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www.mn.catholic.org.au | Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle |
Holy Name Primary, Forster
EACH YEAR CATHOLIC Schools Week
is an opportunity to reflect on the
role of Catholic schools in Australian
society and to ponder the theme. In
2011 we are focusing on Catholic
schools offering "A Learning Adventure --
A Journey of Faith".
The Catholic Schools Week Mass will
feature Bishop Michael Malone blessing
a series of banners for use at school
and diocesan celebrations. The banners
depict the religious congregations that
have faithfully served Catholic schools in
the diocese for more than 120 years. In
particular they reflect an aspect of the
charisms, or distinctive gifts, of these
These religious men and women
embarked on a Learning Adventure and a
Journey of Faith, from the 1880s through
to the present. The challenge to provide
high quality Catholic education was
embraced in a selfless and dedicated
way at a time in Australia's history
when the vital role of education was
Catholic Schools throughout their history
have made a significant impact on the
provision of education in Australia - its
academic, spiritual, pastoral, creative and
New technology encourages new ways
of engaging with an ever broadening
curriculum and students embrace this
technology with enthusiasm, expertise
An individual's faith development is a
lifelong journey and Catholic schools
support parents and parish communities,
enhancing the journey undertaken by our
At no time is this more evident than
in the Easter season that we continue
to celebrate. Schools have provided
the opportunity for students to learn
of, and enter into, the suffering and
death of Jesus Christ and to reflect
on his teachings in a variety of ways,
commensurate with their age and stage.
Catholic Schools are places where
learning is an adventure and where faith
is a journey. Catholic Schools Week
enables us to celebrate the great gift of
faith and the valued role of education,
reminding us that we are all, in fact,
students of life.
ON THE EVE of Friday 25 March,
techno-savvy Apple-enthusiasts took
part in an unofficial global sleep-out as they
eagerly awaited the launch of the iPad2 at
licensed stores from Texas to Taree.
I watched them on the news, astounded
by their eagerness as I learnt about the
differentiating factor between an iPad and
a laptop; a 'multi touch finger-sensitive
As I took comfort in knowing I wasn't going
to sleep outside my local Apple Inc store, I
dismissed the iPad2 as just another fad, a
larger iPhone from which you couldn't even
What I soon discovered came as a pleasant
shock. Since the iPad was launched in
2010, a niche market had developed, one
not targeted by Apple, which was reporting
glowing success in the field of education.
This 'market' includes children with Autism,
developmental or moderate intellectual
disabilities and hearing or speaking
impediments. Globally, results were being
seen that had never been seen before.
One expert described the results
as "a quiet revolution" for the Autistic
community and as independent studies
measuring the tool's effectiveness
continue, Catholic schools in the Diocese
of Maitland-Newcastle are already reporting
Education Officer (Developmental
Disabilities) at the Student Support Unit of
the Catholic Schools Office, Jocasta Mosely,
responded to the idea of using an iPad as a
learning alternative for particular students
at four schools -- St Patrick's Lochinvar, St
Paul's Gateshead, St John's Lambton and
St Francis Xavier's Hamilton -- and so far,
results have blown her away.
"The interactive capabilities of tools such
as this have so far produced astounding
results for students in primary and high
school. We are witnessing students who
are more motivated, enthused and willing
to engage with the new technology and are
producing results we didn't think possible,"
Jocasta explains that some children with
Autism require visual stimulation to learn or
know what's going on; one of many reasons
the tool is proving so effective.
"At St Francis Xavier's, for example, we have
students who require visual stimulation
all the time. The making of personalised
lanyards was time-consuming and labour
intensive. Now, pictures from a child's
particular environment can be uploaded
into social stories on the iPad and this
helps encourage students to learn or
respond in certain ways."
While reports focus on children with
Autism achieving positive results, Jocasta
reinforces that it's not just children
with Autism who are responding well.
St Patrick's Lochinvar students Brayden,
Brielle and Isaac don't have Autism, but all
respond well to curriculum differentiation
as a learning intervention and alternative to
"Some students don't always respond
well to conventional ways of teaching
and are now embracing the interactive
approach and reward system of tools
like the iPad which are very visual and
Whether it be counting, subtraction,
addition, sounds, blending words, literacy,
numeracy or hand-eye co-ordination, the
students are engaged and excited to learn.
Principal of St Patrick's Peter Treloar has
seen the results for himself.
"The iPad is another stimulus to students'
learning. The results we are seeing with
some of the children are really mind-blowing
and parents have been really encouraged
by their children's development."
Students at St Pat's who have low muscle
tone are developing their fine motor skills
as a result of the tool's sliding motion.
Students with visual impairment find the
text easy to enlarge and read and the
ability to type text on the screen instead of
looking at the keyboard and re-focusing on
a computer screen, was also made easier.
"From a sensory point of view, the tool is
very engaging as opposed to things like
counters which can be very noisy. This also
encourages the student to be in the same
learning environment as the other kids
without being withdrawn which can mean a
lot to a child," Mr Treloar said.
While Jocasta cautions that the success
stories don't mean it will work for everyone,
she is convinced this is helping to bridge
the curriculum gap.
"Even if a teacher puts in ten times
the effort to try and make the learning
environment more relevant and stimulating,
it doesn't always work. Not all children
will gain these results, but we have been
inspired by the success these technologies
have in bridging the curriculum gap,"
Looking on as Brayden, Brielle and Isaac
showcase their newly found talents
on the iPad to me, I thought back to
when I watched the Apple-ethusiasts
It was at that point I realised I was sitting
next to three little Apple-enthusiasts.
It was good to be reminded that new
technologies don't just serve the
techno-hungry but can provide stimulating
learning options for children from Lochinvar
If it helps bridge the curriculum gap, then
call me an Apple-enthusiast too.
By EMMA BLACKFORD
The adventure that is
Catholic Schools Week is celebrated 1-7 May across NSW.
Director of Catholic Schools Ray Collins writes of this
year s celebrations.
helping to bridge the curriculum gap
Louise Barnes (Learning Support) assists Brayden.
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