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2 • AUSTRALIAN Teacher • April 2013

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AUSTRALIAN Teacher • April 2013


Chalk is cheap

THE word on the lips of education policymakers this month has been ‘quality’ – more specifically, how to go about improving teacher quality in Australia. New South Wales launched its blueprint for reform at a state level, swiftly followed by the Federal Government’s national plan. Meanwhile, the Beyond Gonski report has recommended training “high quality teachers” and placing more value on the profession. When you throw professor Stephen Dinham’s comments into the mix that the teacher quality debate is in danger of being hijacked and often amounts to bullying of the profession, it’s clear the issue is right up there when it comes to education hot topics – alongside school funding of course. This month’s News section (p.6-17) covers all the announcements and arguments. As usual, our April edition also includes some great ideas for student and school projects (p.29-44). We hope you enjoy the magazine. jo earp EDITOR

‘Killer’ T-shirt outrage CHICAGO (US), March 19 - A teenager has mocked the grieving families of three students he killed in a school shooting. TJ Lane, 18, wore a T-shirt with the word ‘killer’ on it at the court hearing as he was sentenced to life in prison. Lane opened fire at random in a cafeteria at a Cleveland high school. He bolted from the site and gave himself up after being chased by a teacher.

MELBOURNE, March 15 - Victoria has launched a $4 million anti-bullying campaign devised mostly by students. The Bully Stoppers strategy includes online resources for parents, teachers and students. Victorian Education Minister Martin Dixon says the State Government will also make grants of up to $5,000 available to enhance anti-bullying projects in 200 schools.

Butt out Feds ... page 10

Anti-bullying resource

Portrait Gallery links CANBERRA, March 19 - A new education initiative linking students in remote areas to the National Portrait Gallery hopes to encourage young people to connect with the faces that shaped Canberra. The Australian Schools Portrait Project invites students to respond creatively to a famous portrait hanging in the gallery whose name is also commemorated in a Canberra suburb or street name.

Schools to get hacking PITTSBURGH (US), March 15 – A top US government spy agency wants to interest students in a game of computer hacking. The National Security Agency’s Toaster Wars high school hacking competition aims to cultivate the country’s next generation of cyber warriors to help protect the country from the threat of online attacks. The free online competition runs from April 26 to May 6.

My School version 4.0 CANBERRA, March 13 - Parents can now see five years of data on how schools perform with the launch of the fourth version of the My School website. New features include an extra year of NAPLAN testing results, more information about VET, and details of total capital expenditure from 2009 to 2011 on each school’s finances page. Email briefs to

Quality debate

Union lodges dispute over PD ban CHELSEA ATTARD TEACHERS at state schools in Queensland have been banned from professional development during school hours in a controversial State Government move. Under the new policy enforced during Term 1 teachers are limited to using pupil-free days, school holidays or afternoons after school for PD. Queensland’s Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek said it was better for students that teacher professional development was conducted outside of class time. “Parents expect continuity with respect to teaching in the classroom,” he said. He denied the decision was a cost-cutting measure. Queensland Teachers’ Union (QTU) president Kevin Bates said the effects of the ban have been immediate impact, with schools having to withdraw PD bookings that had already been paid for. He added restricting professional development to outside of

QTU’s Kevin Bates said teachers and students are worse off under policy. school hours also mads it harder for teachers to access PD. “[What] if you can’t engage someone like Bill Rogers ... because he might be in demand in ... 500 other schools on the same day?” And, in a state as geographically diverse as Queensland, Bates said it’s important to remember rural teachers might have one or two days travel to access PD. “It’s not something that can simply be done outside of school time.” Langbroek said the State Government is working towards a

solution, following concerns raised regarding instances where it is extremely difficult to do PD outside of school hours. In the meantime, Bates said certain issues within schools are no longer gaining the attention they deserve through teacher PD. “There’s obviously a whole range of emerging issues, particularly around students with disabilities ... assessment and reporting ... the fundamentals of classroom management.” He said the ban is also having a direct impact on the implementation of the National Curriculum. “When you’re completely rewriting the curriculum, you really need to provide opportunities to provide people with professional development around that.” In response to the new policy – formed without consultation with key stakeholders – the QTU has lodged a dispute with the industrial relations commission. The union was awaiting a response as Australian Teacher Magazine went to press.

index News Cover Story Opinion Feature Story Special Report In the Classroom Technology PD & Listings Around the Traps In the Staffroom Careers

6-18 7 20-23 24 25-27 29-44 45-47 49-52 53 54 55-63

Australian Teacher Magazine is published by Tempo Media Pty Ltd ACN 100 789 848

Managing Editor Grant Quarry Editor Jo Earp Journalists Rebecca Vukovic, Chelsea Attard Letters, Comments & Feedback In the Classroom, Special Report Technology PD/Around the Traps Noticeboard Advertising Sandra Colli Art & Design Jeremy Smart Contributors Linus Lane, Tim Carey, Mitch Musulin, Nicole Hexter, Darcy Moore Tel: (03) 9421 4499 Fax: (03) 9421 1011 Postal: Locked Bag 2001, Clifton Hill, VIC 3068 Subscriptions: Schools across Australia are invited to subscribe to Australian Teacher Magazine. Request a subscription form Individual subscriptions are also available. Printed by: Rural Press NSW Distributed by: Speedy Print & Distribution Service Pty Ltd Disclaimer: The views in this newspaper do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. Privacy Policy: To receive a copy of our privacy policy write to the address above. Contribution: Australian Teacher Magazine welcomes contributions and story ideas from readers. Articles should be no longer than 450 words, letters to the editor 350 words.

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April 2013 • australian Teacher

joint agenda

Push for improved teacher quality SIGNIFICANT plans targeting teacher quality have been unveiled at both federal and state level. The national approach will see trainee teachers required to undergo a more comprehensive university admissions process and show passion for the job. Meanwhile, in New South Wales, trainees will need to pass literacy and numeracy tests before graduating, and teacher pay will be linked to performance rather than length of service. State Premier Barry O’Farrell got the ball rolling, launching the Great Teaching, Inspired Learning blueprint — describing it as the most comprehensive set of reforms to teaching quality in Australia. “We want to attract the best and brightest to our teaching ranks. Reform cannot be put off any longer — it is time for government, schooling authorities and universities to take action,” he said. The reforms include additional support for teaching students during their first year at university as well as annual reviews of universities. The process to remove underperforming teachers will also be made more straightforward and there will be a mandatory literacy and numeracy assessment that pre-service teachers must pass before acceptance into their final teaching rounds.

Peter Garrett and Chris Bowen unveiled the Federal Government plan, which came hot on the heels of a NSW blueprint for reform. NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said the government was adopting all 16 recommendations in the independent report into quality teaching. Prospective teachers will find it harder to enter university — school leavers will need HSC band 5 results in a minimum of three subjects, one of which must be English, in what Piccoli said was a significant raising of the bar. He conceded this would mean a reduction in number of qualified teachers, saying 70 per cent of new students this year would not have met the standard.

He said it was difficult to say how many current teachers would not meet the new standards. All sectors — government, independent and Catholic — will need to present their implementation plans within three months for the reforms to take effect from 2015. NSW Teachers Federation president Maurie Mulheron said the reforms couldn’t be made on an austerity budget and called on the State Government to reverse its $1.7 billion education cuts. At a national level, the Federal Government announced plans to make applicants for teacher edu-

cation courses pass interviews and aptitude assessments, and provide written statements, in addition to achieving the necessary ATAR. Teaching students will also have to pass tests and score in the top 30 per cent of literacy and numeracy benchmarks before they can graduate. Tertiary Education Minister Chris Bowen said while Year 12 scores were important, there were other factors to be considered when assessing potential teachers. “Passion, commitment, dedication, emotional intelligence... there are ways these things can be assessed. Everything that a person, who wants to be a teacher, can bring to the table must be considered.” Federal Education Minister Peter Garrett said there were already thousands of great teachers in Australian schools. “But, we can always do more to make sure that everyone entering the profession

Bonus content » has the skills, personal capacity, and the passion, to be the best teacher possible. The Australian Greens said teachers should receive better wages, but Garrett said the issue of teacher pay was one for state and territory governments.

teacher debate

Quality and distro of resources vital GIVE a school quality teachers and generations of children will flourish — that’s the message from a new education report. Co-author of Beyond Gonski, Dr Scott Prasser, said the debate should be about the quality and distribution of resources, not the quantity of money spent. The report, by the Public Policy Institute of the Australian Catholic University, recommends training high quality teachers and treating teaching as a critical profession. “We undervalue our teachers, in other countries teachers are highly valued as very important players,” Prasser told ABC Radio. He said a lot of funding had been used in the wrong way, like reducing class sizes, which worked for some groups but not the whole school community. He added NAPLAN was a good one-level basic test, but national policy needed to be much broader. The Gonski review was still a bigspending approach that wasn’t focused on quality, Prasser said. He advocates giving schools more independence to direct resources and funding to suit their own individual needs. Teaching basic skills along with more modern skills like critical analysis and teamwork, and an emphasis on teaching liberal arts are also seen as important.

Sharing stories and creating memories Does your school have a story to tell? Every year Wakakirri searches for the best Story Dance created by an Australian primary school. Established in 1992, Wakakirri is the country’s largest annual arts event for primary schools, involving over 20,000 students in every state and territory. Live performances and online stories reach over one million people each year. Wakakirri Story Dance is a three to seven minute story performed on stage to pre-recorded music, using a blend of creative movement and acting. You can choose any story, music and creative movement style. Student performers can be from the same or a combination of grades. Specialised teachers and large budgets are not needed or encouraged for schools to enter creative and competitive items. Emphasis in judging Wakakirri is NOT placed upon technical dancing ability or extravagant sets and costumes, rather Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, to make props and costumes – there are special awards for schools that excel in this area. Schools tune to Wakakirri TV in November to see which school is crowned Story Teller of the Year.

What story to tell? Schools are limited only by imagination. Popular themes include bullying, health, history, reconciliation and the environment, along with adaptations of books and films. Where do we perform? From July to September Wakakirri holds shows in Hobart, Canberra, Sydney, Wollongong, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane, Caloundra and Mackay. Students perform live in professional theatres to family and friends. There are competitive and non-competitive sections, divisions for new schools and a whole bunch of school awards. National Curriculum outcomes Wakakirri aims to teach children about themselves and others, and improve educational outcomes, environmental and community awareness through the creation and sharing of stories. Wakakirri helps teachers meet many National Curriculum outcomes and is a great way to unite your school community. Help for teachers Free PD workshops; monthly newsletter; local Wakakirri Story Dance specialist; online tutorials. Phone: 1800 650 979 Web:



AUSTRALIAN Teacher • April 2013

INBRIEF Light at the end of tunnel Vic pay dispute

Team Putin and Seagal MOSCOW (RUSSIA), March 13 - President Vladimir Putin has teamed up with Hollywood action star Steven Seagal to promote the Soviet-style regime of rigorous physical training for Russian schoolchildren. Accompanied by the black-clad star of Under Siege, Putin said too many students were sickly and should take up sports. He added no children should be sitting on the bench during PE classes.

Islamic school arrests LONDON (UK), March 11 - Three men have been arrested in Britain as part of an investigation into the alleged sexual assault and false imprisonment of teenage girls at a private Islamic boarding school. Lancashire Police said the force had been alerted to concerns for the welfare of students at the Jamea al Kauthar Islamic school for girls in Lancaster, northwest England.

Yet another school fire SYDNEY, March 9 - A fire has caused more than $1 million worth of damage to Eagle Vale High School in Sydney’s southwest. Emergency services were called to the building in the early hours of the morning. The fire caused extensive damage to administrative areas and some classrooms. Police are treating the fire as suspicious. Email briefs to

IN a bid to resolve the long-running Victorian teachers’ pay dispute, the state government has backed down on the issue of performance pay. The new Premier Denis Napthine said the government remained committed to the idea but was willing to cut that aspect out of enterprise bargaining negotiations with the union. The union said it is a sign Napthine is prepared to listen to their concerns but the parties are yet to agree on salaries, contract teaching and several other issues. Former premier Ted Baillieu promised, before the coalition won government, to make Victoria’s teachers the best paid in Australia. AEU Victorian Branch president Meredith Peace said the change in leadership should not mean the Victorian Government can now step away from his promise. “The premier [Baillieu] made that promise ... it would be disappointing if Dr Napthine’s new government is not prepared to actually invest in our staff,” she told Australian Teacher Magazine. “The dispute has gone on for over two years ... they’ve simply stonewalled, they’ve taken us to court, they’ve tried to stop our action rather than actually focusing on the negotiations.” This comes at a time when Vic-

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Denis Napthine said the decision to drop performance pay from the negotiations was an act of leadership. torian state school principals have also lodged an application with Fair Work Australia for industrial action. Australian Principals Federation president, Christopher Cotching said principals want certainty and a commitment from the government on pay increases, remuneration, six weeks of sabbatical leave after five years of service and a new system for managing complaints and allegations of misconduct. If no resolution is reached, then bans on new initiatives, department cooperation, network and

school support, NAPLAN, and school-based activities could be imposed. “There’s political pressure certainly for Denis Napthine to resolve the dispute for teachers and of course, the dispute for principal class officers ... if he doesn’t do something within the next month or so, I think the credibility of this government will be well and truly gone in terms of its capacity or ability to demonstrate to Victorians that it can lead,” Cotching said A conciliation date has been proposed for April 15.

new initiative

Funding boost to maths and science THE Federal Government is hoping a $12.4 million initiative will equip pre-service teachers with the skills to inspire future scientists and mathematicians. The three-year Enhancing the Training of Mathematics and Science Teachers program aims to boost the effectiveness of classroom teachers by better preparing graduates at university. Announcing the details, Federal Education Minister Peter Garrett said international test results from 2012 confirmed Australian students can do better in maths and science. “... to remain competitive in the Asian century we need young people who are encouraged to pursue careers in these vital fields,” he said. From next year, funding will be made available to help maths, science and education faculties to collaborate on university course design and delivery.

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April 2013 • australian Teacher • 9



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AUSTRALIAN Teacher • April 2013

INBRIEF Butt out Feds - Langbroek school funding

Tree-top protest ends

HOBART, March 7 - A bushfire has forced trained teacher Miranda Gibson to end her record-breaking protest up a tree in Tasmania. The anti-logging activist lived on a 60-metre high platform atop a eucalypt in the Tyenna Valley for 15 months. The 31-year-old said it will take some time to adjust to being on the ground again, although she had no regrets.

Tot’s tactless t-shirt AVIGNON (France), March 7 - A mother on trial in southern France has defended herself for sending her three-year-old son to school in a T-shirt reading “I am a bomb” and “Born on September 11”. Bouchra Bagour, 35, admitted in court the move was “tactless” but insisted it was not meant as provocation. A ruling in the case is expected on April 10.

Projects fast forward ADELAIDE, March 5 - The South Australian government has brought forward school maintenance works in a bid to stimulate the building industry. Premier Jay Weatherill announced $70 million worth of construction projects to be brought forward. He said the decision would have little impact on the state budget as the money had already been allocated in the forward estimates. Email briefs to

TREASURER Wayne Swan has said savings will be put in place to ensure the Gonski reforms are a key part of his May budget. His pledge came as state premiers queued up to criticise the Federal Government over its handling of school funding. Queensland Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek said more than 100 schools serving poorer students would be worse off under Gonski. He told parliament he’s frustrated with the lack of detail from the Federal Government about who will pay for what. “They’ve been selling a slogan,” he said “and they’ve been telling the states to buy a car without letting us look under the hood.” Langbroek earlier said Canberra should “butt out” of education and give up on Gonski because the states were in a better position to deliver reform. “Rather than pursuing Gonski, real mature reform would be to end the blame game by trusting the states to set education policy and deliver outcomes,” he said. He wants the Federal Government to put the $15 billion it spends on education into the GST pot and carve it up based on population. Queensland would then enter into a contract to say how it would improve outcomes. Western Australian Premier

Julia Gillard has vowed to secure a national deal on Gonski, which will be a key part of Wayne Swan’s budget. Colin Barnett said his state had never indicated it would sign up to Gonski. Meanwhile, new Victorian Premier Denis Napthine has denied reports he has ditched predecessor Ted Baillieu’s plan to go it alone on school funding, but added he was determined to work with the Federal Government. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has accused the states of “argy-bargy

and carry-on” but vowed to get a national deal. She said intensive talks with state and territory education officials were under way ahead of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in April. If no agreement could be reached at COAG, Gillard said the government would “fight on” to secure a deal for a new funding model to start in the 2014 school year.

etition for The comp filmmakers, g in all budd and game rs to a im an s! maker This year’s theme is

literacy push

Gillard announces new reading blitz CHILDREN in the first years of their schooling will be the focus of a reading blitz in new learning measures announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard. The program will target students from Kindergarten to Year 3 and may involve breakfast clubs and after-school activities such as parents reading to their children, or access to digital resources. About 75,000 students across all grades failed to meet national minimum standards in NAPLAN tests last year. This would more than double by 2025 without improvement, Gillard said. “Through this reading blitz, we want to make a difference,” she told reporters. Gillard said 74 per cent of children starting school were at risk of not learning to read well, but studies showed that figure could be lowered to six per cent. “The evidence shows if you come out at Year 3 not reading well, you are very likely to come out of Year 9 not reading very well either,” she said. Federal Education Minister Peter Garrett said all schools would need a plan to address the progress of their students. The government would work with state and territory governments, and the non-government sector, to complete the plan to improve reading levels from 2014.


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teacher quality

OPPOSITION Education Spokesman Christopher Pyne has said he wants to see a return to more traditional, practical teaching methods. Asked about the Gonski funding review, Pyne told ABC Radio a Coalition Government would make teaching quality its first priority in improving education. “Education is not just about money, it’s about values, it’s about teacher quality, curriculum, pedagogy and principal autonomy and that’s where the debate needs to be, not this facile argument about who’s offering more money, money that in fact, they don’t have. “The debate should be about how to bring the best out in our students and in that part, I am very much enthusiastic. “Apart from the funding model and settling that down, the first thing we would do is address issues of teacher quality in our universities.� He said a Coalition Government would immediately instigate a short-term ministerial advisory group to advise him on the best model for teaching in the world. “How to bring out more practical teaching methods, based on more didactic teaching methods or more traditional methods rather than the child centred learning that has dominated the system for the last 20, 30 or 40 years, so teaching quality would be

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Woman not guilty on grounds of mental illness A NEW South Wales school housemistress who was previously jailed for at least five years for sexually abusing boys in her care has been found not guilty on the grounds of mental illness in a retrial of her case. In the District Court in Sydney, Judge Jonathan Williams found the woman, 43, who cannot be named for legal reasons and is known only as ‘CJ’, not guilty. The court had previously heard the woman had suffered from bipolar disorder and was receiving ongoing psychiatric treatment. In 2011, the District Court found her guilty of sex offences against a number of boys carried out over a five-month period in 2009 at locations including the school sick bay, in her flat and on camping trips. She was jailed for a maximum eight years, but in December 2012 was granted a retrial.


-seeking for Pro moting Helpmental hea lth drug use and Abo rigin al and ng issu es amo ait Isla nder Torres Str stu dents high school

Incorporate physical activity, interaction, music, creativity and decision-making into your lessons with 10 ready-to-go activities that are culturally appropriate and thoroughly tested. Activity


6 People in My unity Comm


6 People in My unity Comm

Backgro und

1 2 3 4 5


Ask students to name helpers who could help with ‘body’ problems and write their responses with a whiteboard marker in the ‘body’ petal.

Body Trace

Ranking situations

brain (thinking, remembering) mouth cancer heart problems wrinkly skin

issues and drug use These situations involve hypothetical scenarios where mental health young people assign are present. The most important part of this activity is not the ranking to the situations but the discussion and sharing of opinions.

eyes red/ bloodshot

Situation cards need to be needs. Facilitators may laminate these cards if they wish.


When your friend gets drunk she sends stupid texts to people. She regrets it the next day but keeps doing it

Your friend hardly talks to you anymore. He doesn’t go to local footy matches like everyone else. When you see him he looks alone and miserable

�� to �� minutes.

liver disease bad for baby

MKFPG[U dialysis

1 2 3

Implementation�–� to set Use the large Aďż˝ number signs up a scale/continuum at the front of the classroom (or in the available space). The facilitator selects a situation from the pack and reads it aloud to the group/whole class. Ask students to move to/stand next to the number on the continuum that best ďŹ ts their level of concern about the situation with ďż˝ being least concerning/the person doesn’t need help and ďż˝ being most concerning/ needs help now.

4 5 6

Encourage discussion by asking individual students to discuss why they ranked each scenario as they did.

Your mate told you he smokes Gunja at home every day before school

There are �� scenarios available and you may choose as many or as few as you like. Come together as a whole class and discuss which situations were most concerning and least concerning, attempting to identify themes.

Alternative Apairs to rank their scenarios. An Aďż˝ template with the numbers

Your brother got in trouble with the police for getting in a ďŹ ght. They also found a pipe with some leftover Gunja in his pocket

Students may also work in Pairs can then join �–� listed vertically on a black-line master is provided for this purpose. of scenarios other pairs to rank situations as groups of four. Ask the class for examples to give reasons for they rated as less serious (�) through to most serious (�) and ask them their choices.

B Alternative/Extension with the existing cards, have students work individually or in

After familiarising students to rank. Blank pairs to come up with their own scenarios and give them to other students be imaginary, not real. templates are provided and can be photocopied. Their stories should

Look for any helpers identiďŹ ed more than and duplicate their once names/titles in the middle circle. This can be repeated with any number of the problems, although the board may start confusing and it is to get recommended to only use �–� examples at one time.

Your friend keeps getting tagged in photos on Facebook where she looks drunk or wasted

You see some paint and spray cans in your friend’s school bag and think they have been sniďŹƒng them



head spac e


Aborigina l Doctor

Aunty Aunty


RankingAunty situations

frien ds Since your friend started smoking Gunja a few months ago she has been really on edge and worries a lot more

Your mate used to be easy going but now he is grumpy and snappy and you don’t like hanging around him anymore

Your little sister goes out every Saturday night and drinks vodka

Your friend has been shoplifting from the local store and selling the Shoplifters goods to will be buy Gunja


Cut along dashed line



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scho ol Teacher


Your mate yells at the teacher in class and gets very aggressive


On the weekend your friend smoked Gunja and ipped out for hours. She said she was hearing voices and seeing things

Student boarder found dead DARWIN, Mar 4 – A Year 8 boarding student has been found dead at Kormilda College. A statement on the school’s website said the teenage boy from a remote Northern Territory community had committed suicide and was found in the early hours of the morning after “bed checks�. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family right now,� principal David Shrinkfield said. He added students were being monitored and supported closely.

Plastic soldiers not palatable

Your mate got really drunk and stoned and had sex with a girl without a condom

Your mate cheated on her boyfriend when she got really drunk on the weekend and now she feels bad


Summarise to students that of factors. use drugs and have mental health problems, dependent on a range


Family body

Drug worker

comm unity


Facilitator summary there are dierent levels of concern about young people who


)LQLVKZLWKDUHOHYDQWGUXJDOFR KROPHQWDO health problem which can be an oral discussion without further adding to the board if need e.g. ‘You are worried be about using Gunja and feeling depressed and lonely’.





Cousin Drug worker

XVLQJSODVWLFKRRSVLQWKHVDP of helpers with a HÄ&#x;RZHUSDWWHUQZLWKDQRYHUODS stick or on pieces SLQJ of paper or cardboard.

Ranking situations

The other night your mate went to a party and drank lots of grog then pulled a bong. He vomited all night and felt sick all the next day

Equipment/preparation cut out of the resource pack. Two sizes are available to suit your

bad for voice and throat

look older

swollen knee/ accident


9 10 11


Repeat with a more complex problem such as Ă?JHWWLQJEXOOLHGDWVFKRROĂ&#x17E; SUHV DÄ?HFWPDQ\SHWDOVĂ&#x203A;SRVVLEO\D XPDEO\WKLVZLOO OORIWKHP  Ask the students to write this problem onto a SRVWLWQRWH RUP XOWLSOHQRWHV DQGVWLFNRQWRWKH board in any relevant  petals.

