Learning
  
 

Learning and Teaching

At St Nicholas of Myra Primary School, we believe that learning and teaching should be purposeful, life long, fun, and enable students to make meaningful connections and contribute as a Catholic adult to our society.

We are committed to developing young people who identify themselves as Catholics and live the gospel values; who love learning; who are literate and numerate; who think creatively and critically; and who work in teams using the skills of communication, cooperation and negotiation.

St Nicholas of Myra Primary School offers a broad range of programs to support the whole child and we have an ongoing focus on literacy, including our Early Bird Literacy and Reading Helpers program.

  • Key Learning Areas (KLAs)
    • Religious Education

      As a Catholic school we work in partnership with our families and parish in the faith development of our students. Our motto provides a particular focus for all we do and is the inspiration for our work in Religious Education.

      Truth through Learning.

      Our formal Religious Education program is based on the diocesan Religious Education curriculum Sharing Our Story. The parish sacramental program is supported by classroom activities. Our aim is to provide a sound knowledge and understanding of our Catholic faith.

      We nurture the spiritual development of St Nicholas of Myra students by providing class prayer and school liturgies which offer them opportunities to express their faith and celebrate it together. Our parish priest welcomes and encourages the participation of the students in liturgical worship.

      St Nicholas of Myra's school community supports a variety of social justice initiatives, supporting the missionary activity of the Catholic Church through raising awareness of the activities and fundraising to support organisations e.g. Caritas’ Project Compassion, Catholic Mission and St Vincent De Paul.

      Celebration of life experiences and special events are conducted through class liturgies and masses in the parish church, parish hall and classrooms.

      Whole school masses open and close each year, with significant events in the life of the school or parish also being celebrated in this way. At St Nicholas of Myra, First Reconciliation, Eucharist and Confirmation are parish-based Sacraments and these programs are supported by units of work covered at school.

      Teachers are mindful of incorporating the five core values of respect, responsibility, justice, compassion and cooperation in planning units of work.

    • English

      This Key Learning Area is one of the most important aspects of St Nicholas of Myra’s curriculum as reading and viewing, composing and listening form the basis of learning in all aspects of schooling.

      Teachers collaborative plan, implement and evaluate class programs in conjunction with their stage partners. This is usually organised through a range of activities such as themes, particular stories, forms of text or authors. We believe English is best taught and learnt through meaningful experiences integrated into the curriculum.

      Literacy at St Nicholas of Myra is an exciting and stimulating time. It is incorporated into the school timetable for a block session. The daily literacy sessions include opportunities for the children to engage in talking, listening, reading and writing activities in a series of whole class, small group, pair and individual experiences.

      All students experience a balanced and coherent program of literacy instruction for a minimum of 100 minutes daily, incorporating:

      • Purposeful Talk Reading Aloud to Student
      • Daily Shared Reading Small Group Reading - Instructional Practice
      • Guided writing for developing readers (Generally K-2)
      • Small group reading for experienced readers (Generally Yrs 2-6)
      • Daily Independent Reading of familiar texts
      • Daily Modelled Writing or Shared Writing
      • Guided Writing
      • Daily Independent Writing
      • Multiple opportunities to demonstrate learning which meets the achievement standards as defined by NSW English K-10 syllabus, and diocesan reader profiles

      Guided Reading

      This approach, which enables a teacher and a group of children to talk, read and think their way purposefully through a text. This approach allows students to become fluent, independent readers. The teacher observes and supports each child, and their progress is monitored according to their own individual progress.

      Writing

      Modelled, guided and independent writing are the steps, which teach explicitly the skills of drafting, revising, conferencing, editing, proofreading and publishing a text. Producing texts also includes the development of computer skills used in the production of text, graphics and multi-media presentations. Literacy is a dynamic component of the school day at St Nicholas of Myra. The classroom is an active environment, which enables each individual to succeed!

