Volume 31 Issue 29 16 Sep 2022 20 Elul 5782

Primary News

Katie Brody – Director of Students K-6

Support writing development at home without lifting a pencil!

The Emanuel School Instructional Model for Teaching Writing K-6 encompasses a range of key steps, each grounded in educational research. With the key aim of developing our students’ ability to independently produce quality writing, the teaching and learning process gradually builds a student’s skills in relation to stage appropriate application of the Ten Elements of Effective Writing (see below). After speaking, listening and reading, writing is the most complex skill in language learning. This is why our team, along with a literacy consultant, built the instructional model. We have streamlined our teaching of writing across K-6.

One of the earliest and most essential steps towards quality writing, actually involves no writing at all. The learning and teaching cycle, prior to getting the students engaged in writing, includes having students work out what they already know in relation to the field of study and then building additional shared understandings. The emphasis, way before students write a text, is also on developing students’ spoken vocabulary related to the topic and the recall of accurate content (as well as an ability to conduct research to gather information). This stage involves explicit teaching as well as hands-on activities full of content, videos, apps, excursions, guest speakers and research. Importantly, these experiences are interactive so that students have an opportunity to use, hear and see the language associated with the topic and build their knowledge. 

Parents often ask teachers what can be done at home to support and boost learning progress. When it comes to home life these days, however, there is not often a great deal of extra time given the busy schedule of many families. Luckily, the following set of recommendations involve no preparation, require no sitting down to formalised tasks and can be done during a car ride, during a weekend excursion, at dinner time or as part of an existing bedtime routine! 

The focus of this suggestion is all about creating a verbal list of related vocabulary. Vocabulary words are the main tools of expression, the building blocks of a cohesive text and the ‘meta-language’ of a topic. Pick a topic of interest or a topic relating to your child’s life. Even better, decide on a topic being studied at school (which can be found in the Overview sent out at the start of each term). Together, think of ten great words that relate to that topic. Example one: Fairy Tales – enchanted, cottage, spell, wicked, magnificent, potion, triumph, charming, damsel, carriage. Example two: Electricity – circuit, power, spark, current, light, component, electron, insulator, conductor, generator.

The aim here is to broaden one’s knowledge base –  your child’s general knowledge about the world. Reading with and reading to children is well-known to broaden knowledge about different cultures and environments. It is helpful to read about or watch programs that raise issues of sustainability and innovation. Age appropriate exposure to current affairs and poignant historical events is another incredibly impactful way to learn at home. Similarly, exposing children to great works of literature allows them to ‘see’ characters and their inner conflict, their challenges and how they bounce back from life’s experiences or grow and mature.

Why not take the children to see the latest museum exhibition, tour a range of art galleries (classic and modern), visit a zoo, bird aviary, butterfly house or reptile park! These rich learning experiences build a phenomenal bank of knowledge that impacts both reading and writing development. Last holidays we took our kids to Warragamba Dam. Under the guise of a lovely long drive and a picnic lunch, we saw such an incredible example of engineering and innovation whilst learning about water management that impacts the whole state. We wandered through the display area, marvelling at the information we hadn’t known. It was fantastic!

The aim here is to talk in detail about one topic for 90 seconds. The challenge is to remain on topic, elaborate with relevant details and raise a range of related facts or details on one topic. This is especially possible if your child has  already completed a ‘First To Ten’, a ‘General Knowledge Mashup’ and a ‘Knowledge Treasure Hunt’. With all of that knowledge now stored in their long term memory, they have a very solid foundation for writing once at school in the lessons devised by the teachers.

Ten elements of effective writing

These elements are the building blocks of quality writing. The first 5 elements address a student’s ability to build ideas effectively and the last 5 elements address a student’s ability to transcribe with accuracy.

  1. Audience – The writer’s capacity to orient, engage and affect the reader
  2. Text structure – The organisation features appropriate to the type of text
  3. Ideas – The creation, selection and crafting of the content
  4. Language techniques as appropriate to the purpose – imaginative, informative or persuasive
  5. Vocabulary – The range and precision of language choices
  6. Cohesion – The control of related ideas over the whole text, achieved through the use of referring words and text connectives
  7. Paragraphing – The segmenting of text into sections that assists the reader 
  8. Sentence structure – The production of grammatically correct, meaningful sentences
  9. Punctuation – The use of accurate and appropriate punctuation to aid reading of the text
  10. Spelling – The accuracy of spelling and the difficulty of the words used.

Grandparents Day 

What an incredible day it was today with literally hundreds of cherished grandparents and special friends on campus after so many years. The excited buzz from students was palpable and the pride and love in the eyes of all the visitors made the day one to remember!

Being together for a special Rosh Hashanah assembly, as well as a wide range of meaningful experiences in the classrooms, made this event one to remember. It was wonderful to learn together and to welcome our community onto the school campus for this beautiful occasion.

Knowing You Changes Me

On Thursday 15 September 2022 our Year 5 students transformed into a person of eminence or a changemaker that has inspired them in some way. As the name implies, the students built their knowledge about a range of inspirational changemakers and how they have changed them personally. By understanding the life journey of the person, their motivations, their actions and their achievements, students gained an appreciation for the determined. On Thursday morning, dressed as their most influential changemaker, students spoke in character about ‘their journey’, showcasing the depth of their research and their ability to embody the mindset of this eminent or inspirational person.