)ROORZLQJWKHVDPHSULQFLSDODV DERYHĂ&#x203A;DVN the class who they could go to for help for this issue â&#x20AC;&#x201C; going through each petal to elicit of answers. a range

Facilitator summa ry

Your friend prefers to smoke bongs at home rather than go out with friends



Recap that help is available for all kinds SHUVRQIRUDQLVVXHLVQRUPDOD of life problems and seeking help from QGKHDOWK\+LJKOLJKWWKDWVRP advice about multiple more than one source/ HKHOSHUVZLOOEHJRRGWRWDONWR issues. Students they trust. will all seekCut help DQGJLYH along in diďŹ&#x20AC;erent ways and from diďŹ&#x20AC;erent dashed line people




6 7 8


centre. Write names

7 Role Models



Draw a ďŹ&#x201A;ower with ďż˝ petals and a centre circle on the board. Label the petals as follows: ĂĽ%RG\ĂĽ&RPPXQLW\ĂĽ)DPLO\ ĂĽ3HHUVĂĽ6SLULW IHHOLQJVDQGH ĂĽ6FKRRO ĂĽ+HDGVSDFH WKRXJKWVPLQG  PRWLRQV 


List of Problem s






Impleme ntation

Ask students to clarify what is meant by the terms â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;spiritâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; and â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;headspaceâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; before commencing the activity. What do these words mean to them? Ask the students to consider a simple SK\VLFDOSUREOHP VXFKDVĂ?IDOOL ELNHDQGQHHGLQJVWLWFKHVĂ&#x17E; DQGQJRÄ?WKHLU ZKLFKSHWDO of their life it aďŹ&#x20AC;ects. Ask a student to write this problem onto SRVWLWQRWH RUGUDZDSLFWXUH D a QGVWLFNLWWR the petal on the board it corresponds with SUHVXPDEO\ERG\ 

Name: Bill Cruise Station Attendant What they do: Service Where: Caltex Servo League), Manchester United (Premier Favourite footy team: Port Adelaide (AFL) the cooking to my wife /favourite food: I leave Best recipe they cook painting, Fixing up old cars (Datsuns), Interests/hobbies: playing cards of our town, mechanics Datsun ����s, history Good to talk to about: WA, Mandurah, to you won lotto: Retire wife and kids What would you do if with the Activity

Name: Aunty Joy Canteen Manager What they do: School page and also has a Facebook Where: In the canteen Brisbane Lions Favourite footy team: the lot! ite food: Pizza with Best recipe they cook/favour culture, loves reading Aboriginal peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bbies: Interests/ho history books and painting peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s issues Aboriginal and Culture Good to talk to about:



Mod els

This activity aims to help situation. The concepts young people identify who would be a good role model of trust, leadership, explored. At the end or helper for a particular role models, and of this activity each diďŹ&#x20AC;erent helpers for feel comfortable going to for help with student should have identiďŹ ed a number diďŹ&#x20AC;erent situations are their they chose for what of helpers that they problem and therefore problems. Students should be able would to visualise an â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;overlapâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Brainstorming as identify helpers who a group will also in would be good to give students ideas talk to about multiple who they may not have issues. come up with alone.

Equipme nt/prep aration

White board and coloured markers, list of Plastic hoops can be used if the activity helpers, list of problems, blue tack and post-it notes. is conducted outdoors.

Teacher manual and classroom activities


7 Role

at my highest priority, followed by a robust curriculum, principal autonomy and more traditional pedagogy. â&#x20AC;&#x153;So I want to make [move the education debate] on from this almost asinine debate about more money and make it about values because while money is important ... what we are teaching our children and how we are teaching them and who is teaching them is all much more important.â&#x20AC;?

housemistress retrial

Do your students know when to seek help for friends who may be experiencing cannabis, other drug, or mental A fresh approach to helphealth, mental health problems? seeking and alcohol and other drug use issues.

Christopher Pyne singled out teaching quality as a high priority.

CARO (US), Mar 7 - A school in Michigan confiscated a Grade 3 studentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s home-made birthday buns because they had plastic green soldiers on the top. According to Fox News, Hunter Fountain chose the decorations to represent World War II soldiers. Defending the action, Schall Elementary School principal Susan Wright said in the current climate, teaching non-violence in schools was a delicate balancing act. Email briefs to

Her conviction was quashed last year by the Court of Criminal Appeal, which found evidence about her mental state had not been properly analysed. At the retrial, crown prosecutor Siobhan Herbert argued there was a possibility the woman could pose a danger to the community should she not be taken into psychiatric custody and not take her medication. Judge Williams ordered the woman reside at her motherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s house, be of good behaviour and not be within 100 metres of a school. He also ordered she not be unaccompanied at any public place where there are unaccompanied children; that she must report monthly to her doctor, not approach any crown witnesses and comply with any apprehended violence orders.

Schmidt worries Nobel prize-winner concerned by Australian science education AUSTRALIAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S 2011 physics Nobel Laureate, professor Brian Schmidt, believes his adopted country has dropped the ball with regard to science education. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Australia has done a very good job over the last 25 years of teaching science. [But] I think weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve faded a little bit in the last 10 and thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s of concern to me. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Very clearly it is taken seriously by the (Federal) Government, [though] maybe not traditionally at the same level as the US or Europe has done, in terms of the status ...â&#x20AC;? Schmidt said he felt particularly sorry for teachers who are asked to teach subjects that they havenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t been trained in.

Turn to Page 29 to read about Schmidtâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s involvement in the Big Little g science education project.

qld schools

Newman plan for new state schools PRIVATE companies will build and maintain 10 Queensland state schools under a Newman Government plan. Treasurer Tim Nicholls explained the Queensland Schools Project will see private companies contracted to finance, design, construct and maintain 10 new state schools. Core education services will still be provided by Education Queensland. Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek said the state needed new methods to build and finance schools to meet growing population demands and the plan will give “taxpayers the best bang for their buck”. The 10 new schools will include two high schools and eight primary schools catering for up to 10,800 students. The minister said the schools would employ up to 540 teachers and 130 non-teaching positions, and the five-year construction phase would generate about 1700 jobs a year.


INBRIEF This week’s minister is...

NT’s revolving door

Don’t leave fare behind

BRISBANE, Mar 4 - Queensland students face travel bans if they abuse a policy introduced after the disappearance of schoolboy Daniel Morcombe. The Newman Government said students in some areas have been blatantly dodging bus fares. Under the ‘no child left behind’ policy, bus drivers are required to stop for children, regardless of whether they have the money to pay their fare.

China crushing tragedy

Past and present NT Education Ministers, from left, Robyn Lambley, John Elferink and Peter Chandler. PETER Chandler has become the Northern Territory’s third Education Minister in six months as the ruling Country Liberal Party (CLP) searches for stability. The former Air Force police dog handler takes over the portfolio from John Elferink on March 7 following another cabinet reshuffle by Terry Mills. Less than a week later, Mills was deposed as Chief Minister by Adam Giles — who resisted yet more change and kept faith with Chandler as Education Minister. After sweeping to power, the CLP handed Robyn Lambley the



education portfolio in addition to her duties as Mills’ Deputy Chief Minister. Lambley’s reign as Education Minister lasted just three months before she was replaced in a reshuffle on December 14 by Attorney-General John Elferink. In the March issue of Australian Teacher Magazine, when asked if he had a message for readers, Elferink said “be prepared for a minister who gives a rat’s arse”. Discussing his targets for school education in the territory, he added he wanted to tackle the issue of isolation felt by staff

working in remote areas. Elferink said the trick was not so much getting teachers to remote schools, but keeping them there. He also highlighted school attendance as a priority. However, he too was in the role for just three months before being replaced by Chandler on March 7 in another Mills reshuffle. At the time of going to print, the CLP had yet to respond to Australian Teacher Magazine’s questions about the impact the recent changes in the portfolio may have on the progress of education policy in the NT.

BEIJING (China), Feb 28 - Six people, including a school principal, have been arrested after a stampede at a primary school saw four children die. A city official in Laohekou said the incident happened when large numbers of pupils left their fourth floor school dormitory and attempted to exit the block. A ground floor gate was closed, resulting in several youngsters being crushed.

School’s lucky escape BALLARAT, Feb 27 - A light plane crash-landed near an oval at a Victorian primary school during lunchtime. The plane came down near Cape Clear Primary School in Ballarat. Principal Christian Brown said it was a very lucky escape. “We’re about 150m away from the crash site,” he said. The two men on board both escaped serious injury. Email briefs to

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AUSTRALIAN Teacher • April 2013

INBRIEF Fears of hijacking teacher quality

Girls avoiding maths

Parkville success story MELBOURNE, Feb 25 - Parkville College has gained official school status after being successfully piloted at Parkville Youth Justice Precinct in 2012. The project — a joint initiative between the state education and human services departments — will now be expanded to the Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre. State Education Minister Martin Dixon said Parkville College is attracting some of Victoria’s top teachers.

Mali schools disrupted DAKAR, Feb 24 - The conflict in northern Mali has disrupted the education of 700,000 children, the United Nations has said. In a statement, UNICEF said 115 schools in the north had been closed, destroyed and looted since January 2012. It added already overcrowded schools in the south cannot cope with the influx of displaced students. Email briefs to

THE debate about teacher quality has been hijacked and often amounts to bullying of the profession, according to an education expert. Teachers are being unfairly blamed for all problems in the nation’s education system, professor Stephen Dinham told the Australian College of Educators in a speech. The chair of teacher education at the University of Melbourne said the “misinformed, persistent, harmful rhetoric and indeed bullying” in the current debate are going largely unchallenged. He also pointed to a fixation with international measures of student achievement that’s eroding teachers’ self-belief and confidence. “There are growing and worrying signs that the quality teaching movement is in danger of being hijacked,” Dinham said. “Rather than regarding teachers as our most precious asset they are now being seen as our biggest problem when students fail to learn.” Delivering the annual Phillip Hughes Oration in Canberra, Dinham spoke about the panic over international league tables. He urged the profession to build on its strengths, work on its weaknesses and get over its “PISA envy”. Referring to teaching as a “battered” profession, the academic

said decades of research and the great achievements of teachers and schools are ignored by critics of Australian education who make “simplistic pronouncements”. Dinham advocates a stronger focus on professional learning for teachers and halting a downward slide in entry standards for undergraduate teacher training courses. “We need to stop looking for quick-fix solutions which have been found wanting elsewhere,” he said, calling many of the proposed fixes ill-informed and halfbaked. “We need to concentrate on policies that support our teachers,” Dinham added. These would include ongoing professional learning, recognition and reward for teachers who upgrade their skills, excellent training for future leaders and methods for attracting and retaining the most able people.

AN Emirati man holds his falcon at the Liwa desert, 220 kilometres west of Abu Dhabi, on the sidelines of a festival aimed at promoting the country’s folklore. While the methods to develop top-quality hunting falcons date back to antiquity, its transition into a modern Middle Eastern passion has brought in microchip tagging and price tags that can run well over $10,000 for a prime bird.

Professor Stephen Dinham urged the profession to build on its strengths.

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SYDNEY, Feb 27 - The percentage of girls studying no maths for their HSC has more than doubled in the past decade, according to new report. University of Sydney researchers studied data of all Year 8 students in New South Wales. In 2001 9.5 per cent of girls undertook no maths course for their HSC, in 2011 that rose to 21.8 per cent.

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AUSTRALIAN Teacher • April 2013

INBRIEF ‘La Maestra’ falls Mexico arrest

Massive India donation

NEW DELHI (India), Feb 23 - Software tycoon Azim Premji has said he’s given $US2.3 billion to an education charity he controls. The charity seeks to boost the quality of India’s overstretched education system by improving teacher quality and setting up model schools. Premji’s trust funds initiatives include rural education and teacher training.

Homophobic bullying BRISBANE, 20 - Gay and lesbian students in Queensland are reportedly being bullied not only by other students but also by teachers. Advocacy group Parents and Friends of Gays and Lesbians said homophobic bullying is increasing in the state. The group said 70 per cent of gay and lesbian students are bullied about their sexuality, sometimes by teachers. Email briefs to

More Australian computer science and digital entrepreneurs required GOOGLE has called for major Australian educational reforms, warning that the economy will suffer unless more computer science graduates and digital entrepreneurs are produced. “This is an opportunity for the country, ... for our kids, ... for our economy,” Google Australia engineering director Alan Noble told a two-day summit in Sydney. “If we don’t do it, yes, we’re going to be hosed because we can’t continue to rely on the same old industries.” Matt Barrie, CEO of Sydneybased outsourcing firm freelanc-

Catholic Church sued MELBOURNE, Feb 22 - A group of Victorian men will sue the Catholic Church for failing to protect them from a brother who sexually abused schoolboys under the guise of corporal punishment. The former brother, 68-year-old Edward Mamo, has been jailed for two years and three months after pleading guilty to seven counts of indecent assault at Monivae College, Hamilton, over a four-year period in the 1970s.

google warning

Elba Esther Gordillo is accused of embezzling teacher union funds. THE head of Mexico’s powerful teachers’ union has been charged with embezzling up to $195 million to pay for plastic surgery, houses and luxury shopping sprees. Elba Esther Gordillo, who has led the 1.5 million-member National Union of Education Workers for 23 years, was arrested at an airport near Mexico City. The 68-year-old is a colourful woman long seen as a kingmaker and power-behind-the-scenes figure in Mexican politics. The investigation marks the downfall of a woman who rose from a school teacher to become one of the country’s most powerful political operators.

Gordillo, who likes to be known as “la Maestra” [The Teacher] displayed her opulence openly with designer clothes and bags, bodyguards, expensive cars and properties including a penthouse apartment in Mexico City’s exclusive Polanco neighbourhood. Meanwhile, Mexico’s teachers are poorly paid and public education has long been considered sub-par. Gordillo’s detention came a day after President Enrique Pena Nieto signed Mexico’s most sweeping education reform in seven decades into law, seeking to change a system in which teaching positions could be sold or inherited., agreed education reform was needed. “We don’t do anything... While countries like the UK and Estonia are teaching their kids from primary school computer science, we are stuck with a backwards, antiquated system of education.”

education forum School leaders join Garrett for chat about way ahead PRINCIPALS from across Australia have gathered in Canberra for a conversation with Peter Garrett. Opening the forum, the Federal Education Minister said it was valuable for the government to be able to hear the views of school leaders and receive feedback as it continued to shape policy. “In this room we have such a wealth of knowledge about what actually works on the ground ... and what educational settings are required to make sure all children can reach their full potential, particularly those experiencing

disadvantage,” he told the event. “I want to hear about what programs and policies you have in place in your schools that are leading to better outcomes...” Topics on the agenda included the Gonski school funding review, the draft Teacher Performance and Development Framework, and the Harnessing of Technology and Learning. On the subject of Gonski, Garrett told principals Australia’s broken funding model was now getting in the way of school and student performance.

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australian Teacher • April 2013

the hard word

Long-term strategic planning is vital to our sector’s future

Gabrielle Leigh, president of the Australian Government Primary Principals Association OUR education system faces massive challenges over the next few years. Compounding this dilemma is the politicising of our public education system. The Australian Government Primary Principals Association (AGPPA), representing more than 5400 government school principals from schools all around Australia, met recently in Melbourne. Key representatives from all

states and territories discussed the developments in curriculum and school organisational structures, support for school leaders and initiatives for school improvement. AGPPA has major concerns with the country’s education direction. Principals are sick of the politicising of our public education system and the ongoing blame shifting between the major political parties. Instead of providing a long-term strategic platform for system and school improvement, there are continual changes in school organisational structures and bureaucratic accountability arrangements by governments and territories. The impact on education is doubled, as the state and territory governments make many of the decisions about the day to day delivery of programs and organisational structures, whilst the Commonwealth Government’s decisions also impact on schools. At a system level, the government school system is often at

the whim of two levels of government. In essence, schools become flotsam and jetsam floating on the strongest political current. This structural flaw is having a negative impact on student outcomes and leading to a lowering of school staff morale. There is lack of consistency with direction and processes. As governments change, so too does educational focus bearing down on schools. At times, the government education system can sit and tread water for over two years as the bureaucracy changes and new personnel are selected into the top positions. The electoral cycles in Australia destabilise public schools. Each heralds a new round of major organisational change and reform for the jurisdictions. Reform for reform’s sake! We want long-term bi-partisan planning that transcends political parties and electoral interference, and recognises the importance of effective education. Finland has just this approach.

The government leads with a very slim majority but regardless of the political party in power the direction and long-term strategic planning of the education system does not change. There are long-term 10-year plans. Educational leaders breathe a sigh of relief and can really take on reforms knowing that the direction will not be halted if the majority government changes. Unfortunately, this is unlike Australia in 2013. Representatives at the AGPPA National Executive meeting were unanimous in voicing concerns that many of the recent changes are politically motivated and lack any evidence of education or change management research. The AGPPA National Executive calls on governments around Australia to engage with the profession in collaborative long-term planning and implementation of the programs that will make a real difference for kids today and into the future. The implementation of the Gonski review is a long-term reform that government school

principals want to remain long-term, regardless of the political party in government. AGPPA supports the Australian education system moving towards an educational excellence that matches the best practices of the highest performing educational systems. This way of collective professional responsibility combined with democratic public engagement will maximise opportunities for ALL students to achieve their potential in innovative and inclusive school environments. Australian government school systems must continue to move towards collaboration not competition; individualisation not standardisation; equity not choice for a chosen few; and collective professional responsibility, not top-down delivery of centralised reforms. We hold hope for the future of government schools across Australia, yet we are at a critical point in our development. Education policy must be long-term, bi-partisan and informed by the profession.

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australian Teacher • April 2013


Caption competition

Last month’s caption winners

An insider’s view of teaching

A school in tune like an orchestra Forrest Gump famously said: “Life is like a box of chocolates”. I say a school is like an orchestra, when everyone is working in harmony and playing their part the music is sweet. But, when there is dysfunction in one part, the sound is completely off key. As I reflect on education, and the school environment, it is apparent that schools are made up of many roles, all important for the effective functioning of the school as an educational facility. Traditionally, when one thinks of a school, teaching is the first role that pops into the head, and rightly so, because teaching is the essence of education. But, many more people are involved in the educational process, all with vital roles to play. The welfare workers and chaplains look after the emotional and mental wellbeing of students, helping them deal with issues that could impact their education. The office staff deal with mountains of administration and keep the school running smoothly. The maintenance man and cleaners keep the school looking good providing an environment which is aesthetically pleasing and conducive to learning. Integration aides and teacher aides support students and provide essential back-up for teachers. The leadership of the school provide vision, direction, and coordination, ensuring that all members of the orchestra are doing their part. The list could go on, every school has valued contributors outside the teachers. It is actually hard to say which of these roles is more important. Surely the principal is the most important person in a school? Possibly, but a school with a fantastic principal, and underperforming office staff will not be functioning well. A school where the welfare of students is not prioritised will struggle in an educational sense. Maybe all are equally important? While some roles may seem to be behind the scenes they are absolutely critical in nature. Without doubt, the best schools are those where there is a sense of team, where no role is seen to be valued or esteemed more than others, where everyone is focussed on fulfilling their responsibilities. When schools exhibit this sense of togetherness in striving to achieve a goal the music is in key and the results can be fantastic.

And the three winners are: Julia: “Of course, I am aware that the giraffe is native to Western Sydney. What do you think I am - naïve?” Trevor Sowdon Julia: “Oh come on, Harold... I really don’t stick my neck out anywhere near as high as you do?” - Paul Burns EVERY now and again something comes along that’s just too bizarre to be made up, and this photo call is a case in point. Russian president Vladimir Putin and action star Steven Seagal visit a wrestling school in Moscow to promote Soviet-style PE training for school kids. Come up with a caption to be in with a chance of winning our double DVD prize pack including Oscarnominated comedy The Intouchables and home architecture show Grand Designs Australia, Series 2. You can either email your entry to yoursay@ or visit the website and post it in the comments on our caption competition page. Closing date is April 11.

“I think I’ll win again by a long neck!” - Sharon Brookes Lissek Best of the rest “Are you for real?” (says the giraffe) Samuel Smith Julia says “Finally - Someone these kids can look up to” – Peter H

leaving the profession I have been primary school teacher for over 20 years and during this time have witnessed, to my surprise, talented teachers that I have both respected and admired leave the profession. Now I have become victim to teacher burn out due to the diverse student needs within my class including students with social, emotional and physical problems as well as catering for individual academic needs with very few resources. This combined with navigating the new curriculum and the requirements of units being taught and assessed every five weeks and added pressure of trying to keep up with extra expectations within the school for assessing reading, collecting data, and maintaining regular PD. It just took a couple of violent abusive students to push me to the point of no return. I took stress leave for a month and returned on a graduated time line. The psychiatrist stated in his report that I am resilient but prone to anxiety and depression. I have returned to work and have watched the enthusiasm of a young very talented five year experienced teacher withdraw more and more from her very challenging class. She has a young family and has not been working long enough to be eligible for long service. I’m resigning at the end of this year. Shame on our education system to value our talented teachers so very little.

VIC: New premier should honour teacher promise: union

Scott Fisher But the AEU doesn’t want the government to keep its promise. It is only asking for 4.2 percent; that won’t make Victorian teachers the best paid. Peace’s argument is nonsense.

QLD: Canberra should butt out of education Heather MacDonald Seems to be a lot of hot headed debate - let’s get on with it. Kids and Education need these reforms now.

School camp is not a holiday (Chalkie, ATM March)

Sickandtired Oh please. If it is that bad get another job and stop whinging!

We need teachers to provide ‘right’ education (Hard Word, ATM March)

Stu Hasic I’m sorry that other states and educational jurisdictions did not have the foresight back in 2007/8 to realise that funding for computers for students alone was never going to be “revolutionary” and to challenge the Federal Government to deliver an end to end solution. You can’t get value from PCs if they are not connected to the Internet and if they don’t have local technical support. And most importantly, you can’t use them effectively as a teaching and learning tool


@OzTeacherMag “We don’t do anything about our school curriculum, while [UK & Estonia] are teaching their kids from primary school computer science..”(1/2) @OzTeacherMag “...we are stuck with a backwards, antiquated system of education.” http://… Harsh? Discuss (2/2) @MelanieSSpencer @OzTeacherMag Not so much harsh as ignorant. They’re certainly not discussing my school @OzTeacherMag Wayne Swan says cash needed for #Gonski reforms will be outlined in May budget. @MargaretClark12 @OzTeacherMag but up to states to come to the party. Still need to know public support is intense @JgeorgeJulie Photo: Yr 9 #foodtechnology international foods buffet day ZOCBktfmrB5p @OzTeacherMag @JgeorgeJulie Looks great. Mmm...we’re guessing all the food went very quickly and can’t be transported via helicopter to OzTeacherHQ?

Web (Comments) A breeding ground for stress and burnout (ATM Feature Story, Sept 2012)


without targeted professional development for teachers. That’s what the NSW Govt of the time did through the strong recommendation of the NSW Education Dept. They actually directed all public high schools to boycott the first year’s funds (something that was totally unheard of) until the Feds finally relented and agreed to also fund managed wireless in every high school learning space, a full-time in-school Technical Support Officer for every high school and funding to allow for necessary staff development and the creation of relevant resources. The DER NSW project is now in its 5th and unfortunately, final year. Did its legacy deserve to be described as you have above? Hardly. It’s worth looking at a real academic evaluation of the program before judging it as “an initiative of its time”.

Death of the IWB? (Term 4 Technology in Education supplement)

Rich Lambert ... The whole premise is that we need to move away from having a ‘teacher at the front of the room’ mentality, and that the equipment we use needs to start seriously reflecting this. IWBs simply amplify a very outdated modality of knowledge being given out from a single source at the front of the room and students being the receivers, rather than the creators and discoverers. I’m not suggesting throwing out perfectly good IWBs, but the fact that schools are still purchasing them is, in my opinion, alarming.

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@JgeorgeJulie @OzTeacherMag lots of empty plates! They had a great day. Not sure about transportation! Some already travelled an hour on bus to school. @rgesthuizen Smiling that we can now do school reports online, a dream come true. No more messing about with partitions or syncing etc. #vicpln @OzTeacherMag @rgesthuizen Ah, the wonders of modern tech. Do you think old-style communication (paper cup & piece of string) will ever make a comeback? @OzTeacherMag Teacher pay will be linked to performance under NSW reforms. Thoughts? @Char_louise87 @OzTeacherMag great to see a lifting of standards and a focus on the quality of training. Not so sure about the performance/pay issue. @OzTeacherMag @Char_louise87 Yes, nice to see extra support for pre-service teachers. @banshen153 @OzTeacherMag might as well pay teachers in selective schools more right away then....& give a cut from those at struggling schools. fair? Follow us on Twitter @ozteachermag

“They’ve been selling a slogan ... and they’ve been telling the states to buy a car without letting us look under the hood.” – Queensland Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek on the Federal Government’s approach to the Gonski reforms.

Letters: Tweets: Twitter @ozteachermag Story comments:

April 2013 • australian Teacher



We have much to be proud of ACADEMIC Stephen Dinham is right when he says we need to remind ourselves that there is much to be proud of in Australian education. Yes, the system does have its problems, and improving the skills of our educators and school leaders should be a priority, but the debate is in danger of being blown out of all proportion. Every month Australian Teacher Magazine shares stories of great educators — and there are many out there, working in all states and territories, and across all education sectors. Delivering the Phillip Hughes Oration, Dinham gave a timely reminder that, on average, there has been one major state or national inquiry into teacher education every year for the past 30 years. “No other program of professional preparation in Australia has been thought to warrant such scrutiny,” he said. He also talked about a “blanked stigmatisation” of school staff, teacher educators and system

leaders. “On a daily basis we hear damning statements — denigration, verbal abuse, misinformed criticism — about the dire state of education.” As if to prove his point, days later Sydney CEO Matt Barrie joined the call for reform the sector with the sweeping statement that “we are stuck with a backwards, antiquated system of education”. Barrie was referring to the fact that schools in the UK and Estonia are getting primary years students to do computer programming and coding. Again, we know there are countless Australian educators and schools that are blazing a trail. Finally, Dinham called for the profession to speak up and challenge the criticisms — and this raises a worrying point. Educators do speak up, on a regular basis — whether it is individually, through a union or via a professional association. A quick search online will reveal educators are out there every day defending the profession against

ill-informed comments posted in response to stories from the sector — you know the kind; lazy teachers who go home at 3pm and put their feet up during endless school holidays. State and federal inquiries into various education issues also do not suffer from a lack of submissions from the profession. And, consultations are swamped with ideas, suggestions and feedback. The sad thing is that these expert voices are increasingly being ignored. ‘Fears of hijacking’ page 15

PD ban is ludicrous THE Queensland Government’s ban on state teachers accessing professional development during the school day is a crazy step. And policymakers have attempted to pass the buck. State Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek said it was parents who were concerned about teacher continuity. Giving teachers access to professional development is vital.

