Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Newsletter for late September

Tēnā koutou katoa -

We have had an excellent term three in sporting arenas; in the many cultural activities; in pastoral care situations such as the Poutama activities, careers and options day and in the classroom. The solid groundwork has been laid for student success in November. It is at this time of the year that we begin to get really focused on external examination success and that is determined largely by student attitude, student focus, and student self-discipline.

The upcoming study break gives our senior students time to prepare study plans, to complete outstanding internal credits, and to look forward to external examination preparation. How students do these things in the next two weeks will largely determine how successful they are in November.

At an assembly earlier in the year I read out a poem by Tom Clark called ‘The Light’:

The tough part
of the ball game
is when you can’t breathe any more

That’s when conditioning takes over
and leads you by the hand – the heart! –
through the tunnel

It’s dark in there and you don’t know the score
but at the other end
you perceive the bucket

We have been engaged in confidence building conditioning all year and this needs to continue for the study break and the remaining four weeks of term 4 (yes – only four weeks before prize-giving week). ‘The bucket’ is the reward and for students it is getting what they deserve in external examinations.

Elsewhere in the newsletter you will find the opportunities for tutorials and extra supervision available to students in the lead up to externals. Please encourage the students to attend to make the most of their conditioning period.

I hope all of the school community can also have a well earned break and come back refreshed for term 4.

My final thought: The focus on dreams (the ‘D’ in Stratford) has also been a constant this year. As Michael Phelps, the outstanding American swimmer, says, “Dream big!”

Nā Warren Purdy

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Exam analysis

The following has been a theme for recent assemblies and is directed at senior students and their families:

For senior students it is crucial that you do what Bill Gates suggests - 'It's fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.'

That means some work (yes - work) on analysing what you did right (and celebrate the success), and what you got wrong in the recent mock exams. For example - from recent analysis my English class have learnt the benefits of careful question selection and planning their essay. It's so tempting to launch into your ideas but what if you have misinterpreted the question? Take time to plan and think about what the question is asking.

Part of that work requires rewriting the questions you didn't get right and now attempting questions you found too difficult. Just reading over material is not enough. For the lesson to be learnt successfully you will need to get feedback from your teachers and/or family members and/or your peers.

Construction of a study plan from now until the end of the NCEA exams is also crucial for planning your study time(and free time). Aim for a balance and aim to keep to it. You can use an existing calendar in homework diaries to plan out your study time. I recommend you put a copy on the fridge or your bedroom wall so that you see it and revise it often.