Friday, October 16, 2009

Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program

The Teaching and Learning Resources Unit has recently subscribed to the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program. The aim of the program is to engage children in growing preparing and sharing fresh food through developing a kitchen garden and preparing their own fresh food.

The program is designed for years 3-6 but could be adapted for older or younger students. Kitchen garden activities enhance learning in all KLAs;
* Promoting personal and social development through team work
* Reading and comprehension of technical instructions
* Physical activity in the garden,
* Creative arts skills through the creation of beautiful food and an attractive garden
* Science and sustainability issues are included as children work through issues such as climate, water management, plant cycles and soil health
* Mathematics is given real-life application through measurement, calculation, estimation and comparison.

The programme would also support religious education themes of care and respect for creation, care for ourselves, sharing in God’s creation, and thankfulness for Gods gifts to us.

The Subscription includes an implementation manual,an introductory DVD, and access to the members’ only section of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation website For the login details to the website please contact the TLRU on 9677 4344 or 9677 4345.
The Kitchen Garden at St Francis of Assisi Primary School Glendenning.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Boys, Blogs and Belonging

Yesterday 35 librarians met for a staff development day at The Children's Bookshop at Beecroft. The event organised by the Teacher Librarians of Parramatta Diocese was entitled Boys, Blogs and Belonging.

The day focused on the sharing of information, knowledge and skills in literacy development of students in the classroom via Web 2.0 tools and deep understanding of the appropriate resources to support learning. Including a refresher on the copyright issues around the use of these digital tools.

There was a review of new books by Paul Macdonald, the owner of The Children's Bookshop. Paul has a Masters in Education and has almost twenty years experience as an English teacher at both Primary and Secondary levels. His working life has extended to writing English texts, lecturing and consultancy. Paul’s particular interest is the fostering of boys’ literacy, enthusing reluctant readers and the development of reading schemes to extend gifted students. Paul’s session discussed a range of books for boys and girls with a particular focus on the need to encourage reading for pleasure as a means to advance literacy. Paul stressed that “Books are not dead – they are just changing their face”. In fact there has been a growth in the teen reading market. Paul also discussed the blurring of boundaries between children’s, teens and adult books.

The day ended with a visit by an author-in-residence, illustrator and writer Nina Rycroft. Nina gave us an insight into the work process of creating illustrations for a picture book. Nina has just completed her own picture book called Ballroom Bonanza and discussed how she developed her ideas for the book and the illustrations.

The day provided an opportunity for teacher-librarians to extend their knowledge of what is new and relevant to supporting learners K-12 in reading and writing. Identifying and selecting appropriate resources to match reading ages is just one area where teacher librarians are able to support literacy learning in schools.

Learning through music

Male Voices: Stories of boys learning through making music
Scott Harrison ,
ACER Press, May 2009

Male Voices is filled with stories of boys and men participating in the creation of music. It brings together leading thinkers and practitioners in the field of music from the conductor of the award-winning, mould-breaking Birralee Blokes, Paul Holley, who comments on the phenomenal success of his choir, through to internationally recognised scholars, Dr Scott Harrison and Dr Bob Smith, who bring research into adolescent participation and indigenous music-making respectively. This book offers a variety of viewpoints. Academics help to position the study of male engagement in music throughout the life cycle, while teachers in private and state schools across the country offer their views alongside those of professional musicians.

The book also focuses on the interface of technology and music, instrumental music, and how music contributes to academic skills, social interaction and life skills. From the banks of the Yarra to remote communities of the Far North, Male Voices presents a diverse range of experiences, with parents, teachers, musicians, men and boys offering perspectives on their experience of music, for the benefit and understanding of others.
(Review from ACER Press)

This book available to borrow by contacting

Monday, October 12, 2009

Teaching and Learning Critical Pathways

Recently CEO Parramatta had a visit from Barbara McMorrow, a Professional Learning Director from Catholic Principals Council of Ontario, Canada (CPCO)
Barbara has been working in schools and networks on Teaching & Learning Critical Pathways collaborative analysis of student learning – a process where teachers bring data on students of interest – stuck, not progressing – and use a collaborative process to understand and analyse the student’s situation and determine critical pathways for teaching and learning for these individual students. This Ontario initiative aligns with system priorities in Parramatta using data, learning story, collaborative practice, school based professional learning and networking.

