Australian Democracy M.A.D.E in Ballarat

Years before the Mineral Resource Rent Tax, another tax got miners up in arms, literally.

A tripling of the cost of mining leases resulted in the most significant armed conflict in Victoria’s relatively peaceful history at the Eureka stockade in Ballarat, the miners demanding suffrage if they were to pay. 

It eventually led to the instatement of the vote in Victoria, for white males that is, for only the second time in pre-federation Australia.

Launched this year in May The Museum of Modern Australian Democracy at Eureka (M.A.D.E.) at Ballarat explores that historical event in an immersive, tech heavy way, and after extensive consultation with educators, is designed to be complementary to history teaching from primary through to secondary level.

The current four education programs are set to expand over the coming months encompassing further aspects of the ‘democratic idea’ including an exploration of the women’s movement as well as covering indigenous issues and the effect of technology. 

“The education programs are constantly evolving, we’re waiting on the final form of the Civics and Citizenship curriculum to be announced before we settle on the next set of tours,” Education Coordinator at M.A.D.E Jessica Gorlin says.

There are currently four tours, which have proven to be a hit with students arriving from interstate as well as Victoria. M.A.D.E. has the capacity to take groups of anywhere from 8 to 100 students through.

“Using the significance of Eureka in Australia’s democracy, M.A.D.E’s focus is on people thinking about what democracy means for them today and what issues they want to act on. M.A.D.E brings democracy alive in novel and easily understandable ways” says Jane Smith, Director of M.A.D.E.

Students will be able to explore Australian democracy using interactive touch screen tables and immersive projected image spaces.

 “We’ve had groups through from South Australia, country New South Wales and Victoria, we’re only an hour away by bus from Melbourne so school groups can visit and be back in time for three o’clock pickup,” Ms Gorlin says. 


The Eureka Stockade

This tour uses a combination of objects from M.A.D.E’s physical and digital resource collection to immerse students in the events surrounding an important moment in Australia’s history.

Conducted by an education officer, the tour blends guided, sensory and self-directed learning styles. Students experience M.A.D.E’s interactive touch tables, immersive speech and music rooms, view the iconic Eureka Flag and receive a take-home worksheet. 

The Power of Speech

Inspired by the famous orators of history, students participating in M.A.D.E’s Power of Speech workshop will gain significant knowledge about the content and structure that make great speeches work effectively. 

Using M.A.D.E’s innovative Democracy Karaoke equipment, students will gain practical experience in writing and delivering spoken text. Standing in front of an autocue, projected onto a big screen and in front of live audience, they have the chance to take their speech making to the next level. 

The activities and literacy learning tasks in this workshop have been designed for secondary school students from Years 7 to 12.

How to Do Democracy

Students on this tour will examine the techniques that people used throughout history to create change in a democratic society. More importantly they will become active participants and engage with the issues and actions that they think are important. 

M.A.D.E’s specially designed timelines, interviews and puzzles will have them thinking on their feet as they investigate the past and compare the early development of democracy against modern, contemporary examples.

A M.A.D.E research sheet is provided and an education officer is on hand to direct students through a mixture of independent and guided learning activities. How to Do Democracy has been created especially for students of Year 9 and 10. 

Thimbles and Thread

Thimbles and Thread allows junior students to access historical concepts by considering the clothes that people wore and the messages certain outfits could send.

This tour includes exploration of M.A.D.E’s interactive exhibition and a ‘Put-Yourself-In-The-Picture’ workshop session, where students use M.A.D.E’s ICT equipment to design their own historical outfits.

LCD touch screens offer higher definition images at less cost

Superior image quality and lower prices are making large format LCD touch screens an attractive classroom alternative to interactive projector-based systems, according to Sydney-based A Brighter Image (ABI).

Guy Monty National Sales Manager said that, unlike interactive whiteboard solutions, there is no need to purchase a specialised data projector or budget for replacement lamps, or even replacement projectors. 

Simpler setup also contributes to lower acquisition cost by reducing or eliminating installation charges.

With LED backlit LCD technology, ABI touch screens present a brighter, more colourful, higher definition image, which does not dim over time, Monty said. The ABI screens also have an inbuilt HD tuner and a large selection of inputs to display a number of source signals in superior full high definition.

He said that ABI’s mobile stands are a fraction of the cost of interactive whiteboard stands, with the added advantage that stand-mounted LCD screens do not require re-calibration when moved from one classroom to another.

The latest ABI touch screen is an impressive 84 inch model; 70 inch and 55 inch screens are also available.

tel (02) 9938 6866


Lose the grades… and the exams

Lose the grades, lose the exams, and don’t worry if all the kids in a class are not the same age. That’s the sweeping recommendations of the Equinox Summit: Learning 2030. 

The summit’s 33 participants represent nearly a dozen countries, including the UK, Australia, Singapore, Finland, Qatar, several African nations, the US, and Canada.

The group also proposes eliminating grades 9 through 12 in favour of groupings of students based on ability and area of study.

“We assume 30 students in the same grade, one teacher and four walls is ideal. But what would happen if we threw out that model?” said summit participant Greg Butler, founder of Collaborative Impact and former head of global education for Microsoft.

“The current model of grade levels and ages is flawed. We need to progress students through high school, not by their ages, but by the stages they’re at.”

The Learning 2030 Communiqué contains summit participants’ detailed recommendations on areas ranging from the use of new technologies in the classroom and methods of increasing student engagement, to benefits of local school autonomy.

The Learning 2030 Communiqué, video of summit plenary sessions, and summaries of the behind-closed door meetings that led to the Communiqué, are available at:

Immersive educational experiences with YHA

To give students a truly memorable learning experience, consider a school excursion with YHA. 

A fantastic year-round coastal option is Port Elliot Beach House YHA. Located on the southern Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia, the area offers abundant educational activities including the Victor Harbor Whale Watching Centre, Urimbirra Wildlife Park, Port Elliot Surf Life Saving Club – for water safety lessons – numerous professional surf schools at Middleton Beach, the Steamranger Heritage Railway and the Granite Island Penguin Discovery Centre.

Port Elliot Beach House YHA is a beautifully restored historic guest house, located 90 minutes south of Adelaide. It is set on top of the hill and overlooks the entire south coast, offering million dollar views and incredible whale watching opportunities (May–October). 

This YHA offers exclusive group use with self-catering kitchen and dining area, plus an outdoor BBQ area and large deck for the warmer months. Catering can be organised on application. 

Group sizes of up to 60 people with exclusive use of the property can be accommodated from as little as $25 p.p.p.n. 

For information about the coastal educational excursions available at Port Elliot Beach House YHA call (08) 8554 1885 or email 

Hitachi offers 65 inch interactive flat panel display

Hitachi has launched a 65 inch interactive flat panel display in Australia, the panel uses integrated infra red sensors to detect contact with the screen.

“This flat panel creates a touch based experience by facilitating control of your digital content via touch with either a finger or static pen,” said Bill Christoforou, Hitachi’s Channel Business Group Marketing Manager. 

The panel features front facing stereo speakers, full HD resolution with intuitive operation and is available with an optional built in PC to eliminate the need for connecting to any external sources.


· 65” FULL HD interactive LCD panel

· Up to 4 points of simultaneous input

· Driver-less interactive operation

· Optional integrated OPS PC including Windows 8

· Front facing stereo speakers (10w+10w)

Big year planned for Kitchen Garden program

Since the first school kitchen garden at Collingwood College, Melbourne, in 2001 the program has been taken up by over 400 schools across Australia and the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation has trained over 800 school staff to deliver garden and kitchen classes. 

The current goal is to see the food education model running in 10 per cent of Australian schools with a primary curriculum by 2015 – around 800 schools.

CEO Ange Barry said: “To do this we’ve adapted the original model so it’s more affordable, flexible and accessible for schools. It includes training one or two existing school teachers to deliver garden and kitchen classes, and encouraging schools to start with what they have – no extensive landscaping or expensive kitchen equipment required.

 “We’re making program delivery training available for all states and territories in 2014. A two-day introductory session gives teachers basic cooking and gardening skills – which they transfer to their students – plus planning and curriculum integration tools. 

“Teachers also receive the Kitchen Garden Program Syllabus – a step-by-step guide to classes over a semester – as well as the Foundation’s Tools for Teachers series, curriculum-linked classroom resources based on learning in the garden and kitchen. Six months later a two-day advanced session delivers further skills and another syllabus.”

The professional development is subsidised by the Australian government, costing schools only $660 for both teachers. The Foundation also supplies resources showing schools how to make the most of the garden site they have, and to develop flexible kitchen spaces, to keep costs as low as possible. A bank of community engagement resources also shows schools how to approach local businesses and organisations for goods, services and assistance.