    • Mathematics

      Our mathematical communities are dynamic places of learning where Mathematics is seen as being specific to life. Children are given the opportunity to investigate, explore and manipulate both concrete materials and abstract ideas through rich, open-ended tasks. The process of their learning is expressed orally, pictorially and symbolically. Reflective practice plays a significant part in all the school’s curriculum areas. In Mathematics the children articulate their thinking and reasoning, enabling deeper conceptual understandings. This allows them to learn to apply learning and skills to other areas.

      Mathematics at St Nicholas of Myra is based on EMU Program (Extended Mathematical Understanding) and each are linked to the NSW Mathematics K-10 Syllabus. Through reflection, empowerment and learning the emphasis is on mental computations, open-ended tasks, problem solving and investigations. This, coupled with reflection on practice and experiences, challenges our children to become lifelong learners in Mathematics.

      All students at St Nicholas of Myra engage in Mathematics for 60 minutes each day made up of:

      • A number warm up
      • Rich and open-ended tasks
      • Students representing number concepts through the relationships of the Number Triad - word, symbol and collection
      • Students working in flexible groups and structures
      • Students articulating and reflecting on their thinking and strategies.
    • Human Society and Its Environment (HSIE)

      History

      The aim of History syllabus is to stimulate students' interest in and enjoyment of exploring the past, to develop a critical understanding of the past and its impact on the present, to develop the critical skills of historical inquiry and to enable students to participate as active, informed and responsible citizens.

      Knowledge, Understanding and Skills (Early Stage 1 to Stage 3)
      Students:

      • develop knowledge and understanding about the nature of history and key changes and developments from the past
      • develop knowledge and understanding about key historical concepts and develop the skills to undertake the process of historical inquiry.

      Value and Attitudes
      Students will value and appreciate:

      • history as a study of human experience
      • the opportunity to develop a lifelong interest in and enthusiasm for history
      • the nature of history as reflecting differing perspectives and viewpoints
      • the opportunity to contribute to a democratic and socially just society through informed citizenship
      • the contribution of past and present peoples to our shared heritage.

      Geography

      The aim of Geography in Years K–10 is to stimulate students’ interest in and engagement with the world. Through geographical inquiry they develop an understanding of the interactions between people, places and environments across a range of scales in order to become informed, responsible and active citizens.

      Knowledge, Understanding and Skills (Early Stage 1 to Stage 3)
      Students:

      • develop knowledge and understanding of the features and characteristics of places and environments across a range of scales
      • develop knowledge and understanding of interactions between people, places and environments.

      Skills
      Students:

      • apply geographical tools for geographical inquiry
      • develop skills to acquire, process and communicate geographical information.

      Value and Attitudes
      Students will value and appreciate:

      • Geography as a study of interactions between people, places and environments
      • the dynamic nature of the world
      • the varying perspectives of people on geographical issues
      • the importance of sustainability and intercultural understanding
      • the role of being informed, responsible and active citizens.

      Learning in HSIE involves sharing ideas and working co-operatively in groups. Many opportunities are made for the students to work together, enabling them to better understand the diverse nature of people in the classroom, school, broader community and the world. Skills are taught in acquiring information; using the inquiry process and social and civic participation.

    • Science and Technology

      Science are of increasing importance and integral to our rapidly changing world. A student's sense of wonder and curiosity about the natural and made world is fostered through actively engaging in the processes of Working Scientifically and Working Technologically. Through questioning and seeking solutions to problems, students develop an understanding of the relationships between science and technology, and the significance of their contribution to and influence on society.

      Scientific inquiry is a distinct way of finding answers to interesting questions and solutions to important problems about the natural world locally, nationally and globally, including shaping sustainable futures. Scientific knowledge provides explanations for a variety of phenomena and enables sense to be made of the Natural Environment and the Made Environment. As students engage in posing questions, testing ideas, developing and evaluating arguments based on evidence, they demonstrate honesty and fairness in using the skills of Working Scientifically.

