Archive for November, 2009

If you missed last night’s episode of Hungry Beast on ABC TV, here is a video of 3 Australians telling their story about their journey to Australia as refugees. I dare anyone not to be moved by this.

[Sorry the video link didn’t work – go to the Hungry Beast website to view the segment.]

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That’s a fair question that Ben, aged 5, asked his teachers Romina and Nicole.

I have written before about the wonderful work Nicole Kolibac and Romina De Grazia do in bringing out the best in their students- and I continue to be in awe of the new and exciting learning that evolves as a result of their enthusiasm, commitment and boundless energy.

Loris Mallaguzzi’s poem The Hundred Languages of Children is often the inspiration behind the stunning teaching and learning that occurs in Kinder at St Peter Chanel, Regents Park.

No way. The hundred is there.

……..a hundred worlds
to discover
a hundred worlds
to invent
a hundred worlds
to dream………

They shared their approach to early learning with a group of teachers today. Here are some highlights!

They created their own learning cycle (very clever!!) to help explain their approach to early learning.

  • Exploring – multiple hands-on learning experiences across many days are provided for the children in learning centres allowing them to explore the major concept that is being studied, in this case, Physical Phenomena

  • Investigating – using their “I wonder” boxes, the children pose questions and/or hypotheses to decide what they will investigate (because now the children have explored – they know exactly what they want to find out about!!)

Helicopter: “it flies because it has a propeller” Lee


Earth: “ it moves round and round and that’s how we get night and day” Jessica


Sound: “ How does a Lions roar go so far?” Ben

  • Talking & Listening, Designing, Researching, Writing and Making – Nicole and Romina provided a variety of teacher-led and student-led experiences to find out more involving YouTube, Google Earth, VoiceThread, literature, construction, building, joint construction, mapping….and use this to help develop language structures and vocabulary required for future oral and written tasks.

  • Consolidation and Practicing – By making short movies (thanks Animoto!!) about their findings, the children re-visited their learning and developed a greater understanding of concepts related to Physical Phenomena and greater control over academic language to express these understandings. Brilliant!
  • Explanation of their investigation – the children were excited to write explanations about their object that moved, and use that writing as a script for their clay animation. The Clay Animation provided an authentic purpose for writing their explanation. Not to mention that the students LOVED clay animation!

AND they did this mainly independently as most students helped each other out with the technology. Not bad for kids who don’t have a lot of access to web 2 technology outside the school.

If the teacher feedback from today’s Language Features of Text Types for ESL Learners professional development is any indication, Romina and Nicole will be responsible for some great changes happening in the early years across many of our schools.

exciting and energising…..

just brilliant!

WOW! I have learnt so much from these two……


I love what they are doing with the learning…


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Books will soon be obsolete in schools…our school system will be completely changed in the next 10 years.

Thomas Edison in 1913, commenting on the positive impact of motion pictures (new technology then!!). Shock! Horror! Books didn’t disappear and our education system didn’t descend into chaos.

While checking out the Successful Language Learners Ning (and that’s for another post!!), I came across this quote in Darren Walker’s article, How many penguins does it take to sink an iceberg? The challenges and opportunities of Web 2 in education.

He lists 10 reasons why schools should be using web 2 – and it makes a lot of sense! The point Darren makes about how as teachers we always need to start with where the students are at – meaning we must acknowledge and utilise the web 2 capabilities that they bring to learning – is one we are all familiar with.

He also makes the point that many students prefer web 2 tools such as instant messaging over email and other web 1 applications, yet schools often ban the use of these essential web 2 tools. He elaborates by linking the use of web 2 to constructivist learning theory as web 2 is a collaborative, social practice in contrast to the passive, consumerist nature of web 1.

Of course, not all our students have access to web 2, but that is another reason to use it. All children have  innate curiosity – what better way to harness this than through the use of web 2?

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Sorry. Just finished watching the latest Star Trek movie on DVD. Got bit carried away with the title to this post.

280167010_93351be977_mJust get a load of these gems that have come out of a recent 6 year long research process, the Cambridge Primary Review,  into the state of primary education in the UK.

