More music for primary pupils
“Primary schools that would love to include music lessons in the school week but don’t have the resources should talk to us.” That’s the advice of Jellybeans Music directors ‘Head Bean’ Andrew Robertson and ‘Bean Counter’ Danise Berger.
Jellybeans, which is best known for percussion resources Big Books 1 and 2 * – used and loved by teachers in more than 3500 primary schools across Australia – is expanding its music teacher franchise network in NSW, Vic and NZ.
For Andrew Robertson “it’s as much a labour of love as a business, every child should have a musical education.” A graduate of the NSW Conservatorium of Music, he has performed with big names in music including Boy George, Hugh Jackman and Michael Buble during his career as a professional jazz musician, composer/arranger, publisher and educator.
The Jellybeans Music In-School program provides an experienced music specialist; sequential curriculum-based songs, lyrics and sheet music; a full class set of percussion instruments (triangles, tambourines, castanets, claves and drums); 30 Glockenspiels; recorders for all Year 3-6 students to own; and a music folder for each student.
Before the first lesson, a dedicated school webpage is created for each class that contains the materials the class will use during the program. The school has access to this for the school year, regardless of whether Jellybeans teachers are present or not.
Typically, the Jellybeans music teacher spends up to one day a week at a school, teaching several 30–45 minute classes to fit in with the school’s daily schedule. Talented composers and music educators have created more than 250 age-specific music pieces for the program, with each lesson including singing; performing on recorders and Glockenspiels; percussion instruments; and movement.
“The emphasis is on meeting curriculum requirements by covering musical concepts through musical activities,” Robertson says. “We do an individual assessment of each student’s progress in Week 10 with a 1 to 5 ranking for each that reflects their participation and skills. We also submit a detailed report at the end of the program.”
Program cost depends on the schools’ size, location, ICSEA value and cultural diversity, but Robertson emphasises that it’s always much lower than employing a full time member of staff.
“We started Jellybeans Music in 2008 and so far over 20,000 children have participated. With our growing franchise talent pool, we’re ready to teach many more during 2015.”
Microsoft research – parents confused by BYOD smorgasbord
Microsoft Australia has published new research that shows parents are in the dark about the best technology to purchase for their school-aged children – and wish that someone would make the decision for them, stating that many schools provide little guidance on what device to buy.
The study reveals that 75% of parents are spending up to $1000 on devices, but with a quarter of parents admitting to buying the wrong device for their child at some point, families are potentially wasting billions of dollars on poor choices over their children’s school life.
The findings also show 70% of parents want to relinquish their decision making power, and would prefer a range of appropriate devices to be recommended to them.
Further findings from the research include:
• 35% of parents let their child decide which device to buy because they know which one will be best for their needs
• One in five high school students are stuck with a device that doesn’t do what they need it to
• Nearly half of parents are willing to spend $300–$700, with one in four expecting to spend up to $1000
• Only 13% of parents surveyed said that schools specify what device they should buy.
Jane Mackarell, Microsoft Australia Education Product Marketing Manager, says, “Whether it’s the sheer abundance of technology options available or the confusion as to the capability required of the device, parents are feeling overwhelmed about the decision at hand.
“Replacing a device every two to three years can be a stressful and costly affair. Schools need to be clear on what each device must be capable of, while parents should self-educate on what new technology is available to them, and they’ll be rewarded in the long run,” she said.
Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation Tools for Teachers 5
The fifth pair of books in the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation’s teaching resource series is a valuable curriculum tool for schools with a kitchen garden program.
Tools for Teachers 5 contains hands-on activities, lesson plans and investigations – linked to the Australian Curriculum – that make the most of the kitchen and garden as powerful learning spaces.
Teachers can engage children with maths in the kitchen by teaching geometry through the folded and cut shapes of food; health by investigating different food cultures; science by looking at how heat transfers from one object to another when cooking; and literacy, Asian studies, geography and more in real-world settings.