      Through applying the processes of Working Scientifically, students use scientific inquiry to develop their understanding of science ideas and concepts, and the importance of scientific evidence in making informed decisions about the uses of science and technology in their lives. They recognise that science advances through the contributions of many different people.

      Technology and an understanding of design processes enable people to manage, interpret, shape and alter their environment to improve their quality of life at home, school, in work places and the broader community. The study of Technology involves solving real problems and creating ideas and solutions in response to needs and opportunities in a range of technological contexts. These contexts may include agriculture, engineering, food, graphics, industrial and digital technologies as well as product design that uses metals, textiles and timber.

      When applying the processes of Working Technologically, students actively engage with real world situations and use technology skills, knowledge and understanding to create solutions for themselves and others. They creatively and competently use a range of materials, tools, equipment and techniques to produce solutions relevant to their world.

      The study of Science enables students to develop a positive self-concept as learners as well as confidence in and gain enjoyment from their learning. They become self-motivated learners through active participation in challenging and engaging experiences in order to develop innovative solutions.

    • Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE)

      The aim of the Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE) curriculum is to develop in each student the knowledge and understanding, skills, values and attitudes needed to lead healthy, active and fulfilling lives. This syllabus is directly concerned with supporting the development of the student as a whole person. Learning in PDHPE extends beyond the planned classroom lesson and is reinforced by the Pastoral Care Program, the School Health Canteen, Sharing Our Story (Religious Education Program) and other ‘Health–Promoting’ activities.

      St Nicholas of Myra provides intensive gymnastic & swimming lessons taught by trained and qualified instructors.

      PDHPE is an important key learning area as it:

      • encourages an understanding and valuing of self and others
      • promotes physical activity
      • emphasises informed decision making leading to effective and responsible action.
    • Creative Arts

      The Creative Arts Syllabus is made up of four components - Music, Visual Arts, Dance and Drama.

      Music

      Music plays an integral part in the life of St Nicholas of Myra. It enhances the prayer life of the community; it is a source of entertainment at events such as school assemblies, discos and end of year functions; and it provides students with an opportunity for meaningful self-expression. At St Nicholas of Myra music is taught in accordance with the guidelines as set out in the NSW Creative Arts K-6 Syllabus. Each student participates in formal music lessons taught by a specialist Music teacher.

      Music is also integrated into other key learning areas throughout the school day. Part of our music program involves performances, at St Nicholas of Myra students have the opportunity to participate in talent quests and CAPTIVATE.

      Visual Arts

      The children at St Nicholas of Myra are fortunate in that their artistic talents are expressed, fostered and valued. Each class is given the opportunity to participate in Visual Arts lessons. During these sessions the learning experiences are adapted to school or class contexts, paying close attention to the needs of individual students. The children are exposed to a variety of Art-making techniques, which include—drawing, painting, colouring, and paper craft. Students are given the opportunity to participate in the Penrith Art Show.

      Drama and Dance

      The Drama and Dance Program is designed in accordance with the NSW Creative Arts K-6 Syllabus. This document organises dramatic and movement skills and understanding into the areas of Creating, Performing and Appreciating. Students from K-6 participate in lessons that explore many aspects of dramatic experiences including mime, improvisation and movement. Lessons incorporate specific skill teaching and performance opportunities. Students move from the familiar such as Nursery Rhymes and traditional stories through to abstract experience in the creation of their work. Students are encouraged to develop and extend their skill both individually and in groups and respond constructively to others.

      Through drama games, activities and exercises the children explore characters, events and ideas. By using their whole bodies in their learning children are able to understand more deeply. What children begin to understand in the Drama is explored more deeply in class, and the literacy skills are practised again and again through the week. Another great benefit of Drama is that children develop the skills, which also happen to be very important for learning -  like focus, stillness, listening, public speaking, improvising, being creative and confidence.

    • Assessment and Reporting

      Teachers use a variety of techniques and strategies to monitor children's development of skills and knowledge, such as observations and written assessments, and national assessments such as the National Assessment Program (NAPLAN). No assessment should be used in isolation to determine student needs.

