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‘Business Studies’ Category

  1. But Why?

    19 February 2015 by shartley

    I love the curiosity of younger kids.  I love toddlers who ask “But why?”  I don’t like that by the time they arrive at high school many have lost their enthusiasm.

    In Year 7 Geography we start with ‘What is Geography?’  I have some beautifully enthusiastic boys who are keen to contribute, one in particular is quite earnest.  The other 20-something students already view school as a chore.  Which is sad.

    What is also sad that their answer to ‘What is Geography?’ just focuses on knowledge and understanding.  I spent several minutes this week saying, “but why?”, to encourage further thought and development.  It was painful, but eventually we arrived at:

    • To care for the world
    • To solve problems like global warming and floods
    • To prepare for the future

    The next day I revisited the question and it still took a while to arrive at the why.  When did children stop thinking about the why?

    In Year 11 Society and Culture this week we discussed the differences between interactions they have at home with their family, with their friends, with people they know at school who aren’t close friends, with people in their sporting clubs and how they may be influenced by media and government.  Again, I had to be persistent with asking, “But why?”  Thankfully this is a class of thoughtful students.  I can almost see the cogs turning in their heads as I probe for more and more and their fascination increases as they learn more and more.  This is a class that will bring me joy.

    Even in HSC Business Studies I was asking, “But why?”  Why do businesses need to monitor, control and look for continual improvement?  Why do they want to offer after-sales service?  Why are stores laid out certain ways?  I’m tired of students thinking that all they need to do is make comprehensive textbook summary notes to achieve well in the HSC when synthesis and problem-solving are also important.  A couple of my more diligent students were reluctant to think about the type of customer service a bicycle shop could offer their customers at the point of sale and beyond, and thus wrote a single sentence response so they could tick the mental box that the task was complete.  When I had the discussion with them to push their thinking further they came up with some brilliant suggestions.  The trick now is to transfer that thinking into a pen and paper exam.

    But why is it such a struggle to push students beyond a memorising mindset?


  2. One More Mark

    15 February 2015 by shartley

    We recently had an assembly at my school to celebrate the students who received an ATAR over 90 in the HSC last year.  There was a brief introduction from the Principal, a guest speaker who was surprisingly entertaining and in-depth about having respect for yourself by demonstrating respect for others, a speech from an all-rounder from the class of 2014 and a speech from the student who achieved the highest ATAR in 2014.  The students’ speeches consistently referred to balance but also a commitment to study.  The Head of Curriculum spoke about “one more mark”.

    I am currently finishing my Masters in Education with a plan in place to do a literature review as one of my last subjects in preparation for a Masters of Research as a lead-in to a PhD.  A long road is marked ahead.  For my PhD I plan to examine the increasing emphasis on marks as the main goal instead of marks being a mere measure of learning.  Sometimes the learning component of 13 years of formal school education is lost in a single number.  Too many times I ask students what they want to do when they leave school and they have no idea.  When I ask what they want to achieve at school they say a good mark in the HSC.  I ask why and more often than not it is to please their parents.  I ask what interests them in what they’re learning, and they say not much, they are just aiming for good marks.  How sad is that?

    The “one more mark” speech implored students to ask their teachers what they could do for just one more mark.  You see, data analysis of the school’s HSC results revealed numerous 88s and 89s in individual subjects so the aim is to push students into Band 6 (90+) because we have more Band 5s than the average school, shouldn’t it be easy to push them into Band 6 with a one more mark philosophy?  I think not.  I think the underlying problem is more associated with a culture of teaching to the test and spoon-feeding, of memorising and regurgitating, not just in my school but across many, many schools.  Band 6 is about demonstrating high-order thinking skills, critical thinking, problem solving and the like.  Remembering one more fact will not push an 89 to a 90.

    Now as much as I am an advocate for learning to be a focus over the memorising for tests, part of my job is preparing students for the HSC and its testing regime.  In Society and Culture students need to know, understand and apply some core concepts.  We drill the eleven main definitions underlying just about everything studied in Society and Culture.  My Year 11s recently sat their first test of these eleven definitions.  One student perfectly provided the first six but then left the remaining five blank.  She didn’t want to even try to use words from her own understanding, she only wanted to give the precise words of the syllabus.  Again, how sad is that?

    This weekend I marked a practice HSC Business Studies extended response I had given as holiday work.  They were a long way below the standard I expect from these students.  I believe the majority didn’t do them over the holidays but the night before they submitted it.  The question was How can different sources of funds help a business achieve its financial objectives?  Both the sources of funds and financial objectives listed in the syllabus were handed out when the question was issued at the end of last year but many students failed to refer to them, probably because they just took the question from the ediary entry.  Most of those who did use these syllabus terms, did not link them to show how different sources of funds help businesses to achieve financial objectives but merely provided textbook definitions of each term and tacked on introductions and conclusions.  Needless to say, it was a disappointing marking process.  However, despite my reservations about the “one more mark” speech I am going to hand these responses back with marks and an expectation of how many more marks they are to achieve in their second attempt.  I feel like I’m going against my principles but that it could be a good way for them to see that their poor attempt at the only bit of homework I set over seven or so weeks of the holidays just isn’t good enough.  The increase of marks expected have been determined by my gut instinct based on having spent a year with these students and thus knowing what they can achieve.  Some students are being asked for just two more marks, some ten and a whole range in between.  Wish me luck!


