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Year 3 embrace celebration

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A ‘See, Think, Wonder’ exercise based on five of the world’s major religions was a perfect launch pad for Year 3 to explore some great critical thinking this week.

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Over the next eight weeks, Ms Smith and Ms Ridehalgh’s Year 3 students will be exploring celebrations within their own lives and the lives of others by thinking conceptually about different religions and belief systems. They started this week by focusing on five of the major world religions: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism.

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To build on the students’ own sense of wonder and curiosity, Ms Smith and Ms Ridehalgh provided some interesting stimulus material around the Piazza. There were display tables piled with different religious artefacts and symbols, including crucifixes, bibles, statues, scrolls and candles. On the main screen, a Powerpoint presentation played images of mosques, shrines, temples and churches, while music such as the Muslim Call to Prayer and Hindu mantras played in the background.

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Ms Smith asked the students to think deeply about why each stimulus had been selected before articulating their thoughts and ideas on paper. To expand their thinking and increase their motivation to inquire, Ms Smith also asked them to write five open-ended ‘wondering’ questions. For example, why does an object look the way it does? Do the objects or music have anything in common? How are they linked together? She encouraged them to think creatively, to formulate their own opinions and to draw their own conclusions. As she said, “There are no right or wrong answers.”

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Working in pairs and armed with clipboards, the students quietly made their way around the room, taking their time to think about each object and write down their interpretations and questions.

The task stimulated lots of rich inquiry and discussion, particularly when students were faced with unfamiliar objects, pictures or sounds.

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Over the following weeks, Ms Smith and Ms Ridehalgh will be following up this task with some explicit teaching on the major world religions, encouraging the students to be open-minded as they learn about different backgrounds, beliefs, perspectives and acts of worship. The students will also watch videos about what it means, for example, to be Muslim or Jewish, and they will spend time reflecting on how different people explore, express and celebrate their beliefs.

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Later in the term, the students will be examining a selection of religious artefacts from a scientific point of view, analysing what materials they are made from and evaluating whether they are of religious significance. They will then be given carte blanche to create their own religious artefact, giving careful consideration to the materials they use.

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As part of their English studies, the students will also be exploring religious poetry and writing their own religious ballad, elegy, rhyme or free verse. And to enrich their study of different cultures and beliefs, they will be reading books like Thai-riffic! by Oliver Phommavanh, which is about how hard it is to be Thai when living in Australia and your house is a Thai cultural shrine.

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In a diverse society, being able to communicate effectively with people of different backgrounds is of increasing importance. Learning about different religions will build our student’s cultural awareness, helping them to make sense of diversity and to talk about it productively and meaningfully.

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At the end of the eight weeks, the students will present their poems, artefacts and other learning to their peers. Watch this space!