Thursday, 8 December 2016

COMMUNITY AND ROAD EDUCATION SCHEME

On 24th November Years 5-6 went to C.A.R.E.S. which stands for Community and Road Education Scheme. There were two police officers Senior Constable Cooper and Gould. Before we started, Matthew, Kevork, Samuel, Lilit and I rode down the hill in a small police mobile station. It was really awesome but the others came down with Mrs Dernee. We drove on the H.A.R.T course. This is where you learn to ride motorbikes. Once we got there we all sat down on benches. First, we learnt about how to check if our bike helmets were safe. We had to look at our helmets and see if we could find the Australian standard sticker because laboratories have tested these helmets for safety. We were told the European standard was not safe.


Senior Constable Gould got the bikes ready for us, making sure that they were the right size. Later Senior Constable Cooper got the people who could not ride a bike and taught them how to. The rest had to do an obstacle course. It was pretty hard but we did it. After a while we learnt to do signalling that indicates which way you are going. We also learnt that when you are at a stop sign you have to put your right arm out and look right, left and right. After that we ate our morning tea and played some games. When we finished Senior Constable Cooper took us in to watch some videos about bike safety. After that we ate lunch and played again. When we finished Senior Constable Cooper got the people who couldn’t ride a bike and still taught them how. Senior Constable Gould took the rest to the mini road. First we had a walk and talk around the mini road. Then after a few questions we rode our bikes on the mini road.

It was so much fun! When we came to a sign we had to follow the road rules that we had learnt. We had immense fun riding around round-a-bouts, stopping at ‘Stop’ and ‘Give Way’ signs and obeying all the rules. Unfortunately, eventually it had to end. We packed our bags and left. The students who didn’t get to ride in the police mobile van got to ride it up the hill. Overall it was the best excursion!

By Christopher


Saturday, 18 June 2016

FRIENDSHIP DAY

On Wednesday 15th of June, Year 6 went on a trip to the Kinma School for ‘Friendship Day’.

Our secretary, Mrs Boyadjian, took us to the Kinma School. There were a lot of students from different schools there. Some of the teachers and students introduced themselves and showed us around the school. They also told us where to sign in and put our bags.

After signing in they told us that we had to write our name on a piece of paper then fold it up and put it in a bowl. Then we put our bags in the hall and started to play.

A while later they called us into the hall. In the hall there were speeches and we were told why we were at their school and how ‘Friendship Day’ started.

After their speeches they told us to get into a circle. This is when they got the bowl out with all our names folded in it. Everybody had to pick out a name, but if it was someone from your school or someone you knew then you had to put it back and pick out a different one.

After everybody picked out a name and a name tag, each person had to decorate the name tag for the person they chose from the hat. After everybody had decorated the name tag for somebody else, we had to go and find that person, meeting new friends along the way.

Then it was question time. This was when some students from the Kinma School asked each of the schools some questions.

After all of the questions were asked it was time for morning tea. For morning tea we had veggies with dip, fruit and sweets. It was very yummy!!! We then played for about 10 minutes.

When morning tea ended, it was time for a bushwalk. On the bushwalk we went past the stream. On the bushwalk there was clay on the ground and we got to hold it and mould it.  There was an Aboriginal rock which was shaped like a boat, and this rock was used as a Birthing place by the Aboriginal people. At the end of the bushwalk they gave us a small box to put our clay in.

After we washed our hands and put our boxes full of clay near our bags, then it was time for lunch. For lunch we had spaghetti Bolognese. It was really yummy too!!! When we finished our food we were able to play. We played for a long time.

During lunch some of the students helped a teacher get the wool and clipboards, so anyone who wanted to, could make friendship bracelets. There were a couple of students who taught us how to make two different types of friendship bracelets. We made the friendship bracelets for about half an hour.

When it was time to go, everyone got their bags and clay creations. We waited at the basketball court to be picked up.

When we got to school we told our class what we did there and we also taught them how to make two different types of friendship bracelets.

So that is the end of our trip to the Kinma school.

