The Auracle – Volume 6, December 2015

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Vol. 6, December 2015

In this issue:


Aurora College

3B Smalls Road
Ryde NSW 2112

Phone: 02 9886 7560
Fax: 02 9886 7525

From the Principal’s desk

Bryan was

Bryan Mitchell was recently awarded the Victor Chang Cardiac Institute Award for Outstanding Achievement in Science

The final edition of The Auracle for 2015 comes with my sincere thanks to students and staff for a tremendous effort in this, the first year of operation of Aurora College. An enormous amount has been achieved in a very short space of time. Next year holds great promise as we continue to establish and lead best practice teaching and learning in a virtual environment.

The past two weeks have been a very busy period for staff in the coordinating office, being the culmination of ten months of work with our State Reference Group. As I have reported in previous newsletters, this work has centered largely on improving the alignment of partner school timetables with the Aurora College matrix. I am pleased to report that as we receive student timetables from our partner schools, it is evident that a large majority of them have already done an excellent job in accommodating our ‘shared enrolments’. We will continue to work with the small number of schools requiring extra assistance in preparing for the year ahead.

Final Aurora College student timetables will be forwarded to all student and parent email addresses in the week beginning 25 January 2016. Timetables of current students will also be available at the same time via the parent portal on Sentral. Families of students joining Aurora for the first time in 2016 will receive logon information for Sentral in February 2016.

My personal favourite section of The Auracle is the Bright Lights of Aurora. Here we acknowledge and celebrate the many and varied achievements of our students. In this edition, we learn about the special achievement of Bryan Mitchell of Year 11, who was recently presented with a Victor Chang Cardiac Institute Award for Outstanding Achievement in Science. Recipients of this prestigious award demonstrate the highest achievement in their scientific studies throughout the year. Brian will now have the opportunity to join other award winners in visiting the Victor Chang Cardiac Institute, where he will be able to carry out scientific experiments under the supervision of leading researchers.

This edition of Bright Lights of Aurora also lists the students who were placed first in each subject in 2015. Of these, the following students achieved first place in more than one subject: Alexandra Lindsay (Year 9 English, Mathematics and Science); Luke Wilson (Year 7 Mathematics and Science); and Ashwini Manorathan (Year 10 Science and Year 11 Mathematics Extension 1). I would like to congratulate all  students on their outstanding achievements.

Yesterday, we said goodbye to a number of staff who, for a range of personal and professional reasons, will not be returning to Aurora in 2016. I would like to acknowledge and thank the following staff for the many contributions they have made to our school this year: Belinda Doyle (Teacher-librarian); Steven Howard (Mathematics); Kingsley Hunt (Mathematics); Courtney Cerato (Mathematics); Emma Guy (English); Debra Henry-Smith (English); Sharelle Fellows (English); David Horton-James (Science); Jennifer English (Science); and Emmeline Smith (Science). I know that I speak for the entire Aurora College community when I wish our departing teachers all the very best in their future endeavours.

To give the majority of our students the opportunity to take part in orientation activities at their home school, Aurora College classes will commence on Monday 1 February 2016. Coursework will not commence until students in the Western division start the school year, from 3 February 2016. Students in class before 3 February 2016 will undertake an orientation and revision program with their Aurora College teachers.

Should you need to contact me during the school holidays, I can be reached by email at christopher.robertson@det.nsw.edu.au or by telephone on 0475 961 392.

To all our families and friends, I wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous 2016.

Chris Robertson

Principal

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Deputy’s report

As 2015 draws to a close, we look forward with great excitement to what 2016 will bring for all our students.

Timetable 2016

We have worked closely with a State Reference Group and with external consultants, Edval Timetables, to research and develop the Aurora College timetable for 2016.

The design of the timetable has been informed by the collection and analysis of a wide range of data and expertise, including surveys from:

  • rural and remote government high school principals, providing a comprehensive breakdown of their school timetable structure, including: bell times; period lengths; the number of days in the timetable cycle; and the number and timing of recess and lunch breaks
  • current Aurora College teaching staff, students and their parents, providing feedback on the 2015 timetable template and making recommendations for its improvement.

