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

There's more to languages than words

Spring 2005; Pages 19–20
Joseph Lo Bianco

People learn their native language through continual and diverse sources, and through naturalistic interaction with many individuals. By contrast, the learning of a foreign language is ‘compartmentalised, infrequent, directed at a mass audience, rarely generated by specific or immediate needs or interests’. The Le@rning Federation (TLF) has produced learning objects for the study of Indonesian, Japanese and Chinese languages. Such digital resources help to overcome barriers to foreign language learning. Learning objects can dramatise or reproduce elements of authentic everyday situations involving native speakers. They allow for interactivity, scaffolded experimentation and self-paced learning, and they encourage the exploration of cultural assumptions and practices that underlie the use of a native language.

KLA

Subject Headings

Infants
Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
Electronic publishing
Elearning
Language and languages
Students
Teaching and learning
Languages other than English (LOTE)

Indigenous students and mathematics: teachers’ perceptions of the role of teacher aides

Volume 33,  2004; Pages 37–46
Elizabeth Warren, Tom J Cooper, Annette Baturo

Indigenous students face particular difficulties in mathematics classrooms that are not usually shared by non-Indigenous students. These difficulties can be linguistic, in that Aboriginal English, while related to Standard Australian English, bestows different meanings and connotations on seemingly familiar English words. Other difficulties are associated with written assessment, which sometimes thwarts Indigenous students’ attempts to communicate their subject knowledge, a lack of understanding among teachers about Indigenous students' preferred learning styles, and teachers neglecting to situate mathematics content in Indigenous students’ social contexts. Given these difficulties, and the fact that non-Indigenous teachers in remote communities are often inexperienced and transient, the role of Indigenous teacher aides in relation to the learning and emotional needs of students, as well as their capacity to forge links between the schools and parents, is crucial. This paper reports the findings of a study which examined the use of teacher aides in mathematics classrooms in remote Indigenous communities in Queensland, and considered whether their use differed depending on whether they were Indigenous or non-Indigenous. The authors found that even though the two categories of teacher aides had similar educational qualifications, teachers tended to use them in different ways, with non-Indigenous teacher aides given responsibility for student learning, while their Indigenous counterparts usually assisted in behavioural management. The article asserts that Indigenous teacher aides should have a much wider role in mathematics classrooms, particularly in relation to students’ preferred learning styles and in making mathematics learning relevant to students’ cultural contexts.

Key Learning Areas

Mathematics

Subject Headings

Aboriginal students
Aboriginal peoples
Mathematics teaching
Teaching and learning

Self-recognition and well-being: speaking Aboriginal English in healthy classrooms

Volume 33,  2004; Pages 7–13
Neil Harrison

The proximity of Indigenous students to the curriculum, and their perception of their relationship with the teacher, is made problematic by the historical relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Australia, and the personal and family histories that Indigenous students bring to their education. Teachers who are unaware of the discourses of power operating in classrooms, especially in relation to Indigenous students, will unconsciously reproduce exclusionary practices through their style of teaching, especially in situations where they are the mediator between the curriculum and students. Merely adjusting teachers’ classroom practice to more inclusive approaches may not, however, be sufficient to usurp the relations of authority in the classroom. Harrison sees the acceptance of Aboriginal English in the classroom as a necessary pre-condition to allowing Indigenous students to re-negotiate their relationship with curriculum knowledge and centres of authority within the classroom, as it affords them the opportunity of creating themselves outside the discursive practices of the classroom and, hence, outside the usual relationship of authority with the teacher. This re-positioning not only allows Indigenous students to be active in creating meaning from the content of the curriculum, but it also makes learning a more fulfilling experience. Approaches through which teachers can incorporate Aboriginal English in the classroom and curriculum are outlined in the article.

KLA

Subject Headings

Aboriginal students
Aboriginal peoples

Technology and teaching for understanding

Volume 8 Number 5,  2005; Pages 23–25
Tom Sherman, Barbara Kurshan

Constructivist teaching approaches build on students’ prior knowledge, beliefs and conceptions about the world by assisting them to transform and apply these to create new meanings, knowledge and conceptual understandings. Sherman and Kurshan share the precepts of constructivism and pedagogies which aim to improve student understanding, but they also point out how information technology can be integrated into constructivist pedagogies. To that end, they outline and describe the principles of constructivist approaches to teaching and learning, and demonstrate how current technologies, websites and computer software can be used at the different stages of the pedagogical process. The article demonstrates how technology can be used to address student misconceptions, to create ‘disequilibrium’ so as to assist students to a new level of conceptual understanding, to introduce students to thinking tools such as concept maps, and to help them uncover metacognitive strategies through the use of simulations.

