$25,000 raised for rangas
Scholastic Australia has partnered with the Australian Orangutan Project to raise funds for critically endangered orangutans as part of the International Year of Biodiversity.

Throughout June, July and August, Scholastic promoted the Australian Orangutan Project’s education Colour It Orange program via the company’s book club program in primary and high schools. Orangutan posters sold for $1 and wristbands for $3 raised $25,000 over the three months.

“Through Colour it Orange, thousands of students in schools learned a powerful lesson – small and simple acts can make a valuable difference to our world,” said Celina Farrell, Manager of Scholastic Book Clubs.

Polycom opens in Melbourne
Leading telepresence and voice communications company Polycom opened its swank new offices in Melbourne on 4th October.

It is the first facility of its kind in Australia and includes the new Polycom Open Telepresence Experience High Definition 300 which provides stunning high definition quality for up to 50% less bandwidth.

Polycom expects that the NBN rollout will see mass video communication adoption.

Bonus ATAR credit points announced
Educational Assessment Australia at UNSW Global has announced that International Competitions and Assessments for Schools (ICAS) medallists are now eligible for bonus points towards entry to UNSW undergraduate programs.

ICAS medallists from Years 11 and 12 are eligible for bonus points when they apply to undertake an undergraduate degree at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). For Australian students this means that when they apply to the Universities Admissions Centre, they should also apply to the Elite Athletes and Performers Program through which they may receive credit for one bonus point on the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR), [formerly Universities Admission Index], that is achieved on matriculation from Year 12 at high school. The program does not apply to the Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery program.

The maximum number of bonus points available under the Elite Athletes and Performers Program is five points. For international students the same principle applies.

ICAS medal winners will be eligible for bonus points consideration of one ATAR point per medal, up to a maximum of five points. These bonus points will be awarded on the basis of ICAS medals won in Years 11 and 12 (Papers I and J) and added to the UNSW assessment of the ATAR equivalence of the student’s national school qualification. This means that ICAS medals could now make a significant difference in students’ prospects of gaining a place in a UNSW degree course where entry is highly competitive.

National arts curriculum welcomed
Arts education experts at the University of Melbourne’s Graduate School of Education (MGSE) have welcomed the shape paper for the arts national curriculum.

“The paper clearly and publicly articulates the arts as central to learning and marks an historic moment for arts education in Australia,” said Assoc Prof Kate Donelan.

“For the first time, children in all Australian schools will have a mandated entitlement to the arts: dance, drama, media arts, music and visual arts, in striking contrast to some past perceptions of the arts as frivolous or marginal.”

The MGSE experts will prepare detailed response to the paper in coming weeks, initially focusing on teacher education, professional development and links to industry.

“We will be carefully considering the paper and preparing our response to ACARA, both as a team of arts educators and as leaders in our respective disciplines,” Assoc Prof Donelan said.

“We are particularly focused on how teacher education institutions will respond to the demands of the new curriculum, in both pre-service education and professional development. If the curriculum is to be successfully implemented, it is vital teachers are equipped with the skills it demands. For many teacher education institutions, this will require significant change.


Peer-led anti-bullying programs work
New research by Peer Support Australia (PSA) into anti-bullying initiatives in schools shows positive results, with early intervention having long-term benefits.

PSA, which runs programs based on peer-led experiential learning from kindergarten to Year 12, says their study on the effectiveness of their anti-bullying Speaking Up module definitely made a difference for participating schools.

According to Sharlene Chadwick, PSA education manager, nearly 50% of students (Rigby & Slee 2001) report some form of bullying in school playgrounds, and a study into covert bullying by Edith Cowan University in 2009 found that Years 5 and 8 were most affected.

Research shows that 58 per cent of bullying stops when someone intervenes at the time of any incident.

“The idea is that we’re working to get kids to talk about the issue before it gets to a head, with a view that bullying isn’t appropriate on any level,” Chadwick said.

“The good news is that students who undertook our intervention developed friendships more easily across the year groups, became more inclusive of others and developed skills to support each other and more easily report bullying behaviours.

“Additionally, we found the Speaking Up module helped reduce incidents of bullying behaviours; changed attitudes towards bullying within the school, and provided awareness and support for the longer term benefits of an intervention program.”

PSA currently operates in over 1000 schools with over 200,000 students trained annually in its programs.


Free tickets for Young Leaders Day events
One of Australia’s largest and longest running leadership education programs, has thrown open its doors, enabling every Australian high school to participate at no charge.