  3. One of those days

    5 February 2015 by shartley

    LoveHartley

    I had one of those days but I still feel positive about it.  It has been over a year since I last had to teach all five lessons in a day so I was a little wary of the load before me as I arrived at school and felt a little under-prepared for my Year 9 Geography class after they achieved more than I expected yesterday.  I arrived at school at my usual 8am, just 20 minutes before I had a meeting, so after checking email and other notices I opened the PowerPoint that was listed on the program as what I should be teaching Year 9 today.  It was a horrendous PowerPoint of four slides: a title, a map and two covered in text.  I quickly spread the text over a few extra slides and then searched for images and interesting tid-bits on the Internet to accompany the slides.  I was about half way through this exercise when I had to go to the meeting.

    Meeting completed, Home Room done and then Period 1 Year 11 Society and Culture where we went through the Fundamental and Additional Concepts, followed by Period 2 Business Studies where students looked at an airline/tourism case study regarding goods and services and then examined Domino’s Pizza Operations Report from their 2013 Annual Report.  All this went without a hitch.

    At recess I skipped returning to my staff room so I could have some time to set-up for my first proper Geography lesson with Year 7 and steal some time to finish the PowerPoint…ambitious for a twenty minute break.  Even more unlikely when a colleague grabs you for a conversation en route.  Absolutely impossible when you arrive at the Year 7 classroom and realise you left your computer cords in your regular classroom.  A quick trot back and forth and it was almost time for the students to arrive.  Two of the other Year 7 teachers arrived and there was talk of classroom swaps.  I bowed out graciously and continued my set-up.

    The Year 7s were quite good and 27 of 30 students successfully copied the worksheet from the original into their own newly established Geography folders in Google Drive.  The other three were unsuccessful due to internet issues.  However, being Year 7 they had loads of questions and I ran late to Year 9 Geography back in my regular classroom.

    When I arrived the Year 9s were making a lot of noise outside the class.  When I let them in we had a talk about appropriate behaviour and my eyes scanned the room detecting the lock box as opened with the remote for the IWB missing.  I kept looking and some of the boys said a teacher had told them to tell me she’d put it on…something.  They obviously hadn’t heard her clearly but couldn’t be bothered to clarify.  The remote couldn’t be found so I sent a boy to the teacher who was then off class.  She said another teacher who she named may have taken it.  I sent a kid to that teacher and thankfully he came back with it, without a message to accompany it.  Right, now I could show the PowerPoint, half improved.  But no, in the meantime my computer had encountered an error, had restarted and I couldn’t find a recoverable file (stupid me hadn’t saved the half-improved version) so in a bind I ran with the boring original.  I surprised myself with how much I knew about reading a map and making it interesting for the students but then we hit the text.  Groans.  I handed out post-it notes for students who finished first to write ways people could reduce water usage and just single notes as the slower writers finished, to fill the gap of catch-up as students finished writing.  I rarely use PowerPoint and this is one of the reasons why.  More groans with the second slide of text.  Four boys had passively resisted working and just didn’t write or type most of the material so were kept in to finish at lunch.  One of those four had “I love Ms Hartley” on a post-it note on his forehead, his friend had one with “Hit Me” written on it but just on his desk (at least my name was spelt correctly).  I’m guessing that originally they were put on students’ backs.  Mr Forehead Guy now has to see his Dean about it since I passed it up the line due to the personal nature of it.  The Deans are really good at dealing with the boys who are pushing at boundaries like this.

    Despite this boring text writing lesson and the resistance to work from a handful, I think it went well.  I’ve worked out I don’t like teaching Geography because I’m not passionate about it but also because the resources in programs at both this school and my last one are incredibly boring and I become tired of reinventing the wheel every time I’m placed on Geography.  I was ashamed today to put up such a boring PowerPoint and the boringness was reflected in the boys’ behaviour.  So I can do battle with the resources before going to class which generally takes two hours for every hour of teaching it or I can just battle disengaged students.  I prefer to do the former normally.  The four boys I kept in were quite friendly and understood that it was caused by their own actions (or lack thereof) and didn’t hold a grudge, or even some begrudging respect for recognising their resistance to work.

    After a short lunch last period was Year 12 Society and Culture where one of the students conducted a focus group for her PIP.  She hadn’t thought through seating arrangements so it took her a while to work that out and then the class was argumentative and loud but she handled it well.  I stayed out of the whole thing to maintain the integrity of it being her focus group.

