Category Archives: ideas

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

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

Learning environments

I have been researching what a positive and good learning environment looks like. There are two aspects that affect the learning environment in a classroom:

  1. The environment created by the teacher
  2. The physical environment

Environment created by the teacher

Let me start with a great notion by Dr Ginott, who eloquently expresses how important the role of the teacher is in setting the “climate in the classroom”:

Peter Goss and Julie Sonneman from the Grattan Institute have written a report called “Engaging students: creating classrooms that improve learning” They identify the following key aspects of a successful and engaging classroom:

  • High expectations
  • Strong teacher-student relationships
  • Clarity and structure in instruction
  • Active learning
  • Encouragement and constructive praise
  • Consistent corrections and consequences

Continue reading

Presentation: Using social media for professional development

This week we were fortunate enough to have two student-free days to come together as a College to collaborate, develop our curriculum and learn from each other. We also had a small TeachMeet where I presented on using social media for professional development.  The presentation can be found here.

I have been using Twitter and Facebook as a source of PD for so long that it’s easy to forget not everyone does that. While social media for PD may not be for everybody, Facebook groups provide a great low-threshold opportunity for self-directed professional development.  Twitter may be harder to get into, but I believe the return on investment is absolutely worth it. After the presentation, a few of my colleagues told me that they had never thought of Social Media as a source of professional learning, so I’ll take that as a small win. I hope that I have been able to broaden people’s views of where to find sources for professional learning.