Next year I have been given the role of the EALD Teacher at St Andrew’s. I attended the EAL Hub Group Meeting at Pembroke Junior School today to gather some resources and learn about how the EALD program works within the Pembroke school context. Here are my notes from my professional development today.
Thanks Nikki for sharing your practice and hosting this hub meeting today. I look forward to attending the next hub meeting.
Initial Assessments for EAL Student:
Good resource: Oral Test: Book “You Choose” by Nick Sharrat.
Conversation about the images. Record conversation on iPad, receptive and expressive language assessment.
Written Test: Starting at Year 1 do oral and written assessment. Yr 2-7
Documentation: Areas of Success, Areas of Concern. Assessment sheet after conversation.
Use the Levelling Language and Literacy Levels Folder. PDF links below.
Traditional Grammar vs Functional Grammar. Look into this and make a decision within our school.
2 EAL sessions per group, per week. Students removed from class during literacy or LOTE lessons.
Building Teacher Capacities, supporting within the classroom instead of student withdrawal. Classroom teachers have more opportunities to make a difference in the lives of the children they have in their classrooms, supporting these teachers, literacy underpins all learning areas, showing them by leading sessions within their classes, modelling how to support their EAL students.
ELC & Reception- Oral activities, Games, Sorts, Songs and Stories
Speech Pathologists are a great resource
Apps: Toca Boca- Pronouns, Sago Mini- Pronouns and Prepositions,
Australian Apps: Play School, ABC Kids, Reading Doctor Apps, Hearbuilder Listening and Following Directions, Smashing Grammar, Padlet, Borrow Box (free just use a public library app to listen to audio books), EPIC (Free online audio books on app and website).Listening to audio books and hearing English at home makes a difference.
Schools are People Places: Building Trust is Essential
By Steve Francis
Today we had a staff professional development day about the importance of building trust in our work place and finding a good work life satisfaction and balance. I really enjoyed today’s PD and found it quite useful to have time to reflect on our current skills and what we could do to improve our individual situations. We also spent time unpacking effective teams and how to work efficiently and collaboratively.
Here are some of my notes and take aways from today’s session:
People Skills vs Technical Skills. In our profession you require people skills to be successful.
How do we build trust relationships?
Having credibility in other people’s eyes. 4 Cores: Character & Competence
Integrity (Do you do what you say you’re going to do?),
Intention (What they think our intentions are, assumptions about our intentions),
Results (Do we deliver, do we follow through with what we plan to do?)
Building Trust Relationships, 13 Behaviours
Talking straight- balance between sugar coating and addressing issues
Create transparency- no hidden agendas
Confront reality- address issues
Rights wrongs- when we make mistakes, own it, apologise
Listen first-be a good listener and understand what other people’s concerns are
Get better- strive to be our best and improve
Keep commitments- delivering on the promises we make, following through
Show loyalty- talk about people as if they were present
Deliver results- do the things that matter, that make a difference
Extend trust- trust others, we are a team
Parents see moments of truth and base their trust about ourselves and school in these moments of truth. These can be simple things like the way your classroom looks, the atmosphere in the yard before school, how a teacher greets people in the morning, what their children say about their day at pick up time etc.
Why work as a team? Lightens workload, shared experience, develops relationships, working to our strengths, feels good to be part of a team and feel trusted and to trust others.
Efficient, Effective and Consistency of good practise. Gives people a sense of connection and belonging.
Challenge others and ask them if they are living above the line of life. Below the line, we see blame, excuses and denial. Above the line we own our decisions, are accountable for our own actions and take responsibility in the role we play in our lives. I found this quite useful, and thought about applying this concept to student thinking. I have discussed the “Blame Game” with my students before, this could link in nicely.
How to respond to change: 3 choices
head in the sand
complain and deny
Stages of Change/ Concern
Information: What is the change, what do I need to know?
Personal impact: how will this impact me and my workload?
How to implement this change: what will we need to do to get this going?
Impact concerns: What impact have happened since the changes have occurred?
