Category Archives: ideas

A bit of inspiration for my last post of 2014


Students finish today so I am doing my last post for 2014 – finishing on a high, I reckon.

This morning I watched a short video from an African environmental activist called Wangari Maathai and the story she shares fits in well with the future path of our school.

To explain, next year we are embarking on the journey to becoming a PYP school.

From the IB website…

What is the Primary Years Programme?

The IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) is a curriculum framework designed for students aged 3 to 12. It focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside. It is defined by six transdisciplinary themes of global significance, explored using knowledge and skills derived from six subject areas, with a powerful emphasis on inquiry-based learning.

An important part of any PYP inquiry is the ‘taking action’ by the student, using knowledge gained in their inquiry. For example, the year 6 currently get involved in a unit about humans and their effect on the environment. The difference with a PYP way, would be, I think, that there is an expectation that the students, during their inquiry take some action to effect their environment, or make a difference somehow. But when the topic is something as big as climate change, or deforestation, how can 1 student make a difference?

This is where this story comes in – and I have added it to the Libguide I created as well.

 Happy Christmas and I’ll be back in early February 2015.

Change – it’s in the air at the end of the 2014 school year


At the end of the school year, there is change aplenty, both at school and at home. Next Monday is our ‘change to 2015 class’ morning, during which the students get to experience their classroom for 2015, their classmates and their new class teacher. Plus reports are due in the next few weeks so there is lots of assessment and reflection about 2014.

On the home front, I am moving in to my new home the first day of holidays – 15th December, so am madly packing and organizing quote from removalists.

So change –

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.

Hermit Crab shell changes – usually done in secret
A Forest Year
Rubbish being recycled


Dandelion Fire – 2nd book in 100 Cupboards series by ND Wilson


Dandelion Fire (100 Cupboards, #2)Dandelion Fire by N.D. Wilson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Henry York's life threatening adventures continue from his bedroom with the 100 doors that lead to different lands. He really doesn't want to go back to his 'parents' particularly now he knows they are not his real parents. But it seems there is no choice, unless he goes through one of the doors....and he wants to know where he has come from, who his family are. Following that trail leads him into all sorts of trouble, and cousin Henrietta goes off as well, leaving her dad behind to work out what to do and how to find these 2 lost children.

View all my reviews

New videos from The Kid Should See This – cool videos for curious minds of all ages


This is a great site to subscribe to, as every week you get sent a selection of the week’s most shared videos. But you can also go to the site and search for particular topics you are after.

Here are some gems, I reckon…..







John Hattie – nuggets of wisdom from ‘8 Mind Frames’


This morning I read an interview  with internationally acclaimed educator and researcher Dr. John Hattie, whose influential book
Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement has been recognized as a landmark in educational research.

In Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning, Hattie presents eight ‘mind frames’ or ways of thinking that together must underpin every action and decision in schools and systems. He argues that teachers who develop these mind frames will have major impacts on student learning.

As I read the article, a few bits stood out to me, perhaps because of where I am on the continuum of learning about learning. teaching, feedback, assessment.  I want to share those with you. They are all from the article found at In Conversation with John Hattie

The purpose of schools is to help students exceed their potential and do more than they thought they could do.

This challenges my thinking of encouraging students to be the best they can be. Dr Hattie says if we do this, it is not enough. We should be encouraging students to be better than they think they can be!


Authors  City, Elmore, Fiarman, and Teitel (2009) in Instructional Rounds in Education: A Network Approach to Improving Teaching and Learning  and Roberts in  Instructional Rounds in Action,  (2012) have favorite questions to ask the students to find out where they are up to in terms of understanding. I have printed these out to remind myself of them.

• What are you learning? What are you working on?
• What do you do if you don’t know the answer or you’re stuck?
• How will you know when you’re finished?
• How will you know if what you’ve done is good quality?


Lastly, because we are doing what is called Formative practice at school that involves us in teams of 3 or 4 observing each other’s classes once a term, the following rang a bell. I have, up till now, focused on the teacher and observing and commenting on what they did, rather than asking the students where they were up to, what were they learning.

Another example that comes to mind is what usually happens when we observe other teachers in their classrooms – the focus is on the teacher. Then what follows more often than not is that we give them feedback about what they did well and what they could have done differently. What we should do instead is spend our time observing two or three students in the classroom and find out what they’re learning and what they’re responding to. The conversation with the teacher afterwards will be dramatically different.


Here is a youtube that explains, succinctly, what the 8 mind frames of Hattie are.




Global education and connection


We all as humans, want and need connection to flourish. Dr Brene Brown in ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’ talks about the fundamental importance of connecting to others. In a school setting, we connect all the time with students  and colleagues, but our world now is not just confined to our school, or our neighborhood or our city or even our country. We should be bringing the world into our classroom as it has immeasurable benefits, not from a connecting point of view, but so many others.

But how do we facilitate that? It is something in the past I have said I want to learn more about and get involved in. A beginning step for me has been connecting via a blog with our sister campus, sharing year 2 thought about the shortlisted books we are sharing each week and getting their response and ideas. Also I have organised a bookmark exchange with a school in Dubbo – my year 3 and 4 classes made a bookmark to send to Dubbo, after learning a little about where Dubbo is and how the children there live that is different to our lives. Fairly simple examples, but it is a start.

I subscribe to Ted Ed blog, and their post from a couple of days ago feeds into the idea of connection and how you make this happen in a school setting –

TED-Ed Club Facilitator on student individuality, academic freedom and global connection

Now I am over getting Book Week and author and illustrator visits organised, it is time to see what I can uncover about connecting classrooms with the rest of Australia, and the world! Will keep you posted !

Labrary – experimental library makerspace


Reading this article, I liked how they said ‘Libraries are well known for their role as transactional entities – people come to libraries to find information, then off they go to make sense of it. Labrary gave people a chance to work together to make information meaningful together. This didn’t eliminate the space for quiet solitary thought, but rather, was an additional resource – rich knowledge curation evolving in real time in a networked community.’

Wonder what the inflatable reading room looked like?

Plus how does thinking this way – providing spaces for collaborative learning, impact on our library design? Our year 5 and 6’s got new classroom tables on Wednesday, that allow groups of children to sit up to higher desks, sit around a whiteboard table which you can write on with whiteboard markers, single easily movable chairs for quiet reading and round and rectangular group tables. Already I have observed the classes working differently, able to move furniture around more easily to adapt to different ways to work – in groups, singularly, teacher led or student only groups. So our thinking and planning of space and furniture is critical in enabling us to move our way of educating students forward.

Re-posting: Using #HatBack to Teach Point of View from Colby Sharp


I’m not sure how to re-blog a post from email, so when I saw this in my inbox, I wasn’t sure of the etiquette and even method of adding it. So I have copied the URL to share with you.

This particular topic, of encouraging young students to be able to think from different points of view, was a skill that the year 2’s are going to tackle in the coming weeks. I was talking with the year 2 teachers and their idea was to use fractured fairytales, because these stories are often the fairytale, but from another point of view, eg. the wolf in the 3 Little Pigs, the bad fairy in Sleeping Beauty …you get the idea.
This afternoon, I got this email fresh off Colby Sharp’s blog, who is a 3rd grade classroom teacher.
He has used the picture book ‘I Want My Hat back’ and also ‘This is Not my Hat’ (which is quite a funny and quirky story), both by Jon Klassen, to develop his students understanding of point of view and then using this knowledge  to create their own story. Click on the image for the link to his excellent blog post which lays out how he went about this in his classroom.