Monday, 31 August 2015

Pirate faces finished

Real estate advertisement for Hadrian's Wall

Sample of an art task for Gulliver being whisked away by the eagle when he is small.
Finished pirate faces.

Charter schools for Australia

US-style privately-owned public schools should be rolled out in Australia to boost academic standards, a new report by libertarian think-tank, the Centre for Independent Studies argues.

Privately-run public schools, or charter schools as they are known in the US, are funded by the government and run by private entities, which have full autonomy over the schools' finances, staffing and curriculum.

Charter schools are one step beyond the old Kennett style 'schools of the future'. charter schools have been a disaster in the US but of course the right-wing 'think' tank promoting the idea loves the notion of private companies running state schools.

Critics argue charter schools do not achieve better results than public schools, and claim increasing competition in the sector leads to greater inequality. They also warn against for-profit charter schools, pointing to evidence overseas of financial mismanagement and fraud in the sector.

Under former Liberal Premier Jeff Kennett, Victorian public schools were given more autonomy over budget and staffing, making Victoria one of the most autonomous education systems in the country.

Victorian Education Minister James Merlino said autonomy was leading to "some great local innovation" in schools, but policies under the previous Napthine government's "autonomy agenda" – which included plans to set up "federated" school councils and give parents a greater say in the running of schools – resulted in "cuts and abandonment".

Australian Education Union Victorian president Meredith Peace said the government should be focusing on supporting under-resourced schools rather than boosting competition in the system.

"In Victoria in recent years, schools have become increasingly isolated and are forced to compete more and more with each other with limited funding. This is producing a wider equity gap and a wider gap for our kids, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds."

Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne said the federal government is on track to increase autonomy in Australian schools, and has allocated $70 million to make public schools more independent. ( Pyne would love to go down this path.)

After over a decade of Charter schools in the US But  research and experience from around the US show that these schools are failing to serve students with the greatest needs, disrupting communities, increasing racial segregation of schools, and introducing new kinds of corruption into education, all while producing similar or worse educational outcomes than public schools. The evidence is mounting that placing education in the hands of unelected privately run organizations is a disaster for students, teachers, and communities.

for more information on the U.S. experience of Charter schools refer to this very interesting story:

Original story from The Age
Follow us: @theage on Twitter | theageAustralia on Facebook

Pirate faces

Today the grade 2 and 3 started making their 'pirate faces' whole the grade 5s started their work on Ancient Rome for The Eagle of the Ninth.

Completion photos tomorrow.
This afternoon I visited Sovereign Hill to organise an excursion for is for the last week of this term.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Cake ban in NSW kinda

A prestigious ( read expensive)  inner-city childcare centre has banned birthday cakes after some parents complained about too many cakes being served, sugar overload and children being left out due to allergies.
Parents who pay $120 a day for their children to attend Only About Children in Surry Hills were stunned when the ban was announced last week.
"Children's birthdays are exciting milestones and are important to recognise and celebrate at the campus," the centre director wrote to parents.
"In doing so there are many aspects we might like to consider, including family culture and preferences, health and nutrition, equality amongst the children and a sense of fun!