Putting limits on that access will not improve the situation — for educators or their students. The ban just hasn’t been thought through. Professional development doesn’t always mean a teacher needs to take a day off to travel to a workshop — some of the best PD involves members of staff observing each other during lessons. How are teachers and principals supposed to observe colleagues in the classroom ... on pupil-free days, during the holidays, or outside school hours? It doesn’t make sense. The ban has also been introduced at a time when it’s important that we ensure teachers, principals and school staff are given support to implement the new national curriculum. That includes additional professional development to help them get their head around the new content. Langbroek has denied the change is about saving dollars and, after much criticism, he has

told Australian Teacher Magazine the government is now “working towards a solution” to the concerns that have been raised.   ‘Union lodges dispute ...’ page 6

two to one women ACCORDING to the latest data from the Productivity Commission, the overall ratio of female to male teachers in Australian schools is about two to one, and at the primary level it exceeds four to one. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about school leadership roles, where women are underrepresented. The Women in Educational Leadership association is doing a great job in supporting teachers who aspire to leadership roles and, importantly, girls who are still at school. It’s also fantastic to hear the group is branching out and spreading its message beyond New South Wales.  ‘Leveling the...’ page 50  JO EARP


featurestory australian Teacher • April 2013

For the times they are a changin’... At Merrylands East Primary school in sydney the school day ends at 1.15pm. It’s part of a shift in focus that includes innovative learning spaces, professional learning and pedagogy. Jo Earp talks to the principal. EVERY teacher will be familiar with the problem of clock-watching students — it’s a phenomenon that tends to kick in after 2pm and involves a minute by minute countdown to the end of the school day. The afternoon dip in student attention span is an issue New South Wales principal John Goh and his staff no longer have to face. Goh has introduced an early start, early finish timetable at Merrylands East Primary School which means the day begins at 8am and the final bell now rings before lunch at 1.15pm. Students have the option of staying on site until the traditional finish time of 3pm to get help with their work, have a supervised lunch at school then take part in extracurricular clubs, or go home. “Within NSW our core teaching hours in a public primary school are four hours and 45 minutes [each day] and so we’re ensuring that we meet those criteria. So, we haven’t reduced our timetable by any means,” Goh explains. Children have a morning recess, from 10.30am to 11am, and the crunch and sip program breaks up the two major learning sessions. There’s also a breakfast club. The new timetable is being trialled for the rest of the year and researchers at Macquarie University are busy collecting data on student engagement to assess the impact of the shift. Although the change in school hours has attracted media attention, Goh is keen to point out that it is only one of four focus areas and shouldn’t be taken out of context. “Changing school hours is not the sole factor in improving student outcomes. If it was we’d all do it right across Australia and we’d forget about professional learning and [wipe] everything else out. “There are three other components that we’re looking at quite strongly. One is the learning space, one is our staff in terms of professional learning, and one is our pedagogy,” Goh explains. “People often read the [change

Students at Merrylands East Primary School get an early start with their work. The shift in start times is just one of the number of measures brought in by principal John Goh, inset, in an effort to raise achievement standards. in hours] as ‘Oh, if you’re changing your school times is that ... the panacea for fixing learning outcomes right across Australia?’ and the answer there is ‘no’.” The focus on learning spaces explores how to create collaborative environments. Round tables have replaced rectangular desks, one classroom has a lounge with beanbags, and students can write on selected walls with special paint. And, this modern approach extends right to the top. There is no principal’s office — Goh explains his workspace is flexible; today he’s sitting in the old school hall talking to me on a mobile phone. The third aspect is staff learning. “That is, how we go about doing our professional learning networks. We do a lot online ... and have discussions using Edmodo. “Teachers can collaborate and discuss learning spaces, share articles and share their thoughts, whereas the traditional way of doing professional learning is every-

one sits around a table and you get input and some person might get more than others. Finally, what Goh terms “the most critical” focus – pedagogy. “It’s the pedagogy that’s the most fundamental change in terms of how our kids will increase their learning outcomes — how my teachers teach. “So, it’s the whole notion of how our teachers create groups, how they work with the kids, how they use blended learning, which is really crucial and fundamental.” That said Goh appreciates why the school hours have been the major talking point, particularly among parents — only 72 per cent were in favour of the change. However, he says the new timetable was a response to local need. “It’s [about] looking at our community, not at any other school’s community, and that’s a really important fundamental issue.” Goh explains the change stemmed from discussions with

the P&C. Parents of children who represented community sporting teams cited an “afternoon rush” to get them to training before tackling homework late in the evening. “The second thing was we identified that children would often be taken out of school early because of medical or other appointments. And, the third aspect was trying to get that balance between family, homework and school life a bit more in check.” After identifying a need for change, the next step was to consult with staff and the community. “I often talk about school autonomy and say that, as a principal, you can change the school time but if I don’t have staff and the bulk of the community working the same plan it’s not going to happen.” As part of the process, the school carried out a survey and had five consultation meetings with the community before submitting a proposal to the education department covering the logistics of the

timetable change and thinking behind it. When it came to internal structures, everything from staff work agreements to the organistion of afternoon competitive school sport had to be considered. “Once the proposal was approved, then there was another area that we had to look at in terms of liaising with the community. For example, the local police, the roads and maritime authority, looking at changing our school zone times and the local council ... even minor things like talking to the local library and saying ‘You might see some of our kids from 1.15pm’, the local shopping centres ... it was that whole broader community consultation.” Goh says, in this case, ‘consultation’ was more about disseminating information. He admits there are “swings and roundabouts” to the timetable change. Teachers used to setting up classrooms before the start of lessons no longer have the option but, on the flip side, they have time in the afternoons to plan, prepare, do their marking and take part in professional learning. Playground duties have been cut for staff, and the time spent on mediating between students involved in playground disputes has also been reduced. Youngsters are submitting their homework earlier, and even the local mayor has talked up the benefits of the 1.15pm finish — the council has spent a lot of money on play equipment at a local park, which is now being put to good use before 3pm. Goh says the bulk of parents support the change and like the fact they can now drop their children at school and still drive to work in Sydney for a 9am start. But there are some parents who are against the change. “The swings and roundabouts have been that a couple of parents have changed schools because of the [new start times], but at the same time we’ve had children enrolling in our school because of the times.”

Teaching days - a world of difference 200 185 200 180 220 190 180 200 190 175

As well as requirements for the number of teaching hours per week, education systems around the world also set the number of school days in a year. These can vary widely between countries — from 220 days in South Korea to just 175 days per year in Japan. The average school day in South Korea is also longer than most other countries, 8am to 4pm. The length of the school year in the US, just 180 days, is a common standard although it can vary between states.



days per year


days per year


days per year




days per year

days per year

days per year


days per year



days per year

days per year

days per year

Source: Organisation of school year,

languages classroom projects


curriculum ideas

Parents at Newington College take part in a French language program which has them learning the same language as their sons.

DECADES may have passed since they last packed their pencil cases and books in their bag and headed off to school, but parents at Newington College are thrilled to be back learning in the classroom. At the Lindfield campus in New South Wales, parents have joined up to be part of a French language program where they can learn the same language their children are learning. The head of campus, Chris Wyatt says that the program is a great way to show parents what the boys have been learning in class first hand. “They loved the opportunity to come in and learn some French, but equally I think they

loved the opportunity to come in and find out what the boys were doing,” he tells Australian Teacher Magazine. The parents are involved in a range of activities, including greetings and conversational responses that focus specifically on what their children had been learning in class. “It was just a term’s worth of language learning,” Wyatt explains. “They came in, they had opportunity to have conversations, to learn some new vocab, to see what the boys were doing, and that’s where it went from. “So the parents walk to the office of a morning and they come back after their French lessons and they’ll be practising their new phrases and sayings and things like that, so it was good,” he says.

April 2013 May 2012

Take Two

Parents back in school rebecca vukovic

special report

In an effort to make the classes easily assessable to parents, the school ran two sessions for both beginner and intermediate levels just before the school day started. “We felt it was better to do at the beginning of the day rather than running it as an ‘of a night’ thing,” Wyatt explains. “Families have often got lots of things on and so we tried to integrate it into the school day, rather than making it an extra.” After learning of a possible grant being available from the Association of Independent Schools NSW for this program, the school’s French teacher Corinne Pixton applied and was successful. The money the school received essentially paid for the extra time

she was employed to run the lessons. Wyatt says the success of the program was measured by the enthusiasm the parents had towards the way language learning allowed them to talk to their sons. “For us, partnership between home and school is really important and so just the fact that parents are engaging with the way the boys are learning and what the boys are learning, we saw as a real benefit that might lead to immediate conversations or it might lead to long-term support and conversations at home over time,” he says. This program was run successfully last year, and Wyatt says that he hopes they’ll be able to get it up and running again in the future.

What is one of the challenges facing your members? As teachers of German in South Australia we are challenged by declining enrolments in the subject. In the primary years, since the Languages Plan officially ended in 2007, primary schools have stopped offering 100 minutes per week of language instruction. Instead, schools often offer one lesson per week of cultural studies. In the secondary sector the introduction of SACE, where only four subjects are now compulsory at Year 12, has had a detrimental effect on numbers in language classes. Students are also no longer required to have a balanced curriculum, which has added to the decline in numbers. What is one of the best school/classroom projects you’ve seen? There are many projects that SAGTA supports, including the Goethe-Institut sponsored School Film Festival. In its eighth year, it involves hundreds of students from across the state. Students, with assistance from their German teacher, are required to create a four minute film based on a prescribed topic. Apart from improving their German and learning some IT skills, students are improving their literacy through the visual arts where images and role playing can compensate for possible inadequate vocabulary. Tanya Siebert, president South Australian German Teachers Association

languages INBRIEF Queensland’s Confucius Classrooms


australian Teacher • April 2013

award winner

Japanese revision fun

CANBERRA - Parents of Year 7 students at Amaroo School are being encouraged to let their kids boss them around this term so they can revise the language commands they’ve been studying in Japanese lessons. The focus in Year 8 has been on food, while Year 9 and 10s are working on Hiragana and Katakana letters used in Japanese writing.

Carnival time in town DENILIQUIN - The Venice Carnival has provided a colourful study topic for Year 7 Italian language students at Deniliquin High School. The school newsletter reports Miss Forner and Mrs Astill’s classes have been investigating the annual celebration over two weeks. One of the main features of the festival is the traditional Venetian carnival masks and elaborate costumes on display.

Perth’s cultural hub PERTH - Youngsters at Bull Creek Primary School are extending their knowledge of German language and culture thanks to a student extension program. Writing in the newsletter, German teacher Tanja Colgan says the European Language Hub allows Year 6 and 7 students from Bull Creek, Parkwood and Willetton primary schools to link up for weekly sessions. Email briefs to

THE creation of Confucius Classrooms has opened up extra opportunities for Chinese language students in Queensland and a welcome support network for teachers. Queensland University of Technology’s Confucius Institute (CIQ) has won a stack of awards for its work in setting up specialist facilities at five high schools. Townsville’s William Ross State High School and Cleveland District High School in the Redlands are both taking part. As well as getting valuable professional development support for staff, participating schools also get access to cultural activities and help with teacher resources. “It’s definitely a support for teachers, but it’s also a support for the school itself,” Patricia Winter, head of IT and LOTE at William Ross State High School, says. “Mandarin Chinese is only taught by our high school in Townsville. In our relationship with [CIQ] we’re able to establish some key programs and ideas, like the regional speaking competitions,” she explains. “We sometimes have groups that come to do workshop activities with students, and QUT offers professional development opportunities for our teachers as well.”

William Ross SHS celebrates the opening of its Confucius Classroom. Winter says developing a Chinese language program is important for Australia’s future ties with Asia, but it’s also a subject that students really enjoy. “The most important thing that comes out of [CIQ] ... is providing us options with putting the cultural aspects of our course into place, and giving us the resources to be able to do that.” Winter says it can often be difficult for teachers to get resources like text books. Staff can also phone and speak to QUT experts whenever they have specific culture and language questions.

“Not so much the syllabus aspect of it but ... I don’t have a Chinese speaking background so it’s nice to have those links too.” There’s also a strong community focus to the project — the school shares its resources and has taken part in local celebrations. Cleveland District State High School offers Mandarin, French and Japanese to all Year 7 to 12 students. “We’ve got about 300 students in each year level and we give half of those extension languages — so they get nearly 200 minutes. The other half, the core of kids, get 105 minutes,”

principal Paul Bancroft explains. The school has dedicated classrooms for each of the three languages and plans are underway to double that capacity. Bancroft says the support from CIQ staff, particularly when it comes to resources, has been exceptional. “We provide one teacher across our five primary schools and so when we choose our resources we pick some that will be suitable for anything from Prep right through to Year 12, so we get a wide range of resources. “They’re [also] great for questions and they’ll also organise people to come and run cultural things for you, not just for the Mandarin students but for the other students in history and geography as well.” And, it’s not just educators who are impressed. CIQ is one of 400 Confucius Institutes worldwide and has been recognised for a third year running for excellence. CIQ director Chris Meakin says the program is underpinned by partnerships with peak bodies and state education authorities, and engagement with schools. “The teaching profession will play a major, if not critical role, in achieving the goals ... [in the report] Australia in the Asian Century,” Meakin adds.

Il Globo, the ideal classroom resource now available on iPad and Android.

languages 27

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postgrad bonus

April 2013 • australian Teacher

germany exchanges

A fabulous 25-year bond

STUDYING for a postgraduate qualification prompted visual arts teacher Aaron Ellis to introduce an Indigenous language class. After a successful trial, Ellis is now teaching the local Aboriginal language of Gamilaraay to Year 8 students at Wee Waa High School in rural New South Wales. “We’re obviously looking for something to engage the students in lessons, and language has been a really good way of doing it,” he tells Australian Teacher Magazine. Ellis carried out the trials as part of a research project while studying for a Masters in Indigenous Language Education through The University of Sydney’s Koori Centre.

MORE than 100 students from Stawell Secondary College have returned from their student exchanges to Germany more confident in themselves and their language skills. This year, the college celebrated 25 years of involvement in student exchanges run by Association of German Teachers of Victoria (AGTV) and Bayerisher Jugendring (Bavarian Youth Council — BJR). Due to their location in rural central Victoria, German teacher Rudy Schrama says that it is imperative the students see the world as much bigger than a small country town. “Kids say to me, ‘but my German is hopeless’, ‘I can’t do it’, or ‘I don’t want to go’, but I say ‘just do it’ because everyone will learn not just the language skills but how to understand it and how to appreciate their own language better,” he tells Australian Teacher Magazine. “Most students learn so much ... even if their writing isn’t totally up to scratch, they can still communicate, they can understand it and they can say short sentences back and so I encourage all students to do it.” Whilst on exchange, students spend 10 weeks living with a family, attending school and integrating themselves in the German


Part of the project involved him working with a local elder and using his art skills as a focus for the language teaching. “We looked at the totem. We looked at the animals and did the names for those, but we just did some paintings based on the animals, and I gave instruction in Gamilaraay as well to combine that,” he says. It is now being offered as a LOTE subject in Year 8 and Ellis has also started community classes for parents and others who are interested in learning the language. He hopes to further develop the course this year with the aim of offering it as a Year 9 and 10 elective in the future.

Aaron Ellis is bringing Gamilaraay language classes to his students.

Kerri Kingston/Stawell Times News

Masters in Indigenous Language Ed leads to students learning local lingo

Stawell Secondary College has celebrated 25 years of German student exchanges at the school. culture and lifestyle. They apply for the program when in Year 9, and then can expect their German partner to arrive in Australia at the start of Year 10, before they get their go later in the year. While most students enjoy their time abroad, Schrama says that there have been some students who have come home early over the years. “Most of them get a bit of homesickness but they get over it ... there are one or two exceptions, and as soon as they say ‘OK I’m

going home’, immediately after its ‘oh I’ve made the wrong decision’.” With 25 years of experience in dealing with these sorts of situations, Schrama says he and fellow staff know exactly what to expect and there is a lot of support offered to students throughout the entire program. To mark the special occasion, Schrama attended a main celebration at the Park Hyatt to listen to speeches from past exchange students, delegates and presidents of the associations.

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April 2013

Professor Brian Schmidt, right, joined Associate Professor Andrew Greentree and students from Albert Park College for the launch of the Big Little g Project.



Smith’s passion for dance and dancers Parents more than homework assistants Tassie opens its arms to Brazilian friends

The Big little g project Grant Quarry AUSTRALIA’S 2011 physics Nobel Laureate, professor Brian Schmidt might treasure spending time in his Canberra vineyard or “playing around in the kitchen”, but science and science education are what he’s really passionate about. In Melbourne recently to launch national physics experiment The Big Little g Project, Schmidt couldn’t hide his joy at the prospect of young people across the nation joining together in the name of science. “It’s the 50th anniversary of the Australian Institute of Physics and I was giving them a talk last year and they told me about the project,” he says. “This is the type of project that when I was a kid would have really interested me, to have this widespread event, where people can compare themselves to other people but also learn from other

people, what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong ...” Organised by the Australian Institute of Physics, the year-long Big little g Project is open to allcomers — as long as they have a home-made pendulum, a tape measure and a stopwatch. The idea of the initiative is to recreate Galileo’s famous pendulum experiment to measure the strength of gravity locally. Associate professor Andrew Greentree, vice-chancellor’s senior fellow at RMIT in Melbourne, will progressively compile the data to build a map of Australia’s gravitational field. Schmidt says his love of science is mostly about being able to go out and understand the world and predict what it’s going to do. “So this pendulum experiment is a really good example, where it’s incredibly simple and yet you can measure something like how fast the earth will accelerate [Lit-

tle g] very, very accurately, something that I think is a real testament to the power of science and the ability to go out and predict things,” he enthuses. The 46-year-old has lived in Australia since 1994 and believes the nation compares favourably on a global scale in terms of appreciation of science. “I would say the interest is growing. Over the last four or five years especially, I think Australia realises that science is going to be important for its future. “[But while] Australia has done a very good job over the last 25 years of teaching science, I think we’ve faded a little bit in the last 10 and that’s of concern to me.” Schmidt has two sons, Kieran, 18, and Adrian, 15, and while he’s happy with the education they’re receiving, he knows that’s not necessarily the case nationwide. “I’m lucky, one of the reasons I live in Canberra is because it has

one of the best public school systems in the country, so I’ve been very happy with the education that they have. “And, I work as part of Scientists In Schools in my children’s school and I encourage others to do so as well and to use scientists in this way,” he adds. “But, the reality is, most people don’t live in Canberra … and I feel particularly sorry for teachers who are maybe asked to teach subjects that they haven’t been trained in. “You’ve been trained in one subject and then suddenly they’re saying ‘Well, we’re going to have you do chemistry for Year 11’, that’s not going to be much fun (laughs). “That’s not fair to them and it’s obviously not good for the kids, either.” • For more information visit

Robot displays how our bodies work How to survive school Bear Grylls style “My problems all started with my early education. I went to a school for mentally disturbed teachers.” - Woody Allen

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australian Teacher â&#x20AC;˘ April 2013

Science getting groovy ARNHEM LAND - Year 7/8 students at Nuhulunbuy Christian College discovered just how groovy science can be when they learnt how lava lamps work. The school newsletter reports students found that when you understand the science behind it, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s easy to make your own lava lamp. Their experiment looked at density, solubility and chemical reactions.

Learning behaviours HOBART - Dominic College Year 4 and 6 students have been sharing work on the behaviours of learning at a school assembly. One Year 6 group filmed student opinions on what they felt they were doing when they were really committed to learning. Behaviours included listening hard, asking questions, persistent focus, exploring new ideas and completing tasks.

Library lovers all heart ADELAIDE - In celebration of Library Loversâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Day this term, Gleeson Collegeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Thomas Library was filled with a love for literature through the displaying of hearts created by Year 8, 9 and 10 students. Students filled in a paper heart communicating to their peers the book they love and why they love it for the February 14 celebration.

A central part of her work is based on going out on the road and setting up a stage in various community settings. The challenges and rewards are immense. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I remember one quite difficult student telling me it was one of the best things she had ever done ...â&#x20AC;?

MITCH MUSULIN IN any senior secondary school classroom, establishing a connection with students is always a challenge â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s no different for performing arts teacher Marita Smith. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I make good use of the universal language â&#x20AC;&#x201D; music. It is a great way to start,â&#x20AC;?she says. The Casuarina Senior College teacher has been rewarded for a career characterised by unwavering dedication and commitment by being named Secondary School Teacher of the Year 2012 Darwin: Northern Territory. As an advocate of the performing arts, teacher and choreographer, Smith brings a world of experience that immediately engages students and teachers. She has spread her enthusiasm and knowledge through many primary and secondary schools and collaborated with childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s author Allison Lester, and The Royal Childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Hospital in Melbourne. In Darwin, she has worked with former Bangarra Dance Theatre member Gary Lang, on numerous projects.

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Performing arts teacher Marita Smith loves cross-disciplinary projects. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I am passionate about contemporary dance in particular, but love to work on cross-disciplinary projects where dance, drama, music, media and visual arts are combined ...â&#x20AC;? she says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The recent rise of reality TV dance shows has also helped bring dance into my studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; living rooms. The choreography is short, slick and very accessible; less high art and more â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;anyone can move like a proâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;.â&#x20AC;? Smith says that the process of

developing the knowledge, skills and confidence necessary for students to perform on stage is fostered by the quality of her relationship with students. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Everyone learns differently, the students have to learn to really trust me and their classmates. I focus on ensemble performing and the idea that we all have to work collectively, we have to look after each other, work with our strengths, [and] acknowledge our weaknesses.â&#x20AC;?

Smith says her award is an â&#x20AC;&#x153;affirmation of the true value of the arts in our schools and wonderful recognition for all of us working in these subjects. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just so good to know somebody out there can see the value of the journey and outcomes for our students!â&#x20AC;? Mitch Musulin is a teacher at Casuarina Senior College, NT. Do you know any exceptional educators? Email classroom@ with the details and weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be in touch.

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April 2013 • australian Teacher • 31

intheclassroom INBRIEF Timâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Tales


australian Teacher â&#x20AC;˘ April 2013

life skills

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Forging relationships with parents Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Students taste success HOBART - Six Southern Christian College students selected by staff completed the first session of Eating With Friends, a community service programme at the St Clementâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Church Centre in Kingston, this term. The students prepared, cooked and served a nutritious, low-cost three course meal to over 30 people. The programme aims to ease social isolation.

Breaking down politics MELBOURNE - Greens Deputy Leader Adam Bandt visited Fitzroy High School to speak to Year 8s about his job and how the Australian Government works. Bandt explained how laws are passed and why the last election played out the way it did. He also shared his views on the issues of renewable energy, public transport and marriage equality.

THE beginning of another school year sees many parents entering school with their children for the first time and lots of other parents starting new relationships with different teachers. Of course, for the first time parents it wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be their first school experience because they will have been students

themselves. This means they will arrive on the doorstep of their childâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first teacher with expectations and beliefs based on their own school experiences. The importance of this was brought home to me recently when I had the opportunity to discuss the first few weeks of school with the parent of a child who had just started school. The parent was concerned about the amount of homework her child was getting and, as she described the homework to me, I remember thinking it didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t sound excessive. (Whether or not I think a child should be receiving homework in her first few weeks of school is a different matter entirely). This woman, however, definitely thought it was burdensome and was

Learning in the clouds KATHERINE - AS part of their scientific study of the water cycle, students in the 7-9 AL class at St Josephâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Catholic College in the Northern Territry have been experimenting to learn how clouds are formed. Using a jar, warm water, ice and a lit match, the students were able to make their own clouds. They published their winning formula in the school newsletter.

How do parents understand the task we just asked for their help with?

wondering how she was going to get through the year. I was struck by our different impressions of the homework and it made me consider more closely the things that we ask parents to do. I wondered how carefully we accommodate parentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; views about different school activities based on their experiences. For many parents, their own schooling will not have been a highlight of their life. A lot will have struggled to complete their homework each night and may have received various forms of penalties and punishments. When we seek parentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; involvement in their childâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s education is it a legitimate partnership weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re forging or are we merely recruiting them as â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;homework assistantsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; and â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;disciplinary supportsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;? Do we know what parentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; views of school are? How do they understand the task we just asked for their help with? Helping parents understand the context and purpose of activities you are asking them to assist with and seeking to learn about their own views will take some time. But, the benefits are likely to be improved schooling experiences for students, their parents, and you.

