Archive for December, 2009
5 reasons why HSC and ATAR scores make the angels cry
- The Australian Tertiary Enrance Rank (ATAR – formerly UAI in NSW) is, as its name suggests, a RANK. A rank against other students. This means that everything students have worked for over the HSC year is reduced to little more than a rung on the ladder, where it’s only possible for a few to stand at the top.
- Students who are competing for grades don’t tend to like helping each other learn. The HSC encourages selfishness in learners.
- HSC marks are divided into BANDS. Band 6 (marks of 90-100) is the highest. Everyone wants a Band 6. Or “at least a Band 5!” In his review of the HSC in 1996 Professor Barry McGaw recommended the removal of Band labels, explaining that schools, students and parents were largely ignoring rich assessment feedback relating to actual learning outcomes. Instead they were simply increasing pressure on kids to attain high status Bands. But the NSW BOS ignored McGaw’s recommendation (and the NSW government later introduced mandatory A-E report grading for all primary and secondary students to boot…that’s when the angels really started howling)
- School is supposed to be a place where you receive an education that promotes social, emotional, physical and cognitive growth. Credentialing methods that only report on academic achievement undermine the work that schools and communities to do to help students grow into healthy, happy and resilient human beings.
- There is no way to acknowledge students who are acheiving their personal best. It’s all about who wins…and who loses.
Don’t even get me started on how the whole process is geared toward selecting which students will enter which University course – despite the fact that only 30% of students will actually go to University. Or on the research findings of studies of the effect of stress, anxiety and depression on student motivation and goal orientation. Or on how an exam driven curricula encourages teaching to the test over promotion of engagement and deep knowledge.
I don’t mean to take the buzz away from any Year 12 teacher or student out there today who is enjoying shiny results. If you’re wondering, I’m very pleased with mine. But the conversations I’ve had to listen to today (and every other year when these results bear down on schools) have made me sick to the stomach. HSC and ATAR scoring is my very least favourite part of being a teacher…I hope the utopia I’ve heard about up here in Queensland is everything it’s cracked up to be.
English Teachers: Waving, not Drowning
Posted by kmcg2375 in english, online tools, technology on December 2, 2009
I have Google Wave!
Well, I’ve had it for a week now, but have had no-one to play with in it (on it?), so effectively I didn’t have it at all.
But now I have Wave buddies 🙂 And so the messing around begins!
I’m joined by fellow English teachers and Tweeps Bianca (@BiancaH80), Julie (@JulBain), Darcy (@Darcy1968) and soon also Troy (@TroyM7).
The Negative Nancy in me is screaming “Don’t bother! They’re never gonna let you use anything this USEFUL in school anyway (because lewd images and pervy old people COULD be on a Wave too – QUICK EVERYONE, HIDE THE KIDS!)”. But after using it for not very long at all, you just know that this is one of those things that is going to have a big impact on how we ‘do’ activities, lessons, even school. Web 2.0 tools have opened up a whole new world of collaborative working and creating, but the way Google Wave uses in-text editing, integration of images and video, real-time editing (you can see each other type!) and, perhaps most excitingly, playback (so you can see additions and comments appear in the order they were added)…it just has oodles of potential that I am only just comprehending. And best – it’s really FUN to use!
Just now, I have started a collaborative poem with my English teaching ‘Wavers’ – I wrote in a couple of lines, and hopefully others will add and we’ll see how it goes. (I would love ideas for other English-y activities/tasks for us teachers to trial on a Wave, if you have any?)
Maybe this is what I find the most fun – getting to try old activities in new ways by testing them on myself!
Or, is it the real feeling of a ‘playground’ that I’m getting by making a collaborative Wave with my peers?
All I know is that tonight, with Twitter AND Wave going bananas, I felt like a teen on MSN or something! My PLN just got so much more…personal. I wonder if the novelty is going to wear off?