Pupils tracking teachers

Teachers are advised to block their social media accounts with the highest privacy settings to prevent students tracking them to an extent that becomes unwelcome. Teachers’ dating profiles and social media profiles are being spied on by students, warns the Children’s e-Safety Commission in a recent media article. The commission’s chief cyber trainer, Greg Gebhart, told The Weekend Australian (July 18-19) that an 11-year-old student had told him that he used a dating website to look at photos of teachers at his school, by searching for ages and suburbs, saying: “You should see what they put on their profiles.” He pointed out that children focused on their teachers and bonded with them, seeing them for a large part of their day and said children were canny enough to track teachers through their partners’ social media. Reporter Natasha Bita was told most students tracked teachers online out of curiosity. “They’re seen as almost untouchable and have such a position of authority, so when a child can find an insight into their personal lives, then it’s quite exciting,” said QUT lecturer Dr Rebecca Spooner-Lane, a lecturer in educational psychology and educational counselling.

Indigenous science summer school

Student Ashlei learns more about her heritage at ASSETS

Year 10 Aboriginal students have until Friday, August 14 to apply for 100 places in CSIRO’s Aboriginal Summer School for Excellence in Technology and Science (ASSETS) in December 2015 and January 2016 being held in NSW, South Australia and Queensland. There is no cost for students to attend, with airfares, accommodation and meals provided by co-sponsor BHP Billiton. Unlike CSIRO’s other science, technology and mathematics programs, ASSETS has a fundamental focus on Indigenous culture and history. “Indigenous Australians have a long history of caring for and contributing to our country scientifically and we need to leverage that for the benefit of the environment, community, industry and economy,” said Marian Heard, director of CSIRO’s Indigenous education program. The students can experience hands-on study with some the country’s top science institutions, she said. Students can click here to learn more and apply for a place.

$5000 Canon grant up for grabs

Bentleigh students use their prize to develop their project

Schools should apply quickly - by Monday, 3 August - to win $5000 worth of cameras, video cameras, binoculars, projectors, multi-function printers, waterproof cameras and more from Canon’s Environmental Grants program for a school environmental project.

The annual grants, one for a primary or secondary school and one for a community organisation, are given in the spirit of Canon’s guiding philosophy of Kyosei: “Living and working together for the common good”. Last year’s schools winner was Bentleigh Secondary College in Victoria, for a project to help students to develop an intimate knowledge of flora and fauna in a hectare of indigenous planting surrounding the school.

Student environmental leaders used smartphone technology to map a self-guided tour to learn about species and their role in the environment. Students are developing an urban forest, with artificial wetland and a billabong harbouring turtles and endangered fish, and have asked a local Indigenous cultural centre to teach them about the traditional use of the flora and fauna and land.

They are using their prize of use Canon cameras to record the flora and fauna, with the captured imagery being uploaded to the school’s website allowing for engagement via the self-guided tours. Last year’s Canon community award went to a group engaged in protecting local platypus populations that chose binoculars and video-cameras for its prize.

Sing away flu germs

Lah-Lah teaches healthy habits

A catchy new song by children’s entertainer Tina Harris (Lah -Lah from Lah-Lah's Big Live Band) is part of a kit to help teachers encourage healthy habits such as hand-washing in schools, which are prime breeding grounds for germs. Schools can sign up for the Healthy Habits Schools Program developed by Dettol in partnership with the Department. “With the cold and flu season upon us, now is a great time to remind little ones that healthy habits should be part of their daily routine both at home and at school,” said Tina, whose song teaches children five easy steps for washing hands effectively. The program has all the elements of a healthy lifestyle covered, says Dettol. Each topic has a range of activities, many interactive, including simple experiments, song and dance, games and comic strips. Click here for information and to download the song.

Hear early childhood scholars

The University of Wollongong has a line-up of global experts on early childhood education for its inaugural international Early Start Conference on September 28-30. The conference aims to “encourage a dialogue around reframing policy and practice in areas such as school readiness, physical activity and health, information and communications technology, literacy and numeracy, social inclusion and Aboriginal education”.

