End of Term Confidence Builders

Towards the end of a term I find that many students are feeling a little run down and tired (as are the teachers!). The result of this tends to be students who are a little less tolerant of others. Small things that usually wouldn’t bother them before now really irritate them. So towards the end of the term I like to do a confidence building activity to boost the confidence of students and assists in developing an awareness of how they are interacting with each other.

Lesson Overview

Students brainstorm as a class as many Confidence Builders or (Boosters) and Confidence Busters we can. This comes from the You Can Do It Program (http://www.youcandoiteducation.com.au/)

Here is an example of the brainstorm the Year 6’s did today:

photo 5


Students were then given this template and asked to write a Confidence Booster on everybody else’s page in their class.

photo 4

The Confidence Booster needed to be specific, genuine and considerate. We discussed what each of these meant before allowing students to start the task.

I posted the following instructions on Edmodo for my students to direct them in the process.

photo 1

Once each child had commented on each other’s pages they could decorate their image and post a reflection on their personal learning blogs.  Some lovely examples:

photo 2


The reactions from my students have always been positive ones. Faces light up when they read the comments made by their peers. Each comment is genuine, specific and considerate. It makes a real difference in attitudes towards each other at the end of a busy term. I noticed students being a lot kinder towards one another after this task.

I also think it is important to participate in this task as their teacher and comment on each page. I created a page and had my students give me some feedback too. Gave me what I like to call “Warm Fuzzies” meaning a happy feeling in my heart. I too hope my students experienced this feeling today.

photo 3

So if you’re looking for something to do with your class to boost their confidence and build on positive attitiudes and interactions, you might like to give this one a go.


Maths Lesson: Properties of 3D Shapes/ Solids

Reflecting on My Practice

As part of my PLP (Personal Learning Plan) I identified the need for me to focus on Mathematics, specifically Maths mental warm ups and Maths lesson starters.

I did a warm up for a lesson today which I thought was quite good and I thought I would share and document it.

The lesson outline:

This was the note I sent my students on the online learning platform Edmodo: (If you want to learn more about Edmodo go to this link: https://www.edmodo.com/about)

Warm up Activity: Revisiting Properties of Shapes. 
You were given a 3D solid shape in class today. You need to describe the properties of that shape on your iPad (using the apps Explain Everything OR Educreations) and post your video to the padlet attached.
PS. Remember to use the vocabulary we learnt in the last lesson. Key words I’m looking for are vertex/vertices, edges, faces, angles.

Below is the link to the Padlet with my student responses:

Properties of 3D Shapes:


Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 4.23.49 pm

The thing I liked about this activity was I was able to quickly collect my students responses and view them later in my own time. I was then able to assess their work whilst the students were off at another lesson. I was able to give them direct specific feedback about the content of their videos and assess if they were capable of listing the properties of a 3D solid shape using learnt vocabulary from the previous lesson.

The students seemed to enjoy the task too as it was recapping what was learnt in the last lesson and applying some of their creative skills to communicate their learning in a different way.

It was a fun Maths Warm up today and I’m glad it went so well.



MLATS Learning and Teaching Mathematics: Number

MLATS: Mathematics Learning & Teaching for Success

Saturday the 9th of August 8:30am-3:30pm

Presenter: Sarah Ratcliffe

The Rationale for MLATS

The teaching of mathematics is a complex business, and in the busyness of school life, teachers often do not have time to reflect on the teaching and learning cycle, on what is working well and on what could be improved. Additionally, many teachers have expressed a lack of confidence in their own mathematical knowledge, which in turn impacts on their teaching of mathematics.

The interplay between school mathematics and the development of numeracy is complex. MLATS core course offers a broad introduction to the teaching and learning of mathematics and numeracy, and seeks to help participating teachers identify the mathematical knowledge that students should be learning, and makes explicit the teacher’s role in supporting all students to be successful.

Our broad range of other workshops and short courses are designed to meet the needs and interests of teachers.

