A Culture of Critical and Creative Thinking

How might we build a culture of critical and creative thinking for students, where children delight in their learning, develop deep and lasting understandings, and become critical and creative thinkers? How might we move away from a spoon-feeding culture towards a culture where it is the children who take responsibility for their own learning? How might students become thinkers, rather than do the thinking? And how does the culture of a classroom teach?

For over a decade, Masada College has been offering professional opportunities to explore these questions and many more, drawing on a wide range of research on critical and creative thinking in schools to build a culture of thinking. Cultures of Thinking are “places in which the group’s collective and individual thinking is valued, visible and actively promoted as part of the regular, day-to-day experience of all group members.” (Ritchhart, 2002)

Our flagship course, Building Capability for Critical and Creative Thinking course, takes as its starting point the notion that ‘the imparting of knowledge (content) and the development of thinking skills are accepted today as primary purposes of education’ (ACARA), however, building on this, it is underpinned by the belief that it is through the practice of critical and creative thinking, that the acquisition of knowledge and deep understanding is achieved.

By the end of this course, professional learners are able to apply a rigorous and transformative framework for building students’ capability in critical and creative thinking. It is not an either/or – knowledge and understanding or critical and creative thinking – we achieve both of these goals.

Through our professional learning courses at Masada College and in our consultancy with schools across Australia, we aim to ignite the flame of interest in cultures of thinking, create curious classroom cultures and help teachers and schools focus on developing thinking dispositions that allow our students to be successful in not just the tests and exams they face in school but in all the tests they will face in life.


Independent Learning Project (ILP)

Independent Learning Project (ILP) is an elective course for students in Year 9 and 10. Students explore an area of interest as deep as they would like to commit to, over the span of a year. We are extremely proud of the work produced by the students taking the ILP course for 2021.




Junior School Hebrew Public Speaking Competition

Mazal Tov to Ziv on winning the annual Junior School Hebrew Public Speaking Competition. A special Kol Hakavod to all our finalists: Shakked, Natasha, Noa and Hayden. The students were given three topics to choose from, based on the topics they had learnt in class. Ziv’s topic was “יותר מידי” (too much).

Masada Students Lifting Community Spirits

Masada College students have been working hard to lift the spirits of those in the community who are struggling, as a result of COVID-19. They have been preparing cards and posters for the residents of Montefiore Home in Hunters Hill.  It has been a challenging time for the residents, who endured 14 days of isolation over Rosh Hashanah, due to a COVID-19 case.

The Masada Cottage ELC children have been discussing kindness, compassion and ways to perform mitzvot. After their teachers explained how many elderly people at the Montefiore homes are unable to have their family visit them due to COVID, the children agreed that colourful posters would help put a smile on their faces. They felt enormous pride, knowing the posters will be displayed in the Montefiore dining room.

The Masada College Junior School students were also keen to show how much they care and make a difference in their community.  They made personalised Rosh Hashanah cards for each Montefiore resident.  Head of Junior School, Danielle Blumberg said “The students wrote heart-warming messages to the residents, knowing that they would be alone for Rosh Hashanah. The act embodies the Masada value of inclusion and the Jewish value of Chessed.” The students also made thank you cards for the front-line workers and the children in the COVID ward at Westmead Hospital.  This week they are creating cards to send messages to cheer up the staff members in the Northern Beaches Hospital IUC ward.

“I am very proud of the way all our students have shown such resilience during this lockdown,” said Mrs Blumberg. “The care our students have demonstrated and their understanding of the impact the pandemic is having on particularly vulnerable groups, has shown a maturity beyond their years,” she added.

Roots Project Winners

This term Year 9 students completed the Roots Project which required them to research their family history, investigating their heritage and allowing them to appreciate their identity. This project is a UIA initiative, giving students a chance to win a $1000 towards a recognised program to Israel. Mazal Tov to joint winners Zoe Budai and Daniel Belzycki!

Zoe is planning to put the prize money towards the Masada Israel Tour (MIT), which takes place at the end of Year 10. “I have learned so much about myself, my family and my history. I also learned what it means to be Jewish and how much it impacts my daily life,” said Zoe.

Daniel said the project was very meaningful to his family as it opened an opportunity to learn about and pass on the stories of his family, some of whom had perished in the Holocaust. “I spent a lot of time talking to my grandparents and because of this, I have learned so much about my ancestors and their stories,” said Daniel.