    At the end of the school day I had to chase down some printing I lost the previous day, wrote up the demerits and merits for the day and then did that PowerPoint even though I will probably never use it, simply because I had been half way there and the websites I had used were listed in my History.  I left school at 5.30pm, half an hour after my self-imposed time limit for this year, and last to leave in my section of the school, but pleased that I had managed the day calmly and reasonably successfully despite the hurdles and hiccups along the way.

    HomeTime


  4. Cabin Fever Ramblings

    26 June 2013 by shartley

    TheOffice

    I’m fond of looking at my life from the perspective of an alien on a fact finding mission on the behaviour of Earthlings.  This concept served me well in a Year 12 English assignment that a good friend continues to cite as the moment she knew I should be a writer.

    More than 20 years later and I have written little, in the literary sense anyway.  If an alien had been observing me the last few days it would think I was a sloth, moving only from bed to toilet to kitchen to couch repeatedly.  The toilet visits are quite frequent due to the copious cups of tea and glasses of mountain stream water, delicious straight from the kitchen tap in my holiday cabin.  However, the kitchen visits are also for the naughties I bought for this stay the tiny town of Talbingo.  I consumed half a family-sized packet of lollies the first day and half a packet of Mint Slice biscuits the second, the remainder being consumed by my husband and children who actually earned the calories by skiing each morning at the Selwyn Snowfields while I stayed holed up in our cabin.

    FrozenCar

    My alien watcher would see me flit from phone to book to papers in what may seem a fruitless shuffle.  There is no phone coverage from Optus in Talbingo so I can’t text but through the magic of a wifi dongle I still connect around the globe, even to my dear Twitter friends attending the enormous International Society for Technology in Education Conference in San Antonio, USA.  Other Twitter friends attended a TeachMeet in my home town, Sydney, last night but the commute was too far from here for me to attend.  As they went to a TeachEat afterwards, my family and I walked to the Talbingo Lodge for the All You Can Eat Pizza Night, which was surprisingly pleasant, helped by a bottle of red wine.

    The Talbingo Lodge had been locked up for about a year, looking for someone to love and care for her.  Three months ago a new owner came along, a regular holiday maker in Talbingo, originating from Cootamundra where he has a similar establishment.  Perhaps I should interview the owner, for a general piece of writing, or for a Business Studies case study for my class or for an EdAssist article.  The Talbingo joint is eclectic with various paraphernalia stuck around, like caps and hats hanging above the bar, skis and golf clubs stuck on walls and ceiling, a games room for the kids, including an X Box with a car racing game which won my son over.  He played against a kid he’d never met before.  The Mum approached my thirteen year old to explain the loud competitive eight year old boy was autistic and my son volunteered that it was fine by him because he was autistic too.  The owner was concerned about the loud behaviour of my son’s new friend because people were trying to watch the rugby.  Well, sort of.  It wasn’t a big deal of a game.  That’s tonight.  We’re returning to the Talbingo Lodge tonight for the Stage of Origin, booked our now favourite table, by the fire, in front of the large TV screen.

    Marking

    So here I am, having completed the essential marking of 45 Society and Culture essays in two days, giving myself a reprieve before I tackle the less essential marking.  I’m reading ‘The Office’ by Gideon Haigh and it could be describing me as it provides the history of clerks working irregular hours, fitting in their own writing as much as possible a la Dickens.  Except I seem to do a lot of thinking about writing but not much writing in itself.  I completed a Masters of Arts recently, majoring in writing and literature and discovered I had a gift for script writing (thanks Deakin for the HD).  Unfortunately for my students I’m also excellent at Editing, another HD subject.  I have a couple of scant plots mapped out for scripts but I just can’t seem to find the oomph to dedicate some real slabs of time at it.

    Instead I tend to focus on the here and now, so I end up immersing myself in all things related to school.  This year I am teaching six subjects and am on the Innovative Learning Team (ILT) which is currently constructing a report about the future direction of pedagogy and technology in the school.  The ILT is saving me from being downtrodden by my numerous classes – I’ve never had so many before.  Plus I’ve stepped down from management positions to start afresh at a new school so I’m not used to facing so many students in recent times.  It’s a hard slog!  I’m constantly being encouraged to keep being innovative and try new things in my classroom by two of my four superiors.  One of the others is remote and simply trusts me and another prefers old school, but that’s OK because I just balance traditional with my ‘keeping it real’ style in Business Studies anyway.

    I have volunteered to speak for 7 minutes at a TeachMeet in a month’s time on Chaos Theory, planning for it to be about my Year 10 Geography class where I have a class of 30 boys, most being quite boisterous in nature.  This class was noisy when they were arranged in rows and given traditional worksheet learning so now I conduct it more like Project Based Learning (PBL) and it’s slightly louder.  Less evidence of learning is being produced and they probably won’t perform as well in an exam as the other classes but I believe they understood the concepts much better as a result of the PBL style.

