LearningField brings choice of content to a single point of learning

Innovative digital textbook library, LearningField, has introduced a suite of powerful new features which will deliver content from Australia’s leading educational publishers to schools through their existing platforms.

This means students from years 7–12 can access more than 12,000 chapters of content via LearningField from any device more seamlessly than ever before, helping students to focus more on the lesson and less on accessing multiple systems.

Teachers can search and cherry-pick chapters from different texts to create materials specific to their students’ needs, and students receive the materials in a cutting-edge digital platform that features a stimulating, learning-focused suite of features.

Schools using LearningField can also now link directly to a page within an e-textbook from any online workspace, including forums, Wikis and blogs or a school’s existing Learning Management System, such as Canvas, Schoology or Blackboard.

“These enhancements are about delivering rich content to teachers as seamlessly as possible to enhance student outcomes,” Director of LearningField Ben Heuston said.

“LearningField’s uniqueness is due to our partnerships with most of Australia’s major publishers and VitalSource, the world’s preferred digital textbook platform for educational institutions.”

LearningField is now the only Australian secondary school ebook provider that can truly support any device, offering a strong, consistent reading experience across PC, Mac, iPad, Android and Chromebook eReaders as well as a fully featured Cloud Reader. This allows LearningField to service BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) schools.

To find out more about LearningField, please visit learningfield.com.au.

LearningField is an initiative of Copyright Agency.

Interview with Peter Stannard, Firefly Education

The Educational Publishing Awards are committed to rewarding excellence and innovation in the publishing industry at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. We have put together a series of interviews with the publishers, editors and individuals involved in the creation and development of educational resources. We caught up with Peter Stannard from Firefly Education to talk about Think Mentals, a shortlisted entry for the Primary: Student Resource – Mathematics (Numeracy) award.

What challenges do you think teachers face when teaching mental computation?

Maths can be scary for young learners. Without being explicitly taught effective strategies for tackling mental computation students can become overwhelmed and stumble upon everyday maths problems. Given that most of the maths we do every day we do in our heads, mental computation is an essential skill for students to learn. Likewise, teaching mental computation can also be daunting. Unless you’re equipped with a variety of computation strategies it’s difficult to teach students how to solve a maths problem quickly, easily and accurately. Think Mentals provides teachers with a unique and easy-to-use approach to teach mental computation, which in turn gives students an easy-to-understand approach to tackle mental computation.

How does Think Mentals make learning mental computation easy?

Think Mentals is all about making numbers friendly. It teaches students how to use strategies to break maths problems into friendly, manageable chunks so they can calculate answers fluently. The easy-to-follow weekly structure includes worked examples of strategies and carefully graded practice activities. Each Student Workbook builds on the strategies and skills developed in the previous year. The same friendly language and layout is used from Years 1 to 6, so students will learn new skills every year in a familiar context. This consistent approach not only helps students consolidate their learning, it makes life easier for teachers too.

Why does your product deserve to win at this year’s EPAs? Is there anyone you would like to acknowledge and thank for making this product the success it is?

I’m sure every product that’s made the shortlist deserves to win, but what’s special about Think Mentals is its innovative approach that systematically teaches students a range of mental computation strategies. Put simply, Think Mentals makes maths friendly. The unique Think Mentals strategies are ‘how-to’ guides for making maths calculations easy. By learning and practising Think Mentals’ friendly strategies, students can train their brains to solve maths problems quickly and easily.

As for acknowledging the efforts of everyone involved in Think Mentals, of course I’d like to thank our team of authors; Mary Serenc who wrote Year 1, and Chris Linthorne, Peter Williams and Sandra Williams who wrote Years 2–6. As with all of Firefly’s programs, the authors are practising Australian teachers which ensures a relevant connection to the classroom. With a manuscript in place, it was over to the Firefly Education team to bring Think Mentals to life. Everything from page layout to refining the strategies and even creating the gang of friendly monsters that feature on the front covers was carefully crafted to create this unique mental computation series.

Good luck and all the best Firefly Education!

The Educational Publishing Awards are held on Thursday, 6 October at The Pavillion, Arts Centre Melbourne.

