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Curriculum & Leadership Journal
An electronic journal for leaders in education
ISSN: 1448-0743
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Abstracts

Using models for understanding pedagogical change in a technology environment: A case study of IWB implementation in a secondary school

Volume 23 Number 2, 2 December 2008; Pages 32–37
John Vincent, Anthony Jones

The implementation of interactive whiteboards (IWBs) throughout Britain has been met with some criticism, with research showing that teachers are using the technology as a whiteboard substitute, and that rather than allowing teachers to develop their pedagogical strategies, the IWBs have instead encouraged teacher-oriented, highly framed teaching styles. However, these criticisms may be based on the use of inappropriate methods for evaluating IWB use in the clasroom. The authors of the article argue that the assessment models used to gauge teachers’ use of the IWB are too rigid, and do not take into account the complex interaction of teaching methods and ICT skills. To demonstrate this, they undertook a study of teacher use of IWBs in a Victorian school, using two complementary assessment models that together would provide a fuller picture of pedagogical methods and integration of ICT using the IWB. They found that as teachers grew more familiar with the IWB technology, they became more flexible in their pedagogical approaches and in using the IWBs according to lesson needs. The IWBs were used variously to display videos and animations, and for student manipulation of images or study-related games or presentations. However, if only one of the two assessment devices had been used to assess use of the IWB, the results would not have adequately shown the rich and sophisticated ICT skills of the teachers, and the way the IWBs were increasingly integrated into teaching methodologies. This is due to the fact that the first method, the same as that used in the British studies, only assessed IWB use in terms of lesson framing and teacher-orientation. The technical use of the IWB itself was analysed using the second method; it was through the intersection of the results of both methods that the impact of the IWB on pedagogical approaches was shown.

KLA

Subject Headings

Technology
Secondary education
Information and Communications Technology (ICT)

Transforming learning with interactive whiteboards: towards a developmental framework

Volume 23 Number 2, December 2008; Pages 24–31
Trudy Sweeney

Interactive whiteboards (IWBs) are relatively new in Australian schools, and there have been no formal initiatives to support their implementation. The author outlines a five-part framework to be used by teachers to gauge their technological and pedagogical growth in IWB use. During the first stage, the IWB is used as a whiteboard or projector substitute, and is seen as a time-saving device to enhance presentations. The teachers, unfamiliar with the technology, maintain their usual pedagogical approach. The second stage is characterised by pre-planned lessons using the IWB’s simple inbuilt software. Although lessons may involve some student interaction with the IWB, the technology remains a prop to enhance a teacher-oriented approach, and is not considered an essential component of the lesson. The following stage sees the IWB become an essential part of the learning experience, with teachers beginning to create engaging and interactive presentations and extended lesson plans that may incorporate Internet use and games where students interact with the IWB. Teachers who proceed to the fourth stage use the whiteboard in a variety of ways and incorporate various additional software programs and online and multimedia resources into lessons. Classes work in small groups, and lessons are planned in meaningful sequences to encourage interactivity and collaboration between students and the teacher. Reaching this stage requires a pedagogical commitment towards increased interactivity, and is most likely achieved by teachers who are frequent and proficient technology users. The final stage is characterised by an even more significant pedagogical shift, where the whiteboard is seamlessly integrated into highly interactive classes where students’ learning is the central focus, and the teacher becomes a facilitator. Learning units are collaboratively designed, flexible, and incorporate constructivist and inquiry-based approaches.