By Talia

BILINGUAL EDUCATION

Many physiological studies have shown that the brains of bilingual people operate differently to single language speakers, and in fact that learning a second language is a great asset to the cognitive process. Experts say, that children who learn a second language beginning in early childhood can benefit from increased critical thinking skills, memory and flexibility of the mind.

University of Queensland bilingual education expert Dr Simone Smala says other benefits of bilingualism include a slower mental decline, a better appreciation of other cultures and increased job prospects. However, despite the benefits, the proportion of students in Australia studying a second language is low compared with other countries. While the government has tried to push and encourage the learning of languages up to the senior years of high school, unfortunately speaking a second language is a skill that isn’t valued by the majority of Australians.

We do know that children who learn languages early have a lot of advantages. For example, there’s an interdependent relationship with English literacy development for children who learn languages early. There is also a greater meta-linguistic awareness, which basically just means the engagement with a second language makes even very young children a lot more aware of language, of its different roles, the structure of sentences and so on.

We also find that there is an increased mental processing capacity through the engagement with a second language, which leads to a better memory and better control over information processing. For example, children become better at ignoring not so important facts and focusing on the important things.

In general, there are many advantages to being bilingual. One interesting benefit, based on many research studies, is that knowing a second language can slow down mental decline later in life. We can also see long term benefits in the way that it’s easier to learn more languages if you have learned a second one early in life. Knowing a second language also instils a general appreciation of other cultures and better intercultural understanding.

What we are starting to see now is that most industrialised nations are training their citizens well in English, so their citizens become fully bilingual. Monolingual English speakers might soon be the only monolingual speakers in the world and might be competing for jobs with people who can speak English as a second language well, but also have another language.

Manoug Demirjian

Saturday, 4 June 2016

BRIGHTER FUTURE IN OUR ‘YEAR OF GROWTH’

In our ‘Year of Growth’, we are moving towards a much ‘brighter’ future thanks to the installation of new lights throughout the school! For over 25 years the florescent lights in the classrooms and administration building have been serving our needs, but over the last few years they have been a cause for concern, as they were starting to become a maintenance and safety issue. The old plastic on these florescent units were at times so brittle that they fell apart during routine maintenance. Some of the units were not working at all, not to mention the fact that they were not even switched on at most times, to simply avoid the constant buzzing annoyance and sound coming out of them.

Thanks to the support and foresight of the School Board the issue was resolved and a plan of action was put in place for this major and costly capital project. The issue was not a simple replacement of the lighting units, but a plan for the future with a more robust, modern and environmentally friendly system that will serve the needs of the school well into the future. Therefore, the solution to replace 106 light fittings required careful research and planning. Once again, it was one of our graduates who came in to assist and ‘serve’ the school they graduated from in the year 2000. Our graduate of the new millennium, Garen Manoukian, the owner and proprietor of ‘Impedanz Electrical’, recommended the installation of the latest LED light tubes that not only use 50% less energy than the florescent equivalent but also last much longer with potentially zero maintenance. The fittings are also placed in a full metal chassis with screws in the end caps, making them much safer and robust.
The new lights have now been installed in two classrooms that were affected the most. The Board has also used this opportunity to apply a new and fresh coat of ceiling paint, which was done during the holiday period. The rest of the lights will be installed during the next term break. The ceilings will also be painted in the process, allowing our students to be invited into a much brighter, safer and environmentally friendly classrooms.

On behalf of the students and teachers, I like to take this opportunity and thank all Board members for their support. It is gratifying to know that we have members who are not willing to compromise the safety and wellbeing of our students and staff at any cost. For this, we also like to acknowledge our business partners and sponsors who continue to support the school. Without their financial input it would not be possible to implement these type of capital projects, which in this case is anticipated to be over $11,000.