Collaboration: How do we work together to manage the change?
Refinement: Redo something that we didn’t do before, tweak and refine things.
You get to choose your attitude!
Attitudes are contagious. Is your attitude worth catching?
I loved this. It’s all a state of mind and how we deal in any given situation. I find that when I get into a negative headspace, feel pressured or stressed, my class picks up on my mood and we end up having a more challenging day. I want to bring this to my students’ attention. All of our attitudes are contagious, act with kindness, be treated kindly, act with anger, receive anger etc. Something to think about.
7 Steps to Successful Change
What would I need to accomplish today to feel good about the day?What is the most important thing for me to do now?
Email warning: Email Survival Rules
4 D’s: Delete, Delegate, Do it Now Or Decline. Deal with it, Decide and move on.
7 Tips to Increase Work Life Satisfaction
Monitor your self talk
Stop Feeling guilty about what you haven’t done
Stick to your golden rules (Own family rules that suit needs of all, create with partners)
Use your time well
Keep perspective: in a year from now, will this matter?
Look after yourself: self care routines
Avoid DHS (Deferred Happiness Syndrome)
Overall, I had a great day. I had time to reflect on my personal work life balance and satisfaction and identify the areas I need to be more mindful of. In particular, I need to think about self care, exercising and having some me time. All very well and good however, I find excuses or busy myself, especially when I’m working/ teaching full time, have a 2 year old and two teenagers at home, am planning our wedding (happening this Saturday!) and running a household cooking, cleaning, etc. Luckily I have a great partner at home and we support one another. Both of us being teachers, we understand the pressure, workload and needs required to be successful and manage.
The point from today is, we are all busy and we need to prioritise what’s important, address what needs to be done first and don’t sweat the small stuff. Make time for the important things and use systems to be efficient with our time. Teaching is a demanding and highly rewarding profession. I get great work satisfaction as this is my passion, however it can also be draining and mentally challenging. Finding a healthy balance is key.
Here’s to a positive start to Term 4, starting refreshed after a holiday, excited about our wedding this weekend and looking forward to a strong and rewarding finish to a wonderful year back with my Year 3’s.
Professional Development Monday 16th September 2019
My team and I attended this professional development today with the intention to learn, develop and build positive mindsets in our students and in our school community. Here are a few of my notes from today and the key messages I am taking back with me.
Healthy Relationships: Essential Goodness, every person is born with goodness, try to see this and harness it in every child. No one is going to learn from being constantly criticised. We build connections, see the child for who they are and their essential goodness, then build from there. Children won’t learn from people they don’t like. Developing good, trusting and healthy relationships is key.
Emotions are contagious. Be mindful of the emotions you bring to the room. Talk about this with your students, be aware of the moods we bring to the classroom.
Compassion: In moments of sadness, you are not alone. Building communities that want to care for each other. Compassion is crucial for the thread of society. Compassion starts with Self-Compassion. Self care and self forgiveness. Compassion doesn’t come naturally to everybody and this can be learnt.
What are the things that you do for yourself that make you feel good?
Empathy: It isn’t all about you! How are other people feeling? Can we care about other’s feelings and put ourselves in their shoes? We teach this by being empathetic beings ourselves, model this for our students.
App suggestion for meditation, gratification practise and set an intention for living: Buddhify: https://buddhify.com/
Taming the Inner Critic: What does our inner critic say? Is this true? How can we challenge that inner critic? Write down 5 nice things you can say about yourself. Inner Critic vs Inner Hero get into the healthy habit, don’t believe every thought that comes into your head. Reflect on your inner critic comments. Are those thoughts true, are they helpful, would you say it or think it about someone else?
Using EQ and Disagreeing Gracefully: It is hard to disagree with others, and usually when we disagree we have big emotions, so our thinking is low.
The Fixed Position: Letting go of the need to be right. Meeting people half way.
Respectful disagreements framework.
Win-win:The art of compromise.
