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Directed Drawing for Digital Tech!

In Year 1, our Integrated Studies topic is all about creativity, specifically about robots and the creative elements that they have.
One of the first tasks was to draw exactly what I told them to. I was very vague with my instructions, only telling them the shape – but not the size or position, which meant that no drawings actually looked like a ladybug at the end.

I then asked students to draw what they thought a robot looked like, trying to use shapes that they we brainstormed so it would be easier to describe later. Then the students wrote a set of instructions to direct another person as to how to draw their robot.

I told them that I would share the instructions with other students and classes and then we could compare their robots with the original robot drawing!

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Mirror, mirror, on the wall – self reflections to start Term 4

This coming term, my students have set 3 goals for themselves – a Literacy goal, a Maths goal and a Habits of Mind goal. As we all know, goal setting is a useless exercise unless there is some sort of constant reflection.

Throughout this year I set some goals for myself. I set 14 goals as part of the #nurture1314 challenge as I blogged about earlier. Some were personal, some were professional, but they were all important to me. I achieved some of them quite easily – I moved house, which saw me walk to school regularly, I committed to a sport (aerial yoga) once a week and I researched a variety of classroom practices which I hadn’t heard much about before.

There are still a few that I feel I haven’t quite achieved yet. As we are about to begin the last term of the school year, it seemed like a suitable time to reflect upon them and see what I need to focus on.

#nurture1314 goals still to be achieved:
3. I wish to be more of a presence in the classroom – I wish to inspire students to lead – hopefully by helping to run the Primary SRC in 2014. I’ve come up with some great new ideas and projects that I hope to launch with the support of the students and my colleagues, such as a Christmas stall with handmade items, where students can purchase gifts for their family members.

4. I wish to share my experiences about disabilities with my students. In 2011, my 23 year old autistic brother visited my classroom, and my students talked about it for weeks. I don’t think my family will be coming to visit, but there’s always opportunities to share stories.

9. I wish to read more. For business and for pleasure. Small goal, but I think one book per term and one book per holidays is achievable. I have managed to read a few books this year, but often never get to finish it, or lose interest.

11. I wish to clear my mind of what other people think. To hold my head high, knowing that I’m doing my best is something I owe myself.

14. I wish for regular visits to friends. One of the biggest challenges of living in Mildura is the isolation from friends and family. I’ve realised that physically visiting my friends isn’t always the logical option, so…Skype. I must try and use it more!

Last, but not least, I tried to ‘switch off’ as written in this blog post,

“I have opted for this…switching off from technology outside of school hours for two days per week – Monday and Friday…”

To be honest, I wasn’t successful at all in doing this. I found that Friday was my downtime, my weekend – where I wanted to scroll aimlessly through Pinterest for new recipes to try, or crafts that I’d love to, but will probably never start. I think I’ll have to redefine this last goal.

And on that note, I’m switching off for the night!

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Explanation or Excuse?



         1. something that explains; a statement made to clarify something and make it              understandable; exposition



1. an apology for; seek to remove the blame of.

In classrooms we hear a multitude of excuses and explanations. The problem is, sometimes it is hard to differentiate between the two.

A colleague of mine has been having difficulty with a student this last week – unmotivated, defiant and ‘too cool’ to participate in many activities. We found out that it’s because his dad is away for work. 

“My dad is away” is an explanation, but it’s not an excuse – we can’t really blame dad for this problem. We all have personal lives that can impact on our work and students are no different. However, it is about encouraging these students to persist, think outside the square and try to gather the skills to needed to solve these problems.

How do we help students solve problems? Problem-Based Learning isn’t just meeting curriculum requirements, it’s about up-skilling our students to be resilient in their lives. The problems that they have are broader than just the classroom walls.

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App of the Week#8: i-nigma

What is it?

i-nigma is a free QR (Quick Response) scanner app.

Why should I download it?

i-nigma can scan QR codes, create an automatic history of your scanned codes and has the ability to save scanned codes as favourites.

What do I use it for?

Use i-nigma in the classroom in conjunction with the QRstuff website to create interactive activities and stations for your students. Turning a website into a QR code avoids students typing the web address incorrectly and points straight to the required website. 

For ideas of how to use it in the classroom, see my previous post: Making QR codes unique.

Another great post to look at is QR Codes in the classroom, by @misskyritsis.

How do I get it?

Click here to be directed to i-nigma in the App Store.

This post is the eighth (and final) in a series, highlighting apps which can be helpful in the education ‘game’.

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8 lessons from my holiday reading

One of my #nurture1314 wishes for 2014 is to read more. I wrote earlier that I was going to aim for one book per term and one book per holidays.  So far these holidays, I have read two.  Both for pleasure, although they are both related to work. I am hoping that what I have taken from these two books is going to change my teaching and my learning. I must be honest – one book took me 2 days to read, as I was trying to do a few other things at the same time, whereas the other book took me a total of 65 minutes. They also have numerous highlightings and bookmarks thanks to my Kindle app!

This is what I have learned so far…

Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids (Chris Biffle) @ChrisBiffle

Lesson 1: Keeping the whole brain of a child busy reduces challenging behaviour. It stands to reason that if a student is too busy thinking and learning, they have less time to distract others, flick pencils across the room and draw on their arms. I had never thought of the classroom as a war-zone, but Biffle writes,

“Year after year, good teachers leave teaching because they are tired of warring with disruptive kids.”

I do not want to be one of those teachers. I want to stand strong.

Lesson 2: Manage your own behaviour as a teacher before trying to manage the behaviour of a student.  I have definitely lost my cool more than once in the classroom, but giving myself a weekly ‘teaching score’ as a reflection is probably fair if I expect students to reflect on their own behaviour.

Lesson 3: A classroom only needs 5 classroom rules, as long as they are referred to constantly and used consistently. I loved how Mrs Maestra’s rules activated five different areas of the brain – hence the term Whole Brain.

Lesson 4: Keep your instructions short, always. Follow the instruction with an opportunity for students to teach each other what you have just taught them. Repetitive, but effective.

Why School? (Will Richardson) @willrich45

Lesson 1: “Access doesn’t automatically come with an ability to use the Web well.” (Richardson). This is probably my favourite quote from this book. The majority of our students have access, yet parents and teachers still need to guide them and support them in their technology journey.

Lesson 2: Telling students to “do your own work” should become a phrase of the past. Collaboration is the key, the buzz word, the new line of teaching and learning. Richardson writes that it we should be telling students, “do work with others, and make it work that matters.”

Lesson 3: Newer doesn’t necessarily mean better. To quote my mother, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” applies to education as well. Hasty decisions get made in education all the time because some school strive to be the biggest and best…and beat everybody else. Just because the school down the road has X,Y & Z doesn’t mean that your school’s U, V & W are completely redundant. When new devices and programs first come out, they’ve still got glitches and wrinkles to be ironed out. Patience is a virtue.

Lesson 4: Talking to strangers these days is a completely different concept to what it used to be. I freaked out my boyfriend the other day by telling him that I met for coffee with one of my Twitter friends. He had trouble getting his head around the fact that this ‘stranger’ was in fact somebody that is part of my PLN and we were just being complete nerds and getting together in the holidays to talk about…school. Yes, as he reminded me, talking to strangers can still be dangerous, I know that!  The ‘strangers’ in my PLN on Twitter teach me so much and I am forever grateful to them.

Next on my reading list: Beyond the Hole in the Wall and Twirling Naked in the Streets and No One Noticed.  Has anybody read any of these books? I’m keen to find out your thoughts!