The Discovery Zone lies at the heart of the Junior School and is a busy place of discovery, delight and refuge.
It is a well-equipped, open plan area that includes a modern computer centre, a library, and a research area with sixteen additional computers.
Our aim is to develop a culture of reading and research, as well as the development of pupils into independent and lifelong researchers and users of libraries and information technology.
The Discovery Zone opens at 07:15 and closes at 15:15 from Monday to Friday. Pupils are welcome to use the resources responsibly during open times.
The library is fully computerized, with a stock of over ten thousand books and other audio-visual resources. The resources are divided into collections to cater to the needs of all the pupils.
The promotion of abundant and quality reading is critical to our thinking curriculum.
The St Margaret’s girls enjoy their reading time in the Fairy Dell, home to the picture books and early readers. The Upper Juniors have access to a wide range of literature in the Fiction and Non-fiction sections, and they make excellent use of the many computers available.
Pupils have scheduled weekly classes in which they are encouraged to select books of their choice, read extensively, and are taught the research skills necessary to complete curricular research tasks.
Literature circles and reading
Our Literature Circle classes are an integral part of our curriculum and prove very successful, especially in the girls’ quality and quantity of choices, as well as their oral and written responses to literature. These are timetabled, weekly lessons of one hour, devoted solely to reading and studying literature.
Each term, a new theme, with its own reading list and task booklet, is introduced. The lessons are facilitated by the respective English teachers and the library teacher. Themes are broad, encompassing a selection of quality books aimed at stimulating meaningful discussion about life’s important issues, and designed to build reading, writing, literacy, research, and oral skills
Throughout the year, events that celebrate and encourage reading are organized.
Our annual Literature Week celebrates books and authors. The week’s activities are varied, and may include literature quizzes, dressing up as characters from books, a travelling bookshop, an outside production promoting reading, or visits to exhibitions.
Author visits are also arranged when possible, and girls are offered opportunities to purchase their own signed copies. Authors we have hosted in the past have included Niki Daly, Chris van Wyk, Meg Cabot, Edyth Bulbring, Gcina Mhlope, Emily Gravett and Beverley Naidoo. We are hosting South African author Edyth Bulbring in March, and hope to host Niki Daly later in the year.
Kids’ Lit Quiz
Each year, we enter teams into the annual Kids’ Lit Quiz, a highly-contested international literature quiz for 11 – 14-year-olds. Our teams have excelled in the past two years, winning the national competition. In 2012 they travelled to New Zealand and came second in the World Finals. In 2013, they will again compete in the World Finals, this time in Durban.
The Junior School Computer room is well equipped with workstations to accommodate 30 learners in the lab and a further 16 in the library area.
There is also a lab of 30 ipads. We have a colour and a black and white printer, a scanner, and webcams to enable the girls to experience many aspects of technology.
IPads are used in the computer room and, as the school has WI FI connectivity, in the classrooms and other learning spaces.
Information Technology Lessons
Pupils from Grade 0 to Upper IV have an hour session in the computer lab, where IT skills are taught and applied in curricular projects. The Microsoft Office Suite, the internet, Outlook, and other software packages and IPad applications are used. Pupils also use the lab to complete cross-curricular activities and research tasks.
From Grades 0 to Form 1 the emphasis is on very basic computer skills that enhance co-ordination and prepare the girls for more advanced computing. They are also introduced to PowerPoint and Excel to complete basic projects.
From Form 2 to Upper IV the girls work on completing projects using Word, PowerPoint and Excel. They have internet access and use this extensively for research. They are also given their own school email address and have access to IPads.
The girls have a further timetabled lesson each week where they work on tasks set in Mathletics, an internet-based mathematics program. The Form II to Lower IV classes have a further session where they work through a touch typing program