06 Sep 2019

Kids & Fake News!

The information explosion due to the internet has provided access to areas of knowledge and expertise that was unthought of when most of us were in primary school. It raises questions around the susceptibility of children being tricked by ‘fake information’ on the internet.

Our reality is that we live in a world where online hoaxes, phishing, online solicitation and fake news are reasonably common. The research in Australia shows that many adults are the victims of online scams and many more of us are susceptible to believe fake news and information.

There was research repeated recently around the susceptibility of young people to online hoaxes. The results are interesting. The Marshall Memo outlined the research from an article in The Reading Teacher. I have inputted this summary below.

In the article the researchers revisited the classic Tree Octopus hoax of 2006. Back then, researchers had no trouble fooling every single one of a group of grade seven students with a bogus website with the heading, “Help Save the Endangered Northwest Tree Octopus from Extinction.” The website had photos, links for further reading, and a magazine cover showing a woman wearing a stylish tree octopus hat, which was supposedly why the creature was endangered. Students simply lacked the critical thinking skills to determine the credibility of the content. What’s more, when they were told the website was a fake, students struggled to find the evidence that this was the case.

The study was repeated in 2018 with grade 1-5 students to see if students’ skills and perceptiveness were any better. “Thinking critically about online information is often referred to as web literacy,” say the researchers. “To be web literate, readers need to become healthy skeptics who develop what we call reliability reasoning, to determine deceptions and truths in an increasingly complex world that grows more and more dependent on online information.” Students looked at the Tree Octopus website and were interviewed individually: How can you tell if this website has accurate (or true) information? Overall, only 35 percent of students saw through the hoax. Here’s the grade-by-grade percent of students who trusted the phony website:

    • First grade – 80%
    • Second grade – 50%
    • Third grade – 80%
    • Fourth grade – 79%
    • Fifth grade – 42%

Although there was progress from the 2006 study, far too many students were inadequately skeptical about online material. The researchers analyzed students’ responses on three dimensions:

    • Application of prior knowledge about content – Most students who uncovered the fake did so because they used their prior knowledge about octopuses: they live in the ocean, not in trees! “Relying on background knowledge only works if a reader has enough related knowledge to make a critical and informed decision. A major concern is that students trusted the information if it looked real.” This is another argument for a solid curriculum in literature, science, social studies, and the arts.
    • Use of text features – Students were mixed in their use of these, with some trusting the website because it had a “real” photo and others suspicious of Twitter references. One fifth grader knew that a URL ending in .net was a red flag.
    • Knowledge about “facts” – Most students believed the website because it presented what they believed were facts: “It says where the habitat is.” “It mostly states facts and specific details and has photographs.” Only fifth graders saw the “facts” as a problem, and even there, many were fooled.

In this world of fake news, alternative facts, phishing scams and a web full of conspiracy theories, extremist views and flat earth level wacky websites, there is an enormous need for parents and teachers at Lindfield to keep working on the critical-thinking skills of our boys.

We want our students to be aware, engaged, thoughtful and skeptical readers with detailed knowledge of how to unpack and analyse material, especially on the Internet. We need to encourage our boys to question, think and analyse the world around them.

As parents, sometimes this is the last thing we feel like at the end of a long day but open-ended conversations, where the boys are left to make judgements on situations through discussions with you, will help them hone their skills. For your son, a critical eye is essential in a new world of constant information where there is little oversight and no checks on the reality of the facts on the internet!

“Critical Thinking Is Critical: Octopuses, Online Sources, and Reliability Reasoning” by Jodi Pilgrim, Sheri Vasinda, Christie Bledsoe, and Elda Martinez in The Reading Teacher, July/August 2019 (Vol. 73, #1, pp. 85-93), https://bit.ly/2ZNcKOj

Transdisciplinary Themes – the Organisation of Learning 

The PYP focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside. At Newington Lindfield we are committed to inquiry-based learning as the leading vehicle for learning.  








The transdisciplinary themes are a distinctive feature of the PYP and represent the knowledge and understandings the students will develop throughout their years in the PYP. Theallow for local and global issues to be explored within the units of inquiry that have meaning for and are important to all of us.   

The IB recognises that educating students in a set of isolated subject areas may be necessary to develop specific disciplinary skills but that this approach may not be sufficient. The PYP offers a balance between learning about and through the subject areas as well as beyond them. A transdisciplinary concept stretches across MathsScience and Technology, English and Human Societies and It’s Environment (HSIE), Languages, Visual Arts, PDHPE and Music and ties it all together.   

