April 2018 Edition: What’s News In Education

A number of nonagenarians, the oldest stars in the cosmos, and maths problems galore. Maths Education What were you doing on Pi Day? In case you missed it, here’s a stack of ideas to prepare you for March 14 next year. Get your pedagogy hat on… What do you notice? What do you wonder? What’s going on in […]

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A number of nonagenarians, the oldest stars in the cosmos, and maths problems galore.

Topology in textiles. SOURCE: Robin Hearfield

Maths Education

What were you doing on Pi Day? In case you missed it, here’s a stack of ideas to prepare you for March 14 next year.

Get your pedagogy hat on…

  • 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. In this pair of graphs on the topic of guns, the political meets the statistical.
  • Focusing on the relationships between the attributes in graphs, “can help students to move beyond what graphs look like to what graphs represent”.
  • What does it look like to teach computational thinking in preschool and kindergarten? Read on.
  • cluster model of professional development in Queensland, bringing together “primary and secondary school teachers and principals to analyse student performance data, create diagnostic tasks, and promote teaching practices that address students’ learning difficulties in mathematics” has been evaluated. Read the full report here.

Problems to get you thinking:

  • Convince me that…” — a seriously powerful sentence starter, and loads of ideas to go with it here. Mathematical reasoning eat your heart out.
  • Here are Matt’s 100 favourite maths questions. Thanks Matt.
  • Same Surface, Different Deep problems help students “to recognise not just the similarity between problems, but also the differences between them.”

Understanding mistakes:

  • Mathematician Marion Walter (nonagenarian #1) advises, instead of telling students that are wrong when they give a mathematically incorrect answer, ask them “How are you thinking about the problem?” Usefully, this helps to uncover how students are thinking about the problem.
  • Should students be able to re-sit testsThis teacher has changed the way she runs ‘test correction’ sessions and her students are getting more meaningful results.

Mathematical mindsets:

  • What is maths anxiety? How common is it? And what can be done about it? Read on. While we’re at it, this article gives an overview of research on using breaks to reduce stress in the classroom.
  • “Just over half of women and girls doubt their ability in maths, with one in five seeing maths and other science, engineering and technology disciplines as a ‘boys club’”. The Choose Maths campaign is looking to turn these stats around.

QUIZ: Before we move on, who has recently said, “ Dance is just as important as mathematics in schools”? I’ll leave you to form your own judgment.

Early Childhood Through To Tertiary Education

“ Attempting to lift performances by holding all students to the same expectation flies in the face of what we know about learning. For many students in our schools, the year-level curriculum is either well within their comfort zone or so far ahead of them that they are unable to engage with it meaningfully.” — Geoff Masters, on what an equitable education system should look like.

“[T]echnology can play a transformational role beyond augmenting our existing, imperfect system, which perpetuates inequality. The greatest opportunity of technology for educational equality is democratisation through accessibility, personalisation, transparency and ownership.” — Jay Allnutt, on the transformation role that technology can play in education.

How can “ school and classroom practices align with national educational goals, so that different levels of the education system are working together to provide quality learning opportunities to develop breadth of skills in students”? Not a small question, but this article dives in.

How has the availability of early childhood education and care affected the participation of women in the labour market over the past half century? Read on.

Teachers are learners:

  • Different teachers have different professional learning needs. Here are 9 alternatives to the one-size-fits-all approach.
  • The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) has developed guidelines to support school leadership development. Check out the Leading for Impact resource here.

Research briefs:

  • Adults work harder when they have a lot to gain or lose. It turns out, teens respond differently to pressure  —  and there’s some fascinating science behind this.
  • Research examining cortisol levels in students has found that teachers who are nearing burnout pass stress on to students.
  • After more research on education in low- and middle-income countries and the economics of education? This blog has all of that.

U.S. educator E.D. Hirsch has just turned 90. In celebration, Daniel Willingham has shared three of the profound ideas on knowledge in education that Hirsch developed.

A Window Into Some Schools & The People In Them

What’s contributive leadership? See what Jayne Heath, principal at Australian Science and Mathematics School, has to say about this and leadership succession planning.

There’s a new school in townLumineer Academy opened in January in Melbourne, and “ promises to prepare [students] to become the architects of — rather than mere participants in — a future world.”

A philanthropically-funded project, the Remote Education — Accessible Learning Project, is helping a cluster of 10 schools in north-west Victoria overcome challenges of isolation.

By taking on a personalised curriculum approach, teachers at the Singapore American School have changed how they work with students andwhat data they collect.

A program at Wiltja Secondary College in South Australia is successfully supporting Indigenous students to continue at school until the end of Year 12. Hear about what they’re doing here.

