St Cyprian's School Technology News

Understanding different learning styles (Guest post by Justin Skea - Head of Prep School)

May 20, 2013
When we move away from the mindset that intelligence is one dimensional, and accept that it is multi-dimensional, we must conclude that children have different ways of learning. How one child perceives and assimilates information can be completely different to another.

Education experts have roughly grouped learning styles into three basic styles – auditory, visual and kinaesthetic. By knowing how your daughter learns best, you can guide her to learn more effectively. I hope that it might also spark memories for you of how you went through school, and what worked best for you when it came to learning. I must caution you however! As many of you know, I do not like boxes! I don’t want your children being boxed into a mold, nor do I want them to think in a box. With that in mind, please do not now ‘box’ your child into one of the three learning styles. The truth is that even though we all have a dominant learning style, we all draw upon the different learning styles depending on the learning context in which we find ourselves. The challenge for teachers is to facilitate learning so that all the learning styles are accommodated.

Auditory learning style
For the auditory learner, she uses her sense of hearing to gather and process information. The auditory child is the one who listens carefully to instructions and proceeds accordingly. Similarly, the auditory learner is highly sensitive to variations in spoken words, to inflections and emphases. She retains information through hearing and speaking. I have found that these learners tend to thrive in discussion groups, and will often remember information by repeating it aloud. Some may even struggle a little with written instructions alone. When I first started teaching, I was often bemused by the child who would not look at me or the board during lesson time or would not write down a single note during discussion time. What I initially perceived as a child not paying attention was, in many instances, simply a child whose listening skills were far more pronounced than his/her visual skills. If your child uses the auditory learning style as her dominant style, you may wish to do the following to assist her with her learning:
  • Whilst studying, she may concentrate better with soft, wordless music playing in the background.
  • Have her repeat what she has learnt aloud and in her own words
  • Get her to teach what she has learnt. It could be you or someone else at home, like a younger sibling.
  • Making jingles or rhymes can often help with recall of key points or concepts.
  • Silent studying does not work for this learner, and she should be given the space to read (aloud) act out and speak about what she is learning.
  • An aural learner loves study groups, so be prepared to allow this, making sure that the study time is directed and not simply an excuse to ‘hang out’ with friends.
Visual learning style
Children who are primarily visual learners tend to get information through reading books, and must see, visualise and illustrate in order to understand. The visual learner is drawn to paintings and crafts, and is creative and imaginative in her approach to the world around her. Appreciation of aesthetics is a common trait of this learner. Look at your child’s learning habits – if tidy and organised, then she might well be a visual learner. Once again, early in my career in education, I could not understand why some of my pupils would doodle during class, but later came to realise that this was the most effective way for them to listen and internalize what was being taught or learnt. The visual learner prefers written instructions or demonstrations over verbal instructions or explanations. This may explain why men never ask for directions from someone at the side of the road! The visual learner can often become quite confused if given verbal instructions alone, and will often need to see it in order to understand. For a teacher, the balancing act is to balance too few visual aids with too many. Too few, and the visual learner becomes distracted by everything and anything happening around her! Too many visual aids and the child becomes overwhelmed, even confused, by the barrage of stimuli! If your child uses the visual learning style as her dominant style, you may wish to do the following to assist her with her learning:
  • It goes without saying that images, colour and visual media are incredibly helpful for the visual learner. Encourage your daughter to take her notes and turn them into mind maps, picture and diagrams. In this way, she moves towards replacing text with colour and images.
  • Highlighting or colour coding key concepts is very helpful when learning a new concept.
  • For content that needs to be memorized, flash cards work well.
  • Ensure that the environment in which your child studies is free from as many distractions as possible. An open doorway or window can be incredibly distracting for a visual learner.
  • When approaching a subject, it is critical that this learner understands the big picture before going on to the specifics and details.
Kinaesthetic/tactile learners
In the traditional classroom, the kinaesthetic/tactile learner was often the one who was identified as the troublemaker, or the one labeled as having concentration problems. No doubt, many of you reading this editorial will attest to this through your own school experiences! The visual and auditory learners used to thrive in the traditional classroom because “chalk and talk” favoured them. But what about the fidgety child in the corner (maybe you?!) who learnt best through hands-on activities and movement? Sadly, this child became the ‘behaviour problem’ of the class. Thankfully, the modern classroom is a far more interactive environment, and caters for the learner who needs to either do what is being talked about or learnt, or needs to touch something or move around while she is learning. This is the child who will rather show someone how to do something than write a list of instructions. She cannot wait around for the information to come to her, but goes and actively seeks it out. If your child uses the kinaesthetic or tactile learning style as her dominant style, you may wish to do the following to assist her with her learning:

  • Help her to use touch, action and movement when learning.
  • Flash cards often work well, as she can touch and move them as she is learning something that requires memorization.
  • Role play works well for this type of learner, so try to encourage her to act out or simulate what she is learning.
  • You may find that your daughter learns best when she is moving or standing. Sitting behind a desk is a daunting prospect for her, so don’t be surprised if she asks if she can jump on the trampoline while going through her text book!
  • Ensure that she takes regular breaks when studying or doing homework. These breaks should involve a movement or touch activity that will help them re-focus for the next session of work.
  • Though mind maps, diagrams and pictures are perfect for the visual learner, they are equally beneficial for the kinaesthetic/tactile learner as the physical component of writing and drawing will hold her attention. The bigger the sheet of paper, the better!

Grade 7 collaborative project with Appleby College

May 10, 2013

Last term, the Grade 7s completed a collaborative project in Natural Science with the Grade 7 classes of Appleby College in Toronto, Canada.

This included our girls creating presentations about the habitats and adaptations of Southern African animals, while their pupils did the same for Canandian animals.

They shared their projects via the internet, and had to achieve specific goals with the other school’s projects. To round off the project, we collated common questions from their projects...
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Thinking Skills - Mind Inclined

April 17, 2013
Guest post by Justin Skea (Head of Prep School)

This image outlines the key habits, skills and dispositions identified by the St Cyprian’s School Prep staff during a workshop as being required by every child of the 21st century.

In making this known to you, we make a very public commitment to teach in such a way that we focus not merely on how students produce knowledge, but also how they reproduce it.

Furthermore, as teachers, we commit to developing these skills in your daughter in everyth...
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E-safety... what you need to know

April 4, 2013
Louise Clarke recently conducted an e-safety workshop with our High School students (see Prezi below). Further e-safety resources for parents, students and teachers are available here.

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Guest post by Reese Jones: Top Educational Apps to Develop Kid's Psychological Abilities

April 4, 2013
Based on a study, nearly half of the first-time mobile users in the United States are not even in school yet. In fact, 49 percent of children ages 0 to 4 are, in someway, exposed to an iPad and iPod. Some parents even use these devices as a means of distracting their kids, in order to keep them seated quietly in one place.
In this article, we will present the best educational and fun game apps for kids that will develop their psychological abilities and create a memorable digital play day.
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Teachers love technology

March 24, 2013
(Infographic courtesy of

What do we Know Infographic

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Using the XBox Kinect for Maths

March 20, 2013

Students were asked to design a Maths lesson around the Kinect Sports module.  For example, they had to measure average distances or times for athletics events and teach concepts such as distance, height etc.  Besides the Maths concepts they needed to apply, there was also the added advantage of physical activity and lots of fun! For more information on lesson plans for Xbox Kinect, click here.

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Guest post by Justin Skea: The generation divide Part II

March 20, 2013

Justin Skea is Head of St Cyprian's Preparatory School

In my last article I spoke of the 8 Net Generation and Next Generation norms and the way these norms need to be considered when parenting and teaching your child. Next, I would like to look a little more closely at how these norms, and the very unique characteristics of this generation impact on the modern family. As with my previous article, I hope that this information will help you in your parenting, and help you understand your child t...
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Guest post by Justin Skea: The generation divide Part I

March 20, 2013
Justin Skea is Head of St Cyprian's Preparatory School

The generational divide which exists today between parents and their children is an intriguing one. The truth is that the generational divide has existed for, well, for as long as there were children and adults, however it is today’s society which is perhaps witnessing one of the greatest generational divides in history, and the rapid development in technology is partly responsible for this divide.