Schools Get Ready for drug education rollout VICTORIAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S award-winning drug education program has been rolled out across the state. The Get Ready evidence-based drug and alcohol education program for Years 7 to 9 is now available to all secondary schools. â&#x20AC;&#x153;[It] is designed to teach students about the risks of drugs and alcohol early â&#x20AC;&#x201C; equipping them with the skills they need to make the right decisions,â&#x20AC;? State Education Minister Martin Dixon said. The program makes it clear that the best way to minimise harm caused by drugs and alcohol is not to take drugs or alcohol at all. It won a National Drug and Alcohol excellence award, following a pilot across 21 schools. It is available online at health/Pages/drugedulearn.aspx

Dr Tim Carey is an associate professor at Flinders University and Charles Darwin University, Alice Springs.

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April 2013 • australian Teacher • 33



australian Teacher • April 2013

Fresh maths approach adds flexibility

Lessons from the slum ORANGE - Year 8 students at Orange High School have been exploring the issue of Troubled Times, reflecting on the many different experiences of people around the world. Many have looked at news articles concerning the recent bush fires, while others have been studying the novel Trash by Andy Mulligan, about young children who live in a slum.

IMAGINE a maths program where students have complete control of their learning without timetabled classes or lessons. That is a reality for the senior secondary students at Hawker College in the ACT. Head of the mathematics faculty Erin Gallagher says that, since implementing this fresh approach, there have been drastic improvements in the way students handle lessons, and teachers are benefiting too. “It’s taken away the entire behavioural issue, its now person-to-person, let’s do some maths, which is really lovely and refreshing,” Gallagher tells Australian Teacher Magazine. The program is designed with no scheduled mathematics classes for the Year 11 and 12 students at the school. Instead, they have designated learning commons where students come and work independently by accessing learning briefs from a school website, with explicit curriculum taken straight from teaching outlines. The website clearly sets out what is expected for the week in terms of the theoretical and

Digital degrees beckon WYONG - Year 11 and 12 software design and development students at Lakes Grammar Anglican School in New South Wales participated in a Gaming Development workshop this term. Gaming is a multi-billion dollar industry and, increasingly, universities are now recognising this through specific degrees in digital game development.

Languages come alive TAMWORTH - All Year 8 students at McCarthy Catholic College have begun their 100 hours study in either French or Indonesian for 2013. According to the school newsletter they can greet each other and introduce themselves, and so “Bonjour, madame” and “Selamat pagi, Ibu” can be heard in abundance around classrooms.

like maths, which is probably most of them these days, taking away that classroom takes away all that preconception about what maths is. “We have students that start here at the beginning of the year who say, ‘I’ve done more work in my book in the first two weeks of school than I did

Bonus content » Students at Hawker College scan in and out of maths using a QR code. the conceptual understandings, or the practical components that students work through. Learning commons are held sporadically throughout the day, so students can choose when they’d like to attend. When they do, they scan in with their QR codes because they must clock up at least two hours each week in the learning common. “For teachers, instead of running classes where traditionally they might write notes on a

board, put up some examples and do some work from a textbook, we’re just helping students move from one point to the next,” Gallagher explains. This program took shape at the beginning of last year after the maths staff at Hawker kept questioning why students needed to be taught the same things term after term. “We decided that most of it came back to the whole idea of a classroom and that for students who don’t particularly

all year last year’ … just because they’re having to be accountable for what they don’t know,” Gallagher adds. She adds teachers also benefit from the flexibility. “We find its a little bit more humanistic ... because [teachers] can say, actually, ‘I need to leave early on a Wednesday ... to pick up the kids’, so we don’t roster them on [that] afternoon.” Is your school using innovative methods in the classroom? Email

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intheclassroom INBRIEF Centenary celebrations the perfect Meet robobladder opportunity to bring history to life


australian Teacher â&#x20AC;˘ April 2013

charting change

Science ed

Vietnam re-enactment SYDNEY - At Westfields Sports High School, as part of 10H6â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s examination of the Vietnam War, students participated in a re-enactment of the 1971 Melbourne Moratorium. The students were each organised into the groups who participated on the day â&#x20AC;&#x201C; such as the SOS, Labor Party, conscientious objectors, students, actors and singers.

Chats with champions HORSHAM â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Fifty primary school students have taken part in a web video conference with two-time Olympic triathlete Courtney Atkinson. The youngsters from Horsham West Public School in country Victoria took part in the Australian Olympic Committeeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Chat to a Champ program, which involves them spending 30 minutes talking to one of their Olympic heroes.

Dances and race tracks DARWIN - Students in Room 14 at Holy Spirit Catholic Primary School have been busy creating dance routines and race tracks this term. As part of their Indigenous studies lessons, students have created a simple dance based on the moves of three Australian animals, and also worked in pairs to pace out a race track in the classroom. Email briefs to

Teacher Chris Wark says itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s important to bring current events into class. ITâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S not every day you celebrate a 100th birthday, so for teacher Chris Wark and his students Canberraâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s centenary was a big deal. The city marked its 100th year on March 11, and the Garran Primary School teacher saw it as the perfect opportunity to get his Year 3 and 4 students excited about their local history. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve lived here my whole life and Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m trying to instil a bit of the love of the city as well,â&#x20AC;? Wark tells Australian Teacher Magazine. Warkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s students started their history unit by looking at old photographs of the city and identifying the changes which have taken place since the site on which

Parliament House stands was a mere sheep paddock. And, with the whole city counting down to the big day, Wark says students were more engaged than ever. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The cricket was on the other day and the big lights were on at Manuka Oval... they could talk about Canberra and why that was a significant event, the first time Australia played cricket here, that then relates to a lot of the sporting children in the class. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Every week there is something new on ... itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s tangible, they know itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s happening.â&#x20AC;? Warkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s colleagues are also included centenary themed activities in their classes.

IN an effort to physically show students how the bladder functions, a teacher from South Australiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Blackwood High School has built a robot that displays the body system in full effect. Dr Rogan Tinsley says that heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s found there to be substantial benefits to using robots in his Year 9 science lessons. â&#x20AC;&#x153;One of the things that robots are very good at is to take simple input information, process it and produce an output,â&#x20AC;? he tells Australian Teacher Magazine. â&#x20AC;&#x153;And so Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been working within the school to bring the idea of robotics as a support in science and mathematics understanding.â&#x20AC;? With a PhD in neuroscience and having worked as a researcher for 10 years before moving into teaching in early 2012, Tinsley says that he was keen to use robotics as a tool in his lessons. â&#x20AC;&#x153;So I taught myself some of the programming things and went across to a couple of PD sessions on using them,â&#x20AC;? he says. Tinsley began to use robots as a simplified way of modelling functions of the human body and in particular, the bladder. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We use a robot that has different senses on it and one of them is a light sensor to register and

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record a response to a change in the environment â&#x20AC;&#x201C; in this case the bladder being full and then when that happens the response is to aggressively open the tap to release ...â&#x20AC;? he says. Describing his design as â&#x20AC;&#x153;funny and engagingâ&#x20AC;? he says lots of schools use dissections as a way to understand body systems, but this method has its limitations. â&#x20AC;&#x153;You can see how the heart fits together in a sense, but you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t see it in operation and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s also very complex because when you open up an animal thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lots of bits in there and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s confronting.â&#x20AC;?

Science students use Rogan Tinsleyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s robot to see a bladder in action.

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April 2013 • australian Teacher • 37



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intheclassroom INBRIEF Don welcomes Brazil’s best


australian Teacher • April 2013

teen ambassadors

Once around the block CANBERRA - Art students at Amaroo School have had their safety gear close at hand as they’ve been getting hands-on creating faces carved into hebel blocks. The school newsletter reports there is a strong reference in their work to the art of the Polynesian community. Once their carvings are complete the Year 7s will move on to making ceramic hamburgers.

Funding partnerships CANBERRA - Applications are now open for the NAB Schools First Awards. Schools with existing community partnerships, or with an idea for a new partnership, will share $2 million in funding. This year there will be no state and territory boundaries in the Local Impact awards, one of three categories. Applications close on June 28, log on to for more.

TASMANIA is experiencing a distinctly Brazilian flavour at present, with 50 school students studying in the state as part of a special scholarship program. From Pernambuco in Brazil’s north east, the students, aged 16 to 18, are in Australia until July as part of the Ganhe o Mundo (Win the World) program. The initiative’s been put together in the lead-up to Rio de Janeiro’s hosting of the 2014 World Cup of soccer and the 2016 Olympics and involves local students visiting countries including the US, Canada, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Chile and Argentina.

The idea is that the teenagers will be equipped with proficiency in English and Spanish, and take on roles as welcoming ambassadors, in much the same way that Sydney 2000 Olympic Games volunteers did so successfully. Don College in Devonport is hosting six of the students and ESL teacher Bronwyn Sidebottom is working with them to ensure their language skills improve every day. “By July I’d like them to feel comfortable conversing in English, I’d like for them to be able to open up a conversation in English, to approach somebody and make the first contact and feel

Factory tour highlight SYDNEY - Milk was on the menu, or rather the agenda, this term when Year 12 Food Technology students from Blakehurst High School took a tour of Pactum Foods. The company manufactures and packages soy, almond, and rice milk as well as pre-mixed stock for supermarkets all over Australia. Email briefs to

From left, Renato, Raissa, Lucas, Weudis, Joara and Diana are loving Tassie.


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competent in doing that,” she says. As one would expect, school in Devonport is very different to Pernambuco. “The Brazilian students come from a background where they’re used to studying 13 subjects, and so when they come here and only have to do four, some of them think ‘Gosh, this is easy’,” Sidebottom laughs. “One of the girls starts at 7am [in Brazil] and goes through ‘til 5pm or after. So the context of school they find quite different here.” It’s not all business for the visitors, however, and Sidebottom is mindful of the need for them to be able to experience some of Tassie’s uniqueness. “We have some Japanese students arriving soon and so the Brazilians will be joining them on a trip to the Wings Wildlife Park and the Gunns Plains Caves,” she says. In terms of the program’s benefits to the local Tasmanian community, Sidebottom believes any input from outside is valuable. “We’re all global citizens these days and Devonport can be fairly mono-cultural. I think any visitors from any part of the world, especially here on campus where they spend most of their time, it does open people’s eyes to a different way of thinking.”

ACT visit

Students get into the creative spirit

DREAMTIME stories, dance and didgeridoo lessons were all part of the fun for Ainslie School students when Wiradjuri man Duncan Smith visited this term. Smith – widely recognised for his work reaching out to Indigenous and non-Indigenous school students – ran a day of cultural awareness workshops for senior students at the ACT school. Smith is a professional artist and great nephew of Tracker Riley, the first Indigenous man to be recruited into the New South Wales police force. As well as introducing students to aspects of Aboriginal culture, to link in with their recent work on Canberra’s Centenary, he discussed the selection of Canberra as the nation’s capital and the impact this had on local Aboriginal people. Principal Kate Chapman says students got a lot out of the visit.

April 2013 • australian Teacher • 39


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intheclassroom INBRIEF Diving into world of news


australian Teacher • April 2013

nbn project

Zucchini cupcake treat BEGA – Students at Bega High School in New South Wales have had their first ‘pick, cook and eat’ lesson as part of the school’s permaculture program. Using zucchini, spinach, shallots, parsley, squash and basil, all picked from the garden, the Year 8 to 10 students cooked up a batch of zucchini cupcakes which staff and students enjoyed immensely.

Sights on the 100 Club ALBANY – St Joseph’s College students have been set a monumental sports challenge: to be the first student at the school to become a member of the prestigious 100 Club. To gain entry to this group, they must complete 100 kilometres of either swimming or running during either the school swim club or running club training sessions.

THERE are a plethora of reasons why it’s a great thing for your school to be NBN connected and capable of supporting live video conferencing. For one, it means you can take part in the ABC Splash Live program’s exciting new project Making The News — where students learn the ins and outs of producing TV-standard stories. Four schools — Tasmania’s Circular Head Christian School, Sydney’s Presbyterian Ladies College, South Australia’s Willunga Primary School and Melbourne’s North Fitzroy Primary School – recently kicked the project off with a video link-up with the help

of a range of staff from the Behind the News, Triple J Hack and ABC Open programs. “It was a real highlight for the girls, it was fantastic,” Melissa Watters, head of Junior School at PLC says of her Year 6’s involvement in the conference. “[My students] have always watched Behind The News, so to be able to work with people like Nathan Bazley and to actually meet with some of the producers from the ABC was absolutely fantastic. “It has really given them a deeper understanding of what goes on behind the news, the ins and outs — it’s such a complex sequence

History investigation BRISBANE – Youngsters at Deception Bay North State School in Queensland have been investigating how some of the world’s major historical events have shaped the planet. The Year 3 students now understand the significance of celebrations and commemorations, as well as the value of learning about the cultures, languages and beliefs of others. Email briefs to

PLC teachers Melissa Watters and Amy Walsh with some of their students.

of events that they have to go through in order to do that.” Watters shares teaching duties of her Year 6 class with Amy Walsh, and both see the project as having enormous benefits for their students and school. “The last link-up that we did was really the practical side of things, so we looked at camera angles and how to record sound properly, and all of those hints and tips, even framing a person in a shot was really beneficial,” Walsh says. “Even for us as teachers, we’ve never had experience with this, so it’s been a huge learning curve for us as well.” The idea has been for each of the participating schools to determine a sustainability issue in their local area and then turn that into a newsworthy story. Each school’s class has divided into groups, and the group from each school that produces the best story will have their news item broadcast to the other schools involved in the project. “I think it’s a fantastic way to interlink other key learning areas in the curriculum,” Walsh says. The ABC hopes the initiative will create assets which teachers can use to run their own Making the News project in future.

active learning

Brainy activity is the best baa-none A GROUP of youngsters at Broadmeadows Valley Primary School were so enthralled by their classroom activity that squeals of delight could be heard coming from their room. Despite taking part in an enrichment topic My Brain and Me the Year 1/2 Victorian students could not believe that they were going to get to look at a real sheep’s brain. “It made complete sense that our students should have the opportunity to see what a brain looks like close up,” the school newsletter reports. Throughout the activity the group had lots of questions for their teachers including, ‘Are they real?’, ‘Is that what our brain looks like?’ and ‘Why is there blood?’ Some of the Year 1s and 2s even had enough courage to touch the brains. As a follow-up activity, the students wrote about the brain experience, focusing on a fabulous activity using words like ‘slimy’, ‘gooey’, and ‘disgusting’. “Now their interest in the brain has been amplified and the next few weeks will see all students in LN1 explore the purpose of the brain and ways we can best look after it,” the school newsletter adds.

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April 2013 • australian Teacher • 41

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intheclassroom INBRIEF Mini Grylls’ survival guide


australian Teacher • April 2013

Assembly fun

Arts gets AIR support

BRISBANE – Queensland’s Government has launched its AIR (Artist in Residence) program aimed at fostering creative partnerships in schools. Arts Minister Ian Walker says projects will range from sculpture, music and theatre to drawing, the spoken word and film. The three year initiative has $250,000 available for 2013. Schools can apply at

Teens pick easy reads DUNDEE (UK) – The BBC reports a new survey of 300,000 students by Dundee University professor Keith Topping has found the average reading age of books chosen by 13- and 14-year-olds was only 10 years. Topping says, without guidance from teachers and librarians, teens appear to choose less challenging texts.

Life’s great mysteries CANBERRA - Year 10 students at UC High School Kaleen have compiled a list of rules for living life for their English assignment. According to the school newsletter, some of the rules include: believe in yourself when nobody else believes in you; live with no regrets; and don’t try to control your life as everything is a great mystery until it happens. Email briefs to

PRIMARY school can be a testing environment and it sometimes takes an adventurous spirit to survive. Fortunately, help was at hand for students at Holy Family Catholic Primary School in Darwin when Year 5 and 6 students ran a school assembly called How to Survive School – Bear Grylls Style. Their presentation was based around four school rules which students acted out with a Grylls spin, demonstrating what happens when the rules are followed, and when they are ignored. Teacher Lauren O’Shea says each class at the school takes it in turns to present an assembly, and, as first cab off the rank, she let her students take the reins. “Because I [have] the older students ... I often ask them what they would like to do for assembly, they’re old enough to decide. “We’ve got a boy in my class who absolutely loves Bear Grylls, he reads all of his books and actually met him once ... and he suggested Bear Grylls ... and another student called out ‘Oh, maybe we could do how to survive school’.” Combining the two ideas, O’Shea and her students decided it was the perfect opportunity for the new students to learn some of the important school rules.

Year 5 and 6 students demonstate how to survive school, Bear Grylls style. “One [rule] was to look after the environment, another one was [don’t] run on the concrete ... one was to respond to the bells quickly, and the last rule was to be careful out in the weather.” O’Shea says her students had their audience captivated with their impressions of Grylls. “I think anyone up there with costumes and a bit of make-up on

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[and] the kids are pretty engaged with what’s going, on so it was really good. [With] a few different costumes and the mud on the face, the kids loved it.” Having their teacher step back into a facilitating role also proved empowering for the youngsters. “They love taking ownership and they really feel part of it which is good,” O’Shea adds.

SA grants

Funding help for parent programs PARENTS are being urged to go beyond the school gate thanks to the Parent Initiatives in Education grants awarded to more than 40 schools and preschools. South Australian Education Minister Jennifer Rankine announced $60,000 in grants for initiatives that help parents get more involved in their child’s school. Of the 40 recipients, Virginia Primary School’s grant will be used to get English classes for parents of Vietnamese and Cambodian background up and running, and Gumeracha Primary School parents can look forward to the program Setting Kids Up for Success. Parafield Gardens High School parents will be invited to attend the Help your Child with Homework initiative, and Naracoorte Primary School parents will be up for Handwriting Mythbusters. Willunga High School’s program will cover parents’ role in cyber safety. “Success in education depends on strong partnerships between professional educators, parents, families and communities,” Rankine says, commenting on the school grants program. “Parents, carers and families are the first and most important influence in a child’s life.”

Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou my entree, main course and dessert?

intheclassroom 43 INBRIEF Unearthing talent

THE idea started off as a joke between teachers, but students now find that performing their Shakespeare plays in their own theatre restaurant is the highlight of their entire year. Matthew Cathcart, a Year 6 teacher from Queenslandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s St Lukeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Anglican School says it all began when he was watching a Year 11 student perform and thought that his Year 6s could do a better job. â&#x20AC;&#x153;So we did, and it started off as just the play and back then we used to do it during class time,â&#x20AC;? he explains, adding â&#x20AC;&#x153;Some of the parents said that they would like to be able to watch it but they couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t come during the day. â&#x20AC;&#x153;So, we went to holding it at night and decided to put in the restaurant as well â&#x20AC;&#x201C; it added a bit more to the evening.â&#x20AC;? Over two nights, each of the two Year 6 classes take turns in performing their plays to parents while the other class serves a three course meal. They then swap roles for the second night. â&#x20AC;&#x153;They take sections out of Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet and they just do a performance of those sections,â&#x20AC;? Cathcart says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We also teach the students about dinner service, how to set the plates, how to interact with

IN an effort to lure students away from performing at home in front of their bathroom mirrors, and to instead show off their talents to hundreds of their peers on a live stage, Rockingham Senior High School is holding a Rockinghamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Got Talent competition. The format of the competition emulates the way popular television talent shows are set out, including a judging panel (made up of teachers) and a round of heats before the big grand final. Music teacher Matthew Burke says all Year 8 to 12 students are invited to enter, and so far there is a fairly even representation of each year level. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We originally had 11 acts signed up (around 20 students as some are duoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s), and in the time between the heat at lunchtime today and now I have had another five students sign up ... a trend I hope will continue,â&#x20AC;? he says. The idea for this new program came from the desire to identify and recognise the rich and diverse talents of students, and to entice them to further develop and showcase these skills in the arts program at the Western Australian school. â&#x20AC;&#x153;From my perspective as a music teacher, I have seen some fantastic singing performanc-

April 2013


australian Teacher

Arts program

Theatre restaurant

Students perform Shakespeare excerpts in their theatre restaurant. clients and be polite, that sort of thing,â&#x20AC;? he adds. Much like any other performance, students are decked out in costumes and makeup, and have lighting and roving microphones to use. They also record each of the sections and have the chance to edit it later on. Cathcart says that they really seem to connect with this activity. â&#x20AC;&#x153;That was the thing that really surprised me ... the students are the ones who have really grabbed a hold of it and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not something that students normally at this age do, but they seem to really enjoy it,â&#x20AC;? he reflects.

Preparing to do battle

es from students today that had never previously been involved in the music program â&#x20AC;&#x201C; they were essentially â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;off the radarâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;,â&#x20AC;? Burke shares. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I now hope to offer them opportunities to build on their skills through the schoolâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s vocal program ... and the opportunity to participate in the choir, as well as being involved in class music. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I hope that with hundreds of their peers cheering them on [the competition will give them] the boost needed to continue to pursue their arts. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The look on some studentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s faces just before they went on to perform in the audition was of sheer terror â&#x20AC;&#x201C; simply by getting up on stage and having a crack in front of a huge crowd, theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve already won,â&#x20AC;? he says proudly.

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Year 12 student Long Hoang tries out for Rockinghamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Got Talent.

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WOLLONGONG - Students at Woonona High School have finished making their trophies for the annual surfing competition. They were designed and created by students, in addition to their regular coursework in industrial technology. Students participated in the entire design process and the trophies were presented during assembly on March 5. Email briefs to

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intheclassroom australian Teacher • April 2013

INBRIEF Supporting students through illness classroom help desk

Developing Horizons

MELBOURNE - Four professional engineers from Melbourne University have visited MacRobertson Girls’ High School to talk to an engineering elective class and a physics class about “Developing Horizons”. The four gave an introduction to engineering talk and focussed on chemical and bimolecular, bio-mechanical, environmental and bio-medical engineering.

Friendship web woven ADELAIDE - In an effort to form positive relationships between students in the Year 6/7 class at North Ingle School, the group made a friendship web out of wool. Each student introduced themselves by letting their peers know one thing they liked about themselves, before passing it on. At the end of the activity they reinforced the strength in the web with everyone’s qualities.

Slight homework help QIANJIANG (China) - A businessman has reportedly enlisted the help of nine employees to do his 12-year-old daughter’s homework. The Qianjiang Evening News says one of the disgruntled workers complained to a local paper that they stayed up late for two nights to finish the assignment. A video task was even subcontracted out to another worker at a TV station.

Commissioner grilled CANBERRA - Youngsters at Kingsford Smith School in Canberra have quizzed new National Children’s Commissioner Megan Mitchell. The Year 5 and 6 students wanted to know if she would be able to choose if they got less homework. Mitchell told them it was an example of an area where children should start up a discussion and see if they could change things.

Enviro freaks’ passion CABOOLTURE – A group of students from Mount Mee State School, affectionately named the ‘Enviro Freaks’ have a passion for preserving and protecting the environment. They have recently refurbished the school vegie gardens by building trellis for the cucumbers, tomatoes and beans and planted a whole range of produce.

Up for Geo-Challenge ROTTNEST ISLAND - Teachers and students from across Western Australia will gather on Rottnest Island on April 17 to compete for the Geo-Challenge Cup. The treasure hunt style quest involves 50 teams, made up of three Year 6 students and one teacher. Competitors have to find hidden geocache containers using a GPS or smartphone device.

Flood heroes thanked MARYBOROUGH - Queensland Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek paid a special visit to St Helens State School to thanks staff, parents and volunteers for their help during the January floods. The school community rallied to get the site up and going again within a few days after water inundated classrooms, the library and hall. Email briefs to

IN this month’s Classroom Help Desk, CanTeen counselling services manager MADELEINE BERRY offers advice for educators working with a student who has been diagnosed with a serious illness. Q. Should I get in touch with the parents? If you heard the diagnosis from the student then I would check with the student about what they know, how they are feeling and what they have discussed with their parent/s. I would let the student know you are planning to talk to their parent/s. Then, I would definitely make contact with the parents (if they did not let you know of the diagnosis in the first place). Ask them if there was anything that will affect how their child will be at school — for example, will they need additional support, time off school, are there any medical issues we need to be aware of? I would have ongoing contact with the family and encourage them to call if there were any changes in their child’s condition or their needs. Should I avoid mentioning it to the student? No! It’s really important in this situation that the student does not

When it comes to handing out schoolwork, discuss the student’s symptons and needs with the student and their parents. feel alone and have to bring up any new changes in their illness. It’s our role to ensure they feel safe to talk about what’s happening to them, but at the same time not forced to talk about it all the time. It can be good if you can offer them someone as their contact person who can pass on information so they don’t have to repeat themselves.

the student’s symptoms and needs with their parents and the student. The pressure of feeling that they need to keep up with all of their schoolwork may cause a student anxiety and have an additional impact on their health. Some students may force themselves to keep working hard, when they may need to have work taken off them.

