Category Archives: ideas

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.

Tarsia Puzzle for History

Sometimes (often), preparing lessons is playing around and being creative. I could have been doing more useful things I’m sure, but making this Tarsia puzzle was just a bit of fun.

It started with a tweet by @Shawtimesmiles and @misterwootube about a Maths puzzle:

I really liked the look of this puzzle and then I learnt from another Maths teacher (shout out to Mr Pearson) that these puzzles are called Tarsia or Tarzia puzzles. It has clearly been around for a very long time, and I’m late to this game, but excited none the less to discover something that is new to ME. Continue reading

Practical ways to make your lessons more concept-based

Concepts are like containers for knowledge and understanding. They are like puzzle pieces which together provide a big picture overview. Concepts help students develop a deeper, transferable and cross-disciplinary understanding of overarching ideas. As the students move through PYP, MYP and possibly DP, they encounter these concepts in different areas and in different ways. For example, please see the Venn diagram of some of the key and related concepts in MYP Science, Individuals and Societies and the Arts. As you can see, there is quite some overlap between their subject-specific concepts.

Here is a checklist and a reminder for teaching ‘concept-based’: Continue reading

History Textbooks

I have recently spent quite a bit of time thinking about History textbooks and how they are written. My thinking hasn’t fully crystallised yet but I want to share the articles that I have read so far. As I continue my journey in the textbook world, I will write more here.

Continue reading

My booksnap notes of: “Why don’t students like school?” By Daniel Willingham

Over the last few weeks I read ‘Why don’t students like school’ by Daniel Willingham. It was a very popular book when it was published in 2009. While I enjoyed the read and got some good ideas and notions out of it, this book has not made a big impact on my understanding of teaching. I  found the suggestions quite common sense and straight forward and found the style a bit too narrative at times.

I realise that Willingham is a professor of Psychology with a specialisation in neuroscience; something I am clearly not. But as an experienced teacher I have seen first hand the many things that he points out in his book.

While reading I like to make visual booksnaps using Piccollage. This strategy allows the information to rattle around in my working memory a bit longer; I DO something with the info which means that it will (hopefully) be stored better in my long term memory. Willingham explains this in Chapter 1, page 10, “How thinking works”.

I print the booksnaps off and will refer to them occasionally to remind myself of what I  have read. You can download all of them here in one PDF.

This book is also part of the holiday reading for the Twitter #edureading group.
All the info you need can be found here:

Here are my booksnap notes: Continue reading

Dylan Wiliam, Leadership for Teacher Learning: Booksnap notes

Over the long weekend, I read Dylan Wiliam’s “Leadership for Teacher Learning.  In order to remember what I read and formulate my thoughts,  I make #booksnaps, using piccollage or snapchat. This post contains my key take-aways.

I also recommend that you listen to Ollie Lovell’s podcast in which he interviews Wiliam himself, it is a fantastic listen and it’s great to hear so many of the things that stood out for me while reading reflected back in the interview. Another good one to read is a post I wrote back in 2015, when Dylan Wiliam visited our school.  I took detailed notes, there are photos of the slides and I made a simple resolution for myself which I have since party fulfilled (before class, prepare thoughtful and critical questions to ask students).

DylanWiliam_all booksnaps in a PDF

Dylan Wiliam visiting our school in May 2015

Continue reading