We are currently working with our partner schools to ensure that timetables are better aligned for all students in 2016.

Teacher Professional Learning – New Teacher Induction Conference

Our new teachers were welcomed on Monday the 30th November to the coordinating office at Ryde, where they were provided with a comprehensive introduction to Aurora.

The induction provided the new teachers with:

  • a sound understanding of the school structure and procedures
  • an introduction to the technologies currently being used for administrative and educational purposes
  • opportunities to work in their faculty to prepare for 2016.

GERRIC training

Aurora teachers recently completed UNSW’s GERRIC mini-Certificate of Gifted Education. The mini-COGE was 16 hours in length and was delivered to teachers at the Ryde coordinating office on Tuesday 1 December and Wednesday 2 December. Close to 50 teachers travelled from across the state to participate in the training, including Aurora College Coordinators from a number of partner schools.

The training focused on:

  • how to identify gifted and talented students
  • strategies to differentiate the curriculum for highly able students
  • whether and how to implement ability groupings and acceleration of students
  • what the research says about gifted education best practices

GERRIC runs weekend courses for parents of gifted and talented children. They also publish a range of helpful books and other resources. Furthermore, they run a range of school holiday enrichment programs for gifted and talented students from Year 3 to Year 10. For further information, visit https://education.arts.unsw.edu.au/about-us/gerric/for-parents/

Reports

Semester 2 reports were distributed to parents and Aurora College Coordinators this week. Parents have access to these reports via their email and Sentral portal. Please be aware that all students are working beyond their stage level of development through a compacted and enriched curriculum.

What’s coming up next year?

The residential next year will be held from 29 February 2016 to 4 March 2016 at Elanora. Elanora is situated on Sydney’s northern beaches, only 45 minutes from the centre of Sydney and moments from Narrabeen Beach.

School holidays begin 16/12/15 for all students. A wish everyone a safe and happy holiday.

Kathy Klados

Deputy Principal

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Tip from a techie

New Help Desk

We have recently purchased a help desk application to assist in monitoring, recording, tracking and reporting on all the issues and questions that students, staff, schools, and parents have relating to technology in Aurora College. The benefit of having a help desk is that all requests for help can be properly tracked, with a unique tracking number. If you have an issue that re-occurs, it is easy for the IT Support Team to look up what has previously been tried and come up with a better answer next time.

The service we use includes a number of new features such as:

  • a knowledgebase that I will work to update with as much self-help information as possible
  • a live chat feature, allowing anyone with a quick question to connect directly to the IT Support Team during school hours for an answer. You will find the live chat button on our website (look to the left!), and on the help desk site as well.

Feel free to check out the site (http://support.aurora.nsw.edu.au/) and log a call whenever you need some help.

School Holidays

I would like to remind you that there is no support during the school holiday period. Please feel free to call the IT Support line and leave a voicemail, send an email through, or use the new help desk. There are no staff available to respond until after school returns next year. I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday.

Ben Hillsley

Learning Technologies Support Officer

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Connect locally, learn globally

Bud

Bud Lambeth (Year 10)

Hello, I’m Bud Lambeth, that kid who wrote that residential article that one time. You know, with the otters? Yeah that one. Now I’m writing about myself for some reason. Just roll with it I guess!

I’m a Year 10 student from Kelso High Campus in Bathurst and I plan to continue studying Physics with Aurora  and my other subjects will be a mixture of my home school and distance education.

My aspirations

Most people want to do something sensible like become a doctor or start a business. Some people want to do something unusual like start a YouTube channel or sell home-made coconut products. Other people are downright crazy – and I’m downright crazy – I want to become a palaeontologist film maker!

