The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority has launched the first edition of its new information bulletin, ACARA Update. The edition includes an outline of progress in developing Phase 1 of the Australian curriculum, covering English, mathematics, science and history. It also briefly describes the initial work for Phase 2, covering geography, languages and the arts.
The progress of the Australian Government's 'education revolution' has been reviewed in The Age. Topics discussed include the introduction of a new curriculum in 2011; funding to improve student outcomes and teacher quality; initiatives to attract potential teachers; and efforts to improve early childhood programs. See article in The Age 30 November 2009.
The Victorian Government's new reporting system for schools is discussed in an article in The Age and an article in The Australian, both 28 November 2009. See also more general commentary by AEU leader Angelo Gavrielatos in The Sydney Morning Herald 23 November 2009.
In England a new round of results has been released covering the performance of 11-year-old students on national curriculum tests, which are known as SATs. The results, used to compare school performances, have generated widepread discussion among educators, politicians and media commentators. See report on BBC News 1 December 2009, recent articles in the Guardian, and earlier article in The Times Online 19 November 2009.
Chris Bonnor, a former teacher and principal and now author and commentator on educational issues, has questioned the record of educational reform in New York City, and expresses concerns that New York's reforms have influenced the Australian Government's education policy. See ABC Radio National podcast 26 November 2009.
An article in Online Schools 20 October 2009 offers a list of 100 blogs of value for new teachers. They cover technology, specific subject areas, news and politics in education, as well as personal and professional issues.
Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger has launched Watchknow.org, a library of educational videos for K–12 students. The site links to more than 11,000 videos in 2,000 categories, including history, maths and science. See news item on EducationWeek's Curriculum Matters blog 17 November 2009.
A fee-based service created by internet research company Questia will allow students to access up to 5,000 books and various magazine articles using their iPhone or iPhone touch. However an article in the Los Angeles Times 18 November 2009 questions the cost and ease of use of the service.
Research into bilingualism and the brain has found that switching between languages generates 'better overall brain function' than use of a single language. See article in The Sydney Morning Herald 27 November 2009.
The Northern Territory Government's decision to mandate a minimum of four hours' English-language instruction daily has been contested by Richard Trudgen, head of Aboriginal Resources and Developmental Services. See article in The Sydney Morning Herald 30 November 2009. See also reports in last week's What's new section of Curriculum Leadership.
With mobile phones increasingly used in classrooms, new guidelines are being developed to address the potential risks and privacy issues related to the capture and dissemination of video footage. See article in The Sydney Morning Herald 29 November 2009.
Students from Tennant Creek High School have been mentoring students from a nearby primary school in reading in both English and Warumungu. The program is part of an effort to help develop an inter-generational knowledge of Indigenous languages, as well as to promote English literacy. See article in The Sydney Morning Herald 27 November 2009.
School canteens in New South Wales are struggling to attract volunteer staff from the school parent body. The change has been attributed to parents' growing time commitments and to the fact that the role no longer provides as much contact with children, as most lunch orders are now made online. Many schools are either outsourcing operation of their canteens, or are relying on external providers instead. See article in The Sydney Morning Herald 29 November 2009.
The establishment of 'virtual classrooms' across rural schools in Victoria is being considered as a way to address difficulties in attracting and retaining teachers. Under this model, students at groups of neighbouring schools would participate in online classes taught by a particular teacher. See article in The Age 30 November 2009.
In New South Wales concern has been expressed about the content of a privately run sex education program being used with government school students. See article in The Sydney Morning Herald 3 December 2009.
Revelations in the USA that some teachers have been selling lesson plans online have sparked debate over the ethical implications of the practice. Issues include ownership of the material, and the effect of such activity on collaboration among educators.
Charles Sturt University's Study Link, a program designed to support students transitioning to tertiary study, has won a national study award. Under the program, students or potential students complete short subjects that will support them in their chosen area of study. See media release 16 October 2009.
A pilot program designed to reduce time spent on testing and allow more instruction time will see some students in Maryland begin taking tests using iRespond hand-held devices. Their scores will be received instantly by teachers, providing feedback about student knowledge and allowing teachers to guide their instruction. See article in The Baltimore Sun 22 November 2009.
Educators in the USA are turning to online games to teach students about personal finance and investing. The approach is supported by research that indicates that students who participate in game-based financial literacy programs demonstrate increased financial awareness. See article in Education Week 16 November 2009.
A Melbourne school linked to the Church of Scientology has received $300,000 in Australian Government funding. See article in The Herald Sun 3 December 2009, which notes concerns about the Church of Scientology expressed by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Senator Nick Xenophon.