Professor Catherine Snow of Harvard University, one of the world’s foremost education scholars, will be the keynote speaker. Other speakers include childhood psychology scholar and adviser to the OECD on childhood development issues, Professor Edward Melhuish of Oxford University; early childhood education scholar, Professor Iram Siraj of University College London; authority on youth and children’s legal issues, Professor Michael Wald of Stanford University; youth and children’s’ physical health issues expert, Professor Dianne Ward of the University of North Carolina and Professor Fred Paas of Erasmus University in the Netherlands, an acknowledged scholar in cognitive load theory. There will be workshops before and during the conference. For details, contact Sarah Andrews on email or call (02) 4221 4387.

Learning problems convention

Help for children who struggle in class

Teachers are alerted to the Learning Difference Convention, Australia’s largest literacy and learning difficulties event, on August 27–28 in Sydney. There will be 20 hour-long specialist seminars costing from about $37-50 to help teachers identify and cope with learning problems. Each seminar will contribute one hour of BOSTES QTC registered professional development addressing 1.5.2, 4.1.2 and 6.2.2 towards maintaining Proficient Teacher Accreditation in NSW. The convention, open also to parents, will showcase the latest research, technology and tools for from 60 companies and associations to help children who have difficulties with reading, writing and maths or are generally struggling in class. There’ll be free computer technology workshops and local and international speakers. The venue is the Grand Pavilion, Rosehill Gardens Racecourse. Parking is free. Book here.

Make ‘em envirowarriors

Ulladulla Primary students engaged in Enviroweek

Teachers often find students are worried about the environment but feel powerless to do make an impact. Cool Australia’s Enviroweek (August 30 to September 5) shows them at least 14 ways in which they hold power for good through their choices and actions. For example, students taking up the waste-free lunch action have discovered that in a year their packaged lunch waste fills a 240-litre wheelie bin. Multiply that by their class, school and all schools and the impact is both real and big. There are prizes and free curriculum resources from Cool Australia. Feedback from schools show how Enviroweek has caught the imagination of students and teachers. At Ulladulla Primary, Environmental Co-ordinator Gary Clark says term 3 has an environment focus that culminates in Enviroweek, which ushers in spring. “It’s a fun week that students, staff and parents look forward to.” Activities include environmental audits, measuring water catchment in the local creek and a campout on the oval for year 5 students. Go to Enviroweek for details.

'The world in my country'

Alice Wheeldon suffered greatly for peace

Federation's Peace, Environment and International Special Interest Group invites members to a talk by Chloë Mason (BA (Hons), PhD, M Env Stud, B Laws, Grad Dip Leg Pract) on peace and social justice on August 3. Ms Mason will talk about the history of the peace movement, drawing on her extensive networks in Australia and England. The talk will focus on her English great-grandmother, Alice Wheeldon, who was targeted in a notorious “show trial” in Britain to deter people from campaigning to end the war. In 2014, Ms Mason helped prepare an exhibition that challenged people to think about why peace matters so much when celebrating the centenary of World War I.

The lecture will be held in a meeting room on level 1 of Teachers Federation House, 23-33 Mary Street, Surry Hills, on August 3, 4.30–6pm.

For more information contact Lenore Hankinson (02) 9217 2100. For information on Federation SIGs click here.

Chloë Mason recommends reading Adam Hochschild’s bestseller, To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914–1918.

Moral strike that made history

A fascinating part of our history told by workers

Pig Iron Bob a documentary partly assisted by Federation, is about a union’s 11-week strike over a moral issue. It was 1938, the year before World War II broke out, and the ship, Dalfram, was at Port Kembla to take on Australian scrap iron for Japanto be made into munitions against China. The 180 wharfies who refused to load the ship were horrified that Australian goods would be used in Japan’s invasion of China. Alive in their minds was Nanjing Massacre the year before, where at least 40,000 and as many as 300,000 Chinese civilians were killed by Japanese troops in six weeks of massacre and rape in the Chinese city of Nanjing. Australia’s then Attorney General, Robert Menzies, arrived at the wharf to stop the dispute, and a woman screamed out “Pig Iron Bob!”, the sobriquet that has become a part of our history. This is a fascinating part of our history and union history told from the point of view of workers who were trying to stop a war. Buy the DVD here and if you are showing it to groups, you can contact the film-makers at Why Documentaries to participate in Q&A sessions. Watch the trailer here.