Cultural Icons: popular culture, media and new technologies in early childhood
Volume 11 Number 4, 2005; Pages 14–15
Marsh highlights the increasing concern about the gap between children’s experiences with multimedia technologies at home, and the availability of these experiences in early childhood educational settings. A recent survey of parents and carers of children up to the age of six in England found that, on average, children engaged with technology for about two hours a day, that 53 per cent used a computer daily, and that 27 per cent used it independently. A survey of staff in early childhood education, however, found that many did not consider the use of computers by children when planning their programs and that 74 per cent had not contemplated their use of digital cameras. This reluctance by educators to use technology in educational settings has implications for children’s engagement in their education and education’s utility in their lives, where their ability to use technology is increasingly taken for granted. Marsh urges educators in early childhood settings to introduce technology into children’s early educational experiences, and outlines a few strategies to assist them to do so.
Subject HeadingsEarly childhood education
Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
Making up for lost time: Southern Sudanese young refugees in high schools
Volume 24 Number 3, September 2005; Pages 51–55
The Young Africans in Schools Project took a qualitative approach to examining the cultural and relational experiences of Southern Sudanese refugee students in Australian schools. The project involved 65 recently arrived students enrolled in high schools in Western Sydney, whose experiences were communicated through a portfolio of artwork created for the project. Schools are the primary site for cultural interaction and negotiation for young people, and young people’s experiences there can impact on their participation in the broader community, and hence on their identities and feeling of belonging. The project found that the majority of the students involved in the project were experiencing great difficulty making the transition to school, because of the continuing effects of the trauma they had experienced before and during their flight from their country of origin, the inadequacy of their past educational experiences, and the disjuncture between their educational preparedness and their career ambitions. In order to assist these young people to receive greater cultural and educational benefit from their time at school, the researchers recommended the adoption of peer mentoring programs between established arrivals and resettling students, a communal approach to dealing with problems faced by these young students, and a more concerted effort to make them aware of alternative educational pathways such as those offered through TAFE colleges and other vocational education providers.
Pathways and pitfalls: Refugee young people in and around the education system
Volume 24 Number 3, September 2005; Pages 42–46
English language proficiency is crucial to the successful resettlement of young refugees, as it eases their transition through school education and to further education, training and employment. There is increasing concern, however, that many young humanitarian entrants are unable to attain proficiency in English because of their particular set of educational circumstances, and a New Arrivals Program which does not adequately accommodate those differences. This article reports the findings of research which examined the interactions of young, post-compulsory school-aged refugees with the education system in the Greater Dandenong area of Victoria. The research found that there were misgivings about the refugees’ English proficiency once they left the six-month English as Second Language (ESL) New Arrivals Program, that their educational background did not prepare them for the senior years of secondary school, and that they were often disinclined to consider alternative pathways to secondary school completion. The research recommends, among other initiatives, that the ESL New Arrivals Program placement funding be extended from six to twelve months, that a ‘strategic framework’ for ESL be considered for schools, that a program be developed for students making the transition from the New Arrivals Program to schools, and that parents of refugee young people be informed about how to negotiate the education and training system.
Transitions in schooling
Social Studies and the social order: transmission or transformation?
Volume 69 Number 5, September 2005; Pages 282–286
Acknowledging a political dimension to their role has always been problematic for educators in liberal democratic societies. They are often torn between the uncritical transmission of social and political values, and an awareness of the socially transformative power of the educative process. In order to assist educators to arrive at their own conclusions about this dilemma, Stanley explores and explains its philosophical premise, guiding the reader through the works of George Counts, John Dewey, and Richard Posner, who, respectively, represent three perspectives on the debate, namely socially transformative, pragmatic and democratic realism. Wary of the indoctrination implicit in the socially transformative approach, and too optimistic about individuals’ capacity to create social change to find common cause with democratic realists, Stanley sides with Dewey, finding in his cultivation of a method of intelligence an ideal which is more commensurate with affecting change in democratic societies.
Key Learning AreasStudies of Society and Environment
Subject HeadingsEducation philosophy
Education aims and objectives
Do you see what I see?