Optimism: Rational Optimism. Try to find something good and rational. We are born with a negative bias. Brains were designed to look out for problems or dangers, the fight, flight or freeze mode. These are good indicators of how we are feeling. If you don’t feel right, it’s probably not right. Trust your gut instincts. Tune into your own feelings, are they rational or irrational feelings?
Top 3 things to be happier and more resilient:
1. Gratitude Practice
2. Identify 3 things that went well in your day/ life (This improves levels of optimism)
3. Swapping the phrase “Have to” to “Get to”. “Do we have to do this?” to “Do we get to do this?” I have to go to school today, I have to clean my room, I have to eat my dinner, I have to do my homework, I have to hang out the washing etc These are negative mindsets about our day and the jobs we need to do. But if we changed the dialogue to “I get to” then it becomes “I get to clean my room, because I have so many toys to play with, I get to eat dinner, some children don’t have food to eat, I get to do my homework because I’m lucky to receive an education, I get to hang out the washing because I have clean clothes to wear” Etc.
Being productive and capable in hardship. Children need to feel capable, because it’s the opposite of feeling insecure, less confident and hopeless. Is there anything you can do to turn this around? What actions could you take to make things right again? Moving past the victim mentality. Teaching children to think: I am hopeful, powerful and capable.
Problem Solving and Decision Making through Agency and Self-Efficacy:
Strengths. Self-Efficacy and Poise. How to weigh things up. Every time we tell our children what to do or solve their problems for them we do not allow them to wire up their thinking to solve problems for themselves. What are you going to do to solve your problem? Give them ownership, don’t jump in to solve their problem. We won’t be there to solve their problems in all situations, we need to let them feel disappointment, be upset, experience pain, so we can learn how to sit in those feelings and be okay, and then work out how we could solve or work on the problem for next time. To become a good decision maker as an adult you need to have experiences, make mistakes when they are little to learn from them.
Poise: If you are angry, upset, overwhelmed etc the BEST thing you can do is to not do or say anything at all! Wait until you are calm and can think clearly.
Group Meetings, Family Meetings, the importance of getting your group together regularly to meet and discuss how things are going. Structured and safe opportunity to catch up and discuss how your group is functioning. All groups/ families have problems, normalising this and giving everyone the opportunity to enter a discussion to address these problems. Once a week is ideal. Give children the opportunity to share their opinions and suggest ways to solve their own problems. Student voice, we all function at our best when we have a voice. The goal is to solve the problems together, we don’t solve their problems for them. Student ownership.
Challenging Feelings: Emotional regulation, in order to get good at handling your feelings you have to know yourself well and you have to be compassionate towards others. Acknowledge the feelings, name them. What is it you’re feeling? Accept that feeling. Do not resist that feeling. Key lessons to help us manage and deal with our challenging feelings: Gratitude Practice, Movement, Laughter, Music, Acts of Kindness, Watch what you watch (video games, social media, television programmes and movies that desensitise us to violence, negativity, it will leave negativity within you and decrease your empathy), Mindfulness, breathing & presence.
What can we do to help you with your wellbeing? Always ask the students what they want/ need to feel okay.
Meaning and purpose in everyday things and life. Help children to tune in to who they are, what is your purpose?
Fun for the sake of fun. Flow, knowing how to enjoy your life and lose yourself in the moment.
Choose who you spend time with, sleep, fire to wire.
Turning on your happy hormones:
Dopamine. Set small achievable goals. When we set a goal we give ourselves a sense of achievement, a reward.
Endorphins: Movement, exercise.
Oxytocin: Trust and receive trust, improve your social bonds.
Serotonin: The “one up” feeling. Have an awareness of this, self-confidence and self-esteem is impacted by this. Comparing ourselves to others and feeling we are “better” than others.
Here are a couple of videos from today I thought were worth sharing with students about their minds and acts of kindness.
Sentis: Neuroplasticity Clip: Our brains change based on our choices of behaviour and what we feed it.
Random Acts of Kindness: Colour Your World With Kindness
Smiles are contagious. Activity 1 minute smile with a partner, try not to smile. I will be doing this with my class. I found it so challenging not to smile when someone was smiling at me. Smiling is contagious and so are our moods. Come to school with a positive mindset.
