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Curriculum Materials Students should develop a factual knowledge based on a conceptual framework. Teachers should have a conceptual understanding of science and the appropriate factual knowledge aligned with the concepts. O Base the curriculum on major concepts of science. O Connect facts to the organizing concepts. O Provide relevant. It's now embedded across the curriculum and all teachers Prep-Year 10 have been trained in the approach. Cunnamulla is one of 13 rural and remote schools in the Charleville cluster, 900 kilometres west of Brisbane. Cass Ahern, Cluster Head of Curriculum at the time, co-led the initial implementation with speech pathologist Dannika Davis.
If you're looking to carry out school-based improvement research, what makes a good question? What will the project involve and what information will you collect? And, further down the track, how can you share your findings with the wider education community?
This year's Excellence in Professional Practice Conference (EPPC) included an advice session on planning, conducting and reporting on improvement projects.
The panel featured Victoria University Professor Marie Brennan, Linda Fox of the South Australian Department for Education, and Teacher Editor Jo Earp, and was chaired by ACER Institute Director Elizabeth Hartnell-Young.
Here are some of their tips.
Where to start?
Marie Brennan: 'What is your curriculum for school improvement – that's where you start from. Just as we would help students break down their tasks it's also really important to break down our tasks when we're actually investigating ... keeping data ... and then working on reflecting on that, whether it's just you solo or working with somebody else, whether it's a school or whole cluster of schools.'
Coming up with a research question
Elizabeth Hartnell-Young says your research question needs to be clear. Key points to think about are: What does the researcher want to know? How would that benefit the learning of children?
Marie Brennan: ‘A good [research] question provokes action and thinking. It usually arises out of your first cycle of action and reflection.
'One of the things that I think is important is to locate your question in traditions of both practice and theory. As we read we enter into a tradition of other people who've been doing practice on things, and as we write, we write ourselves into that community too. I want [to see] questions that are located in, yes, that tradition of practice, but the newer ways of thinking about it.'
Marie Brennan says you'll end up collecting more data than you'll ever use.
'… The difference between existing data and then purposeful use of data and purposeful generation of data – I think we've got to get the balance right on that, and you won't necessarily know when you start what that balance will be, just like your question can change.'
Linda Fox was one of the presenters at EPPC 2015, who shared her work from the Task Predicts Performance project aimed at improving student reading levels.
'[In the planning phase], you need to think about: What data am I going to use to help me answer that question? This was a big focus for me. I thought about my baseline data … I wanted to compare where we were at the beginning of the journey with towards the end, and where that journey can go. Also … the data that you do choose, do you actually understand what it is, why it is and how you can effectively use [it]?
‘Probably the biggest thing was the documenting as you go (taking lots of photos, making sure you don't miss those opportunities). If I had my time again I would probably do a lot more reflection throughout the journey, and definitely documenting that as I go.'
Sharing your work with the community
ACER's EPPC and Teacher online publication are two of the ways you can share your findings throughout the year and contribute to an ongoing community of practice.
EPPC is an annual conference presented by practitioners, for practitioners. Teachers, school leaders and researchers are invited to submit proposals to present on a particular theme. The theme for EPPC 2016 is Collaboration for school improvement.
Presenters are also invited to submit their work to be published throughout the year in Teacher - either by writing and article or through an interview with the editorial team.
Jo Earp: ‘In terms of a general framework to help you structure your article, it's really the same things that you would be thinking about for EPPC presentations.
'What was the issue? What was the catalyst, and what was the evidence for that? Secondly, what did you do? What kind of program did you set up and how did it work? The third point, what was the impact? And, how do you know? Then, the last thing, what are the next steps? What's the idea that you're going to take forward? What's the future action? What might you feed back into the community?
'I'd also say think about three simple things. Openness: You've got to be willing to share your work with the rest of the community. Honesty: People will sometimes submit something to Teacher that they think we want to hear, but really what we want to hear is what's happened. Share the success, but also let's not be afraid to talk about the challenges because through doing that we can learn from each other.
'The third thing is context. Write what you know about, share what you've done. Don't overgeneralise (that this particular project has an answer that will work for every single teacher in Australia or across the world), just talk about your own context because that can be really powerful.'
Teacher welcomes contributions from educators, whatever their role, school sector or location. Contributions can be submitted in text, video or audio formats. Visit our How to Get Involved information page to download a quick guide to reader submissions.
