Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Performance Pay and Fostering Competition to Improve Education?

Our education system is proposing a rewards system for teachers (bonus pay in 2014) as a way of improving teacher performance. A survey by the Herald Sun has shown the large majority of the teachers they surveyed did not agree with performance pay, 80% in fact.  Read Bonus pay sore point for teachers. People like career analyst Dan Pink quote study after study that suggests money is a poor motivator for tasks requiring creativity and divergent thinking. To me (and it is only my opinion) bonus pay, particularly if it is capped will lead to competition and not collaboration between teachers.  It will divide staff not bring them together, comments like, "how did they get the bonus when I did not?" might be the type of comment that eats away at a staff's morale.

Educational systems like Finland's (No. 1 in the world) promote cooperation and not competition while educational systems like the U.S. promote competition over cooperation (No. 26 in the world). Competition is fuelled in our system through initiatives like the MySchool website, which uses a very narrow piece of data to portray schools to parents and the general public. The public see our education system performing well (or not) based on one measuring tool! No consideration (publicly) is given to the many and varied facets that go into making up a quality school. Add to this the QLD Government is currently in the spotlight for comparing schools across their state based on Government audits of schools, again a contradiction to international best practise. For more information about league tables read League tables what they won't tell you.

I am not opposed to processes that require schools to reflect deeply on teaching performance and student learning. I also agree with creating an educational system that is accountable, but do it by training high quality teachers, paying teachers what they are worth, providing an education system that supports (financely) ongoing training, creating a system that does not discriminate and is equitable and accessible to all. Do it by focusing on international best practise not the opposite.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Why Write in Exams?

A great article by Christopher Bantick in The Weekend Australian 14th - 15th Jan. made some excellent points about handwriting being an outdated mode of communication, particularly for senior students in an exam setting. The article sites keyboarding as a strong determinant for developing literacy, although you could probably find studies that show the same for handwriting.

The statement that I found ringing true in the article was, "A student who researches and types their essays over the course of the year and then is expected to hand write cogent, fluent, legible essays by longhand in three hours is being subjected to unfair and inconsistent expectations." It is a conversation I hear from at least one teacher around exam time each year. A teacher will say, "The kids are complaining about having sore wrists from writing in their exams!" They generally say this in a way that infers the students should write more during the year and then they wouldn't have so much trouble, when actually we should be thinking the other way and setting exams in a way that reflects how students write during the year.

As senior teachers we never ask our students to submit handwritten assignments anymore and if there are teachers who still do require handwritten assignments well I think they are getting their students to use their time very poorly.

There are a few logistical issues in a system that is not geared to do exams on a computer but they could be overcome quite easily. Unfortunately I don't see our system changing in the immediate future.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

21 Ways I Will Use My IPad2 in 2012 @ School

I have had my iPad2 for two months now and after spending a considerable amount of time on it and downloading apps I thought I would try and clarify in my own mind how I was going to use all this new technology in 2012.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Apple TV Frustrating Me

I got an Apple TV for Christmas and was very excited, one because it gave me access to movies and TV shows direct to my TV, gave me some Internet on my TV like Youtube and podcasts and allowed me to Airplay my iPad2 on my TV. I was however more excited by what it could do for me at school - mirror the Ipad2 wirelessly to my IWB. One problem.........


Thank you to the Sage on the Stage for writing how he uses his Ipad to present to a class. After reading this I immediately downloaded Splashtop Streamer for PC and got the Splashtop app, which cost $5.49 evidently on special down from $19.99. My intention is to use Apple TV and Splashtop to use my Ipad2 as the sole presentation device in my classroom, with my laptop connected to the IWB.
If I can get Apple TV to work in my classroom (which is yet to happen) I will be able to wirelessly connect my Ipad2 to the IWB allowing me to walk around the class with the Ipad2 focusing on students rather than being tied to the IWB when I want to present something. The only thing with this is that the Ipad2 doesn't do everything! I still need my laptop to bring up Office docs, flash video, Active inspire for IWB etc.... Well now I can do this with Splashtop, I can control my laptop directly from my Ipad2 and switch between Ipad2 and Splashtop (laptop) with reletive ease. This is one of the best apps I have downloaded so far and can't wait to use it in my class.

Now to get Apple TV working at school!