Archive for August, 2009

3122642792_d308a25dd9_mThanks Sue for pointing out the following  blog, 2cWorth. I always enjoy finding a new blog on education that has something interesting to say.

Today, being able to read and write and pass a test are not enough.  They are not nearly enough.  Today our students must become information artisans, able to learn, work, play, contribute, and prosper in a new and constantly changing and enriching information environment, and do so in a way that conserves the planet — rather than consum it.  We can not do this today by scratching and printing on pulp-based paper.  Teaching and learning must be digital.

And how’s this for a provocative comment! What do you think?

If you don’t want to do technology, if your not good at technology, then find another calling.

So says David Warlick on his blog, 2c Worth. Basically he is arguing that to be a good teacher in today’s educational community, you have to be able to use technology effectively. I can see his point as long as the pedagogy drives the use of technology and the choice of technology suits the purpose of learning.

He argues what I think as educators, we are all aware of, but are at different points in understanding and knowing about technology practices. David reiterates that literacy practices of students today, revolve around the use of technology in all forms.

105653250_fc11bdcd26_mTo be literate means being able to  use, create, communicate, respond to, manipulate and compose, along with many other skills, digitally.  This is what students do regularly outside the school environment, assuming they have equitable access to technology, and theoretically, should be also be applying as part of their literacy practices, in the school learning environment.

Interestingly he ran a poll asking readers to respond to two questions

  • “Can a teacher be a good teacher without using technology?”
  • “Is a teacher who is not using technology (computer, internet etc), doing his or her job?”

Check out the poll response for yourself by visiting his blog.

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openphotonet_DSC01495BEST: Kicking off the week at a St John Vianney primary school, Greenacre and being totally captured and energised by the great learning happening in every classroom. Kindergarten epitomised this, with one child telling me he had to “think with more precision and accuracy.” Habits of Mind rocks! So to Marguerite and her grade partner, I congratulate you. I would love to be a student in your classroom to experience the love of learning, the confidence and the sheer joy that I saw on the faces of your students. Bravo.

93967359_bda0b22246_mWORST: I have a serious coffee addiction. That’s why I have my own ground coffee, plunger and mug that I take with me everyday to work, no matter where I am. Teachers know this. It’s my trademark – along with my hair colour. So on Tuesday morning, when I went to get my coffee and realised that I left it at Greenacre, I momentarily hyperventilated!! Guess I’ll have to go back and visit Kindergarten so I can get my coffee! Brilliant!

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Was this only 4 weeks ago?


With the pace of work at G-Force, I can’t believe I witnessed this Balinese wedding ceremony only 4 weeks ago. Sigh.

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135320838_3afefd5b1b_mBEST: Visiting a stimulating and vibrant Yr 1 classroom today and having a wonderful conversation with a young boy about reading. When he finally worked out how to decode a word, he then explained to me how he worked it out! Oh, and he thought my hair was cool as well. Very savvy young man.

WORST: Sitting through a mind-numbingly dull powerpoint presentation where every slide was chock-a-block full of writing……slide after slide after slide…..with a ” Not happyJan!” presenter presiding.

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Dear Julia,

299060326_1545b6f0bc_mHave you heard what Ken Boston, former chief of education in NSW has to say about the use of league tables in Australia? Here’s a snippet, as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, just in case you missed it.

The high stakes attached to league tables in England had ”seriously damaged the breadth and quality” of the primary school curriculum, making it ”narrower and poorer”. The role of national tests had changed from providing a diagnostic tool for improvement to a determinant of a teacher’s future employment. As a result, a recent survey had shown 70 per cent of primary schools were spending three hours a week on prepping students for literacy and numeracy tests, which had narrowed the focus on other subjects.

Ken Boston knows what he is talking about. He has just spent 7 years in England overseeing education reform, particularly in national testing. He saw first hand how the tests, which started out as a diagnostic tool for educators to improve student learning, became distorted as the data was then used  to rank school performance.