Key Learning Areas

Technology

Subject Headings

Technology
Technology teaching
Teaching and learning
Pedagogy
Information and Communications Technology (ICT)

Rigor and relevance: enhancing high school students' maths skills through career and technical education

Volume 45 Number 3, September 2008; Pages 767–795
James R. Stone III, Corinne Alfeld, Donna Pearson

In the US, a pilot study has investigated ways to enhance the mathematical knowledge of secondary students in VET courses, also known as career and technical education (CTE) courses. Five CTE teachers worked with maths teachers to make the maths inherent in CTE courses more explicit and more easily generalised to other academic or vocational settings. The courses covered agriculture, automotives, business and marketing, health and IT. The maths teachers provided professional development to the CTE teachers and collaborated with them in developing a relevant new pedagogy. The students’ maths learning within the CTE was assessed through a maths exam of the type used in standardised testing; by a higher education placement test; and by an applied maths test more directly relevant to CTE coursework. The intervention successfully improved students’ scores on the traditional and higher education placement tests. Its failure to improve scores on the applied test may be due to the written language demands the test imposed, to relatively unchallenging questions which did not show students’ improvement, or to insufficient alignment between the applied maths test and the content of the CTE course. Five key conditions are needed to replicate the trial’s successes elsewhere. Firstly and most importantly, a genuine community of practice is needed between the CTE and mathematics teachers to develop a sense of ownership of the program and so help to sustain it over time. These communities may be dispersed geographically and across jurisdictional divisions. Secondly, the course needs to preserve the specific vocational curriculum of the CTE course, and its links to the labour market. Thirdly, it must generalise the mathematical concepts which are usually covered only at a concrete, pragmatic level specific to the vocation being taught. This mathematical content must, fourthly, be brought out fully, eg by creating explicit links between mathematical and CTE vocabularies, and by seizing teachable moments. Finally, CTE teachers should remain anchored to their subject speciality rather than trying to replace the maths teacher. To be scaled up successfully the course would also need to appeal to mainstream CTE teachers, likely to be less open to innovation than the trial’s self-selected sample.

Key Learning Areas

Technology
Mathematics

Subject Headings

Educational evaluation
Educational planning
Mathematics teaching
Secondary education
VET (Vocational Education and Training)

An exploration of issues in the attraction and retention of teachers to non-metropolitan schools in Western Australia

Volume 18 Number 1; Pages 43–55
Sandra Frid, Melanie Smith, Len Sparrow, Sue Trinidad

Researchers in Western Australia have examined factors likely to influence new teachers’ willingness to work at and remain in non-metropolitan locations within the State. A total of 55 recent graduates from courses for primary and early childhood education programs completed a questionnaire in which they were asked about their preferred locations for work, and their professional development needs. Some of the results run counter to a range of common beliefs. The results suggest that new teachers do not need to work outside the city to obtain full-time teaching positions: two-thirds of the participants had found work in the metropolitan area. The proportion of city-based work was even higher for graduates aged under 25, three-quarters of whom had found positions in metropolitan schools. Another finding was that teachers in non-metropolitan locations are more likely to rate time as a more significant constraint than the lack of resources or professional learning opportunities. Some of these findings are inconsistent with other research and suggest the need for further inquiry. On a related issue, national research indicates that teachers are likely to work at locations similar to those in which they undertook pre-service training, suggesting the needs to increase opportunities for such training in non-metropolitan areas. It is important that efforts are made to increase the range of links between student teachers and schools outside the city. Other than practicum placements, these opportunities may include special projects, research activities, excursions, and online interaction. Efforts along these lines need to become more integrated. Further research indicates ‘vague, clichéd understandings’ of rural life are common amongst student teachers. Concerns regarding isolation, cultural life and resourcing should be balanced with an understanding of advantages such as the opportunities for individualised relationships with students at small rural schools.