"With this in mind we have made the decision to STOP THE BRINGING OF BIRTHDAY CAKES ON CHILDRENS' BIRTHDAYS to campus."
The director suggested that the birthday child could celebrate instead by making a crown to wear on the day, whizzing up healthy fruit smoothies with their classmates or choosing which activities they do.
A representative of the centre said the ban was prompted by "several parents [who] complained frequently at the frequency of birthday cakes being served on campus" and the fact some kids were allergic to egg and dairy.
It is understood that some parents of the 73 children who attend the centre complained about the unnecessary sugar consumption involved in regular birthday cake celebrations.
"The frequency of birthdays each week and thus birthday cakes exceeded the nutritional guide for early childhood," the representative said. 
OAC also said some children were left out of birthday celebrations because of their allergies. "OAC has a strong commitment to inclusion for all children within OAC campuses and having to exclude children from celebrating with their peers is a direct violation of this."
Other parents whose children attend the Surry Hills service described the ban as "completely unreasonable". They said it was a shame all the children would miss out on a quintessential part of birthday celebrations because of the concerns of a few.
"The birthday cake is a tradition," one parent, who did not wish to be identified, said. "It's a coming together over something pleasant and enjoyable. It's those little moments of fun that make it a very important social event for the kids."
Initially, OAC Surry Hills attempted to gauge support for a birthday cake ban by using a voting jar, which showed most parents were against a ban. However, OAC said children were using the voting tokens as toys so the results were "skewed and inconclusive".
Parents said having birthday cake was one way children learnt that treats are something reserved for special occasions. They said that rather than banning cake, children could be given smaller slices or parents advised how to provide allergy-free cakes that everyone could enjoy.
The increasing prevalence of allergies in young children has prompted many childcare centres to ban nuts and remind parents to be mindful of any allergies when bringing in food for their child's class.
The federal government's "Staying Healthy in Childcare" guidelines permit families to bring cakes in to centres to celebrate special occasions. However, they recommend that the birthday child blows out their candles on a separate cupcake to prevent the spread of germs among young children.
Most childcare centres still allow families to bring in birthday cakes, including the not-for-profit GoodStart chain, which said it follows the government guidelines regarding "celebration cakes".
Australia's oldest early childhood service, KU Children's Services, said how birthdays were celebrated varied at each of its 150 services depending on the needs of families. "We find that most parents are happy for their child's birthday to be celebrated at the centre, including cake!" chief executive Christine Legg said. 
Some KU centres with cooks on site will offer to bake a cake on behalf of families that meets the dietary requirements of all children. Ms Legg said KU had noticed a trend towards bringing cupcakes, which can be smaller and easier to serve to children. 
If you ask me its a storm in a pattie pan! When I first saw the headline I thought it might have been a story about OHS, food safety or allergies. Personally I'd love cake every day!

Read more: 
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Friday, 28 August 2015


I went up to work this morning to do a bit of organising for next week and do the cleaning and as I drove up Clark's Road I came face to face with a herd of wandering cows. 
It's not unusual to see a stray every now and again but this was ridiculous!
They were collected and put back where they belonged.......eventually.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

More pop ups.....pop up!

More Roman pop -ups including one featuring the Visigoth's sack of Rome.The leaning column was a challenge!

The grade 3 desert island maps. 

We start reading Gullivers Travels next week and we're about half way into The Eagle of the Ninth. We watched a little bit of the movie version but not much as it departs from the book too much and is a bit gory. Pity I can't get the BBC TV series of it. They made some great versions of popular books from the 60s-70s such as The Machine Gunners, Stig of the Dump and The Children of Green Knowe. ( They should re-package them on DVD for schools) 
Next week we will work on Ancient Rome. I have a few more craft activities to do too and of course there is Father's Day I think next weekend. We had a pleasant sunny day today so I gave the kids some extra play time to play outside. And few jobs to do tomorrow including finishing off my Robinson Crusoe unit.
Photos from Huff Post of a teacher's Harry Potter themed classroom. ( I like the ide of the Hogwarts letters but the rest doesn't look any better than mine did last year......I couldn't stand a theme for a whole year!

More about the decision to ditch SRI

The Andrews Government has removed Special Religious Instruction (SRI) from class time in Victorian government primary schools. In 2016 schools that continue with the weekly 30 minute program will have to hold it at lunchtime or before or after school.


For many years the numbers of students in SRI classes were artificially buoyed up by the necessity for parents to formally opt out of participation. The State Government change to an opt in policy in 2011 led to a major decline in participation. Enrolments fell 42 per cent from 2013 (92,808) to 2014 (53,361).


This meant only 15.7% of primary school children were in the program. The other 85% were unable to receive any formal teaching in the primary school curriculum while the religious classes were taking place. The Department regulation states:


A principal must ensure that students who do not attend SRI must not be provided with instruction in areas within the Australian Curriculum in Victoria (AusVELS) while other students are participating in SRI.


SRI fell into particular disrepute after the former CEO of the major provider of SRI, Access Ministries, stated:


We must go and make disciples ... What really matters is seizing the God-given opportunity we have to reach kids in schools.

Replacing SRI

The State Government has announced that it will introduce "respectful relationships education" into the school curriculum in 2016 for all Year levels from Prep to Year 10. 

According to the Minister for Education, James Merlino, the program will address the issues involved in family violence and promote gender equity. It will focus on challenging negative attitudes such as prejudice, discrimination and harassment that can lead to violence, often against women.

It will also aim to support students in learning how to build healthy relationships and understand global cultures, ethics and traditions.

The program has arisen out of Victoria's Action Plan to Address Violence against Women and Children 2012 - 2015 and coincides with the Royal Commission into Family Violence.


Schools will receive training and guidance to deliver the curriculum content. The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) will develop resources to support teachers.

