IN BRIEF

Live chat about teaching STEM

Get on this ABC Facebook site for STEM teaching tips for your class

On Wednesday 21 June, physics teacher and science communicator Sue Farroukh will chat live to teachers on ABC Splash's Facebook page about teaching STEM to high school students and will answer the questions you post during the event. Sue, who has taught at public and independent schools and worked in the engineering industry prior to taking up teaching, says STEM education works well when it involves student participation. “If the students are doing, then they are more likely to be learning,” she says. She uses structured and unstructured practical activities, and to make science relevant to students, Sue constantly uses examples of real world problems, for example, getting the students to create experiments of purifying water to solve a problem in developing countries. She uses free resources such as YouTube to show concepts she doesn’t have equipment to demonstrate. Sue says she openly welcomes curiosity (and mistakes) in her classroom in order to develop a growth mindset within her students. She says it’s important that students look at their timetables and say “science/physics next period” with delight and excitement, not with a heavy sigh. Join the live chat with Sue Farroukh on 21 June at 4pm via ABC Splash's Facebook page.

World War I stories – a real-life exhibition

Sydney Living Museums has put together a website, WWI: Stories from Our Museums, that contain fascinating personal accounts around that war. With photos, letters and research, the stories are grouped into “War Service”, “Home Front”, “Enemy Within?” and “Commemoration”. The stories in the Enemy Within? section are drawn mostly from the collections of the Justice and Police Museum, cover the organised expression of jingoism against “enemy aliens” (Germans and Austrians) through the formation of an Anti-German League; the ideology and activities of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), a radical labour organisation; and the story of an isolated violent attack on a picnic train in Broken Hill.

Many stories are about women, frequently overlooked in war stories. The Home Front stories describe the tireless voluntary work by women: an endless series of fundraising campaigns to supply comforts for soldiers fighting at the front, to provide relief for some of the millions of Allied refugees in Europe, and to help maimed soldiers on their return home and support soldiers’ dependants. Smaller stories introduce individual creators of patriotic poetry, music and silent movies and the indefatigable activity of the sock-knitter, while a counter narrative examines the anti-war activism of a member of the Women’s Peace Army.

Anti-bullying films to get young people talking

The award-winning Rewrite Your Story project is centred around eight very short films depicting instances of cyberbullying that are designed to be conversation starters—leading young people to discuss the serious implications and possible solutions to cyberbullying. The program includes a fresh youth-focused website featuring youth-written blogs, professional advice and an interactive quiz. Other complementary resources include lesson plans for each short film, information for parents, and a series of visually engaging posters. The program, developed by the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner, features real-life experiences of young people facing various forms of cyberbullying. “We’re incredibly proud of the recognition Rewrite Your Story has received. These accolades help to solidify the quality of this program, both as an educational tool and as a short film series,” says Julie Inman Grant, Children’s eSafety Commissioner. She points to one of the films, Zach's Story, saying, “Zach’s story resonates with many teens, especially those who are targeted because they don’t quite fit the mould at school. We want to get young people talking about these issues, reinforcing a positive message about not letting others define you. We want young people to know they are not alone if they experience cyberbullying. Help is available, including reporting cyberbullying to us, to get the content removed,” Ms Inman Grant said.

When schools pro-choice becomes no-choice

A study indicates that despite US Education Secretary Betsy De Vos’s claim that school choice programs – opposed by American public school unions – lead to more integrated schools, there is some evidence that there is less integration within schools because students are moving to schools where there is a higher ratio of the student’s community. The results come in a recent study by the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans, a city that has the only all-choice school system in the United States. In the wake of the upheaval caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the state took over almost all the city’s schools and began turning over all schools into the charter school system. By 2014, 86 per cent of all students were in charter schools. “Prior research has found that these unprecedented reforms substantially increased student achievement but critics still have concerns about the unintended consequences of this system,” the Brookings Institution thinktank says, in an article about the research.