    TMCoast

    The ILT is grabbing my real passion as I like to push students to achieving their best but not in the traditional sense of scoring well in exams.  Since I have a broader goal for students I am a bit of a trumpeter for changing the ways of teaching.  However, I am about balance, having just left a school that was going too far in the one direction, in my not so humble opinion.  Two aims I have just jotted down in my steadfast companion of a notebook are probably not achievable in the near future but I think, wouldn’t it be great if I could help students to map out their own educational path, mentor and guide them, plus help each student create a portfolio of their achievements.  I’ve only looked at a couple of online programs that would do that but they didn’t tickle my fancy.

    One of the other activities I have flitted about on is consideration for my son’s education.  He attends that school where I previously taught and I’m trying to conceive a plan for him to fit into the school, achieve traditionally set school goals and achieve some goals of our own.  Today I emailed a reply to his Case Manager (due to his autism) about a meeting for next term.  I’m hoping to present a mildly radical plan of action for the rest of the year, involving dropping Art and arranging self-directed project time for him instead which he would need to report in the form of Tumblr or the like.

    So here I am, having just spewed out 1000 words in what should be organised into several different pieces of writing.  I’ll let this sit for a while and return to it later.  Perhaps this afternoon, perhaps tomorrow, we’ll see.  I am a procrastinator.  And besides, it’s time for food and a cup of tea.

    [I ended up being distracted by the Rudd/Gillard PM leadership battle and the Texas filibuster so nothing productive occurred this afternoon]


  5. Managing change effectively

    3 September 2011 by shartley

    In Business Studies students learn about Managing change effectively.  They look at how a business must:

    1. Identify the need for change
    2. Set achievable goals
    3. Deal with resistance to change

    The business may also engage management consultants to help it through this process.

    To meet these outcomes I asked students to write a business report about a change they would like to see in their school.  My favourite (reproduced without corrections) is advocating student involvement in the hiring of teachers:

    Introduction

    This report will discuss the processes that are required for a positive change at Northern Beaches Christian School. The positive change that is considered is the idea of having student input in the process of hiring staff. This report will identify the need for the change, set achievable goals, and discuss dealing with resistance to change. It will also list all the consultants that would be needed to implement the change and address how stakeholders of the school would be affected by the change. The report will conclude with a recommendation on how the change could be implemented and the benefit to the school.

    This report is being written because a recent study has concluded with the results that students work harder, more efficiently and have the will and  right attitude to work because of the teacher that is teaching them and the way they teach. Therefore, from large amount of student support it is necessary that this change is implemented one way or another, because ultimately it is the students being taught and therefore why not hire a teacher that they approve of?

    Identifying the need for change

    An effective principal would always be scanning the environment, attempting to understand factors that will have an impact on their school. In this way, they may better identify current trends and predict future changes. Achieving such a vision requires a holistic view of the school community and awareness of the potential impact on the business from a variety of factors. Correctly anticipating these factors greatly assists the principal in identifying the need for change. To better understand the changes that need to occur, the principal needs access to accurate and up-to-date information. This would include the recent study completed, which investigated the impact a teacher had on the work completed by their students, and included how the students worked as well. From this it seen that that the way students work is largely impacted by their teachers, which includes their drive, ambition, will and efficiency. For example, an enthusiastic, innovative teacher that explain concepts in a way that everyone understand would definitely have a positive impact on students work ethic than a teacher that reads out from the text book and orders students to answer questions from the textbook. Therefore, for the benefit of the school, it would be better for students to have an input because it is them that are learning and they should have an input on who teaches them.

    Set achievable goals

    Usually goals are directed towards the employees of a business, however in this case, as the change is directed towards future employees and the senior executives and the principal of the school, it is they that the goals will be directed towards. A vision statement for the proposed change must also be created as it states the purpose of the change, indicates how the future employees should act and states the key goals.

    Vision Statement:

    To have student input in the hiring of staff, as they are the people who are being taught and therefore must be able to choose preferences for the best learning experience possible. All future employees must be focused, enthusiastic, innovative and have exceptional communication skills.

    Key goals include:

    • Having students participate in the interview with the future employee and principal.
    • Having future employee being assessed by students and senior executive in a practice lesson.
    • Having a questionnaire created by students that is to be completed by the future employee and having questions such as what drives and motivates them, why are they enthusiastic about teaching, why approach this particular school, what teaching style do they think they possess.
    • After all of the above has occurred, students should sit with the principal and senior executives, for the final discussion of their position.

    Measureable goals include:

    • Having different but same number of students at each interview, practise lesson, final discussion, etc.
    • Creating a system on how and which students would be chosen to participate in this important selection.
    • Having an assessment created for the practise lesson, to which the LAM would be marking them off.

    Deal with resistance to change

    With any amount of change, there would always be some resistance from teachers, senior executives and even the principal themself. The common reasons to why they would resist change include:

    • Disruption of routine. They may resist change because they are worried that they cannot adapt to the new procedures that threaten established work routines.
    • Time. In some circumstances, not enough time is allowed for people to think about the change, accept it and then implement it. In other situations, the timing is poor.
    • Inertia. Some managers and employees resist change because it requires moving outside and away from their ‘comfort zones’. In this case, it would include having student input in a normally senior executives and principal area, and the future employee would think that students would take advantage of their position and negatively use it.