Is there any expert help available to educators? There are many support organisations that deal with specific illnesses. These can be sourced from the internet but, as with anything, it’s important to beware of garnering medical information from websites. In relation to young people dealing with cancer you can log on to

Do I need to cut back the amount of work I give them? You may need to do this. Discuss

Should I let the rest of the class know? Often a student will be really

CanTeen is a national support organisation for 12- to 24-yearolds dealing with cancer.

newspapersineducation s-press in class

How I use S-press in my classroom...

pleased to have the burden of letting people know about their illness removed from them. Making a low key announcement so that everyone has the same information can be helpful. However, some people want their diagnosis to be kept private or to choose the time when they let people know, so it’s important to ask the student what they want first. It may be useful to get an external speaker with specialist knowledge to do an in-school session with Q&As (you can contact your local CanTeen division). It’s human nature to make up things to fill gaps in their knowledge, so its best to keep people informed on at least a basic level.





OUR first exposure to S-press magazine came when my students noticed an advertisement for a major outdoor rock concert on the back cover. From there, S-press quickly became a lifeline to the major events that we sometimes miss out on living in regional Queensland. But more importantly, S-press has made an impression on my students as a publication that addresses the important issues, but doesn’t report on these matters in a gratuitous manner. Nor does it condescend its teen readership. Indeed, the quality of the reports and reviews often become a template when exemplifying these written genres in the English classroom. S-press has become particularly useful when modelling the letter to the editor genre to Year 9 and 10 English classes. The fact that this publication sources opinion on a range of topics from a variety of backgrounds provides stimulus for discussion and enables and inspires my students to express their own views on current issues. Recently, I have also integrated the S-press iPad app into the senior English communication curriculum. The interactive quality of this online publication has involved students who were perhaps not so willing to engage with traditional paper publications. digital editi on

free to down load

Glen Potter teaches English and history at Coorparoo Secondary College, QLD.

Work experience opportunity S-press is always keen to recruit hard-working and enthusiastic work experience students. If any of your students harbour journalistic or professional writing aspirations, send them our way! S-press provides a safe, fun, friendly and valuable placement that will give students practical insight into the journalism industry and clippings for their portfolio.

Reviewers - we want you! Do you have a film buff in your class? S-press is calling on fledgling writers to submit reviews of new release DVDs and CDs for its LOUD entertainment section. DVD and album reviews should be no longer than 150 words; singles: 50 words. You can download instructions on how to make review-writing for S-press a classroom activity at

Get your students in S-press! S-press reporters get many of their stories from online school newsletters and from teachers getting in contact with story ideas. If your school newsletter isn’t being published on the school website — get it up there! If you have a story idea, email us at

How are you using S-press? We want to hear about it. As well as referring to this column (left), you can visit and download NIE factsheets covering a range of topics. Once you’ve completed an activity get in touch through and tell us about it — you can even include a photo.

S-press Tough talking Tiger

In the current edition of S-press Grant Quarry speaks to Tigers AFL star Reece Conca about study, staying focussed, and of course, football. His tips for teens with AFL dreams include ignoring negative distractions and outside influences, and committing to school as well as footy. Conca also talks about the psychology degree he’s currently undertaking at Swinburne University of Technology and says while football is a priority right now, he enjoys the chance to keep his brain ticking over. With the 2013 AFL season just beginning Conca says he has high hopes for the young vibrant team.

Teen depression look This month’s health and lifestyle pages look at depression, a common mental illness affecting Australian teenagers. We’ve explained what depression is, some common symptoms, different types of depression and indicated where students can go to get help. Work experience student Ben Chaplikas from Northcote High School offers some great advice for exercising safely and keeping hydrated in the hot weather, and our relationship experts tackle a tough question about dating a best friend’s ex boyfriend or girlfriend. Dr Sally also answers more embarrassing sexual health questions.

S-press is a national student publication distributed to secondary schools. For more information, go to

technology innovation


An ICT project we’re proud of ... would have to be the implementation of our 1:1 laptop program. Teachers at Wynnum State High School have embraced a huge pedagogical shift that began more than a year before the first device landed in student hands. The program has also brought about the implementation of BlackBoard Virtual Classrooms for all classes, to ensure students have access to a differentiated curriculum both on and off campus. We are now on the journey to implementing Microsoft OneNote, initially to all Year 8 and 9 classes. The most common ICTrelated questions I’m asked by staff ... have evolved over the last few years. In the early stages of preparing for the laptop program, the questions were focussed more on technical aspects of using various programs. [Now] they are more focused on pedagogy. Benjamin Weeks eLearning coordinator Wynnum SHS, QLD

Do you have a story to tell ICT in Education? Email




international news

ASMS online content coordinator Nick Hayden and advertising coordinator Rachel Koek.

Computer science calls

ASMS into adventure CLICK on the Australian Science and Mathematics School (ASMS) website and you’ll be greeted by funky sketch cartoons and an eye-catching invitation to ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’. The sleek design, which is a departure from the look and feel of most education websites, also extends to the school’s staff and student intranet portal, newsletter and prospectus. “The Choose Your Own Adventure theme is going through all of our branding and advertising now,” ASMS manager of ICT services Craig Osmond tells Australian Teacher Magazine. “[The school] is very much about self-directed learning, and students being able to choose their learning style and path. So, we tied the website into that,” he explains. “The prospectus that goes with it has things like ‘If you are a student, choose page 2, and if you’re

April 2013

a parent, page 4’, it’s gone down that choose your own adventure book path in the actual promotional material, so that’s the theme we were looking at carrying through.” The idea for the revamp came from discussions with a marketing company the school has worked with for several years. The cartoons were created as part of the wider branding campaign and the school has a collection of about a dozen that it can now use across different platforms. Osmond says having someone to manage the new look for web and intranet was a key part of the project. “Web has really become an intricate part of our day to day life, so we wanted to build the capacity in-house to be able to manage that.” That responsibility falls to the school’s online content coordinator, Nick Hayden. He says the redesign is very much a work in

progress and adds the team is constantly looking at ways to further improve it. Explaining some of the technical changes, Hayden says the ASMS public website now runs on WordPress for its content management system, and Scholaris and SharePoint for its private intranet portal. “The website used to run on SharePoint but now we’re running completely on WordPress. “I find it’s a bit more userfriendly so I thought it was a good choice to go with, especially being open source and the wide range of support that’s out there for it,” he reflects. “There are [also] some responsive styles in there so it can shrink down to a mobile device.” Osmond says initial feedback about the overall brand change has been positive, although he adds a few people have said “Whoa, that’s different.”

THE world’s top tech icons star in a new video promoting the value of computer coding in schools. Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter creator Jack Dorsey are among the celebrities who appear in What Most Schools Don’t Teach. The film ( watch?v=nKIu9yen5nc) promotes, a non-profit foundation aiming to address a problem often cited by tech companies — there are not enough computer science graduates to fill the growing number of programming jobs. “Our policy is literally to hire as many talented engineers as we can find,” Zuckerberg says in the video. “The whole limit of the system is there just aren’t enough people who are trained and have these skills today.”

would you believe it Student-led space project HIGH school students have seen their inventions blast off from Cape Canaveral on a rocket destined for the International Space Station. California students came up with inventions and experiments astronauts could use to study the effects of microgravity. The Pomerado News reports Maranatha Christian High School in San Diego is one of the schools taking part in the project. Eight students created a sensor that collects real-time data to compare levels of carbon monoxide on Earth to those in the space station. They will keep in touch with astronauts via Skype and can make any changes to their invention through a computer.

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Technology 46 INBRIEF iPad kitchen wizz australian Teacher • April 2013

How i use ict in ... home ec.

Cultural exchange joy

CANBERRA - Students from Harrison School took part in their first live NBNenabled Japanese cultural exchange this term. Students at Chitose Senior High School taught their Australian counterparts some Japanese and later the schools entertained one another with performances of Waltzing Matilda and Japanese folk song Okina Kuri Kino Shitade (Under the Chestnut Tree).

Cyber safety program ADELAIDE - Walford Anglican School for Girls has been running cyber safety sessions for students this term. Senior constable Leanne Maddison visited the school to talk to Year 8 and 9 students about taking responsibility for what they post online, updating privacy settings and reporting inappropriate behaviour. Year 6 and 7 students will take part in similar sessions in Term 2.

ZOE CLEMENTS, Chisholm Catholic College, WA USING iPads in home economics makes for a really exciting classroom when you’ve got everything at your fingertips. This year we’ve attempted to do the entire Year 7 program on the iPad. Students have all of their assessment tasks, their entire workbook and recipes they’ll use throughout the semester on their iPads. I’ve linked in YouTube clips and things that are relevant to them, I’ve got some Jamie Oliver [clips] and there’s a range of YouTube clips on how to cook certain

things, how to thread a sewing machine and things like that. The [workbook] is run through iTunes U, and was developed through our e-learning team and myself. Students create a notebook in Evernote, which they can drop work into. Then they invite the teacher to be a collaborator on that notebook so they can access and view what students drop in there, which is great for marking. We also use Poplet which is like a mind mapping [tool], and we use Skitch ... for annotating photos, and we use Toondo where [students] create safety and hygiene [rules] with cartoon characters.

eKindy a success story BRISBANE - State Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek dropped in at the Brisbane School of Distance Education this term to watch an eKindy class in action. The program is based on teacher-delivered web lessons and online and in-home activities. It was developed last year by the school and is now being delivered to 150 families. Email briefs to

self-learning hero

TED2013 prize-winner aiming to build on schools in the cloud success

Sugata Mitra shares his prize-winning education vision at TED2013. PHYSICIST Sugata Mitra has won the $US1,000,000 TED prize for 2013 in recognition of his efforts to promote self-learning among children with no access to classrooms. Mitra’s educational work began in 1999 with his ‘hole in the wall’ experiment. He installed a PC in the outer wall of his research centre with a hidden camera. Mitra watched how children from a nearby Delhi slum taught themselves how to use the computer, logging on to the internet searching websites on science and other topics, then teaching each other. Since then, the Indian researcher has developed thousands of ‘schools in the cloud’ in which he

installs a single computer in lowincome communities and hooks it up to a high speed network. “My wish is to help design the future of learning by supporting children all over the world to tap into their innate sense of wonder and work together,” he told the TED2013 conference. Accepting the prize, he talked about plans for a virtual school and invited people across the world to help him create Self-Organised Learning Environments (SOLEs). Mitra’s projects also recruit retired teachers to offer lessons via Skype which focus on giving students challenges they must work together to complete.

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Technology 47


help desk

Managing your pics online Darcy Moore Q. Any tips for managing photos?

PLanner plus app Planner Plus is a great tool for teachers to stay organised and on track with tasks. The Planner Plus app ($8.49) is your one-stop shop for keeping your timetable, class notes and daily tasks in the one place. Colour code your subjects, yard duties and meetings and add them to the calendar section. Add your daily class topics to the notes section to keep track of where you are at in class and keep track of your ‘to do’ list by adding items to the tasks section, ticking them off as they are complete. Using this app means you could finally leave behind the chronicle and loose pieces of paper you have carried around with you to every class. The app is compatible with the iPad (iOS version 5 or later) and is available to download from iTunes. Nicole Hexter, head of IT St Patrick’s College, Ballarat

April 2013 • australian Teacher

A. Managing and storing photos can be challenging if you have limited time to assess the many excellent possibilities. Considerations include privacy, flexibility, sharing, copyright, capacity, access, affordability, mobility and simplicity. Many use Facebook and dabble with Instagram, especially if their phone is used for photography. Others have a hard drive cluttered with disorganised photos, often not backed-up securely. My own system suits both my ‘iPhoneography’ and photography using a Nikon D700 DSLR. I recommend the following tools: Adobe Lightroom 4, see picture, is brilliant for organising, processing, sharing and publishing your DSLR’s RAW or JPEG files online or in hard copy. The software does not really store your photos but is an effective way for finding them on your hard drive. I start a new ‘catalogue’ each year, but this is not really necessary until you reach about 10,000 pictures. The ‘collections’ are a great way of organising photos without having to move the actual files. It is

much simpler to use than Photoshop and is designed for photographers rather than graphic designers. I particularly like that you can publish a photo from Lightroom to Facebook or Flickr or other sites easily, effectively storing it online ( 30 day free trial). Flickr, an old favourite currently making a comeback with some good innovations in the way the new mobile app supports editing and sharing. It is my main online tool for storing and sharing photos as it permits users great freedom with licensing their photos using creative commons (

creativecommons). It is also very easy to download different files sizes. For bloggers, teachers or those who want legally permissible image sources it is easy to store, find, share and attribute copyright ( Photos taken with a smartphone and uploaded online are increasingly edited in a very sophisticated manner with a huge, everwidening range of apps. I use Snapseed ( as my main editing tool before uploading to Flickr, Facebook or Eyeem ( Many of these apps allow you to upload to multiple sites, including Twitter, with one click after editing. It is important to have your precious photographs backed up online and offline. The 100 per cent automated Just Cloud ( stores all my photos (and computer files) in the cloud. I also clone my hard drive using Carbon Copy Cloner ( for Mac) to ensure complete protection against disaster. Of course, I can always download the full files from Facebook or Flickr too. Darcy Moore is deputy principal of Dapto High School, NSW. Twitter @Darcy1968; com/photos/darcymoore/

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48 • AUSTRALIAN Teacher • April 2013

Top Security for Top School


s one of Australia’s most progressive and creative educational institutions, St Michael’s Grammar School (St Michael’s) sits at the leading edge when it comes to implementing technology for its staff and students. Not only does the School offer easy access to applications and the Internet through its network of computer laboratories and workstations, it also has a fast wireless network covering the school grounds. The infrastructure allows its family of some 1,300 students and 300 full-time staff across its Junior and Senior School campuses to comprehensively access its IT resources and to collaborate on projects and instructional materials. However, with children as young as seven in its care, St Michael’s takes no chances when it comes to the safety and security of its students, and online security is no exception. “It is critical for us to ensure that our students, especially the younger ones under our charge, are adequately protected against various forms of inappropriate content lurking in cyberspace,” said Jai Ross, Manager of St Michael’s ICT Department. While it’s current firewall seemed to be doing an acceptable job protecting the School’s network, when St Michael’s examined their academic requirements more closely, it discovered that a broadbased appliance preventing generic categories of content was insufficient to meet their needs. “Catering to such a wide range of age groups and academic levels, it is important for the School to have the flexibility to manage what it deems to be appropriate content for different levels,” said Mr Ross. “We need a strong but fine filter to be able to quickly sift through content without affecting performance.”

Flexible Filter

Economic Benefits

After considering many options, Mr Ross finally settled on Barracuda Networks, selected the Barracuda Web Filter 610, and installed it in early 2012.

From an IT administration standpoint, St Michael’s also found the Web Filter 610 to be highly effective.

As an integrated content filtering, application blocking and malware protection appliance, it suited St Michael’s needs perfectly. “It was a quick, fuss-free installation, and we could immediately enforce Internet usage policies by blocking access to websites and Internet applications that are not applicable to the School, as well as eliminating the entry of spyware and other forms of malware,” said Mr Ross. “One of the great features the Web Filter 610 has provided is that even inappropriate ads are blocked on safe websites,” he added. “Unfortunately, a lot of websites hosting valuable content do sometimes have unsafe content on them as well, but with the 610 we don’t have to be so discriminating.” In addition to meeting the School’s main objective of securing its IT system, the Barracuda 610 also supplied the flexibility St Michael’s needed to enhance the productivity of its users. The Barracuda Web Filter 610 integrates with Microsoft’s Active Directory to provide real-time access to the different users and groups managed by the directory server with different policies applied to different users and groups. While an association is typically made on log-on between an IP address and a username, the override feature extends the functionality of the web filtering to bringyour-own devices,” said Mr Ross. “This is one of the great features which allow students and staff who are on their own personal devices to connect to the Internet through their Active Directory credentials.”

“It is surprisingly easy to manage and allowed us to produce highly customisable reports,” noted Mr Ross. “It is also very reliable and we’ve never had any unplanned downtime.” Being able to reduce mundane IT administration was a significant benefit to the School’s department and allowed Mr Ross and his team to spend more time on more strategic academic programs. The scalability and power of the Web Filter 610 also meant that the School only needed to install one system to manage all its users, saving much time and money. Most importantly, and beyond the additional productivity benefits, the Barracuda Web Filter 610 served its primary role exceedingly well. “The primary reason was to protect our students from the unsafe content out there,” said Mr Ross. “It has helped keep our students safe on the web.”

“It is critical for us to ensure that our students, especially the younger ones under our charge, are adequately protected against various forms of inappropriate content lurking in cyberspace.” - Jai Ross, ICT Manager, ICT Department

About St Michael’s Grammar School, Australia St Michael’s Grammar School is a creative and caring school which strives for educational excellence and celebrates the diversity of its community. It aims to set the benchmark for innovative, K-12, coeducational schools in Australia. Its extensive academic, co-curricular and pastoral care programs empower students to chart their preferred educational paths, explore individual interests and enjoy rich learning experiences. Founded in 1895, St Michael’s boasts a rich heritage and visionary principles and values of diversity, compassion, dignity, respect and creativity. As such, the School focuses very much on educating for the future and strives to challenge young minds and equip its students with the skills, knowledge and confidence necessary to engage with life as contributing citizens of the 21st century. Part of the School’s strategic mandate is to support excellence in teaching, learning and caring, with broadreaching programs that aim to develop high-quality infrastructure and business practices to support innovative learning.

About Barracuda 610 Web-Filter The Barracuda Web Filter is an integrated content filtering, application blocking and malware protection solution. It enforces customised Internet usage policies by blocking access to user-selected Web sites and Internet applications, and completely eliminates spyware and other forms of malware. For more information, please visit

professional development conferences




April 2013

Association focus

Delegates learn how dance can be applied across the domains at an Ausdance conference.

Tasmanian Association for the Teaching of English (TATE)

Celebrating dance CHELSEA ATTARD APRIL heralds the beginning of a week-long celebration of dance in Australia. Dr Katrina Rank, education and training manager for Ausdance Victoria says Australian Dance Week is all about letting people know that dance is an option. “[It] makes you happy, dance connects you to other people, and it has fitness benefits as well. Mostly it just makes you feel good,” she says. While the celebration is aimed at creating awareness of the benefits of dance in a concentrated effort for seven days, Rank says Ausdance works all year round to highlight how it can be incorporated into the classroom, and not just strictly as a specialist arts subject.

“Generally we look across the domains ... so dance in maths, dance in science, dance in English,” she says. Using it in these contexts seems an unusual idea on the surface, but Rank explains dance and a subject like maths for example, can blend beautifully. “Dance uses maths in the way that it counts of course, and it uses different rhythmic patterns ... different levels ... different dimensions, it uses space. “Individually dancers create shapes, a-symmetrical, symmetrical ... they form lines, [so] geometry’s a big one.” This year Rank says Ausdance Victoria will be aiming to involve anyone with an interest in dance in their PD events. “If they want to, anyone can teach [dance] ... if they’ve had

some experience in dance, and a great deal of interest ...” In addition to this, Rank says there’s a want for showing studio dance teachers how they might support local schools in the delivery of classes. “Because those studio teachers teach from a very different perspective, it’s a vocational perspective, the performance of movement and very technical movement sometimes is their priority.” But dance in schools, Rank says, is focussed on the creative application of the artform. “[Students] experience how to create movement and dances, how to express their view of the world through movement. “We’re hoping we can work with studio teachers to show them how it works in schools, so if the school wants to call on the local

dance teacher to support their program ... they wouldn’t be coming in trying to do what they do in the studio.” Another plan in the works, Rank says, is to reinforce the presence of dance education in the primary school classroom. “We’ll be looking at ways to go into schools and show teachers what teaching dance, particularly in the primary curriculum, looks like,” she adds. Rank obviously has a busy year ahead, but in the meantime it’s all systems go preparing for the biggest week in Australian dance, and she says Ausdance has something exciting planned. “I’m not going to let too many cats out of the bag, but it’s quite possible we might do an en masse, highly visible, dance moment with a digital component.”

TATE is a state branch of the Australian Association for the Teaching of English (AATE) and a not-for-profit professional association. It aims to promote and support the teaching and study of English in Tasmania at primary, secondary and senior secondary levels. Our association is open to teachers in [all school sectors] and tertiary educators and students. TATE produces a tri-yearly journal, EduTATE, which features articles, teaching ideas and resources written and compiled by Tasmanian English teachers. TATE offers professional learning opportunities, including an annual state conference in collaboration with the Australian Literacy Educator’s Association Tasmanian branches. The 2012 Conference attracted over 450 delegates, an indication of the success and relevance of such events to Tasmanian teachers of English and literacy. Along with a strong professional advocacy role, TATE offers beginning teacher workshops, curriculum consultation forums and sponsors author tours and visits; providing valuable authorin-residence opportunities for schools. Erika Boas TATE president

Do you have a story to tell Professional Development? Email


professionaldevelopment INBRIEF Levelling the leadership playing field


australian Teacher • April 2013

Women in education

Getting the full effect

Most teachers are familiar with interactive whiteboards, but how many use them to full effect? The Association of Independent Schools NSW is running professional development to reassess some current teaching and learning strategies through the use of this powerful resource. The PD session, Using Interactive Whiteboards Effectively in the 7-12 classroom, will run on May 2.

Global learning focus ICT in Education Victoria will be exploring the idea of global learning at its upcoming state conference. The theme IT Takes A Village explores the fact that the educational landscape is no longer one of isolation and remoteness. The conference takes place on May 25. Contact ICTEV for more.

CONSTAWA is coming Science teachers in Western Australia are gearing up for CONSTAWA 33, set to take place on May 17-18. Keynote speakers will include professor Lyn Beazley, chief scientist of WA, and Dr Ian MacLoud from the Freemantle Maritime Museum. There will also be science demonstrations with professor Bunsen-Carl and the opportunity to use telescopes to view the night sky. Email briefs to

TEACHERS might seek support in a range of places, it might be from their school’s principal or their professional association, but, more often than not, it’s in the company of like-minded colleagues over a pint. This is how Women in Educational Leadership (WIEL) association started some 15 years ago, when the founding members realised their casual meetings at the local pub could become something more. “Basically it was a small group of women … who got together regularly. They started off by simply saying ‘Wouldn’t this be good if other women had the opportunity to support each other like we do?’ and from that, WIEL was born,” Lissa Tardiani executive officer of the New South Wales WIEL committee explains. As the name suggests, WIEL’s primary aim is to support women aspiring to leadership in the field of education. Tardiani says statistics show there is clear disparity between the number of women working in the field, and the number of those working in higher positions. “You’re still looking at [the fact that] say 73 per cent of teachers are women, and 50 per cent or less are in higher positions.”

WIEL aims to support women in attaining leadership positions. According to Tardiani, a retired principal herself, there’s a variety of reasons for the imbalance. “You have women who have broken service because they leave to have children ... you’ve basically still got an ‘old boys network’ in some of it, really being honest, and that sometimes makes it hard for women to get into those positions. “[Also] because [women] have

got the work-life balance to juggle, they’re often juggling families as well,” Tardiani adds, “and there’s just a tradition of men holding those higher positions.” In an effort to level the playing field, WIEL provides a range of professional development opportunities for members. Like many professional associations, WIEL hosts a biennial state conference, but Tardiani says she

Free subscriptions are available at

is always looking for different things WIEL can do to really make a difference. “We’ve run mentoring courses, where we specifically gear to the sort of things that women might need as far as mentoring might go and some support, because often women don’t give themselves the time to put in to themselves.” As well as inspiring women working in the education field, WIEL also works to inspire future leaders. “We’ve put together a package called a ‘girls forum’ package, because we think that as educators, and as women, and as leaders, we should also be influencing our girls and our future leaders. “So we put together a package where schools can run days for girls [that] focus on leadership skills and self-esteem, and the influence of the media ... hopefully to give girls some skills to really realise the dreams that they may have.” To date, WIEL operates networks around NSW. However, with recent interest from educators in New Zealand Tardiani says there is discussion about branching out into other states and countries. “[The] WIEL message is spreading, and we’re finding that we’re needing to grow with it.”

pd 51

April 2013 • australian Teacher

Into adolescent success

This year’s MYSA event carries a theme of ‘celebrate strength, create dynamics, make a difference’. TEACHERS from around the globe will come together for Middle Years of Schooling Association’s (MYSA) 8th International Conference from May 23-25. MYSA’s executive officer Angela White, says between 600 and 700 delegates from countries including The United Arab Emirates, South Korea and New Zealand will come together on the Gold Coast to discuss adolescent success. “The theme is ‘celebrate strength, create dynamics, make a difference.’ It’s a threepronged approach,” White says. ‘Celebrate strength’ refers to celebrating the good work of teachers, ‘create dynamics’ is all about team building, and ‘make a difference’, highlights leadership in schools, White says. “This conference is really interesting because it’s celebrating what teachers are actually doing at the coal face that improves student engagement and achievement.” A unique feature of this year’s conference according to White, is a classroom which will be operating within the conference. “Fernware ... are setting up a classroom of 21st century furniture, so it’s called a modern learning environment ... out of that classroom will operate an actual class, so

the students will be there with their actual devices, and the teacher will be there teaching them in a way that’s a flipped classroom. “Delegates will be able to wander through the classroom, see what the students are doing, talk to them [and] gain some understanding,” White says. In addition to this, White says MYSA will also take teachers out to schools which have been nominated for their exemplary pedagogical frameworks. “They [delegates] jump on buses and head out to schools for the morning, and they actually get to see and hear about programs that are running in [these] schools, and make contact with teachers there. It really is the highlight of the conference because it’s real and they get to see what’s actually going on in schools.” In a MYSA conference first, the association will also run a MYSA-meet session, where teachers take it in turns to make a two minute presentation to the group in a situation akin to speed-dating. “So in the course of one hour, our whole delegation gets to hear from young and older teachers, all about different programs that they’re running,” White says.

science conference

Broadly appealing subject matter the key to attracting delegates to SASTA annual gathering ‘SCIENCE from the Classroom to the Workplace’ will be the theme of South Australian Science Teachers’ Association’s (SASTA) upcoming Annual Conference and Expo. SASTA executive officer Greg Cole says the two day conference which begins on April 15, will appeal to a wide range of delegates. “It caters for all primary, middle school and secondary science teachers, but [we’ll] also have sessions that would be suitable for laboratory officers, and some tertiary educators as well. It’s quite broad.” Cole says day one will begin with a keynote presentation by the director for the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, professor Alan Cooper. Cooper will speak on the rapidly changing field of biology. On day two, the keynote entitled Biomedical Engineering: Making a difference will be made by professor Karen Reynolds, Matthew Flinders Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Flinders University. Following the keynote presentations Cole says delegates will have the opportunity to

partake in cutting-edge workshops delivered by university lecturers who will discuss the latest in science education. These workshops will cover topics ranging from Conservation Ecology of the Pygmy Bluetongue Lizard, to the changing role of the pharmacist, and everything in between. Cole says delegates attending the 2013 Annual Conference and Expo have a lot to gain, in particular, those teachers coming to grips with the Australian Curriculum, and others looking for development in more specific areas of science education.

