14 August 2017

BUILDING MOMENTUM IN WINTER TERM

Welcome back to school and Winter Term. To borrow some sporting terminology, this term is the premiership quarter for our students. It is time to step up a gear. Take it all to another level. Winter Term, if approached in a focussed and committed manner, can set each boy up for a terrific finish to the year. Our boys will have the chance to look toward next year with some positive, confidence building momentum.

Student Led 3 Way Conferences - Building Momentum

Reflective practice and strategic planning has been a significant focus in Middle School classes at the start of this term. Each boy in Year 6 & 7 has been reviewing his Semester 1 Report. In doing so he has identified and selected up to three aspects he will develop as goals to improve on over this coming semester. The goals may have come from Subject Area criteria or from the Approaches to Learning components. He will be discussing and talking these over with his teachers and developing an action plan to achieve each one of them. Your son's Semester 2 Goals document will be the centre piece of the Student Review Meetings we would like to have with you in Week 3A.

Student Review Meetings are conducted with your son's Homeroom teacher only. If you wish to speak with another teacher about a specific learning area please, as is always the invitation, contact that teacher and make time to see or speak with them.

Each Homeroom teacher has made 30 time slots available either before or after school in Week 3A. Online bookings can be made from Monday 29 July. Instructions on how to book your meeting will be emailed to you on Monday. If there isn't a time that is suitable for you please contact your son's homeroom teacher via email to arrange an alternative time.

Handwriting

At the end of last term following the Workshare classroom visit I spoke with a number of parents about the MYP, Student Reports and school in general. One query came up from a number of parents who felt some exasperation over the poor state of penmanship their son displays, particularly in cursive style writing. The question was: Is clear handwriting still important and what could they do to help this?

Whilst keyboarding skills and fluency is a growing area of development, clear, legible handwriting is still very important. Our Year 12 boys sitting their tertiary entrance examinations in four months time will be handwriting in almost all of their exams. Neat handwriting is not a formula or a one off lesson learnt. It is a habit and must be grooved over time.

For anyone interested in putting a handwriting focus on any work completed at home, these are some of the practices and drills we use at school:

  • Write, don't print. Writing is more efficient and less stressful on the muscles of the hand and forearm.
  • Think of where you want to be in two years time in terms of neatness and legibility and commit to it.
  • Use an ink, ball point style pen, not a pencil or fineliner type pen. A ball point pen rolls over the paper much easier and assists in flow.
  • Practice. Short but regular sessions, 5 minutes is perfect, with a focus just on letter shape and attention to positioning of a word on the line. Try writing a 40/50 word paragraph, 3 to 4 lines, with a focus just on legibility three times a week.
  • Posture, paper placement, pen grip. Gentle, but continuous reminders until the habits are formed.
  • Double line spacing. This technique helps student's work appear clearer, cleaner and is much easier to read and to edit.
  • The neat and legible presentation of handwritten work is as much about the attitude and the desire to produce neat, legible easy to read work as it is technique.
  • A key understanding is that the point of writing something down in the first place, is for someone to read it at a later time. Remember, someone else will see this!
  • Simple consumable type Handwriting development/practice texts can also be purchased from Newsagents and Educational suppliers.

Richard Ledger

Head of Middle School