Rebuilding Babel: stage six

A castell (human tower)

By castellersvilafranca (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The new year brings yet more opportunities to #rebuildBabel. This mid-sized batch of proposed changes is drawn from the Australian Curriculum for Spanish (e.g. Inverted exclamation marks) and Turkish (e.g. Reduplication). There are a few term changes and reference structure edits as well.

Need to consult on changes? Strike up a discussion on Twitter @schoolThesaurus – the more the merrier, and the higher we can climb. Alternatively, send comments through ScOT directly. Feedback will be considered for four weeks. See the working document and comments.

Hacking ScOT for STEM


Surv1v4l1st [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It only took a crowbar/ wrecking bar/ prybar/ pinch-bar/ jemmy bar/ to get these two different, yet related concepts into ScOT: Makerspace and STEM.

There is no question that the school sector is giddy with excitement about STEM approaches to learning. The Australian Government Department of Education has thrown its weight behind industry-education partnerships, cross-curriculum coding and STEM-focuses summer school programs. It’s well worth adding this concept to ScOT, if only to help disambiguate ‘stem’ as this string also relates to many content descriptions in Languages curriculum that have little or nothing to do with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

The Makerspace is a great approach to teaching STEM, although STEM can be delivered in traditional classroom environments (and learning areas outside of STEM can be developed through the Makerspace). Many schools are building, or reclaiming spaces where students can learn to design, plan and evaluate technologies in a collaborative learning environment. School libraries are often the spaces where Makerspaces happen.

These terms somewhat evade pedagogical definitions in the curriculum context. STEM is by nature a multi learning-area concept and therefore difficult to locate in curriculum or subject taxonomies. Many of the concepts in STEM education can be found in the Australian General Capabilities which are integrated throughout the Australian Curriculum. While there is no STEM learning area, ACARA provides a dedicated STEM resources, and the In ScOT, STEM has been added under Cross-disciplinary curriculum, which is a learning-area neutral reference structure.

Makerspaces are not necessarily cross-curriculum in nature and difficult to pin-down in the same way. In ScOT we have located Makerspaces under School facilities – we know that the concept means more than the literal space occupied, and suggestions for a new home, or additional synonyms are always welcome.

Rebuilding Babel: stage five

By Sandeshmahadik8 [CC BY-SA 3.0]

By Sandeshmahadik8 [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Back to building one common indexing language with which to ascend the many languages taught in schools. This batch includes a small number of new concepts drawn from Hindi (e.g. Devanagari; Nuqta) and Vietnamese (e.g. Vietnamese alphabet; Tripthongs) a well as new concepts and synonyms relevant across many language subjects.

Comments are welcome for two weeks. See the working document and comments.

Delicate balance

Woody Allen and Romy Schneider kiss in the library (1964) in What's New Pussycat

What’s New Pussycat (1964)

The Le@rning Federation (no, the @ symbol is not a typo) was thus named because what is learned in schools is always broader than what is taught. This is a nice idea that would look great in a meme or a Tweet. But it is also a daunting idea for those involved in the school resource supply chain. Managing the scope, or breadth of a school library collection is a balancing act. Yes, the curriculum is an important guide for what to collect. But consider the following disruptions: “students are doing project based learning now, and the projects could be about anything”; “students need to understand the language features that are typical of all text types”; “students need to develop preferences for any fiction genre”. All of a sudden developing a school library looks like a complex and uncertain task.

Therefore, managing an indexing language for school library collections is also complex. Schools Online Thesaurus has developed its current structure and scope largely in response to curriculum frameworks and educational objectives. But ScOT also draws on literary warrant, or terminology used in actual works held in school collections. Thanks to feedback from Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS) cataloguers we are able to broaden the scope of ScOT so that high-frequency concepts, that may or may not be directly referred to in curriculum, are included. After all, what’s new in your stacks may not be strictly scope-and-sequence.

This is a substantial batch of changes and comments are welcome for four weeks. See the working document and comments.


Rebuilding Babel: short-stack edition

banana on pancake

Brandon Martin-Anderson (cc-by-sa-2.0)

Rebuilding Babel is indeed a brick-by-brick task. There are some significantly complex builds ahead for ScOT, namely the curriculum subjects Framework for Aboriginal languages and Torres Strait Islander languages; Classical Greek and Latin; and Auslan. So in order to keep your appetite up, here’s a short stack of changes drawn from the Modern Greek curriculum. Draft changes are now available for comment. See the working document and comments. #rebuildBabel

Rebuilding Babel: stage three

Tower of Babel in Lego.

“Tower of Babel” – permission by Elbe Spurling

What is fluency? In English curriculum, the term fluency refers to either reading fluency (ACELY1649) or handwriting fluency (ACELY1696). In a somewhat isolated instance, it refers to typing proficiency (ACELY1707).

While reading and writing proficiently in languages other than English are also key concerns, the term fluency usually refers to speech in the Australian Curriculum for Languages.

Can we #rebuildBabel, brick-by-brick, and unscramble these curriculum languages? A number of clarifications, variations and refinements are included in this batch of draft ScOT changes, drawn from analysis of the Arabic and Japanese curriculum. New concepts are also included that align education resources with curriculum objectives. Draft changes are now available for comment. See the working document and comments.

Place and liveability

Pedestrian crossing with "Stop Look Listen" sign painted on the road.

By Owen O’Neil

Do you live in a ‘liveable’ suburb, city or town? Look past the tautology in this question and consider what makes one locality more liveable than another; can we objectively measure such a thing?

Australian Curriculum for Geography requires students to be able to compare objective measures of liveability (ACHGK043) – transport infrastructure is one relevant area of investigation here. Transport makes services accessible (ACHGK044), and together, transport and ICT connect people to services, information, other people and places (ACHGK043). And transport infrastructure more than connects us – Australian Curriculum for Health and Physical Education and for Technologies remind us that transport infrastructure promote our safe passage (ACPPS054); (ACTDEK020).

Draft changes relating to Australian Curriculum for Geography, Technologies and HPE are now available for comment. See the working document and comments.

Have a good look

Australian Education Vocabularies vary in size and complexity. But most share the same basic thesaurus conventions: equivalence relationships (synonyms and homonym control) and structural relationships (broader, narrower and associative relationships). Traditionally, controlled vocabularies have been represented in alphabetical displays, with structural relationships using textual conventions such as “BT” (Broader term/ Broader concept).

Schools Online Thesaurus concept "Design" presented in visualization mode.

Schools Online Thesaurus concept “Design” presented in visualization mode.

Schools Online Thesaurus is now available on upgraded software that provides a ‘visualization’ browse tool – a colourful and dynamic way of representing and navigating concept relationships. Have a look for example at Design, and follow the links and see how design thinking integrates the STEAM disciplines.