200 years of Catholic Education. Due to COVID regulations we will not be able to have parents/visitors attend the mass.
Maths at St Matthew’s
Over the past few weeks, I’ve had many conversations with parents about using NAPLAN style maths textbooks at home to help their children with maths concepts. Unfortunately, this type of “worksheet style” approach to maths does very little for your child with regards to deep understanding. I recently read an article entitled “The Problem with Worksheets/Textbooks”. I’ve popped the main points below.
They often have a “right” answer. Which means that they also have a wrong answer. However, the wrong answer doesn’t allow children to use trial and error to learn from it. Instead, the wrong answers on a worksheet lead children to believe that there is no value in risk-taking because only the right answers are valued. Seeing a lot of wrong answers can also reduce a child’s belief in her/his ability.
- Similarly, they can only be used in one way. This means that children aren’t using higher order thinking skills like they would if they were playing with concrete materials.
- Children are concrete learners, which means they need concrete objects in order to learn a new concept. Pages from textbooks like NAPLAN are abstract and are therefore incapable of teaching this type of learner. This is what makes them developmentally inappropriate.
- Since these textbooks can’t teach children of such a young age, that means the only thing they can do is present, or test, a concept that children already know. And if children already know it, then why are we wasting our time on it?
- Worksheets and textbooks are task-oriented activities rather than learning activities. When completing a worksheet, the goal becomes to finish the worksheet rather than learn the task at hand.
- They don’t allow children to work together or collaborate on a project. At an age where social skills are of the utmost importance and are still forming, the activities in our classrooms and homes should promote collaboration, not discourage it.
- Textbooks do not allow for creativity, divergent thinking, or the opportunity to display learning in different ways.
- Textbooks and worksheets waste valuable time, focus on teaching only rote skills (Volante, 2004).
- Overly academic approaches may offer short term success, such as children being able to recite alphabet letters or rote count, but this comes at a cost. Children that perform these overly academic routines may not have engaged in the higher order thinking activities that help them understand why things are the way they are. They don’t have a firm foundation for later success.
- Any concept portrayed in a worksheet can be taught better in a hands-on, meaningful way.
As Marilyn Adams said, “If they can do the worksheet, they don’t need it. If they can’t, it won’t help them.”
Think about jumping on board a plane to set off on holidays. (feels like a dream right now) You want to know your pilot has a deep and vast understanding of the aeroplane and its mechanical functions. You want to know that they know how to problem solve and figure out what to do in the case of an emergency. You want to know that they have received the highest level of training possible. You would be horrified to learn that this flight was their first and that they learned to fly using a worksheet.
Maths is much the same. We shouldn’t expect our children to understand complicated and abstract concepts without access to a firm base in number sense and resources that help them to learn these skills.
So please, throw away those at home worksheets and textbooks and focus on learning with your child and having fun with them!
Number Sense Games
I have placed some links below of fantastic games you can play at home with your child/ren that promote good number sense. These games can be easily levelled up or down, depending on your child’s ability level. Use smaller numbers for beginners and to increase difficulty, add in larger numbers.
100 or Bust - A simple game with a focus on probability while also providing some mental addition opportunities.
The Product Game - This game has no luck element at all; therefore, it is 100% strategic. Great game to practise multiplication facts in an engaging way.
Part Whole Triangles - A great game to help children understand how numbers consist of different parts.
Closest to 10 - A simple game to practise addition skills.
Addition Golf - A great game to develop mental addition skills.
Number Sentences - A great game that explores the link between addition and subtraction.
As we have had several enquiries about Gala Days and students’ ability to participate in these days, I would like to clarify which days are considered to be Belconnen Regional Gala Days.
Trials for selection of Belconnen Gala Day teams will be run by St Matthew’s. Students will be selected on skill level and the focus of the day is on competing. Students selected for these teams represent St Matthew’s at the Gala Day. These competitions are made up of catholic schools and public schools from the Belconnen Region. These events are run by School Sport in consultation with individual schools. Only days that are run and organised by School Sport are considered to be Gala Days.
St Matthew’s will consider entering teams in Gala Days, based on student interest and the availability of coaches, managers and teachers to attend these events. However, the focus must always be on what is best for the learning needs of the students at our school. Where we feel that sporting commitments, such as these gala days impact on the ability of teachers to teach and students to learn, we will make a decision to pull back. At St Matthew’s, our primary objective is to educate the children who attend this school. Whilst sport is part of what we do, too many days like this take away from learning in other curriculum areas.
If your child would like to participate in a Gala Day, please email me directly and a decision will be made about running trials. If trials are to be run, you will be notified through the school. In the sporting section of the newsletter each fortnight there will be information about upcoming Gala Days. Another good way to keep an eye on this is to follow the School Sport ACT Facebook page. Your child will have the opportunity to participate in 1 gala day per year.
Selection for ACT representative sport is run by School Sport ACT. They run their own trials and students are selected from those trials to be part of the ACT Team. These days are also NOT considered to be Belconnen Gala Days and will not impact student’s ability to participate in Gala Days.
News from School Sport ACT
School Sport Australia Announcement
'It is with regret that School Sport Australia is cancelling all 2021 School Sport Australia National Championships. The Board considered that running Championships in 2021 was not viable because of the ongoing volatility caused by COVID-19 outbreaks, hot spot declarations and border closures. School Sport Australia’s priority is on the wellbeing of students, teachers and other officials.'
For the full announcement please head to the SSA website
SSACT is investigating other options for School Sport state teams in the hope of students competing and representing the ACT in 2021, we will keep you posted.
Scholastic Book Club Issue 2 will be coming home this week. Orders will be due by Wednesday March 17th to ensure books will be delivered before the end of term.
11 March 2021 - Yr 2 Excursion to National Botanical Gardens
23 March 2021 - Community Council - Open Meeting
26 March 2021 - School Photos
28 March 2021 - Palm Sunday
1 April 2021 - Holy Thursday
Term 1 concludes