Category Archives: interesting

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.
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  2. On the 25th and 26th of February 2020, at Lauriston Girls’ School  (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

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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

What is ‘understanding’?

I was tweaking our Year 10 unit (Geographies of Human Wellbeing) using the KUD criteria (Know, Understand, Do). This scaffold, created by differentiation guru Carol Tomlinson, has been around for a while.

  • Students will KNOW: (often represented in bulleted forma
    t) facts, dates, definitions, rules, people, places, vocabulary, information.
  • Students will UNDERSTAND : (best stated as a sentence which includes concept-based thought), Essential questions, theories “Big” ideas, Important generalizations, thesis-like statements
  • Students will DO: (represented with verbs), basic skills, communication, planning/organisation, thinking skills, evaluation, working collaboratively, skills of the discipline: mapping, graphing, collecting data, show p.o.v.

ICapturet was a really interesting exercise to represent the unit in a mindmap, it focussed my mind on what it was exactly what I wanted the students to understand from the this unit. The concept ‘understanding’ is hard to pin down.

David Perkins in “Teaching for Understanding” (1993) defines understanding as follows:  Continue reading


Please-climb-that-tree1Despite the efforts of the Individual Needs Department at my school, I still usually see Differentiation as a difficult to incorporate add-on.

I’ve been looking into the work of Carol Tomlinson and she has the following refreshing perspective on Differentiation;

Differentiation is not a set of  strategies, it’s a way of thinking about  teaching and learning Strategies are tools to accomplish the goals of differentiation. They are no more differentiation than a hammer and a saw are the house they help to build. a

Here is a good summary of approaches to teaching and learning which will enable all learners to succeed: Continue reading

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An Aztec Mystery Lady and the Power of Twitter

This is an example of the power of Twitter as a way to connect with a community of experts.  Capture

On the 25th of June, my Year 8s and I attended the fabulous Aztec exhibition at Melbourne Museum. In class we had studied a mural by Diego Rivera. It was created in 1945 and adorns the walls in the Palacio Nacional de Mexico. (See information here and backup link here).

This massive mural was also prominently displayed in the exhibition and it was there that my students and I started wondering about the lady with the white lilies who is handed a severed arm by some shady and lascivious characters. While in the museum, I sent a tweet to the knowledgeable, helpful and friendly people at Melbourne Museum, asking them if they knew who she was. Continue reading

Day 1, MYP Humanities (Individuals and Societies) Workshop

It’s a cold Melbourne morning, about 400 people have come to Mt Scopus for a series of 3-day MYP workshops. The room for the Individuals and Societies workshop is very full, mainly Australian teachers with a few teachers from the wider Asia Pacific. I’ll be tweeting and blogging as I go, it’s how I take notes and think.


As is usual, we start off with some ice breakers, and it’s not long before the yellow post-it notes and the butcher’s paper appears on our table.

We’re looking at the evolution of the different models. I think it’s becoming very multi-layered; dimensions within dimensions, is it too much?

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Critical Thinking (Coursera #1)

premises, not premiseI am enrolled in the Coursera Course “Critical Thinking in Global Challenges” by Professor Mayank Dutia, Dr. Celine Caquineau from Edinburgh University. It is  good to see how a MOOC is run and the course contains great videos and some very stimulating reading materials. I can already see how I can apply these skills to improve my students’ essay writing skills. Critical thinking means to gather and assess information in a logical, balanced and reflective way to reach conclusions justified by reasoned arguments based on the available evidence…. That to me sounds exactly like what a good IB History Essay should be like.

critical thinking

I hope to write some more posts about what I am learning. Here is the first one:

Essential Concepts in Critical Thinking

  • Fact: something which can be demonstrated to be true
  • Assertion: something that is held to be true, but which has not been, or cannot be, actually demonstrated to be true
  • An argument: a series of logical statements, leading to a fair conclusion, with reasons offered to support the conclusion.
  • A valid argument: is based on one or more premises (starting points), which may be facts, observations, or assumptions.
  • Premise: a previous statement or proposition from which another is inferred or follows as a conclusion. Continue reading

Making change happen, workshop with Michael Fullan.

Today I attended a full day workshop with Michael Fullan, expert on Change Leadership in education. We were provided with an informative booklet full of articles and ideas. There was in fact so much information that I reached saturation point at the end of the day. Below are some of my thoughts and pick-ups.

What works (in Change Leadership):

  • Focus
  • Capacity building
  • Consistency of practice
  • Learning from each other
  • Leadership that obsesses with points 1 – 4.

Teaching like a pro means:

  • Continuously inquiring into and improving one’s own teaching.
  • Planning teaching, improving teaching and often doing teaching as part of a high performing team. Continue reading

Notes from an MYP Humanities Workshop

I attended a three day MYP Humanities (Category 2) workshop in Melbourne, 24 – 26 Sept 2012. Below are my personal notes. I am sure there are many more elements that I missed or should have written down, but these are just my take-aways. As usual, I met some wonderful people. Special thanks to Jessica, Lana and Alexia; my ‘table mates’, such a privilege to work with them.

Monday 24th of September 2012
Day 1

Session 1

New Criterion: difference between KNOWLEDGE and Knowing and Understanding.
Going from a noun to a verb. Continue reading

IB History Category 2 Workshop, Auckland, July 2012. My personal notes.


Table of contents:
Day 1 | Paper 1 | Extended Essay | Day 2 | Paper 2 | TOK | IA / HI | Day 3 | Paper 3

Day 1

09/07/2012 (My Personal Notes)

IB History workshop, Category 2, July 2012. Auckland.
Key issues we’ll discuss during this workshop:
Marking, exchange ideas, using criteria, IA

  • Don’t count too much on the doubling up in P1, P2 and P3, you need to really have a spread of topics so that students are covered for everything. You may get a false sense of confidence if you rely on doubling up too much. G2 form allows you to give that sort of feedback to IBO.
  • It seems to be getting harder to get a 7 in History, this is a real issue for teachers and students who may both lose confidence. 68% as a grade boundary. No essay seems to be getting more that 16 marks.
  • Internal Assessment: Make the question evaluative, to what extent.
  • History is no a one answer subject, ever changing perspectives, continual developments, historiography. Global World.

After tea break session:

  • Teacher should aim to deliver a holistic education, include TOK. What is History? Create different perspectives (Note: Any examples?) i.e. Moroccan Crisis radio program seen from different countries’ perspectives. Or use the Japanese History book, look at how they interpret History (Get that PDF from Beate?).
  • Look at leaders through the Learner Profile. (i.e. Was Napoleon a risk taker?)
  • How does it fit with TOK?
  • Students should take ownership of own learning.
  • There is just written assessment, why? Oral would be good too.
  • Values in teaching: Inquiry, Cooperation, International Mindedness,
  • Suggestion: Speak and Response cards. I did a quick search: seems interesting, must look more in to it.

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