Professional Learning Workshop Programme Term 2, 2013

gold coast conference

Effective behavior leadership, management and discipline Dr Bill Rogers. Monday 22 April, 9.30am – 3.30pm

Inquiry and the Australian Curriculum: A whole school approach to inquiry based learning (P-6)

Kath Murdoch. Tuesday 23 April , 9.30am – 3.30pm

Skills for beginning teachers

Karen Stammers & Yvonne Willich Monday 29 April, 9.30am – 3.30pm

Teaching the craft of writing (P-4)

David Hornsby. Tuesday 30 April, 9.30am – 3.30pm

Using evidence-informed teaching & learning strategies to optimise student learning outcomes Helen McGrath. Friday 10 May, 9.30am – 3.30pm

Brain based approaches to counselling and behaviour management Andrew Fuller. Monday 13 May, 9.30am – 3.30pm

Mental computation, place value and the 4 operations (3-8) Rob Vingerhoets. Friday 17 May, 9.30am – 3.30pm

Identifying and catering for gifted students – a whole school perspective Anna Bennett. Monday 20 May, 9.30am – 3.30pm

Formative assessment and teacher practice: improving learning and teaching Julie Landvogt. Thursday 23 May, 9.30am – 3.30pm

The road to good writing – effective strategies for teaching creative writing Vikki Petraitis. Friday 24 May, 9.30am – 3.30pm

Dealing with the hard class

Dr Bill Rogers. Monday 27 May, 9.30am – 3.30pm

Numeracy in the early years, helping make sense of number, counting and numeration (P-2) Michael Ymer. Friday 31 May, 9.30am – 3.30pm

Managing parent expectations and developing positive relationships Karen Stammers & Yvonne Willich Monday 3 June, 9.30am – 3.30pm

All workshops are held at the Australian Institute of Management, 181 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda For further information or to book online visit: t: (03) 9524 6222 e:



professionaldevelopment australian teacher • April 2013

M = cost for members of host association, NM = cost for non-members.

NATIONAL Primary English Teaching AssocIATION Australia Building reading fluency

April 4, 4:00pm- 6:30pm; SERU, Henley Beach SA; M $80, NM $105; info@petaa.

Engaging readers through response to text-life connections April 8, 4:00pm- 6:30pm; The Grange Public School, Minto; M $80, NM $105;

Literature & poetry: Students’ engagement & response

May 1, 9:00am- 3:00pm; Gordon East Public School, NSW; M $160, NM $215;

Literature and Indigenous/ Asian/Sustainability priorities May 22, 3:30pm- 6:30pm; Peregian Springs State School, Sunshine Coast; M $80, NM $105; info@petaa.

Focusing on spoken language to improve reading comprehension

June 3, 4:00pm- 6:30pm; John Warby Public School, Airds, M $80, NM $105;

Creating multimodal meaning with 3D animation software

June 4, 9:00am- 3:00pm; Footscray Primary School, Vic, M $160, NM $215;

Teaching Comprehension

June 5, 4:00pm- 6:30pm; John XXIII Catholic Prim School, Stanhope Gardens; M $80, NM $105; info@

Supporting students’ reading/writing development- middle yrs

June 19, 4:00pm- 6:30pm; Mount Annan Public School, NSW; M $80, NM $105;

Explicit teaching strategies for reading comprehension

July 30, 9:00am- 3:00pm; Newman Siena Centre, Doubleview; M $160, NM $215;


April 12-13, Time TBA; Launceston venue TBA; Cost TBA; karen. hampton@education.tas.

GuidingThinking for Effective Spelling

May 4; St Joseph’s School, 56 Albermarie Street, West Hindmarsh; M/NM $95;

Empowering Students’ Writing Through Learning About How Language Works May 8, 4:00pm- 7:00pm; Venue TBA; M $30, NM $75; jillian.armstrong@

Teacher Insights: Reading like a Writer

May 15, 3:45pm- 5:00pm; Berry Primary School; M $5,

NM $10; jessicam@uow.

The Art of Compression AND The Future of Books…The Future of Reading

June 1, 9:30am- 12:00pm; Our Lady of Good Counsel, 11 Currie Road, Forestville; M $20, NM $40; KATHRYN.

Engaging Middle Years Students through Thinking, Talking and Collaborating

Kelvin Grove campus; Cost TBA; http://www. englishliteracyconference.

NM $290; admin@aisnsw.


May 13, 8:30am - 3:00pm; The Hills Grammar School, Kenthurst; M $120, NM $290; admin@aisnsw.

July 5-8, Time TBA; Australian National University, Canberra; Cost TBA; meri.dragicevic@

AFMLTA Assembly 2013

June 13, 3:30pm5:30pm; Corrimal library, Wollongong; M $10, NM $30;

July 8-9, Time TBA; Australian National University, Canberra, Cost TBA; event/assembly-2013/

Online Reading Assessment- What do young children attend to when reading online text


August 29, 3:30pm5:30pm; Corrimal library, Wollongong; M $10, NM $30;

HISTORY TEACHERS’ ASSOCIATION OF AUS WITH ACT HISTORY TEACHERS ASSOCIATION National Conference: Vision Splendid April 22-24, Time TBA; National Library of Australia, Canberra; Cost TBA; http://www.


May 16, 9:00am- 4:00pm; Graduate House, 220 Leicester St, Carlton; M $140, NM $185; atom@

Teaching Year 11, Unit 2

May 21, 9:00am- 4:00pm; Graduate House, 220 Leicester St, Carlton; M $140, NM $185; atom@

National Media Education Conference: Connected Creative Critical July 4-7, Time TBA; Queensland University of Technology, Garden’s Point; M $550, NM $650;

Middle Years of Schooling Association (MYSA) 8th International Conference

May 23-25; Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre, QLD; M $700, NM $800; mysa2013@expertevents.

The Australian Curriculum - where do the Habits of Mind fit? July 30, 3:30pm- 6:00pm; Indooroopilly State High School; M $65, NM $95; mysa@expertevents.

Australian Secondary Principals’ Association (ASPA) The ‘Unconventional Convention’! June 29 - July 4; Cairns Convention Centre , QLD; Early bird M/NM $790 before February 8, 2013;

AUS ASSOC FOR THE TEACHING OF ENGLISH AND THE AUS LITERACY EDUCATORS ASSOC 2013 National Conference: Brave New World - English and Literacy Teaching for the 21st Century July 4-7, Time TBA; QUT

Submit your free noticeboard listing by emailing

July 7-10, Time TBA; Melbourne location TBC; Cost TBA; http://asta. conasta62


Printing and Paper Sculpture

Storytelling with Digital Video

May 17, 8:30am - 3:00pm; Level 12, 99 York Street, Sydney; M $370, NM $810;

A Physical Education Toolkit

June 3, 8:30am - 3:00pm; University of Wollongong, Gwynneville; M $120, NM $290; admin@aisnsw.

Teaching for Deep Learning in the HSIE Classroom

June 7, 8:30am - 3:00pm; State Library of New South Wales, Sydney; M $120, NM $290; admin@aisnsw.

Tablets in Languages 7-12

July 10-13; University of Melbourne, Carlton; Cost TBA;

July 29, 8:30am - 3:00pm; Level 12, 99 York Street, Sydney; M $185, NM $405;


Planning and Programming for the New Science and Technology Syllabus: K-6

September 27-29, Time TBA; Darwin Convention Centre; Cost TBA; http:// page532.asp

Australian school library association XXIII Biennial Conference September 28- October 1; Hotel Grand Chancellor, Hobart; Cost TBA; asla@

AUSTRALIAN SOCIETY FOR MUSIC EDUCATION National Conference: Redefining the musical landscape: Inspired learning and innovation in music education September 29 - October 1, Time TBA; Hotel Realm, Canberra; Cost TBA; http://www.asme2013.

Australian Assoc of Special Education 2013 National Conference

September 29 – October 1; Hilton Hotel Adelaide; Cost TBA;

AusTRalian Council for Educational Leaders National Conference: Revisit, Reimagine, Reveal - Creating Tomorrow October 2-4; National Convention Centre, Canberra; Cost TBA;

NSW English Teachers Association of nsw 2013 Head Teacher Webinar

Third Wednesday of each term, 4:30pm- 5:30pm; Online Venue, M $260, NM $370; admin@

The Association of Independent Schools New South Wales Musical Intelligence K-2 April 5, 8:30am - 3:00pm; St Andrew’s Cathedral School, Sydney; M $120,

October 23, 8:30am 3:00pm; Level 12, 99 York Street, Sydney; M $130, NM $290; admin@aisnsw.

KODALY MUSIC EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTE OF AUSTRALIA NSW Building an Effective Music Program: Primary Level 1


April 24, 9:00am- 3:30pm; Brisbane venue TBA; M free (not available for nonmembers); registrations@

ICT Managers Forum Semester 2

October 23, Time TBA; Brisbane venue TBA; M free (not available for nonmembers); registrations@

English teachers assoc of queensland Free Shakespeare PD event

April 29, 4:30pm- 6:30pm; UQ St Lucia, Learning Innovation Building; M/NM free;

KODALY MUSIC EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTE OF AUSTRALIA QLD April 30, 1:30pm- 3:30pm; Forest Lake State School, Forest Lake; M $20, NM $25; events

KMEIA Queensland AGM

November 19, 6:00pm8:30pm; Merthyr Rd Uniting Church, New Farm; Cost TBA; au/events

australian council for health, physical education and recreation, qld Central Queensland Conference

June 6-7, 8:30am- 4:30pm; Rockhampton, Queensland; M $220, NM $264; events@

Brisbane Conference

April 14-17, 8:30am-5pm; Newington College, Stanmore; M $430 NM $495; events

August 15-16, 8:30am4:30pm; Riverglenn Conference Centre, Indooroopilly; M $264, NM $393.80; events@

Building an Effective Music Program: Primary Level 2

2013 Awards Evening

April 15-17, 8:30am-5pm; Newington College, Stanmore; M $480 NM $585; events

Music in Your Classroom An introduction to Kodaly ES1/S1

June 28, 9:30am- 11:30am; Old Bar Public School, Old Bar; M $55, NM $70; www.

AUSTRALIAN ASSOC FOR ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION (NSW) 31st NSW Environmental Education Conference September 1, Time TBA; Venue TBA, Cost TBA;

QLD Music Teacher Assoc of Queensland Taubman Approach to Piano Technique April 20-21; MTAQ Auditorium, 200 Moggill Road, Taringa; Cost TBA;

Piano Masterclass

June 2; MTAQ Auditorium, Suite 26, 200 Moggill Road, Taringa; M $20, NM $30;

Vocal Masterclass

July 21; MTAQ Auditorium, Suite 26, 200 Moggill Road, Taringa; M $25, NM $30;

September 12, 5:30pm8:30pm; Clovely Estate Winery Cellar Door; M $35, NM $50; events@

Women in Sport Breakfast October 16, 7:00am9:30am; Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, South Bank Precinct; M/NM $49.50;

Business educators’ assoc of queensland State Conference 2013

July 26-27; Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre; Cost TBA;

Professional Development Day December 3, 8:00am2:45pm; Easts Leagues Club, 40 Main Ave, Coorparoo; M $110, NM $132; accounts@beaq.

SA Assoc of independent schools of sa Cultural Understandings OSHC Educators April 4, 9:30am- 3:00pm; Adelaide Sailing Club Barcoo Road, West Beach; M/NM free; martinm@ais.

Assessing Young Children’s Learning April 10, 9:00am- 4:00pm; 277 Unley Road (Cnr Fisher

Street and Unley Road), Malvern; M/NM free;

Developing Indigenous Understandings

May 2, 9:00am- 4:00pm; 277 Unley Road (Cnr Fisher Street and Unley Road), Malvern; M/NM free;

Leadership & Advocacy in Early Childhood 2: Policy Landscape

July 4, 9:00am- 3:30pm; James Melrose Road, Novar Gardens; M/NM $50;

THE SA SCIENCE TEACHERS ASSOC INC Annual Conference & Expo 2013

April 15-16 2012; Immanuel College 32 Morphett Road, Novar Gadens; Cost TBA; office@

ACHPER SA Health & PE Conference

April 15-16; Prince Alfred College; M $260, NM $380;

mathematical assoc of south australia Annual Conference 2013 April 23-24; St. Peter’s College, Hackney Rd; M $152, NM $196; masamail@internode.


Second Tuesday of every month unless in school holidays, All 3:45pm; Nixon St Primary School, Devonport; free; elizabeth. green@education.tas.

science teachers assoc of tasmania The Science of Boomerang Flight

April 10, 3:30pm- 5:30pm; Sustainability Learning Centre, Mt Nelson; M $20, NM $30; marjcol@bigpond.

AUSTRALIAN LITERARY EDUCATORS ASSOC & TAS ASSOC FOR TEACHING OF ENGLISH State Conference 2013 April 12-13, Time TBA; Launceston venue TBA; Cost TBA; karen. hampton@education.tas.

mathematical assoc of tasmania Annual Conference Expanding Your Horizons

May 10-11; Penguin High School, Penguin; M $200, NM $250; tino.delbourgo@

VIC VICTORIAN OrffSchulwerk Assoc Levels 1 & 3 Courses

April 2-6, 8:45am- 5:45pm each day; Camberwell Baptist Church, 460 Riversdale Road Hawthorn East; M $545, NM $605;

Autumn Seminar

May 17-18; Darebin Arts & Entertainment Centre, 387 Bell Street Preston; M $340, NM $400 (early bird options available); admin@

Richard Gill Course & Workshop

June 8-10; Venue TBA; Cost TBA;

ICTEV2013: IT Takes A Village

July 11-13; The Arts Centre, Melbourne; Cost TBA;

May 5, 7:30am- 6:30pm; Melbourne Grammar School Wadhurst Campus; M $260, NM $390; ictev@

Early Childhood Conference of the Performing Arts (ECCPA)

Successful integration of ICT in Secondary Schools Program

Sounds Great Conference

August 17-18; Genazzano FCJ College, Cotham Road, Kew, Victoria; Cost TBA;

INdependent schools victoria Managing Concerns about Employees’ Conduct or Performance

April 15, 9:30am- 12:30pm; 40 Rosslyn Street, West Melbourne; M $72, NM $115; enquiries@ independentschools.vic.

The Man Who Planted Trees – Performance and Digital Materials Workshop

April 18, 10:30am4:00pm; The Arts Centre Melbourne; M $115, NM $250; enquiries@ independentschools.vic.

Threads of Literacy for Teachers

April 23, 9:30am- 3:30pm; 40 Rosslyn Street, West Melbourne; M $115, NM $250; enquiries@ independentschools.vic.

Play + Education = Praxis Using Drama in the Early Years May 6, 9:30am- 3:30pm; 40 Rosslyn Street, West Melbourne; M $115, NM $250; enquiries@ independentschools.vic.

Numeracy Coordinators Network

May 23, 9:30am- 3:30pm; 40 Rosslyn Street, West Melbourne; M $115, NM $250; enquiries@ independentschools.vic.

Demystifying VCAL

June 5, 9:30am- 4:00pm; 40 Rosslyn Street, West Melbourne; M/ NM free; enquiries@ independentschools.vic.

Languages Coordinators’ Network

June 18, 9:30am- 3:30pm; 40 Rosslyn Street, West Melbourne; M $115, NM $250; enquiries@ independentschools.vic.

Working with Adolescents where Chronic Illness is Present

June 20, 9:30am- 12:30pm; 40 Rosslyn Street, West Melbourne; M $72, NM $135; enquiries@ independentschools.vic.

Ict in education vic Teaching Scratch from scratch

April 22, 9:30am- 3:30pm; Statewide Resources Centre,150 Palmerston Street, Carlton; M $189, NM $230; ictev@ictev.vic.

Thought Leadership Inquiry Part Two

April 26, 9:30am- 1:30pm; Debney Meadowes Primary School, Flemington; M $270, NM $300; ictev@

May 24, 9:30am- 3:30pm; Glen Waverly Secondary College, O’Sullivan Rd, Glen Waverley; M $260, NM $390; ictev@ictev.vic.

Kodaly Music Education Institute of Australia KMEIA Autumn Seminar

May 17-18; Darebin Arts and Entertainment Centre, Preston; Cost TBA; info@

ASSOCiation OF FRENCH TEACHERS IN VICTORIA Study Tour for Teachers of French: New Caledonia July 3-10; New Caledonia, Noumea; Cost $2500 (estimate); http://www.

Science teachers’ assoc of victoria CONASTA 62

July 7- 10; La Trobe University, Melbourne; Cost TBA;

WA geographical assoc of western australia Engaging Students with Number

April 15, 9:00am- 3:00pm; AISWA Seminar Room (First Floor), Osborne Park; M/ NM $90; ddunstan@ais.

Tactical Teaching: Speaking and Listening May 22, 9:00am- 4:00pm; AISWA Seminar Room (First Floor), Osborne Park; M/ NM $200; ssabatier@ais.

Primary Connections

May 27, 9:00am- 4:00pm; AISWA Seminar Room (First Floor), Osborne Park; M/NM $150, cwitt@ais.

Australian council for health, physical education and recreation, wa Workshop for Teachers of Dance in Secondary Schools April 19; King Street Arts Centre; Cost TBA; info@

Workshop for Teachers of Dance in Primary Schools May 6; King Street Arts Centre; Cost TBA; info@

Fundamental Movement Skills 2 Day Workshop

June 10-11; Venue TBA; Cost TBA; info@achperwa.

Secondary Dance Festival June 21; St Mary’s AGS, Elliott Rd, Karrinyup; Cost TBA; info@achperwa.


May 17-18; Mazenod College, Gladys Road, Lesmurdie; M $280, NM $335;

Australian Teacher Magazine is proud to support state, territory and national education sector associations. Workshops, professional development sessions and conferences can be listed free of charge in the printed magazine and digital editions. Submit your noticeboard listing by sending details of the event, including dates, venue, time, cost and contact email address to Each month we also feature event previews, reviews and association news. If you have a story for our Professional Development section, email and the team will be in touch.

around the traps 53

April 2013 • australian Teacher

ready for life in the Fast lane

Jess’s lifelong love of horses

WHEN Kristen Lanesbury had to cast people for her music video clip, she knew she’d have no trouble because of the many types of people she encounters through her work as a teacher. She called on a group of local cheerleaders from Maitland, the Newcastle roller derby team, a ballerina, a coal miner and one of her Year 8 students who is a dressage horse rider. “I needed a horse rider and she just looked beautiful in it. She’s a gorgeous girl and a local girl so it was great to use her,” Lanesbury tells Australian Teacher Magazine. “There were lots of elements that I wanted in the clip that represented this area and my teaching is a fantastic tool because I have contacts for all those types of people.” As a country singer songwriter, Lanesbury — who performs under the name Kristen Lane — has just released her debut EP Loving and Free, with the help of one of Australia’s most respected producers Garth Porter. She launched the EP at this year’s Tamworth Country Music Festival, where she also came runner-up in a busking comp. “[We] busked up there on the

WHEN her partner said, ‘I’m not going to be able to spend some time with you away from these mongrel horses so you’re going to have to teach me how to ride’, Jess Osborne jumped at the idea to get him in the saddle. Osborne has loved horses all her life and at present has six horses in work on her property, but her partner has only learned to ride in recent years. It seems that horse riding is in her blood, with both her parents and her brother playing polocrosse. “I grew up riding horses and doing pony club and stuff and then started playing polocrosse as well,” Osborne tells Australian Teacher Magazine. Polocrosse is a team sport that combines both polo and lacrosse played on horseback. Osborne has been playing for 13 years and has represented Queensland in the sport on 10 occasions. “I competed in the Queensland nationals which is only held every two years and it happened last year and I was in the Queensland Under 24 women’s team,” she shares. “We were the first Queensland women’s team to ever reach a final in the history of the nationals and we lost to New South Wales by one goal.”

Kristen Lane has just released her debut EP Loving and Free. street for five days straight so that was really good fun and we managed to get in the busking championship ... there were 10 shows out of 500 buskers, so that was really exciting,” she says. The first single off her EP On the Esplanade is a song written specifically about the Newcastle and Hunter Valley area, and Lanesbury says that she’s played lots of live gigs with her band to promote the EP locally. But she has her sights set on bigger things.

“The promotion of the next single which is a lot more country will be going onto national radio and also international radio, so that’s pretty exciting and that track is called Heaven on Earth,” she says excitedly. This is no mean feat considering Lanesbury is still on maternity leave part time since having her two-year-old, and works two days a week as a music teacher at Cessnock High School. “The kids are incredibly supportive and they actually come to a lot of the gigs,” she says.

tyrrell revels in fiddler role WHILE ‘tradition’ is the central theme of the Hobart Repertory Theatre Society’s most recent production, Fiddler On The Roof, it’s also something of a tradition for Belinda Tyrrell’s family to be involved in the theatre. Fresh from her starring role as Tzeitel, eldest daughter of central character Tevye, the young Fahan School teacher says she’s always had a passion for drama. “I’ve always done it. In fact, my family have always done it. “My mother’s a life member of the Hobart Repertory Society ... I guess I got into it through her.” Equally at home in front of her

maths and science students or treading the boards at the Playhouse Theatre, Tyrrell can’t hide her enthusiasm for the stage. “I just love performing,” she says. “I love the level of performing in Hobart — it’s very high but still amateur, so there’s not the pressure of having to make something like theatre your career, which is very difficult and doesn’t happen for many people. The Society’s three-week season of the popular musical has been a huge success. “It’s been pretty much sold out the whole time,” Tyrrell says. “I think the musical itself helps —

The team in which Osborne competes is very family orientated, and includes both her cousin and best friend. “The people who are on my team, we’ve grown up with most of the girls and we’ve all sort of learned to play together,” she explains. The horses that play the game need to be ridden every day to keep their fitness levels up, but the humans of the sport don’t have to train much themselves. This is good for Osborne, as she also works as a teacher at Clifton State High School and is involved in the school’s equine program. She says that she encourages her students to participate and learn to ride because she finds that a lot of them are scared of the big animals.

right, Belinda Tyrrell, second from f. starred in Fiddler On The Roo

it’s a very popular musical, with everyone having heard at least one song out of it. “It’s a family one as well, so there’s lots of grey hairs out there, but there are lots of children as well. While Tyrrell has enjoyed the brief season, the balancing act of work and hobby has been a test. “In terms of time, it is hard ... there is a lot of actually going home from the theatre at 11:00 to 11:30pm and doing a couple of hours work for the next morning. “You know that’s only going to happen for a finite period of time, but it is tough to juggle.”



inthestaffroom australian Teacher • April 2013

trivia How does Bond like his martinis?

one point

Anthony, Flea, Chad and Josh are the members of which band?

Which punk rock band’s hits include Eton Rifles and Going Underground?

Aunt Spiker and Aunt Sponge are characters in which Roald Dahl book?

Which brand started life as the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company?

In which country would you find the city of Edam, famous for its cheese?

Who is the male lead in 2011 film The Rum Diary?

Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?

The city of Pilsen in the Czech republic gave its name to which drink? Complete final110_BTSfinal.pdf the 1975 film title _ at Hanging Rock.

Which fruit has the scientific name Citrus Paradisi?

Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Willis founded which theme restaurant?

Who starred in the 1988 film Cocktail? 1


10:41 AM

Which country is the world’s largest coffee exporter?