KLA

Subject Headings

Educational evaluation
Western Australia (WA)
Rural education
Teachers' employment
Teaching profession

Transforming schooling with support from portable computing

Volume 23 Number 2, December 2008; Pages 19–23

In 2003, a three-year school-wide laptop program was implemented in a Western Australian government middle school to investigate how ICT use might improve learning environments. The program's impact was evaluated by researchers from Edith Cowan University, who at four points during the study collected data from the school community using interviews, surveys, focus groups and the observation of ICT facilities. Earlier studies have suggested that such school-wide implementation programs lead to increased and more flexible ICT use, and may encourage a shift toward constructivist pedagogical approaches. The use of laptops may also improve the relevance of learning, as well as encouraging engagement, communication and collaboration. Before the implementation, a school ICT committee was formed to develop a curriculum plan for the initiative in order to integrate ICT use across the curriculum. In the first year of the study, daily classroom ICT use reported by teachers almost tripled to 46%, and remained roughly constant for the study's duration. Students estimated using their computers in classroom contexts for up to two hours a day, up from the one hour reported at the study's commencement. ICT use was both more frequent and better-integrated, and as teachers became more knowledgeable and confident with ICT, their computer use began to focus on knowledge building, learning independence, and collaboration. ICT was used to address learning outcomes involving research, investigation, and the presentation of information, as well as analysis and problem-solving, indicating a move toward constructivist, student-centred pedagogical approaches.

Key Learning Areas

Technology

Subject Headings

Technology teaching
Technology
Teacher training
Surveys
Middle schooling
Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
Constructivism

Why the arts make sense in education

November 2008; Pages 177–181
Linda Nathan

The Boston Arts Academy (BAA) believes that integrating the arts into academic subjects engages students of different abilities and diverse backgrounds, and improves their success. While many students are from non-English speaking backgrounds, or have learning disabilities, 95% of the BAA’s graduates are accepted into higher education. The author, the principal of BAA, believes that students’ engagement with the arts makes them more confident of their intellectual and creative abilities, and this confidence can then be applied to academic learning. The school encourages students to be active learners and ‘artist–scholars’, developing intellectual skills whilst being immersed in artistic experiences. The author argues that the arts and the standard curriculum are complementary: the arts requires a qualitative, critical approach encouraging the negotiation of ‘grey’ areas; this can be contrasted with the different analytical and intellectual requirements of a more rules-based standard curriculum. Through the arts, the BAA aims to facilitate shared experiences by asking students to work with disparate groups of people. Projects are also required to be socially relevant. For example, a compulsory senior project requires students to develop a proposal that demonstrates both academic and artistic knowledge, as well as addressing a community need. Schools can benefit by incorporating the arts into a standard curriculum, as students could be engaged in new ways that can increase the meaning and richness of students’ education and improve academic success.

Key Learning Areas

The Arts

Subject Headings

Secondary education
Education philosophy
Arts in education

Supporting teacher learning teams

February 2009; Pages 56–60
Rick Stiggins, Steve Chappuis, Jan Chappuis

A learning-team model of professional development can assist teachers’ learning and development. The authors outline a series of recommendations to minimise unforeseen problems and increase the probability of the model’s success. To overcome potential structural and cultural barriers within the school, its leaders should acknowledge the ongoing nature of professional development and emphasise the commitment to an initiative. Teachers should also be willing to commit to working and learning between scheduled meetings. The initiative should be collaborative and encourage active participation among the learning team, with teachers sharing ideas and experiences resulting from the implementation of novel strategies. Skills that will maximise participants’ ability to conduct self-directed learning and to get the most from the sessions should be addressed and developed. Appropriate staff should be appointed to facilitate discussion, foster a team environment, and ensure learning is focused and relevant to classroom practices. Facilitators should be supported by school leaders. These leaders should ensure that sufficient time is allocated to professional development meetings, that clear and realistic goals are set, and that teachers are assisted in assessing their learning progress. The focus of the professional development should remain the same over an extended period.

