RSS Feed

Posts Tagged ‘Business Studies’

  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. 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]


  4. 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.


  5. 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.


  6. 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.


  7. 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.


  8. Student Teacher

    10 August 2010 by shartley

    I found it fascinating watching my student teacher with Year 11 Business Studies today.  Normally she is very friendly and engaging as a teacher.  She is already a good teacher but will be a fantastic teacher in the not so distant future.  Today she was concentrating on maintaining focus from the students for the whole 75 minutes.  It was a very appropriately planned lesson, given it was on break-even analysis.  She attempted engaging the students with her real life experience as a business manager for fine dining restaurants which has been a successful hook in the past but fell flat today.  She then carefully went through the components of calculating the break-even point.  The students were keen to learn, even the disruptive ones.  However, since the disruptive students have in the past disrupted with inane or snide comments she didn’t notice that today they were asking some really intelligent questions and more often than not she was shutting them down.  With the explicit teaching part of the lesson over, there were worksheets to complete but she wanted them done in silence.  Most of the students in this class are not great at concentrating for long lengths of time so a little bit of chatter would have provided a good release valve.  One boy, who can be quite obnoxious but is very intelligent, asked if he could go outside for a drink of water.  She refused, thinking that any moment she would be teaching up-front again.  As it turned out, she took another five minutes or so and the boy was very aware, and indeed obnoxious, about the waste of time since he had completed his worksheet very quickly and accurately.  I explained later that the release valve of letting this boy out would have worked for both of them.

    Anyway, none of the students exploded from all the concentrating required of them, none of them appeared upset at the minimal encouragement, so no harm was done and besides, I’m going in first lesson tomorrow to praise them for what I observed.  My student teacher can take a lot of positives away from the lesson in that the students learnt a new business analysis technique and they did focus for the whole lesson.  When we talked afterwards she understood it was simply listening and encouragement of positive contributions that were lacking and that is something that normally comes naturally to her.  We had a good discussion about a tight-loose-tight structure for lessons such as these.

    After all that she went into a Year 9 History class for a different teacher and applied what we had talked about.  She came out beaming.  She had hit the right tone with the class and felt it was a very successful lesson.

    It is a privilege to watch student teachers in action and learn from them.  It is also good for being aware of the methods you use when they watch you.  Observing your class with another teacher is great for learning more about the students themselves and how they best learn.  I highly recommend the experience.


  9. What’s the buzz?

    7 August 2010 by shartley

    Lattice

    There’s a buzz in my Business Studies class that is hard to explain but I believe it stems from a situation of mutual respect.  Early in the course I introduced a concept of the boardroom discussion (briefly mentioned in an earlier post).  I would break the syllabus points to be addressed into the form of a meeting agenda.  A student acts as chairperson and they find from the class what they already know.  I simply act as an external consultant, or as the phone-a-friend option.  This gave the students confidence that they actually already knew a lot about Business Studies.  All they had to do was learn to use the language, write in an appropriate format and fill in some gaps, but together they know the bulk of the material.

    We also do a fair bit of group work where I try to give them as realistic business scenarios as possible (also mentioned in a previous post).  At the moment they are individually working on their business plan assessment tasks but often as a class we brainstorm ideas for each others’ plans.  They are actually willing and genuinely interested in helping each other.  My mantra is Keep It Real.

    To ensure they do cover each of the syllabus points there is an activity on Moodle, one for each syllabus dot-point.  These activities can be drawing diagrams, internet research and much more.  One of my weaknesses in teaching is the monitoring of work completion.  I know my students very well from my interactions with them but sometimes I am caught out when their written responses don’t match what they have demonstrated verbally.  Therefore I have been making a concerted effort to check every item uploaded through Moodle and giving some very quick feedback.  The most basic feedback is by selecting one of the following Moodle options:

    • Resubmit
    • Satisfactory
    • Substantial
    • High
    • Excellent

    (One of these days I will develop my own words to replace these.  For instance, it is only now, and I have been doing this all year, that the students have asked which is better between Satisfactory and Substantial.)
    Lately I have been doing this feedback process while they are going on with their work.  I have found this very useful to do in class for the benefit of immediacy.  For instance, yesterday I noted that Mr R was not only completely up to date (at last), he had moved from being consistently Satisfactory to consistently Substantial. One piece of work was better than the majority of the class.  I commented on all this in front of the class, and his chest puffed out with pride.  I am trying harder this term, Miss, he said (paraphrased).  I’m not sure I can keep it up but I’m giving it a go. I did the happy dance inside.