For information about MLATS and courses available please see the link attached. http://mlats.com.au/

We need to report to the achievement standards in ACARA and be mindful of IB curriculum too.

Sort and classify activities (newspapers, houses, categorise and sort houses by number/ patterns, relationships)

When/ How do we give our students the opportunity to:

  • Identify and describe attributes
  • Identify and describe relationships
  • Think logically to classify and order
  • Handle data

 Thought: Being confused means that you are learning.

 Being Successful means:

50% confidence

25% attitude

25% IQ

(I shared this with my students and they were so surprised and relieved!) This was one of my highlights.

I don’t need the answer I want the process.

Students need to construct meaning for themselves.

Students need the factual and procedural knowledge but they also need to know when to apply these in everyday problem solving tasks.

EMU: Extending Mathematical Understanding Intervention program. Something worth looking into at St Andrew’s School. http://www.ais.sa.edu.au/__files/f/133092/Extending

I am concerned with students whom I have worked with who have difficulty with number concepts and Sarah (Course leader) suggested that they might have dyscalculia. I had not heard of this term so did some brief research about it. Here is what I found.

What is dyscalculia?




Formative assessment: A discussion about how we assess mathematics formally came up in this session. We have one summative Maths assessment per term and base some of our results on testing and general maths tasks in bookwork, on iPads and through observations. I liked the idea of introducing Maths Journals, which is something we can do quite easily using the iPad in the 1:1 program currently running in Year 6.


Ideas for the Journal:

Prompt reflections in Mathematics. (Links to IB: Reflective & Thinkers).

I challenged myself by…

Next, I want to…

I worked…. Because…

Next time I will

An activity I thought would be great for our buddy class visits:

Write a procedure on how to draw a graph. If you had to explain how to draw a graph to Year 1 students what would you tell them?

Mathematics Inquiry Cycle:

Provocation and reflect

Investigation and reflect

Share ideas and reflect

Test, draw conclusions and reflect.


MLATS rules for working:

  • Choose to work alone, in a group or with a partner but everyone must do their own recording
  • You can choose to use concrete materials or work without them
  • You must seek to understand what you are doing
  • If you need help, follow the procedures to get it.

What do we mean by numeracy and mathematics?

Numeracy is the practical use of mathematics in context.

Developing Number Sense:



Subitising (the ability to know how many are in a collection without counting)

Place Value

Part-Whole Relationships

Four Operations

How can we develop estimation skills?

Handful Grab Game. Estimate and counting games. Refer to MLATS booklet.

Mental Computation: Do this every so often but make sure to go through the processes afterwards. This is important for developing quick thinking strategies as well as going over different strategies each student has used and trying them in the next mental computation quiz.


I found this image about Adult usage quite interesting but not shocking. We as adults use calculators, estimation and mental computation strategies before written strategies. Yet we are getting our students to record and write their Mathematical thinking in their books all of the time. We need to create a balance here and make sure that we are giving students the opportunity to estimate, use calculators and solve mental problems.

My goals after this workshop:

I always like to set myself a few goals after a workshop and at least attempt one or two of them within that week.

1. Year level Maths Survey and Data Collection task. How are our students feeling about Mathematics? How do they prefer to learn? Ability Ranking data.


2. Maths Journals/ Reflections after the lesson. This won’t simply be a separate book but at the end of the lesson allow for reflection in their maths book or on their iPad.


3. Mental warm up strategies as per my PLP Goal (See Heather for demonstration lesson asap). Go through the mental guides in the MLATS booklet.


The Van de Walle Professional Mathematics Series.

Two of Everything. (JP Book)

Open Ended Maths Activities: Using good questions to enhance learning in Mathematics. 2nd Edition. Peter Sullivan and Pat Liburn.


About Teaching Mathematics: Marilyn Burns

Origo: Thinking Caps


Maths Solutions: http://mathsolutions.com/about-us/marilyn-burns/

All Hands on Deck

Number Pieces Basic app.


The Da Vinci Decathlon 2014: Part 1

I have been fortunate enough to accompany our Year 7 students to the Da Vinci Decathlon at Knox Grammar School, NSW.

