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By Schools Catalogue Information Service


To assist TLs with their selection processes, the following reviews of recent publications are presented below:

Technology skills -assessing school needs

Assessing the level and extent of professional development requirements is a pressing interest at many schools as the first step in planning the implementation of training. This is a review of a recently developed product which would be valuable to any school embarking on an assessment of teacher IT capabilities.

Title: Learning Technologies, Teacher Capabilities,
Author: Department of Education, Victoria.
RRP: $24.95
SCIS Order Number: 929154
ISBN: 07 306 90407

Each Australian education department, system and sector has given high priority to the inclusion of learning technologies in classrooms. Training teachers to effectively include technology within learning areas presents a school principal or technology coordinator with a wide range of existing teacher knowledge, interest and skill.

Learning Technologies, Teacher Capabilities provides a systematic approach for all Australian schools to summarise the skills and needs of their staff. A staff survey, which can be customised by schools, is run through Microsoft Excel and generates reports and overviews to inform decision making. This makes a valuable contribution to planning whole school professional development. Individual teacher strengths and needs are clarified and a school can plan and define the focus for technology implementation. Areas needing skill development are identified and presented on a matrix to define levels of skill and knowledge. This framework supports a rationalised approach to professional development strategies, resource planning and to increase effective technology management practices and skills.

The product is simple to use and an extremely effective software tool which meets the immediate needs of many schools to identify, monitor and plan effective inclusion of technology into teaching and learning. It has clearly been developed for school users and provides the type of support and information that most schools currently need to improve teacher skills in this critical area.

The resource package includes seven items:

  • Guide to the resource package including a Glossary of Terms
  • Learning Technologies, Teacher Capabilities Statement covering five areas for development
  • Skill Development Matrix covering six skill areas at three stages of development
  • Professional Development Support Matrix indicating Victorian Department of Education programs and resources to support skill development.
  • Learning Technologies teacher survey
  • Survey Analysis Program (disk)
  • Wall poster summarising the teacher capabilities and skill development matrix

Reviewed by Heather Watson, Manager, Electronic Development, Curriculum Corporation

Title: Teaching Viewing and Visual Texts: Primary English Curriculum and Teaching Program
Author: Rod Quin, Barrie McMahon and Robyn Quin
Publisher: Curriculum Corporation, Carlton, Victoria: 1997
RRP: $29.95
SCIS Order Number: 867082
ISBN: 1 86366 286 3

Teaching Viewing and Visual Texts: Primary English Curriculum and Teaching Program is a book for all teachers: those who are in the early stages of exploring teaching viewing and those experienced teachers of viewing who are in need of fresh ideas.

The book has been written in three parts. 'Part 1: The place of viewing in English' is an introduction to teaching viewing and I urge you to spend some time reading this section before going to the activity section. You will find information about the importance of visual texts, viewing and the English statement and profile, a framework for thinking about visual language, planning a learning program, assessing students' progress and resources. A further section on teacher and classroom resources can be found at the back of the book.

Parts 2 and 3 describe a number of activities for lower primary (part 2) and upper primary students (part 3). The authors have used a spiral curriculum approach which 'recognises that students' understanding of a concept is progressively deepened and extended by returning to the concept and exploring it further at different stages'. Student work samples and transcripts which illustrate aspects of assessment are other useful features of these sections.

The authors provide a useful glossary of terminology of concepts and technical terms. There is also a companion book for secondary teachers.

Reviewed by Nan Johnston, Practically Primary, Volume 2, Number 3, August 1991

Title: Picture This: Reading Visual Language
Author: Rod Quin, Barrie McMahon & Robyn Quin
Publisher: Curriculum Corporation, Carlton Victoria: 1997
RRP: $29.95
SCIS Order Number: 903644
ISBN: 1 86366 365 7

Picture This is a student workbook which provides resources, activities and ideas for teaching viewing to upper primary students. It is the companion book for Teaching Viewing and Visual Texts, the teacher resource book by the same authors, pub I ished 1997. What I especially liked about Picture This is its accessibility. Although it has been written for primary students it is so clearly laid out that it makes a very useful guide for busy teachers. I found much in the book that was new and interesting. For the first time teacher of viewing this book would inspire confidence.

The book is divided into five main areas:

  • visual conventions, including use of colour, body language and camera work
  • stories
  • stereotypes
  • news -both newspapers and television news
  • advertising -including target audiences.

Each chapter has an introduction to the topic, explaining the purpose for the activities as well as a wide range of activities.

I found the chapter on stereotypes particularly interesting. This is an area that is mentioned often in the nationally developed English profile, but is not always an easy aspect to teach. This chapter suggests a series of activities beginning with students identifying common visual stereotypes such as a swagman, a princess and a thief. Students are provided with opportunities to draw their ov1~ stereotypes and compare them with others to identify features in common. These activities lead students to consider stereotypes in television families and gender stereotypes in advertising.

The book is almost self-contained, with the inclusion of colour reproductions of advertisements, picture book illustrations, characters from films and photographs which are used for the activities in the book. Occasionally students are required to use magazines and newspapers, and a few activities refer to Australian Children's Television Foundation films, in particular the 'Around the Twist' series. Other features of the book include an introductory chapter for teachers explaining the structure and purpose of the book and a final appendix relates the activities to the outcomes from English -a curriculum profile for Australian schools.

This book is highly recommended both for the first time teacher of viewing and for those of you who have been teaching with media texts for a long time. With its inviting design and accessible language it can be used as a student resource book or as a practical teacher reference.

Reviewed by Diedre Travers Practically Primary, Volume 3, Number 1, February 1998

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