Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Google monkey business again

They have blocked me from updating DISSECTING LEFTISM on the pretext that it seems to be a spam blog. Since it has had daily updates since July 2002, they must have moronic algorithms to think so. Even more moronic is the fact that they have not blocked the large font version of the blog, which has identical content and is also updated daily. I have applied for a review of the block so I hope the block is lifted soon. I am not due to post there again until roughly 12 hours from now

Only NSW is set to use the best method of teaching kids how to read

The amazing defiance by teachers of all the research evidence shows how deeply they are involved with the most destructive elements of the Left: Simplistic theories must triumph, no matter how much havoc they cause. And the havoc wreaked on literacy has been extreme, with many kids years behind where they could be in reading ability.

FOUR years after the national inquiry into teaching reading, one Australian government has finally embraced the key recommendation that children be taught the sounds that make up words as an essential first step in learning to read. The NSW government has released literacy teaching guides incorporating the latest research evidence on the best way to teach reading. The guides mandate that children from the first years of school be explicitly taught the sounds of letters and how to blend and manipulate sounds to form words in daily 10 to 20-minute sessions.

The guides set out key principles for teachers to follow in reading instruction, stipulating that phonics need to be taught to a level where children can automatically recall the knowledge. They also debunk "common myths" about phonics that "have almost become accepted as truths", including that "phonics knowledge is caught, not taught" or that having a sound of the week is an effective way of teaching. Devised in response to the 2005 national review on teaching reading, the NSW guidelines were yesterday lauded as the benchmark for the rest of the country.

A bitter debate has raged for the past three decades over the teaching of reading, with the proponents of phonics pitted against those favouring the "whole language" method, which emphasises other skills instead of sounding words.

Whole language advocates encourage students faced with an unfamiliar word to look at the other words in the sentence, the picture on the page or the shape of the letters rather than by "sounding out" the word. The national review, released after an inquiry led by the late educational researcher Ken Rowe, was one of three large international studies in the past decade to examine all the evidence about teaching reading, including an earlier US report and Britain's Rose report, completed in 2006.

All three reviews concluded the same thing, that teaching children phonics and how to blend sounds to make words was a necessary first step in learning to read, but not the only skill required.

The Australian inquiry was prompted by a letter from reading researchers and cognitive psychologists, many based at Macquarie University, concerned about the state of literacy teaching in the nation. One of the signatories to the letter, Macquarie University professor Max Coltheart, yesterday said the NSW guides were entirely consistent with the recommendations of the reading inquiry and that "Ken Rowe would have been delighted". Professor Coltheart called on the other states and territories to follow NSW's lead.

Jim Rose, author of the British report and now reviewing the English primary curriculum for the British government, praised the NSW guides for "establishing the essential importance of phonics". "It provides some firm guidance for principals and teachers rather than leaving them to reinvent reading instruction, school by school," Sir Jim said.

The assistant principal and kindergarten teacher at Miranda Public School in Sydney's south, Susan Orlovich, has already started using the guides in teaching her students. "For the first time, we have really clear materials and guidelines for setting up an early literacy program that's integrated and balanced but ensures we also teach phonics and phonemic awareness explicitly and systematically," she said. Ms Orlovich said the guides had struck the right balance between teaching the skills necessary to sound out words and decode the alphabet, and comprehension with students being able to write their own words. They also gave teachers strategies for students at different stages in recognition that some already understand the phonemic basis of language.

"Some kids can learn with whole language, and make those connections and do phonemic substitution, so if they know how to write 'look', they can write 'book'," she said. "Some kids are able to make that substitution without being taught, but for other students, you need to teach them explicitly, make it visual for them."

In an interview with The Australian during a visit to Australia last week, Sir Jim said the simple view of reading was that it had two dimensions, comprehension and word recognition. While teaching sounds is often denigrated by the whole language side of the reading debate as a decoding skill unnecessary to be able to read, Sir Jim said it was essential children knew how the alphabet worked and that it was a code to be understood. "It's not just barking at print, although that is a stage you go through," he said.

Professor Coltheart, said he understood the new national English curriculum being written would include extensive material on the teaching of phonics in the early years of school, including phonemic awareness in the first year. "This alignment between the national curriculum and the NSW guides for teachers is going to be of enormous benefit for the state's young children. I hope other states will be following in NSW's footsteps," he said.

Sir Jim said the reading debate was a false dichotomy and the two sides had more in common than the extremists were prepared to recognise. "A picture has emerged from the research that is overwhelmingly clear; I can't see any conflict, they're closer than they admit," he said. "I don't understand why they can't accept good evidence that would enrich both sides."

The NSW Education Department has produced two guides, one focused specifically on phonics and a companion guide on phonemic awareness, or the ability to hear and manipulate the sounds that make up words. In response to the myth that phonics knowledge is "caught, not taught", the guide says letter-sound correspondences are arbitrary and therefore difficult to discover without explicit teaching. "Left to chance or inference alone, many students would acquire phonics knowledge too slowly or fail to learn it at all," it says.

Another myth debunked is that teaching phonics impedes student comprehension by having them rely too much on "decoding" rather than "reading for meaning", resulting in students "barking at print" without understanding what they're reading. "Effective phonics teaching supports students to readily recognise and produce familiar words accurately and effortlessly and to identify and produce words that are new to them. Developing automatic word recognition will support and enhance students' comprehension skills," the guide says.