What do I mean by that? Well palaeontologist film maker isn’t a job – but what I’d like to do is use film as a way to educate people about the history of the planet, and how best to look after its future. Earth’s history is an area a lot of people ignore and in a time like now where ordinary people can change the climate of a whole continent and the fate of a whole species, it’s more important than ever to understand it, to better guide our decisions today.

My community

I live in Bathurst, about 200 kilometres west of Sydney. A lot of people think of Bathurst as “that place with the car race”, “that place where the cinema collapsed” or “that place on the way to Dubbo”. Bathurst has some hidden gems. Most exciting to me as a prehistory nerd is the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum. Unlike most fossil museums, which have dinosaurs and nothing else, the museum in Bathurst has a collection covering Earth’s entire history, from the first microbes to the ice age megafauna and everything in between. There were plenty of amazing creatures and events that were around before and after the Mesozoic, or “dinosaur era” – and Bathurst’s museum is a great introduction to this.

My hobbies

For me, computers open up a whole world of creative possibility. I’ve never had the co-ordination required to draw a picture or play an instrument but computers take away some of the physical difficulty and let me translate my ideas into something real.

Whether it’s an idea for a piece of music, a short story or a PowerPoint presentation about a new utopian world I made up, the computer offers me an escape from reality. More than that, it allows me to find like-minded people around the world to share that escape with.

I can connect with friends who share the care I have for animals and the environment and appreciate the strange new ideas I come up with. They are extremely important in my life, especially as someone in a rural area where ‘misfits’ are few and far between.

Why I chose Aurora for Year 11

I find the learning style of Aurora to be much better suited to the way I work than a conventional classroom. Don’t get me wrong, my home school is a great school and I’m looking forward to working there next year; the students are friendly and the teachers are experienced.

However, Aurora classrooms are a lot quieter, the work is on the computer so I don’t lose papers all over the place (you should see my bedroom floor) and because communication is via email I can talk to teachers at any time without having to do an epic trek to the Staffroom Kingdom, only to find out that the teacher is in the Administration Block Archipelago on the other side of the planet Kelsior.

The work in Aurora is also much more independent than a regular school, which is good preparation for university, where I imagine I’ll be spending a lot of time if I want to study both palaeontology and film production. Not only that, but I’m also hoping that through the mentoring program, I’ll be able to gain connections to people who have experience in the worlds of science and media, and help me in my effort to bring those worlds together.

Conclusion

Ah, the majestic conclusion. That annoying little bit of writing that has to be in there to make it feel nice and complete, but always seems like just repeating the introduction to the person writing it. Well I say no more! Enough is enough! I shall make the conclusion worthwhile! I shall make writing great again! How, you ask? By adding a picture of an otter! I say sir that is a marvellous otter! Why is it marvellous? Because it’s an otter!

Otters from Western Plains Zoo. Photo courtesy of K Lambeth.

Otters from Western Plains Zoo. Photo courtesy of K Lambeth.

Bud Lambeth

Year 10 (Denison College of Secondary Education Bathurst High Campus)

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The advantages and disadvantages of immunisation

In Term 3, students in Year 10 science were asked to research and identify the advantages and disadvantages of immunisation and then create a video presentation that explains to new parents why immunisation is a benefit to the whole community, as well as to individuals. The video needed to persuade the audience to participate in immunisation programs and to arrest the increasing numbers of people that are choosing not to immunise their children.

The video had to outline and refute a minimum of two arguments against immunisation and include:

  • an outline of how a vaccine works
  • a description of the benefits of immunisation, using specific examples.

The video needed to be:

  • engaging, creative and informative
  • of maximum length 5 minutes.

There were many outstanding productions from Year 10 – each worthy of an Oscar. One of our students, Ashwini Manorathan, made the following video which achieved the highest mark.

Virginia Cluff

Head Teacher Science

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Bright lights of Aurora

Congratulations to the following students:

Hunter De Jong of Year 7 (Eden Marine HS) received a Stellar Award for first place in English.

Luke Wilson of Year 7 (Cowra HS) received a Stellar Award for first place in Mathematics.