ACROSS 1 Director of films The 39 Steps (1935) and The Lady Vanishes (1938), Alfred _. (9) 6 The landmark High Court of Australia decision recognising native title in Australia for the first time, _. (4) 7 The 2014 football World Cup is to be held in _ for the first time since 1950. (6) 10 Michael _ and Karina Carvalho host ABC News Breakfast weekdays. (7) 11 With a consumption of 31 kilos per year, per consumer, the keenest consumers of cheese in the world come from _. (6) 15 Hosted this year’s Oscars, Seth _. (10) 16 Tony Abbott is the Federal member for the NSW seat of _. (9) 17 Queensland Reds Super 14s halfback Will _. (5) 19 Recent US doco directed by Lee Hirsch, about five students who face bullying on a daily basis. (5) 20 The capital and the largest city of the Republic of Croatia, _. (6)

three points

Alfred Hitchcock used which food for the blood in the Psycho shower scene?


DOWN 2 The second heaviest cat in the Western Hemisphere, after the jaguar, is the _. (6) 3 The famous painting Whistler’s Mother was by artist James McNeill _. (8) 4 Largest city in Morocco and movie starring Humphrey Bogart. (10) 5 Romance movie from 1980 starring Christo pher Reeve, _ In Time. (9) 8 The corresponding element name for the element symbol Fe is _. (4) 9 A fictitious name used by an author. (9) 12 Released in 1968, widely regarded as one of the great Rolling Stones songs, _ For the Devil. (8) 13 Hollywood ‘It’ girl widely known as J-Law, _ Lawrence. (8) 14 The ornithorhynchus anatinus is a semiaquatic mammal endemic to eastern Australia, also known as a _. (8) 18 Director _ Lee recently won the best director Oscar for his film Life Of Pi. (3)

turn to page 57 for all solutions and answers

skill level: Easy

pixel puzzler We’ve been playing with the zoom, can you name the type of building?

five points

careers career news




retirements 57

Louise Manks and David Hoole collect their award from NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli, centre.

First Year Out 59

Bulli High top of the arts ARTEXPRESS is a celebration of Year 12 arts in New South Wales, but the exhibition also recognises the great work of teachers in developing student talent. The opening of this year’s event saw four Bulli High School staff presented with the Sir William Dobell Foundation Award for the promotion of art in the state. “It was awarded to the [2012 visual arts] faculty staff for their outstanding efforts, particularly last year, but over several years,” head teacher of creative and performing arts Louise Manks tells Australian Teacher Magazine. Bulli High School has a strong tradition in the arts and this year had seven students nominated for ARTEXPRESS, an achievement Manks terms “a bit extraordinary, for a public school in particular”.

“Last year we had three art classes in Year 12 and that varies year to year depending on available resources. There’s a very strong elective base by students electing to do it; this year we’re full — we can’t take any more students into any of our subjects because it’s extremely popular,” she adds. Manks and her faculty colleagues David Hoole, Siobhan Chazarreta and Karen Hook are all practising artists who have a wide and varied skills base. “Painting ... and traditional art forms, jewellery making and design crafts, photography and film making — they’re the main areas. Photography and film making is the other strand that we excelled in last year too, and a lot of our submissions for the HSC were films.”

Manks says she jumped at the chance to join the school two years ago because of its strong creative and performing arts tradition. “The previous head teacher, Scott Copland, was here for over 20 years and built up a fantastic faculty. So, there’s a really strong culture of top teaching and learning and a value for the arts, which a lot of schools do struggle with at the moment.” The educator says art is accessible to a lot of students and really supports their literacy and general learning — something that is often overlooked. “In the Illawarra there are quite a few schools that are very strong in the arts and we’re just constantly getting dismissed ... you don’t tend to realise that there’s a

very strong foundation in the public system in the creative arts. “There’s also a strong call for students to be able to problem solve, which is what a creative arts background teaches them. “This [award] sort of gives you a pat on the back to say ‘You are doing well, providing something strong for students and a platform through which they can learn’, and most of our students have gone on to university and further studies in creative fields.” The teachers were presented with the $1000 prize and certificate, featuring one of their student’s works, at the opening of ARTEXPRESS. “We’re going to put [the prize money] into purchasing some high quality equipment and materials,” Manks says.

Learning 60

Leadership Do you have a story to tell Careers? Email the details to To place an ad, contact

Our kids matter. Join the growing number of schools making student mental health and wellbeing a priority. KidsMatter Primary is a mental health initiative that provides primary schools with proven methods, tools and support to nurture happy, balanced kids. For more information go to


careers australian Teacher • April 2013

Award Former State Education Minister Elizabeth Constable has been awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters by the University of Western Australia during its autumn graduations. Dr Constable took on the education portfolio in 2008 and left the position in June 2012. She points to the introduction of Independent Public Schools as one of the highlights of her time in the role.

Retirements Kiama High School has farewelled several members of staff this term. Creative arts Jeff Hewett, support learning staff member Marg Dowel and English teacher Penny Moorhead have retired this term. Languages teacher Luisa Bertoggi has also retired but will continue to work with students at the New South Wales high school for a couple of days a week.

Scholarships Non-government school employees are invited to apply for the NGS Scholarship Awards. There are six PD scholarships worth up to $5000 each. The four categories are: teaching, management, support staff and, for the first time this year, a people’s choice award. Applications close on June 30. Visit www.ngssuper. for selection criteria and more details.

building relationships

Better understanding for all CHELSEA ATTARD STUDENTS bring more than just books and pencils to class, they also bring with them a culture and life experiences all of their own. St Johns Catholic College Darwin caters for 400 day and boarding students coming from remote communities scattered right across the top end and beyond. From Doomadgee, 470kms north-west of Mt Isa, to Beagle Bay in Western Australia, students’ life experiences outside of school are as vast as the distances they travel to get to it. With this in mind, principal David Johns sends teachers into remote communities to improve their understanding of community life and practices, and what it must be like for students transitioning from remote community

Bonus content » life into a more structured boarding school routine. Johns made a series of trips to remote communities after starting as principal last year. “I went out to Doomadgee in Term 2 of last year, and we jumped on a jet plane from Darwin to Mt

Award Nominations for the 2013 Peter Doherty Awards are open. They recognise outstanding and innovative contributions to science and science education in Queensland. All early, middle and senior phase of learning teachers in state and non-state schools can apply for a $5000 Outstanding Teacher of Science Award to help fund PD. The closing date is May 10, contact Queensland DETE for more.

Study Tour

St John’s Catholic College teachers visit remote Indigenous communities. Isa, and from there we had to jump on a 6-seater Cessna, and fly from Mt Isa to Doomadgee, [where we landed on] a dirt runway. “At that point I realised if my staff had any idea, what my students were coming from ... it would change a lot of perceptions in terms of how enormously awesome it is for our kids to actually get over to us in the first place, let alone engage with what we’re trying to teach them.” After returning to the college, Johns put an invitation out to staff for the opportunity to partake in their first community visit. Johns says while in the commu-

A child’s mind develops through their movement...

nities, college staff spend time explaining to community members what is expected of students. “They simulate a classroom at the college [and explain] why we expect students to work in a certain way...” Johns says since teachers have had the opportunity to visit with communities he’s noticed a significant change in relationships. “Relationships are being developed where teachers have an access point where they can engage students in conversation about country, and about homeland, and that ... has made an enormous difference to the college.”

Teachers Stephen Uren and Jessica Schwarz have been selected for the South Australian Premier’s ANZAC study tour. Uren, from St Ignatius College, and Schwarz, from Nuriootpa High School, will accompany six students to World War I battlefields of France and Belgium. The group will also attend the ANZAC Day Dawn Service at the Australian War Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux.

Scholarships Two principals will receive the Harvard Club of Australia Education Scholarship at a ceremony in Sydney on April 30. The award, offered for the first time through the not-for-profit Public Education Foundation, supports government school principals to undertake a short professional education program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Each scholarship is worth over $8000.

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careers 57

April 2013 • australian Teacher

Language fellowship

Bali trip feeds the senses

WHEN Rosemary Smith rode on the back of a motorbike through the busy, narrow and dilapidated streets of Denpasar on her way to school, it was as if her senses were being bombarded. “We were actually there in their faces and seeing what it was like driving through the market and hearing the noises and smelling the smells, it was just phenomenal,” she recalls. As a high school student, Smith fell in love with the Indonesian language and the different culture it presented her with. But it took her more than 30 years to actually experience her love firsthand. At the end of last year, Smith was awarded 2013 Endeavour Language Teacher Fellowship which enabled her travel for the first time to Indonesia. Far from a typical tourist experience in Bali, Smith was placed with an Indonesian family in their home. “The families were responsible for taking us to school and back every day,” Smith tells Australian Teacher Magazine. “We were actually on the back of motorbikes every morning and every afternoon and it was fantastic.” Throughout her three-week

Rosemary Smith travelled to Indonesia for the first time after being awarded an Endeavour Language Fellowship. stint in Bali, Smith attended intensive language classes, cultural experiences and excursions to various places, including a rice field and a youth centre. Returning to Jerrabomberra Public School in New South Wales, where she teaches Indonesian to 500 students in Year 3 to 6, Smith says that a lot of things have changed. “I just now have stories that I can incorporate into my lessons and say, ‘Hey I saw this’, ‘I did this’, ‘This is what the Indonesian

people do because I’ve seen them do it’. It makes it more authentic because its not just me talking about things that I learned in a textbook or I’ve heard from other people, I can actually now relay my own experiences,” she says. Smith has also taken to teaching her colleagues simple phrases and greetings that they can use in their classes. “It’s not just me once a week but the actual class teachers are taking it on board as well,” she adds proudly.

INTHESTAFFROOM JFCLK@FEJ shaken, not stirred; The Jam; Netherlands; Pils/Pilsner lager; Picnic Red Hot Chili Peppers; Kellogg’s; fruit; Tom Cruise; Brazil grapefruit; James and the Giant Peach; Johnny Depp; Planet Hollywood; chocolate syrup


Educational Planning for Students with Special Needs Course provides participants with the skills and knowledge to enable them to write and implement an Individual Educational Plan for students with special needs. Dates: May 24, 25 and June 1 Duration: 8.45am – 4.30pm Venue: Clayton campus Contact: 03 9905 2700 12 credit points at postgraduate level


Mentoring Matters® Dr Philip Riley Designed to help aspiring and experienced school leaders draw out the potential and hidden talents of their colleagues efficiently and effectively, whilst learning about the craft of relationship formation and maintenance. Dates: May 30, 31 and August 16 Duration: 9am – 4pm Venue: Clayton campus Contact: 03 9905 2700 12 credit points at postgraduate level CRICOS Provider: Monash University 00008C

I’m from Spain and I did this application because ... it looked like a good opportunity to come to Australia. I get to work at Waikerie Primary School, Waikerie High School and Ramco Primary School, too. It’s very good for me because it’s a great opportunity to work and teach English [which] is my degree in Spain. I have never been here, this is my first time. I arrived 20 days ago, more or less, and I am here for the whole year. I would like to travel around Australia because ... I have enough time to go to different places. I’m going to Uluru in the middle holidays and in the last holidays I’d like to go to Queensland or Tasmania. I’ve been to Europe and Canada, but its not the same, every country is different and has different cultures. This is the best moment for me. I am 24, it’s the perfect moment to come to Australia to work and travel and meet a lot of people. At the moment I’m helping Mr Anderson [from Waikerie High School] to

teach Spanish – greetings, accents and different things. I spoke with Mr Anderson and he said in the future that I can prepare my lessons and I can teach my own thing. That’s better for me because I am a teacher and I’m here to teach Spanish. I think it is good for the students because they can learn English with a Spanish person. This week in my presentation to the students, Mr Anderson gave me the last 10 minutes to present myself. It is very exciting for the students to hear about the environment, plants, animals, different festivals – they are very interested in Spain. I came here by myself so I’m here alone, but that is not a problem. I interact with people and I’m not shy. I think that I have made a lot of new friends in just three weeks because Waikerie is a small town for me in comparison to Spain, but the people are really, really wonderful. It’s good destiny to enjoy your holidays and right now it’s a good job too.

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CARLOS Polo hadn’t even been in the country for three weeks when he sat down to talk to Australian Teacher Magazine about his plans for the upcoming year. Currently employed as a Spanish support teacher at three schools in South Australia, Polo is settling in well and is looking forward to working and travelling while he’s here.

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careerslearning australian Teacher • April 2013

INBRIEF Working with kids at a different level further studies

Qld career change help

EDUCATION officials in Queensland say the 2013 Career Change Program for Primary School Teachers has offered around 500 packages to eligible staff. The program, now in its sixth year, gives voluntary applicants who are teachers with at least 10 years service, a grant of up to $50,000 to help train for a new career.

NT ECE scholarships EARLY childhood educators in the Northern Territory have been given $20,000 scholarships to take additional professional qualifications. Former NT Education Minister John Elferink handed them out to 36 recipients at a ceremony in Darwin. The program, coordinated by the Centre for School Leadership Learning and Development is based at Charles Darwin University.

Master of Phys. Ed. THE University of Wollongong, New South Wales, offers a Master of Physical and Health Education. Subjects covered include Young People and Health, Leadership and Management, and the Cultural Politics of Sport, Leisure and Physical Education. Visit the Faculty of Education web page educ/index.html and click on Postgraduate Courses for information. Email briefs to

JUMP in with both feet — that’s Sandy Hodge’s advice to fellow education assistants who are mulling over whether or not to embark on further studies to become a teacher. Hodge is into her fourth year of a Bachelor of Education degree through Curtin University, and is looking forward to her final prac in Term 3. “Although being an education assistant is a very important role, I wanted to do more of a leadership role,” she says, recalling her decision to return to study. “I wanted to not only further my career, but be able to work with the students at a different level.” Hodge joined Katanning Senior High School in Western Australia seven years ago as an education assistant. “When I first went into [the job] I didn’t know that it was actually for me,” she admits. “I was in the hospitality area before I had children ... so going into an EA role was very much out of my comfort zone. “Once my kids went back to school I took it on originally to get back into the workforce, and it worked out quite well, because it was good working hours for a working mum.” As she settled into her role in

Sandy Hodge says Katanning High School has given her some great opportunities to take on more responsibility. the school’s inclusive learning unit, working with students with special needs, she began to realise that she wanted to take on more responsibility. “Over the years I have worked with some fantastic mentors. I’ve had some really good support from teachers — particularly at Katanning Senior High School — who, when I was initially talk-

ing about the prospect of going on and doing studies to become a teacher, [gave me] some really good encouragement, which was fantastic.” Hodge has been studying for her degree online through Open Universities Australia and is about to do her two final theory units. Last year her principal gave her the opportunity to get more

involved in designing and implementing individual education plans with teachers. “I’ve had the opportunity to, I guess, take on more of a leadership role as an education assistant. “The school has probably provided me with some opportunities that I would not have gotten had I not already been in the education area,” she reflects. Approaching the completion of her studies, Hodge was offered an inclusive teaching role with a limited registration this year and jumped at the chance. “I’ve had great support from my colleagues, which has been fantastic.” Hodge says having the support of her family and friends while she finishes her studies has been even more important. “I’ve been raising a family of three children (they’re all teenagers now) and working full-time as well, so it’s been quite a challenge, but a rewarding one. “I think, without their support there’s no way I could have done it at all. “And, I think it’s actually benefited my children as well, because they can see that it is possible – if you have a goal and you really want to achieve it then it’s possible, but it’s just working hard and being organised.”






careerslearning 59

phone innovator

Bright Igoe’s UV adaptation MOST of us use our smartphones to talk, text, tweet and surf the web, but one teacher is using his device as a means to measure solar UV radiation for his PhD study. At present a student at the University of Southern Queensland, Damien Igoe says he is looking to push the boundaries of what everyday technology such as a smartphone is able to do. “My motivation is based on my interest in atmospheric physics and in re-engineering of current and existing technology,” Igoe tells Australian Teacher Magazine. “Like many people, my family and I have been affected by skin cancer, and I see this research as a potential means to provide, amongst other things, personalised solar radiation information.” Igoe’s research has determined that a smartphone camera with external filters attached can be used to generate UV images of the sun and also to take measurements at different times of the day. But his next task is to automate the system. Originally training to be a geologist at university, Igoe soon found that jobs in this field were scarce so turned to education. Having spent 14 years in the profession teaching in Victoria,

the Northern Territory, Queensland and in Japan, Igoe says that travel has been a major factor in his pursuit of both his masters and his PhD. “I began the PhD in mid 2011, and expect to complete it later this year. The study has followed me from when I lived in Laidley, through my time in Emerald, to where I am now, in Toowoomba. “This was considerably different to when I completed my masters of science when I lived in Tokyo and made trips back to Australia to present my findings for that

year (and to go home for Christmas),” he says. Now a teacher at St. Joseph’s College in Toowoomba teaching senior physics and maths and junior science, Igoe says that enjoying where you work can add to your motivation in pursuing postgraduate study. “Juggling full time teaching with full-time-equivalent study is a considerable challenge, but with adaptability, perseverance and identifying, making and taking opportunities, it is actually not onerous,” he says.

PhD student Damien Igoe is looking to push the boundaries of what everyday technology like a smartphone is able to do.

April 2013 • australian Teacher


Education Psychology masters aids better understanding of learners UPON hearing that somebody is undertaking a masters degree in educational psychology, you would be forgiven for thinking that they intended to become a psychologist or a school counsellor, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the Master of Education (Educational Psychology) offered at the University of Sydney will not equip you with the skills to become either of those professions, but it will allow you to better understand the way your students think, and learn in an everyday classroom setting. The main concern of the educational psychology course is to identify the way students think, learn and are motivated, and then tap into those skills to better run your classes. Associate professor of educational psychology at the University of Sydney, Richard Walker says that it’s not just teachers who are interested in this field of study, but people come from far and wide to take this course. “Last year I had a doctor, a barrister, a computer scientist, engineers and a lot of teachers of course,” he tells Australian Teacher Magazine. “So it’s of interest to people who are concerned about learning, motivation and

Richard Walker is an associate professor of educational psychology at the University of Sydney. thinking in educational contexts in general.” The classes are offered in after work hours to accommodate for the busy lives of professionals, but this course doesn’t have an online mode. In teaching the course, convenors assume no previous knowledge of psychology so everyone starts off essentially at the same baseline point. Student take part in four core units that include Learning, Knowing and Thinking; Human Development in Context; Motivation for Learning; Learning and Teaching Thinking Skills; and then they can choose from a variety of elective units as well.


careersleadership australian Teacher • April 2013

INBRIEF Catholic get together SYDNEY - School leaders are being invited to gather in Sydney in August to participate in the 6th International Conference on Catholic Educational Leadership. The theme of the 2013 event, hosted by the Australian Catholic University, is Paradox and Possibility. The August 12 to 14 conference brings together school, university, system and congregational leaders, as well as academics and researchers.

Norville’s new deputy BUNDABERG – Norville State School has welcomed a new deputy principal this term. Brooke Clarke will take the reins for the first six months of this year. She has been teaching principal at nearby Alloway State School for five years. Clarke previously worked in western Queensland in the town of Bluff before taking on a school leadership role.

Jack retirement time NEWCASTLE - David Jack is retiring as principal of Hamilton Public School in New South Wales. He will leave his role at the end of Term 1 to allow a new appointment to be made in time for Term 2. Writing in the school newsletter, Jack says he will go on long service leave before officially retiring from the education department in mid-August. Email briefs to

overseas mentoring

Wonderful UAE insight

A STINT helping to drive a school improvement project in Abu Dhabi certainly tested David Hinton’s negotiation skills. The Victorian was appointed principal at Bendigo’s Crusoe College this term after two years in the United Arab Emirates working for a UK company. “Our remit was to implement the ADEC’s [Abu Dhabi Education Council] school improvement and educational change strategy,” Hinton says. The country’s 2030 vision is to be in the top 10 per cent of education systems in the world. Learning from international school leaders is one of the ways officials hope to achieve that goal. “We had a school leadership advisor and teaching and learning coaches in every school, so it’s a huge project. In the company that I worked for we had 250 staff from 21 nationalities working across 25 schools. “The remit really was to work on two levels. One was organisational structure and building the notion of a self-improving school. [And] the teaching and learning coaches worked in English, maths and science on pedagogy.” Hinton coached and mentored leadership teams on how to set up processes and procedures such as

David Hinton working with a school principal in Abu Dhabi on leadership. internal accountability, data analysis, consultation, and managing and developing teachers. “It was fantastically satisfying because, to a degree, we had a blank canvas ...” he reflects.

Bonus content » As well as cultural differences and the need to work through a translator, Hinton points out the UAE has a shortage of teachers and brings in educators on

contract from countries such as Jordan, Tunisia and Egypt. “They come from, probably not a strong pedagogical base in terms of their training.” He adds the Middle Eastern culture of honour and respect, where everyone must have their say, was also a challenge when it came to implementing quick change. “... They have a very conservative approach ... it took a lot of negotiation, discussion and support to get things to stick. In terms of people skills and negotiating skills it was a wonderful experience.”


O’Donnell new NSWIT chief exec KATE O’Donnell has been appointed the new chief executive of the New South Wales Institute of Teachers. State Education Minister Adrian Piccoli has confirmed the former English, maths and drama teacher will take up the role on April 1. “The NSW Institute of Teachers is currently undertaking critical work at both the state and national level to implement new national teaching standards across all schools. I feel very fortunate that Ms O’Donnell will be leading the Institute at this important time,” he said in a statement. “I know that with her extensive experience at both the national and international level that she is the right person to lead the [institute] through the coming years...,” he added. O’Donnell started her career as an English teacher in Western Australia. She has worked in government and non-government schools in NSW, including as a maths coordinator. She has also worked in the state education department as part of its EMSAD educational measurement team, helping to improve the SMART data analysis program used in NSW and ACT schools. O’Donnell takes over the chief executive role from Patrick Lee.

MUSIC INDUSTRY DIRECTORY - POWER 50 Subscribe to the Australasian Music Industry Directory From its inception in 1988 when the Directory was created as a networking initiative, and music export tool, by the Federal Government’s Australian Trade Commission (AUSTRADE), it has grown to be the most important resource for the local music industry – for those already established and newcomers alike. A concise and comprehensive directory allows those working or aspiring to work in the industry to connect and promote their wares amongst their peers; and this industry is based on networking and connecting with the right people. Subscribe to single or bulk quantities Normally $40 each School and Student Prices: Single Copy $35 each 10+ copies $30 each All prices include GST Every purchase via rewards your school with 5% rebate of reward dollars to use on your next purchase at Schools Direct.

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April 2013 • australian Teacher • 61


careersleadership australian Teacher • April 2013

Just on Principal

Proactive van Ruiten builds on the positives

WHEN Nanette van Ruiten arrived at Parafield Gardens High School 12 years ago, it was in what could only be termed a bad place. “I came here as an assistant principal and I suppose the school was viewed by the media, the department and the community as a school in crisis,” she says. “That was because we have a non-English-speaking backgroound multicultural population here, so about a third of our students are from non-Englishspeaking backgrounds… “They were a target for some of our community members, who, for want of a better word, were quite racist, so our school was a

target, but the school itself was very proactive and positive in response to that. “The staff were very supportive, very collaborative and really worked through those issues. Van Ruiten eventually took over as principal of the Adelaide northern suburbs school in 2007 and, while it had by then already moved noticeably forward, there were still major issues hampering it, particularly related to attendance and the behaviour of students. “We’ve worked a lot on our culture, the conditions for learning, about the wellbeing of the staff and students in the school and we’ve really set the foundations so that if you talk to the staff now, they’ll tell you the focus and the conversations are very much on the teaching and learning,” van Ruiten says. Parafield Gardens’ students are drawn from a wide geographic area and represent a large diversity of cultural and income groups. “I don’t use the term ‘low socioeconomic’ and the staff here don’t use it at all anymore,” van Ruiten says, adding “… we say things like we have a ‘diverse and complex community’. “So, we understand the harsh realities that some of our students and their families face and we re-

ally try to put a lot of support structures in place to reaffirm to parents and students that we can provide them with access to the highest quality education.” A clutch of significant outcomes in the last five years clearly indicate the school is on the up and up. The data has improved in every area, apart from NAPLAN, which van Ruiten attributes largely to the fact that of Parafield Gardens’ feeder primary schools, approximately 40 per cent of the students arriving are below the national benchmark in literacy.

Bonus content » “We’ve lowered our suspensions, so our behaviour management data’s a lot better,” she says. “We’ve got improved attendance, our improved retention is 10 per cent above our region, our safe completion result is now 90 per cent — it was about 45 per cent when I first got here. “We’ve got improved postschool destination data — of last year’s cohort who had aspirations to go to university, 80 per cent of them got in, [for] those students who wanted to go to TAFE, 95 per cent of them got in, and of the

students in our school who leave seeking employment, we have halved that from 25 per cent to 12 per cent.” In terms of student population, the school has also grown in the last four years by about 20 per cent, something van Ruiten believes is largely due to its improved reputation. “When I took over as principal we had a vision, but we didn’t have a set of values to underpin that. So, there weren’t any values in the school to say, ‘Well, this is how we agree as a whole school community to interact with each other’ and what our fundamental core business was. “We spent a lot of time with the whole community, saying ‘What do we want as our set of values?’, and we also developed our moral purpose ... we drilled right down as to why we were actually here and got that real shared agreement and consensus. “We decided we really needed to look at the wellbeing, or the conditions, of learning, we really needed to look at the learning, which we’re now calling ‘visible learning’, and the pathways. “It was that real ‘What do we need to work on immediately?’, it was a real balance of that immediate need [and] futures planning.