EPPC 2016 will be held in Melbourne on 19-20 May and the theme is Collaboration for school improvement. Call for submissions opens 1 August, 2015. For more information visit http://www.acer.edu.au/eppc or email [email protected]
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Collaboration is the key word at this year's Excellence in Professional Practice Conference (EPPC), as members of the education community share their stories of school-based improvement projects.
Delegates will hear about collaborations within subject teams, across year levels and between campuses, as well as wider-reaching partnerships involving clusters of schools, universities, professional associations, education departments and community organisations.
The annual conference, hosted by the Australian Council for Educational Research, is an event where classroom practitioners are the presenters as well as the attendees. They'll be giving valuable insights into the education challenges and successes in their own school communities, and how their evidence-informed projects have impacted on student outcomes.
The two day conference takes place in Melbourne next month and features more than 60 presentations and 12 workshops. One of the keynote speakers for EPPC 2016 is Dr Chris Chalmers, leader of [email protected] The Queensland University of Technology Outreach Program is a collaboration involving academics, pre-service teachers, classroom practitioners and students.
Through the program, the university provides free professional learning and resource kits to dozens of schools in low SES (socioeconomic status) areas to build staff capacity in teaching robotics-based curriculum activities.
Dr Chalmers tells Teacher her message to EPPC 2016 delegates will be around the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), robotics and coding in schools, what it looks like in practice and how members of the education community can work together.
'I know governments are starting to talk about it now, but as educators we've got to think about how we can actually bring [STEM] into the classroom and work with the children, not just the big ideas that are being spruiked out. Also, how we can collaborate together to make it so that it does work.'
The academic says the QUT program and EPPC 2016 provide valuable opportunities for teachers to share their work and experiences, allowing others to hear new ideas and build on them.
This year's Excellence in Professional Practice Conference takes place in Melbourne on 19 and 20 May. The theme is Collaboration for school improvement. To view the program and register, click on the link.
Stay tuned for future articles, podcasts and videos featuring EPPC 2016 presenters.
The Teacher team will be at the conference, posting live updates via our Twitter @teacheracer (#TeacherMag).
UPDATE: EPPC 2016 Outstanding Presentation Award Winners
Denise Hayward, Tara Anglican School for Girls – Junior School, NSW
Developing the capacity in our staff to effectively use data
Dr Kevin Anthony Perry, University of Aalborg, Denmark
What works to promote classroom wellbeing and learning from the perspectives of children and young people?
Dominic Fecteau, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Thamarrurr Catholic School, Wadeye, NT
Classroom profiling: A data-driven approach to creating positive, supportive classrooms
Sacha Webster and Amy Tickle, Pittwater House, NSW
Meeting to learn: An innovative approach to learning at work
Brett Moffett and Andrew Walmsley, Hervey Bay State High School, QLD; Rob Proffitt-White, Department of Education and Training, QLD
Numeracy contextualised: Initiating and sustaining numeracy transfer across a high school culture
Nikki Urlich, Campbells Bay School, New Zealand
Four teachers and 120 learners: The shift to ‘modern maths
Sheri Evans, The Institute for Professional Learning, WA
Survive and Thrive: Connecting with early career teachers through coaching
Amadeo Ferra, McClelland College, VIC; Julia Kirk, Experian Australia, VIC
Corporate collaboration for whole-school improvement
Alicia Hoddle, Leigh Creek Area School, SA; Leigh-Anne Williams, Unley High School, SA; Susanne Jones, Department for Education and Child Development, SA
The Jetson's World: Online collaborative moderation between small, remote and metropolitan schools
Josephine Wise and Michele Walliker, Independent Schools Queensland
Self-improving schools: A collaborative success story from Queensland
Stuart Taylor, Riverside Christian College, QLD
Learning walks: The mental pictures that change practice
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Steven Capp and Sarah Asome, Bentleigh West Primary School, VIC
Structured language: Unlocking the mystery of literacy for all
Acer Eppc Conferenceeffective Curriculum Ideas Preschool
Bruce McPhate and Sally Moloney, Katandra School, VIC; Tracey Walker, Department of Education and Training, VIC
The Katandra Project: Special and mainstream schools working together
To read about previous EPPC presentations, and the impact the projects are having on student outcomes, visit the Teacher archive