The Auracle – Volume 7, February 2016


Vol. 7, February 2016

In this issue:

Aurora College

3B Smalls Road
Ryde NSW 2112

Phone: 02 9886 7560
Fax: 02 9886 7525

From the Principal’s desk

Welcome to 2016.

Alvin Toffler is an American futurist, journalist and author known for his works on the so-called communication and digital revolutions. In an interesting career, he was also a visiting Professor at Cornell University, a faculty member of the New School for Social Research, a White House correspondent, and an associate editor of Fortune magazine.

Co-written with his wife, Heidi Toffler, Future Shock and The Third Wave ponder the sweeping changes ahead of humanity and imagine the world of tomorrow. Living in the Information Age, where ubiquitous computing gives us a world of knowledge at our fingertips, it is not difficult to see the wisdom of Toffler’s forecast that:

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

Of course, we all know what it means to learn something, but what does it mean to unlearn and relearn?  Unlearning occurs when you challenge your understanding of an issue or a problem by viewing it from a new or different perspective. It then follows that relearning occurs when you accept a new perspective and gain a different or deeper understanding of the issue or problem from that perspective.

Much has been written about ‘21st century learning’ and the skills and knowledge that students will need in this century to succeed in work and life. Creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking, are skills that have become known in the education community as the 4Cs. All four skills are essential to the ongoing process of learning, unlearning and relearning.

Education systems throughout the world, including our own, grapple with how best to develop in students the necessary agility of mind that Toffler alludes to. In November last year, our Minister announced the formation of a new unit within the Department of Education, called Futures Learning.

Futures Learning will focus on innovative learning and teaching, supported by effective use of technology, and underpinned by strategies to build teacher and leader capacity. In acknowledgement of the work being done at Aurora College and the future contributions we can make in this space, this unit will be our new ‘operational home’ within the Department of Education.

Aurora happily embraces our commitment to establish and share best practice in teaching and learning in a virtual learning environment. This week we hosted a delegation of educators from Sweden and next month, colleagues from the Queensland Department of Education and Training will travel south to learn from our experience. Aurora College will also co-host with our colleagues in Rural and Distance Education, the 2016 Rural and Remote Conference. The conference will be held in Bathurst on 17 and 18 May and will bring together teachers and leaders from across the state. It will provide an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of rural and remote educational communities and a forum to discuss the challenges and opportunities that exist today and into the future.

Finally, I would like to thank our partner schools for the outstanding job they have done in accommodating our ‘shared enrolments’ and preparing for the year ahead. If you have any concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact either Kathy Klados or myself at or by telephone on 02 9886 7560. If you would feel more comfortable speaking with one of your parent representatives on our State Reference Group, please contact either Andrew Strachan ( or Genie McMullen (

I look forward to the year ahead and make the prediction that the future for Aurora College is a very bright one!

Chris Robertson


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Deputy’s report

Green markers (schools with 1 or more students) ; Yellow markers (schools with one or more teachers and one or more students); Red markers (schools with one or more teachers)

Green markers (schools with 1 or more students); Yellow markers (schools with 1 or more teachers and 1 or more students); Red markers (schools with 1 or more teachers)

The school has been successfully operating now for over a year and our students are now joining us from a more diverse range of locations across the state. Students enrolled with Aurora this year are located as far:

  • north as Kyogle
  • north-west as Bourke
  • south as Eden
  • south-west as Tooleybuc
  • west as Broken Hill.

A special welcome to our new students in 2016. This year will be challenging and rewarding for both students and teachers and I look forward to working with all of you.

Community Liaison Officer

This is a new role in 2016 which is being filled by Virginia Cluff, who is also our Head Teacher Science and Agriculture. Virginia will be travelling to schools and meeting with Aurora College Coordinators, Principals, parents and students across the state. Virginia’s first road trip from 16 to 18 February took in Parkes, Canowindra, Cowra and Young High Schools.

Year 7 Survey

Thank you to those Year 7 students who have already completed the Welcome Survey. Sharleen Mulawin, our Learning and Support Teacher, has been able to get a better sense of who you are and what your personality is. She looks forward to meeting students at the residential and is thrilled that many of you listed ‘attending the residential school’ as one of the things you are most looking forward to. For those who have not yet completed the survey and would like to do so, follow the link

Assessment handbooks

Assessment handbooks for Years 7 to 11 were distributed via email to all students and their Aurora College Coordinators on Monday 15 February. They can also be accessed in Moodle in the student space under ‘Assessment’ or by clicking on the following link: (logon required).

