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Meta What?

Thomas Sterner, author of ‘The Practicing Mind’ observed:“So few people are really aware of their thoughts. Their minds run all over the place without their permission, and they go along for the ride unknowingly and without making a choice.”

Sterner’s viewpoint, speaks to the importance of reflection and meta-cognition, the act of intentionally thinking about learning, which is such an important focus at ATC, particularly in Term 2. As part of the Learning Formation program, students have been encouraged to look for themes in their feedback, to guide their future goals and strategies. Many have engaged in ‘learning’ conversations with teachers, to enhance their understanding of the feedback they have received. Indeed, it has been a very hectic start to the year. Aside from the normal classroom activities, students have participated in literacy and numeracy immersions, writing extension classes and Elevate Education seminars. It has been extremely gratifying to see so many of our students express their appreciation for these opportunities and speak in positive terms about how they will apply their learning to their subjects.

Improving Writing Outcomes for Boys

One of the key areas the College is seeking to make an improvement in, is the capacity of boys to write proficiently. 2017 has seen a great focus both in improving teacher pedagogy when it comes to instruction around writing, but also student enthusiasm and confidence, particularly in relation to on-demand writing.

To facilitate this goal, can I make parents aware of two key initiatives:

  • Firstly, students from Year 7 – 10 have access to an online-writing program, called Write that Essay, which provides students with a range of practise opportunities including revision of mechanics (such as use of the apostrophe, parts of speech etc.), as well as guided writing. Importantly, the program differentiates for students at different levels, and provides video tutorials for those who need regular prompting. This online program is being used across classes, to ensure a common language around writing instruction. This program can be accessed at on the Write That Essay website

  • Secondly, on 23 May from 6.30 p.m. the College is hosting Dr Ian Hunter, of Write that Essay, who will run an evening for parents, sharing key tips on how to improve writing outcomes for boys. The evening will particularly focus on building fluency through sentence variation. Staff worked with Ian earlier in the year, and found his address to be one of the best professional development sessions in their career. Ian has worked extensively to improve outcomes for boys across countries, including in New Zealand, Singapore and America. The evening will run in seminar format, in groups, so there will be a cap. More information will be released next week re RSVP. Be sure to get in early – the evening will be suitable for all parents, regardless of the grade your son is in.

NAPLAN

In other matters, the period between 9 and 11 May marks the commencement of the 2017 NAPLAN external tests, for years 5, 7 and 9. The College takes the view that all students should participate in the testing and do their absolute best. As always, we have made appropriate arrangements for students with specific learning needs, to ensure that they can access the test. While the purpose and place of NAPLAN has been a subject of debate across the wider Australian community, the College position is that the information yielded from the tests, can and should be used, in combination with other formative and summative assessments, to reflect on the effectiveness of our learning program and to target particular areas of weakness within or across cohorts.

We ask parents and students to engage with the NAPLAN schedule below, and ensure that appropriate equipment is brought into the examination rooms. All students will sit the NAPLAN test in their homeroom groups and classrooms, unless they are being supported with special conditions in a Learning Support Room. Students are also permitted to bring a water bottle into the testing room. We advise all students to ensure that their equipment is organised well before the test day, to avoid last minute panicking. No borrowing of equipment from other students, will be allowed once the test has started. In the event students are ill when tests are scheduled, the College must be notified and a medical certificate or letter from home provided upon your return.

Note: Times below are approximate only and may differ slightly between Years 5, 7 and 9.
Tuesday 9 May
Language Conventions 8.40 – 9.30am
Writing 10.00 – 11.00am
Bring: 2B pencils, pencil sharpener, eraser

Wednesday 10 May
Reading 8.40 – 9.45
Bring: 2B pencils, pencil sharpener, eraser

Thursday 11 May
Numeracy
Part A Calculator (Year 5, 7, 9) 8.40 – 9.30am
Part B-Non Calculator (Year 7 & 9 only) 9.35 – 9.45am
Bring: Pen (black or blue ink), 2B pencils, pencil sharpener, eraser, approved calculator (Part A only) – graphing calculators not allowed
NO MOBILE PHONES, IPODS or WATCHES WITH INTERNET CAPABILITY ARE PERMITTED

Kath Little, Dean of Learning
littlek@atc.qld.edu.au