More regulation of banks will hit small business

OPPOSITION treasury spokesman Joe Hockey warns further tightening of Australian bank lending will place an undue burden on small business. At the Group of 20 summit's conclusion last week, the world's leading developed and developing nations agreed to improve the quantity and quality of bank capital and "discourage excessive leverage".

Mr Hockey said he was keen to see more detail from the G20 forum on capital adequacy requirements, the ratio of a bank's capital to its risk, and what impact they would have on Australian financial institutions.

"Already you are seeing the Australian banks run a very tight line with small business," he told ABC TV on Sunday. "If there is additional capital needed by those banks, and if it does mean that the banks will tighten up on their lending practices, it will be much more difficult for small business to get money."

Mr Hockey called on the Federal Government to establish a securitisation market in Australia that would provide alternative funding to smaller financial institutions. "My concern at the moment is that there is a lack of competition between the major banks and other financial institutions," he said. "This is a looming issue, a very real issue for small business, a very real issue for home borrowers. "The lack of competition in banking is a problem and the Government doesn't want to do anything about it."



Three current articles grouped below

Lots of climate skeptics among Australia's conservatives

(Reminder for readers outside Australia: The Liberal party is Australia's major conservative party)

Only 12 members of Malcolm Turnbull's backbench support their leader's plan to negotiate with Labor on an emissions scheme. [And the National Party is SOLIDLY opposed]

The opposition's emissions trading spokesman says he's not surprised two-thirds of Liberal backbenchers are opposed to negotiating with Labor over its carbon pollution reduction scheme. But Ian Macfarlane insists the alternative is to let Kevin Rudd force a "crazy" scheme on Australia that could destroy the economy. It's been revealed more than two-thirds of Liberal backbenchers disagree with Malcolm Turnbull's plan to negotiate amendments with the government on its ETS.

Just 12 of 59 federal Liberal MPs support Mr Turnbull's decision to negotiate, The Australian reports. Another 41 want the opposition to either oppose the draft laws completely or negotiate amendments only if a parliamentary vote is delayed until after global climate change talks in December.

"It is obvious to everyone on our side of politics that this is an emissions trading scheme, in its current form, that will cost jobs and will see industry close and move overseas," Mr Macfarlane told ABC Radio. "On that basis, I'm not surprised to see such strong opposition from the backbench." But while everyone in the coalition would prefer the legislation not to come before parliament until after Copenhagen, the prime minister was vowing to rush "headlong into this" so the coalition had to negotiate.

"I'm being pragmatic and I'm being open with everybody," Mr Macfarlane said. "The reality is we do not control the parliament. Control of the parliament lies with the prime minister (and) he is on this crazy path that will potentially destroy Australia's economy. "Without being able to stop him we need to ensure that the legislation that goes forward is in fact legislation that will protect jobs ... and industry." Mr Macfarlane admitted the partyroom would have the final say, but stressed the best option was to amend the legislation "if Kevin Rudd won't see sense".


Victoria celebrates as September's rainfall hits highest level since 2000

A teeth-grinder for the Greenies and their claim that drought proves global warming. Only disaster makes them happy

FARMERS are rejoicing in the best September rainfall for nine years, which could have far-reaching benefits for the Victorian economy. The Wimmera and Mallee in particular have had significant falls, providing a much-needed boost for local farmers. "A lot of people who would have been questioning their future have had their faith restored," said Farmers Federation president Andrew Broad. "It is pretty much the best start to spring we could have hoped for."

At the weekend, many parts of the state gained more than 100mm [4 inches] in 72 hours. The wettest area is Mt Baw Baw, which has received 357mm of rain this month.

And it is also good news in Melbourne as well, with the city's catchments boasting an increase of 17 billion litres. Water storages for the capital have risen from 30.8 to 31.7 per cent. But while Victoria celebrates, parts of southern NSW are still up to 20 per cent below their average for the month.


Coal firms' advertisements hit emissions plan

COALMINING companies have rolled out a multi-million-dollar advertising campaign in key mining areas warning that the Rudd government's emissions trading scheme could force pit closures and job losses. The campaign - designed by Neil Lawrence, creator of the "Kevin 07" advertising blitz that helped put Labor into office - was launched yesterday by Australian Coal Association executive director Ralph Hillman. The "Let's Cut Emissions, not Jobs" campaign began in central Queensland, which includes the key Labor-held seats of Flynn, Capricornia and Dawson, and will be rolled out in other major coalmining areas such as the Hunter Valley in NSW.

Mr Hillman said Canberra's proposed carbon reduction scheme was flawed in its treatment of coal. "The proposed plan would not cut carbon emissions while costing regional Queensland thousands of coal industry jobs," he said.

The advertisements were launched as Anglo-American chief executive Cynthia Carroll warned the ETS could cost Australia's coal industry $14 billion in its first 10 years of operation. The ads, to run on regional TV, radio and newspapers, say: "A new tax on coal mines is coming. Many thousands of regional jobs could be going."

But Assistant Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said Treasury modelling showed the coal industry would continue to grow under the government's scheme. He said only about 12 per cent of Australian coalmines would face a "material" cost under Canberra's plan, and they had been allocated $750 million in targeted assistance over the first five years of the scheme.

Mr Hillman said the coal industry accepted the science of global warming and supported action to cut carbon in the atmosphere. He said the campaign - revealed last week by The Australian - was being run because coalmining communities had not been properly warned of the effects on regional areas of the scheme in its current form. "People need to understand mines will close and thousands of jobs could go as a direct result of the proposed tax," he said. "Even more frustrating is the reality that global carbon emissions will not be reduced."


No comments: