Category Archives: ideas

Quality Teaching Rounds: Talking about great teaching

Quality Teaching Rounds, developed by Jenny Gore and Julie Bowe, involves teachers working in professional learning communities (PLCs) of four or more to observe and analyse each other’s teaching (Bowe & Gore, 2017) a. The QTR is a protocol using a set of “good teaching practice” criteria with which a lesson is “coded” and then discussed by a group of three or four teachers. The three dimensions and 18 elements are grouped in three domains of good pedagogy: Intellectual Quality, Quality Learning Environment and Significance.

How it works:

A group of four teachers (three could work, but four is optimal) observe a lesson by one of the group. The three observers “code” the lesson using the Quality Teaching criteria. After the lesson, the group of four get together and discuss the lesson. The discussion is not an appraisal of the teacher; it is about discussing the elements of good teaching.

Below are my notes of an excellent two day PD I was lucky enough to attend b, guided by Professor Jenny Gore. She was insightful, interesting and showed us how the QTR model is one of the few ways in which teachers can have safe and constructive discussions based on lesson observations.

I have blogged about Jenny Gore’s QTR before, but at that time, I didn’t fully get how useful and great this protocol actually is. Now I do, and I can’t wait to start working with it at my school. Here is the blog post from June 2016.
Continue reading

  1. https://research.acer.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1336&context=research_conference  (back)
  2. On the 25th and 26th of February 2020, at Lauriston Girls’ School  (back)

Effective Mentoring, VIT

I attended a VIT refresher course on Thursday the 5th of March 2020, led by Catharine Hydon and Matt Woodley from the VIT. My main take-away was how important it is to have a clearly defined induction and mentorship program with well trained and committed mentors. At my school, we have a lot of good people and great intentions, but we have some way to go towards properly formalising our processes.

What is mentoring?

  • Mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximise their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to be. (Eric Parsloe, The Oxford School of Coaching & Mentoring)
  • As a process, mentoring may be generally described as a dynamic interpersonal relationship involving two or more people. Mentoring in early childhood is often perceived as “a peer relationship” (Nolan, 2007, xvii), where a more experienced practitioner provides professional guidance to one or more novice practitioners, either on a 1:1 basis or as a group. (Wong and Waniganayake 2013) 
  • Need to have a written down protocol or policy to support VIT teachers.

What mentoring isn’t

  • Performance management
  • Training
  • Peer friendship and support
  • Counselling
  • Rescuing

What good mentors do?

The good mentor is:

  • committed to the role of mentoring.
  • accepting of the beginning teacher.
  • skilled at providing instructional support.
  • effective in different interpersonal contexts.
  • a model of a continuous learner.
  • The good mentor communicates hope and optimism. a
  • My notes here

Continue reading

  1. http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/may99/vol56/num08/The-Good-Mentor.aspx  (back)

Pareto Principle; work smarter not harder

I had heard of the 20/80 rule, but had never really looked into it deeply. It’s such a great strategy for teachers in many ways. Basically: “Find out what is vital, ignore what is trivial, and you can maximize results.” a  When making a to do list (which I do often), identify the top 20% and focus on finishing those off first. Here is a distillation of my reading and understanding (all links provided) : Continue reading

  1. https://www.teachingchannel.org/blog/2015/10/01/the-80-20-rule  (back)

A week on #edutweetoz, in polls

Twitter continues to be my favourite form of professional development. The networking and ideas I get from it are just invaluable to my teaching practice. I had another go at hosting @edutweetoz for a week (from 24/11/19 till 01/12/19). It was great fun, but it also made me realise how used I am to my own posse of people on Twitter. It felt quite different to interact with a whole new (and much bigger) group of people. One of my themes for the week was to run lots of polls because they are easy to interact with and can start some interesting conversations. Below are the polls I ran. Some interesting data about the working life of teachers:

  • 43% of respondents work through recess
  • 45% of respondents stay at work until after 5pm
  • 47% of respondents eat lunch at their desk
  • 65% of respondents use Sunday to prep for Monday
  • 77% of respondents are a member of a teachers union

See more polls below, in random order: Continue reading

PD Bingo

Here is a great way to diversify the professional development offerings at your school. During Term 3, I held a ‘PD Bingo’, based on an idea by @nbgreene, found via @cultofpedagogy (also see bottom of post).
This Bingo poster contained a mix of 24 teaching ideas, strategies and PD choices. The aim was to inspire staff to try new things, and to get a sense of what they found easy or challenging to implement in their classes or in PD. I got the Bingo sheet printed on A2 size and hung it in the staff room for 3 weeks. Here is what it looked like:

Many staff members participated and it got some great conversations going. Below is an analysis of the results: Continue reading

Building an argument tower with thesis, antithesis, synthesis

Today we built an ‘argument tower’ in class. The idea was found by my colleague Sara, on this AP Word History blog, written by Jonathan Henderson. There are also a few Tweets about “argument towers”.

I used the ‘Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis‘ argument structure to help students construct an effective paragraph or essay. You can also use “Contention – Example – Evaluation” etc. Works for English, Philosophy, Geography or any area where students have to argue something.

What’s needed: Continue reading

Teaching students how to learn effectively

Here is a great article by Pamela L. Bacon: “Effective Studying is a Science, Not an Art: Teaching Students Scientifically-Based Study Techniques” (2017). You can read the article and see my highlights and annotations here in Kami, If you like, you can add your own comments / highlights to it.

Bacon is very clear and honest about what did and didn’t work when she tried to convince her students to use these scientifically proven techniques to study better.

  • What didn’t work: Simply telling the students about these techniques.
  • What did work: Attaching an assessment task to the techniques > forcing students to use these specific methods in a task which was then graded, although the weighting of those tasks was quite low.

The three effective study techniques which have been supported by most research are: Continue reading

Revision Twister

This worked well with my small IB History class. The students created the questions and ran the game themselves. It’s a bit gimmicky, but they had fun and hopefully it was a bit of a break from the endless practice essays and note taking at the end of the year.

Questions can be found here

And PPT with circles (PPT smart art) here: Revision Twister PPT Continue reading

The Value of History

The History Council of Australia has recently adopted a wonderful new statement on the value of History.
This fantastic manifesto deserves to hang in each classroom in Australia, but unfortunately the layout of the original PDF was a bit plain. I have recreated the statement as posters in Canva so that you can print them off and have something colourful and visual to put up on your classroom walls. The originals are A3-sized, but they will also work well in A4.

Download all the A3 PDFs here. It is a large file. 

The image files (Large PNGs) are below. Just right click and save as…. Continue reading

Feedback: all that effort, but what is the effect? (Research Paper)

I read some research about measuring the efficacy of Feedback. I enjoyed reading it because it made me think more deeply about my own “Assessment Literacy.a. This  reading was part of the #edureading group on Twitter. b Each month a new article is chosen and readers either record their responses on FlipGrid or they just participate in the Sunday night Twitter chat. I have missed a few articles but I am back on deck with this one.

The title of the article is: “Feedback: all that effort, but what is the effect?” c. You would have noticed the click-batey question, so, what is the answer? I’ll come back to that later. d

The main objectives of feedback is to: Continue reading

  1. thanks to Alistair Sproal for that link  (back)
  2. Organised by Steven Kolber  (back)
  3. Written by Margaret Price*, Karen Handley, Jill Millar and Berry O’Donovan  (back)
  4. 6pm on Sunday, I have things to do, and Twitter chat is on soon anyway  (back)

Open Classroom Days

In order to make classroom visits a bit easier, I started the ‘open classroom days’ this year. Sometime in week 3 of each term, for two days, teachers are asked to either leave their door open or put a ‘welcome’ post-it note on their door. Colleagues are then allowed to pop in for a few minutes to observe the class. The rules for our latest iteration were:

We have been using Ron Ritchhart ‘Eight cultural forces that define our classrooms’ when we were involved in the ‘cultures of thinking’ program. These 8 categories are also very suitable as lenses for classroom observation. Continue reading