KLA

Subject Headings

Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
Pedagogy
Teaching and learning

The school library: phoenix or dodo bird?

Volume 8 Number 5,  2005; Pages 12–14
Clifford Wade

The expectations of school libraries and school librarians have changed radically due to the information revolution. It is no longer sufficient for librarians just to manage print materials, as the needs and abilities of school library users have been altered by technology and the immediacy of electronic sources of information. Wade argues that school librarians need to reposition themselves professionally in schools, as well as transform the school library, in order to remain relevant to schools’ information needs. For example librarians need to be aware of the implications of the decline in the use of non-fiction resources among students, of boys’ disinclination towards reading, and of the need for students to be information literate in order to take full advantage of their access to information. The current educational environment in which school librarians have to participate is described in the article, alongside an outline of the changing characteristics of school libraries.

KLA

Subject Headings

School libraries
Libraries
Information services
Information management
Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
Information literacy

Integrating computers into the primary school curriculum

Volume 8 Number 5,  2005; Pages 10–11
Janet Wood

Janet Wood is a teacher at a Western Australian primary school who has the responsibility of leading the integration of computers in teachers’ classroom practice. Perturbed by some of the negative effects computers have had on student learning, such as increased plagiarism, and daunted by the ‘notion of the crowded curriculum’, she set about discovering ways in which computers could be used to enhance students’ higher order thinking skills and be integrated across the curriculum. This article contains a detailed description of Wood’s use of WebQuests both to facilitate students use of higher order thinking skills, such as classification, analysis and creating, and to integrate their learning across the curriculum.

KLA

Subject Headings

Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
Primary education
Pedagogy

Civics and Citizenship: voting patterns of young people

Volume 13 Number 3, August 2005; Pages 22–25

It is estimated that, even though voting in Australian elections is compulsory, only 82 per cent of those aged 17–25 years are enrolled to vote. The Youth Electoral Study (YES), conducted by the University of Sydney, the Australian National University and the Australian Electoral Commission, seeks to determine the reasons for young people’s participation in elections, and the findings of the first part of that study are published in this article. The study examined the political socialisation of young people in order to understand their reasons for disengagement and to inform the creation of intervention programs. Students from 16 Commonwealth electorates participated in focus group discussions and surveys. The study found that a larger proportion of students actually intended to enrol to vote than actually enrolled to vote when they turned 17; that more females than males actually intended to vote and enrolled to vote; that only half the sample would vote if voting were not compulsory; that students cited their parents, the media and then schools as their primary sources of political information; that half of those who participated in the study did not feel prepared to vote (knowledge of the voting system and issues); and that a large proportion of the sample indicated a distrust of politicians. The research indicated that the media and schools could be possible avenues for increasing the level of young people’s electoral participation.

KLA

Subject Headings

Civics education
Adolescents

Negotiating a thinking skills curriculum in Year 8

Volume 13 Number 3, August 2005; Pages 14–21
David Reynolds

Maintaining students’ engagement through the employment of a relevant, student-centred, problem-based, authentic curriculum is the goal of best teaching practice. Reynolds describes the rationale and theoretical framework of a unit of work employed across the Year 8 Studies of Society and Environment and English curriculums that strove to achieve that goal. The construction of the unit of work was informed by the work of theorists as diverse as Vygotsky, Gardner and Dewey, and Reynolds demonstrates to teachers how their perspectives on learning were given practical expression in this unit of work. In addition to the explanations of the theoretical contributions, Reynolds also outlines the criteria for problem-based, authentic learning, and describes how the unit of work was assessed. The unit of work, including descriptions of lesson activities and assessment criteria, is appended to the article.