KLA

Subject Headings

Teacher training
Professional development
Leadership

How nations invest in teachers

February 2009; Pages 28–33
Ruth Chung Wei, Alethea Andree, Linda Darling-Hammond

High-performing nations are investing in teacher development in order to improve students' academic achievement. In most European and Asian countries, time is allocated for teachers to undertake professional development activities within teaching hours. Moreover, a substantial amount of time, approximately 15 to 20 hours each week, is spent on teaching-related tasks, rather than on classroom instruction. These tasks include planning lessons, observing colleagues' classrooms, and meeting with students, and are often undertaken in a collegial environment to promote discussion and learning. Many countries also have formal professional development policies, with some mandating further education or a specified number of hours to be spent on learning. Other countries have established national training programs to build on teacher expertise, as a whole, or in identified priority areas. New teachers are accommodated and supported through induction programs conducted by experienced teachers. They are given assistance in lesson planning, attend meetings with other new teachers, work with a mentor and observe other teachers in the classroom. Finally, teachers are often included in decision-making, and may help design their schools' curriculum and assessments in line with national standards. Through this process, issues are studied and discussed, and professional learning adapted to local needs can be undertaken.

KLA

Subject Headings

Teacher training
Professional development
International education
Education management

Putting the 'home' back into homework: implications for middle school reform

Volume 28 Number 3,  2008; Pages 48–58
Renate Quinn, Brenton Prosser, Robert Hattam

Homework is a factor in the disengagement of middle years students. To counter this problem, some schools have introduced ‘no-homework’ or alternative homework policies. The article describes a case study in which two teachers attempted to increase student engagement through implementing a ‘homework grid’. The aim of the grid was to enhance connections between at-school and at-home contexts. The grid comprised tasks relating to identified key areas including Community and Service and Intercultural Awareness, as well as standard subject areas such as maths and science. The set tasks were relevant to students’ lives, and meant that students were engaged and likely to complete work set. The two teachers found that the grid provided an understanding of the students’ lives and interests outside the classroom. However they ultimately became frustrated by insufficient resources and lack of support from other teaching staff. As a result, the project was eventually put on hold. While reformed homework policies can help engage students, it is difficult to implement and sustain these initiatives without structural and staff support.

KLA

Subject Headings

Secondary education
Homework
Educational innovations

Using peer praise notes to increase the social involvement of withdrawn adolescents

Volume 41 Number 2,  2008; Pages 6–13
Julie A. Peterson Nelson, Paul Caldarella, K. Richard Young, Natalie Webb

Peer praise notes (PPNs) may assist socially withdrawn middle students to establish new relationships and to engage with others by explicitly drawing them in to social situations. This study follows the changes in social behaviour of three socially withdrawn students engaged through PPNs, positive notes intended to increase students’ feelings of self-worth and encourage social interaction. As part of the class, students were encouraged to write short notes praising a peer. As hoped, these notes ‘ignited a spark of self-confidence’, and the students' meaningful interactions became more frequent and longer in duration. Once a relationship had been established, these interactions were maintained, particularly when a student connected with a 'significant peer'. PPNs can help build confidence and provide an opportunity to initiate contact and establish relationships with other students.

KLA

Subject Headings

Social adjustment
Middle schooling
Educational studies
Behavioural problems

Steps to fostering a learning community in the primary science classroom

Volume 55 Number 1, March 2009; Pages 27–29
Kimberley Pressick-Kilborn

In Science and Technology classes, teachers should ensure that students play a role more closely analogous to that of scientists. One element of this is the opportunity to engage more fully with authentic scientific research. A Grade 3 science class was encouraged to take a small, but active role as researchers in the ‘Streamwatch’ survey, a community-based program that surveyed the impact of pollution in the Paramatta River. In-depth, self-driven learning was emphasised, with students researching topics and materials relevant to the task, and developing related activities with teacher guidance. Working in small field study groups, the students prepared and presented background research, before collecting and identifying waterbugs from the river to assess water quality. Their results were shared on the Streamwatch website, further legitimising the students' role as part of the scientific community and process. Through engaging with the research in an authentic manner, they developed greater awareness of the scientific process and community, and by developing activities and undertaking ‘real’ research, were given agency to guide their own learning.

Key Learning Areas

Science

Subject Headings

Group work in education
Classroom activities
Primary education
Science teaching

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