Copies of the new teaching resources are available from the Kitchen Garden Foundation’s online shop. Tools for Teachers 5: Years 3&4 RRP: $39.95. Tools for Teachers 5: Years 5&6 RRP: $39.95
Cool polo for hot weather sports
School uniforms and sportswear supplier LW Reid has added the Duffield Raglan Sleeve Polo (5760MP) to its extensive sportswear range.
With contrast side panels and raglan sleeves, the Duffield polo is made from breathable cotton back fabric, providing reliable comfort in every season. In addition to a knitted collar, the Duffield polo also features a comfort band in the neck, while piping detail on the contrast panels gives it a distinctive, sporty appearance.
The same polo is also made in Pique Knit and Micromesh fabrics.
For further information or to receive a sample:
tel 1300 LW Reid (1300 59 7343)
ParentPaperwork simplifies school-parent paper flow
Once in a while, a bright idea emerges that makes one think: “Why didn’t I think of that?” Though it’s early days, ParentPaperwork, which was launched mid last year with sales to a handful of Australian schools, could be one such.
Frustrated by finding scrunched up permission forms buried in the bottom of their three children’s school bags, parents Fiona Boyd and David Eedle reasoned that an easy to use and secure email and web page system could be an ‘everyone wins’ solution to labour-intensive and often not very reliable school-to-parent communications.
The result is ParentPaperwork, a deceptively simple system that integrates seamlessly with the school’s MIS and doesn’t require parents to download an app, install a program on a laptop or remember a password.
Fiona Boyd says: “The system has been designed to be simple to use. We wanted the lowest possible barriers to utilisation.”
The system can be used to create unlimited customised forms for any activity that parents need to know about or give permission to participate. For example, creating a simple excursion permission form can be achieved with half a dozen clicks and typing a few words: description of the excursion; date; venue; venue address; departure time; and return to school time. With the form created, the parents’ email list is selected and an alert is sent out.
Simultaneously, a file is created that lists the children in the group and records parent responses by date and time. Any parent that has not responded one way or the other by a pre-determined day and time is automatically sent a reminder email. And if this doesn’t trigger a response, there’s still the fall back option of a phone call.
At the other end, the parent receives an email message announcing the excursion, with a link to click, and a simultaneous SMS on their smart phone with a four-digit security PIN that is needed to access the online form.
“All the emails sent to parents are tracked using beacons in a similar fashion as newsletter programs like Mailchimp, meaning we track IP numbers, opens, pass-ons and the like,” Boyd says. “We think this is the most robust form of identifying that the person nominated actually signed the form.”
For the school, the administration staff time saved in preparing a permission form, running it off on the copier and delivering it to the class teacher – who has to hand it out to the children, or stuff it into each bag – is a poor use of resources. But there’s a quantifiable cost saving too, compared to the thousands of pages of paper used week by week, and often a pay per page on a copier lease as well.
Boyd estimates that a school with 2000 students might easily consume as many as 80,000 sheets of paper over the school year… for the ecologically aware, that’s 10 trees worth.
Schools pay an flat annual fee to use ParentPaperwork depending on the number of children enrolled, starting at $500 for under 300 students.
Demonstrations and a free 30-day trial are offered at the company’s website.
Staples 2 Million & Change supports local charities
Education and business supplier Staples, which services 3900 schools across Australia, has donated to Jeans for Genes, The Cerebral Palsy Alliance and The Smith Family as part of the 2015 worldwide Staples 2 Million & Change program.
Along with subsidiary company, Educational Experience, Staples also donated $60,000 worth of toys and gifts to the Smith Family and BoysTown Queensland in the lead up to Christmas 2014.
The 2 Million & Change program enables employees globally to direct more than US$2.5 million to local organisations that they wish to support, as part of an initiative launched by Staples Foundation for Learning in 2010. Recipients are chosen through employee votes against a list of five local organisations that embody the Staples Foundation’s mission – to teach, train and inspire people from all walks of life by providing educational and growth opportunities.
“We feel it is vital to support deserving organisations across the globe, and our 2 Million & Change program offers our employees and customers a voice in how we achieve this,” said Michael Knight, VP Human Resources.
