- From our Principal, Carmel Maguire
- We Strive for Academic Excellence
- At St Monica’s we are growing together!
- Our Culture of Excellence: Teaching is more than a job
- The Assessment Waterfall at St Monica’s
- Adding a splash of colour to St Monica’s!
- Our very own Mitchell Brown was on Sunrise!
- A couple of final words from Carmel…
At St Monica’s, our staff are committed to professional learning opportunities, developing teacher skills and student growth. We focus on the needs of each individual and measure student progress on a regular basis.
The teaching team shares best practice to build teacher capacity in each other and are committed to providing their students with a wide variety of engaging learning experiences that stimulates their curiosity and enables them to reach their full potential.
This year, our Year Six teaching team have been using the national numeracy learning progressions to inform their teaching of Mathematics and implemented the ‘Convince Me’ strategy.
“This strategy helped all learners take ownership of a problem. When I asked my students a question like "What is 1/3 + 1/2?" they needed to be able to justify their answer. They were able to use higher order thinking skills to explain their answers and collaborated with each other to convince sceptics,” Numeracy Coordinator, Liz Foster, said.
The teachers are focused on helping our students to become life-long learners who can think independently. The students apply the ‘Convince Me’ strategy to convince themselves, their peers, and their teachers that they understand a concept. Students demonstrate their knowledge and understanding through visual, symbolic and language representations before progressing to the next concept.
“I liked using the convince me strategy because it allowed me to explore different ways to explain my thinking like the visual way, I personally never used this way to explain things but this pushed me out of my comfort zone and I liked that,” Year 6 student, AJ S, said.
The teachers are able to cater for individual student needs, measure student growth, and track their students on the learning continuum. The teachers provide targeted feedback to their students to correct any misconceptions a child has relating to the mathematical concept taught. This provides informative data to plan future directions for teaching and learning experiences.
St Monica’s is a vibrant Catholic school community that is growing together, being guided by St Monica. Jesus is always at the heart of what we think, say and do. Students are empowered to explore their faith across learning areas, connecting Catholic tradition, values and beliefs with their everyday life experiences. Concepts explored in 2020 include Community, Identity, Roles and Responsibilities, Resilience, Energy, Relationships and Choices.
Encountering the Holy Spirit through the Sacraments is a special time within our school year for students, their families and our school community. St Monica’s Primary School is part of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, North Belconnen. Sacramental programs are now Parish based and are offered for; Reconciliation (Year 3), First Eucharist (Year 4) and Confirmation (Year 6).
Students in these grades are supported through high quality, contemporary learning experiences and a home preparation program, which allows families to come together to strengthen their own faith journey. We understand that the home and school are not separate entities, they are intrinsically connected. Our school is dedicated to supporting each student and their family by providing a consistent approach for all involved to ensure we are building, maintaining and restoring positive relationships throughout the school and at home.
Students in Year 3, supported by their families, peers and teachers recently made their First Reconciliation. The Sacrament of Reconciliation offers self-reflection through conversation. It is a way to experience God’s forgiving grace, so that we too can be people of forgiveness and love, and actively live out our school motto of respect for our Creator, ourselves, others and the environment. The opportunity for each family to attend the church individually created a beautiful and peaceful experience where the Holy Spirit was fully present and felt by all who were present.
We spoke to Lily about her Reconciliation conversation and what she has learnt about reconciliation.
“Reconciliation is about choices we make and to forgive and I learnt to always forgive no matter how bad they hurt me,” Year 3 student, Lily H, said.
Teachers at St Monica’s are passionate educators who program contemporary Religious Education through Conceptual Inquiry. Conceptual Inquiry provides teachers with a pedagogical framework for connecting religious concepts with the learning areas of the Australian Curriculum.
Our teachers go above and beyond for the children in their care. Teaching is more than just their job, it is who they are, their passion and tool for growth. One of the ways St Monica’s promote a culture of excellence is through our Professional Learning Teams (PLTs). PLTs are based on the work of Professor Helen Timperley who created an inquiry model of teacher development.
Each year, the St Monica’s leadership team creates a focus for our PLTs based on our Strategic Plan refined by the Annual Improvement Targets. In 2020 our PLTs are directly linked to our three Strategic Goals; Achieve Growth in all Aspects of Learning, Improve Literacy and Numeracy Skills and Create Equitably Outcomes for Students.
During remote learning, each teacher created a specific goal based on one of the Strategic goals and created a mini action research plan. During Semester Two, the staff in teams of three focused on their remaining two goals, spending time mentoring and coaching one another to achieve these goals.