Volume 43 Number 1, September 2005; Pages 40–43
Teaching mathematical and scientific skills, such as observation, inference and prediction, need not be done in a bland and literal fashion according to Rommel-Esham, who uses works of art to engage pre-service teachers in learning mathematical and scientific processes. Students in her science and mathematics methods courses learn to identify and use mathematical and scientific skills by making observations and inferences about artists’ depictions in paintings. Students, in whole-of-class exercises, are required to exchange their observations of a work, and then to suggest what the characters in the work are doing. They are then encouraged to name the painting, the identity of which has been concealed, based on their observations. In an additional exercise, students engage with the perspectives, lines and angles of the work, and attempt to use these to interpret the meaning the artist is attempting to convey. The author demonstrates to teachers how this activity can be adapted for primary classrooms.
Key Learning AreasScience
Year 12 subjects and further study
Number 11, September 2005; Pages 1–5
Students’ subject choices in the senior years of schools are the most significant determinant of their pathways to further education and training. This Longitudinal Survey of Australian Youth (LSAY) Briefing summarises a research which examined 2001 enrolment data from a sample of Year 12 students, with a view to describing changes in the participation of particular subjects and combinations of subjects. The research sought to explain the factors that influence subject selection and uncover the effects that student subject choices have on further study. It found that enrolments in English, Mathematics, Studies of Society and Environment and Science had declined over the period 1990–2001, as had enrolments in traditional subject combinations, which indicated a wider spread of subject selection. Subject participation had a close correlation with factors such as gender, socioeconomic status and earlier school achievement. Subjects such as Mathematics and the sciences were more likely to be favoured by those in the top quartile of earlier school achievement and students from higher socioeconomic backgrounds, and twice as likely by male than female students. The data also demonstrated that students who took particular combinations of subjects, such as Mathematics and physical science, or a subject mix which included Mathematics and physical science, or subjects from the humanities and social sciences, usually continued to university study. Subjects undertaken in the senior years of secondary school were also a good predictor of areas of study at university.
Subject HeadingsEducation research
Make a good in-service professional development day
Volume 20 Number 4, November 2005; Pages 15–17
Teachers are often reluctant to see themselves as professional development providers, and this role is often left to academics, researchers or educational consultants – professionals who, as Gough points out, may sometimes be failed or weak classroom practitioners. Those teachers who participate in ‘shop talk’ in staffrooms, and who critically reflect on their practice, already have the key ingredients for leading professional development sessions in their schools, and this article provides a few key strategies to help them to adopt that role. Gough’s tips range from choosing content for good teacher-led professional development sessions through to organising, and acknowledging authorship of, materials. The content of professional development sessions could include lessons that worked, but were ‘a bit out of the ordinary’, relevant university course assignments, and pedagogical strategies that engaged gifted learners or those with learning difficulties. Gough also reminds teachers to ensure that they acknowledge their debt to other professionals through the use of correct referencing frameworks, and to avoid the use of jargon. The former allows members of the audience to refer to the materials independently, while the latter maintains their engagement.
Subject HeadingsProfessional development
Does distributed leadership measure up?
Number 42, Spring 2005; Pages 21–22
Distributed leadership involves the devolvement and 'enculturation' of leadership throughout an organisation or school, and relies upon the leadership capacities of personnel in informal and formal roles. It has the ability to enfranchise the whole organisation or school community in the decision-making process, and therefore is seen as a boon to organisational or whole-of-school change. Distributed leadership has not, however, been uncritically accepted by leadership theorists or practitioners. In this article, through his examination of the contributions to an online conference, Holmes considers some of the tensions, paradoxes and contradictions which emerge when the theoretical assumptions behind distributed leadership are given practical effect. For example, he notes that the implementation of that leadership model actually requires the capacities of other forms of leadership which the model is attempting to usurp, and that its purported scope requires more structure not less.
Subject HeadingsSchool leadership
21 November 2005; Page 5
A growing number of Victorian schools offer before- and after-school care. This year, almost 37 per cent of primary and P–12 government schools are providing before-school care and about 50 per cent offer after-school programs. The programs can mean children spending 11 hours a day away from home. Some services are ‘appalling’, with overcrowded rooms, no space for activity, lack of supervision and long periods spent in front of the TV. However, most such services are very well run and overseen by school councils. There are now calls for the State Government to establish uniform regulations and guidelines for before- and after-school services, to ensure that children feel relaxed and have fun in a safe environment. Programs should offer play opportunities such as board games, painting, chalk drawing and group games, as well as opportunity to do homework.