Interview with Sonia Davoine, Pearson Australia

The Educational Publishing Awards are committed to rewarding excellence and innovation in the publishing industry at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. We have put together a series of interviews with the publishers, editors and individuals involved in the creation and development of educational resources.

We caught up with Sonia Davoine from Pearson Australia to talk about Pearson 7–10 Activity Books, a shortlisted entry for the Secondary: Student Resource – Junior – English/Humanities/Languages/Arts/Technologies/Health and Physical Education award.

What is your current role at Pearson? Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your interest in publishing.

I work in the Schools Learning Services department at Pearson, in the Literacy and Humanities team as a Senior Content and Learning Specialist. I am in charge of the Languages portfolio, as well as some English, Literacy and, sometimes, Humanities projects, from Foundation to Year 10.

After studying publishing in France, I lived in China and taught ESL and French in years F–12 and at university, and also worked as a freelance translator and editor. When I first started living in Australia, I taught French and Chinese and freelanced for a few educational publishers before starting work at Pearson 8 years ago. This allowed me to combine my passion for learning and developing quality resources that engage students and address the needs of the classroom.

Why do you think Pearson 7–10 Activity Books stand out in the crowd? What does it offer that schools and teachers are looking for?

The Pearson English 7–10 Activity Books have been carefully rewritten for this second edition based on teacher and student feedback and analysis of classroom needs. The Activity Books address the requirements of the latest version of the Australian Curriculum: English and offer updated texts, activities and design. The authors, who are experienced practising teachers and writers, have revised the content of the books to ensure it caters for students of all abilities, including students with English as an Additional Language.

The Activity Books are designed to develop and consolidate students’ knowledge and understanding of the English language and grammar, and integrate cumulative learning in the Language strand of the curriculum, as well as in the Literature and Literacy strands. Students are supported with clear explanations and scaffolded learning. They are exposed to rich and varied literature sources and text types, including contemporary and classic texts, Australian Aboriginal storytelling and news articles. Clear Language explanations are followed by scaffolded activities to use the language in context and build on grammar, vocabulary, spelling, reading and writing skills. At the back of the book, four revision units support students in preparing for summative assessment. Teachers have access to extension activities, tests, pedagogical support and Australian Curriculum correlation charts online for free.

Pearson English 7–10 has been revised and offers updated texts, activities, design and coverage of the Australian Curriculum: English. For those that may not be sure, how do the Activity Books fit within the Pearson English digital and print suite of resources?

The Activity Books tasks can be used in the classroom as part of the English lesson, at the end of a lesson to further practise or extend knowledge, or at home as homework. It is really up to the teacher to decide on how it will best benefit their students’ learning outcomes. The student-friendly language explanations are supported with clear examples, as well as the supporting feature boxes embedded in the pages that allow students to work independently. They can also choose to pair up with a classmate or a friend to complete an activity. The teacher becomes the facilitator in Language learning.

The Pearson Places Teacher ProductLink page for the Pearson English Second Edition Activity Books, available online, includes additional teacher support linked directly with the Activity Book content including: a Teacher Companion (including all answers, teaching and learning strategies, EAL/D teaching notes, extension activities and revision ideas for the classroom and more), Australian Curriculum mapping of the Activity Books, tests and worksheets for extension work.

How do you see digital developing in future classrooms?

I like to believe that in the near future, all students in the Australian classroom will have their own device of choice and access to personalised learning, instant feedback and creative opportunities. Teachers will be able to track their students’ progress, as a class and individually, and adapt instructions accordingly. All students will be challenged at their personal level and supported in order to address their needs. Teachers will facilitate learning and have all the tools they need in one place. Students will take responsibility for their learning and feel empowered.

Why does your product deserve to win at this year’s EPAs? Is there anyone you would like to acknowledge and thank for making this product the success it is?

I think there are some great products presented at this year’s EPAs. It is really hard to say that your product deserves to win over any other. I trust the judges of this year’s EPAs, as per any previous year, have done a great job at assessing all the resources that were submitted for consideration and will choose the product they think best fits the selection criteria.

I would like to thank the team that worked on this project, including the in-house and out-of-house personnel (the project managers, development editor, designer, illustrators, editors, copyright and permissions editor, and everyone else) who believed in this product and worked tirelessly at making it a success.

Good luck and all the best Pearson Australia!

