The literary talents of young writers in Years 2 to 6 at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Primary Kensington are blossoming with the help of Year 10 mentors from neighbour school Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College.
The students chose to name themselves the Blooming Writers Group to fit with the whole school learning theme of ‘Bloom where you are planted’, which encourages learning growth in all subject areas.
Newman gifted education facilitators Bronah Nicholson said Louise Toigo said the primary students were selected for their writing ability and were also on the schools gifted profile.
“Part of the aim is for them to develop their own writing skills,” Ms Nicholson said.
“We have some students in Years 4 and 5 who have won gold awards in national and state writing competitions. Their writing is already at such a high level, the next step was to take from the high school what they could be doing to improve their writing and take them to the next level.”
Ms Toigo said students loved being part of the group, where they work across grades.
“They don’t see differences because they are like minds and they share skills,” she said. “They network ideas with each other, and sometimes they sit in silence or talk through ideas on their own.”
Year 10 student mentors were selected from a top English class after expressing interest in the project. A group of 12 students have been matched with the primary students. They have worked together on a collaborative writing task both face-to-face, and by sharing their writing through Google Drive.
We try to inspire them at an early age.
Leader of Innovation, Teaching and Learning at OLSH, Anna-Louise Jones, said the program had been a great way to reinvigorate a partnership with the primary school while tapping into the strengths of the students at OLSH. It is also helping to build the students leadership skills in the context of peer mentoring.
“The Year 10 students started off the piece and the primary students continued it,” she said. “They also gave some constructive feedback on a piece of writing for the students. It’s great to see some of the talent they’ve tapped into here. There are real strengths at OLR.”
English Leader of Learning, Hazel Thomas said the program was rewarding for her students and good early identification of the strengths of some future students.
“These girls have very high literacy skills and I think they have to have a willingness to be able to work with the younger ones which they find really rewarding,” she said.
“They’ve shown me some of the work that has been shared with them and I’ve just been blown away by the standard of the writing, the ideas, and even the logical sequence of ideas that have come through. They are very varied, the topics. The sentence structure and use of words in context are excellent. We try to inspire them at an early age.”
I like how you can let your imagination run free and enjoy your work.
Year 4 student Bryen Haryanto, 10, has taken a character from mentor Hannah Kearney’s narrative start to begin a trail of action and adventure.
“The plot is a normal person running away from this mad scientist who has got machines that help him attack that person,” he said.
“ It’s set in modern day, but with a bit of fantasy. I like how you can let your imagination run free and you can enjoy your work.”
Hannah, 15, said the process had been fun.
“I knew the primary students were going to be really advanced and I just wanted to see their process of thinking to create a narrative,” she said.
“It’s cool to see how it is developing. We give them critiques and we have a folder to put all the work into it and write comments. I think it’s good to work with younger like-minded people. We can both learn from each other by doing this.”
Year 10 mentor Jennifer Hatfield agreed. “I think so far the best part is knowing how to give proper feedback to help someone else and also get some experience in a teaching capacity, looking more into my own writing and future career.”
Year 6 student Diana Vlahos, 11, said she enjoyed having a mentor.
“I feel like it’s your own personal teacher,” she said. “They know what you write about and it’s not a competition or an examination. That’s why I like it.”