The Australian story: an Australian history curriculum for Asia literacy
Volume 8 Number 1, 2010; Pages 7–11
Planning documents for the new national history curriculum effectively argue the importance of history as a field of study, and recognise both European heritage and Indigenous history. They also note the importance of Asia literacy, without specifying how Asia-related content can be integrated into the curriculum. Links could be forged by expanding coverage of Asian migration to Australia and the experiences of Asian migrants, as well as the history of trade and political diplomacy in the region. The curriculum could also include more coverage of Asian societiesin a manner that addresses them independently of Australia – a move demanding extensive professional development for teachers. The key, however, is to 'tell the Australian story in a way that connects Australia and Asia more closely'. This approach would include describing Asia prior to European settlement in Australia; describing the period of mixed engagement and friction before Europeans dominated Asia; and understanding the historically specific period of European domination, given the longer term prominence of India and China. This approach would also involve describing how Asian societies differed from Europe's in their conceptions of ethnicity and territorial boundaries; and describing the range and development of religious ideas that have prevailed in Asia since the 1800s. The curriculum should also consider the rise of Japan and the formation of new Asian nation-states after World War II. The need for Australians to understand Asia has itself been partly obscured by historical forces, such as the Cold War and the apparent Westernisation of Asian societies and economies during the 1990s. The experiences of the last decade have qualified expectations of convergence between Asian and Western societies, reaffirming the need for Australian students to grasp the history of Asia and of its interaction with the West. The addition of more Asian content into the history curriculum would also provide further vantage points from which students can understand the British background. For example, the curriculum could highlight how perceptions of Asia helped to shape public thinking in Australia, and how Asian observers have seen and reacted to Australia's European heritage.
Key Learning AreasStudies of Society and Environment
Social life and customs
Australian schooling reflects a number of problems faced by other educational systems around the world. With many teachers beginning to approach retirement, and with younger teachers increasingly likely to see the profession as only one step in their careers, a teacher shortage is on the horizon. The shortage of teachers in some disciplines means that very large numbers of teachers teach subjects outside their area of expertise, and schools struggle to find teachers or relief teachers qualified in those areas. Two major reports in the USA, by Carroll and Foster and Coggshall et al, suggest ways to solve these problems and improve school education more generally. Carroll and Foster cite evidence that many teachers considering departure from the profession might be induced to stay if they were offered more opportunities for professional and personal growth, and to pass on their learning. These desires could be met by the creation of teams of teachers including both experienced teachers and younger teachers with skills including knowledge of digital media, and 'adjunct content specialists' who work full or part time. A related proposal, by Coggshall et al, calls for an 'unbundling' of the traditional education model. Noting that teachers struggle to differentiate their teaching, Coggshall et al call for teams of teachers who can offer 'neo-differentiated' teaching, which involves addressing the skills needed to help students address a range of issues to do with personal health and wellbeing as well as curricular requirements. The teams could include 'an assistant teacher, learning clinician, instructional coach, content facilitator and content expert'. The formation of such teams would create opportunities for both horizontal and vertical career movement and would '[force] all teachers to share in the responsibility of teaching and learning with their colleagues' both locally and remotely. The article includes a discussion of the relative costs of team teaching and traditional teaching.
Subject HeadingsTeaching profession
Teaching and learning
Volume 35 Number 4, August 2009; Pages 557–574
The Nottingham Creative Partnership is an arts partnership program in Britain designed to encourage creativity in learning. The authors describe an apprenticeship model of learning for the arts that was developed after consultation with 23 participant schools and seven case-study schools, and examine how it can guide learning and program development. The model was designed to reflect the active and social learning approaches encountered in arts education, and was developed in response to feedback from participants. Conceived as a matrix, it is divided into participant type, such as artist, teacher or student, and describes the role of each across four different stages of learning: observer, participant, novice and independent. It is also cyclical in nature, rather than moving toward a single end point of achievement, and emphasises the role of every participant as both a teacher and a learner. The participants generally agreed that the model articulated an approach to learning that was in line with the methods they were currently using, and that it influenced teachers' planning and professional development. Its 'everyone learns from everyone' emphasis encouraged teachers and artists to establish professional relationships and draw on each others' expertise through activities such as shared planning. Teachers also learnt new techniques and developed new relationships that contributed to the projects' longevity. Students appreciated being guided during the participant phase, and being given the opportunity to reach the 'independent' stage. A minority of schools and artists felt that the model constrained their approaches; some preferred students to be seen as 'helpers' rather than apprentices. These partnerships tended to be less successful than those that followed the model. The model was also found to have positive effects in terms of inclusion and social justice. The emphasis on learning and participation, rather than on behaviour, meant that special needs students or students who were historically disinclined to participate were drawn in to learning.