Being surrounded by such intelligent students and teachers has left me in a state of awe and wonder. It has also given me the opportunity to connect with passionate staff who specialise in all subject areas

Davinci Tables


I have been observing a lot of the activities and assisted in marking some of the papers, but the highlight for me so far has been witnessing the enthusiasm of our students. They have already received two certificates, 1st place in Creative Producers and 2nd Place in English. They also won first place in the Symposia Challenge with their invention presentation about iSense. Very proud!


Creative Producers

Davinci Symposia

Davinci Winning award

This afternoon students were privileged to listen to a guest speaker; Mr Mark Scott, AO Managing Director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. http://about.abc.net.au/profile/mr-mark-scott-ao/

Key Notes from Mark Scott’s Presentation:

What kind of person leaves a legacy? How do you become the kind of person who leaves a legacy?

Key idea: It’s all about how you use your time.

Things we know: You can’t change what happened yesterday/ can’t change the past.

The future is uncertain, you don’t know what it may hold .


It is about living for today. Today, what can we do today?

1. Learn how to like a problem. Learn how to thrive in the challenges you face. To be great you have to have talent, but you also need to concentrate on improving your skills. Being talented is not enough. Learn as you go, show dedication. If you are going to master something, focus on the one challenge at a time. Multi-tasking is useful but its not the best way to learn. The answers that you are seeking won’t always come easily. Take your time to solve them and learn through the process. Stick with it, success doesn’t come easily it takes time and many mistakes and disappointments. Our failures help us to eventually succeed.

2. People who leave legacies work in teams. The team can bring together different skills, knowledge, insights etc. Thinking together helps us to get further in problem solving. Get involved in discussions, be a part of the debate, question your opinions and thinking. Challenge each other.

3. Have Goals. People who have goals want to achieve things. Be mindful of where you are, live in the moment on your journey because it’s not just about the final destination. Celebrate your successes along the way. Enjoy where you are today, the journey gives you just as much pleasure and success as the final destination or product. Focus on making the best in the present moments.

4. What legacy would you like to leave?

I would love to hear some of my student’s responses to this question, what a great reflective task to set after this experience. I would personally like to reflect on this question too, but that’s for another blog post, another time.

Tomorrow we have an exciting day ahead, a Race Around Sydney! Will blog about our next DaVinci Adventure soon.


Have You Tried Turning it Off and On Again?

The 1:1 iPad journey has been one of huge learning curves for my students and myself. We have constantly been working out how to resolve technical iPad issues, and one of the most common starting points and our class tagline is “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”

Digital Leaders

This week in Genius Hour (http://www.geniushour.com/) a couple of my students created this clever poster display for our classroom. They like to be referred to as my Tech Support Team but I am also flagging the idea of Digital Leaders within Upper Primary at our school.

One of my goals will be to begin working with Digital Leaders within my ICT Club (Co-curricular lessons) to establish a team of students who can assist their peers, teachers and other staff members with their technical difficulties. This may also extend into students running mini tech lessons in classes. This idea was born after following Nick Jackson @largerama (http://largerama.creativeblogs.net/) , who I saw at a CEGSA Conference in 2013 promoting the idea of Digital Leaders in schools. Nick also came to our school to meet with leadership to discuss options for our school.

These are some exciting ideas, which have created high levels of student engagement. I also believe that this kind of learning is purpose driven, allowing students to take responsibility for themselves and others, and importantly it gives students the opportunity to develop leadership qualities.

For more information about Genius Hour:

Professional Learning Plan (PLP) Stage 1: Self-Reflection & Assessment

This term I began my Professional Learning Plan (PLP). I have decided to blog each stage of the process on my blog for documentation purposes.

Stage 1

Meeting 1: Introduction to the process. Teacher self-reflection and assessment of Teacher Professional Standards. The teacher reflects on their practice and completes the self-assessment tool and domains.

This process was quite useful for me. I used self-assessment rubrics provided by the school leadership team to rate my current abilities against the AITSL Standards.

