As the HSC approaches and Year 12 currently complete their trials, it is hoped that many of our CEDoW students have been able to sit their Studies of Religion (SOR) exams with an enhancement of knowledge, after attending enrichment days focused on a range of SOR syllabus topics - from bioethics to Aboriginal Spirituality, presented by experienced facilitators.
The initiative was directed by CEDoW's Catholic Life, Education and Mission Service (CLEM) Team, to provide an opportunity for students to participate in workshops, held during the school holidays, targeting areas of study they may have required enriching or revision in. The objective being, to help improve students’ knowledge and understanding of the various elements of the SOR syllabus to achieve greater success in their trial exams.
Ken Bryant, CLEM Team Leader, shared with students, “The intent of these days is to support you and your work. You’re only a term away from the HSC, hopefully these days will inform and guide you in preparation for the big events to come.”
Mr Bryant acknowledged staff present who generously gave up their holidays to share their expertise. Mr Bryant also recognised CLEM team member, Cathy Brown, for advocating for the enrichment days, “The inspiration for these days has come from Mrs Brown, the recognition of the need for these days in support of you all.
“I’ve seen the amount of work that has been done in the background to ensure these days are as rich and as successful as they can possibly be. These days wouldn’t have happened without Mrs Brown’s drive and organisation.”
The enrichment days, held on Wednesday 11 July at Magdalene, Narellan and Wednesday 18 July at St Joseph’s, Albion Park, saw over 150 students participate from systemic and congregational schools. All CEDoW systematic secondary schools were represented, together with students from congregational schools: Chevalier College, Bowral; St Gregory’s College, Campbelltown; St Patrick’s College; Campbelltown and St Mary Star of the Sea College, Wollongong.
The program included a variety of workshops that explored essential key content from SOR units of study. The workshops were presented by highly experienced facilitators and teachers - some who have set and marked the HSC, providing students with an elevated appreciation of what markers are looking for within responses and how to prepare more effectively for their exams.
Participants listened to practical advice and tips - such as how to engage markers through their answers - and made use of the occasion to ask lots of great questions.
Igor Pletikosa, Assistant Religious Education Coordinator at Mt Carmel, Varroville facilitated workshops on both days and said, “The enrichment days were a crucial aspect of student’s content consolidation in the lead up to the very challenging HSC trial exams.
“Throughout the days, students were afforded the opportunity to further develop their exam technique and approach to questions, which are increasingly requiring a nuanced higher order response. These days have reiterated the continual commitment by the Diocese to providing opportunities to strive for academic success.”
Workshop topics included:
- The Trials: Exam Techniques and Tips for Success
- SOR II: Religion and Peace from a Christianity Point of View
- Religion and Belief Systems in Australia Post 1945:
- The Religious Landscape
- Aboriginal Spirituality
- Ecumenical Movements within Christianity and Interfaith Dialogue
- Ethics: Bioethics
- Person: Martin Luther, St Paul and St Francis
- Practice: Baptism
- Practice: Marriage
- Ethics: Sexual Ethics
- Holocaust Theory
- Person: Maimonides
- Ethics: Bioethics and Environmental
- Person: Aisha and Al Ghazali
- Practice: Hajj.
Student, Phoebe Sherer from St John’s, Nowra, woke at 5.00am to attend the day at Magdalene and said the workshops were worth the early start, “I found the day helpful, it enhanced my study notes. I got a lot of good terminology to use and now feel more prepared for the trial exams. The session on Aisha enhanced my understanding of the whole personality of Aisha, her impact and contribution.”
The diverse workshops provided students with an opportunity to identify strengths and weaknesses and attend offerings best suited to their individual needs in order to get the most moving forwards for the trials. Participants also had the chance to work with specialist teachers other than their own, and to collaborate with fellow students from other schools within the Diocese.
Workshop presenters included teachers from within the diocese and also external facilitators from the FaithEd Project, the Islamic Sciences and Research Academy of Australia and the NSW Board of Jewish Education (BJE).
This included Rabbi Paul Lewin from the North Shore Synagogue in Sydney, who is a well-known and sought after teacher on Judaism on behalf of the BJE. “These days are a wonderful initiative," he said.
"It's a gift we have living in Australia, that our students are exposed to other faiths and traditions - to be able to pull the veil away, and understand there is far more that unites than divides us. The students will leave here today not having only learnt more about another faith tradition, but also as ambassadors for peace!”
Listen to Georgia from St Mary’s, Wollongong; Erika from Magdalene, Narellan and Sarah from John Therry, Rosemeadow talk about how they found the days.
Rebecca Toogood, Middle Leader at Mt Carmel, Varroville shared, “As a teacher of SOR it was rewarding being able to facilitate specialised sessions to dedicated students - who were maximising their study efforts. Participants were given the opportunity to consider different ways to apply the information studied throughout the course, as well as prepare for different types of questions which will feature in the trial and HSC examinations.
“Students were at an advantage being able to discuss various applications of content and thesis, as well as receive expert content delivery from a variety of presenters, some of who have very intimate knowledge of the course.
"Overall the day benefited all who were involved, encouraging collegiality, professional dialogue, improving and facilitating student connections and skill development, as well as raising student efficacy and expectations.”
Additionally, focus was given to the importance of taking time for stillness and to look to manage stress as Year 12 prepare for their trials and HSC. Robyn Gallagher, Professional Officer in the CLEM team, led a guided meditation and encouraged students to use meditation as a beneficial way to support their well-being.
Students from Holy Spirit, Bellambi, Diego Alvarez and Daniel Curcio, described the day at St Joseph’s as being extremely beneficial.
“We decided to come to the enrichment day to get a better grasp of the SOR content, so that we can do better in our trials and HSC,” said Daniel. “It’s been really good to go over the stuff we’ve already done, to then be able to fill in the gaps in our knowledge. I would recommend this day to others to attend in future years [if it continues], it’s been really good.”
“I’ve enjoyed today, it’s enriched my understanding of the course content, solidifying what I know,” shared Diego.
Mrs Brown, Education Officer-Secondary from the CLEM team, concluded each day by thanking the students for using their time in the holidays to concentrate on SOR, and also reminded them of the ongoing support available through their Religious Education Coordinators. Before the students left the days, some were treated to movie and restaurant vouchers, in acknowledgement of their dedication.
"I found the days to be hugely successful as the students not only revised course content but also had the opportunity to view the dot points from another, possibly richer perspective," Mrs Brown said.
"This process allowed for enrichment. The support of the RECs in each school enhanced the success of these days. I am grateful to the diocesan teachers and external presenters who prepared their workshops with student achievement in mind. If the students’ participation and behaviour were signs for future days such as these, they will definitely continue into 2019 and beyond."
Following on from these days, during the Term 3 holidays two supplementary days will be offered for students to sit practice SOR exams. Marking will occur as each section is completed, with participants being able to experience undertaking the exam in a different environment with immediate feedback provided.
Mrs Brown can be contacted directly for further information via email: firstname.lastname@example.org