I often remind my students that I do not have all of the answers. Teachers are not the keepers of knowledge and we are also learners. A good teacher learns with their students, demonstrating the traits of a good learner. I thought I should blog about my recent learning journey and what I feel are traits of a good learner.
As I’ve been on school holidays, I’ve had the opportunity to put myself in the shoes of the learner in an area of personal interest. My wonderful partner (Andy Peartree) gave me the BEST Christmas present, it was a full day Watercolour Art Class, taught by Karan Hudson (http://cmla.org.au/pdf/Karan_Hudson_Artist_Bio.pdf )
Before the class I was quite nervous, especially as I hadn’t been to an art class in many years and I wondered if I still possessed any relevant skills. This helped me to remember that my students this year may be feeling rather nervous on their first day of school or at the start of a new lesson. I will keep this in mind and try my best to put their minds at ease.
Karan Hudson is also a primary school art teacher and she believes in play based learning and inquiry methods, something I also believe and practice in my own teaching. Karan began by sharing her knowledge and experiences, directed us to gather the tools we required, and then allowed us time to set up, explore and play with the watercolour paints, various papers and brushes. I loved having the time to play and explore.
At first I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to paint, but I didn’t feel pressured, I was given some guidance along the way and then it all just happened. Before I knew it the day was over, I felt completely relaxed and in the pocket of learning. I was applying new techniques, seeking guidance from my teacher when I was unsure, experimenting, making mistakes and learning from them to enhance my next attempt. It was such a wonderful day and I left with a sense of real achievement, reconnected to my love of painting and creating.
Here are some of my paintings from the day:
My pear, for my partner Mr Peartree. I wet the page without paint, outlining the pear first so that the colour wouldn’t run, then I added the colour gradually, blending all of the different tones. The Poppy painting was created using leaves to print with. I quite liked the effect.
Landscape experiments, I loved how the paint moved and spread on the paper, it created wonderful natural lines.
The rock salt creates an effect on the paint, drawing the colour to the salt creating darker, grainy patches. I used the splatter effect by flicking the bristles of a brush on the page for the crashing of waves on the rocks. I also loved learning how to use glad wrap to create the lines on the rocks.
Glad wrap method.
A photo of the class at work. Everybody was so engaged and busy creating. I loved the opportunity to stop and wander around to look at what everybody else was doing. Not one painting was the same, we were all using the techniques taught but we were all creating our own uniques pieces. I often saw what someone else was doing and became inspired to try what they had done. I have used this technique in class with my students, it is a great strategy, especially for those who are a bit lost, need inspiration or if I want to share something that someone in the class has done as a good example.
Enough about my lovely art class!
Here are my Top 5 Traits of a Good Learner:
Curiosity/ Inquirer: Someone who likes to explore their world, asks questions, tries new things, plays and investigates.
Risk- Taker: Someone who is willing to learn, make mistakes and learn from them.
Persistence: Someone who isn’t afraid to experiment with learning. Someone who tries something, fails, learns from their mistakes, then tries again.
Open Minded: Someone who has an open mindset and is willing to try new things. Being willing to have a go, even if it’s something you’re not feeling confident about.
Reflective: Someone who thinks about their own learning. What’s the point in learning something if we don’t reflect on what it has taught us? Share what you have learnt with others, teach somebody else a new skill, take the time to appreciate your own efforts. Most importantly, use what you have learnt to make connections with new learning.
Before I finish, I want to point out that I am aware that my Top 5 Traits of a Good Learner are some of the IB Learner Profiles. I believe in the IB Philosophy and have seen these traits in my students. I like to help my students identify these traits in themselves throughout our year together.
Also, if you haven’t put yourself in the position of a learner in a while, I challenge you to take a class, be a risk taker and enjoy the ride. Lifelong learning makes living worthwhile.
Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope you found it interesting.