A virtual reality, 3D printing, filmmaking and robotics STEM kit has been provided to students at Yass High School to help “develop skills for future jobs”.

The Global Teacher Prize has just been awarded. Here are insights the finalists:

  • Winner, Andria Zafirakou: “The arts teach students how to think creatively, which will be important for the jobs they are likely to do when they leave school. They also teach resilience and that perseverance can pay off. For my students, the arts provide a sanctuary, a place where they can safely express themselves and connect with their identity.”
  • Eddie Woo: “My big thesis is that people hate maths because they don’t know what maths is. … Another part of the problem is the way the subject is taught. We move forward in lockstep fashion where, if you haven’t gotten algebra in the two weeks I spend on it in year 7, you’ll never learn it again.”
  • More on Eddie and the other nine finalists.

Education Policy & Politics

What does Australia need to do to regain the centre stage in education? Read on.

How fast is Australia’s population growing, and what does that mean for the capacity of schools needed? Good question. The Victorian Government is clearly looking at the numbers. They’re spending close to $240 million on land for 14 new schools in Melbourne’s growth corridors.

#NAPLAN alert: data from the Australian Council for Educational Research has shown there to be “little change in average NAPLAN numeracy scores at any year level in any state or territory between 2008 and 2017”. Is it time for a change? The N.S.W. Teachers’ Federation thinks so. They have enlisted the help of a US education academic “to critique the assessment program in a bid to have it scrapped”. Hear more of the conversation in this podcast on Australia’s educational progress, NAPLAN and a new UNICEF report.

Since 2010 when the MySchool website was launched, what has it allowed us to do? As Chris Bonnor explains, it “reveal[s] deep-seated problems which governments have rarely addressed, let alone solved.”

New in reports:

  • The Smith Family have released Attendance lifts achievement: Building the evidence base to improve student outcomes , described as “the first Australian study to demonstrate the predictive relationships between a set of educational outcomes as young people move through school.”
  • Australia’s youth unemployment rate, at 12.2%, is more than double the rate of overall unemployment. However, as a new Brotherhood of St Lawrence report shows, this “ masks striking differences in regions outside capital cities which have rates of around 20 per cent.”

In Victoria:

Sixty: this is the number of years old of some of the 2,400 demountable classrooms being used in Western Australian public schools.

Did you know: “Qualified childcare staff are among the lowest paid workers in Australia, most earning just over $20 an hour which is half the national average wage?” Doesn’t quite seem commensurate to the importance they hold in children’s education.

Education Around the World

Canada: The Trudeau administration’s 2018 budget includes nearly “Can$4 billion (US$3.1 billion) in new funding for science over the next five years”, with a large focus on early and mid-career researchers.

China: China’s National Higher Education Examination, the gaokao, is undergoing reforms. In an effort to encourage students to be more well-rounded, the exam is beginning to recognise a broader range of subjects.

Japan: 51 Kosen schools across the country provide a demanding program, where “learning is both cross-curricular and student-centred, and teachers are mainly coaches, mentors, facilitators and evaluators.”

South Korea: households are spending an average of US$359.38 per child each month on private tutoring, a figure that is 33% greater than 10 years ago.


The World: “between 93 and 150 million children are living with a disability… [I]t is estimated that around 90 per cent of children with a disability are not even enrolled in school.” Here’s some of what’s being done.

Evaluation & Research Practices

This article, on why comparing and combining standardised effect sizes doesn’t make sense, came out in 2017. However, I just came across it during an Education Research Reading Room interview. It’s a gem. You should get your hands on the full version, and read it too.

Maths, Science & Tech

“ Follow your passion. Whatever you’re doing, do your best at all times and make it as correct as possible. Work as if someone is watching you. Then you’ll be prepared when an opportunity presents itself. And you’ll have the answers.” — 99 year-old NASA Pioneer, Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson. SOURCE: Annie Leibovitz/Vanity Fair/Trunk Archive

Stuff you don’t want to miss:

  • What is the mathematical field of topology, and what does it have to do with the “analysis and creation of cultural and social phenomena”? Ask no more.
  • A team of astronomers have discovered evidence of the earliest stars, formed when the cosmos was just 180 million years old.
  • Move over Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, Otter.ai is a new app that is making breakthroughs in speech recognition.
  • A 650 square feet, 3D printed house has been built in under 24 hours at a cost of US$10,000. No biggie.
  • Heard of string theory, but have no idea what it actually is? Here it is, in a nutshell:

SOURCE: https://youtu.be/Da-2h2B4faU

“I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail” — Stephen Hawking (1942–2018). Vale.

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