  • Primary schools that get the best results in the maths and English national tests also teach a broader curriculum. rather than teaching to the test and narrowing the curriculum
  • Formal curriculum should start at age 6 rather than 5
  • The report wants to scrap school league tables and sweep away the current Sats (similar to NAPLAN ) at age 11 in England (as has already happened in Wales).
  • The report proposes  more testing, but in a form that covers the full range of the curriculum, that does not bring high-stakes judgements for schools and teachers…..interesting!
  • A rethink of the many assumptions about primary schools that are rooted in their Victorian past.

These include………

  • reliance on the generalist class teacher rather than specialist subject teachers
  • lower per pupil funding than in secondary schools (finally someone sees sense!!!),
  • lower status for primary school teachers (about bloody time!!!),
  • a formal education starting age of five, and 
  • long summer holidays which are left over from the days when children were needed to bring in the harvest.
  • the relatively low emphasis given to the spoken language, compared to reading and writing.

BBC Education online

3122642792_d308a25dd9_mAnd one recommendation that made me smile broadly was the view that education needed to be “de-politicised” stating that governments need to intervene less.

  • details of the teaching methods, classroom organisation and curriculum should be for teachers…..to decide

Imagine if the report is acted upon by the British government. Now that’s what I call an “education revolution” !! NOT the current Rudd government agenda – although some good can come of  BER and NPA reforms.

Real change means education for the 21st Century. So let’s start thinking about changing some of these institutionalised structures that have clearly been outed as Victorian and unsuitable for today’s learner.


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and still the 78 Sri Lankan asylum seekers languish off the Indonesian coast

as the lame Australian government tries to persuade New Zealand to take them

to no avail


desperate people


Leunig cartoons at Sydney Morning Herald

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14082009(008)Found about about mlearning today. By accident. That’s what I love about using the internet! The place you end up, is nowhere near the destination you first desired!!

Mlearning is learning via the use of mobile devices such as iphones, ipods, mobile phones,……basically any mobile device. Thanks to the Ulearn conference materials, I stumbled across materials presented by a teacher called Jonathon Nalder. He explained mlearning and just how powerful it is/will be in learning fro the knowledge era. Best of all, his blog documents how he is currently using mlearning with his students in a primary school in Queensland, Australia- warts and all!!

I ended up there – eventually –  because I was frantically searching for a reading about 21st century learning to use with a group of teachers as part of a professional learning initiative. To say I was starting to panic is putting it mildly! I thought I had loads of material on 21st Century learning, but when I examined some of this material more closely, it just wasn’t what I wanted. Too jargonistic. Too dated. Too dull.

So I started to read an article Jonathon posted on Evernote, connected-learners: implications for teaching in a connected world.  I got really excited. It was exactly what I was looking for! Readable. Current. Stimulating! Best of all, it is based on the Australian educational context.

By the way, Evernote is a a notebook site where you can post pdf’s, texts, ppts…anything really!!! I started to get excited about creating my own Evernote page. Even adding it to my blog!

Really. I do need to get a life.

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0143009613 Was the irony lost on Peter Garret yesterday when he announced the winner of Australia’s richest literary prize? I caught a glimspe of the announcement on ABC news last night and nearly choked. Garret spoke about the importance of Australian literary tradition and mumbled something about the value of hearing stories like Nam Le’s. Que? Pardon? Is your own boss, our PM,  listening Peter?

Nam Le wrote The Boat, a book of short stories, which is loosely based on his own family’s experience as boat people fleeing war-torn Vietnam and seeking refuge in Australia. Luckily Nam and his family were accepted  as refugees, unlike the current situation with the Sri Lankan asylum seekers on the Ocean Viking, currently languishing off an Indonesian island.

Having taught many children whose families had similar terrifying experiences fleeing Vietnam, I can only grind my teeth in fury and frustration, at what is happening to 78 – yes, 78, not 700 or 7000, just 78!! – Sri Lankans seeking asylum in Australia. Refugees ( as many asylum seekers turn out to be) have much to contribute to our society, and have done so for many years.

Heavy sigh.

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