Luke Wilson of Year 7 (Cowra HS) received a Stellar Award for first place in Science.

Madison Bland of Year 8 (Parkes HS) received a Stellar Award for first place in English.

Bronwyn Kemp of Year 8 (Parkes HS) received a Stellar Award for equal first place in Mathematics.

Julia Williams  of Year 8 (Parkes HS) received a Stellar Award for equal first place in Mathematics.

Lauren Fisher of Year 8 (Willyama HS) received a Stellar Award for first place in Science.

Alexandra Lindsay of Year 9 (Dubbo College South Campus) received a Stellar Award for first place in English.

Alexandra Lindsay of Year 9 (Dubbo College South Campus) received a Stellar Award for first place in Mathematics.

Alexandra Lindsay of Year 9 (Dubbo College South Campus) received a Stellar Award for first place in Science.

Katana Murphy of Year 10 (Orange HS) received a Stellar Award for first place in English.

Molly Peters of Year 10 (Denison College of Secondary Education Bathurst High Campus) received a Stellar Award for first place in Mathematics.

Ashwini Manorathan of Year 10 (Dubbo College South Campus) received a Stellar Award for first place in Science.

Alycia Trainor of Year 11 (Coolah Central School) received a Stellar Award for first place in Mathematics.

Olivia Tiele of Year 11 (Jindabyne Central School) received a Stellar Award for first place in Agriculture.

Tarryn Miles of Year 11 (Molong Central School) received a Stellar Award for first place in Economics.

Nikita Frazer of Year 11 (Bingara Central School) received a Stellar Award for first place in English Advanced.

Georgia Cameron of Year 11 (Merriwa Central School) received a Stellar Award for first place in English Extension 1.

Ashwini Manorathan of Year 10 (Dubbo College South Campus) received a Stellar Award for first place in Mathematics Extension 1.

Bryan Mitchell of Year 11 (Cobar HS) received a Stellar Award for first place in Physics. Bryan was also the recipient of a Victor Chang Cardiac Institute Award for Outstanding Achievement in Science. Byran was presented with his award at a ceremony in Dubbo last week.

Julia Williams and Madison Bland of Year 8 (Parkes High School) are going to Canberra as part of the Curious Minds program. Curious Minds is a hands-on extension and mentoring program to ignite girls’ passion in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Highly capable girls in Years 8, 9 and 10 who have an interest in STEM learning areas are participating in a new six-month program that combines two residential camps and a mentoring program. The camps will enable the girls to explore all aspects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics through guest lectures, interactive sessions, practicals and field trips. The theme for 2015/16 is Water – a universe in every drop.

Julia and Maddi during the Curious Minds program.

Julia and Maddi at the Aurora College Residental.

Trefor Robinson, Julia Williams and Madison Bland have all achieved high results in academic competitions this year.

Trefor Robinson of Year 8 (Parkes HS) received credits in the ICAS Digital Technologies, ICAS Science, ICAS English, and the Australian Mathematics competitions and distinctions in the Big Science, ICAS Writing and ICAS Mathematics competitions.

Madison Bland of Year 8 (Parkes HS) received distinctions in the Informatics and ICAS English competition and a merit in the ICAS Mathematics competition.

Julia Williams of Year 8 (Parkes HS) received a high distinction in the ICAS English competition, distinctions in the ICAS Science and Informatics competitions, and a credit in the ICAS Mathematics competition.

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Masterclass program

We have been really busy with masterclasses in the second part of this term.

Tristian Bancks, a children’s and teen author spoke to Year 7 and 8 students about his books, Two Wolves and the My Life series. He kept students engaged by reading a chapter from Two Wolves and offering tips and technical assistance when writing. Some of the inspiration Tristan had to offer included:

  • compile a playlist for creative writing that gets you thinking, energised and/or calm depending on each track
  • take photos of various places to immerse yourself in the setting for the creative writing
  • record ideas verbally as voice memos, or as notes on your mobile phone wherever you are
  • use apps like Scrivener to organise chapters and write the story and the free website Storyscrapbook as a writing scrap book to keep track of ideas
  • write multiple drafts! Two Wolves went through seven drafts.