Residential school

Our first residential school in 2016 is being held for Years 7 to 10 students from 29 February to 4 March at Elanora. Elanora is a very pleasant venue situated on Sydney’s northern beaches, only 45 minutes from the centre of Sydney and moments from Narrabeen Beach. A range of exciting activities are scheduled for our students, including;

  • a special masterclass with Dr Karl Kruszelnicki
  • a whole school team building activity Win it in a minute
  • an excursion to Taronga Zoo (Year 7)
  • an excursion to the Sydney Institute of Marine Science (Year 8)
  • an Inquisitive minds workshop (Years 7 and 8)
  • a Surf awareness and skills lesson (Years 8, 9 and 10)
  • a Sydney Story Factory workshop (Years 9 and 10)
  • an excursion to Quarantine Station (Year 9 & 10)
  • a Bell Shakespeare masterclass (Year 9 and 10)

Aurora College Coordinator

In each of the 57 schools that we currently partner with, Aurora College funds the release of a teacher to fill the role of Aurora College Coordinator (ACC).  The ACC adds an important layer of support for the educational, social and emotional needs of our students.

The role of the ACC is similar to that of a Year Advisor. The role has an administrative component, but the main focus is the pastoral care of our shared enrolments. The ACC is also the key contact person for Aurora College teachers, students and parents.

The ACC in your ‘home school’ is responsible for:

  • facilitating the exchange and dissemination of information between Aurora, the home school, students and parents
  • monitoring the well-being of your child and reporting any concerns to Aurora College and the home school
  • monitoring and reporting student attendance to the coordinating office at
  • assisting Aurora College to develop and implement appropriate support strategies, including individual student learning plans
  • coordinating the completion and return of Illness and Misadventure forms to the relevant Aurora College Head Teacher
  • printing and distributing allocated Aurora College merit awards and reports to students.

More information regarding the role of the Aurora College Coordinator can be found on our school website

What’s coming up?

  • The first residential school runs from Monday 29 February to Friday 4 March
  • Interim reports will be issued Friday 1 April.

Kathy Klados

Deputy Principal

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Tip from a techie

Welcome to all new students, parents and coordinators! Every parent and coordinator should have access to the Sentral Portal by now. Here you can check timetables, view reports and see awards. If you have missed the email with instructions on how to get started, call or email me and I will forward the details as soon as possible. We are working on getting all students access to the Sentral Portal as well, but this process has been delayed by technical issues.

Office 2016

Just this week, our technology sponsor Microsoft released the ProPlus version of Office 2016. This means that all staff and students can download and upgrade their personal computers to run the latest version. Simply log into the Office365 portal at and click the Install now button to start downloading!

Help desk

I mentioned in the December 2015 newsletter that we have recently purchased a help desk application. We have been using this to assist in monitoring, recording, tracking and reporting on all the issues and questions that students, staff, coordinators and parents have relating to technology in Aurora College.

A number of students and parents have already used the new Live Chat feature, which is linked from both the help desk and the website (you should see it to the left now!). Did you know that when there’s no one to answer your questions live, you can leave a message?

Feel free to check out the site ( and log a call whenever you need some help.

Contact details

If you don’t already have them, please take note of my contact details below. You can contact me during school hours for any support needs and I will do my best to solve your problem.

Phone: 02 9886 7593 or 1300 610 733


Ben Hillsley

Learning Technologies Support Officer

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Connect locally, learn globally

My name is Jonah, and I live near Maclean, a Scottish town on the Mid North Coast. It isn’t really Scottish, but all the telegraph poles have the tartan colours of different Scottish families painted on them.

Maclean isn’t far from Yamba and is on the Clarence River. I also live only 10 minutes from the beach. Do you know how Americans think that Australia has kangaroos hopping down the street? Well, that really happens on my street. We live on an acre and there are kangaroos everywhere. They hop over our fence and lay on our front lawn eating the grass.

Kangaroos hopping down Jonah's street

Kangaroos hopping around Jonah’s street

My home school is Maclean High. It is unique because there is a huge colony of a thousand bats on the grounds. To get to the front of the school every day you have to walk through a cemetery.

We live in a place that lots of people travel to for holidays. As a result, the things I like to do include spending time at the beach and river. I am cricket obsessed and like playing and watching it. I also like playing golf, reading, fishing, playing electronics and keeping in touch with my mates.

