Promoting a culture of success in our classroom
Volume 8 Number 4, 2005; Page 16
Musson is an educator at Lindisfarne College, New Zealand. In this article, he exhorts teachers to create the conditions of success in their classrooms through recognition and celebration of students’ achievement, no matter how insignificant. For Musson, there is a clear connection between students feeling confident and successful and their ability to achieve, and he advises teachers to recognise success through immediate gestures such as ‘a pat on the back’, or through a more formal process such as the awarding of badges for good behaviour. This ‘culture of success’ should not be restricted to the classroom, and school staff and parents should be included as well. Teachers should be confident in their abilities to introduce a culture of success in their school, and not be dissuaded by student cultures which demean the celebration of success.
Subject HeadingsSchool culture
Mentor training: the key to effective staff development
Volume 8 Number 4, 2005; Pages 5–6
According to this article, school-based mentoring of teachers is a meritorious alternative to the ‘sit and get’ model of professional development for teachers. As a school-based professional development model, mentoring allows for continuous improvement and reflection on teaching practice, and can be incorporated into whole-school improvement models. It also provides the opportunity for various kinds of staff development techniques, such action research, observation, journal writing and cooperative lesson planning to be implemented. In this article, McKenna discusses the merits of mentoring as a professional development model for schools, and outlines the essential elements of implementing a mentoring program in schools.
Subject HeadingsTeacher training
Active transportation: an important part of adolescent physical activity
Volume 24 Number 1, March 2005; Pages 43–47
This article reports the findings of a study which investigated the ‘active transportation’ levels in Central Queensland adolescents. 'Active transportation’ is a form of commuting, such as walking or cycling, which involves a measure of physical activity. The study set out to investigate the relationship between active transportation and general levels of physical activity in adolescents, given that, in recent years, there has been a dramatic decrease in the levels of adolescent physical activity, and a rise in obesity levels in that age group. The researcher found that 89.6 per cent of their statistical sample did not engage in active transportation. There was also a strong correlation between respondents who engaged in active transportation and those who reported moderate levels of physical activity. Specifically, the study found that girls, older adolescents and those in rural areas were less likely to engage in active transportation than other groups in the study. The article includes a detailed statistical analysis of the research, as well as recommendations for government policy. Measures such as creating more secure routes to school, and locating schools within close proximity to other facilities are suggested.
Engaging students with school life
Volume 24 Number 1, March 2005; Pages 10–15
This article considers the impact that students’ engagement in extracurricular activities has on their overall engagement with their schooling, and examines the factors that affect students’ involvement in extracurricular activities. According to Thomson, a review of the literature in this area of research suggests that there is a strong, positive correlation between students’ participation in extracurricular activities and retention rates in schools, particularly among students considered to be at risk of leaving before completion. Her analysis of the data from the Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth (LSAY), conducted in 1999, demonstrates that students from higher socioeconomic groups, and those with tertiary educated parents, are more likely to be involved in extracurricular activities at school than those from lower socioeconomic groups. Students in Independent schools were also more likely than those in the public sector to participate in extracurricular programs. The research also found, however, that school environments can make a difference to participation. Schools that encouraged participation actually achieved higher rates of participation. The findings of the research point to problems of equity in extracurricular participation, and they also demonstrate that schools can do more to provide a better variety of activities to encourage student participation.
Subject HeadingsSchool culture
Measuring teacher quality and student achievement
Volume 4 Number 2, May 2005; Pages 26–29
The Systemic Implications of Pedagogy and Achievement in NSW Public Schools (SIPA) is a four year longitudinal project which will consider the effectiveness of the Quality Teaching in NSW Public Schools model. The project is jointly conducted by education researchers from the University of Newcastle and the New South Wales Department of Education and Training (DET). The project will seek to gauge the effectiveness of classroom pedagogy and the learning experiences of students over the four-year period, so that the professional development needs of teachers can be better informed and targeted. In so doing, it will seek to get beyond the ‘institutional indicators’ (teacher qualifications and experience), and actually observe the pedagogical practices of teachers in the classroom. This article outlines, in detail, the central aims of the project and its methodology. The final report is expected in 2006.
Subject HeadingsTeacher evaluation
New South Wales (NSW)
School improvement: what it takes to engage Indigenous people in education
Volume 4 Number 2, May 2005; Pages 22–24
Annette Jamieson is the principal of Charles Darwin University Senior Secondary College in Alice Springs. Charles Darwin University Senior Secondary College was a recipient of a National Award for Quality Schooling in the category of Best National Achievement in School Improvement. The school received this award largely because of the progress it had made in the educational attainment of Indigenous students. In this article, Jamieson describes the socioeconomic environment of the school, the many hurdles it needed to overcome in order for its Indigenous students to achieve at satisfactory levels, and the measures the school took to ensure that many of them did. Some of those measures included restructuring the timetable to allow for more flexibility and longer school days, extending VET courses to Year 12, offering tuition to students on a needs basis, pairing students with teacher-mentors, and delivering small group professional development to staff. In 2003, 76 per cent of its Indigenous students completed Year 12, and its retention rate at Year 12 for Indigenous students was 81 per cent. In 2001, the completion rate for Indigenous students was 9 per cent, with a three year average retention rate in Year 12 of 53 per cent.