Yes I am still here, I didn’t fall off the face of the Earth. I realise it may appear like I disappeared as I haven’t continued my online presence and my blog has been sadly neglected for the majority of 2017 and 2018. I’ve just been absent for a little while. Not that I’ve been on a long holiday, believe me I could use one of those! No, I’ve simply taken some time off work and being a teacher to become a mum. Yes, I am a mum! The most rewarding and challenging job I’ve ever had. Loving this precious time off with my baby boy, his name is Edison and he is now 15 months old. Here are some photos of him: (cue adorable aaahhh sound)
I thought I’d take this time and rare opportunity to blog whilst he is napping! I have started this blog post four times already and am finally finishing it after many attempts! I figure it’s best to get started and persist with my blog as best as I can. Here we go!
So, what is my purpose for this post? I’d love to share what I know, and seek some feedback, support and a listening ear from other working mum’s (and dad’s), especially those who are teachers. I would also like to ease my way back into my profession by documenting my experience as a teaching mum and share my observations of the women (and men) I know who teach in this career and continually strive for a healthy work and family life balance.
Going Back to Work
I am incredibly fortunate as I had the opportunity to stay at home with my baby for 11 months. I know a lot of parents who have had to return to work a lot earlier for varying reasons, some wanted to, others had to financially either way I just don’t know how they did it. Hats off to them 👏.
I returned to work part time in a teaching asssitant role in Term 3 of this year, so that I could ease back into a work routine and prepare my son, Edison, for not having his mum home all of the time. He has settled into childcare well but still has some separation anxiety issues, pulls on my heartstrings when I leave him every time! This has been a real eye opener, I have much more empathy for those parents who have children who still get upset when they drop them off at school! I get it!
My Top Tips for Teachers
Plan Your Return
Have you thought about the days, times, hours that would ideally suit you as an individual, family member and teacher? Work out what you want to do and have a few ideas up your sleeve as to how you could manage this. Plan and arrange a meeting with your employer to discuss your return to work. Be prepared with questions and suggestions in case your employer cannot support your requests.
Have you got your child care arrangements sorted? Whether it be an Early Learning Centre or the good old grandparents, aunties or uncles, do your homework and figure out who can take care of bubs whilst you’re at work. The trickiest in this situation is if you are planning on doing TRT work, which can be unpredictable. You will need to source care last minute, which is not ideal or have your childcare booked in on certain days and let the schools you plan to relieve in know when you are available.
Prepare Yourself and be Organised
I now understand the true value of time and organisation. I have always been a fairly organised type of person, but becoming a mum has made this trait even more important. Being organised at home is crucial. I suggest meal prepping, cleaning schedules, having a visual/ virtual timetable or calendar for your whole family to know who is doing what on which days/nights and make sure everyone is on the same page. In my family we have my partner (who is also a teacher), his two teenage daughters, one starting university and the other starting Year 12 in 2019, baby Edison and myself. We all have varying timetables and roles to play within the family unit and we are a team. I’m lucky to have their support and somehow we make it work. Also, being organised at work is key, use all of those useful strategies to make sure your lessons, planning and general responsibilities are being covered. Use your release time wisely, answer those tricky emails at appropriate times and try to stay on top of those deadlines by setting timeframes, using reminders and working productively in the time you have at work.
Know Your Limits
You can only do your best on any given day. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You will feel guilty for missing things, not spending as much time with your family as you’d like and you will drop the ball from time to time. Make sure you don’t overwork yourself. I know from experience that teaching can be an all consuming career. The day doesn’t start and end at the school bell. We have a multitude of teaching responsibilities outside of school hours, planning, marking, writing individual student support plans, report writing, parent interviews, staff meetings, cocurricular activities to run, school events to attend, professional development courses, it goes on and on. Know what you are willing to do and remember that it is okay to say no and not take on anything extra, especially if you’re feeling stressed. Ask for help when you need it, your year level team members are usually the most supportive people to assist you here, support one another and go to leadership if you feel there’s something you can’t handle or need support with.