The six transdisciplinary themes help teachers to develop a programme of inquiry (POI). Teachers collaborate with each other and with the students to develop investigations into important ideas, which require a substantial and high level of involvement by students. These inquiries are substantial, in-depth and usually last for several weeks.  


Newington College Lindfield – Programme of Inquiry 

The programme of inquiry at Newington College Lindfield runs to 2 cycles to provide our teachers the opportunity to plan and teach collaboratively. Due to the enhancements that are coming into play within the PYP, students from 3-6 years of age are now able to work on 4 units of inquiry across the academic year to enable sustained and prolonged learning opportunities. 


Sue Gough – PYP Co-ordinator












Social Emotional Learning – Building Confidence

Self-esteem: the basics 

Self-esteem is about liking yourself and who you are. This doesn’t mean being overconfident – just believing in yourself and knowing what you do well. 

For children, self-esteem comes from: 

  • knowing that they’re loved and that they belong to a family and a community that values them 
  • spending quality time with their families 
  • being encouraged to try new things, finding things they’re good at and being praised for things that are important to them. 

The most important thing you can do to foster your child’s self-esteem is to tell your child that you love them. Say it often and for no reason other than to show you appreciate your child. 


Relationships, connections, belonging and your child’s self-esteem 

Being connected to other people who care about them is good for your child’s self-esteem. It gives them a stronger sense of their place in your immediate and extended family. And being connected to friends and people in the community helps your child learn how to relate to others and can boost their confidence. 

Here are some ideas for nurturing your child’s self-esteem through relationships: 

  • Strengthen your child’s sense of their family, culture and community. For example, show your child family photos and share family stories, take part in community or cultural events like religious festivals, and encourage your child join a local sporting club or interest group, or join as a family. 
  • Encourage your child to value being part of your family. One way to do this is by involving your child in chores. When everyone contributes to the smooth running of the household, you all feel important and valued. 
  • Make your child’s friends welcome and get to know them. Encourage your child to have friends over to your house, and make time for your child to go to theirs. 


Quality time and your child’s self-esteem 

When you spend quality time with your child you let them know they’re important to you. Doing things together as a family can help strengthen a sense of belonging and togetherness in your family, which is also good for your child’s self-esteem. 

Here are some ideas: 

  • Develop family rituals. These could include a story at bedtime, a special goodbye kiss or other ways of doing things that are special to your family. 
  • Let your child help you with something, so that they feel useful. For example, your preschooler could help you set the table for dinner. 
  • Plan some regular one-on-one time with your child, doing something they enjoy, whether it’s drawing, doing puzzles, kicking a soccer ball or baking cakes. 


Achievements, challenges and your child’s self-esteem 

Success and achievements can help your child feel good about themselves. But your child can also build self-esteem doing things they don’t always enjoy or succeed at. You can still praise their effort and determination – and remind them that these will help them succeed in other areas, or next time. 

There are lots of ways to help your child succeed, achieve and cope well with failure: 

  • When your child has a problem, encourage them to think calmly, listen to other people’s points of view and come up with possible solutions to try. This builds important life skills. 
  • Help your child learn new things and achieve goals. When your child is younger, this might mean praising and encouraging when they learn something new, like riding a bike. When they are older, it might be taking them to sport and helping them practice. 
  • Celebrate big and small achievements and successes. And remember to praise your child’s effort, not just the results. For example, ‘You tried that puzzle piece in lots of different spots and you finally got it right. Well done!’. 
  • Keep special reminders of your child’s successes and progress. You can go through them with your child and talk about your special memories, and the things they have achieved. 
  • Teach your child that failing is a part of learning. For example, if they keep missing the ball when learning to catch, say ‘You’re getting closer each time. I can see how hard you’re trying to catch it’. 
  • Teach your child to treat themselves kindly when they fail. You could be a role model here. For example, ‘I tried a new recipe, and the cake looks a bit funny. But that’s OK. It smells delicious’. 


Things that can damage children’s self-esteem 

Messages that say something negative about children are bad for their self-esteem – for example, ‘You are slow, naughty, a bully, a sook …’. When children do something you don’t like, it’s better to tell them what they could do instead. For example, ‘You haven’t done your homework. You need to sit down now and finish your maths questions’. 

Messages that imply that life would be better without children might harm their self-esteem. For example, ‘If it weren’t for the children, we could afford a new car’. 

Ignoring children, treating them like a nuisance and not taking an interest in them are likely to be bad for children’s self-esteem. An example might be, ‘I am sick and tired of you’. Frowning or sighing all the time when children want to talk to you might have the same effect. 