Jonah Menzies, playing Cricket

Jonah Menzies, playing Cricket

I enjoy Aurora because it is challenging, interesting and I find it a fun way to learn. I love maths – I even do it in my spare time. I also find my science teacher funny. I am looking forward to the residential and making friends from all across NSW. My timetable for my home school and Aurora didn’t match very well and that has made the start of the year interesting, but it is sorted out now.

I don’t know what I want to do when I leave school, but I know it will probably involve maths. I know Aurora will help me find out about different careers I could have.

Jonah Menzies

Year 7 (Maclean High School)

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Creativity in Campaigning for Workplace Safety

Toward the end of 2015, after a busy year of assessments, 9ENG2 undertook a self-directed unit of work titled ‘Community Activism’. The brief was to design an advertising campaign to address an issue they feel is relevant to their lives as young people living in rural communities. The result was an advertising campaign addressing rural workplace safety. Ellita Hunt, William Wright and Summer-Rose Stingemore explain why they chose this issue:

Ellita: The reason we have selected this issue as a group is because it’s very relevant to our communities and personal lives. It’s a very relatable subject for people living in rural and remote communities, which makes advertising to this demographic easier. The purpose of an advertising campaign towards this issue is to assist in stopping the issue of complacency in these areas. The issue is quite personal to us as a group.

Wiliam: Some of us have had friends or relatives killed in workplace accidents, and we noticed that workers are often complacent, choosing the quick way, not the correct way. We thought that a series of advertisements could remind the workers to be safe and not to ‘get slack’ in the workplace. An injury in a community can affect many more people than just the person injured, and often takes everyone by surprise.

Summer: Every day, especially in my community, people are injured and sometimes killed because they didn’t follow the proper OHS procedures. The attitude in our communities is often one of “She’ll be right”. Unfortunately, this attitude gets people hurt. The purpose of the group advertising campaign is to raise awareness of health and safety in rural workplaces.

Running parallel to the student group-designed campaign, some lesson time was spent learning and revising persuasive techniques in a variety of multimodal advertisement texts. In particular, we focused on those advertising forms selected for the group campaign. Students engaged in and deconstructed numerous radio, print and video advertisements in order to gain ideas for individual contributions.

William Wrights advert for Rural Workplace Safety

William Wrights advertisement for Rural Workplace Safety

William explains the planning and design process behind his visual-based print advertisement.

William: I targeted workers with my print advertisement because I know many read newspapers such as The Land regularly, almost religiously, every week. A full page print ad targeting such workers could have an enormous effect on their safety around the workplace.

The slogan appeals to the target demographic by using colloquial terminology, creating a sense of familiarity which makes it more likely for them to understand and process the message.

I chose to use the shades of black and white as it highlights that doing stupid things is a bad idea in the workplace, by using colours associated with possible injury and even death. The faded pictures blended-in symbolise the things that could happen if you get injured, such as loss of money and disappointed children.

Creating meaning in a text is a dynamic process involving composer, text and responder. In responding to William’s print advertisement, the vector lines create a definite reading path. The eye is drawn immediately to the disturbing image of the subject with his unprotected face very close to the drill equipment. As we follow the subject’s downward gaze, we are led to the caption, ‘There’s more at stake than your health. Don’t get slack.’

This raises a question: What else is at stake? In continuing the reading path established by the downward gaze, reinforced by the vertical lines of the overlay photographs, the answer is revealed in the faded overlays: Worker responsibilities to their children and financial commitments are other considerations ‘at stake’ in the workplace safety choices made by rural workers. William’s advertisement is effective in the creative choices utilized to appeal to workers’ sense of responsibility toward others.

Ellita explains the planning and design process behind her film advertisement.

Ellita: I chose to do a film advertisement because it’s currently one of the most common forms of advertising. I used an emotional appeal directed towards adults because I felt it was the most effective method of getting the message across. Parents will always try to do what is right by their children, so the thought of not being able to support them encourages the idea of complying with work health and safety. I decided on the actual film ad I did because it was simple and to the point. I used inspiration from a recent anti-smoking campaign, which uses a similar idea of emotional appeal to parents.

Ellita’s editing choices actively engage the viewer with the message of workplace safety. The cross-cutting between footage of a dangerous workplace scenario and the blank screen and sound of crashing, positions the viewer to imagine the implied accident. The final mid-close-up shot of the child calling, ‘Dad’, with the absence of the father figure from the shot, is equally open to interpretation. In imagining the outcomes, the target audience is forced to consider the possible consequences of their own choices concerning workplace safety procedures.