Subject HeadingsProfessional development
Arts in education
Volume 43 Number 1, 2009; Pages 5–18
When assessing English candidates, teachers may find themselves in disagreement over the grade to award assessments that fall on the 'borderline' of two grades. This can have very real consequences in high-stakes assessments and, as a result, there have been calls to reconfigure such assessments to focus on items that can be easily assessed. However, the author argues that simplifying assessment practices is not the answer, as it is not teachers' assessment skills or content knowledge that are to blame for conflicting judgements, but rather the inherent 'vagueness' of language-based tasks. The best way of assessing such borderline cases is not to simplify examination tasks, but to have assessors come together to argue and clarify their reasons for assigning a particular grade. This can help assessors deepen and refine their understanding of grade boundaries, resulting in enhanced competence and better decision making than if a line is simply drawn.
Key Learning AreasEnglish
Subject HeadingsEnglish language teaching
Volume 13 Number 4, December 2009; Pages 319–330
Spelling strategies that involve self-evaluation and self-correction have been found to improve spelling outcomes. One such strategy is the Cover-copy-compare (CCC) method. This strategy involves a student looking at a word, covering it, writing it once from memory, and then uncovering the word to see whether their attempt matches the written form. If the word is incorrectly written, the child repeats the method until a correct response is achieved. Research indicates that it is the error identification component of the intervention that results in improved achievement, an approach that differs from common classroom practices where students repeatedly write a word without explicitly checking to see whether their production is correct. The authors tested four underachieving primary students from the USA, aged between 8 and 9, to examine whether the efficacy of CCC could be improved by writing a target word multiple times during the 'copy' component of the intervention. The students were given 18 sets of five level-appropriate spelling words, and instructed to use either the standard CCC method, a variation on the CCC method that involved copying each target word three times, or a baseline method that involved simple spelling testing without the use of CCC. Both CCC methods were found to result in improved spelling results in all students, although there was little difference in attainment between the standard CCC intervention and the CCC intervention that involved repeated copying. This indicates that it is the self-evaluation and self-correction components of CCC that result in improved attainment rather than the number of rewrites. However, the students' spelling attainment remained quite low, indicating that a prolonged intervention might be required to achieve substantial gains. While CCC can be an effective means of improving spelling achievement, standard procedures of repeatedly copying a word provide little benefit to student learning.
Key Learning AreasEnglish
Subject HeadingsChild development
Language as capital, or language as identity? Chinese complementary school pupils' perspectives on the purposes and benefits of complementary schools
Volume 35 Number 4, August 2009; Pages 517–538
Complementary schools, such as weekend mother-tongue classes, can have a significant impact on students' educational and social identities. Using interviews, the authors examined British-Chinese students' conceptions of the purpose and benefits of attending a Cantonese-language Chinese complementary school. The participants were 60 students aged between 11 and 13 years, the vast majority of whom were born in Britain. In many cases, the participants' parents made the decision to send their child to Chinese school, although around 27 per cent of the participants said it had been their own decision. Overwhelmingly, the main reason for attending was for language competency reasons: oral fluency and the ability to read and write in Cantonese were seen as key for communicating with relatives and maintaining ties with Hong Kong. Students also saw fluency in Cantonese as a useful skill in terms of their secondary studies, and for future employment, with many students pointing out the increasing importance of China in the global market. Chinese school was also seen as integral to maintaining their Chinese culture and identity. Chinese school helped students learn about Chinese history, festivals and legends, all of which students tied with cultural identity. It also promoted Cantonese language facility, which for the majority was the major indicator of ethnic authenticity: students were unquestioning about the need to learn Cantonese, and felt that they would be 'ashamed' or 'embarrassed' not to be able to speak it. One student felt that her mother was not 'full Chinese' because of her inability to write Chinese, while others expressed disappointment at friends who had not continued their Cantonese studies. An additional benefit of Chinese school was its social function: it provided a 'sanctuary from minoritisation' where the students could interact with others 'from their own culture'. A small minority of students, however, usually those who were third-generation British-Chinese, saw less need for Chinese school, arguing that it was not the language they spoke at home, and that it was not relevant to their future careers. The interviews revealed the role of complementary schooling in helping maintain cultural and linguistic identity, as well as in facilitating communication between different generations, and in providing a safe space for students to interact.
