It was hats off to reading at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Primary Caringbah as Kindergarten and Year 1 students shared in literacy activities during a Skype session with peers from an International school in Thailand to celebrate National Simultaneous Storytime.
It is the 16th year of the event, which sees the a selected children’s book read in libraries, preschools and primary schools at 11am on May 25 across Australia to encourage a love of reading in young people.
It was 8am in Bangkok when NIST International School students listened as the Our Lady of Fatima students re-enacted Jol and Kate Temple’s book I Got This Hat while wearing headgear including a police hat, woollen beanie, bicycle helmet, construction hat, and fluorescent yellow snorkel and mask.
They then shared the pages they had written and Illustrated for their own complementary book I Got These Clothes via an online photo sharing tool. Their teacher Jennifer Baccon taught at St John Bosco Catholic Primary Engadine before taking up the overseas teaching role.
The group of 14 students were part of the Newman Program for gifted and talented student’s Kindergarten and Year 1 literacy group.
Our Lady of Fatima is the first Sydney Catholic primary school to complete the three-year Newman accreditation process. The program allows students to be extended in areas including literacy, writing, Mathematics, Science, Drama, Art and coding. They attend special lessons in their area of strength and then go back to their classrooms. The result is a higher level of thinking all round. Newman groups also do projects with neighbouring high school De La Salle College Caringbah.
It’s a culture of acceptance and that brings out the best in them. In the Newman room you can be yourself.
Newman and curriculum coordinator Jo Ford said the Skype session and preparation encouraged students to analyse a complex text in a way that was challenging and fun.
“In this group the way we did it was to present the text and use blended technology like Google Maps to get the children to take the text to another level,” she said.
“They had to investigate Thailand and compare the two cultures, so what was a simple text opened them up to more complex thinking.”
Newman students in Years 3 to 6 act as peer mentors to the younger students and were present to help with the Skype session, also taking photos to document it.
“It’s really important for them to have the chance to work with and be mentored by like-minded peers – older children that understand and have that empathy,” Mrs Ford said. “It’s a culture of acceptance and that brings out the best in them. In the Newman room you can be yourself. That’s why they are here and what we celebrate.”
Year 5 student Sam Newton, 10, is in Newman Science, literacy and writing groups.
He is a peer mentor to the Kindergarten and Year 1 Newman literacy group that his sister Kate, 6, is in. Both said they enjoyed the Skype session.
I liked the book because it was a happy, silly concept.
“It was good,” Kate said. “I liked how they all got together and wrote the pages and made big effort to do it. I think the book is a very good book because it had all different kind of hats, and if we were in a different country and didn’t know about them, we would learn that there were different hats in this world.”
Sam said the group worked on the re-enactment over two weeks before they read and performed the text.
“I really liked it because I thought it was a really good learning experience for the younger kids, also to see how they learn in a different country and what kind of differences they had,” he said.
“We looked at the time difference and the class difference. If you noticed they had a lot of different class names.
“The mentor group is there to help because a lot of these kids are new to Newman. We only have three Kindys and those are people who are up to the challenge, not a lot of kids this age would be able to extend this far. We also have a Year 1 buddy program because Kindergarten have Year 6 buddies and they can miss them a lot the next year, so it’s a bit of a head start and a bit of help.
“I liked the book because it was a happy, silly concept. With lines like ’I got this hat from a pirate, a Viking … and then a twist ending it was great for the young ones.”
In 2015 more than 500,000 children took part in National Simultaneous Storytime at more than 3,000 different locations.