Why the Teaching Learning Critical Pathway and Why Now?
The Teaching-Learning Critical Pathway (T-LCP) is a model used to organize actions for teaching and student learning. The T-LCP is the work of the professional learning community (PLC). The T-LCP was inspired by a strategy presented by Carmel Crévola,
Peter Hill and Michael Fullan. In their book entitled Breakthrough, they present a model called the Critical Learning Instructional Pathway (CLIP). Their idea is that classroom practice can be organized in a practical, precise and highly personalized manner with the outcome being increased student achievement. Their central question is “How do we know that our actions are resulting in improved student learning?” (Abstract from article)

Teacher-Learning Critical Pathways
A Website from the Ontario Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat.

The Teaching- Learning Critical Pathway (TLCP): A Resource Guide

Canadian Coalition of Self Directed Learning. The Canadian Coalition for Self-Directed Learning is an organization of secondary schools throughout Canada that are dedicated to the personalization of learning which takes into account individual student characteristics, talents, interests and academic backgrounds. CCSDL schools believe that learning flourishes in an environment where the learner is able to control and direct their learning.

The Mary Ward School community is committed to realizing the potential of all members of their learning community in an environment that encourages collaborative decision making and collegial relationships among administrators, teachers, support staff, students and parents.

What is Self Directed Learning
In Self Directed Learning the control of learning shifts from the teacher to the learner. The learner is seen as a owner and manager of their own learning, where learners set their own goals and their own approach to the learning task within a learning framework. Self directed learning aims to have learners manage implementation of their own learning as well as actively evaluate their own learning. While learners exhibit a great deal of independence this learning model is also seen as highly collaborative as learners interact more with their peers and teachers.

Resources on Self-Directed Learning
ERIC digest on Self Directed Learning
This website summarises the concept of Self-Directed Learning and provides a list of references
ERIC Identifier: ED459458, Publication Date: 2001-12-00
Author: Abdullah, Mardziah Hayati, Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading English and Communication Bloomington IN.

Articles from the Self Directed learning website
This site supports teaching self-directed learning (SDL) and becoming a self-directed person.

Simulations and Games in Education

An article in The Australian (7 Oct 09) discusses the uses of simulations in education. In "Are we learning or is it fun and games" Enthusiasts say that simulations "are a powerful teaching tool when used in conjunction with case studies" but not everyone agrees.

Background on Games and Simulations

"A simulation is a model of events, items or processes that do or could exist"1
'A game is a goal-directed activity that often has a competitive nature and works within a framework of accepted rules" 2.
Traditional models of learning often "emphasize an objective and knowable perspective on reality resulting in a focus on building capacity to recall internalized knowledge"3. In todays world of rapid changing technology and easy access to vast amounts of information this traditional model may not provide students with the critical thinking skills they need to operate in todays ever changing work environment.
"Educational simulations are one of the technological approaches available to education to facilitate the building of skills such as critical thinking.
Traditionally, simulations are something that bridges the gap between the typical classroom setting and the real world where actual practice occurs. They have been used to assist in the capacity for students to understand and use information to solve problems that are actually relevant to a real context"4.
1-4 from State of the Field Review, Simulation in Education Final Report
May 12, 2006 Michael Magee Alberta Online Learning Consortium Calgary AB

Resources for Games and Simulations in Education

State of the Field Review, Simulation in Education Final Report
May 12, 2006 Michael Magee Alberta Online Learning Consortium Calgary AB
This report reviews the literature available on Simulations and Games in Education. It discusses issues around the instructional design involved as well as the educational issues of teacher and learner belief systems and the role of assessment.

Educational simulations
The purpose of this web site is to promote the development of education via simulation. A list of online simulation resources categorised by curriculum area.

How Online Simulations Work in the Classroom

Simulations expert Christopher Walters provides the following thoughts on virtual simulations for classroom use.

Resources held by TLRU
Good video games + good learning : collected essays on video games, learning, and literacy, Gee, James Paul. 2007
Playing to learn : video games in the classroom, Hutchison, David, 1968- 2007
What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy, Gee, James Paul. 2003