Here is an example of what it looked like:

Standard 1_Know_Students_and_How_they_Learn:

Teacher Self-rating

Well-below expectation Below expectation Sometimes meets expectation Meets expectation Exceeds expectation Significantly exceeds expectation
Yes Yes

Comments: The one area where I feel I need further experience and development is 1.4 Demonstrate broad knowledge and understanding of the impact of culture, cultural identity and linguistic background on the education of students from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background.

I am interesting in exploring avenues and further opportunities/experiences that could cater for this enhancement in my practice.

In all other areas I meet expectations and feel I’m highly accomplished in 1.

I have completed rubrics and reflected on each AITSL Standard. Files attached below for your viewing.

Standard 2_Know_the_Content_and_How_to_Teach_It:

Teacher Self-rating

Well-below expectation Below expectation Sometimes meets expectation Meets expectation Exceeds expectation Significantly exceeds expectation



Comments: I feel that in areas of ICT I am highly accomplished and model high level teaching knowledge and skills with my work colleagues. There are some areas of the curriculum where I am not as confident, especially in Science and Mathematics. Assessment and reporting is an area I have identified as a challenge, sometimes I have higher expectations and read achievements at a lower standard than they actually are.

Mathematics is my main area of concern and is a subject I would like to explore further. I’m not particularly confident in my content knowledge teaching Upper Primary Mathematics. In particular I would like to learn the timing and delivery of each area that naturally leads onto the next area. I think Mathematics is very sequential and requires forward planning and this is something I require guidance with in Upper Primary.

Standard 3_Plan_for_and_Implement_Effective_Teaching_and_Learning:

Teacher Self-rating

Well-below expectation Below expectation Sometimes meets expectation Meets expectation Exceeds expectation Significantly exceeds expectation

Comments: I feel that this Standard is an area of strength. I have quite high professional standards and engage with content and processes, which demonstrate this.

Standard 4_Create_and Maintain_ Supportive_and_Safe_Learning_Environments:

Teacher Self-rating

Well-below expectation Below expectation Sometimes meets expectation Meets expectation Exceeds expectation Significantly exceeds expectation

Comments: This is also an area of personal strength. I pride myself in the ability to provide a safe and inclusive learning environment. I have spent time engaging in PD to enhance student well being.

Standard 5_Assess_Provide_Feedback_and_Report_on_Student_Learning:

Teacher Self-rating

Well-below expectation Below expectation Sometimes meets expectation Meets expectation Exceeds expectation Significantly exceeds expectation
Yes  Yes 

Comments: I see value in providing verbal and written feedback and modelling how to self-assess and peer-assess. This is an area I feel have been successful in especially using student blogs and reflective practices.

I feel that I do not refer back to student tests and results enough, I usually use them when reporting writing or preparing for interviews, but I think there needs to be a different approach to assessment rather than simply standardised tests. I would like to focus on collecting more relevant samples of work. Portfolios are changing for Year 6 with E-Portfolios, so this is an area I could look at more closely.

Standard 6_Engage_in_Professional_Learning:

Teacher Self-rating

Well-below expectation Below expectation Sometimes meets expectation Meets expectation Exceeds expectation Significantly exceeds expectation



Comments: I have been closely engaging with the AITSL Standards over the last year and incorporating what I do and how I achieve these standards on my blog. Any professional development I undertake becomes a blog post to document and record my learning and adds to my professional evidence of achievements. I feel that I am doing this well but I need to refocus some of my PD into my challenging subject areas such as Mathematics and Science. Being that I am working in the MYP, which has become very subject focussed, I’m not sure if this is worthwhile. I will be taking Language & Literature as a core subject so directing my PD towards that is also important.