Negative comparisons with other children, especially brothers and sisters, are also unlikely to be helpful. Each child in your family is different, with individual strengths and weaknesses. It’s better if you can recognise each child’s successes and achievements. 

All parents feel frustrated and tired sometimes. But if parents send the message that they feel like this about their children all the time, children get the message that they’re a nuisance. 


Adapted from https://raisingchildren.net.au/toddlers/behaviour/understanding-behaviour/about-self-esteem 


Pascal Czerwenka – Year 5 Teacher/Deputy Head of Lindfield

Faith Matters

“Your grandmother knits a jumper for you for Christmas. It’s ugly and it’s uncomfortable. When she asks what you think of it, you tell her it’s really nice. Is this lying?”

“Is ‘sledging’ in cricket cheating?”

“You have been waiting in the line at the canteen. People are behind you. A friend comes up and ask you to buy them a meat pie. Has your friend ‘pushed in’ on the queue? Do you buy them a meat pie?”

“Should children not have to do any housework at all? Why?”

“What if your school taught using only videos and YouTube? Would this be better or worse than reading? Why?“

“What are the best and most exciting futures? What are the worst and most scary futures?”


These are just some of the ethical dilemmas and big ideas that Year 6 has been looking at in RE classes this term. The purpose of this Unit has been to encourage the boys to think a bit deeper, to question and challenge what they understand and to debate different perspectives.

When we think about Ethics we see that it pervades almost all parts of our life. Ethical questions can be as simple as ‘do I let this person merge in front of me on the road’ or as complicated as ‘is war ever justified’. Yet, all too often when we start thinking about ethics we often go to the most complex, difficult questions and forget that ethical questions are part of our everyday lives.

I admit that it’s the everyday ethical questions that I, and I’m sure most others, struggle with. If I’m rushing to get somewhere and I’m stuck in traffic why should I let someone else merge in front of me? In that moment of decision I can think of a multitude of different reasons not to let that person’s car in front; they’re trying to get ahead, they intentionally got in the wrong lane, they’ll hold me up even further etc etc. Yet when I really think about it, what difference does one car in front of me make? But that process is a simple process of ethical reasoning that we go through almost every day.

I think it’s important to encourage our young people to explore these ethical questions too. Some of the questions that we’ve looked at in Year 6 are bigger picture ideas ‘imagine what the future in 1000 years might look like’. But others are really simple like ‘is it OK to buy a meat pie at the canteen for a friend who’s cutting in?’. It’s those arguably smaller ethical dilemmas that I believe can be the most important for our young people. It’s a process of encouraging them to think about their actions and the way they live and how that might impact those around them.

Simple ethical questions can be started when we’re sitting together watching a sporting match and a challenge to a referee’s decision comes up or when we’re reflecting with children on what they did at school. It’s always important to encourage the conversations, to challenge their thinking at an age appropriate level and to encourage them to think deeply about their actions and the world around them.

All of us want to be the most ethical people that we can, and essentially that’s what we want from our young people to. So because of that, it’s important that we encourage them to think deeply about ethical dilemmas that impact on their lives.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Richard La’Brooy

Stage One – UOI – Arts & Storytelling

Stage One have been exploring the Arts and storytelling in their current Unit of Inquiry. The boys have engaged in a number of workshops, allowing for their exploration of telling a story through a range of artistic modes. In dance and drama, they have been looking at ways to show the key parts of a story, its characters and setting through movement. Removing dialogue from our initial explorations in drama has allowed the boys to consider how their body tells a story rather than relying on using dialogue. We have discovered the way that music can tell, or contribute to a story. The boys have created soundscapes by choosing percussion instruments to represent the contrasting characters in Nick Bland’s King Pig. They have also interpreted Vivaldi’s classical piece, Four Seasons by creating a linear artwork to represent the change in seasons. The boys have also explored symbolism used in art to tell a story.

Next week have the Bell Shakespeare Company visiting to introduce the boys to the magic and mayhem of Shakespeare’s comedies. This will be a two hour literacy workshop involving the boys in drama, script, movement, costume design and creative thinking.

There is a perception that people are inherently creative or not. In Stage One, we are challenging this. The boys are realising that every person is creative and there are ways they can enhance their creative processes and turn their ideas into something wonderful! The boys will be manipulating well known fairy tales, to educate and engage an audience. To support their process, the boys will generate and organise their ideas using the design thinking model and visible thinking routines. We are looking to their telling of fractured fairy tales, through all of the artistic modes!