For 13 years the National Young Leaders Day has inspired, challenged and motivated students using the example of Australian leaders who have excelled in their chosen field. Around 30,000 people attend the events in Australia annually.

This year, the Halogen Foundation is offering two complimentary tickets to every Australian high school. The National Young Leader’s Day events will be held in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide in November.

General Manager of the Halogen Foundation, Mike Martin said for years the Foundation has wanted to remove the cost barrier so that every school could attend the event.

“Making our program accessible to as many schools as possible is the least we can do, even if it means stretching our resources to enable the opportunity.”

The day features a line-up of prominent Australian personalities eager to share their story with the next generation of leaders.

Speakers confirmed for future secondary school events include solo circumnavigator Jessica Watson, author and comedian Anh Do, winter Olympic gold medallist Lydia Lassila and Australian Top 10 solo artist Vanessa Amorosi.


Gardens in Focus photo comp
Submit digital photographs online that capture plants, people or a special place taken in a favourite Australian Botanic Garden.

The Gardens in Focus competition is open to amateur, student and professional photographers.

Entry fee is six dollars per photo and there is no limit to how many entries may be submitted. Entries close on 10th December.

Grand first prize $8000.00
Second prize $1500.00
Third prize $ 500.00 in cash
Fourth prize $400.00 photographic printing
Cash prizes have been donated by the ResMed Foundation

The 27 category winners (nine categories, three classes of professional, amateur and student) will receive a certificate acknowledging their winning submission.

The title of Botanic Gardens Photographer of the Year will be given to the photographer whose single image is judged the most striking and memorable of all the entries.

Winning photographs will be featured in an exhibition in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney with planning underway for a travelling exhibition to other Botanic Gardens.


Kylie Taig wins Victorian Microsoft Innovative Teachers Award
For Kylie Taig, a Year 7 to 9 maths and science teacher at Carey Baptist Grammar School in Melbourne, technology has helped to align her teaching methods with the school’s one-on-one teaching philosophy.

By using Microsoft’s OneNote – which is bundled with Microsoft Office – to build content rich, interactive eNotebooks, Ms Taig has freed herself up to give more time to all of her students.

“Because the other 26 students in the class are engaged and working I can spend more individual time with everyone,” she says.

The eNotebooks are packed with podcasts, video, screen clippings and text, which suit them to any pace of learning.

“Weaker students are kept interested with the videos and the more able learners can find plenty of rich content there.”

Students don’t spend time writing notes, instead they learn by exploring websites, listening to screencasts, marking up documents, participating in online quizzes and drawing mind maps.

“The eNotebooks’ interface allows content to be easily gathered and accessed from a centralised point,” Ms Taig says.

She says that learning to use OneNote was hassle free – the layout and tools provided are designed to be intuitive – and that the students picked it up scarily quickly.

“The eNotebooks have been such a hit that we’re rolling them out across the school. eNotebooks have been developed for our Civic Week Program, PE and one is being put together for English, as we speak,” Ms Taig says.

For her efforts, she has won the 2010 Microsoft Innovative Teachers Awards for Victoria. She will represent Victoria at the Microsoft Regional Innovative Education Forum in Thailand in March 2011, where she’ll have the chance to be selected as the national winner to represent Australia at the Worldwide Microsoft Innovative Teachers Conference later in the year. Run annually, the Microsoft Innovative Teacher Awards give a nod to teachers who are getting the most out of technology. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, just clever and student centred.

“OneNote has been very successful in education. Teachers like OneNote because it’s based on the paradigm of a book, but with richer, colourful animated content,” says Microsoft’s Academic Programs Manager Jane Mackarell.

“Teachers can use the OneNote technology in class or online which streamlines education. We’re impressed when young passionate teachers like Kylie use technology as a tool to motivate their students,” Ms Mackarell says.

There’s a plethora of user driven, often free, educational software available for download from Microsoft, such as Kodu games development software based on the programming language used by the XBox.

“Kodu is icon based and very easy to use so students will very quickly be developing clever applications. It’s just one of the products we’ve developed in consultation with educators and made available free,” she says.

Maths educators report QuickSmart success
Educators from across Australia met at the University of New England last month to share their experiences in the use of QuickSmart, an intervention program that helps school students improve their basic skills in mathematics.

“QuickSmart is sensational,” said Rob Presswell, Principal of Driver Primary School in Palmerston, Northern Territory. “It has achieved outstanding outcomes.”