Standard 7_Engage_Professionally_with Colleagues_Parents_Carers_and_the_Community:

Teacher Self-rating

Well-below expectation Below expectation Sometimes meets expectation Meets expectation Exceeds expectation Significantly exceeds expectation



Comments: This is also an area of strength. I pride myself in the ability to openly communicate with the school community. I make myself available face to face, via email, online learning platforms, attending school social functions/ events, accessible within the class etc. I have enjoyed working in the Year 6 open learning space. Team teaching has been a useful tool and opened up my ability to network and plan collaboratively. I have been engaging with other professionals via Twitter and blogging. I have been engaging with school documentation in particular the behavioural management policy and YCDI to assist with student management. I was also involved in the reviewing process of iPad & and safe technology use policies whilst in the iPad Steering committee.

After the self-assessment against AITSL Standards we were then asked to answer some reflective questions under five domains.

These were the domains:

1. Student Achievement

2. Relationships

3. Communication

4. School & Program Initiatives

5. Reputation

Here is an example of one of my responses :

(These were written in bullet points to elaborate on in meetings with leadership)

Domain 2 -Teacher Self Reflection Statement – Relationships 

How well do you build relationships in your school and its wider community?

To what extent do these relationships support the values, ethos and strategic intent of your school?

What has been achieved?

  • Trust and respect across class, school and community
  • Open communication
  • Happy students, parents and teachers
  • The development of lasting relationships beyond that class/ school year

What are the particular areas of strength?

  • Personalised education
  • Developing relationships and bonds with my students & parents
  • Personal Development (YCDI)
  • Recognising the potential of each individual

What are the personal leadership attributes and gifts that you bring to the role?

  • Creating a fun and comfortable, safe learning environment for students to thrive in.
  • Leading my students to discover personal strengths and potentials.

What are the organisational and performance barriers that have impeded personal effectiveness?

Nil, sometimes I’m a little too honest or can be guarded if having issues with a parent/ student.

If I am criticised for my efforts I get upset and take it personally instead of viewing it as constructive feedback.

What aspects of your role (if any) have not been addressed adequately by you?

Time, balancing workload, when I answer emails etc.

What are the aspects of performance that need to be improved?

I think that this is an area of strength.

This completed Stage 1 of the PLP Process.



Staff Professional Learning Plan: The Process in 2014

This year our school has developed a new Staff Professional Learning Programme to aid professional refection and refinement within our own areas of work. This process will allowed us to self-assess and monitor our professional needs. It will also assist us with the process of meeting AITSL Standards.


The Process of Evaluation & Goal Setting is as follows:

The whole evaluation process breaks down into seven identifiable stages.

1. Meeting 1: Introduction to the process. Teacher self-reflection and assessment of Teacher Professional Standards. The teacher reflects on their practice and completes the self-assessment tool and domains.

2. Preparation for Lesson Observation/s: 
The teacher meets with the member of the Leadership Team acting as supervisor to negotiate a lesson observation. Lessons will be filmed.

3. Student surveys: The teacher organises with their supervisor a time for the supervisor to administer the  student surveys with their class. Student surveys and lesson observations provide valuable feedback on teaching practices and areas that the teacher wishes to focus upon.

4. Review of Data & goal setting: The teacher collates and reviews the Self-Assessment of Teacher Professional StandardsStudent Surveys, and Observation Notes and builds their journal/portfolio in order to begin generating SMART GOALS using a set template.

5. Meeting 2:  The Action Plan
Review and Goal Setting: Teacher and supervisor meet to discuss the teacher’s action plan and SMART goals.  
The teacher and supervisor meet to review collated data and documentation. Goals are to be written in reference to the focus area within the AITSL professional standards and as SMART goals.

6. Meeting 3: Goal setting sign off: Teacher, Principal and supervisor meet to agree on collated data and SMART goals. This should occur within two weeks of meeting one.

7. Goal review meetings: 
Teacher and supervisor meet three times over the next 12 months to review and monitor progress of SMART goals.

I have been working through each of these steps and am currently up to Stage 5.

I am going to create a blog post about each step of this process to provide evidence of my journey and professional learning.

This is one way of formally documenting my progress to provide evidence for my school’s leadership team. I will also find this process useful to keep track of my goals and tick some of the AITSL Standard boxes.

Wish me luck!