Student evaluation of the event was extremely positive with 100% of respondents stating that the masterclass was a valuable experience. A couple of noteworthy comments from students included “I enjoyed meeting and talking to an author, finding out how an author writes and how to get inspiration” and “I liked how we got to interact with a real author. I liked the content of his books and he made it a fun time for learning.” We really valued Tristan’s openness and willingness to share his experiences, challenges and tips.

We had a masterclass for Year 12 Physics on Wednesday 18 November where PhD candidate for CAASTRO, Joe Callingham delivered interesting material and fielded questions on Special Relativity, which enriched and extended student knowledge.

Joe Callingham from CAASTRO presenting information about Special Relativity to Year 12 Physics students.

Joe Callingham from CAASTRO presenting information about Special Relativity to Year 12 Physics students.

In addition, a couple of staff and students participated in the CISCO TV series ‘Women Rock IT’ on Wednesday afternoon 18th November and quite a few classes participated in the Macquarie University morning masterclasses targeting ‘Maths in the real world’. 20 students logged in for the first session about travelling the world with a career in physics, 29 students heard Professor John Croucher speak about the use and misuse of statistics and 7 students particularly liked the presentation by Dr Richard McDermid on astronomy. They were enthralled!

Kate Thompson

Head Teacher Secondary Studies

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Physical computing course

Are you interested in physical computing?? This course is being especially run for Aurora students in 2016 by the Powerhouse Museum in term 1 next year. BUT get in quickly as there are only a few places left and payment needs to be made soon. Aurora College partners with a range of educational, scientific, cultural and tertiary institutions and we are proud to be working with the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS), otherwise known as the Powerhouse Museum, to deliver this short course on physical computing. You even get sent a computing kit and booklet to work with, so you’ll have hands-on experiences plus expert guidance from a museum educator each week! Complete the form attached and return to Kate Thompson asap. Email kate.donnelly@det.nsw.edu.au

MAAS Physical computing course and form

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Mentoring program

We kicked off our mentoring program in November with a ‘getting to know you’ session. It is really exciting to have six volunteer mentors from Microsoft, two from CAASTRO (one of whom is Joe Callingham, who also delivered a masterclass) and potentially a few more from HP on board. We look forward to the pilot group of 16 students building positive relationships with professional adults with whom they may not normally come in contact with.

The major aims of the program are to provide students with expanded career options and insight into different occupational environments and to enhance student confidence and performance in a range of skills, including goal-setting, decision-making and negotiating. So far, all students have stated they enjoyed their mentoring session and that they are looking forward to the next one.

The mentoring program will continue to develop in 2016.

Will Wright and Robin Hall meeting with Peter Ulm from Microsoft for their mentoring session

Will Wright and Robin Hall meeting with Peter Ulm from Microsoft for their mentoring session

Kate Thompson

Head Teacher Secondary Studies

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Spotlight on … Ms Susanna Trikilis

Ms Trikilis, 2015

Ms Trikilis, 2015

At what other school do you teach?

I’m lucky enough to be a current teacher of Bossley Park High School. It’s a large comprehensive co-ed school in Sydney’s south-west and has over 1500 students. I’ve been teaching there for 26 years and still love it.

Bossley Park High School Quad and Library.

Bossley Park High School Quad and Library.

What is your local community like?

Bossley Park is 36 km west of the Sydney CBD and has a diverse multicultural demographic. It’s also home to the Marconi Stallions for all you soccer (oops football) fans.

What’s your favourite subject to teach?

My favourite subject is mathematics. I’ve always had a fascination with numbers and how anything you think of can be related to mathematics in some way, shape or form. It’s something I like to do with my students, finding how mathematics is in all the things they like. Once you start exploring the fun facts it is truly addictive.