Big year planned for dancing storytellers
Adam Loxley, co-founder and Festival Director of Wakakirri is confident that 2015 will be “bigger and better than ever.”
Now in its 23rd year, the national awards showcase the creative talents of primary and secondary schools across the country through three- to seven-minute story-dance presentations that tell a story of the school’s choosing.
This year Loxley anticipates that up to 300 schools will participate in the Primary and Secondary Challenges and, for schools that can’t present at a live event, by producing a video clip and entering the Wakakirri Screen Challenge.
“Wakakirri has come a long way since we started,” Loxley says. “We still run it on a shoestring budget with a core of two full-time staff and three part-time. The level of volunteer support from high profile people in the entertainment world, plus generous sponsorships make it all possible and so rewarding.”
Major Partners for 2015 are the Victorian Government Youth Central, Footsteps Dance Company, and Allen & Unwin; Environmental Partners An Mei and Australian Conservation Foundation; and Education Partners Reconciliation Australia and CleanKids.
The national search panel this year includes Jason Coleman (So You Think You Can Dance), Mark Wilson and Todd McKenny (Dancing with the Stars), Andrew McFarlane (TV actor and presenter), Casey Burgess (actor, musician and TV presenter), and Mark Holden (Australian Idol).
Loxley says: “The panel’s commitment is huge. The all want to ‘give back’ and contribute to career pathways industry demonstration days… and stay in contact with school through to the performance days.”
Recognising the work demands that the Australian Curriculum loads onto teachers, the new Wakakirri In-School Program for primary and secondary schools takes over the ‘heavy lifting’ required to create, rehearse and present a polished story-dance on stage. The program offers a12-week program of weekly sessions with an accredited Warakirri specialist.
The program begins with a staff consultation to choose a suitable story that aligns with the school’s values. It includes story design, creating music and choreography, costumes and weekly rehearsals during Term 2 in preparation for a Term 3 performance.
Classes may be run at lunch or during class time, as an in-school activity or as an optional extracurricular activity. Cost is $60 per student for the 12 sessions, with a 45-student minimum and a ratio of one teacher per 50 students.
For schools wanting help with choreography and dance, Footsteps can supply an experienced high-energy teacher for just $2 per student per session.
Professional Development Master Classes with members of the Wakakirri Search Panel are on offer too, for schools wanting to gain knowledge on how best to guide their students to a successful Wakakirri item. Classes are held during weeks two–four in March at the performance venues in each state and can include backstage tours, front of house and lighting.
Quoted on the Wakakirri website Dan Smith Assistant Principal at Serpell Primary school said: “I just wanted to say a big thank you for your organisation of the Master Class last Thursday. It was a great experience and as this is Serpell’s first time participating, it gave me a good insight into what is expected.”
The three-stage selection process starts with non-competitive Showcase Day presentations at local venues. “A fun day to show what they can do for up to 500 children and their parents,” Loxley says. The best groups are invited back for Stage 2 to find the Stage 3 Story of the Year winner from 30 primary and six secondary schools finalists, all of which are featured on Waka TV.
The dance-stories are professionally video recorded and edited to around three minutes and a commentary added. The winners of each stage are featured on Waka TV during the three rounds in August and September, when Google Analytics lights up to record a peak of close to 10,000 visits, of which 49% are returning visitors.
Registration for 2015 is open at http://www.wakakirri.com/mainsite/register/ and close on 25 March in Vic; 1 April in NSW, Qld, WA and Tas; and 8 April in ACT and SA. Screen Challenge entries are due on 3 August.
Remind teacher–student app is here
Remind, the teacher–student app that one American teacher in five is already using to communicate with their class groups has arrived in Australia. Based on the premise that virtually all students and parents have a smart phone, the app offers a very easy to use, secure and instant way of reaching defined groups by txt and email messaging.
Melbourne-based Adam Cummings director of b2n Co is orchestrating the move into Australia and says that teachers who have tested the app are “very enthusiastic”.
Remind allows teachers to interact safely with students and parents and is already one of the most used tools for educators in the US. At the start of the last school year it was adding up to 300,000 users a day. During August 2014 it was listed as the top education app in both Apple’s and Google’s US app stores online, and was out performing apps such as Twitter and WhatsApp.