Subject HeadingsSocial life and customs
Languages other than English (LOTE)
Volume 30 Number 2, April 2010; Pages 159–169
Coaches can help guide school improvement by working closely with principals to develop a shared vision and to serve as a catalyst for school transformation. They can play a valuable role as a critical friend to help a principal reflect on and work towards school-based problem solving and development. Their role is different from that of a mentor: they aim to build capacity as well as facilitate development by focusing on the 'big picture' to help, through shared problem-solving, develop a plan of action to meet specific goals and objectives. Coaching offers a means by which a principal's beliefs, values and vision can be clarified in order to work towards a shared vision with the wider school community, and where the principal will also act as a coach, cultivating shared leadership and helping to guide the school's direction. This will eventually lead to transformation, where the school community has a collective, collaborative sense of responsibility for student outcomes, and where open communication allows for feedback and the development of wider partnerships. Coaching may go beyond big picture approaches to address day-to-day management and leadership skills as needed. For example, a coach can assist a principal in dealing with discipline issues by helping to develop or modify existing discipline plans, or to address ineffective teaching by looking at ways to increase expectations and ensure that these expectations are met. Coaches may also help principals move away from a focus on management and toward a more leadership-oriented approach. They can offer support throughout this process and help encourage reflection and the development of relevant strategies, and the principal can then both take action and act as a coach for others, helping to improve the functioning of the school. A formal framework for leadership coaching is proposed by the authors. This involves the transformation of the traditional school culture, which encompasses a variety of separate and unaligned operations, functions and values, and occurs as the principal uses new understandings to influence others' work and vision, and to work to align the different elements of the school.
Subject HeadingsSchool culture
Volume 9 Number 1, 2010; Pages 19–30
Curricular changes in the USA have reduced or eliminated food safety education, despite the fact that young people are often interested in food preparation and are likely to be preparing food in the home or during part-time employment. To develop recommendations for youth food safety interventions, the authors ran focus groups on young people's food-handling responsibilities and awareness. The participants were 147 middle school students across the USA, 75 parents of middle school children, and 13 food safety experts. While 95% of students reported helping to prepare food, with one-third doing so every day, students' food safety awareness and practices varied. Students were aware of the potential to become ill through poor food safety practices such as inadequate hygiene, failing to adequately wash or prepare food, or storing food inappropriately. While they reported having received information about food safety from parents, school, television programs, and extra-curricular activities, their food safety knowledge was often limited, and responses from parents indicated that students could be lax about food safety practices if they were not being supervised. The students reported that they would be interested in learning about food safety, but felt that their peers may not be interested due to lack of interest, time, or perceived lack of relevance. They suggested the food safety training be made interesting and enjoyable through the use of games, experiments, food preparation labs, videos and guest speakers. The food safety experts were concerned that while students had some knowledge of food safety concepts, they lacked a sufficient understanding of how this information was related to specific food hygiene and preparation practices. Students' limited food safety awareness was attributed to perceived lack of relevance, limited cooking experience, and lack of experience with foodborne illness. Several key issues were identified as important for students to learn: personal hygiene; food storage; food preparation and cooking temperatures; cross-contamination; and food quality. They highlighted the need for food safety education to be integrated into the curriculum in a way that was relevant and interesting and that was linked to future practices such as cooking at home, or opportunities such as part-time work.
Subject HeadingsMiddle schooling
Collaborative teacher inquiry as a tool for building theory on the development and use of rich mathematical tasks
15 December 2009
Key Learning AreasMathematics
Subject HeadingsSecondary education
Group work in education
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