Its a Balancing Act
I’m going to learn this one eventually, but finding the right balance is tricky. Becoming a mum has taught me the importance of self-care.
You Time: We all need a little time out once in a while to recoup and feel good. Do what works for you, a little time out reading, exercising, shopping, getting a manicure or pedicure, massage, your favourite hobby, whatever it is that you need, take a little time every so often to give yourself a break.
Family Time: I once read an article about parenting and something struck me, it was about not spending quality time with your children but quantity time. Children don’t remember the one off things and small amounts of time together, they remember you being there and making special memories all the time. I’m not sure how true this is but I thought I’d prefer for us to have memorable family times. Meals together, family outings, walking, exploring, just being together, find the time as children grow up quickly and this time if the most precious.
Work Time: We all have to work, jobs vary, but we all have responsibilities at work and it helps us to provide for our families. Be productive when you are at work, get as much done at work as you can so you don’t take too much work home with you and allow it to cut into your family time. Plan for the events out of school hours and make sure you have someone to support you, babysit or manage the pick ups and drop offs, meals, general running around (for us it’s taking the girls to their part time jobs or soccer training and games, childcare for Edison). Do what works for you.
Finally, good luck to all working mums and dads returning to teaching. Wish me luck on my return to work. I’m excited and nervous but also feeling good about being back in the profession I am so passionate about. I’m also sad to not be spending as much time with my baby boy, who I love more than life itself, but I understand this is how it’s meant to be and he will be learning lots of things at childcare too. If you have any tips for me, I would be very grateful, please post a comment below.
A year ago I stood in front of a packed room with some pretty influential and successful educators who knew their stuff when it came to successful technology integration.
I was nervous but felt some comfort in presenting with my colleagues (Paul Huebl @paulhuebl and Andy Peartree @anderspearz) about the implementation of our 1:1 iPad program in Year 6 2014.
A lot has changed in my teaching life since presenting at the Australian Computers in Education Conference (ACEC) in 2014. I no longer work in a 1:1 iPad environment, but am able to borrow laptops and sets of iPads to work with my class. I switched from upper primary to junior primary. This was a big change and I found myself taking a step back from the use of technology, I was using it everyday in a 1:1 class but now I book the appropriate tech tools for intentional lessons to suit my learners. I have gradually skilled up my students with certain applications and their confidence and enthusiasm has developed. I am rather pleased with the work they have provided and the skills they have learnt at such a young age.
This year I have started trialling a digital portfolio for my students using Seesaw. I’m leading my colleagues in an action plan to get digital portfolios implemented across the school by 2016. So far my parents have provided me with lots of positive feedback, but we will also be looking at other options. Stay tuned, looks like another blog post in the near future.
Anyway, the main reason I started this post was because I realised I hadn’t recorded this achievement, one which I was most proud of and felt a great sense of accomplishment. You see, I’m not comfortable with public speaking, in fact I would prefer to speak in front of a class full of children, they are far less intimidating than a room full of teachers and professionals in the field. However, I realised the importance of sharing one’s experiences to help others and share the knowledge. Our implementation of the 1:1 iPad program in 2014 was a great success and a challenge, which we took in our stride. I spoke at the Adelaide Convention Centre at a National conference in front of my people, the tech integrators, the guru’s, the passionate educators of the 21st Century. Awesome!
Here is a photo of us with some of our students who came to the event to showcase their learning and share what we did at our school and why they loved our way of learning in a 1:1 environment. Attached below is the Powerpoint presentation we used at the conference.
In my holidays I have a lot more time to think and reflect on myself as an educator. A thought occurred to me whilst I was reviewing some parent feedback from 2014. I was discussing my experiences and feedback with a colleague these holidays and I questioned how educators use records and anecdotal notes to their benefit?
I don’t know about you, but I keep quite a lot of notes and records about my students each and every year. These involve individual goals, incidents, behavioural observations, records of achievements to track progress, records of meetings, conversations with parents etc. Usually these are all taken to provide evidence for reporting purposes and parent meetings and discussions, and to track student progress both academically and emotionally. But it occurred to me that I was lacking something…
Where are my positive notes about the interactions I have with my students, parents and colleagues? How am I showing that I am building healthy relationships with those I work with? Where is my evidence of this?