Penny Boucher

Teacher, 9ENG2

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Science practicals

This year we have changed the format and delivery of the science practical program. We have funded a science teacher in each student’s home school to conduct a practical lesson each fortnight with the students. This allows regular hands on science experience, in line with the scope and sequence of lessons being delivered online.

Students seem to be enjoying their laboratory time so far, and we have received these pictures from Eden Marine High school showcasing their students conducting science investigations. Stage 4 students at EMHS are engaged in lab time each fortnight with Ms. Geraldine Sheehan, Head Teacher Science. They are becoming familiar with lab equipment and protocols and keep asking “when do we get to blow things up?”

If your school has some great science pictures or videos we would love to see them!

Virginia Cluff

Head Teacher Science / Community Liaison Officer

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Bright lights of Aurora

Anna Auer, STEM, 2016

Anna Auer at the STEM workshop at the University of Wollongong

Congratulations to the following students:

Darcy Wood of Year 8 (Dubbo College South Campus), Ella Roberts of Year 8 (Cowra High School), Amy Ibbott of Year 9 (Coonamble High School) and Ryan Anderson of Year 9 (Cobar High School) are keen swimmers and will be competing for their home schools in the Western District Swimming meet in Dubbo on 3 March. We wish them all the best.

Reif Oliver of Year 7 (Eden Marine High School) recently competed in the Victorian State titles for sailing. Reif placed 21st in the Open BIC category for junior sailors aged 8 to 18 years. Last weekend Reif competed in the Twofold Bay regatta and placed first in his division. Congratulations Reif!

Anna Auer of Year 10 (Eden Marine High School) recently attended the STEM workshops held at the University of Wollongong.

What have you been doing in your home school recently? Ask your Aurora College Coordinator to send a brief report for the next edition of The Auracle. All contributions gratefully accepted by email to

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Masterclass program

MAAS Short Computing Course

Physical computing with the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences.

This year will see the continuation of the very successful masterclass program.

We have recently partnered with the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS  – better known as the Powerhouse Museum) and they are currently delivering a short 10 week course on physical computing to six students each Wednesday afternoon in Term 1.

Harvey Shead, Anna Auer, Jack Robbers, Luke Wilson, Tynan Matthews and Daniel Cook were sent a kit and handbook which they use, in conjunction with expert guidance and advice from an MAAS educator. The six students are learning how to program their Arduino board and ThinkerShield in different ways. So far so good!

We also continue to have a strong alliance with Macquarie University, who were the providers of numerous masterclasses in 2015, so we look forward to what they have to offer this year. Other exciting masterclasses to look forward to include an astronomer from CSIRO, experts from the State Library and a range of authors…just to name a few.

Kate Thompson

Head Teacher Secondary Studies

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Mentoring program

The mentoring program will be taking place throughout the year for any students interested, providing we can find enough mentors! The platform and processes were piloted in Term 4, 2015 by a group of 15 students and 8 mentors from both Microsoft and CAASTRO. It was considered a success because each student involved still wants to participate. We will pick up again after the residential and look forward to greater numbers of both mentors and mentees becoming involved.

We have also engaged an expert mentoring consultant to develop a high quality mentoring program tailored to suit the needs of Aurora students and the online learning environment. It will contain resources for students and mentors. We look forward to utilising this great resource.

Kate Thompson

Head Teacher Secondary Studies

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Opportunities to Shine

Space Academy program

Interested in space and travel? Expressions of interest for students in Year 9 to 12 are now open for attending the 2016 Space Academy Program from Friday 23 September to Tuesday 11 October 2016. The program includes visits to attractions in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, such as California Science Centre, Los Angeles Hollywood, Venice Beach and Santa Monica Pier, Griffith Observatory and planetarium, Universal Studios, Fossil Tar Pits, Sea World, USS Midway, Alcatraz, Google, Disney California Adventure and more. The opportunity also includes a cultural visit to South Korea. For more information, check out the website at

CISCO mentoring competition

Would you like to be mentored by successful engineer? If you register for and watch all four of the CISCO TV ‘Women Rock IT’ ( series you are eligible for a 6-month mentorship with Vanessa Sulikowski. Vanessa is Cisco’s first female employee to earn the prestigious designation of Distinguished Systems Engineer (DSE). Enter the ‘Mentor Me CISCO’ competition here:

The University of Sydney Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize

Did you enjoy Dr Karl’s session at the residential? Do you want to be like Adam Spencer? Dr Karl and Adam Spencer are Sleek Geeks ( who tell interesting scientific stories so people ‘learn without noticing’. You can do it too and have the opportunity to win $4000 by submitting a creative and entertaining science video or short story. Entries close in May.