We asked our teaching staff about the impact the PLTs had on their students and teaching efforts.
“Using Learning Intention and Success Criteria has seen students having a much clearer understanding of what they need to do and how they are going to get there, creating a positive impact on student engagement,” Ryan said.
“I’ve seen a significant growth in students' confidence when using the strategies of Re-Reading and Decoding to become more confident readers through the use of Structured Texts,” Jacinda said.
“Progress in selected girls’ numeracy skills and confidence. They have achieved better results and are engaging more in class,” Kathy said.
Over the years, the results of our PLTs have been used to make informed decisions around programs that the school has used to improve student outcomes including SoundsWrite, Formative Assessment, Conceptual inquiry, effective Pedagogy and problem solving in Mathematics.
At St Monica’s, education is a partnership between teacher, student, and family. We have high expectations and accountabilities for all partners. This year, we achieved this through the Assessment Waterfall based on the work of Dr. Lyn Sharratt.
The Assessment Waterfall is a set of strategies teachers apply in the classroom to ensure all students are aware of the intention for learning and can achieve success in attaining new knowledge and skills. The stages of the Assessment Waterfall are: Learning Intentions, Success Criteria, Descriptive Feedback, Peer and Self-Assessment and Individual Goal-Setting.
Year 3 Teacher, Kirsty Godschalx said before the implementation of the Assessment Waterfall, she viewed assessment as a task that needed to be done by the teacher and more often than not it occurred at the end of a sequence of learning.
“The challenge in this way of viewing assessment was that it was not focused on growth and the students had no opportunity to own their learning and seek to improve. The Assessment Waterfall has provided a framework for both student and teacher to be more reflective and strive for ongoing improvement,” Kirsty Godschalx said.
We also asked Drew G (Year 4) and Rohan G (Year 5) about their experiences using this assessment in the classroom.
How did you go giving your classmate Descriptive feedback?
“I gave one of my classmates some feedback after they read aloud to our small group. I found it easy to think of a way for that person to improve their reading. I think it is a good idea to give feedback to others because it can help them to improve,” Drew said.
What goals have you set for yourself?
“After I did my speech I got some feedback from my teacher and then I did my own self assessment. My goal was to work on not speaking too fast when giving a speech,” Rohan said.
Let our little learners show you The Assessment Waterfall. Watch the video below!
At St Monica’s, we believe wellbeing and building community is critical in all aspects of everyday life and embed this in our teaching and learning each day. We returned to school as a whole school community at the beginning of Term 3. Staff and students joined forces to explore ways in which the school community could promote and enhance the wellbeing of our staff and students following a challenging Term 2 due to COVID-19 restrictions and several weeks of remote learning.
Each student in Year 6 is a member of a specific student leadership group. The Year 6 student leadership group whose key focus is on sport across the school put forward the idea of having a mini colour run at St Monica’s. The twelve Sport Leaders believed it would not just be a fun and exciting activity for our school community, but also a great way for students to be active and outdoors; a positive to promote good mental health.
“We chose the colour run because we thought the colour run was a happy and fun activity that would help with everyone’s mental health. We wanted to bring laughter and joy to our school during a tough year due to COVID-19. We believed the bright colours would brighten up everyone’s day,” Year 6 student, Remy D, said.
With much enthusiasm the Sport Leaders began preparing for what would be a fun way to end our traditional SABBATH Week with a Wellbeing Day. Advised to come dressed in old casual clothes the children were treated to a mid morning session of games, coordinated by the Year 6 Sport Leaders. Following lunch the children connected with their buddy classes for several laps of the oval when everyone was dusted with bright coloured powder. The tradition of buddy classes is a core part of how St Monica’s builds and enhances the relationships amongst our students.
It was wonderful to see the majority of our students and staff out on the school oval running around, laughing and enjoying each other's company and the perfect weather. The teachers particularly enjoyed being able to splash students with the colour powder. We look forward to many more events like this in the future!
We keep our students and teachers connected with one another.
On 25 September, our very own Mitchell Brown appeared on Sunrise via Zoom! This was a very special moment for Mitchell and our entire school community. Mitchell was one of eight students to appear live on Sunrise for weatherman, Sam Mac’s Virtual Quiz!
His Mum, Melinda Brown, can be seen sitting and smiling with Mitchell in the Zoom photo. At St Monica’s, we believe education is a partnership between teacher, student and family. We’re so pleased to see our students and their families engaging and making the most of opportunities, even through these difficult times.
Congratulations Mitchell! We are so proud of you and hope you enjoyed the experience.