Key Learning Areas

Studies of Society and Environment
English

Subject Headings

Teaching and learning
Pedagogy
Education aims and objectives
Education philosophy

I love teaching ESL: constructions of ESL teacher work and identity

Volume 15 Number 1, August 2005; Pages 13–18
Jill Brown

Researchers have interviewed 20 Victorian English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers to establish reasons why they entered this field of teaching and why they remain in it. The teachers work in both government secondary schools and on-arrival language centres. They often described ESL students as appreciative, respectful and more engaged than other students. They found that ESL students were interested in cross-cultural issues, were willing to share their own cultural backgrounds and wanted to involve teachers in their lives beyond school. These positive teacher–student bonds helped the teachers select appropriate teaching strategies and activities. Participants felt they were making a difference as ESL teachers, and that it supported their own self-identity as a ‘helper’. Some teachers were able to help refugee children who had survived traumatic experiences. ESL teaching was also said to offer greater creative scope, with less focus on narrow curriculum outcomes than other subjects. Some teachers chose ESL teaching for practical or incidental reasons, such as to avoid rural teaching placements, to aid plans to work overseas or as a convenient complement to other interests such as linguistics. Concerns were also raised by the research analysis. The idealised image of ESL students could become a limiting stereotype for students, while avoiding classroom management issues could be perceived as a lack of teaching skills in this area. Many ESL teachers entered the profession during times when these positions were ‘given to any teacher available’, which could shape views on their competency. The lack of curriculum development in this area could be seen to undermine accountability, offer limited pathways for student learning, and limit ESL teachers' opportunities to share the experience of curriculum development with each other and with mainstream teachers.

Key Learning Areas

English

Subject Headings

Refugees
Migration
Teacher-student relationships
English language teaching
English as an additional language

Clean hands, healthy body

Volume 84 Number 18, 10 October 2005
Ann Garry

New Zealand’s infection rates are higher than those of Australia and the USA. Influenza outbreaks have recently caused high absenteeism in New Zealand schools, and with the threat of an influenza pandemic world wide, education and health professionals are increasingly conscious of the need to promote good hygiene practice among children. The simple acts of washing and drying hands thoroughly in hygienic facilities after using the bathroom, handling food and coughing are pivotal in preventing the spread of infection and skin diseases. Washing hands has been shown to reduce the spread of pneumonia for under five-year-olds by up to 50 per cent. The article describes facilities used at two primary schools to promote thorough hand washing. Liquid soap dispensers have replaced cakes of soap which can pass on infections from dirt or students’ cuts. The schools have also introduced taps with automatic turn-off, larger toilet roll dispensers and warm water for washing. Hot air dryers and paper towels are recommended. Teaching children to wash their hands thoroughly is also part of good hygiene practice, with one school urging children to continue washing for as long as it takes by singing a verse of 'Happy Birthday'.

KLA

Subject Headings

Primary education
New Zealand
Health
Health education
Schools

The all-rounder

3 October 2005
Roy Hattersley

Lady Manners is a comprehensive school in Derbyshire, England, which has experienced outstanding success, an outcome which flies in the face of the trend towards specialist and selective schools. While Hattersley acknowledges that there are certain social and historical conditions which have contributed to the school’s success, he is keen to point out that much of that success has been built on a philosophical commitment, which sees the education of all students to a high level regardless of ability as paramount, and on the continued drive towards school improvement that is nourished by the school leadership. The full range of student abilities is catered to, allowing Lady Manners to draw from a wide catchment, which, in turn, affords its curriculum and extra-curricular activities their breadth. Furthermore, all the subjects in the curriculum are taught by teachers who are specialists in those subjects. Hattersley asserts that Lady Manners’ success undermines the argument that schools should specialise or become selective to survive, and he notes that it is possible for governments and local authorities to create school catchment areas which would foster diversity among student populations and contribute to comprehensive schools’ survival and success.

KLA

Subject Headings

Schools
School leadership
School culture
Education philosophy
Education aims and objectives
Great Britain

Ntec centre: much more than 'hammer and spanner' training

Volume 13 Number 16, 6 October 2005; Page 5
Karen Harbutt

Melbourne's new Northland Technology Centre (Ntec) has commenced training local students for the engineering, automotive and furnishing industries. The Centre is a community initiative established with grants from Victorian Government organisations along with local philanthropic, educational, government and business bodies. Local community members have overseen construction and planning. The Centre is designed to train students to meet specific local skill shortages and offers a benchmarking model which can be replicated for any Australian community. Local area economic reports will determine courses offered. The students are also educated in industry history, projected developments and career management at the Centre or through the local TAFE. Special training programs are planned for women, Aborigines and other sections of the community who often struggle to obtain experience in certain industries. One recent workshop involved Year 9–11 girls speaking with autoengineers, plumbers, welders and representatives from local car manufacturers. An electrotechnology facility will be added to the Centre in early 2006. 