The QuickSmart program, developed by Prof John Pegg and Assoc Prof Lorraine Graham at the UNE-based National Centre of Science, ICT and Mathematics Education for Rural and Regional Australia, has been running at Driver Primary School for the past six years.

“Kids who haven’t succeeded right up to Year 3 have had two-to-three-year gains in 12 months,” Mr Presswell said. “It’s enabled them to go back into the classroom and join the main game.”

By giving middle school students (typically aged between 10 and 13) confidence in the automatic response to simple questions in arithmetic, the program enables them to use more of their working memory in solving more advanced problems.

Assoc Prof Graham said the QuickSmart Professional Learning Workshop on 29th–30th September had been necessary in view of the enormous increase in the demand for the program (from 196 participating schools to more than 450) in 2010 and strong indications that demand for the program will increase again into 2011 and 2012.

Earlier this year, the QuickSmart program was named as a key achievement in the Prime Minister’s Closing the Gap report.

Growing demand for Monash University courses
Demand for courses at Monash University continues to grow among Victorian university applicants, with one in four placing the university as their preferred destination.

Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC) data shows the number of first preferences to study at Monash University reached 15,668 up from 15,175 last year. Demand for Monash courses remains strong across the university; however, the greatest increases were recorded in science (26.6 per cent) and education (13.9 per cent). Medicine, nursing and health sciences courses also recorded a strong increase of 8.2 per cent. The University’s double degree programs are also in strong demand, with first preferences up eight per cent.

e-books will replace textbooks within three years
Electronic books are expected to replace traditional textbooks in universities in two to three years’ time, according to the New Media Consortium’s authoritative Horizon Report, a comprehensive annual study of developments in e-learning.

At the largest global e-learning conference for the corporate, education and public service sectors, Online Educa Berlin (1st–3rd December), Laurence F Johnson, CEO of the New Media Consortium, will discuss the latest findings of the Horizon Report 2011, before the official release in January.

“The prospect of holding all the materials you will need in a single device weighing less than a kilo is a powerful driver from the student side, and we are seeing a number of universities that are pushing publishers to move in this direction,” says Larry Johnson.

The report suggests that simple augmented reality, using computer-generated imagery, will be common on university campuses within two or three years and gesture-based computing may only be four or five years away.

Bridging the gap: what is known and what is done
A free eBook* will help researchers, policy-makers and service delivery organisations turn existing research and evidence into practical benefits for children and young people.

Bridging the ‘Know–Do’ Gap: Knowledge brokering to improve child wellbeing explores new ground in how childrens’ wellbeing can be improved by linking better researchers and their new knowledge with policy developers and practitioners in the field.

The book draws together contributions from a diverse group of experts to explore how to improve knowledge transfer between the worlds of research, policy and practice. It is full of new insights, ideas and stimulating case studies about creative and effective ways researchers, policy-makers and practitioners can interact and transcend their knowledge silos.

Commenting on its release, Prof Fiona Stanley, Chair of the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth Board (ARACY) said: “The health and wellbeing of Australia’s children and young people has not kept pace with increases in material wealth over the past 30 years. Enhancing our capacity to use evidence effectively to guide policy and practice is a key ingredient to turning these poor results around.”

The book was edited by Prof Ann Sanson, Network Coordinator at ARACY, Prof Gabriele Bammer of the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University, and Annette Michaux, general manager social policy and research at The Benevolent Society.

It can be downloaded for free or hard copies purchased from ANU ePress.


Schools embrace safety message
More than 360 primary schools around Australia have registered so far to take part in Injury Free Day. The KIDS Foundation (Kids In Dangerous Situations) is holding its annual IF Day on Friday 29th October. IF Day is a day when schools and businesses are reminded to take the time to focus on safety in the home, the school and in the workplace.

Since 1993, the KIDS Foundation has worked in the areas of injury prevention education and injury recovery.

All proceeds raised from the sale of IF Day kits will go towards research and delivery of the KIDS Foundation’s community-based safety education programs.


Samoan children create book
A book written and illustrated by Samoan children and their families will be available on the shelves of Victorian libraries under a new literacy initiative.

Beautiful Samoa was created by a group of Samoan children and tells the story of their special culture in a collection of inspiring bilingual Samoan/English nursery rhymes.

In a major boost, a local radio station has offered to produce a CD of the group singing the nursery rhymes. The CD will be distributed with the book.

Beautiful Samoa is the first of a number of projects planned under the Young Readers Program community publishing initiative with Kid’s Own Publishing, which the State Library of Victoria hopes will help to encourage a love of books among children from diverse cultures and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Now in its third year, the $2.1 million Young Readers Program is a partnership between the State Library of Victoria, the Victorian State Government and the Municipal Association of Victoria.

Tassie Devil kit launched
Teachers Paul Robinson and Kate Vivarelli at The Hutchins School in Hobart have developed a new school resource kit that aims to teach children about the plight of the Tasmanian Devil. Local artist Lucinda Hunnam created the feisty little Devil that illustrates the kit.

The Kit is divided into lower, middle and upper primary school sections for ease of delivery. It encourages students to be ‘hands on’ and to use further tools and research assistance. It can be downloaded or ordered online.

Filmmaking Summer School
Now in its 17th year, the Filmmaking Summer School is part of the public engagement program – Screen Studies, University of Melbourne, and offers intensive teaching in all aspects of practical film production.

Each day or session is taught by Australia’s leading, award-winning film industry practitioners such as screenwriter Mac Gudgeon (Good Guys, Bad Guys, Last Ride), director Nadia Tass, cinematographer David Parker (Malcolm, The Big Steal, Amy, Matching Jack), producer Sue Maslin (Japanese Story, Hunt Angels, Celebrity: Dominick Dunne) and a host of others.

Areas taught cover screenwriting, cinematography, producing and production management, directing actors, production and sound design, editing, digital effects, film music, screen language, film business and legalities, marketing and distribution and documentary filmmaking.

The teaching course From Script to Screen, can be taken in full (17 days), in part (15 days) or as an introductory course (11 days) or participants can choose their own days and make up their own course.

The five-day Cinematography Intensive using state-of-the-art equipment can be taken as a stand-alone course or as part of From Script to Screen. The digital cinematography day looks at the latest in HD technology and post-production paths and will have the latest HD cameras on display.

On the weekend of 22nd–23rd January there are two specialised screenwriting days: Adaptation for the Screen and Writing for Television.

The summer school concludes with a two-day documentary course. Participants might like to stay at Trinity College to have an inspirational, creative screenwriting weekend. Inexpensive accommodation is available.

Course details and an enrolment form are on the website.
Sharon Peers +61 3 9347 5035

Bullying parents produce bullying children
Just telling bullies that they shouldn’t bully is not enough, says Assoc Prof Marilyn Campbell from Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) Faculty of Education.

Prof Campbell said the negative consequences for a childhood bully were just as severe as the consequences of being a victim. “Bullies go on to have lots of relationship issues. They have difficulty in romantic relationships. Only people who are scared of them are their companions, their henchmen, in primary school,” she said.

“Bullies in primary school have been shown to be more likely to be convicted of a criminal offence before they reach their twenties than children who are not involved in bullying a 2006 study has shown.

“They also often have drug and alcohol misuse problems because they self-medicate as they haven’t figured out how to have good relationships.”

Campbell said bullying was a learned behaviour and that children learned from their families how to be bullies.

“Bullying can only be stopped when the whole family is assisted to understand their behaviour and develop good social relationships,” she said.


RM Education opens Melbourne REAL Centre
RM Education will open a REAL Centre (Rethinking Education And Learning) in Melbourne on 26th October at 198 Harbour Esplanade, Docklands.

The centre is a permanent space designed to provoke discussion and debate about how an integrated approach to school design, furniture and technology can extend the range of learning opportunities for young people.

There will be five different learning spaces; each has been designed around a specific educational context. Each zone will feature purpose-designed furniture and state-of-the-art technology.

•    Mobile presentation and discussion a flexible learning area for informal presentations, designed to promote discussion
•    Collaboration where students can work together in different ways
•    Creativity and media an example of how a typical classroom space can be easily re-organised to create space for media rich activities
•    Individual a quiet reflective space for students to a arrange to suit their own study requirements
•    Explore a project area with integrated ICT to support light practical activities.
Featured in the initial display: a horizontal interactive and collaborative surface that improves the group dynamic and can be rotated through 90 degrees for presentations; stepped seating that creates an area for forum style presentation, debate and discussion; furniture that has been designed to incorporate data and power management and can easily be reconfigured to accommodate different learning activities and green screen technology to bring creativity into the curriculum; rechargeable hubs that provide power to devices without access to the mains; a room divider that creates an instant wall in seconds; idea wall that performs like a dry wipe whiteboard; and project tables that can instantly turn into ICT stations.