      We inform you of your child's progress in the following ways:

      • Upon personal request for an interview—this is by appointment only.
      • Mid-year interview and mid-year report.
      • Written report at the end of the year.
  • Additional Programs
    • Co-Curricular Activities

      The children at St Nicholas of Myra Primary are involved in a number of co-curricular activities including representative sport such as

      • swimming
      • athletics
      • cross-country
      • soccer
      • touch football
      • netball, cricket
      • gymnastics
      • general participation in sports clinics—Australian rules football, rugby league, basketball, soccer
      • Life Education program
      • external competitions for English and Mathematics
      • ANZAC Day ceremonies
      • Outreach activities (including Clean Up Australia, raising money for Caritas and Penrith Community Kitchen).
    • School Choir

      Students in Years 3 to 6 participate in a school choir, regularly practising and performing at parish liturgies, school assemblies and celebrations. The school has formed a partnership with the International School of Music whereby students are able to participate in their program. Students also participate in music and dance programs provided by Captivate and Dance Fever.

    • Voice of Youth (Public Speaking)

      This speech contest is conducted so that students with a flair for public speaking and a passion for social justice have an opportunity to use these talents. In this contest, students are required to prepare a speech on their chosen topic which is presented at school. Three students and one reserve are then selected to represent our school at the cluster final.

    • Sport

      Physical growth and development

      Students are given the opportunity to engage in a range of sporting skills and games. Physical activity is also important in contributing to quality of life. Participation in active pursuits can be an enjoyable, creative and social outlet that has the potential to build esteem.

      The program aims to encourage the physical growth and development of all students, support the acquisition of movement skills and nurture positive attitudes towards physical activity.

      Representing the school in sport

      At St Nicholas, the students have many opportunities to represent their school in a number of sporting events.

      Each year, St Nicholas has a whole school Athletics Carnival and Swimming Carnival. From these events, students have the opportunity to compete against other students, if selected, from other Parramatta schools at Nepean Zone, Parramatta Diocesan and finally representing Mackillop.

      Students in primary (Years 3- 6) also have the opportunity to participate in various gala days throughout the school year.

    • Focus 160

      Focus 160

      Focus 160 is a Parramatta Diocesan initiative that aim to provide 100 minutes of Literacy and 60 minutes of Mathematics to every student, everyday.

      Literacy and Numeracy are pivotal to all learning and key to enhancing lifelong opportunities for each and every individual. Knowledge, skills and understandings in Literacy and Numeracy are central to overcoming social, cultural and economic disadvantage and providing the skills to participate fully in democratic society. It is therefore critical that each student has every opportunity to learn to become fully literate and numerate.

      The system Strategic Intent acknowledges the critical role of literacy and numeracy in enhancing the lives of the students in its schools and the need to constantly strive to improve their literacy and numeracy outcomes.

    • Positive behaviour support for learning (PBS4L)

      St Nicholas of Myra implements PBS4L which is an evidence-based framework that establishes understandable expectations where teachers reinforce positive behaviour. It provides a common language and purpose in relation to behaviour. The frameworks aim is to improve pupil behaviour and increase learning times.

       

      At St Nicholas we have three expectations.
      I am SAFE, I am RESPECTFUL, I am a LEARNER.


      PBS4L

  • Support Programs
    • Support

       

      Specific programs are in place for students with special needs. Individual and small group programs are developed in consultation with parents and are supported by the school's special education teacher and teacher assistants. Our special education teacher works within the classroom to help differentiate the curriculum for these children. Extra literacy support is provided for students who are identified as at risk in their learning. This is provided by teacher assistants in consultation with classroom teachers.

       

    • Transition Program

      Transition to Kindergarten

      Children entering Kindergarten in the following year and their parents can take part in a transition to school program. Parents participate in a three-phase process incorporating aspects of school such as practical assistance of Kindergarten children, the school setting, expectations, and educational input about Religious Education, Mathematics and English.

