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Archive for February, 2009

Like it.

Check out Will’s photostream at Flickr. Great visuals. Interesting messages. Like it.

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Or try this one……..

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Thanks Mick!

picture11Just received another comment from my colleague, Mick Prest. Mick has a hobbie – it involves a laptop (Mac I think!) and a variety of gadgets that can be plugged into, added onto or just connected to it.(I think he leaves one hand free to hold a glass of red wine….but not during working hours!).

He encouraged me to start a blog just over 12 months ago. While a blog connects you to the global community, it has been through my interaction with Mick (in person) that has kept me going with the blog. His enthusiasm for all things ICT is catchy. Many times he has suggested sites to go to, blogs to read, and shown me gadgets that have many possibilities when  working with teachers. And it doesn’t matter how dumb the question I ask is, he always has the time to answer it. So big thanks Mick!

I have also valued the feedback about my blog from other colleagues…..  Nicole from Parramatta CEO (great meeting you last week!), Danny (we miss you!), Andrew (good luck this week!), Maria (shoe queen) and the many teachers I work with.

But here’s the weird thing. Most of the feedback is done face-to-face! Very little is actually communicated via the blog!! What does this day about how I use the blog  or our preferred communication modes?

Dunno. Weird!

(Thanks for the tip about Tag Gallery, Danny. I finally worked out how to use it. Doh!)

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OK. This is my third attempt at writing this post! I have deleted the previous two drafts – really, I don’t want to bore you. I am trying to convey the excitement I am experiencing as a result of a national literacy and numeracy project I am involved in. So why is this exciting??!!

As Prof. Peter Freebody stated, at the launch of  the project last Friday, this project focuses on

  • powerful collaboration between teachers and schools through combining theory and practice – in language learning, literacy and numeracy.
  • It is based on teacher’s everyday work.

It has particular relevance for the group of schools involved (Catholic and DET schools in Auburn, a highly multicultural suburb of western Sydney) as these school have a very high number of ESL students with a significant number coming from a variety of cultural and refugee backgrounds. Due to the rapidly changing   nature of the ESL learner in Australia, a project like this is very timely.                                                                                            picture7

  • The project involves a group of schools K-6 from both the government (DET) and catholic sectors WORKING TOGETHER! Yes! When was the last time this happened? The ’70’s??!! A pooling of camaraderie, expertise, energy and experience! Brilliant! ( I have already made some great connections with my DET and CEO Parramatta colleagues).
  • It targets supporting teachers and leadership teams (really supporting them!) to improve the learning outcomes for our ESL and refugee students who are from a low socio-economic background.
  • This support comes in the form of funding  per school of a teacher educator to professionally develop teachers both inside and outside the classroom. ( I see such similarity with the Reggio Emilia project for early learning  which has a pedagogista for each early learning centre…)
  • The project has another unique focus – building on school practices to create centres for community activity. Something we could definitely improve on!
  • It has the potential to influence  the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Plan due to be published in 2011.

So if I haven’t bored you so far (you could just skip to the pictures!), some of you may be asking the question, why is this so important?

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Some latest research hot off the press from the States, Quality Counts, suggests that for many low socio-economic, high ESL need learners, the achievement gap is increasing between the ESL learner and their English speaking peers. This research was conducted across 50 states in America so it it quite compelling.  This correlates with research Jim Cummins did some years ago concerning the disengagement from learning of bilingual students in Year 4 and onwards. What is horrifying, is that the Quality Counts report found that the achievement gap INCREASES significantly from year 4 onwards and consquently many students fall behind and never bridge the gap.

picture5What the report did recommend will not be news to any of you who are familiar with good ESL pedagogy.

  • Oral language is vital if these students are to bridge the achievement gap (someone please mention this to the writing team of the draft Australian National English Curriculum K-12. Oral language is barely mentioned!!).
  • Provision for the learning of cultural knowledge and academic language (CALP) required for the curriculum must be a priority. ( If you are engaged in CEO Sydney’s language project for ESL learners….you should be feeling good about now!).

That’s why this project is important. It can make a significant difference to the learning achievement of some of Australia’s most vulnerable students – ESL and refugees – in literacy and numeracy……and the benefits could be experienced across Australia for a long time.

Phew! I think this is the longest post I have written since I started my blog. I’ll stop now. But there will be more later…..much more……

Photos from Sydney Morning Herald – see previous post.

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Just searching

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I use a variety of search tools when investigating curriculum topics with the teachers I work with. This latest one, Leapfish, is really useful. It shows videos, weblinks, blogs and images on the keyword types in. Takes the pain out of multiple searching as it links to YouTube, Google and Yahoo.

This is what appeared when I typed in “Sydney”.Good one.

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(AAP: Simon Mossman)

As the death toll rises to 130 and above, it’s hard to focus on anything other than the bushfires that have devastated Victoria over the past few days. The stories people are recounting about the sheer ferocity and terror of the fires is simply mind-numbing.

In their own words, from ABC online

Jay…..

My little girl was saying to me, ‘Mum, am I going to see my friends again?’ She also said to me, ‘Mum, am I going to live tomorrow?…………

We had fire coming in on the right-hand side of us on a paddock and we had houses to the left of us on fire; no-one knew what was going to happen.

Kevin…..a truck driver..

I got to the border, the road is melting before me … tar is splashing up on my truck.

Raylene…

“Everyone we know has lost everything they had – it’s not nice.

As Julia Gillard, Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister said in parliament today,

A tragedy beyond belief, beyond precedence, beyond words.

Donations to support those affected by the fires can be made through the Red Cross and the Salvos.

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Simply brilliant.

This short video, where the presenter talks at warp speed as he races through his slides (!!!), is a great reminder about what is important in education, particularly as we begin a new school year here in Australia.

I was struck by how it correlated nicely with the investigation into early learning that myself and some colleagues are undertaking. Child-centred learning, inquiry learning, collaboration, ability to  unlearn and re-learn…..and best of all he gives the boot to the notion of simplying supplying computers to every student (take note Rudd revolution!!). He talks about new schools needing to be built so as to be more conducive to the nature of 21st century learning.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
more about “The Future of Education & Learning (V…“, posted with vodpod

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