KLA

Subject Headings

School partnerships
School and community
VET (Vocational Education and Training)

State differences in achievement among secondary school students in Australia

Volume 49 Number 2,  2005; Pages 141–151
Gary N. Marks, John Cresswell

Secondary student achievement in reading, science and maths differs significantly among Australian States and Territories. The authors analysed PISA 2000 survey data, using Item Response Theory (IRT) modelling to create scores that were then standardised among States and Territories. They found that the achievement levels of 15-year-olds varied significantly among States and Territories, even after allowing for State differences in terms of socioeconomic status, the proportion of Indigenous students, the rural–urban mix and the difference in relationships between students’ age and grade levels. New South Wales students were found to be performing notably better than students elsewhere in Australia in reading, science and maths. Students in Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania were significantly more likely than other Australian students to be achieving at the lowest level of reading proficiency of OECD countries. The article includes a chart comparing the performance of students in individual Australian States and Territories with students in New Zealand and a range of other countries.

Key Learning Areas

Science
Mathematics
English

Subject Headings

Reading
Western Australia (WA)
Victoria
United States of America (USA)
Tasmania
Switzerland
Sweden
Surveys
Statistics
Standards
Spain
South Australia
Secondary education
Science
Queensland
Norway
Northern Territory
New Zealand
New South Wales (NSW)
Netherlands
Mathematics
Korea (South Korea)
Ireland
Hungary
Hong Kong
Great Britain
Finland
Educational evaluation
China
Canada
Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
Adolescents
Aboriginal students

Educational accountability and students with a disability in Australia

Volume 49 Number 2,  2005; Pages 152–167
Ian Dempsey, Robert Conway

The education systems in Australian States and Territories vary widely in the degree to which disabled students are included in testing programs. Many disabled students are excluded from tests. Australian States and Territories conduct nationally reported literacy and numeracy tests at Years 3, 5 and 7. The format and  administration of the tests are decided by each system, which set their own policies for exclusion of disabled students. These policies give varying levels of authority to principals and special education staff in schools to decide on exclusion. Policies also vary widely between countries. In New Zealand, the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA), introduced in 2002, offers guidelines on how to accommodate the needs of disabled students in the testing process, but little data is available yet about disabled students’ participation in the NCEA tests. The three main international studies that compare outcomes of school students, PISA, TIMSS and PIRLS, provide very little information on the level of disabled students’ participation in the tests. Disabled students may be exempted from taking part in the TIMSS and PIRLS studies at the discretion of a school’s executive staff. The PISA 2000 Technical Report provides for the exclusion of students who are educable but ‘mentally retarded, functionally disabled or non-native speakers’. Disabled students may be excluded from tests to save them the distress of facing unachievable demands. They may also be excluded to enhance the overall test scores of a school or education system. The influence of disabled students on the test results is also affected by varying definitions of ‘disabled’. Australian systems tend to use functional definitions of disability that typically exclude categories such as learning difficulties and behavioural disorders. To allow for the effect of disabled students on test results, systems need to develop a common definition of disability, specify guidelines for exemption, and clarify additional provisions made for disabled students in test situations. The article outlines the curriculum and assessment systems, and policies toward disabled students, in Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Britain and Canada.

KLA

Subject Headings

United States of America (USA)
New Zealand
Examinations
Great Britain
Education policy
Canada
Reporting
Educational evaluation
Disabled
Assessment

A coordinated school health plan

Volume 63 Number 1, September 2005; Pages 32–36
Pat Cooper

By focusing on the ‘whole child’ and involving the community, the school district of McComb, Mississippi, has increased school attendance and academic results and overcome many social problems affecting students. Faced with rising rates of absenteeism and suspensions, low graduation rates, illiteracy and youth crime, the school district sought comment from business, recreation, medical and educational professionals and the general public on how to improve student outcomes. Mental and physical health problems such as asthma, diabetes, obesity, eating disorders and depression were identified as key drivers behind absenteeism. These issues were attributed to a lack of preventative care, poverty, poor diet and access to health resources. A lack of school-based physical education, access to quality physical facilities and recreational opportunities outside of school were also noted. The community and school district agreed to prioritise student health and wellbeing over test scores. A coordinated strategy was developed, with health programs given budget priority and interagency agreements linking schools with government, health and recreation professionals developed. The article details the development of subsequent school health plans.

Key Learning Areas

Health and Physical Education

Subject Headings

United States of America (USA)
Teaching and learning
Education policy
Education and state
Socially disadvantaged
Students
Health
Health education
Education aims and objectives

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