Manoug Demirjian

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

USING TECHNOLOGY EFFECTIVELY

Technology is everywhere we look, and it seems like everything is being enhanced and improved in its capabilities. Electronic, computer and communications technologies in particular are constantly expanding both in capabilities and applications. Not only has the range of technologies changed, but it has also widened access to knowledge to such an extent that students as well as others now have to accept the fact that they need to be lifelong learners. It has been said - ‘The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn’. It is also true to say that - ‘Teachers need to integrate technology seamlessly into the curriculum instead of viewing it as an add-on, an afterthought, or an event’. Encouraging students to learn how to learn is, in my opinion, the most important aspect of education.

At Alexander school, members of staff are constantly looking for ways to use technology innovatively and effectively. Undoubtedly, ever since the introduction of the Laptops and the Interactive Whiteboards (IWB) in all our classrooms, major changes have taken place in the way we teach or bring information and knowledge to our students. They have in fact become an integral part of our teaching and learning. These changes have been complemented by the fast internet access and the school network system, including the wireless environment. As a result, the world has been brought to the forefront of our classrooms, greatly benefiting the learning resources now available at our fingertips.

As I have stated in the past, gone are the days when we used computers at Alexander school to do ‘things differently’, the time has come for teachers to use the computer and other modern educational technology and do ‘different things’ in the classroom.

The employees of the future need to be able to think outside the box and do different things in order to have a competitive edge over their counterparts. For this reason it was important that few years ago we were able to embrace the idea of using Goggle Apps for Education to empower our students - the next generation of administrators, CEOs, and technocrats, to give them the knowledge base that will enable them to become masters of their fields. It is proclaimed that modern technology has the power to change the ‘content, pedagogy and effects’ of education on the future generation. Schools and educators have a vital role to play in this. Students enjoy and demonstrate the joy of learning when they become ‘co-constructors of knowledge’ rather than one expert telling them what they know. Students of the 21st Century should be critical thinkers rather than mere ‘empty barrels’ waiting to accept deposits from their teachers.

Google Apps for Education has helped us achieve this as a set of flexible, customizable tools that provides opportunities for students and teachers to work more effectively in a collaborative environment. This comprehensive, cost-effective solution which is entirely browser-based, has made it easier for students to work from any computer connected to the internet, without having to purchase expensive software to communicate or do their homework. This example of ‘Cloud’ computing has recently been extended and complemented in our school environment through another computing giant, Microsoft.

Since the start of term, all new computers have been installed with Microsoft Office 365 for Education. The cloud based version of the full MS Office package, with the latest and familiar tools to help students and educators better communicate, collaborate and achieve more. Together with the Office apps for Education, they help to create dynamic learning experiences in and outside of the classroom. This has been another great and exciting step forward in our ‘Year of Growth’.

Manoug Demirjian

Saturday, 14 May 2016

MOTHERS’ DAY ASSEMBLY

It was gratifying to see so many of our mothers and grandmothers at our special Mothers’ Day Assembly. It certainly brought a sparkle to the eyes of all the students as they performed to one of the most important person in our lives - our mothers!


The stage came to life with the colourful displays and the projections on the big screen. It was evident that the children enjoyed the beautiful songs, poetry and dance. Their reciting of great poetry and readings of love showed their affection towards their mothers. While the students informed us what they would do ‘if they had a million dollars’, we know that no amount of money would have secured the love that was being generated by our students towards their mothers.

We were all fulfilled by their performances thanks to the guidance of our wonderful teachers who had prepared them so well, over a short period of time.

Thank you to the P&C and all the parents who contributed to the afternoon tea following the special assembly. Once again thank you to all who came along and enjoyed the occasion and in turn congratulated all our Mothers for their untiring work and support. 






Saturday, 20 February 2016

ESTABLISHING A PREDICTABLE ROUTINE

Home or after school work is a common expectation for most primary aged children. Parents can help children develop sound study habits from a young age which include establishing a predictable routine, encouraging effective use of time and helping them to be organised.

AGBU Alexander Primary School has a clear ‘Homework Policy’ that is reviewed at the start of every year and a concise ‘Parent Handout’ is made available to all families. Our policy states that homework is set for all children in Kindergarten to Year 6. It is work set by a teacher to be completed outside the classroom environment and is assigned to help develop home-study techniques in students. Students who develop disciplined and positive home-study habits in the primary years are more likely to be able to continue with these home-study habits in the secondary school and during tertiary education when homework is less structured and a student is expected to develop their own individual home-study timetable. Positive home-study habits will enhance student success.