    This is a class of 13 boys and 3 girls.  The vast majority of the boys are athletic rather than academic, there is a boy with learning difficulties, a couple of really quiet boys and a boy who was known to have behaviour difficulties (I only see it every now and then).  There is a girl who often places a target on her back with her loud and attention-seeking ways but she has a heart of gold.  A couple of the boys find it very hard to resist going for that target but we talk about it openly.  I might say, Miss L, stop putting that target on your back.  Mr R, please resist the temptation to hit that target and they laugh and we move on.  One student has been sent an N Award warning letter for not completing an assessment task and another has been sick and away for sporting events regularly and has not completed any work for approximately six weeks.  I still need to monitor these situations quite closely.

    This class takes a lot of energy.  Yesterday, second last period on a Friday afternoon, I didn’t feel I had the energy to give but the buzz enlivened me and in the end I was actually energised by it.  It is a colony of working bees that relies less and less on their Queen Bee for discipline and knwledge.  The hard yards made in establishing this hive is really paying off.  Yay!


  10. Keeping it Real

    9 January 2010 by shartley

    When I started teaching six years ago, having previously been in the corporate world, I was keen to show students, particularly in Business Studies, the real world, beyond the textbook.  The students were bemused by my approach of constantly showing via the web how real businesses and other institutions actually operated.  The textbook is great for providing neat answers in the structure of the syllabus, particularly for exam preparation, but for real life learning we need to go far beyond the books.  Textbooks are ideal for students who are good at memorising and regurgitating information for exams that are merely a passport for the next stage of study in life.  Not that this works for all subjects.  In Economics I keep telling my students that memorising the textbook will only give them a mark up to 80% because they need to demonstrate analysis and informed opinion to achieve any higher.  However, education at all levels should be about learning for life and about life and not be just about final results in the HSC and equivalent ‘finals’.

    Real life now involves various forms of social media.  I joined Twitter at the start of 2009 but didn’t actually participate until about half way through the year.  I also use Facebook but purely as a social network.  Twitter is my professional network.  At times it is overwhelming due to how much knowledge other educators in the world have about various web applications and how to use them in the classroom, plus the time they have to post about it, not only on Twitter but through blogs too.  I often feel guilty that I am merely a Twitter trawler since I retrieve so much information from it while giving very little back.  When I do give back, it sometimes feels I am speaking to a void, but not for long.

    The biggest impact Twitter has had on my classroom so far is an idea I had to connect students in my Society and Culture class with Vietnamese students to help them with a case study they were doing on various aspects of life in Vietnam.  Through the retweets of some of my followers and the consequent passing on of names of teachers in Vietnam I was connected with a teacher in Hanoi.  He established a blog where my students and a class within his school introduced themselves to each other before my students asked questions relevant to their case study.  It has been very exciting to see the project start to unfold.  Two of the Vietnamese students expressed very different opinions about the role of power and authority in both schools and government within Vietnam in response to a question from one of my students.  It showed my students different perspectives that they could never learn from a textbook or an official information website.  At the moment we are keeping the blog private since the students are still learning about appropriate use of blogs, not that there have been any problems to date.  However, it has stalled momentarily due to Australia’s summer holidays.  I’m looking forward to the return of school to move it along further.  This is the third time I have taught this unit but it is the first time it has sparked a desire in me to visit Vietnam.  The personal touch really does have an amazing effect.

    The same class also has a public blog to maintain a journal for their Personal Interest Project.  It opens up an opportunity for them to receive feedback about their ideas.  Again, Twitter has been the means for finding the few people who have provided some very constructive thoughts for my students.

    The next exciting project that has come from Twitter was purely by accident in the last few hours.  I was merely thinking out loud and feeling silly for posting it at all when I typed in exactly the maximum 140 characters: Thinking about teaching research methodologies by having Yr 12 students film 30 sec demos of each method with target audience of new Yr 11s. Within minutes a teacher from the USA sent me a direct message offering his 14 year old students as a target audience.  We have set a date for late February for my students to have the videos ready.

    I am constantly astounded by the connections I make and this is despite having fewer than 150 followers, a small number compared to some of the educators I follow with 1000s of followers.  Through Twitter I also discover new resources, many of which I won’t ever use but some I will and as a result my students will also expand their learning.  I can spend hours every day just reading posts and the weblinks they contain but I need to just opt in and out as I want and not become obsessive about it.  I had a few weeks over Christmas where I didn’t do any work for school so I also chose not to touch Twitter either.  I came back refreshed.  I once showed my Society and Culture students how I use Twitter and one asked, “Do you ever sleep?”  I laughed and said I didn’t sleep enough but asked if she reads everything posted on Facebook, her main online social medium.  She doesn’t.

    Twitter is an amazing resource helping me to create an environment of authentic learning.  In just over two weeks I will be back in the classroom after a long summer holiday, armed with new ideas and excited by the prospects they hold.  Stay tuned to see how they go.


Skip to toolbar