Subject HeadingsAboriginal students
Education aims and objectives
Indigenous students and literacy and numeracy: what does the research say
Volume 4 Number 2, May 2005; Pages 10–13
This article reports on the findings of a series of studies which were conducted into the numeracy and literacy achievements of Indigenous students. The studies, working from the premise that there was a considerable gap in the numeracy and literacy attainments of non-Indigenous and Indigenous students at Year 3 and Year 5, sought to find the factors which would be influential in narrowing that achievement divide. The factors which influenced achievement included the school, the region, the level of initial achievement, whether or not students used standard English in the home, student attendance and levels of student attentiveness in class. It was also found, however, that school leadership, quality teaching, improved student attendance rates, and an Indigenous presence in the school correlated positively with Indigenous student achievement. School leadership which sought to engage the community and parents, teachers who had high expectations for all students, and schools in which parents felt they could be active in their children’s education were found to have positive effects on Indigenous students’ educational achievements.
Subject HeadingsAboriginal students
Retention rates in schools
Who’s teaching science?
Volume 4 Number 2, May 2005; Pages 8–9
The authors were commissioned by the Australian Council of Deans of Science to compile a report on the profile and characteristics of science teachers in Australian schools. The report, entitled Who’s Teaching Science, surveyed science teachers and heads of science departments in schools across Australia’s educational jurisdictions, and is based on the responses of nine per cent of the country’s science teachers. The report considered the age distribution and tertiary qualifications of science teachers, their discipline-specific qualifications, and the issues of supply, recruitment and retention in the discipline. It found that the age profile of science teachers was skewed towards those in the forty-five to fifty-four-year-old age group, a group which included a markedly large proportion of males, and that while 93 per cent those surveyed had tertiary training, 43 per cent of senior school physics teachers did not major in physics at university. With regards to recruitment and retention, short-term positions for science teachers were proving difficult to fill, with physics teachers being the most difficult to recruit. The report warns that much needs to be done to ensure that science teachers stay in the profession, as 40 per cent of those who had been in the profession for less than four years were not convinced that they would still be in the profession five years from the date of the survey.
Key Learning AreasScience
Subject HeadingsScience teaching
What do Australian students know about Asia?
Winter 2005; Pages 32–34
The authors have conducted national tests of over 7,000 students in Years 5 and 8 to measure their knowledge of Asia. A major challenge for the researchers was to measure student knowledge equally between jurisdictions with different curriculums. To do so they created assessment instruments which related to each local curriculum, but which could be compared meaningfully. Item response modelling was used to create an underlying scale. Responses from each jurisdiction were weighted in proportion to student population. Test items were ranked by level of difficulty, then audited to describe achievement levels. Over half the Year 5 students displayed a basic knowledge of Asian languages and culture, with some awareness of regional and national boundaries. Students’ awareness of Asian food and martial arts was significantly stronger than knowledge of geographic locations in the region. The project, undertaken by the University of Melbourne's Assessment Research Centre, has assisted education systems to monitor student outcomes in studies of Asia. The standardised assessment instruments created through the project are expected to improve the quality of assessment in this area, and assist in the planning and resourcing of Asian studies programs.
Key Learning AreasStudies of Society and Environment
Subject HeadingsEducational evaluation
A new role for school reports
Winter 2005; Pages 16–17
'Reporting for learning' is a form of reporting on student progress that is designed to feed directly back into teaching and learning. It 'transcends particular teachers, classrooms, grades, and even schools and jurisdictions'. It also requires a sophisticated grasp of how students learn, including their misconceptions and partial understandings. At a classroom level, reporting for learning may involve student self-assessment, with students making selections from their own work to demonstrate their proficiency. At a jurisdiction level, it may involve an extensive online reporting system that integrates system- and school-level information, and in which individual student web pages are managed by individual students with their teacher, and are accessible to parents. A reporting for learning system should articulate and benchmark the steps toward achievement in a learning area.
31 May 2005
For several years there have been 'maths wars' in the USA between members of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) and a group of loosely allied critics. The critics have now documented their concerns. The current article summarises their criticisms and includes a point-by-point rejoinder from the NCTM. One contentious issue is the extent to which students should be encouraged to discover mathematical concepts for themselves through problem solving, rather than being explicitly taught algorithms and operations. Other points at issue are the popularity of the NCTM's standards among teachers, whether students benefit from the use of calculators in maths classes, and the meaning of the PISA and TIMSS findings regarding maths teaching methods.