Subject HeadingsPrimary education
Child care centres
About 4,000 Years 6–10 students around Australia have taken part in the recent National Sample Assessment of ICT literacy. This survey was managed by the ACER over September–November 2005 and involved 260 schools. The testing and marking was entirely computer-based. ACER developed seven assessment modules and a questionnaire. Each module was organised around a particular theme or context. Unlike earlier ICT tests that focused on basic skills such as word processing, this assessment was designed to test students’ creativity with ICT and their wider analytical skills in managing information. In one module, for example, students had to undertake research in a small, controlled web environment and then compile the results into a report. To prepare the assessment instruments, ACER had to source some software overseas and produce some new components locally. The resulting tools emulate the functions of the Microsoft Office suite, and are able to capture students’ work and deliver it to markers for online assessment. One module tested basic ICT skills using multiple-choice questions and generic tasks involving software skills and file management. Students who were successful in it moved on to complete two more modules, randomly selected. Students unsuccessful in the first module were automatically allocated the two easiest of the others. Test administrators in the schools indicate that the tests were popular and engaging with the students. The results are due to be published in mid-2006.
Subject HeadingsInformation management
Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
Technology and PBL in school and teacher education: New Zealand and Australian case studies
July 2005; Pages 36–41
Problem-based learning (PBL) requires students to undertake challenging tasks in lifelike scenarios, and aims to develop broad problem-solving skills as well as knowledge across a range of subject areas. It develops ‘just-in-time’ information retrieval techniques tailored to the needs of specific tasks, rather than ‘just-in-case’ general learning. By solving problems students engage deeply with information and develop deep understandings. The article examines the use of PBL at a New Zealand primary school and also in a teacher education course in Australia, looking particularly at the ICT and classroom design used to facilitate this type of learning. Henry Hill Primary School in Napier, New Zealand, has two ‘digital classrooms’ for Years 5 and 6. They were built to an architect’s design in 2002 at a cost of NZ$300,000. Computer workstations occupy a common zone open to both rooms, allowing easy access by either class. At the other end of both classrooms there are mini-ampitheatres with two rows of tiered seats, suitable for presentations and group discussions. Each one has an electronic whiteboard against a wall. Within the classrooms there are table spaces for students to work individually, in pairs or in groups. Dividers in the rooms are 1.2 metres high, allowing teachers to see all areas. The students deal with problems around topics such as healthy eating or how to cater to tourists. They use the Web for research, store data on spreadsheets, and use other software for report presentation. The article includes a diagram of the design. A contrasting use of PBL operates at the University of Melbourne for the subject IT Leadership in Schools, part of the B Ed (Primary) degree. Teams of four students address four problems during four two-hour classes over the year. Each student takes the role of team leader for one problem. The teams play the role of a school’s ICT committee, producing recommendations to the School Council/Board of Trustees or principal, around issues such as budget and professional development.
Subject HeadingsInformation and Communications Technology (ICT)
Inquiry based learning
Communities and schools: a new view of urban education reform
Volume 75 Number 2, 2005; Page 133–173
The Texas-based Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) is a large and successful network of schools and other local community bodies, such as church congregations and trade union branches, operating amongst low income and ethnic minority communities. It has attracted over 10,000 people to some of its state conventions. Disadvantaged schools organise themselves to contribute to IAF activities and set their own priorities for action. An example is Morningside Middle School, Fort Worth, Texas. Parents and educators there gained confidence and skills during their campaign to close down a nearby under-age liquor outlet. Out of this experience the teachers evolved a program to train parents how to help students with homework. Parents were then able to run after-school classes in Art, Science and Sports, and eventually the school community redesigned the curriculum to emphasise problem solving and high order thinking skills, producing a sharp rise in the school’s performance in state tests. The Texas IAF has over 100 schools in its Alliance Schools network, with regular state-wide conferences addressed by leading educators such as Howard Gardner. Alliance Schools also includes a principals’ institute, and the IAF provides ‘systematic leadership training in every stage of its campaigns’. The IAF uses its influence to effect state-wide political issues. Alliance Schools have demonstrated important achievements in raising test scores, but high stakes state-wide standardised tests limit the IAF's scope to introduce curriculum reforms. The article also covers a range of alternative approaches to community and school organising: the ‘service model’ in which a school functions as community hub, resourced by outside community bodies, such as the Quitman Street Community School in New Jersey; the ‘development model’ in which community groups set up a new school, such as the Camino Nuevo Charter Academy; and the ‘organising model’, a limited version of the IAF model, as found in the Chicago-based Logan Square Neighbourhood Association (LSNA).