The state-wide introduction of respectful relationships education follows a pilot program in 30 Victorian schools.

Danger graph

The grade 2-3s finished Danger Scales for Robinson Crusoe today. It was the first time they have made danger scales and they did a great job. They made the graph on PCs and found images or used my sketches of Robinson Crusoe to illustrate events they have chosen to evaluate. 
I also completed a sample of pop-up scene of Hadrian's Wall.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Roman pop up card

We just finished reading the chapters where Marcus 'rescues' Esca from being killed in a gladiator battle to the death. I thought we might make a pop up Colessium. I made a sample for the grade 5s today ( they might prefer Hadrian's Wall ) to do tomorrow. Today they finished their Roman soldier.

Y Charts for Robinson Crusoe.We will make a danger scale this week and watch a movie version of the story on our iPads.
Making the Y chart on the computer.
Making a Roman centurion

For the Senate and People of Rome 

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Pyning away

Pyne still trying to get his higher education changes a price.

At least four crossbench senators opposed to the Abbott government’s stalled higher education package have refused, or been unable to attend, meetings with the consultant who is being paid $150,000 to talk to them and to universities on behalf of the higher education minister, Christopher Pyne.

Guardian Australia revealed this month the Abbott government is spending $150,000 outsourcing its negotiations with crossbench senators and the university sector over the higher education changes that have been blocked twice by the upper house.

The consultant is Robert Griew, who was until recently an associate secretary in the federal Department of Education and Training with responsibility for higher education policy and is now a principal of the Nous Group, a firm that has won a federal government contract to assess “stakeholder views” on higher education.

But most of crossbench senators the government needs to persuade to get its changes through the Senate are refusing to meet Griew or are sending staff members to meet him on their behalf.

A spokesman for the Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie said Griew had contacted the politician by email requesting a meeting.

“We wrote back and enclosed the senator’s most recent speech on higher education and told him to get back if he had any questions. He never got back,” the spokesman said. Lambie has labelled the consultation a “waste of money”.

A spokeswoman for the Queensland senator Glenn Lazarus said he had publicly stated the consultation was a huge waste of taxpayers’ money and that he saw no point in meeting Griew.
An adviser to the Victorian senator Ricky Muir said a staff member had met Griew for a “general chat” because “we didn’t think it was necessary for Ricky to meet with him”.

The Victorian senator John Madigan said: “I am yet to meet with Mr Griew and, frankly, I don’t see the purpose in further negotiations given the position previously adopted by my crossbench colleagues, the ALP and the Greens.”

The South Australian independent Nick Xenophon said he hadn’t met Griew either but said: “I’d be happy to meet with him some time and have a robust discussion.”

The Palmer United party senator Dio Wang had held an introductory meeting with the consultant, according to a spokesman.

The Liberal Democratic senator, David Leyonhjelm, who already backed the higher education changes, said he had spoken to Griew on the phone because he had been overseas at the time of the consultations. He said Griew had held similar conversations with him when still a public servant.

“I met him when he was still employed by the department because he seemed to be working with the minister’s office on the higher ed reforms at that time, he’s quite expert on it all,” Leyonhjelm said.

“He came to my office and we chatted about it. Later, when he’d left the department Pyne called me and told me he’d ask Griew to talk to the crossbench, but when he tried to organise a meeting I was overseas so we had a lengthy phone conversation.”

The department’s contract with Nous Group was worth $150,000 and was to run from 13 July to 5 August, according to the AusTender website, but the government said Griew would be engaged until early September.

Griew, a long-serving and respected public servant, told the senators he had been commissioned to undertake consultation and the product would be “a description of views canvassed: concerns, priorities and possible ways forward in the thinking of everyone I talk to”.