    Resistance to change can be dealt with having strategies put in place. The first step in reducing resistance to change is to ensure that the senior executives and principal understand to main reasons why change is resisted. Once these factors have been identified, each senior executive can put in place strategies to reduce the resistance. Two of the most effective are creating a culture of change and positive leadership.

    Culture of change: A strategy includes having the school identify individuals who could act as supportive change agents, which are people who act as catalysts, assuming responsibility for managing the change process. This could also not be possible without the strong communications of the leaders and the encouragement of teamwork.

    Positive leadership: A principal who acts as a leader and has high expectations of employee’s abilities to initiate and implement a change process would generally be rewarded with people who are willing to embrace change. There may still be some points of resistance, but this resistance can be productively dealt with because the employees believe that they have the support and trust of their principal.

    The consultants that would be needed to implement the change

    To implement the change, the consultants that would be needed are:

    • Education consultants-who help people that want to find a career in teaching. They would be used to inform those who want to teach at Northern Beaches Christian School about how they would apply at the school and the processes they would need to undertake before being hired.
    • Management consultants, which are people who have specialised skills within an area of business. They can provide further strategies to smoothly manage the introduction of business changes by:
      • Undertaking change readiness reviews
      • Creating a supportive business culture
      • Actively involving all stakeholders in the changing process
      • Gaining and recognising early achievements.

    How stakeholders of the school would be affected by the change

    Students: They would be positively affected, as their valuable input in teacher hiring would be recognised, and they would feel as if they making the school better for everyone.

    Teachers: Depending on the person, they would be either negatively or positively affected because those that were teaching before the change was implemented, would believe that the students do not like them and positively because of the benefit to the school.

    Principal: They would be positively affected because it is new innovation that the school could embrace, especially giving the students an active role in the development of the school.

    Senior executives: With the support from the principal they would be positively affected by the change because they have student opinion on a very important decision.

    Parents: They would be positively affected because they would know that their children would be more engaged, focused and enthusiastic about learning because they have a teacher that they like and work better with.

    Community: The school community would be positively affected because of the development of the school and would be supportive about students having more responsibility by having an input about teacher hiring.

    People considering to be hired: The change would bring more pressure upon themselves, however a great teacher would learn how to use the pressure and turn it into an advantage for themselves.

    Conclusion

    It can be concluded that implementing the change of having student input in the hiring process of teacher is beneficial to the school. It is recommended that this change occur gradually with a systematic approach, to be created by the principal and management consultants, with education consultants being informed about the change, so they could inform those wanting to be hired about the processes to being hired. This change will be beneficial to the school because it gives students a place where their input is valued and used for very important decisions. As the principal wants to be innovative, this change is one more step towards it and the future development of the school.


  6. The Exchange

    17 March 2011 by shartley

    This year I am privileged to have the same classroom for all my lessons.  This goes in conjunction with going mobile, meaning I have no fixed location for a desk.  I mainly work when I’m off class in The Hub, a large teachers’ lounge but can escape to a ‘cave’ space when I need to work in a particularly quiet location.  My filing cabinet, full of resources, are in my classroom and I have a mobile unit in The Hub.

    My working space in The Hub

    My working space in The Hub

    My mobile unit (pic by Stephen Harris http://imaginelearning.tumblr.com/)

    My mobile unit (pic by Stephen Harris http://imaginelearning.tumblr.com/)

    We are gradually changing the names of the classrooms around the school.  Some have the names of the local beaches, Science rooms are named after the tallest mountains in the world and Art rooms are named after famous art galleries.  We’re going to call my room The Exchange, partly due to the amount of Economics, Business Studies and Commerce that is taught there, but also because it is a place to exchange ideas.

    “If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” George Bernard Shaw

    “Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities and go to work.” H L Hunt

    “Our heritage and ideals, our code and standards – the things we live by and teach our children – are preserved or diminished by how freely we exchange ideas and feelings.” Walt Disney

    “The public interest is best served by the free exchange of ideas.” John Kane

    Next door is a room used for Textiles and Design and Food Technology.  It will be called The Mint, to match The Exchange but also because it is a colour, a food and a condition.

    A few years ago The Exchange was a crowded computer room, frequently used as a thoroughfare by the teachers from the staffroom connected to it.  Now the computers have been moved to the edge of the room and lovely new couches and tables put in the middle, ideal for my boardroom sessions in Business Studies classes.  There is also a large bookshelf of HSIE resources, very handy for students who ‘forget’ their textbooks and for consulting a wide variety of texts easily and spontaneously.  It has been interesting to see the arguments over which textbooks the students consider to be the best.  Some think the more words the better, others think clear succinct writing is more suitable.  It goes to show when we choose textbooks for our classes that it is always a compromise.  With the new Business Studies syllabus this year I am attempting to not use any single textbook more than 10% to comply with CAL and not have to require students to purchase a particular text.  Business Studies lends itself to this because there a numerous textbooks, due to its popularity, and some fantastic Internet resources.  It is also a subject containing a lot of common sense that just needs to be tailored to the syllabus, thus the board room sessions to sort out what is already known.  Economics students use the couches and tables as if they were the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to solve the economic issues in the world.

