Thinking Routine – 3,2,1 Bridge

21st March – As a follow-up to yesterday’s post, I will be using a new thinking routine with my Year 9-12 (combined class) for English tomorrow. The routine is explained here (CLICK HERE: 3-2-1 Bridge Routine). My class will be looking at resumes … sounds boring right? After initial responses on what CVs and Resumes ARE we will then look at “other” examples and then investigate what a resume COULD be.

Have a look at these: 20 Resumes to Blow Your Mind. Part of our activity tomorrow will be to write down the evidence of students “thinking” and I will post their responses directly here.

24th March – As promised; here is the feedback. I found the activity quite interesting. The final box asks students how motivated they are to write their own resume – once BEFORE the activity and then a response AFTER the activity. “1” is LOW and “10” is HIGH. I have highlighted the responses I thought were most interesting from the students;

 

 

 

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How are YOU tracking with the Australian Curriculum (AC)?

We won’t offer any commentary yet, but we are interested to know where you feel the Australian Curriculum (AC) implementation is tracking for you; with the count down only 18 months away.

School Leadership

This is another great report and one worth school leadership reflecting on. The focus is a comparison of leadership in some of the highest performing education systems in the world, namely; Alberta, England, The Netherlands, Australia (actually, Victorian schools only), New York, New Zealand, Ontario and Singapore.  

The report considers leadership opportunity, qualification requiremenets, evaluation of time spent by principals in/out school, professional development, accountability factors in the development of an effective team.

I have enclosed page 29, Exhibit 19 – Signs that a team are heading UP in the RIGHT direction or signs that things are heading DOWN. To see the WHOLE report, CLICK HERE!

A Fairytale for the Arts – Happily Ever After?

When a school showcases the diversity of their school’s offerings in various publications and presentations, it is usually dominated by photographs from dance, drama, music, physical education, camps, concert, practical science and showcases… very few photographs show students sitting down at desks reading, writing and arithmetic-ing (I enjoyed writing that non-word).

Ironically, this projection is not necessarily reflected by the curriculum policies and procedures that underpin our school structures; here the focus is sometimes weighted heavily on academic performance in mainstream subjects and their ensuing ‘scored & ranked’ results.

There is a new tide of evidence mounting of the value of ‘the arts’ as a critical aspect of our curriculum rather than just a marginalised ‘extra’. This is a report that should be considered with some weight, especially in light of these emerging pedagogical insights.

I thought it would be worth reproducing the “Fairytale” from the opening pages of this report (The Arts and Australian Education: Realising Potential). You will note, it ends abruptly and has no resolution.

Do you think “The Arts” has a happy ending?

Once upon a time, all over the world, no children went to school, because schools hadn’t been invented. But children and young people still learned all they needed to become useful grown-ups in their community. They did this by listening to their elders, who told them wise stories and sang songs with them; together with the adults they danced and made music and performed the deep ceremonies and necessary lore and laws of the people; with the adults and each other they drew patterns and painted pictures and fashioned sculptures to create and communicate images and meanings; they invented stories that, although make-believe, were models of both the real world and other possible worlds – and they brought the models to life by acting them out. They learned by making artful and art-full play, and from all these experiences, where the body and senses, the brain and the emotions were all working together in constructive harmony, they made order and meaning for themselves in their personal, relational and objective worlds.

Then as life for humans got more complicated, some very odd people invented a special place to learn, and called it ‘school’. And the idea caught on, at least among grown-ups, who decided that in school, knowledge and compliance were the same thing. So they invented the Protestant Work Ethic, which divided work and play, and led to places for work called ‘classrooms’, where you learned sitting down – a good class was a quiet class, and play was left firmly outside in a special place called the playground where nothing important happened. The body and senses were ignored, and the emotions banished, and the brain was the only thing that counted. And they turned learning from a verb into a noun and called it ‘The Curriculum’ – a document in which what young people needed to know was all written down and could be carefully controlled, and what they did not need to know could be excluded.

The excluded bit included the Arts. This was because the odd grown-ups thought that music was noisy, the visual arts were messy, and that dance and drama were both noisy AND messy. If they happened at all, they were allowed to happen outside school time or on wet Friday afternoons. Their exclusion was also partly because another strange thing had happened in the world beyond schools.

Proper Art had become something only for grown-ups, and could only be created by special people who had a gift from the muses and had to have special training, which of course was available outside the schools.

The Report Every Politician and Principal Should Read

The Gratton Institute have just released a report which endeavours to ‘bring home’ the message that teacher effectiveness is the most significant influence on student outcomes. The summary on page four should be enough to spark significant conversation. Jenson (Director of School Education Program at Gratton Institute) investigates the factors that influence student performance and writes;

“An increase in teacher effectiveness of 10% would lift Australia’s education systems into the highest performing group of countries in the world… Each grade needs to incorporate 5% of a year’s worth of learning for our students to be amoungst the best in the world.”

The report campaigns for more government investment in teacher training rather than ‘pointing the finger’ at teachers. It utilises internationally recognised testing such as PISA, PIRLS and TIMMS to acknowledge Australia’s placing in international rankings; currently eighth with Finland, Hong Kong, Canada, Taipei, Estonia, Japan and New Zealand ahead of Australia in performance.