Key Learning AreasMathematics
Subject HeadingsInquiry based learning
United States of America (USA)
Teacher librarians making a difference: providing the evidence
Volume 24 Number 2, May 2005; Pages 23–29
A program at Santa Maria College, a Catholic secondary school in Melbourne's inner eastern suburbs, offers evidence of the role that teacher librarians can play in developing students' information literacy. The program began in 2000 when about 150 Year 7 students were assessed for skills in the six stages of information literacy – defining, locating, selecting, organising, creating/sharing and evaluating. Over the past four years, assignments have been designed to test students’ information literacy skills, offering ‘note taking and literacy scaffolds’. The teacher librarians have documented the results of student surveys and the marking scale used for them, and prepared reports analysing the survey results. As a result the teacher librarians are able to demonstrate improvements in student learning outcomes, enhancing their professional standing and credibility. This year the program has been extended to VCE level, and covers issues such as plagiarism and citation of sources. The program is also being formally evaluated through a research study. Data will be gathered by questionnaire, student focus groups and analysis of selected students’ performance in assignments.
Who says it's easy being bright?
18 May 2005; Page 11
Exceptional children are characterised by ‘a precocious vocabulary, social maturity, advanced curiosity, impressive memory, along with sympathy and concern for others’. Psychologists estimate that about 2 per cent of children are gifted or talented and that another 3 per cent have high abilities. However, schools often ‘douse the bright sparks’. Schools fail to provide challenging tasks, leading to laziness, boredom and underachievement. Bright children can be subject to bullying, and disguise their ability in order to fit in socially. Schools also inhibit learning through age-graded classes, compulsory and over-crowded syllabuses, fixed rooms and high teacher-student ratios. In response, the New South Wales Government has established 31 high schools and 72 primary schools for the academically gifted, with plans to incorporate extension programs in all high schools. The Victorian Government has established a similar system, creating select-entry classes for gifted students at 27 high schools. Researchers at Monash University have found that the approach used in Victoria has engaged the gifted students effectively, but they also found that ‘it was the abilities of the teacher that affected their final results’.
Subject HeadingsGifted and talented (GAT) children
New South Wales (NSW)
Restructuring educational leadership in changing contexts: a local/global account of restructuring in Australia
Volume 5 Number 3, September 2004; Pages 267–288
The 1990s saw considerable structural reform in school education in many English-speaking countries, marked by trends towards school-based, site-based, self-managing and self-governing schools. This article illustrates through a case study of educational restructuring in Victoria how leadership, as a discursive practice, is redefined in the context of spatial and cultural restructuring. Restructuring produced a spatial redistribution of educational provision and individual opportunities as a result of structural adjustment reforms. These same policy moves towards post-welfarism also produced cultural shifts in attitudes to education with the rise of the new instrumentalism and entrepreneurialism. For school principals at the forefront of self managing schools, this meant shifts in resource distribution through new policy mechanisms of managerial and market accountability, and also new priorities impacting on leadership practices with a move from dialogic to decisional modes of management. It is unclear whether recent policy moves towards learning networks and reinventing systematic support with a focus on locational disadvantage are addressing what were increased educational disparities between schools and students. (Adapted from publisher's description)
Subject HeadingsEducation policy
Developing global perspectives in primary school students through quality teaching and authentic assessment
Volume 25 Number 1, 2005; Pages 42–49
Two primary schools in New South Wales have successfully embedded a global perspective in units of work related to the Human Society and its Environment (HSIE) K–6 syllabus. The introduction of the new approach was part of the NSW Public Schools Global Education Project. It also drew on the discussion paper Quality Teaching in NSW Public Schools, which applies a problem-based learning method and calls for student tasks that combine intellectual quality, significant content and a quality learning environment. The official support document for the HSIE syllabus sets topics such as 'Australia you're standing in it', which do not always offer enough intellectual challenge to students or teachers. The new approach uses more targeted questions such as 'Why are people trying to protect significant Australian places?'. To identify how and what to teach, the activity applied Curriculum Corporation's Global Perspectives document, which describes the global citizen as being aware of the wider world, respecting and valuing diversity, and taking responsibility for their actions. Tasks related to global perspectives were to be attempted by all students. Indicators of achievement were taken from the HSIE syllabus or developed independently by the teachers. The authors implemented the activity through initial discussions with school executives and then group planning meetings with teachers, followed by extensive ongoing feedback and discussion. Each school received a small grant to allow time release over one term for the teachers to plan the work. The activity then took place over the subsequent term. Participating teachers commented that the activity improved students' learning and thinking skills.
Key Learning AreasStudies of Society and Environment
Subject HeadingsSecondary education
New South Wales (NSW)
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