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Archive for April, 2008

Well that’s a relief!!! I was having some difficulty posting my videos into my blog – but it now works!! I have just finished watching this popular video. It has been updated and I think it is a great way to get teachers to think about the future world for our students and the possibilities of our role in educating them.

Vodpod videos no longer available. from www.youtube.com posted with vodpod

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With Naplan testing just around the corner for Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 across Australia, it was interesting to read Jim Cummins (professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Canada and ESL guru!!) latest thoughts on standardised testing and the effects on education for ESL learners. He has always maintained that such testing has many negative ramifications, particularly for poorer students from a Language Background Other Than English (LBOTE). His main criticism is while there remains an emphasis on standardised testing, teachers will feel compelled to “teach to the test” because schools literacy performance will often be judged by this one factor. Nothing new there!!

While his comments are situated within the North American educational context, his points certainly have relevance here in Australia. Cummins advocates a different approach for literacy attainment.

Such engagement requires participation, and effective participation requires that student identity is affirmed, which means first language learning should not be discouraged because “new understandings are constructed on a foundation of existing understandings and experiences.”

His alternative [to standardised testing] focuses on a four-element approach: scaffolding meaning, activating prior knowledge and building background knowledge, affirming student identity and extending language in a way that uses the students’ first language.

This correlates nicely with John Hattie’s research into what has the greatest effect on student achievement. Where does testing fit in? It’s way down the list. So what has the greatest effect? Teachers of course!

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A new version of Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody’s song “From Little Things Big Things Grow” has been inspired by the Prime Minister’s historic apology to the stolen generation.

This contemporised version of the song transforms us from a negative concept of the past to the positive possibilities of the future,” said Kev Carmody in a statement.

It’s brilliant! Get your own copy from Getup!

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Growing up Google: What it means to education by Diana G Oblinger is my kind of article! Light on jargon, succinct, informative and speaks to any educator! She argues that the digital generation are more comfortable with visuals than with print-based text. But she also cautions that not all students are interested in technology or have access to it. So what are the implications for education? Read it and find out. A great read.

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I came across this article a few months back and was struck by the powerful argument put forward for the inclusion of play as a valid learning pedagogy for our young students. It is from a Canadian educational site which has some excellent articles on learning and education.

In the current climate of concern over school readiness, we must preserve some opportunity for children to play for their own purposes. If play always and exclusively serves adult educational goals, it is no longer play from the child’s perspective. It becomes work, albeit playfully organized.

While reading the article, I was thinking about the trend in NSW to introduce a Kinder Assessment package for Kinder students in their first few weeks of school. My concerns are about the equity of the assessment strategy particularly for our students from a LBOTE/ESL background. Assessment in itself is not the issue but rather why we are assessing our Kinder students and how we assess them

The latest OECD report on student performance in PISA, indicates that generally, Australian students performed well. It was noted that in terms of providing a high-quality education, Australia along with other countries such as Finland, Canada, New Zealand were among the best but in terms of the provision of equitable education, Australia was one of the lowest ranked countries. The gap between our student’s performance is huge. Will the Kinder Assessment strategy contribute to this inequity?

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QuestionJust found a useful link for teachers and students to use when researching. When wikis wont cut it: 25 online sources for reliable, researched facts. It’s a list of alternative search sites to Wikipedia. I like it! Try it out for yourself!!

I also like the search tool Boolify which has been recently developed for students K-12. It was developed to make searching for information via google simpler and safer for students.

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Play IS learning

research in early childhood development does not support the idea that play is something to do instead of learning. The way that young children learn is part and parcel of the way they act naturally in the world — through play.

This quote from an article by a Kindergarten teacher Catherine Maulsby, sums up the struggle that many of the Kinder teachers I work with have been grappling with as they implement a more child-centred pedagogy in their classrooms. We know that children can learn from play, but we are still confused about it’s place in the curriculum. The typical question asked is “When will they do formal learning?” We are all on a sharp learning curve but I strongly believe as educators we need to challenge the more traditional pedagogies that exist in our classrooms. It’s already making a difference in a number of our classrooms. This article by David Elkind highlights the dangers of inappropriate pedagogy for our early learners. Maintain the struggle!!!

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