The Educational Publishing Awards are held on Thursday, 6 October at The Pavillion, Arts Centre Melbourne.

Interview with Lesley Englert, Firefly Education

The Educational Publishing Awards are committed to rewarding excellence and innovation in the publishing industry at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. We have put together a series of interviews with the publishers, editors and individuals involved in the creation and development of educational resources.

We caught up with Lesley Englert (former ACARA board member and teacher) who has teamed up with Firefly Education to create English Stars, a shortlisted entry for the Primary: Student Resource – English (Literacy, Literature, Language) award.

Why do you think English is such an important subject?
English is the foundation for all learning! We rely on literacy for nearly every aspect of life; it helps us develop our knowledge and potential; allows us to fully engage with our community and culture. Our ability to read, view, write, design, speak and listen means we can understand and communicate effectively in the world we live.

What challenges do you think teachers face when delivering a comprehensive English program?
Being a teacher is a lot harder than most people realise! I know first-hand how much time it takes to put together a lesson. Teachers are expected to do so much more than just teaching: there’s also planning, finding quality resources, marking, and managing behaviour. Now, imagine this workload across five or more subjects! I wanted English Stars to include everything teachers need, so they can focus on what’s most important — their students.

What was your motivation for developing an English program?
The implementation of the Australian Curriculum for English was the subject of many discussions I had with Peter (Stannard) and Ann (Smales) – the Directors of Firefly Education. All of us have been in the classroom and know the kind of pressures that teachers face.

We incorporate English learning into just about every subject, but until now there hasn’t been a comprehensive English program available to teachers.

We wanted to create a program that would be teacher-led… Something with all the lesson resources, planning and assessment tools that teachers could use to deliver an effective English program. After a lot of late nights and long phone calls, working through our shared vision, we decided the time was right to make it happen– and that’s how English Stars was born!

Why does your product deserve to win at this year’s EPAs? Is there anyone you would like to acknowledge and thank for making this product the success it is?

English Stars isn’t just the same old workbook exercises — we really wanted to make the most of all the new technology that has been making its way into classrooms. At the same time, we didn’t want to arbitrarily digitise everything, just for the sake of it. There are things that technology allows us to do that we could never do before. But sometimes, it’s better to have students writing things, or collaborating, or interacting with real, material objects.

So, we created a program that could have the best of both worlds. We use digital technology to save time on things like automatically marking activities, monitoring progress in real time, or capturing results and collating them in interesting and meaningful ways. That said, we haven’t thrown the baby out with the bathwater! There are still abundant opportunities for kids to engage in handwriting, and hone their listening and interaction skills. It’s all there!

I think the program’s innovation in seamlessly uniting curriculum and technology is a great representation of what the awards are all about. English Stars is certainly unique in the Australian education landscape.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention all of the talented people at Firefly Education who helped create the amazing learning videos, and teaching slideshows and all of these clever interactive tools and activities that I believe are both delightful and useful.

Good luck and all the best Firefly Education!

The Educational Publishing Awards are held on Thursday, 6 October at The Pavillion, Arts Centre Melbourne.

Interview with R.I.C. Publications

The Educational Publishing Awards are committed to rewarding excellence and innovation in the publishing industry at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. We have put together a series of interviews with the publishers, editors and individuals involved in the creation and development of educational resources.

Today we caught up with Gail Glendenning from R.I.C. Publications to talk about The Maths box, a shortlisted entry for the Primary: Student Resource – Mathematics  award.

The Maths box series fully supports the teaching and learning of Australian Curriculum Mathematics for Years 1 to 6. Could you tell us how this product works?  

The Maths box series is a set of six boxes with 75 unique cards in each box for students to work on independently or in small groups. It also provides a comprehensive teachers guide with curriculum links for each card, student and teacher tracking sheets to identify areas of difficulty within the classroom, support resources (including worksheets for further teaching and mini posters of key concepts), full-colour answer cards, glossary of mathematical terms and a unique sample card to assist teachers to demonstrate how to use the cards.

The cards expose students to a range of question types, including multiple choice, short-answer and true or false questions, while covering all strands and sub-strands of the Australian Curriculum Mathematics. The cards are colourful and appealing with all artwork created by in-house graphic designers to engage and motivate students while reinforcing mathematics concepts. Additional activities on each card provide further practise or extension for students after completing the questions.