 “By the end of 2013 we will be nearly 50 per cent towards our goal, Barry says. “Schools all over the country are jumping on board and the 2014 training schedule is booking fast.”

Play and Learn Education educational app 

Australian app developer Play and Learn Education has launched their first educational app for children. The app called Superhero Sight Words is based on Magic Sight Words.

It is designed to help children learn and practice reading the most common sight words in an interactive, fun and exciting new way. Sight words are words that cannot be easily sounded out and need to be recognised. There are 12 skill levels.

The app is available from Google Play and Apple iTunes for $2.99.

One Education reaches 20,000 computers

Not-for-profit program, One Education, has reached a significant milestone in achieving 20,000 computers committed to schools across Australia.

Rangan Srikhanta, CEO of One Education Australia said: “The level of interest from children, some of whom have never used a computer before, has been exceptional. Teachers are seeing the benefits that our program can bring to the classroom, and the increased levels of engagement by children who are using their own interactive computers. 

“We are working round the clock to keep up with the overwhelming demand. We have now reached 20,000 computers since the start of the roll-out last year.”

The One Education program is funded by the Australian Government and by businesses including founding partner Commonwealth Bank, Telstra, Oracle, Salesforce and News Corp Australia.

The program is designed to place 50,000 free computers in the hands of primary school children from eligible schools in metropolitan, regional and remote communities across Australia. 

“I strongly urge more eligible schools to sign up for the One Education program as we have 30,000 computers to be assigned,” Mr Srikhanta said.

Malcolm Turnbull, Federal Minister for Communications, has continued his support of One Education, having been actively engaged in the initiative when he was Opposition spokesperson.

He said: “One Education is providing the tools and resources for primary school children to engage with technology like never before.”

Hilltop Road Public School in Merrylands NSW is one of the early adopters of the program to achieve 100 per cent roll-out, giving each student an XO-duo to call their own. 

The XO-duo is a low-cost, low-power laptop and tablet with an interactive touchscreen featuring HDMI output and Bluetooth 2.0.

Registration details for the program are available on the One Education website.

Autism survey reveals adolescents are struggling

New research into 12–17 year old adolescents with autism reveals many are struggling with bullying, mental health issues, and the challenges of schooling. Less than half report having good friends; and despite the young people themselves being optimistic about their future, their parents aren’t so confident.

The We Belong Too: the experiences, needs and service requirements of adolescents with autism spectrum disorder report is published by Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect). It is the first time adolescents with autism have been directly surveyed in a study of this scale, along with parents, to create a statistically sound profile of the life experiences, aspirations and future support needs of this growing group of young Australians with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The Australian-first research builds on the Aspect We Belong study in 2011 into adults with autism. “Our 2011 survey told us adolescence was defined by interrupted school pathways, relentless bullying and discrimination, and unmet education needs, which meant most adults were highly unlikely to find employment,” said the Director of Aspect Practice, Dr Debra Costley.

Key findings

Key findings of the report, which surveyed 100 adolescents with high functioning autism, and 65 parents, across Australia between November 2012 and June 2013 include:

Three in four autistic teens (74 per cent) have difficulty paying attention and concentrating in class.

Three in four parents (74 per cent) report their child needs more support to cope with bullying. Students with ASD are known to be at a higher risk of bullying than students in the general population (Cappadocia, Weiss & Pepler, 2012; Hebron & Humphrey, 2013).

The study confirmed a high prevalence of mental health issues in adolescents with autism, with 66 per cent needing help coping with stress, and 73 per cent feeling lonely. 

Half of the teens with autism (57 per cent) belong or would like to belong to a hobby or sports group, raising questions as to whether local groups are ready and able to include more ASD-friendly approaches.

Though the majority of adolescents surveyed were optimistic about their future, their parents were not so confident – pointing to uncoordinated, unaffordable support services that are unsuitable for preparing adolescents with ASD for independent living.

The report can be downloaded from the Aspect website:

NSW teacher scholarships

Applications have opened for cadetships, internships and rural scholarships for student teachers, announced as part of the NSW government’s Great Teaching, Inspired Learning reforms. In total there are 40 scholarships and placements available.

20 Teach.Rural scholarships worth $6,000 for every year of full-time study, plus $5,000 after graduation, for talented students with a commitment to teach at rural and remote schools;

10 internship placements for high-achieving final-year teacher education students to be employed as paraprofessionals in schools prior to graduation and;

10 cadetship placements for high-achieving school leavers to be employed as part-time paraprofessionals in classrooms from the start of their teacher training.

NSW Minister for Education Adrian Piccoli said the new cadetships, internships and rural scholarships are designed to attract and retain the best and brightest new teachers.

“In their first year the cadets will support teachers in non-classroom roles, but in their second and subsequent years, cadets will support teachers in all aspects of their role, including in the classroom.

“High achieving final year teaching students are able to apply for internships in NSW government schools, where their role will be similar to that of the cadets’ second and subsequent year duties.

“Applications for the Teach.Rural scholarships will be invited from high performing school students about to enter their first year of university study, who want to teach in schools in rural and remote locations.”

Applications close on Friday 15 November 2013. 

500,000 students will read and remember on 11th November 

Up to half a million children attending 1600 schools are expected to read Pledge of Remembrance on Remembrance Day 2013.

Read2Remember aims to improve literacy skills and wellbeing among children, it is an initiative of Sunshine Coast based organisation SunnyKids and is supported by The Encouragement Foundation, which is taking the program nationally for the second time. In 2012, more than 350,000 school students were estimated to have participated in the inaugural reading event.

The program is free for schools to register. SunnyKids provides teachers with study guides for both the Pledge of Remembrance and a purpose written book, The Quest For Courage. The book highlights the courage and resilience of Australian servicemen and women and demonstrates how children can find those same qualities within themselves.

To register visit:

Involvement in the Arts benefits young people

A joint study by the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Education and Social Work and the Australian Council for the Arts has found that engagement in the Arts benefits students not just in the classroom, but also in life. 

Students who are involved in the Arts have higher school motivation, engagement in class, self-esteem, and life satisfaction, researchers discovered.

 The results, published in the latest issue of the Journal of Educational Psychology, found students who participate in dance, drama, music, and visual arts showed more positive academic and personal wellbeing outcomes than students who were not as involved.

The comprehensive study, titled The Role of Arts Participation in Students’ Academic and Non-Academic Outcomes: A Longitudinal Study of School, Home and Community Factors examined 643 primary and high school students from 15 Australian schools, tracking their academic and personal wellbeing outcomes over two years.

 Academic outcomes included motivation, homework completion, class participation, enjoyment of school, and educational aspirations, while personal wellbeing measures considered such factors as self-esteem, life satisfaction, and a sense of meaning or purpose.

 Some of the strongest effects were found for students who spent high amounts of quality time in creative and performing arts subjects at school. Positive effects also resulted from home influences, such as how often parents and their children talked about and participated in the Arts.

According to lead author, Prof Andrew Martin: “The study shows that school participation in the Arts can have positive effects on diverse aspects of students’ lives. Whereas most previous research has been small-scale or focused on students’ enjoyment in specific arts subjects, such as music, dance, drama, and visual arts, our research was large-scale and assessed outcomes beyond the Arts domain,” he said.

At a time when different subject areas must compete for space in the school curriculum, the study’s findings also emphasise the importance of the Arts in the school curriculum, according to Assoc Prof Michael Anderson, one of the study’s co-authors.

“This study provides new and compelling evidence that the Arts should be central to schooling and not left on the fringes,” he said.

A copy of the research is available at the Journal of Education website:

Stuttering in the classroom causes lifelong problems

Stuttering is going undiagnosed in Australian classrooms, causing a raft of lifelong social anxiety problems, warns a world-leading University of Sydney expert.

Prof Mark Onslow, Foundation Director of the Australian Stuttering Research Centre at the University of Sydney, believes that while primary school teachers are perfectly positioned to change the lives of children who stutter, few are equipped to manage the disorder.

He estimates that as many as one child in every large Australian primary school classroom could stutter but be unnoticed by teachers. Left untreated, stuttering can cause devastating social anxieties, which can lay the groundwork for underachievement at school and reduced employment outcomes later in life.

The cause of stuttering, which affects up to one in every nine children during the pre-school years, remains a mystery to scientists. Normally appearing in children before school age, it appears to stem from an issue with neural speech processing.

“Teachers can make the world of difference to the lives of children who stutter,” says Prof Onslow, who is considered a world authority on stuttering. 

 “If teachers do not help children who stutter, primary school can be a place where these children can develop and sustain debilitating social anxiety, which sows the seed for underachievement at school and in the world of work later in life.”

Effective methods for teachers to manage stuttering may include talking privately with the student, listening patiently while they talk, not interrupting them or finishing their sentences, consulting with their parents and checking for signs of teasing or bullying.