After reading lovely letters, emails and Christmas cards at the end of the year, educators are often given that feedback from parents. I also like to make sure that my students have a voice in this process, but I have never had these things written down or recorded.
Should educators be recording these positive moments? And if so how can this be managed on top of everything else we do? Is there a real need for this?
Well, I think there is. My perceptions of my relationships with my students and parents vary for each individual and when faced with difficulties, I’d like to be able to have evidence of the efforts and positive interactions I have had with my students, parents and fellow educators.
There have been times where I have received some negative feedback about myself as an educator, (I know it’s hard to believe!) It may sound easy to say, “You can’t please everybody, I’m learning and I’ll try this next time”, but quite honestly it isn’t. I receive more positive feedback and praise than negative, yet I still focus on that one negative statement or nasty email… I question my practises and think, where is the evidence that shows how I made the effort to resolve this issue? Was I doing everything from my end to make this experience a positive one for whoever was involved? Educators need to be backing themselves by recording those positive interactions and efforts.
Too often we play the record of negative feedback over and over in our heads, trying to figure out if we could have played the situation better… lets play the positive record and balance it out.
Three Positive Interaction Record Goals for 2015:
Start a positive interactions notebook/ file. This can be as simple as Date/ Time/ Name and Positive Interaction. These can be kept as my own personal records and used for interactions with students, parents and colleagues. I will aim to do one per week for each. This could also be used with students too, as a reflection tool about the positive interactions they’ve had with others in the week.
Give students a voice in positive feedback. Maybe a video message on the class iPad, or a letterbox of nice things to say to one another in class. This could work for everyone in the class, so one positive comment for each person, including the teacher, probably once a week. Or the idea of a positive interactions reflection journal.
An opportunity for positive parent feedback at frequent intervals throughout the year, not just those sentimental end of year letters and cards. This can be done via email, sharing blog posts with parents, communication books in class, or simply my taking notes of the verbal feedback given to me by parents etc.
I also found this website, which is a good read about how we can connect and bridge the gap between parents and teachers. I personally like “Have a Blast or a Blog” section. Check it out:
I came to this session as I am the Language & Literature teacher in the MYP Year 6 Program at our school and wanted to explore different ways to motivate my writers. To begin this session we did a “Drop everything and write” activity. This is something I have done with my students before but I particularly enjoyed participating in this activity today. I need to be more involved in this process and actively be a writing role model for my students.
Here is the drafting version and final copy of my Drop Everything and Write piece:
Work your mysterious magic.
Entice my eyelids to lift from their sleepy slump.
Awaken my brain with your bittersweet caffeine hit.
Warm my lips and satisfy my thirst for the awakening moment,
When I will be able to function at a somewhat ‘normal’ level.
Come on brain! Work with me here.
The coffee is not a sole awakener.
You need to participate in this challenge.
Some notes I made during this session:
Questions to pose for students: What can I write about that would be valuable and relevant to someone else?
I enjoyed the writing Brainstorm activity.
What is writing?
What should writing look like?
What is one form of writing?
What is the purpose of writing?
What are the common writing blocks?
What is the first word that comes to mind when you hear the word writing?
Write one form of writing.
What is quality writing?
Everybody contributed to these brainstorms, they looked a bit like this:
I’m going to do this with my Year 6 students in Term 4.
I have always felt that writing requires motivation & purpose. Writing is a shared experience. Writing is shared even if it’s simply for yourself. I loved that idea of journalling and sharing with my past and future self. Always share.
How do we assess, mark, grade the creative pieces? Vocabulary, perspectives, structures. This is always the most difficult part. Writing is creative expression in many instances. Nice to explore all types of genres of writing.
Why go public? Publishing. Authentic audiences. Writer’s voice.