    The Exchange - as you enter

    The Exchange - as you enter

    The Exchange - new lounges and tables

    The Exchange - new lounges and tables

    The Exchange - the books

    The Exchange - the books

    The Exchange isn’t perfect.  It is blessed with air-conditioning but it drips atrociously so a towel is kept in the room to soak it up.  It is also currently used as a storage area for a class set of new computers to go to another room.  It will be nice when they find their home.  The vertical blinds for the windows had deteriorated to the extent they have been removed and I am anxious for their replacement.  Sunlight also streams through the skylights making it difficult to view anything shown through the data projector.

    The Exchange - the air-conditioner

    The Exchange - the air-conditioner

    The Exchange - the boxes

    The Exchange - the boxes

    I love my classroom and the opportunities it provides but I would love to know how YOU would use it.  Please post your ideas here.


  7. The Education Revolution (a quick post)

    20 January 2011 by shartley

    Pročitano u prvoj polovini 2008. godine

    So I was doing the laundry and thinking about the prep work I’ve been doing this week and about a conference I’m helping to run later in the year and wondering how many teachers actually want to move away from an industrial style of teaching and learning. I think those of us on Twitter feed off each other and become enthused and energised by the concept of change to improve students’ learning. Further, I teach at an extremely innovative school led by a Principal whose current passion is architecture and furniture for education. Not everyone is like us.

    I want my students to love learning, to enthusiastically participate in discussions, to want to learn more, to think, investigate, discover, problem solve, create, participate in world matters, and so on. I don’t want them to merely regurgitate facts and figures, to memorise standard essays, to simply read and feed it back. Yet I am constrained by our system. For the last 6 years I have only taught students in Year 9 and up so am duty bound to prepare them for the School Certificate at the end of Year 10 and the HSC at the end of Year 12. The majority of my students are not pushed at home to perform at the highest level, they have cruised through most of their school life coasting on whatever ability they are at rather than adding value to their education by being enthusiastic about the learning process and/or their subjects.

    It seems the majority of the top performers are the ones who have a culture at home of valuing academic education but what about those who don’t? Even then, many of them are seeking marks as a means to university entry and power and wealth rather than valuing education for its own sake. How do we encourage students to embrace learning?

    The work I’ve been doing this week is preparing a Business Studies course for a new syllabus. One of my main aims is to use the textbook as little as possible to the extent that next year we can ditch it altogether. This means using less than 10% of the pages and so far I’m on track. Business Studies is a subject that lends itself to being real and relevant. The Australian government at all levels and various business associations provide material online to help business owners establish and operate their businesses. Students can dream and plan their very own businesses. I love showing students how they can turn their interests into a real live business. My current HSC students that I have often referred to in this blog include a lot of sports enthusiasts. It is an absolute joy when they can envisage running a coaching clinic, owning a sports store or running a sports travel agency.

    When I taught Business Studies early in my career I was bored silly by the textbook and the internet worksheets I created so much that I never wanted to teach it again after just two years. When I saw the students enrolled in my class last year I knew they and I would never survive if I continued in the same vein. Now I use tools like LinoIt, games like the lemonade stand game, online quizes like this entrepreneur one and creating their own online glossary of key terms in Moodle. The best aspect of Business Studies is how they can apply the theory to their own future business. It takes a lot of energy to run classes like this but the reward is great. Most of these students will not perform well in the HSC but they will perform better than they would have by merely studying the textbook. They have learnt heaps about business, they are quite enthusiastic about business and they have a foundation on which they can build their own business. The HSC does not measure that.

    Now thinking about the conference on best teaching practices in Business and Economics classrooms, I wonder about the participants. What do they want from their teaching? What do they want for their students? Have they heard from a change enthusiast like myself before?

    Some of the teachers participating in this conference come from schools where the standard is extremely high and the pressure for results in tests are immense. Are innovative teaching methods appropriate for their students? Is there a trade-off of marks for passion? Is it possible to achieve both?

    I think it is possible. Actually, I believe innovative teaching is important even if marks are sacrificed. Passion can lead to better marks for the lower to average student. However, I think there needs to be a change in culture for the top-end to understand memorisation is just a means to an end and in the long-run they benefit more from enthusiasm and curiosity.

    Our testing system also needs to change. There needs to be greater scope for the way students present what they have learnt and how they can create, problem solve and be active citizens in our economy and society as a result of a quality education.