In case you don’t know, four gene...
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Literature fun with interactive whiteboards

March 20, 2013

The Grade 6s, who read Jennifer Murdley’s Toad, were tasked with designing a Game Show around the novel and presenting the show using their interactive whiteboards. From Who Wants to be a Millionaire to Wheel of Fortune, the girls designed their game shows, incorporating questions linked to the novel, and then interacted with the rest of the class, as they hosted their game show.

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Guest post by Anna Stanley: 3 Ways to Use Free Online PDF Converter in the Classroom

February 28, 2013
Good, responsible teachers are always on the lookout for innovative, fun ways to motivate their students to learn. Students’ active participation in class activities, rather than passive reception of teachers’ lectures, proved to be a much more effective teaching method.

Fortunately, today we have a real treasure on Internet when it comes to teaching strategies, ideas and tools. As well as many great and dedicated teachers! A lot of these web teaching tools are free, which makes it easier...
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Grade 4 BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)

November 20, 2012

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Cyber safety resources for parents and teens

October 1, 2012
With so many new devices, emerging technologies and increased access to the internet, it is important that we consider and manage the risks involved. We will always endeavour to provide state-of-the-art safety and security for students using school computer facilities, but with an increase in the number of personal devices that often do not connect to the internet via school wireless and use for example 3G, it impossible to effectively restrict the sites they visit, what they post and who the...
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BYOD (bring your own device) in the classroom

September 24, 2012

I recently posted an article about the Grade 10 English blog project. In previous years it was necessary to book the computer lab in order for the students to work on their blogs. This became problematic, as there were usually three English classes attempting to make use of the lab at the same time, resulting in double-bookings and frustration for both the teachers and the students.

This year, the teachers tried a different approach by allowing the girls to bring in their own devices to clas...
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Bring your own device (BYOD)

September 24, 2012

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Using cellular phones for Mathematics

September 13, 2012

Our High School Mathematics teacher, Mrs du Toit, explains how she uses cell phones to assist with teaching and learning in the classroom:

“The programme that I use allows students free access to information via cellphones. These resources include text books, practice exercises and multi-media content, for e.g. YouTube videos explaining specific Mathematical concepts. The students are also enrolled in an additional programme called Intelligent Practice.

Exercises allow graded repetition o...
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CSI Day by Katya Davisson (Grade 6)

August 13, 2012

On Wednesday, 8 August, the Grade 6s had to dress up as detectives, news reporters or forensic scientists. The teachers had organised a CSI based morning of fun activities and problem-solving. They transformed our Life Center into a crime scene which we had to investigate. We were put into groups of three and studied the room while recording our findings using our cellphones. There were cartoon pictures of teachers who were on the suspect list. Miss Clarke was a young student and Mr Joh...
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'Techno Maths' Lesson - Fractions

August 3, 2012

Mrs Clare Rowe says: “Both Grade 5 classes had a whale of a time playing fraction games on their phones, iPads and laptops during a Friday Maths lesson. The girls had downloaded the games the night before so that were ready to roll the next morning. They teamed up in pairs and gave the following games a good go: Fraction Drills, Fraction Kitchen, Pizza Fractions and iTooch Math Grade 5 Lite. Of course, they are already asking their teachers when they can have another lesson like this!”


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'Leaping' into the 21st century

August 2, 2012

Every teacher will agree that the classroom has undergone some dramatic changes in recent years. Technologies seem to change on a daily basis and new careers spring up overnight. On top of that there is a confusing array of terms such as "21st century skills", "innovative teaching and learning practices" to contend with - all within the constraints of an already full curriculum.

We have found that one particularly successful strategy is to focus on teacher professional development and support,...
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St Cyprian's School on

August 2, 2012

St Cyprian's School is proud to be partnered with Microsoft Partners in Learning as a Microsoft Innovative Mentor School. In 2011 we conducted an investigation into some of the innovative projects mentioned on this site.  The focus was specifically on how technology can be used effectively to improve learning.

The results of the case study have now been published on Microsoft's website. Read more....

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Blog author

Nina Adams
Nina Adams

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