For example:

  • 111,111,111 × 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321
  • 10x9x8x7x6x5x4x3x2x1 =10! And 10! seconds is exactly 6 weeks.
  • How about this trick for squaring numbers ending in a five. 35^2 = 1225. To get that quickly, take the first digit and multiply it by the next consecutive number, 3×4 =12, then square 5 to get 25 and put the two numbers together.How cool is that????

What do you like about teaching at Aurora ?

This is an easy one. I get to meet students and staff from all over the state. There are so many places I haven’t been and its great hearing about all the local communities from fellow staff and students. I also love technology and exploring new things. So ultimately the best thing about Aurora is that it encompasses my passion for mathematics and all of these into one.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Among other things, I enjoy drawing, painting and knitting cross-stitch. Students think that mathematics and these sorts of hobbies are an odd combination but they provide me with a lovely balance. The other thing I’d like to share is that I have two daughters. One is at uni and the other is currently in Year 7. My youngest, has on numerous occasions tried to convince our family to move to a remote or rural region so she can be a part of Aurora. In her words “Aurora is cool!”

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Library report

We would like to thank Belinda Doyle for joining the Aurora team this year on a rather steep learning curve and establishing Aurora’s online library. We wish her all the best for 2016 as she concentrates on her home school activities.

Kaylene Taylor will take up the 0.4 FTE role of librarian next year and has put together a Summer Reading Challenge for Year 7 students over the Christmas holidays. There are prizes to be won! Please see Summer Reading Challenge 2015-16 or email KAYLENE.G.TAYLOR@det.nsw.edu.au  for more details.

Kate Thompson

Head Teacher Secondary Studies

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A message from our technology sponsor, Microsoft

Microsoft is excited to announce the availability of two new content creation tools, available free to all students and teachers.

Office MIX and Sway

  1. Sway makes it quick and easy to create and share polished, interactive reports, presentations, personal stories, and more. Add your content, and we’ll do the rest. Bring your Sway to life with interactive content. Include a video to talk about your idea or add an interactive chart to let others dive into the details. You don’t need to worry about formatting, Sway’s built-in design engine takes care of it. If the first design isn’t right for you, Remix! it to see others or customise it to make it your own. Read more about Sway at https://blogs.office.com/2015/08/05/sway-general-availability/ or go to https://sway.com/
  2. Office Mix is a free add-in for PowerPoint with everything you need to easily create and share interactive online lessons or projects. Office Mix adds functionality to PowerPoint 2013 that allows you to record audio or video of yourself presenting, write on your slides as you speak to them, insert quizzes, polls, online videos, and more. In fact, you can even do full screen capture and record anything on your PC. Once your presentation is ready, just click “Upload,” and we will work our magic to transform your presentation into a mix. You choose when and with whom to share it. See more at https://mix.office.com/en-us/education

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A message from our technology sponsor, Hewlett-Packard

HP-ShopHewlett-Packard has developed their NSW Education store for students, parents, staff members and families to purchase devices like the Elite X2 (pictured left) at special prices.

  • Intel® Core™ Processor M-5Y71 (4 MB cache, 2 cores)
  • Windows 8.1 Pro 64
  • Intel® HD Graphics
  • 11.6″ diagonal FHD BrightView IPS eDP ultra-slim LED-backlit touch screen
  • 256 GB M.2 SE SSD, 8 GB 1600 MHz LPDDR3 SDRAM

Be sure to check out the store at http://hpshopping.com.au/edunsw 

 

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From the engine room

We would like to wish all our students and families a very happy Christmas and New Year and we look forward to seeing you and our new students next year.

Denise Deaves

School Administrative Manager

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Aurora College; 3b Smalls Road, Ryde, NSW 2112
Phone: 02 9886 7560; Fax: 02 9886 7525; Email: auroracoll-h.school@det.nsw.edu.au
Website: www.aurora.nsw.edu.au; Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuroraCollegeAU

 

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