We also congratulate the Roots Project finalists Joshua Marx, Gila Lewin, Arin Ginsberg and Ricky Maltz.

One of the judges for the Roots project was Penny Hurst, the KH-UIA International Women’s Division President.  Penny Hurst OAM said, “This year’s projects were of an exceptionally high standard and a credit to the school and their families. It was such a pleasure for me to read how their research further enhanced their love and connection to their Jewish heritage and Israel.”




Senior School “IVRITIME” language magazine.

The Senior School Languages Department is delighted to share with you its 5th edition of “IVRITIME” language magazine. This publication showcases the initiatives and programs at Masada College, aimed at developing the students’ language skills. ”IVRITIME” magazine features work from across the grades and explores a broad range of topics in both Hebrew and Chinese. This edition features an overview of our new initiatives, a classical Hebrew writing piece, and explores the learning covered in Chinese.
Our Project Based program has our students producing podcasts and video blogs for entry into language competitions, and students were absolutely delighted to receive The Sydney University award in recognition of their efforts. Such wonderful outcomes could not have been achieved without the hard work and determination of the students to excel in their language skills, as well as the consistent encouragement from their teachers.
I trust that you will enjoy reading the wonderful quality of student writing in the magazine. – Adi Halevi, Head of Languages.

Continue reading “Senior School “IVRITIME” language magazine.”

Masada College students depict the stories of Holocaust Survivors

All Year 10 College Masada students were involved in the Living Historians Program, interviewing child Survivors of the Holocaust. This year they were fortunate to engage with George Sternfeld from Poland, Jacqui Dale from France, Egon Sonnenshein from Slovenia and Joe Symon from Hungary. Each story was pertinent to its respective time and place as well as huge sadness, loss and remarkable resilience in survival.

After a month of creativity, and with Years 7, 8 and 9 as their audience, the students depicted the stories of survival in script, drama, power point, artwork and music. All these renditions reflected thought, empathy and understanding as well as deep talent with which this cohort is blessed.

From Chopin’s Nocturne #20, Jakov Shwekey’s ‘We are a Miracle’ to a Klezmer band arrangement of a Psalm of David, the hall resounded with skill and verve. The audience and survivors alike were impressed. Rabbi Lewin calls Masada students the ‘Candle Generation’ – they have indeed demonstrated their light and continued respect for the stories of their elders. Kol hakavod to them all!

– Marion Seftel Senior History Teacher


Jewish Students Connect through the Global School Twinning Network

The Global School Twinning Network (GSTN) is an initiative of the Jewish Agency for Israel that provides an opportunity for Jewish students around the world to meet and have conversations around Jewish identity and social responsibility. The project successfully promotes connection with Israel through numerous virtual collaborative activities with a group of Israeli students from the Rogozin School. At the end of the two-year project, Masada students travel to Israel to meet their peers.

Masada College has been part of the GSTN since 2018, with Years 7 and 8 Hebrew classes currently involved. The students use an online bulletin board to communicate with their Israeli counterparts where they share short films about themselves and their communities. This enables students to develop a deeper understanding about each other’s way of life. Masada students reply in Hebrew and the Rogozin students reply in English which develops language skills for both groups of students.

This year, students also collaborated on a community project, Mishloach Manot (the Jewish tradition of sending gifts on the Jewish of holiday of Purim), and distributed packages to the Wolper Hospital with their message. Likewise, Rogozin students provided packages to children with disabilities.

The schools also designed a virtual Hebrew and English newspaper together and created language games for each other to enhance language skills. Both schools participated in an international project creating a Passover themed recipe book in Hebrew and English.

Adi Halevi, Head of Hebrew at Masada says the interaction with Rogozin School has been incredibly beneficial for all involved. “Students from both schools have improved their language skills and enjoyed learning the cultural differences and similarities in teenagers in the two countries,” she said. “The collaboration on a joint community project was very special. Allowing students to share cultural insights in this way is a truly unique opportunity. Students developed their IT skills and worked collaboratively, despite the geographical distance,” she said. Masada College and Rogozin School are currently developing new initiatives such as virtual tours of sites across Australia and Israel, as well as a photography competition. “We plan to work with the Sydney Opera House, the Museum of Contemporary Art and Israeli galleries to connect high school students with artists and authors from the two countries,” said Mrs Halevi.

A year ago, our Junior School students also joined the Global School Twinning Network, beginning a partnership with a school in Israel called Aliza Begin. Our Year 6 Hebrew classes began their partnership by writing blessings to each other for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

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