Subject HeadingsUnited States of America (USA)
School and community
Character education: producing good citizens for a changing world
Volume 9 Number 9, October 2005; Pages 1–3
To teach ethical decision making and community action, a character education program must have several key characteristics. Schools must empower teachers to teach values in a way that is integrated throughout the curriculum. Teaching of values must be explicit, giving students the opportunity to define, recognise and put behaviours into action. A clear language can be established for ethics, in opposition to the ‘who’s winning’ language often used in schools. Core concepts such as honesty must be defined and linked to age-appropriate behaviours. Parents must be involved in deciding core values, with learning focused on local community issues. Students' knowledge of ethical issues and their ability to apply values in personal and community life can be tested. Teachers can model positive, direct communication; give value-based behaviour rewards; foster peer relationships; and have classroom visual displays depicting appropriate language and behaviour. Students can be taught to reflect on their own behaviour and its consequences. Teaching about social issues and political processes helps students to think critically about community problems and how they can help to resolve them. Ethical development takes place through three levels: personal responsibility, participation and justice-orientated citizenship, where students actively address the causes of these problems.
Subject HeadingsValues education (character education)
Establishing a new library
Volume 24 Number 4, November 2005; Pages 30–32
A teacher-librarian at the recently opened John Edmondson High School (JEHS) in New South Wales outlines how she developed a successful library. She regularly reviewed and updated the management plan, documenting decision-making processes and staff responsibilities, and breaking the plan down into small, attainable steps. The plan addressed teaching needs, space issues and promotion of the library, and aimed to ensure that it was both functional and appealing. A manual outlined all necessary procedures in flow chart form, from positioning of barcodes to processing special items. From the outset, the teacher-librarian sought the suggestions of teacher-librarian colleagues, teaching staff, parents and students at the school. Staff revised and adjusted the floor plans to provide areas for small group, whole class and independent learning. Plans also allowed for recreational activities, supervision and entry/exit point requirements. OASIS Library was employed to catalogue resources, set due dates and design borrower cards. Reading material was selected for curriculum needs and for recreation, guided by journal reviews and the New South Wales Education Department’s Core Collection list. Promotion took the form of newsletters, clear signage, What’s on programs and teacher resource lists. The library was also promoted as a place for school community meetings. A related article by the school’s principal explains how a school-wide information literacy policy and a skilled teacher-librarian guided the implementation of information literacy and resource access programs for staff and students.
Subject HeadingsInformation services
Volume 62 Number 8, November 2005; Pages 16–19
Beginning teachers are often ‘hazed’, or subjected to harsher working conditions than their more experienced colleagues. Hazing is a more significant factor in driving new teachers out of the profession than long hours, low pay and the general challenges of teaching. New teachers often have to take subjects outside their own qualifications. They are given the most time-consuming extracurricular responsibilities, but are not given benefits such as parking spaces. They are less likely to be represented in decision-making bodies, and are frequently required to teach courses with insufficient resources or with an underdeveloped curriculum. School leaders are often unaware of hazing. The Beginning Teachers Support and Assessment (BSTA) program is an initiative of the Californian government that has raised the state’s teacher retention rate. The BSTA assigns experienced teachers to take new colleagues through a two-year period of individualised formative assessment and reflective practice. While working for the BSTA, the author identified hazing at the Californian high school where she was situated. She found that 32 per cent of new teachers shared a classroom compared with 12 per cent of experienced teachers. Almost 77 per cent of new and 34 per cent of experienced teachers taught Year 9 beginning level courses, which were agreed to be the most difficult. With other staff she took data and a video discussion from current and former new teachers to school leaders. To improve conditions for beginning teachers, the school reassigned classes, gave many their own classrooms and provided curriculum folders with lesson plans and homework options. Two of 11 positions on the decision-making team were held for new teachers and car parks were assigned on the basis of commuting time and childcare needs. Fostering relationships between new and cooperative experienced teachers, hiring new teachers well before the start of the school year, and providing documented timelines, departmental standards and expectations will also help reduce hazing. An online version of the article is available from the original publisher Educational Leadership May 2005.
Subject HeadingsTeaching profession
United States of America (USA)
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