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brett rolfe
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After all the waiting, Jem arrived on August 1. He is yet to form any strong views on pedagogical theory, and so far hasn't really taken the critically transitive stance to the world that Freire was suggesting here, but he's jolly cute and very sweet. Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2011 at Evidence Based Dad
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Reading Paolo Freire ('Education for Critical Consciousness') for the first time, I was keen to see what relevance a Brazilian political agitator would have on contemporary Australian children’s education. ‘Education as the Practice of Freedom’ is a piece that explains and documents Freire’s project to address poor adult literacy in... Continue reading
"Our study indicates that participating in wild nature activities before age 11 is a particularly potent pathway toward shaping both environmental attitudes and behaviors in adulthood," says environmental psychologist Nancy Wells of Cornell University as the result of a 2000 subject research effort. Not like it's surprising, but nice to... Continue reading
I thought i'd already written about this, but apparently not. Recently, a visiting US education adviser (Professor Linda Darling-Hammond) spoke about how damaging the testing approach currently pursued by Australia has been for the US. "The US is taking a U-turn away from test-based accountability,'' said Professor Darling-Hammond. ''We hope... Continue reading
The pure orality of Aboriginal language(s) does present a strange challenge when we naively talk about 'preserving' those languages through written means. To an English speaker it seems trivial to figure out a (phonetic) way to 'write down what people are saying'. It's easy to forget that this act is fundamentally not part of the language, and that a written language and an oral language are by no means the same thing.
Lately I've been thinking a lot about the process of learning to read (and, to a lesser degree, write). Literacy is such a fundamental skill in society, and it is one that seems to occur right on the boundary that marks the beginning of schooling. It is expected that children... Continue reading
Posted Apr 24, 2011 at Evidence Based Dad
A wonderful talk by John Hunter, a teacher in the US who described his use of an in-class game with 4th Graders (along with lots of other commentary about progressive teaching) Describing the 'World Peace Game' he uses in his 4th Grade class, he says "I throw them into this... Continue reading
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I really wanted to like Waiting for Superman. Here was a movie about the need for revolutionary change in education - from the guy that brought us An Inconvenient Truth - what's not to like? To tell the truth I still haven't finished watching it. I'm sure there is much... Continue reading
I've been pondering the divide between learning reading through a 'phonics' approach and a 'whole language' approach. While acknowledging that much of the 'war' between these pedagogic approaches is a bit of a storm in a teacup (the best approach is no doubt hybrid), it is fascinating to ask how... Continue reading
In Chapter 4 of NurtureShock, Bronson and Merryman make some fascinating observations about children's attitudes and behaviours around lying. For a start, adults are not very good at telling whether kids are lying or not, relying too often on cues like gender and extroversion (p. 75). Even teachers score only... Continue reading
Posted Mar 29, 2011 at Evidence Based Dad
By Chapter 11 (pp.194-264) of Parent Effectiveness Training, I think it's fair to say that Gordon has built up a fair amount of expectation about the magic approach to resolving the conflicts that active listening and I-messages have not solved. Unsurprisingly, the method is not some astonishing revelation, more the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 27, 2011 at Evidence Based Dad
In Chapter 8 (pp.139-147) of Parent Effectiveness Training, Gordon talks abut the strategy of changing the environment in response to unacceptable behaviour. Instead of trying to resolve a conflict situation, parents may be in a position to change the environment so that the behaviour simply does not occur any longer.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 27, 2011 at Evidence Based Dad
Once Gordon feels he has made his point about the importance of Active Listening in Parent Effectiveness Training, he moves onto the other side of the coin - how parents can effectively communicate to their children. The key suggestion here is to move from parental communication which focuses on the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 27, 2011 at Evidence Based Dad
Thomas Gordon's Parent Effectiveness Training (PET) was a book I have had lying around since my undergraduate (psychology) degree - at my dad's suggestion from memory. It cropped up again last year when we were looking at Gordon's approach as a model for classroom management, so I thought I'd dig... Continue reading
Posted Mar 27, 2011 at Evidence Based Dad
So when I read that Po Bronson had (co)written a parenting book, I decided to give it a look. I've been a fan of Bronson for great books like 'Bombadiers' and 'The Nudist on the Late Shift', so I had high expectations. Happily, I can report that after reading 'NurtureShock'... Continue reading
Posted Mar 26, 2011 at Evidence Based Dad
Streaming is the process of segregating students by ability. You can 'stream' across the whole curriculum and get 3A, 3B, 3C etc. (though obviously we are way too politically correct to call them that any more, and probably use Indigenous animal names or something like that). The benefit of streaming is that is reduces the need for differentiation within the classroom - you can teach 3A harder stuff, stuck to the basics with 3E. Much easier to keep kids engaged with challenges that suit their level of skill. The problems are obvious - entrenching those levels, reinforcing behaviours etc. With whole curriculum streaming there is the added issue that a kid may be great at something and crap at something else, so it is problematic to do. We don't do that as much any more, but what we have started to do is subject streaming. So you will be in 3-Artichoke most of the time, but then you may be streamed for literacy, so if you are a good English student when it is time to do reading and writing you go off with all the other literacy braniacs and all the lesser literates go off to their class. Same for numeracy. One variation of this is in-class streaming where you create things like 'reading groups' of 4-5 kids within the class, and get all the good readers in one group and give them the harder work. An alternative is to put high performing and struggling students together into a group, and create exercises that let them co-participate (and in some instances get the better performing students to support the ones having more difficulty). There was an interesting approach mentioned recently, where a whole year (5 or 6 from memory) was brought together for an activity. A number of activity stations were set up (with different levels of challenge) and students were invited to go to whichever they wanted to. Throughout the course of the activity, some students chose to move - either to a harder activity to be more challenged or to an easier one because *they recognised* that they needed more support.