What was the motivation behind publishing this product?

Following the success of The Literacy Box and The Comprehension Box series, R.I.C Publications identified a need for a similar product to assist teachers to develop Mathematics knowledge and skills in their classroom that is also appealing to the students. The Maths box was designed to provide time-poor teachers with planning, teaching and assessment material in a compact, easy-to-use product which focuses on learning in an engaging way and can be re-used multiple times. It is a great value-for-money product in a time where budget allocations are strict.

What impact does The Maths box have in schools? Is there a need for teachers to use this resource?

The Maths box series is a comprehensive resource targeting individual or small-group learning, allowing the teacher time to provide additional instruction to students who require support or extension. It also allows the teacher to check students’ work during the lesson to intervene and correct any misconceptions prior to students completing the card incorrectly.

The teacher tracking sheets in the teachers guide allow the teacher to monitor progress and identify any concepts that need further instruction or any students that require additional support or extension.

It is not designed as a complete program, but a complementary resource for existing programs that may be mandated in the school. It provides opportunities for students to revise and practise concepts covered in mathematics lessons.

Its success so far in the Australian market has led to international markets requesting adapted versions of The Maths box series to sell in to their markets.

What are your views on the current Australian education landscape? 

Education has moved away from teacher-directed learning to a student-centred approach. In mathematics there is more emphasis on hands-on learning through the use of manipulatives.

There are increasing demands and pressures placed on teachers, and their workload is increasing as a result. Time is a precious resource for teachers, and it is quite clear that there is an increasing demand for products offering a complete package that can assist with planning, teaching and assessing.

This is where we try and offer teachers some reprieve with our products— because we don’t want teachers to forget the joy and satisfaction that can be found in teaching children, and we want to make it easier for them to love their job.

Do you think there will be more of a ‘digital’ presence in the classroom in five years? What do you think the classroom of tomorrow will look like?  

While the world itself is becoming more and more digitally active, the key element for any learning is the face-to-face interaction and the quality of the relationship between the teacher and students. The skilled teacher is needed to plan and provide worthwhile learning experiences to their students. While more and more areas of the curriculum may be done on digital platforms in the next five years, the core concepts that need to be taught are best done by individuals–the teachers themselves, who are passionate about their students and their classroom environment, and who pride themselves on their students growing their knowledge and skills in the classroom. Digital technologies can certainly assist the teacher and their students; what is key is that digital technologies are carefully implemented, deployed and monitored in a way that enhances the expertise of skilled teachers and the curriculum.

Why does your product deserve to win at this year’s EPAs? Is there anyone you would like to acknowledge and thank for making this product the success it is?  

This innovative product is a must-have resource to creatively support the teacher’s maths program of work. The students love The Maths box, and so do teachers. The Maths box encourages and motivates maths learning and creates a positive attitude towards it in general. Given that the durable cards can be used over and over again, the series is great value for money at $275 per box. The boxes are a credit to the hard-working production, marketing and sales teams at R.I.C. Publications—our writers, typesetters, designers, editors, salespeople, social media and marketing teams, and various managers. All of their hard work and commitment to a quality product over two years resulted in the success of The Maths box series.

Lastly, R.I.C. Publications took out the Publisher of the Year Primary award last year – and you’re turning 30 this year! What does it mean to be recognised for your hard-work and success by the industry? And what do you think the key to longevity is in the ever-changing publishing industry? 

A lot has happened over the 30 years that R.I.C. has been operational, and the product which we are very proud of today bears little semblance to that was produced in 1986. We are pleased to say, however, that the ground rules that applied then, in the creation of new products, still exist today — that is, we look to solve problems and challenges that teachers encounter every day in the classroom. This remains the fundamental premise which underpins our decision-making at all levels and will always remain so.

It’s a huge honour that teachers place their trust in our company as they have done for 30 years.  We pride ourselves on providing teaching resources, that not only support the different areas of the Australian curriculum but are of a high quality. The key to longevity is maintaining this quality and keeping up to date with the needs of teachers.

Good luck and all the best R.I.C. Publications!

The Educational Publishing Awards are held on Thursday, 6 October at The Pavillion, Arts Centre Melbourne.