Christine Hilder (Year 1 Teacher) and Carol Peterson (Year 2 Teacher)


Measurement, Length and Mass in Year 3


It is important for boys to understand the concept of Measurement. This will help develop their skills to measure, record, compare and estimate with length, volume and capacity, and masses using grams and kilograms. In making the transition from informal to formal units, the boys attend to the structure of units used to measure, how they are assembled end-to-end, side-by-side or in layers without gaps or overlapping. In Year 3, we have been focusing on length, grams and kilograms and are about to explore volume and capacity, and litres and millilitres.


The boys need to develop an understanding of length. They can then meaningfully compare and measure objects using the correct formal unit such as metres, centimetres and millilitres. When learning about length, the boys have been measuring various items using rulers, metre rulers and trundle wheels. They measured the width of the classroom and the length of the basketball court. They also flew paper aeroplanes and measured the distance of how far they flew. They used the trundle wheels to calculate the most efficient way to measure the perimeter of the basketball court.


The boys have been learning to read kitchen scales and have been estimating the mass of various grocery items. They have estimated the weight of the item and recorded the actual measurement in a table. The boys have also been hefting items (holding something, in order to test its weight) and compared it with another item. These activities have helped the boys to understand approximately how much a particular weight is e.g. what weighs about 500 grams. They have used an equal arm balance to weigh items and compare it with a given weight.

Measurement provides opportunities to strengthen student number and measurement understandings. The relationship between units of measurement will help the boys apply their knowledge to ratios, rates and proportions as well as decimals and percentages in the coming years.

Mrs Russell – Year 3 Teacher

Year 6 – PYP Exhibition

In little over two weeks’ time, our Year 6 boys will proudly share their PYP Exhibition of 2019. It will be the result of ten weeks of hard work this term, but the planning and initial work started back in Term 2. The theme for this year’s Exhibition has been on student agency, allowing the boys to choose a number of key components throughout the process. This started with a choice of excursion venues around Sydney in Term 2 with a focus on curation, beginning to think about how they would like to present their own Exhibition. The boys then chose their transdisciplinary theme, created their central idea and then lines of inquiry. In past exhibitions, all of the above would be chosen for them. This year, it was opened up to the boys.

Whilst this presents a challenge as a teacher- keeping on top of so many of the boys’ ideas, it also opens up the Exhibition and allows the boys to go in really diverse directions. This year the boys are looking into a variety of issues including the effects of concussion in sport, the ethics of cheap clothing, the consequences of drought in rural NSW, plastic pollution in the oceans, racism in Australian sport, just to name but a few.

Throughout the process the boys have worked in small groups and have focused on the skills of collaboration, time management, delegation, research, and presenting in order to put together a successful exhibition. As a PYP school, we are always looking to collaborate with other like-minded schools and the boys visited Ravenswood yesterday in order to view the girls’ Exhibition. It was fantastic to see the boys engaging with the girls and pitching the sort of questions that they will be facing themselves in Week 10.

The whole school community is invited to come and view the boys’ Exhibition on Tuesday 24 September. Students in K-5 will visit throughout the day, whilst the boys will be running an evening session from 6-8pm to which all are invited to attend. We hope to see you there!

Sam Watson – Teacher 6W


Instrumental Music

Having just done a two-day workshop on how music helps the brain, our instrumental program here at Newington College Lindfield is really important. Boys in Years 2 and 3 are learning a string instrument and in Years 4 and 5 a wind instrument (woodwind or brass). Playing these instruments just at school, once a week, is not going to be doing much. Boys should be playing them for at least 10 minutes each day at home also. It is not just going to improve the playing of the instrument, but the benefit will stretch potentially across all areas of learning.

Year 3 played at assembly last week and one of the Year 5 bands will be playing at assembly on 10 September. These performances are an important part of playing – not just having a goal to work towards but also working out how to deal with performance nerves.

The School Band is playing at the Swain Gardens Open Day on Sunday 8 September at 11:30am. Swain Gardens is a beautiful garden next door to us and is open to the public. The Band will be playing all the pieces that they have learnt this year, which is quite a number and a wonderful achievement. Please come and support them if you want a lovely morning out.

Year 6 Music

At the beginning of this term, boys were completing their compositions based on 4 chords. In the song “Wake Me Up” that was sung by the boys in Stage 3 at the Lindfield Concert, there were only 4 chords repeatedly used. Using this as a base to learn from, boys were asked to compose their own song, this required them to play a guitar and create lyrics, then record it. A good challenge.

Building on from that, they are now creating a piece that they will be presenting at the opening of their Exhibition.