Kate Thompson

Head Teacher Secondary Studies

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Spotlight on … Mr Ian Whiteway

Mr Ian Whiteway of the Mathematics faculty

Mr Ian Whiteway of the Mathematics faculty

At what other school do you teach?

This year I am teaching full-time here at Aurora HQ. I have, however, taught in many schools in places as diverse as Queanbeyan, Canberra, Tumut, Katoomba, South-western and Northern Sydney and the Isle of Man (where they have tailless cats and four-horned sheep). I have worked in two agricultural high schools and taught various selective classes.

What is your local community like?

Since I seem to spend most of my waking hours here at Aurora, my ‘local community’ means a 55 year old school building surrounded by some nice suburbs of Sydney. Okay, it’s not as scenic as Tumut or Katoomba, but at least I have seen a possum and kookaburras in the area. It’s also good for watching large numbers of planes from many countries on approach to landing at Sydney Airport.

What’s your favourite subject to teach?

Well, I have two… mathematics because of its logic, precision and ability to describe the order that we see in the world around us… and ancient history (especially Near East and Classical), because it’s real people doing amazing things that can teach us big lessons.

I particularly enjoy teaching the ‘annoying’, but interesting, things like 0∙999…=1, the value(s) of 00 and the fact that there never really was a year zero.

What do you like about teaching at Aurora?

The staff here at Aurora HQ are friendly and helpful. The students are keen, capable, appreciative and individual. I hope that my experience in the country and the city can help some of the galaxy of stars at Aurora to shine even brighter.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Other interests: my family (wife and daughters), church activities, chess, travel, walking and cycling.

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Library report


Reading Challenge 2016

Reading Challenge 2016

Welcome to an exciting year for our Aurora College Library. I am thrilled to be joining the Aurora team to support student learning. I am based in the southernmost part of our state at Eden Marine High School.

Summer reading challenge

Students currently in Year 8 were set a challenge over the summer holidays. It was to read books of their own choosing and to submit a review about that book for our school library system. I am pleased to announce that numerous students took up this challenge and that Quilla Brodie submitted the most book reviews over the summer break! Quilla will be presented with her prize at the residential camp this term.

All students are encouraged to review resources they read, both fiction and non-fiction, via the Aurora online library. I will be working with students later this term to show them how to submit reviews via OLIVER.

Requesting resources

If students would like a resource to be made available, please send me an email ( ) with the subject, book title or author’s name. Student and staff contributions are always welcome.

Digital resources

All Aurora students have access to digital providers such as World Book online, Wheelers, Cosmos magazine, and Newscan index, etc. All access is via student portal logins. Throughout the semester, I will be demonstrating the features of these providers and supporting students to use these tools for their core class work and for FUN.

Students survey

Students are asked to complete a short survey about library usage, reading and borrowing habits, resource preference etc at the link provided below. This will assist me in developing a core collection that best suits the needs of our students.

Reading Challenge 2016

Sometimes we get stuck reading the same things. Here’s a challenge…print the image (above and to the right), stick it on the fridge at home and get reading involved! Send me a quick email as you complete each square on the grid and your name will be entered into a draw for an end of year reward! The more you read, the more chances you have!

Kaylene Taylor

Teacher Librarian

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A message from our technology sponsor, Microsoft


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From the engine room

We would like to welcome back our continuing students and families and extend a very warm welcome to our new students and families. The Aurora School Administration and Support staff consists of a School Administration Manager (Denise Deaves) and two School Administration Officers, Stacey Szakall and Georgia Brown. Stacey and Georgia job share and are available to assist you between the hours of 8:30 am and 3:30 pm on the following days:

Stacey Szakall – Monday and Tuesday

Georgia Brown – Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

Denise Deaves, School Administrative Manager is available to assist you Monday to Friday.

We are pleased to advise that Payment online via our website is now user friendly on mobile devices.

Behind the scenes, Westpac has been working on an upgrade to the Parent Online Payment webpage attached to Aurora College’s website. In the past, using the ‘$ Make a payment” page through a mobile device or tablet has not been as easy as on a computer. Now, automatically, when parents click on this page via a mobile device, they will be able to complete the online form with ease.

We now have the facility for parents to phone the school number at the rate of a local telephone call. You can still use 02 9886 7560 but you may prefer to use 1300 287 629 to be charged at local call rates.

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:
Website:; Facebook:


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