Now Julia I know you may not be on the best of terms with some unions at the moment, but don’t you think it is very predictable that the media are demonising teacher unions for being vocal in criticising the creation of league tables? Even Ken Boston, who has had some memorable clashes with the teachers union, supports their stance.

I am sure you can appreciate that as a group of educators, we need to voice our concerns about league tables. Loudly.

We know NAPLAN can provide useful data to improve student learning because it is a DIAGNOSTIC tool. It is NOT designed to provide data to assist in the creation of league tables where so many variables that effect student performance, are left out. It is not an achievement test. Repeat. It. is. not. an. achievement. test.

It didn’t work in England. Or the US. So why are we undertaking the use of league tables in Australia?

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ESL book alert!

paulineI have just purchased a copy of Pauline Gibbon’s new book, English Learners, Academic Literacy and Thinking published by Heinemann. I have only had a chance to glance through the book but it certainly looks like another gem from Pauline.

What caught my eye was Pauline’s focus on academic challenging tasks for ESL students and the link she makes with the NSW quality pedagogical framework – or in our case as teachers with CEO Sydney, the Learning Framework. She also explores the notion of sustained thinking and inquiry-based learning ( ringing any bells, early years teachers??). Nice.

If you are a teacher working with students in the middle years of schooling, it is a MUST for you to read. In saying that, I think all teachers K-12 will benefit from reading it, particularly if you work with culturally and linguistically diverse students.

So all you Inner West teachers with CEO Sydney, grab a copy from the Bridge Bookshop at Chippendale (Sydney) or just order online from your favourite bookstore.

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125590964_e82c7118f6_mFrom the Shamelessly-nicking- this-idea -from- another- blogger department, I have adapted an idea from Mia Freedman’s  blog, Mamamia. Basically, it is a way of writing about a high and a low point of the week……..and the focus here for me – and hopefully you! –  is in education.

A HIGH point was engaging some very tired teachers in professional learning at the end of a big day of teaching their students and seeing how energised and engaged they became within a short period of time. Obviously both the material and the learning processes hit the right spot (thank god!) and importantly, they came away with some new key learnings which they are keen to apply to the classroom. Oh yeah, and we all laughed a lot, especially when MY mobile went off during the middle of the session. Doh!

A LOW point was observing that the early learning wiki I am using with some teachers is not being collaboratively written by as many teachers as I had hoped. So I need to work out how I can support those teachers and encourage them to write about their experiences. Any tips for me?

So what was the Best and Worst for you this week?

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Good idea.

2369416608_c7deac2d65_mInstead of schools using the good old chocolate drive to raise funds, ECA webwatch (Early Childhood Assoc. of Australia) has suggested an alternative, green practice using vegetable and herb kits. Judging by the crowds I see every weekend at farmers markets and organic food fairs in the Inner West of Sydney, it could be a great success.

541073213_25ab5fe397_mI must admit to always being puzzled by schools and/or parent bodies supporting chocolate drives which directly contradicts the message we deliver via the curriculum about healthy eating and sustainable living. No wonder children may be not getting the message!! The old adage of “walking the talk” is so true.

So check out the fundraiser site, Livingfundraisers for yourself.

( I have had an industrial strength coffee, taken a deep breath and calmed down since writing my previous post – 15 minutes earlier –  ranting about technology glitches. Heavy sigh).

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Yes, you. My blogroll. Why have you disappeared from my blog? Sometimes technology really2249553564_5a76af1cc9_m gives me the……(you can insert word of your choice here!).

It’s not helped by the fact I am sitting watching the Springboks crush the Wallabies in the rugby union. Thank god the Ashes are looking more promising!! (And if you don’t understand what I am talking about yet you DO understand English…..see how culturally loaded our language can be……and confusing!!). I am talking about the cricket – England v Australia. Tragic, really.

So while I am ranting about technology….another pet peeve. Our system is doing some great collaborative work by creating wikis etc etc so that schools across Sydney can share good practice, experience and deepen understanding of contemporary pedagogy. BUT…..there are so many different wiki and webpage links being created, that I cannot get my head around it all let alone track, read and comment on each of them. Help!

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