Vanessa South – Music Teacher


Term 3 has seen every boy at Lindfield represent Kingswood or Rydal at the Combined JP and Prep Athletics Carnivals held at our Stanmore campus and at Sydney Olympic Park Athletics Centre. 

The term began with the Primary Carnival at SOPAC in Week 1. It was a spectacular day with the sun shining down on our athletes as they all competed in 100m and 200m Sprints, Long Jump, Discus or “Javelin” (Vortex) and Shot Put. The 800m and High Jump events were completed late in Term 2 to allow the compilation of the individual point scores and the House Points. Special congratulations to both Lachlann Mosely who won the 10 Years Age Championship and Oscar Newman who won the Runner-Up Age Championship in the 11 Years age group. 

Following the prep carnival, 21 boys were selected to represent Lindfield at the IPSHA Athletics Carnival. In the couple of weekends leading up to the IPSHA Carnival, these boys enjoyed the change to compete at both the Newington and South Harbour Invitational Carnivals, using these mornings to refine their sprints, jumps, throws and relay changes. On Monday 29 August the boys were back at SOPAC for the IPSHA Carnival. Despite the rain, almost all the boys came home with a ribbon from their heats including both our Junior and Senior Relay teams! Connor Mosely ran a brilliant 800m race to qualify for the NSWCIS Athletics Carnival. 

The next carnival was another great day of competition at Stanmore for our Kindergarten, Year 1 and Year 2 boys. The boys moved around the different stations with the Wyvern boys in the same age groups and competed in Sprinting, Relays, Sack Races, Discus, Shot Put and Vortex. The Lindfield boys demonstrated some great skills that we look forward to further development as they move into the Primary Carnivals. 

The sixth and final Carnival for most of the boys was the Quad Carnival which was held at Narrabeen Athletics Track today. The Quad Carnival is an opportunity for boys from Kindergarten right through to Year 6 to enjoy strong competition with Mosman Prep, Pittwater House and Coogee Prep. Congratulations to all the boys who were selected to compete today. 

Thank you to all the parents who have travelled around Sydney to support the boys at the various carnivals! The skills developed through athletics are so beneficial to almost every other sport, so it has been great to have all the boys involved over the course of the term. 

Eliza Larkin – Sports Co-ordinator





Amazing Brain Conference

This term Newington College Lindfield hosted a conference for students as part of our Northside Gifted and Talented association. We invited about 120 students from a range of schools across the north shore to participate in a day of workshops learning about the brain. These conferences give students opportunities to work with like-minded peers, teachers are able to collaborate and we can celebrate the wonderful thinking of our young people. Here are some reflections from our Year 6 students:

There were different rotations, there was a memory workshop where we had to memorise some objects on a whiteboard and we had to write them down. Then we had a music workshop (that was one of my favourites) we focused on how music can help the brain. We had a workshop where we had a list of words and they were in different coloured text like this: 




We recorded how quickly we could read these words, it was extremely confusing! I am proud to be given these opportunities. Angus Young


On our pupil free day I had the privilege of being invited to a special workshop centered around the brain. To kick off the day we had a magician perform and then we split off into different groups. There were plenty of different schools participating, with these schools we did workshops all about the brain. It was a really fun experience. Phoenix Yim


It was such a fun day, we went in groups and did lots of activities like music with Mrs South and a memory workshop. At the start of the day we watched a magician – that was the best part! Jamie Tan


There was a good rotation through the day, we had a magician who was able to guess which hand something was in – three times in a row! It was a very social experience because we were with lots of students from other schools. The workshop was a fun experience with a surprise at the end! Jono Kobal


Aleca Bradshaw – Learning Enhancement Team Leader

Lucas Ni – World Cadet Chess Championship

Recently, I played at the World Cadet Chess Championship. I was the official player for Australia in the Under 8 category. This was my first time competing at the most important international junior chess tournament. It was held in Weifang, China this year. Overall, I think it is a very good experience.  

I didn’t play as well as I expected, as I only ranked in the middle of all the players, however, I did extremely well in the last round, as I beat a strong player. I enjoyed this tournament for many different reasons. Firstly I had the opportunity to play with many different people from around the world. For example, Haoze from China, Nathan from Ireland, Lukas from Lithuania, Ishaan from India, Khoi from Canada, Duc from Vietnam and Daniel from the United States. Also, by playing every day for two weeks meant that I improved my chess skills. For example, I became a tiny bit better at using pawns in a position. To top it off, we got to see peacocks during the excursion day! I really enjoyed this special tournament! I will work harder in the future and want to represent Australia to compete again!

Lucas Ni – Year 2