June 2018: What’s News in Education

The educational benefits of confusion, confusion about tests, budget promises and an Ultranet announcement.

Maths Education

What do you notice? What do you wonder? What’s going on in this graph? Three simple, but illuminating questions posed to students by the NY Times in their graph of the month, featuring the distribution of summer temperatures over time.

The first two of the above questions have been asked in relation to assessing students in maths. Mark Chubb and Nehlan Binfield have presented and now written about what effective assessment means.

Take a dive into maths and analogiesKhalid Azad explains why some mental models are better than others. And in a blog post, Azad presents a method for learning that he uses to get new ideas to ‘click’. Resonate with you?

Tools to get students thinking differently and deeply:

Early Childhood Through To Tertiary Education

Equity and education are two words that often get thrown around together. But what do they really mean? Geoff Masters explains.

What are Highly Accomplished teachers and how do they fit with the national teaching standards? Hear Maxine McKew in conversation with Professor John Hattie and others.

“The Carnegie Foundation is trying to bridge that gap in identifying teaching techniques that work and ‘create a much more democratic process in which teachers are involved in identifying and solving problems of practice that matter to them.’” Read on.

On well-being in schools:

What motivates students to participate (or not) in sport? An Australian Sports Commission report from 6600 students has identified obstacles to sports participation, and possible steps for re-engagement.

Is confusion helpful for learning? Hear from Associate professor of educational psychology Jason Lodge and the research he is doing on the topic.

Educator Annie Forest on why words matter, especially with the labels we apply to students.

A Window Into Some Schools & The People In Them

Northern Bay P-12 College is home to one of the most disadvantaged postcodes in Victoria. To remove the barriers that so many of the students at the school face, the Principal is calling on the community to sponsor all students.

Preston High is one of 28 new schools being developed across the state. The school will progressively enrol new year levels, starting with the Year 7 2019 cohort.

What are parents’ and carers’ perspectives on education and school attendance in remote Indigenous CommunitiesThis paper responds to the question, and provides insight into the Remote School Attendance Strategy

South Melbourne Primary School is the state’s first public vertical school. The new school has carefully planned its learning spaces and broken with tradition.

The reality and planning of professional development means many different things across schools. Here’s the work being done in one department at Sunshine College.

The Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning Achievement Awards have just been presented. One recipient, Dylan Sgambelloni, undertook a major project to improve wheelchair accessibility across local council and tourist spots. Check out the stories of other awardees.

What does a day in the life of a teacher entail? Take a walk in Daniel Steele’s shoes.

Education Policy & Politics

In case you’ve been out of Australia, experiencing hibernation or in some parallel universe recently, here are the Gonski articles you need to read:

Timed nicely with the Gonski 2.0 release, N.S.W. is embarking on “a once-in-a-generation chance to examine, declutter and improve the N.S.W. curriculum”.

Over in budget-land:

Year 12 students in W.A. must study either English or literature. Yet, “ the number of W.A. schools offering literature dropped from 135 in 2001 to 97 last year, despite an increase in schools and students.”

Do you remember Ultranet (a.k.a. Ultra-fail), the IT project that died within the blink of an eye and cost Victorian taxpayers close to $240 million? The Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission has charged three people over their involvement in the scandal.

There is a National Review of Teacher Registration taking place. Here’s what Federal Education Minister, Simon Birmingham, has to say on the topic.

NAPLAN is being questioned by politicians around the nation. Everyone has an opinion (see: this series in The Conversation). Oh, and in case you missed it, the yearly tests for Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 students have now come and gone. According to enlightened Liberal MP, Jason Laming, who chairs the House of Representatives’ education committee, year 3 students actually love sitting the tests. I’m curious to see his sample size.

Education Around the World

England: Teachers “are to be offered up to a year’s paid sabbatical after 10 years of service, in an attempt by the government to retain experienced staff in classrooms.”

New Zealand: As part of a 14-year education workforce strategy, the government has promised to reduce administrative clutter for teachers and principals.

Portugal: In recent decades, Portugal has made impressive improvements to its educational outcomes. Work is also needed to help support a large number of low-educated adults.

U.S.A.: “242 years since the Continental Congress adopted the declaration that would begin this hopeful experiment in self-rule, [there are] signs that the experiment is not flourishing as much as the declaration of independence had anticipated.” There are four things schools and universities can do to help.

The World: “60 percent [of the world’s refugees] live in urban areas, outside of formal camps. Yet, most of the humanitarian sector’s models were developed for camp-based settings.” For ‘urban refugees’, there are several barriers to accessing quality education.

Evaluation & Research Practices

Did you know that the most cited academic paper on Wikipedia has been cited over 2.8 million times? Or that there has been a move to use citation data to better understand “the character and history of scholarly disciplines”? Read on.

Principles of learning tested in the lab, don’t necessarily translate to the classroom. Professor of Psychology Stephen Chew argues, that for learning science to inform pedagogy, “a comprehensive framework of the factors that affect learning and how they interact with each other” is needed.

“Relatively short, standardised tests that are designed to be administered in a 45-minute/one hour lesson are rarely going to be reliable enough to infer much about individual pupil progress.” Professor of Education Becky Allen lays out a good explanation on what’s going on here and gives schools pointers on how to make “reasonable inferences from test data”.

Meta-analysis. Effect size. Both are common research terms, but what do they actually mean? This podcast with Professor of Mathematics Education Adrian Simpson discusses the nuances and the limitations behind them. And in response, is this follow up interview with John Hattie.

Maths, Science & Tech

What’s special about the roundworm? Ask no more. Scientists from the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) in Spain have found that environmental genetic changes can be passed down through a massive 14 generations.

And then there’s this set of snails at a UCLA neuroscience lab. A team of scientists have successfully transferred a memory, “challeng[ing] the widely held view of where and how memories are stored in the brain.”

Electric buses were once seen as a joke by the transport industry. Not any more. They are making inroads and affecting fuel demand, with China adding a London-sized electric bus fleet every five weeks.

The world’s largest metal 3D printer, with “the potential to manufacture aircraft wings, ship hulls, submarines and rocket fuselage” has been built in Australia.

Lastly, congratulations to Australian mathematics professor, Geordie Williamson, who has become the Royal Society’s youngest Fellow.

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