Useful Links – Weekly

Insanity - Einstein quote

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


The Educational Achievement Gap in our schools

With the Victorian teachers striking again this week it seems timely to have a look at this infographic below. Although many teachers are doing a great number of fantastic things in our schools there are still a lot of inequities in education.

What the infographic below highlights are some major issues in the schooling systems all over the world not just Australia and there are similarities across the board. We all know that there are many inequities for educational opportunities for all our students in our education system and the infographic below shows a direct correlation between achievement and economic status.

The government sponsored NAPLAN results confirm serious inequalities. For instance they:

  1. reaffirm the significant achievement gap between indigenous and non-indigenous students (see also an article in the Australian Dec 2012) and
  2. show the gap in achievement widening as students progress through their schooling.

The ACT initiative “Save our Schools” site has quite a lot of published documents including one in December that discussed inequities in science and maths.

The statistics and information that form the basis for this infographic are included at the bottom and I have read a few of the sources but I think I will have a look at a few more.

Educators have been aware of inequity in schools, in fact historically there has always been some inequity but the political rhetoric has been increasingly strident and politicians from all sides have declared that we want/need to make the gap smaller. Nothing substantial and long-term seems to be put in place. Despite the Gonski Report, we still seem a long way from any major changes to the current system so how can we help our students overcome social and economic disadvantages that are not of their making? We all see that we need to help foster learning and give opportunities to all our students. Most have bright and enquiring minds in the beginning and we need to help them develop to be the best they can be. This is vital for not just the students but for our society as a whole. I have no answers but I will continue to question and work within my own sphere to try to bridge the gap.

Using Google search options

I am preparing some lessons on research for the new year 7 students. Knowledge about how make internet searches more efficient  is something that students from all year levels could refresh from time to time.

We always seem to begin with Google as it is the one everyone seems to know best. Most students  use Google almost exclusively but wikipedia and Youtube are also high up on their lists. We all can see how Google has changed since it was first developed. Some things are very obvious and others less so. It is very easy to get into a rut and not notice some changes. It is always interesting to see how much the year 7 students know. Many have a very basic level of knowledge but are very confident they know how to search. Many teachers seem to assume that students are proficient at searching the web but many

I usually ask them some basic questions that gradually show how well they can narrow down searches. It is interesting how many hands go down as I ask my various questions. After this initial introduction they always want to learn how to do the things I ask about.

I also ask the students put the icon for the  Google “advanced search” on their favourites tool bar as we go through the lesson. The fields shown there are useful for reminding the students about how they can narrow down their searches.

The options that Google has on its simple search page has not been noticed by very many students let alone used by them. The tab “search tools ” can be really useful for them and they don’t have to be on the advanced search page.

Basic searchIt  offers some very useful options to help refine searches.

You can choose:

  • “The Web”- drops down the option of Australian sites or the whole web,
  • “Any time” – once clicked,  allows you to search from information from an hour ago to a year ago or to customize your date range.
  • “All results”  – is the list that I think offers some of the best options to refine searches. The option which has especially interested some teachers who work in student support (for students who find classroom work more difficult than most) is the reading level option. I talk about using it depending on whether or not you are new to a subject or already have some understanding.

Search tools - all results

If you choose this option, it breaks down the level of difficulty on one of these will into 3 types: basic, intermediate and advanced. Clicking on any one of these will give you the sites that Google has designated fit that description.

search: reading levels

In an advanced search  these can be combined in many more a variety of ways rather than having to choose just one or another.

I can see the “search tools” option in Google being used quite a bit this year although I must not fail to mention InstaGrok, which is a visual search engine that offers the option to choose the level of difficulty as well as a number of other great features. I wrote a post about Instagrok last year  but since then can be used in Explorer

Useful links – some of the January ones

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.