      Students attend an orientation in the Kindergarten classroom involving structured play, English activities and singing and dancing. These activities are separate from the activities occurring with the current Kindergarten class. As part of this transition, some preschools are visited by the special education teacher for the purpose of observing enrolled students in order to best support their needs when they begin Kindergarten.

      Meeting teachers for next year

      At the end of the year, all children participate in class promotions to meet their new teacher for the following year.

      Transition to secondary school

      Each of the local Catholic secondary schools offer an orientation program for children enrolled at the school for the following year.

    • Extending Mathematical Understanding (EMU)

      The Extending Mathematical Understanding (EMU) Intervention Program is a research-based intervention program developed by Associate Professor Ann Gervasoni from Monash University.

      In Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta, EMU Intervention is the "second wave" component of the system numeracy strategy. It targets mathematically vulnerable students working with trained EMU specialist teachers.

      EMU groups are the main focus of the intervention strategy. Groups of three children, identified as mathematically vulnerable, work with a trained EMU specialist teacher for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week for between 10 and 20 weeks (25 - 50 hours) to accelerate their mathematical understanding so they are able to access the classroom mathematics program. These children are then tracked and monitored throughout the primary school years to ensure sustained progress.

      EMU Middle Years Intervention for Years 3-6 and Years 7-8 is also run by trained EMU Specialist Teachers.

    • Reading Recovery

      Reading Recovery is an early literacy intervention that provides one to one teaching for children who need greater assistance in learning to read and write following their first year of school.

      Reading Recovery represents the Second Wave intervention for Literacy in the CEDP. It is an accelerated intervention focusing on individualised instruction for targeted under- achieving individuals who have not responded to quality literacy instruction in the classroom.

      Reading Recovery is a daily, individualised intervention delivered by a specialist teacher that engages children in reading books and writing their own stories. It enhances the classroom reading and writing program and enables children to quickly "catch up" to the average level of their class.

      Reading Recovery builds on the strengths of each child and encourages them to become independent, strategic readers and writers.

    • Pastoral Care

      Pastoral care is a high priority for staff and students at St Nicholas of Myra. It is closely linked to our Religious Education program and Student Management policy.

      We use a buddy program with Kindergarten and Year 5, and Year 1 and Year 6. This creates opportunities to promote care, respect and responsibility in students. The school counsellor provides support for students and parents who may be experiencing difficulties. The school also works to support local charities such as St Vincent de Paul, in collecting Christmas hampers for needy families.

      Our Parent Group runs a pastoral care service to assist families in crisis by helping with uniforms and food where needed.

      Our teachers are very committed to working pastorally with students who are experiencing difficulties by having a common whole school approach for dealing with crises and problems. Talking with students at their level is a key part of our support for them on a daily basis.

    • Student Management

      Our Student Management policy aims to help students identify rights and responsibilities, follow common rules and take responsible action when necessary by adhering to our five core values. Appropriate behaviour is acknowledged at assemblies and a special St Nicholas of Myra Award is presented to students seen living our core values.

      Each classroom displays our values so that there is a consistent understanding and expectation across the whole school. When strategies are required to change behaviour, these are used fairly and in consultation with the leadership team and parents. When necessary, outside agencies and support from the Catholic Education Office Student Services are utilised to assist students and their families.

      Consistency and high expectation are an integral part of student and family participation at school. The full text of student management, welfare and discipline policies can be obtained through the school office.

Learning and Teaching

  • At St Nicholas of Myra Primary School, we believe that learning and teaching should be purposeful, life long, fun, and enable students to make meaningful connections and contribute as a Catholic adult to our society.

    We are committed to developing young people who identify themselves as Catholics and live the gospel values; who love learning; who are literate and numerate; who think creatively and critically; and who work in teams using the skills of communication, cooperation and negotiation.

    St Nicholas of Myra Primary School offers a broad range of programs to support the whole child and we have an ongoing focus on literacy, including our Early Bird Literacy and Reading Helpers program.

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