  8. Xtranormal Global Business

    2 November 2010 by shartley

    Today students in pairs chose topics out of a lucky dip.  I demonstrated an example of how to use xtranormal to illustrate how to show a concept through animation.  There was a little bit of trouble with how slow xtranormal can be on our server but the students coped well with it and had other work they could do while they waited for rendering to occur.  Some students made the mistake of using characters that would cost so had to change their characters before publishing their final video.  It was a bit rushed at the end of the lesson so some of the students were not able to publish properly (yet).  One has no sound and another just hasn’t published properly.  One student forgot to link his concept, legal considerations, to global business so created a video about prenuptial agreements.  My mistake was not paying enough attention to the work he was doing.  There were some good results though.  Here is an example.

     

     

    Tastes and religion in global business

     

     

     

     


  9. Look at me: the competition for the student dollar

    19 September 2010 by shartley

    Shani Hartley reviews two of the textbooks on offer for Business Studies students in 2011.

    Business Studies in Action
    by Stephen Chapman
    ISBN 13 9781742161334
    Publisher: Jacaranda
    Expected release date: Nov 2010
    $69.95

    Business Focus Preliminary
    By Mike Horsley, Ian Biddle, Graham Harper, Robert Mulas, Natasha Terry-Armstrong
    ISBN 978 1 44252 909 0
    Publisher: Pearson Secondary
    Expected release date: Dec 2010
    $69.95

    Last year, according to the NSW Board of Studies, approximately 16,000 students sat the HSC Business Studies Examination, making it a very lucrative market for textbook publishers to snare.  Due to a new syllabus being issued for Business Studies in 2011, there is a new batch of textbooks vying for a place on school booklists.  It is my job to make that selection for our students.  However, I am tempted to not use a textbook at all.  I teach in a technology rich environment where students are able to use a range of resources so I’m finding it increasingly hard to justify the purchase of one expensive textbook.

    In the last decade our Business studies students have used three different versions of a Preliminary Business Studies textbook.  The first one we used was published by Longman (since absorbed into Pearson Publishing) and written by Sykes, Hansen and Codsi.  It contained good case studies and diagrams but it was too wordy.  Then we switched to the Leading Edge version by Robert Barlow and Kate Dally because it was easy reading and had a fantastic workbook to accompany it.  However, the text lacked substance so for the last few years we have used Business Studies in Action by Stephen Chapman and Natalie Devenish, originally under the Wiley label, but now under its Australian school division, Jacaranda. There are sections in this textbook which are too complicated and other areas which could have a little more detail, but overall it has just the right level of depth for our students.  During this time our worksheets and teaching programs have settled into a nice partnership with this textbook but that is about to change.

    The first publisher to woo me was Jacaranda with an emailed invitation to a workshop.  The main author of Business Studies in Action, Stephen Chapman, is an excellent presenter through his knowledge and engaging real life stories from the classroom so I accepted the invitation.

    The workshop was useful for providing an overview of the new syllabus and discussing some ideas with other teachers regarding implementation in the classroom.  The textbook appears professional with engaging photographs and a clear and colourful layout.  Chapman attempts to make students think like business people, particularly with the What would you do section at the start of each chapter.  This supports my Business Studies class motto of ‘keeping it real’.  I encourage students to treat their studies not as school work but as preparation for actually running a business one day.

    Jacaranda offers an online supplement to the textbook including case studies, worksheets and crosswords.  Although this website is still being developed I am surprised it doesn’t have what could be called truly interactive and engaging resources, other than the major business plan project.  The project involves video and a range of images to grab students’ attention but really requires the finesse and sophistication that students now encounter on a regular basis online.  For instance there is no provision for networking within the group version of the project.  The ‘jacaranda plus’ website is the feature Jacaranda is pushing the most but from my school’s highly technological perspective it isn’t a very appealing aspect.

    Soon after I attended the Jacaranda workshop a friendly saleswoman from Pearson visited my school.  The Business Studies textbook she showed me looked like it was merely a hatchet job of the existing version with the same old style of activities, few pictures and a dated colour palette of dark cyan and purple.  It also has online support but similarly to the Jacaranda website it fails to live up to its hype.  Pearson have now also organised a workshop but there is little point in me attending another one.

    In a school immersed in technology such as mine, we are moving away from traditional textbooks and using increasingly more online resources.  Online content is generally included in the exorbitant price charged for textbooks but if teachers only want the online component it is still very expensive.  To go without textbooks and only use the online component, Pearson have said it would be 70% of the cost of the textbook per student.  It would be better if publishers broke their online content into components with small fees for each part.  Teachers could then use only the most suitable aspects for their classes.  Parents are understandably not amused at paying over $60 for a textbook to only have it used a small amount in class.

    That said, due to time constraints, I have chosen Business Studies in Action by Stephen Chapman to be on our booklist for Year 11 students next year.  There is a distinct cultural change occurring in the teaching and learning environment.  The students are ready, my school is ready but the publishers and some teachers are not.  I am hoping that this time next year I will have constructed a program and negotiated an arrangement with publishers so that we don’t need to commit to just one textbook for the course.  There is no one definitive source of knowledge and it is time classrooms and publishers adapted.