Gonski funding in NSW

Sydney public schools will benefit from a $224 million New South Wales Government initiative that aims to improve the quality of teaching.
The program, dubbed Quality Teaching, Successful Students, was launched by the state’s Education Minister Adrian Piccoli and forms part of the funding promised to schools this year as a result of the NSW Gonski schools funding agreement.
It is currently being rolled-out across NSW and will enable more than 1,000 of the best teachers to mentor and coach other teachers.
Piccoli said the program will improve the skills of teachers and, in turn, improve learning opportunities for students.
“Experienced teachers have knowledge and skills that are even more valuable when they are shared with their colleagues,” he said.
The package enables selected teachers to:
Observe colleagues in their classrooms and demonstrate effective teaching strategies;
Monitor student performance data across the school to ensure teachers are focused on areas of need; and,
Collaborate with colleagues within their school and in other schools.
NSW Teachers Federation Deputy President Gary Zadkovich highlighted the importance of additional support being provided to primary schools.
“For many years the NSW Teachers Federation has been campaigning to achieve increased release time for executive teachers in primary schools so they have the opportunity to mentor and support teaching colleagues in enhancing teaching practice,” he told Education Matters magazine. “This is a welcome additional resource for primary schools and we believe it will greatly assist in further strengthening teaching and learning practice.
“This program will provide important support for teachers to engage in professional development, professional learning, to enhance teaching practice and improve student outcomes.
“It’s really important that teachers are provided with the time to work collegially in their workplace to enhance teaching practice. More time for teachers to collaborate, to share ideas, to support one another, to program cooperatively and develop more effective teaching and learning approaches is good for students and will overall enhance the quality of public education.
“This is also a very important example of the benefits of the Gonski schools funding system – $224 million of additional Gonski funding is going to greatly benefit public schools right across the state and this is yet another example of the importance of all governments around Australia committing to fully funding the Gonski model.”

Monday, 24 August 2015

Roman helmet

I've just read up to chapter 5 in The Eagle of the Ninth and today I created a Roman helmet sample for the kids to make next week.
I researched Romam helmets and found a basic design used in Roman Britain. I added a plume as well.

The visor is optional.
Roman soldier sample

Yay, 48000 views!

Sunday, 23 August 2015

End of the unit

I read the first 2 chapters of The Eagle of the Ninth this morning. The grade 5s are finishing The Hobbit today.( I'll put the unit up on TPT on the weekend. 
Their maps and the new Percy Jackson display below.
Maps and school reports for Bilbo and Thorin.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Near miss

I popped up to work this morning to clean and get organised for the week, I also did some work on Gullivers Travels.I'll  teach it along with Robinson Crusoe. I'll bundle them both up for TPT next month. 
While driving up to work today some little kangaroos bounded out at me on Springs Road just down from the school. I'll have to drive slowly along that stretch. They're on the move now that it is starting to warm up a bit. 
Nice sunrise this morning up at work.

Victory for a secular state school system

From ABC News online and the Age

The State Government has finally acted to remove religious instruction from state school classrooms, predictably the Victorian Opposition is complaining.

As of next year, state school students will not be able to study specialist religious instruction (SRI) during class time and will instead have do the study before or after school or during lunchtime.

The Opposition claims its a broken promise.

We want every second, every minute of curriculum time being devoted to teaching and learning said James Merlino, Education Minister
Only about 20 per cent of students participate in religious education on an opt-in basis.
Education Minister James Merlino said under the current rules, the remaining 80 per cent of students were not allowed to undertake any curriculum work during that 30-minute period.

"In the education state, that's just not the right thing to do," Mr Merlino said.

Mr Merlino said he understood that some parents would be angry about the decision, but it was the "right thing to do"."Curriculum time is precious for our kids," he said.

"We want every second, every minute of curriculum time being devoted to teaching and learning provided by qualified teachers."

The way religion is taught in Victorian primary schools was overhauled after a report found that Education Department guidelines were being breached by the key provider of SIR, Access Ministries.

Victoria also banned religious organisations from running prayer groups, handing out Bibles and delivering other unauthorised information sessions in state schools during school hours.

DET press release:
The Victorian Government today announced changes to two areas of the school curriculum in 2016. These include a focus on building healthy and respectful relationships and learning about global cultures, ethics and traditions.

Content included in the curriculum will help students to cultivate the social skills necessary for healthy and respectful relationships, and to positively contribute to the community. The curriculum content will focus on exploring stereotypes, and challenging attitudes and behaviour such as prejudice, violence, discrimination and harassment.

The Victorian Government recognises the important place of religion and ethics in our society, so from next year students will be taught about global cultures, ethics and traditions to build greater understanding of world views, tolerance and respect.

As a part of this, from the start of term 1 2016, Special Religious Instruction (SRI) will be moved to lunchtimes or before or after school, freeing up 30 minutes of valuable class time per week for hundreds of schools. 