How can we make the writing we do more purposeful for our students? Blogging and creating an authentic audience for our students. Writing is a voice. Why is writing is important? I want my students to explore that question too.
The Year 7 students were full of excitement and anticipation as they participated in the Race Around Sydney. Each destination held a challenge. The students were required to answer questions, solve riddles and find landmarks to complete each task.
The first stop, The Botanic Gardens, where students were asked to find specific plants, answer a set of challenging questions and record their findings.
Next the NSW Art Gallery, where they were required to choose any piece of Art work to inspire them to write a poem and create an image to accompany it. There were also some questions to answer and pieces to find within the gallery.
Here is the piece that inspired our students:
Here is the poem that they wrote and submitted:
Henny and Henry’s poem
They were cornered, hiding, trapped
The enemy closing in
The regiment were silent
Not even on little rattle of a tin.
From my precarious perch on the mountain top
I saw it all unfold
So then I had a thought
Which made my blood run cold.
Oh how I wanted to help them
I heard their silent plea
But if I helped save them
What would become of me?
I would probably kill someone
I’d have blood on my hands
and they’d be six feet under,
lying amongst the sands.
I slowly climbed down the mountain
I had decided to fight
from safety I bought my rifle up
and focused throughout the sights.
I saw my target all alone
I was waiting for my chance
and that was when it happened
I caught a glance ,
Of his eyes, they’d changed, this was so strange
they’d gone from green to blue
for they had changed from green
And then I witnessed something
I’m still not sure I’d seen
It was my daughter, standing there
with her magnificent eyes of blue
Her face a stream of tears
Saying “Daddy how could you?”
Then we went to the National Museum, where students did a code breaking task. This was a wonderful experience for the students; they particularly enjoyed exploring the Dinosaur Exhibition, an impressive display!
After the National Museum we walked to the Powerhouse Museum, where students were asked cryptic questions and had to solve riddles. They thrived in this challenge.
The ferry ride to Circular Quay was a highlight for our students, who happily gazed at the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House, all the while taking notes for their cartography task.
Here are some snap shots from that part of the day:
The final challenge was exhausting! The children ran from one point to the next finding the clues needed and managed to answer every question bar one. There was a little time left over to visit a lollie shop and buy some fish & chips before our train ride back to Knox Grammar School.
Once we had returned, students had dinner and then completed the Cartography Challenge, the final task for the day. I am still unsure how they managed to do this as they were so tired from the days events. They created a map of Sydney from their observations during the day. This was what our students submitted as their final task:
The Year 7’s were fortunate to receive three certificates for the event, 1st for the Legacy Symposia, 1st for the Creative Producers challenge and 2nd for English. We did not place overall, but we were very proud of their efforts over the four day Decathlon.
What a wonderful experience for our students and staff, who were able to engage with like-minded individuals. The students were ready for a challenge and eager to learn and solve the problems presented to them. We couldn’t be more proud of our Year 7 DaVinci Decathlon Team. Well done Henry, Henny, Le-Anne, Marlon, Milly, Hayley, Billy and Thomas. A fantastic effort by all.
Personally, I’m exhausted and I was only there to supervise and mark test papers, imagine how exhausted the children must be! Well Done St Andrew’s School.
I will speak with my colleagues, Paul Huebl http://paulhuebl.com/ and Andy Peartree http://anderspearz.edublogs.org/ to break this down further and create our year level SMART Goal in relation to how we are going to improve targeted student’s reading comprehension strategies and build on their skills.
At the end of this weeks staff meeting we looked at a process of self-reflection shared with me by Mary Hudson via Janet Farrall https://twitter.com/JanetFarrall
The process is called NESW Reflections:
N is Need to Know
E is what am I Excited about?
S is Suggestions for the future
W is what is Worrisome?
Here is a photo of my NESW from our staff meeting today:
This is an ongoing process and hopefully we can make a difference by taking the data we have collected to make informed decisions about our teaching practices to improve student skills and understanding.
Alignment with AITSL Standards: 1.5, 3.2, 3.6, 5.4, 5.5