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Van Ruiten encourages other principals to lead with a huge sense of optimism. “You have to build on the positives, build on what you’ve been successful with, you have to promote them. “The teachers here are fantastic, they’re really open to innovation, and enjoy feeling like they’re leading at the forefront of those developments and initiatives … “We’re very proud, but no-one does it on their own — it’s not about me, it’s about we and what we’re doing together here.”

April 2013 • australian Teacher • 63

good enough

are you

(Main image: Ramingining School)

Teaching in the Territory The Northern Territory is a rich, challenging and rewarding place. From the Red Centre heart of the nation to the Gateway to Asia, the NT offers residents a plethora of opportunities and experiences. Against this background, delivering quality education services across the NT is a priority for the NT Department of Education and Children’s Services (DECS). Getting the right people in the right schools is vital for achieving successful outcomes for students in the Northern Territory. The Territory is a diverse place with students from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. More than 40 per cent of NT schools are in a remote or very remote location.

DECS offers teachers the opportunities, training and support they need to build a rewarding and successful teaching career. Teachers are recognised and rewarded through a range of allowances, competitive rates of pay, professional development and mentoring – especially those who accept the challenges of working in a very remote Indigenous community. Teaching in a remote location requires committed and highly skilled teachers with VSHFLÀFDWWULEXWHV+LJKO\PRWLYDWHGDQGUREXVW recruits are encouraged to apply to teach in a remote location. The department strongly supports such teachers in recognition of the challenges and

rewards that brilliant teachers can gain from working in remote Indigenous schools. DECS is also a founder of a national alliance with QLD, NSW, SA and WA to offer support to remote teachers through mentoring, networking and professional learning opportunities. The National Alliance for Remote Indigenous Schools (NARIS) aims to help teachers and leaders with the unique challenges and opportunities of living and working in remote communities. If you have what it takes to be a teacher in the Territory, visit:

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AUSTRALIAN Teacher • April 2013

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joint agenda

Rigorous selection process for new teachers SIGNIFICANT plans targeting teacher quality have been unveiled at both federal and state level. The national approach will see trainee teachers required to undergo a more comprehensive university admissions process and show passion for the job. Meanwhile, in New South Wales, trainees will need to pass literacy and numeracy tests before graduating, and teacher pay will be linked to performance rather than length of service. THE Federal Government has announced plans to make applicants for teacher education courses pass interviews and aptitude assessments, and provide written statements, in addition to achieving the necessary ATAR. Teaching students will also have to pass tests and score in the top 30 per cent of literacy and numeracy benchmarks before they can graduate. Tertiary Education Minister Chris Bowen said while Year 12 scores were important, there were other factors to be considered when assessing potential teachers. “Passion, commitment, dedication, emotional intelligence... there are ways these things can be assessed. Everything that a person, who wants to be a teacher,

can bring to the table must be considered.” Universities Australia welcomed the proposed national approach. “It’s a focus on the quality of the teacher graduate rather than a government-set final school result,” chief executive Belinda Robinson said in a statement. The Federal Government is now discussing the changes with the states, territories and education authorities and hopes to reach an agreement at the April COAG meeting. The proposals are part of its National Plan for School Improvement and focus on four elements. A more rigorous university admissions process: An applicant’s “personal qualities needed for teaching” will be considered alongside academic achievements. This could include presenting a portfolio of sporting/ coaching or community involvement to demonstrate values and aptitude, and a written statement outlining why they want to be a teacher. AITSL will help to develop the guidelines. “We want a national agreement in place so that all universities use a more comprehensive admissions process for all applicants,” the Federal Government said. “This is common in other degrees such as medicine and psychology. Given

the national importance of quality teaching, [we] believe teaching should use the same approach.” Mandatory literacy and numeracy tests to graduate: Teaching students will have to pass literacy and numeracy assessments as part of their coursework. “The test … will take place early enough in the course to allow students to improve their skills before graduation if needed.” A national standard for teacher prac training: Includes an agreed practicum structure and a common assessment framework to be set against the graduate level of the national teaching standards. Requirements for supervising teachers, who need to have reached Highly Accomplished or Lead accreditation. A review of all teaching courses: Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency review could focus on issues such as student assessment, admissions process, quality of academic staff, and quality of the curriculum and teaching methods. Announcing the plan, Federal Education Minister Peter Garrett said there were already thousands of great teachers in Australian schools. “But, we can always do more to make sure that everyone entering the profession has the skills, personal capacity, and the passion,

Federal Education Minister Peter Garrett and Tertiary Education Minister Chris Bowen, who has since resigned from the cabinet, launched the plan. to be the best teacher possible. “Our plan will make sure that only those people who have high levels of literacy and numeracy, a dedication for teaching and a great classroom practice will graduate and enter our schools. “It will mean principals will have confidence in the abilities of their new staff, and parents can be confident that every teacher has gone through a rigorous selection and training process.” Garrett said increasing support and mentoring for young teach-

ers would help counteract the numbers of junior teachers who leave the profession in the early years of their career. The Australian Greens said teachers should receive better wages. “If we are going to create more hoops to jump through, we also need to provide more incentives to jump through those hoops,” education spokeswoman, senator Penny Wright, said. Garrett said the issue of teacher pay was one for state and territory governments.

entrance standards

Attracting the best and brightest to teaching

Adrian Piccoli conceded higher university entry standards would mean a reduction in the number of qualified teachers. NEW South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell has unveiled what he called the “most comprehensive set of reforms to teaching quality” in Australia. Under the Great Teaching, Inspired Learning blueprint, teaching students will be given additional support during their first year at university. The process to remove underperforming teachers will also be made more straightforward and there will be a mandatory literacy

and numeracy assessment that per-service teachers must pass before acceptance into their final teaching rounds. “We want to attract the best and brightest to our teaching ranks. Reform cannot be put off any longer — it is time for government, schooling authorities and universities to take action,” O’Farrell said. The Premier said all the evidence suggests the quality of teaching is the single-most important influence on student performance. “We already have a world class teaching profession here in NSW but our performance against international standards tells us we can improve. “Great teachers have the ability to inspire learning among their students — this should be the benchmark for every classroom in the state,” O’Farrell added. New South Wales Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said the government was adopting all 16 recommendations in the independent report into quality teaching. Prospective teachers will find it harder to enter university — school leavers will need HSC band 5 results in a minimum of three subjects, one of which must be English, in what Piccoli said

was a significant raising of the bar. He conceded this would mean a reduction in the number of qualified teachers, saying 70 per cent of new students this year would not have met the standard. He said it was difficult to say how many current teachers would not meet the new standards. Other proposed reforms include: supporting schools to identify high performing students with an aptitude for the profession earlier in their schools, form example Year 10, and provide work experience placements focused on teaching careers; teachers supervising professional experience placements will be required to undertake professional learning; better access to induction support for casual and short-term temporary teachers; and teachers returning to the profession after an absence of five years or more will be needed to complete a refresher course. All sectors — government, independent and Catholic — will need to present their implementation plans within three months for the reforms to take effect from 2015. New South Wales Teachers Federation president Maurie Mulheron said there are signs the government is starting to address the

concerns of teachers, but added the reforms couldn’t be made on an austerity budget. “You can’t do this on the cheap, nor should you. Either you’re committed to raising the standards of the profession or you’re not,” he said. Mulheron called on the State Government to reverse its $1.7 billion in budget cuts. “We lose too many young people in the first three to four years,” he said. “We need financial incentives and professional support to make sure they stay in teaching.” He said teachers will appreciate the focus on lifting standards in initial teacher education, greater support in the early years of their careers, and recognition of the importance of ongoing professional learning. “The Teachers Federation will support measures that, through the academic achievement of students entering teacher training, will lift and fortify professional standards. “For years we have called for action by governments to raise the status of the teaching profession. For too long, however, governments have not backed up their political rhetoric with policies that teachers can support, together with the

resources necessary to implement them effectively.” The Great Teaching, Inspired Learning blueprint was produced after consultations with the profession. The panel received 98 formal submissions in response to an initial discussion paper, and comments from 577 people through an online forum. Panel members also met with groups and individuals to gather their feedback.

NSW Teachers Federation president Maurie Mulheron.

What do you think of the Federal Government and New South Wales plans to improve teacher quality? Should more support be given to students taking teacher education courses? Will the NSW benchmarks lead to a shortage of teachers in the long-run? What reforms would you like to see? We’d love to hear your views – email to join the debate.

intheclassroombonus australian Teacher • April 2013

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top of the class

Tuning in to the universal language of music MITCH MUSULIN MARITA Smith is a performing arts teacher at Casuarina Senior College in Darwin, whose dedication and commitment to her work was recently rewarded with her recognition as Secondary School Teacher of the Year 2012 Darwin: Northern Territory. Above her desk, is a quote from Baryshnikov, that puts into words a key componet of her teaching — ‘the first key to serious work, to becoming an artist — is to know oneself’. An advocate of performing arts,

teacher and choreographer, Smith brings a world of experience that immediately engages students and teachers. Many primary and secondary schools have benefited from her enthusiasm, skill and knowledge. Smith has collaborated with children’s author Allison Lester, and The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, and in Darwin she has worked with Gary Lang, former member of the Bangarra Dance Theatre, and developed links with the Victorian College of the Arts. “I am passionate about contemporary dance in particular,”

she says, “but I love to work on cross disciplinary projects where dance, drama, music, media and visual arts are combined to produce performance pieces.” In a senior secondary school classroom, establishing a connection with students is always a challenge. “I make good use of the universal language — music. It is a great way to start. “The recent rise of reality TV dance shows has also helped bring dance into my students’ living rooms. “The choreography is short, slick and very accessible; less high art and more ‘anyone can move like a pro’. This is great for me to refer to back in the classroom.” Smith says the process of developing the necessary attributes for students to perform on stage is fostered by the quality of her relationship with students. “Everyone learns differently,” she says.“The students have to learn to really trust me and their classmates. “I focus on ensemble performing and the idea that we all have to work collectively, we have to look after each other, work with our strengths, acknowledge our weaknesses. “They in turn find their self-

confidence and also begin to shine. “I encourage all my students to accept their differences and for the group as a whole to revel in and capitalise on these, especially in performance.” A good deal of Smith’s performing arts work involves going out on the road and setting up a stage in various community settings. She has integrated dance workshops with local Nemaluk and Henbury schools for students with disabilities, as well as performing at Darwin Festival, Seabreeze Festival and Parliament House. For Smith, the challenges and rewards are immense. “I remember one quite difficult student telling me it was one of the best things she had ever done in her life and after that time, I saw a remarkable change in her as a person and a dancer. “It is most gratifying to see the look on Year 12s faces as they take their final bow in assessment for performance and the realisation that the incredible journey through Years 10, 11 and 12 dance is over!” Smith has worked extensively with Gary Lang to enhance students’ own ideas of dance and performance that blend in with

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Indigenous stories, music and landscapes. His warmth and generosity is infectious and she says students really respond to this. Smith believes her recent recognition reflects “an affirmation of the true value of the arts in our schools and wonderful recognition for all of us working in these subjects”. She highlights the importance of experiential learning in bringing together academic learning outcomes as well as promoting the social-emotional well-being of students.

intheclassroombonus australian Teacher • April 2013

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Hawker’s maths approach creates flexibility Rebecca Vukovic IMAGINE a maths program where students have complete control of their learning without timetabled classes or lessons. That is a reality for senior secondary students at Hawker College in the ACT. Head of the mathematics faculty Erin Gallagher says, since implementing this fresh approach, there have been drastic improvements in the way students handle lessons, and teachers are benefiting too. “It’s taken away the entire behavioural issue, it’s now person-to-person, let’s do some maths, which is really lovely and refreshing,” Gallagher tells Australian Teacher Magazine. The program is designed with no scheduled mathematics classes for Year 11 and 12 students at the school. Instead, they have designated learning commons where students come and work independently by accessing learning briefs from a school website, with explicit curriculum taken straight from teaching outlines. The website clearly sets out what is expected for the week in terms of the theoretical and the conceptual understandings, or the practical components that

students work through. Learning commons are held sporadically throughout the day, so students can choose when they’d like to attend. When they do, they scan in with their QR codes because they must clock up at least two hours each week in the learning common. “For teachers, instead of running classes where traditionally they

might write notes on a board, put up some examples and do some work from a textbook, we’re just helping students move from one point to the next,” Gallagher explains. “Where are you up to? What do you need? What can I help you with to get to the next level? So it’s basically small groups, oneon-one tutoring – that’s how stu-

Students at Hawker College scan in and out of maths using a QR code.

dents here at Hawker undergo their maths.” This program took shape at the beginning of last year after the maths staff at Hawker kept questioning why students needed to be taught the same things term after term. “We decided that most of it came back to the whole idea of a classroom and that for students who don’t particularly like maths, which is probably most of them these days, taking away that classroom takes away all that preconception about what maths is. “We have students that start here at the beginning of the year who say, ‘I’ve done more work in my book in the first two weeks of school than I did all year last year’ … just because they’re having to be accountable for what they don’t know,” Gallagher adds. The school also introduced the idea that students need to present their learning to the teachers at the end of each week. “We want them to be accountable for their time but we want flexibility – these are senior secondary students who have caring commitments, part time jobs or a number of work placements. “To offer flexibility where they can choose to come to maths in the morning if that suits them

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better or the afternoon actually encourages them to choose to do maths appropriately. The introduction of flexibility and choice and higher accountability just means that they’ve gone, ‘OK, now I know what I need to do’ and they’ve stepped up to that,” Gallagher says proudly. She adds that teachers also benefit from the increased flexibility. “We find it’s a little bit more humanistic ... because [teachers] can say, actually, ‘I need to leave early on a Wednesday ... to pick up the kids’, so we don’t roster them on [that] afternoon.” Despite the changes that have been made to the way students take their classes, Gallagher says that the assessment for the lessons hasn’t changed. “In the ACT it’s two years cumulative assessment, we don’t have high stakes testing like the VCE or the HSC,” she explains. “The assessment is still the same as it always has been. It’s just that the learning that they undergo prior to taking that assessment is now different.” Is your school using innovative methods in teh classroom? Email

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careersbonus australian Teacher • April 2013

staff training

Home is where the cultural understanding is chelsea attard STUDENTS bring more than just books and pencils to class, they also bring with them a culture and life experiences all of their own. As a teacher it can be difficult to find the time between algebra and book reviews to connect with students and really understand where they are coming from. St Johns Catholic College Darwin caters for some 400 day and boarding students coming from remote communities scattered right across the top end and beyond. From Doomadgee, 470kms north-west of Mt Isa, to Beagle Bay in Western Australia, students’ life experiences outside of school are as vast as the distances they travel to get to the there. With this in mind, principal David Johns sends teachers into remote communities to improve their understanding of community life and practices, and what it must be like for students transitioning from remote community life into a more structured boarding school routine. Johns made a series of trips to remote communities after starting as principal last year, to gage

members’ feelings about his school. “Overwhelmingly the response was, they felt disconnected with the school, they felt their kids go there for 10 weeks and then they come back and they can’t engage in conversation because they don’t actually know what they’ve been exposed to.” It was during these visits Johns developed empathy for students living between these communities and his school. “I went out to Doomadgee in Term 2 of last year, and we jumped on a jet plane from Darwin to Mt Isa, and from there we had to jump on a six-seater cessna, and fly from Mt Isa to Doomadgee, [where we landed on] a dirt runway. “At that point I realised if my staff had any idea, what my students were coming from would change a lot of perceptions in terms of how enormously awesome it is for our kids to actually get over to us in the first place let alone engage with what we’re trying to teach them.” After returning to the college, Johns put an invitation out to staff for the opportunity to partake in their first community visit. Johns says teaching, board-

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When teachers visit remote communities they gain an understanding of where their students come from. ing and health staff had to apply for one of the nine spots on the plane, with a written response explaining why they should be considered. Johns says while in the communities, college staff spend time explaining to members what is expected of students as soon as they walk into the classroom.

“They simulate a classroom at the college [and explain] why we expect students to work in a certain way, what work looks like, the mixture of writing up on the board, using the internet, doing worksheets...” College staff also run through a basic school day, the difference between the boarding house and the day school, and protocols involved when a student is upset or distressed. “What was really interesting was, there are occasional times when some of our students can’t cope with being at school, being in the boarding house, and we send them back home. The communities [would] come up to us and say, ‘you have no idea what you are doing by sending that particular student back to us’. It’s really important that, if things are happening at the school, and if the student needs to be sent home for whatever reason, we need to have a conversation with the community, so we know how the community is going to be effected by the student returning ... it sounds really stupid doesn’t it? But to be completely honest, it’s something at a school level that we don’t think about.” Johns says since his staff have

had the opportunity to visit with communities he’s noticed a significant change in relationships at the school. “Relationships are being developed where teachers have an access point where they can engage students in conversation about country, and about homeland, and that without question has made an enormous difference to the college.” The effects are evident not only in teacher-student relationships, but in the students themselves. “The pride that the students demonstrate, being able to ... show you their homeland, their country, is something that makes them glow.” With the program only having been fully developed late last year, Johns says continuing is a no-brainer. “I need as many of my staff [as possible] to go out there, to gain first-hand the energy of these places. When they go out there they get an understanding of where our kids come from. And for our students to know that we value their culture, their country and their people, so that connection can be made, so they can trust us, so they can achieve [their] potential.”


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careersleadershipbonus australian Teacher • April 2013

overseas mentoring

Hinton’s UAE school improvement adventure A STINT to drive a school improvement project in Abu Dhabi certainly tested David Hinton’s negotiation skills. The Victorian was appointed principal at Bendigo’s Crusoe College this term after two years in the United Arab Emirates working for a UK company. “Our remit was to implement the ADEC’s [Abu Dhabi Education Council] school improvement and educational change strategy throughout the Emirate,” Hinton tells Australian Teacher Magazine. “I saw it as an opportunity to experience a different culture, but also to work in school improvement — which was one of my passions — in a totally different environment. The country’s vision for 2030 is to climb into the top 10 per cent of education systems in the world. Learning from international school leaders is one of the ways officials hope to achieve that goal. “We had a school leadership advisor in every school and we had teaching and learning coaches in every school, so it’s a huge project,” Hinton says, adding, “In the company that I worked for we had 250 staff from 21 nationalities working across 25 schools. “The remit really was to work on two levels. One was organisational structure of schools, and building the notion of a self-improving school.

“The teaching and learning coaches worked in English, maths and science and [their focus was] on pedagogy.” Hinton says it was great to focus specifically on school improvement without any other distractions and the role was fantastically satisfying because, to a degree, the whole team had a blank canvas to work with. “We went into the schools and they were very much driven by ADEC and had very little processes, policies, procedures in place. Once again it’s a cultural type of thing.

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“So, you had a blank canvas but you had to start with the very basics — how do you develop a secondary school that’s got some practices and processes in place so that staff know where to go and how to be involved in decision making? We started at some of the very elementary processes for running a school.” Hinton worked with school leadership teams, coaching and mentoring them on how to structure a school in terms of setting up processes and procedures such as internal accountability, data analysis, consultation, and managing and developing teachers. “It was a huge project but they were trying to kick start a commitment to self-improving schools and, to a degree, self-managing in terms of accountability and taking responsibility for teacher professional development.” As well as the cultural differences and the need to work through a translator, the UAE has a shortage of teachers and brings in educators on contract from countries such as Jordan, Tunisia and Egypt. “They come from, probably not a strong pedagogical base, in terms of their training. So, there were lots of challenges around implementing a western approach to

authentic teaching and learning strategies,” Hinton says. He adds the Middle Eastern culture of honour and respect, where everyone must have their say, was also a challenge when it came to implementing quick change. “To bring about change in the

school was very challenging in terms of leadership and management because you had to do significantly more negotiation, significantly more one on one coaching to build an interest to try something different. “What you discover is that they have a very conservative approach and if you introduce something new then it must go through protracted negotiations and conversation until they feel very comfortable, before they will even begin to try new approaches. “Whereas in Australia you can go to the staff and say ‘Look, here’s something that’s new and innovative, we want some people to try it out’ and you’ll get people saying ‘Yeah, I’ll give that a go’ and you build momentum quickly, then people can vote and say ‘Yeah, that’s a great thing, let’s run with it’. “In the Middle East it is protracted conversation …” Hinton recalls, “... it took a lot of negotiation, discussion and support to get traction and get things to stick. “In terms of people skills and negotiating skills it was a wonderful experience.”


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careersleadershipbonus australian Teacher • April 2013

just on principal

Parafield Gardens team building on positives WHEN Nanette van Ruiten first arrived at Parafield Gardens High School, it was in what could only be termed as a very bad place.. “I came here 12 years ago as an assistant school principal and I suppose the school was viewed by the media, the department and the community as a school in crisis,” she says. “That was because we have a non-English-speaking background multicultural population here, so about a third of our students are from non-Englishspeaking backgrounds… “They were a target for some of our community members, who were, for want of a better word, quite racist, so our school was a target, but the school itself was

very proactive and positive in response to that. “The staff were very supportive, very collaborative and really worked through those issues. “So when I took over [as principal in 2007], the school had already moved quite a bit forward. At that time the major issues in the Adelaide northern suburbs school, the areas that still need to be addressed, were related to the behaviour of students and attendance rates. That has changed considerably, she says. “We’ve worked a lot on our culture, the conditions for learning, about the wellbeing of the staff and students in the school and we’ve really set the foundations

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so that if you talk to the staff now, they’ll tell you the focus and the conversations are very much on the teaching and learning.” The school’s students are drawn from a wide geographic area and represent a large diversity of cultural and income groups. “I don’t use the term ‘low socioeconomic’ and the staff here don’t use it at all anymore,” van Ruiten says.“… We say things like we have a ‘diverse and complex community’. “So, we understand the harsh realities that some of our students and their families face and we really try to put a lot of support structures in place to reaffirm to parents and students that we can provide them with access to the highest quality education.” Things have clearly changed dramatically for the better at Parafield Gardens with a clutch of significant outcomes in the last five years indicative of how the school has been turned around. “Our data has improved in every area, apart from NAPLAN,” van Ruiten says. “We’ve lowered our suspensions, so our behaviour management data’s a lot better. “We’ve got improved attendance, our improved retention is 10 per cent above our region, our safe completion result is now 90 per cent — it was about 45 per cent when I first got here — we’ve got improved post-school destination data, of last year’s cohort who had aspirations to go to university, 80 per cent of them got in, of those students who wanted to go to TAFE, 95 per cent of them got in and of the students in our school who leave seeking employment, we have halved that from 25 per cent to 12 per cent.” In terms of student population size, the school has also grown in the last four years by about 20 per cent, something van Ruisen believes is largely due to its improved reputation. “When I took over as principal, we had a vision, but we didn’t have a set of values to underpin that, so there weren’t any values in the school to say, ‘well, this is how we agree as a whole school

community to interact with each other’ and what our fundamental core business was. “So, we spent a lot of time with the whole community, saying ‘what do we want as our set of values?’, and we also developed our moral purpose, so we drilled right down as to why we were actually here and got that real shared agreement and consensus. “We decided that we really needed to look at the wellbeing, or the conditions, of learning, we really needed to look at the learning, which we’re now calling ‘visible learning’, and the pathways. “But if you don’t have staff wellbeing, you’re not going to have student wellbeing, if you don’t have student wellbeing you’re not going to have optimal learning, if you don’t have really good learning, you’re not going to have good pathways… So, it was that real ‘what do we need to work on immediately?’, and it was a real balance of that immediate need and that futures planning. Van Ruisen encourages other principals to lead with a huge sense of optimism. “You have to build on the positives, build on what you’ve been successful with, you have to promote them,” she says. “Because I really think people want to belong to and contribute to an organisation that’s going forward. And they want to have a real sense of pride in what they’re doing. “The teachers here are fantastic, they’re really open to innovation, so ... they’re leading and at the forefront of those developments and initiatives…” “We’re very proud, but no-one does it on their own — it’s not about me, it’s about we and what we’re doing together here.” Naturally van Ruiten is chuffed by the school’s development under her watch. “I’m really proud of the fact that when we use jargonistic terms like ‘oh, we have high expectations of the kids’, I can describe what that means, without just saying it. “In this school we have lifted the expectations of all, not just the students but also of teachers,

in regards to what their responsibilities are. “We don’t use the word ‘accountability’ here, we use the word ‘responsibility’. Because accountability comes in when responsibility walks out the door. Students at the school know that they have academic benchmarks that they have to achieve. “They know that if they haven’t met that benchmark standard, then we have support measures in place to support them. The principal and part time rock singer is particularly happy with the schools huge investment in teacher professional learning. “We’ve got a real commitment to highly accomplished teachers,” she says. “When I took on the role here, the teacher professional development budget was around $40 a head, which equates to about $2500 a year and now we spend $50-$60,000 dollars a year. “I’m really proud that we as a school really consider current and best practice and really talk about those things and look at our practice. I’m proud that we embrace innovation here and don’t shy away from it. Van Ruiten believes that to be effective as a school, to make a difference in a school, there has to be a sustainability of staff and sustainability of leadership. “So you see it through from the visioning, to the planning, to the actioning,” she says.


Australian Teacher Magazine (April 2013)