I thought this graph was worthy of inclusion;

Jenson quotes extensive research to determine that class size has a ‘little to no impact’ on student performance (mentions a study in Florida where class sizes were restricted to 18) but ‘moderate changes to teacher effectiveness have a significant long-term effect’.

Politicians will push for 5% more ‘content’ but they also need to be prepared to spend big on effectively equipping Australian teachers (This report comments that the government have spent a great deal on training and development with little return). Principals, don’t let those ‘effective’ teachers go!

I feel justified in some of my earlier arguments about teacher commitment to learning outcomes. What do you think? (Go on – tell me I’m right) Read the full report by clicking here:  http://www.grattan.edu.au/publications/057_report_education_investing_teachers.pdf

Education Revolution ICT Teacher Training Package

Summary of a Media Release from the office of Peter Garrett (29th October, 2010)

ICT Innovation Fund Projects: Teaching Teachers for the Future – $7.8M “Teachers who are expert users of ICT will assist universities to update teaching courses, so that new teachers have the necessary skills to incorporate the use of ICT in their classrooms.”

Teacher Online Toolkit – $825,000 ‘development and trialling of seven online teaching packages which will show teachers how they can incorporate the use of ICT in everyday learning, with a focus on elements of the Australian Curriculum.”

Anywhere, Anytime Teacher Professional Learning – $5.4M (NSW) Ensuring that teachers in rural and regional areas have access to the same ICT resources as teachers in urban areas. “..implemented nationally in the future”.

Leading ICT Learning – $2.08M “This project from Principals Australia will provide a single online portal through which principals can access expert ICT advice and tools as well as network with other principals. The portal will help principals to better plan the use of ICT in their school and the ICT professional development of their teachers.”

Full details – Please click on the picture

Australian Curriculum Coalition Paper (Summary)

For those following movements in the Australian Curriculum here is an important development; “The Australian Curriculum Coalition (ACC) represents a forum of Presidents, Executive Officers and Executive Directors of National Education Organisations. The Organisations represent members who are teachers, principals, school leaders, academics and education researchers.”

Today they released the following ‘open letter’; http://www.acsa.edu.au/pages/images/Australian%20Curriculum%20Coalition%20common%20view%20on%20the%20Australian%20Curriculum4.pdf

The report extends support for a national curriculum but requests the following;

  • Revision of timeline for development and implementation
  • ‘Build stakeholder ownership’ (teachers/principals/associations, etc.)
  • Inform debate by making drafts and consultation ‘public’
  • Pages 4 & 5 discuss a rigorous need for these initiatives to be world-class and framed by clear curriculum rationale
  • Reduction of ‘over crowding’ in curriculum documents (This will sting as it was a primary objective for ACARA to keep the statements ‘open’ – ironically it is the consultation process that has been the source of the ‘fattening’)
  • Whole or Core Curriculum – Clarification for ‘local’ content (This is quite problematic for the History implementation but I think they are drawing a long bow on this one – your thoughts?)
  • Cross-curricula Developments – (YAY!!)
  • Reporting and Achievement Standards (YAY!!)
  • Funding for PD/PL

Wish they had mentioned a few more (e.g. consideration for special needs, resources, etc.)

Would love you know what you think of these suggestions? http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WA-Teachers-Lounge/154210691257798

WACOT Report

Did any of you hear about this on the news last week? Perhaps I was drowning in examination papers at the time and missed it. We have now had WACOT just over four years. As part of the legislated responsibility, a review was commissioned ‘as soon as was reasonable after four years to ascertain WACOT’s effectiveness in achieving its intended objectives”. On the 23rd September, Liz Constable announced in response to this “Review of the WACOT Act” that:

“… there is a pronounced mismatch between what teachers had expected of the college and what the college has delivered. For example, they had expected the college to promote the profession, deliver professional development and take a stand on controversial issues, but believe the college has fallen well short on these things.”

The most interesting of the many detailed reports submitted was the 63 page review on the “Teacher Survey” which was taken from a pool of 932 teachers from all education sectors in WA. If you are interested, page 60-62 itemise the recommendations for WACOT improvement. You can access a copy of this report at http://www.des.wa.gov.au/Legislative_Review/Review%20of%20the%20WACOT%20Act-%20Report%20of%20the%20Survey%20of%20Teachers.pdf

If you would like to make an entry, I would be most interested in YOUR response to the WACOT experiment. Post a comment at our FACEBOOK DISCUSSION BOARD.

The Parent Partnership

Since my post about “Teacher Responsibility” did not receive a standing ovation from my teacher friends, I thought I would include this terrific report prepared by NEiTA (National Excellence In Teaching) and the Australian Scholarships Group (ASG) discussing the role of parents in partnership with schools/teachers. I will be seeing if I can secure a few printed copies for our Parent Evenings.

WA Student Numbers to SURGE by 2020

I can hear the ‘grey brigade’ cheering! As our aged and most experienced staff exit education in droves (See earlier report comments) they will be leaving our education system with a shortage of teachers and a booming student population. Enrolment Projections for the period 2011-2020 provided by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations are mind-blowing.

Bethany Hiatt succinctly covered the projections in today’s West Australian article “School’s brace for surge in students” if you would like the details.