Curios of the week #49
Clippings, endnotes and other ephemera
We have lots of lovely books at Clarendon but, until now, they haven’t had a satisfactory home. Until recently, our professional learning library sat behind a photocopier — hardly an ideal location — but that area is now needed for an office and so the books are currently sitting in boxes.
So, we are going to repurpose one of our meeting rooms. It is a light and airy room that looks out on our oval. It will still be available as a meeting room but we are going to add shelving that the likes of Wiliam, Willingham and Christodoulou can make their home. It is also in a central part of the school and that must be a metaphor for something, right?
This week’s Curios include conferences, luxury beliefs and damp squib and much more.
Maths practices of the week
When not acting as the pantomime villain of feverish left-wing projections, the Centre for Independent Studies releases lots of really useful papers about education. so many, in fact, that I am starting to lose track.
The latest paper is by Sarah Powell, Sarah King and Sarah Benz, three US-based researchers who have selected five practices they believe represent the biggest levers in effective maths teaching — focusing on the language of maths, using multiple representations, explicit teaching, building fluency and focusing on word problems. We could quibble about whether this is the top five and whether other items should be on this list, but it is a very good place for any maths teacher to start.
In the introduction, the authors state:
“High-quality mathematics instruction relies on strategies that have been identified as research validated. That is, through multiple research studies conducted in school-based settings, organised by different researchers across years (and sometimes decades). From this, an evidence base emerges to support the use of a program or practice. In mathematics, there are packaged research-validated programs that schools can purchase or access. These have everything a teacher needs to teach mathematics at a specific grade or for specific mathematics content. Unfortunately, teachers may not always have access to such programs, which is why an understanding of research validated practices is useful.”
This did leave me wondering which ‘packaged research-validated programs’ they were thinking of.
Education conferences of the week
Well, not exactly this week. researchED returns to Ballarat on 23 March. We have already confirmed Tim McDonald, Peter Sherwin and, er, me as speakers, with many more still to be announced. I asked ChatGPT to imagine what the conference might look like and it is a little flattering:
It won’t be quite like that… but it is just $35.
researchED is the original teacher led conference and despite the fact that it has inspired many others, in my opinion, it is still the best. And that’s partly because I get to speak researchED events and close to nowhere else.
Apart from… a conference on 19 March in Sydney focused on student behaviour and classroom management. Tom Bennett and Tim McDonald will be giving keynotes. Perhaps wisely, the organisers have put me on a panel with three others, so I doubt I will get to say much, but if you are around in central Sydney on that day, come for the keynotes. And if you want to catch up that evening, let me know.
Finally, if you really want to spend more than is decent on a conference of dubious value, Marty at Bad Mathematics has a hot tip for you.
Education academics of the week
The culture wars are unedifying but they have been a strangely creative endeavour, with new concepts manufactured and then dismissed at an astonishing rate. One such concept that has rapidly become labelled a right-wing talking point but is, nevertheless, useful is Rob Henderson’s notion of a ‘luxury belief.’