We've had a number of in-class conversations about streaming recently, and I took the opportunity to crystalise my thoughts by responding to another student's posting in a discussion forum about a school they had visited that uses streaming for English and Math and is achieving good NAPLAN results. Thought I... Continue reading
Hi Sarah, Glad you found it useful. While that paper has been cited in a couple of different places, as far as I know noone has pushed that particular model any further - and sadly I have not had time to revisit it to explore it further. If you are writing in the area, I'd love to see where you end up when you get to the point of being able to share your work. Thanks, brett
Hi Emily, and welcome to the joy's of MTeach - are you enjoying the nice relaxed start to the course... they really ease you into it gradually ;) 'Mo's Smelly Jumper'? Don't know that one, will have to check it out. I too got off to an excellent start with 'The Wrong Book' - it was interesting, while my buddy was very into anticipating what was coming next, the overarching story line eluded him I fear (which is understandable as the whole idea of it being Nicholas' book, and his slight character flaws is much less interesting that the monsters, pirates et al.)
So I take it you won't be shopping Hudson's look then Ben? But you have to admit, that's a might swell looking sweater-vest!
Completely reasonable request. And I guess this is where my concern around the standard of 'quality' comes about. As long as it generates interest and sustains some form of narrative flow (and does not hideous harm to the English language), is sounds good to me! From memory it is 'Animalia' (big shout out to all the Graeme Base loathers in the audience tonight!) that has animals by letter, which is a at least engaging - I'm not sure about narrative. There are other books that grow a story by letter in a similar way. We saw a great Gillian Rubenstein book last week called 'Dog In, Cat Out', which tells the story of a cat and a dog in a family house over the course of the day - on each page each animal may be in or may be out, and the text is simply the four words describing the situation. By learning to simply identify which word is which, the child becomes able to 'read' the story (to assist, the letter as the start of each word is capitalised and in red). I believe there are also a renga of books that just stick to very simple text and sparse wording. As they rely more on the illustrations, they tend to do well or poorly on that basis, but they definitely do exist. I was also happy to hear our Mathematics lecturer today speaking in the same way of the importance of story-based literature for maths. There are also lots of basic numeracy texts that include stories, things like 'The Hungry Caterpillar' and 'One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish'. These are obviously a lot more intrinsically motivating that a book with a bunch of random objects and a number on each page.
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I noticed today that apparently Ralph Lauren have produced a children's book ('The RL Gang: A Magically Magnificent School Adventure’), available as a picture book and a 'read' online. Of course, reading online is much better, because you can enjoy the lovely animation and Uma Thurman's earnest narration. And more... Continue reading
So it's back into the swing of things - week two and we are already being let loose on unsuspecting seven year olds as part of our English primary curriculum work. One of the things I have always wondered about is the aversion many teachers and academics seem to have... Continue reading
There's lots of discourse about 'democratic' classrooms and introducing negotiated class rules, but I really liked the way it was expressed by a teacher from Harmony school, cited in 'Emergent Curriculum' by Jones and Nimmo; "...we have consciously avoided setting up rules at the beginning of the year because we... Continue reading
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So when I read that Po Bronson had (co)written a parenting book, I decided to give it a look. I've been a fan of Bronson for great books like 'Bombadiers' and 'The Nudist on the Late Shift', so I had high expectations. Happily, I can report that after reading 'NurtureShock'... Continue reading