    REFERENCES
     

    Board of Studies NSW Information

    Board of Studies NSW (2010, June)  Business Studies Stage 6 Syllabus retrieved 26 July 2010 <http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/syllabus_hsc/pdf_doc/business-studies-st6-syl-from2012.pdf>

    Board of Studies NSW (2009, May 1)  Business Studies to start 2009 HSC,  retrieved 18 September 2010  <http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/media-release/pdf_doc/090501-hsc-exam-timetable.pdf>

    Board of Studies NSW (2010, July 19)  Official Notice – Revised Stage 6 Business Studies syllabus ready for 2011, retrieved 18 September 2010
    <http://news.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/index.cfm/2010/7/19/Official-Notice–New-Business-Studies-Stage-6-Syllabus>

    Information on Jacaranda’s new Business Studies textbook

    Jacaranda (2010)  Business Studies in Action Preliminary Course 3E & eBookPLUS,  retrieved 18 September 2010  <http://www.jaconline.com.au/engine.jsp?page=product&portal=teachers&product$isbn13=9781742161334&product$learningarea=%20COM1%20&product$states=%20NSW%20&product$yearlevel=%2011-12%20&product$subject=%20Business%20Studies%20&product$publicationdate=%20%20&product$series=%20%20&product$resourcetype>

    Jacaranda (2010)  Business Studies in Action Preliminary Course, 3E Page Proofs, retrieved 18 September 2010 <http://catalogimages.johnwiley.com.au/Attachment/17421/1742161332/Business%20Studies%20Page%20Proofs.html>

    Information on Pearson’s new Business Studies textbook

    Pearson Australia (2010)  Store – Business Focus, retrieved 18 September 2010  <http://www.hi.com.au/bookstore/bmoredetail.asp?idVal=2685/6457/45257>

    Pearson Australia (2010)  Business Focus Page Proofs, retrieved 18 September 2010  <http://www.pearsonplaces.com.au/places/pearson_page_proofs/business_focus_page_proofs.aspx> (only available with account access)

    Textbooks based on the previous syllabus

    Chapman, Stephen, Devenish, Natalie and Dhall Mohan  (2006)  Business Studies in Action: Preliminary Course, 2nd edition, John Wiley & Sons, Milton, Qld.

    Dixon, Tim and Smith, James  (2000)  Business Studies: Year 11 Preliminary Course, Leading Edge, Sydney.

    Sykes, D, Hansen, V and Codsi E  (2000)  Business Studies: Preliminary, Longman, South Melbourne.


  10. The Power of Spreadsheets

    14 August 2010 by shartley

    Sal's Sunglasses Spreadsheet

    Following my student teacher’s lesson on break-even analysis I taught Year 11 Business Studies students how to use spreadsheets to play around with the numbers involved.  In a classroom with computers they  carefully,  step by step, followed what I was setting up in a spreadsheet (seen via a data projector):

    • Sal’s Sunglasses
    • Selling price of sunglasses  $10.00
    • Cost of purchasing sunglasses $4.50
    • Cost of purchasing sunglass case $0.50
    • Total cost per unit ?
    • Lease of retail premises $2,000
    • Wages (for proprietor) $800
    • Service fee to retail centre (security, cleaning, electricity) $200
    • Total fixed costs ?

    Through Q & A with the students formulas were chosen for the ? calculations.

    Then I showed how to name a cell and use [F5] to Go To the named cell.  (Consequently there were cells named with all sorts of strange and rude names.)  Officially we had P for price, VC for variable costs (total cost per unit) and FC for fixed costs.

    Then we constructed a table, and I demonstrated how to use series fill for the various quantities of sunglasses that could be sold.  Again students contributed suggestions for formulas to use.  Just one student knew enough about spreadsheets to race ahead (but he hadn’t known about naming cells).

    • Possible quantity of units sold (Q)
    • Price of goods sold (P)
    • Total Revenue (TR)
    • Fixed costs (FC)
    • Variable costs (VC x Q)
    • Total costs (TC)
    • Profit (TR – TC)

    Using the figures supplied the students discovered that the break-even point was when 600 sunglasses were sold.  “That’s a lot”, many of them exclaimed.  “So what should the owner do?” I responded.  Most students said to raise the selling price.  I told them to [F5] “P” and change the price to $15 instead of $10.

    Now up to this point there was a reasonable level of enjoyment from learning to do something different but at this point, when they saw the whole table and thus the break-even point change with the alteration of one cell, they were blown away.  They had grasped the power of spreadsheets.

    Last of all they learnt to construct a graph and label it without relying on automatic selections.  They were determined to make the graph accurate and were able to identify when it wasn’t.  The determination came from understanding there were genuinely good reasons for making a break-even graph.  Many of the students left excited about how they could use break-even analysis in their Business Plan Assessment (due Monday).

    This lesson was a real kick for me and the students.

    Teaching is fun.


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