Homework can also be a means of giving students an opportunity for further practice and consolidation of skills and knowledge taught during class units of work. It can be used to extend the more capable student and to reinforce programs run by the school. It is also accepted that homework should be challenging, interesting and relevant to classroom activities. Homework should not be too difficult or unfamiliar. Students need to succeed with homework: it should not be frustrating either for them or their parents. Accordingly, homework should not introduce new, unknown activities.

At Alexander school there is an underlying expectation by parents that homework will be set by the class teachers in both English and Armenian. Homework helps to inform parents of what their children are doing at school and it provides an opportunity for parents to assist in their learning. To help parents in this process here are a number of ideas:

w Establish a predictable routine. If homework is done at the same time each night (make sure this is not left too late or near bedtime), getting started is usually less of an issue.
w Establish a good working environment. Make sure they have a quiet area away from distractions that is well lit and with good ventilation. A table or a desk makes a good workspace, although don’t be surprised if they spread their work out all over the kitchen table. Some children just love to be around others. However, homework should not be done while watching television.
w Encourage children to work reasonably quickly and efficiently. Have a set time limit which they should stick to. A little work each night is more productive than packing it all into one weekly session.
w Encourage children to become organised by planning homework around their extra-curricular activities. A weekly planner or diary will help older students to organise themselves.
w Be realistic and don’t expect to solve all homework difficulties. When in doubt send a note to your child’s teacher letting them know the problem. They will appreciate being informed.



Sunday, 31 January 2016

WELCOME TO THE ‘YEAR OF GROWTH’

Welcome back to another exciting year at AGBU Alexander Primary School! We hope you had a great start to the year and are ready for the ‘Year of Growth’!

This is the year we focus on our student’s Physical, Academic, Social & Spiritual Growth individually and as a School Community.

We aim to ‘Grow’ in all these aspects by showing real and tangible results and improvements, by focusing on our students individually and as a school community. Improvements and ‘growth’ in our already well established and highly developed facilities, resources, administration, communication, welfare, pastoral care, teaching and ultimately in the learning of our wonderful students.

We have started the year with the usual vim, verve and vigour! A big welcome to all the new Prep students and the new students joining in our Kindergarten and Year 3 classes. I’m happy to state that it took no time for the children to resume their routines while looking immensely relaxed and healthy after their holiday. They all began the job of learning enthusiastically and I’m sure this will set the tone for the rest of the year.

We have a busy year ahead of us and I believe we have the right people in the school community to help us grow and achieve at all levels… as we strive towards our motto, ‘To Grow & Serve’!


Monday, 18 January 2016

CONNECTING WITH SINGAPORE!

During the final week of school, for the first time students of Years 4-6 were introduced to a school in Singapore with a direct video call from their classroom. As the class organised itself in front of the camera and projected screen, they waited for the pre arranged time to make their connection and introduce themselves and our school to a group of students from ‘Hillside World Academy’ (formerly known as Chinese International School). For over thirty minutes they spoke, asked questions and heard how their newly introduced peers attend school. At one point, the conversation turned into Armenian as they started talking with student boarders, who have received scholarships to travel from Armenia to live and study in Singapore. It was interesting to find out that they not only learn English and Chinese, but also Armenian!

So how did this unique connection materialise? During October, we were visited by Mr Vahagn Vardanyan  from Singapore. He was here to conduct interviews and do research on his doctoral thesis. Mr Vardanyan is a native of Armenia, who has been living in Singapore for many years. He is currently the Head of High School at the Hillside World Academy which also has over ten students from Armenia.

During his visit to our school, after exchanging information about our education institutions, we suggested the idea of linking the students and establishing communication or educational dialogue between us. Upon his return, Mr Vardanyan took up the idea with the school executive and we are happy to state that we have made our first successful contact. We hope to continue the communication next year and share many of our activities and projects.