Curriculum extends students’ gifts

St Joseph's Enfield newman 1 (3)

St Joseph’s students complete high school level Mathematics worksheets. Photo: Kitty Beale

A Mathematics extension activity that matches Year 6 students at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary Enfield with Year 7 mentors from De La Salle College Ashfield is just one way students identified as gifted at the school are thriving.

Assistant Principal and Stage 3 Newman teacher Bernard Ryan said the Year 6 students accessed worksheets on topics including whole numbers, fractions and decimals provided by De La Salle Ashfield’s leader of Mathematics and returned a Google Document of their answers to be marked by the Year 7 students.
Both schools are part of the Newman Program, an initiative of the Catholic Education Office Sydney to provide learning extension opportunities for students identified as gifted in a range of subject areas.

“We’re both Newman schools and though that by getting our Year 6 and 7 Maths students together it would be a great way for us to extend our Year 6 students and to build the relationship and link between our schools,” Mr Ryan said.
“The program is extending their vocabulary and it’s giving them better problem solving skills and critical thinking skills. They’re also having to become more resourceful when they don’t know something, because it is challenging and they’ve got to find answers.

“They’re very good at networking within their own small group. There’s a lot of peer tutoring that goes on, and they are very open with one another when they don’t know how to do something.

“The real display of knowing something is being able to teach it to someone else, so for the Year 7 students it’s great for them to test their knowledge of the concepts. Correcting is developing their Mathematics skills as well.”

Newman is one way that we can really cater for children who are showing us that they’ve got the potential to work on more difficult concepts.

– Maria Maiorana

Year 6 Newman student Carlo Famularo, 11, said Maths was one of his favourite subjects and that he enjoyed the program tasks.
“Once we finish it some students in the highest Year 7 maths class at De La Salle Ashfield mark it and explain to us what we got wrong and how to do those questions,” he said.
“It’s fun and challenging. I like the fact that Maths is fun and it fits in with what I want to be when I’m older, which is an architect.”

Year 1 students have planned a party menu with a limited budget to learn the mathematical concepts of multiplication, division, addition and subtraction as part of the school’s focus on mathematics.Years 3 and 4 students have completed tasks such as constructing three-dimensional cubes and calculating how many students fit inside them to learn about volume.

Stage 2 Newman teacher Joanne Oborn said classes were organised to include students identified as gifted in each including a Year 3 and 4 composite class.
“If they’re gifted, children are gifted 24/7,” she said.
“Their intelligence doesn’t change for that one hour a week that they may be withdrawn [for extension activities] so we try to provide a differentiated program that caters for them most of the time in class. There will be times when they’re in mixed ability groups and ones when they’re doing their own contract which is levelled according to their needs.”

Principal Maria Maiorana said it was important the Newman program was not seen as separate or exclusive to daily teaching and learning.

“It’s a way for teachers to address the curriculum, to have a greater understanding of continuum of learning, and of tapping into where the kids are and providing for that not just in the Newman session when they come out and have this special work with their group, but throughout the week,” she said.

“I think it’s important that children have their needs met and Newman is one way that we can really cater for children who are showing us that they’ve got the potential to work on more difficult concepts.”

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