Remind in the US is already sending 60 million message a month and this phenomenal total is set to be eclipsed when the forecast take up by students reaches 50–60% later this year.
To get started, the teacher signs up with Remind, selects a class code and then invites parents and students to join by sending an email, inviting children during class or by circulating a letter. Up to 20 groups can be created to allow for multiple subjects and age groups. Teacher sign-up takes less than a minute [depending on the number of groups that need to be created] while a student will need not more than 15 seconds to join.
With the class set up, the teacher can send txt and email reminders as often as they want, with the added attraction of attaching a document or photo or sending a voice clip.
A key element is the security that Remind provides. No personal phone numbers are exchanged and there is a recorded history of every message sent. For teachers this means there is no direct contact with students, and students cannot reach the teacher. As an added two-way security the teacher cannot send a message out to fewer than a group of three.
Remind’s 27-year-old CEO Brett Kopf says that the app will be “forever free” but doesn’t rule out adding extra functions later, such as charging schools to provide a payment system for excursions and the like.
YHAs drop throwaway plastic bottles
Doing their bit for a greener planet, YHA has stopped selling disposable water bottles in key hostel vending machines and no longer includes disposable plastic water bottles with group school lunches.
Reusable water bottles are on sale from reception at key YHA hostels and chilled water is available from newly installed water bubblers. Made from high quality materials and with a sleek design the YHA reusable water bottles are free from toxins such as BPA (Bisphenol A) found in disposable plastic water bottles, they are healthier for the environment and better value for money.
The decision to say ‘no’ to disposable water bottles is one of a list of sustainability initiatives that YHA is dedicated to, with the aim of reducing their guests’ carbon footprint on the environment.
www.yha.com.au/about/sustainability (sustainability information) www.yhagroups.com.au (group bookings)
Globalisation of Education/Training Conference
Thirty-two international and Australian education and business leaders will present at the one-day Globalisation of Education/Training Conference on 25th March at the Amora Hotel Jamieson in Sydney. The all-day program commences with a keynote ‘World-Class Students: The Ultimate Renewable Resource’ presented on video link by Jon Whitmore CEO of American College Testing.
Stephanie Fahey (Oceania Lead Partner for Education, Ernst & Young), Gabried Sanchez Sinny (founder and President of Kuepa.com), Sunjay Sudhir (Consul General of India in Sydney), and Raju Varanasi (Chief Operating Officer, Education Services Australia) will present during in the first Plenary session.
There will be two schools breakouts. The morning session will feature presentations by Aaron Brenner (by Video from USA) One World Network of Schools; Gregory Prior Virtual High School in a globalised world – Aurora College; Dr Phil Lambert Global Connections In and Out of Schools; and Allan Menagh The Kumon perspective.
The afternoon session will feature presentations by Pete Goss How Australia benchmarks globally in schools; Mala Mehta Languages and Culture in Schools; and Lila Mularczyk Internationalisation or Globalisation In schools.
There will also be breakout sessions for Higher Education and Skills Training.The day’s program will conclude with a Plenary session featuring Peter Mackey The NSW perspective; and Cindy Jones Content – As evolving in Asia Pacific.
Primary students sunburn danger education
Sunscreen manufacturer Banana Boat has launched a three-year program aimed at educating 1 million children on sun safety. The initiative will see free resources and sunscreen distributed to primary school teachers.
The resources will be available on a dedicated website and will include lesson plans, worksheets and information sheets.
The program is backed by the Skin and Cancer Foundation Australia. Prof Alan Cooper, Professor of Dermatology at Royal North Shore Hospital said:
“The Banana Boat Sun Safe Schools’ Program has been designed to give primary school children a comprehensive understanding of the dangers of excessive sun exposure, and will provide them with simple proven strategies to minimise harmful UV exposure.”
While many schools have embraced sun safe initiatives, until now there has been a lack of integrated sun safe teaching resources to build on the student’s knowledge from Foundation through Year 6 that aligns with the new Australian curriculum.