These changes will also provide principals with more capacity to determine the approaches that work best for their school communities.

eSmart Training

eSmart ( Michelle Webster presenter)
Geelong (Surfside PS)

Cyber safety and the role of schools

eSmart schools are expected to embrace the benefits of technology, reduce exposure to online risks and develop a whole school approach to cyber safety.( 87% of Victorian schools are involved in eSmart)
Definitions of bullying and cyber bullying (when a student or a group of students with more power repeatedly and deliberately use negative words or actions against another student to cause distress and create a risk to their wellbeing.)were discussed.( define bullying across the school) Encourage bystanders to step in and be a positive influence in bullying situations. (Being an 'upstander' rather than a bystander) Everyone has a role to play.
Cyberbullying not an epidemic. It is a form of bullying on a digital platform and can be more severe. ( It can be 24/7 and children can be exposed beyond school. Behaviour can be repeated online indefinitely and I t can be a world wide problem.)
Children are risk takers but it is important to support them if things go wrong.
Discussion about changing technology.
Teenagers online data was presented to us:
9/10 have Internet access at home.
89% have mobile phones and most are smart phones
Schools providing devises and requiring BYOD
Most children access the Internet on PCs ( only 23% use iPads) Some children have 4-5 devises they can access between home and school.
Google most visited following by Youtube and Facebook. they prefer entertainment and communicating. They also do a lot of research. Girls utilise social networks more than boys and they suffer cyberbullying.
Jump in access to wireless hotspots.( Library, NAB, Telstra,McDonalds etc) Now children have access to no filtering on public wifi.
Lots of apps downloaded via tablets.
No lock downs for technology but educating children how to behave.
Facebook is safe, the biggest platform but teenager use is declining.( because of parents joining) Women over 40 the biggest users.Instagram and Snapchat more instantaneous for kids and they prefer it.
No platform for all social media is open to children below 13! We have a role to tell them that children should not be on those platforms. That fulfils our duty of care.( Some principals in Ballarat have 'informed' on some students under 13 to Facebook)
Young people will be in the online world and we need to help them work and live within it.
'Deactivating children's accounts' can be found on their websites and on YouTube.
Child exploitation on platforms if we know about it requires us to use our mandatory reporting responsibilities.
We discussed planning and implementing eSmart and will create a gap analysis of what we are currently doing.
We are currently an eSmart school but will need to update our resources and documentation to ensure eSmart is sustainable.( priority area for 2016?)

The E Smart domains
During this sessions we looked at the eSmart domains.
We discussed these at length and I used their checklist to tick off what we are doing at our school.
Parent buy-in probably at School Council ( make it an agenda item at some School Council meetings as required)
Discuss the appropriateness of using mobile phones at school.
Online incidents often go unreported. Children need to be encouraged to report cyberbullying.( refer eSmart resources for effective reporting spreadsheets) 
Ensure eSmart is part of the student induction process
Check for eSmart consistency across school policies.( Refer
Ensure that acceptable use agreements are age appropriate ( re-visit this for 2016) Focus on protecting the user.(Consider writing 'acceptable use' form with student input)
Closer links between our school values eSmart.(Compare cyber safety aims with school aims)
Refer 'I am a digital citizen' poster on Pinterest.

Teacher PD:
ePotential Survey or eSmart surveys need to be considered.( 'Tekky Brekky' approach)
Bully- Stoppers website has interactive Learning Modules that are worth doing.(Also Connect Ed on the eSafety website)
Explicitly teach resilience regarding cyber safety. 
Sharing ideas across the Network ( Discussion for 2016)
Consider the 'digital licence' on eSmart which is an online 'pen licence' for grade 6 in 2016 (Could also be staff PD which I could use.)
Consider participating in eSmart week in September 2016.
Telegammi app is a good app to use for kids to share their knowledge on cyber safety.
Continue with newsletter eSafety articles to inform parents. ( Discourage school Facebook accounts) SchoolBag app worth looking at. Consider SFYS/ Telstra visit. Consider links with the outside community ( Such as organisations the kids and parents are involved in )
eSafety website has great education resources for newsletters.

System tools and planning
We ran through the workings of the eSmart website.
We looked at the Resources section in the Support portal.
the system tool is unique to each school and it graphs school's progression.
We used the gap analysis tool in resources to determine what our schools need to do to be eSmart compliant.

At the end of the session we explored our own school's journey and discussed our future plans and goals.

The kitchen garden at the school we did our PD at. ( Surfside PS)

The beach this morning before the PD

Geelong foreshore.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Science Week

This would have been great when we were doing science fiction, but this week is Science Week and Bruce Schmidt from Federation University came out to our school and made rockets with the kids. They had a fantastic time and the rockets flew miles ( including into trees and on roofs) 
Bruce explaining how it all works.

Making the rockets.

Moving sheep this afternoon.