Mrs A's Blog

My Rambling Thoughts on Teaching and Learning

New Learnings…

I haven’t updated my blog for a while.  The main reason – I’ve been extremely busy.  My teaching partner (HOD) has been on long service leave for the last term which has left me “in charge” of the department.  As a result I was managing more than myself.  I realised that we have gotten into the groove of how we work together over the last five years.  I can explain how I think the lesson/idea/project works and my teaching partner could successfully translate and vice versa.  And our teacher aide had become very adept at translating the way my teaching partner thought as well.

This term working with a new teaching partner, a new teacher aide and having more contact with our long term teacher aide has made me realise how good we get in teaching at understanding the ways the people we work with everyday think.  I have always prided myself on my communication skills.  I thought that I had good communication skills.  It turns out they are not as good as I thought!  When working with these new staff I realised how long it actually takes to learn to communicate with your colleagues especially those you work with on a daily basis and by the last week of the term I think we had started to think along the same lines when working together.  Understanding the inner workings of how colleagues think really does take a long time to develop.

I have learnt this term that there is more than talking and listening to this whole communication thing!  When trying to convey information through the exchange of ideas it can at times involve so many other components.  I have learnt that I think in pictures and movies and sometimes trying to translate these pictures and movies doesn’t always work.  When trying to explain to a colleague what exactly it is you are trying to achieve/create doesn’t always come across.  Even drawing funny little pictures doesn’t always work if the pictures are not understood.  I can understand how easy it is to get frustrated.  Usually the problem was not that the person you are working with hasn’t understood  the problem was how you explained it in the first place.

I have decided that communication is more about how the message is decoded rather than how the message is actually conveyed. And I need to work on making sure that the message I am conveying is clear and easy to decode.

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The Great Debate – Windows 8

Apologies for such a long time between posts.  2014 took off with such a cracking pace that its the Easter holidays already…

This year has seen the introduction of Windows 8 and Office 2013 at work.  When Windows 7 came along everyone was excited to see a new operating system that just seemed easy to use.  Sure there was the usual similarities and differences between the old and the new.  However people picked Windows 7 up quickly and seamlessly…  Windows 8 is having a polarizing response.  Everyone appears to hate it.

That is except me…

I’m excited…

I love the idea of having everything I want on the start screen easy to access and use…  I realise the pain is setting up Windows 8 however once its done everything is at the tip of your fingers… I can group my apps by ease of use…

The search option seems to search everything – the device, the app store, the internet…

I really do like the ability to snap screens side by side…  OneNote and the internet…

Having an app way of working and a desktop way of working…  While not fully integrated they connect nicely to each other.

I’m guessing that Windows 8 is a matter of personal preference…



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Have You Checked Your Settings?

Social Media and Facebook in particular are becoming more and more prevalent in day to day life.

What I find interesting is that people forget that it is public.  Some of the things that they share I’m sure they (adults and children alike) would be embarrassed about.  After yet another conversation about private vs public online with friends I feel the need to remind the world that you need to remember even if all your privacy setting are correct what gets posted online stays online – Private or not!

In their defense Facebook is notorious for constantly changing their privacy settings.  The key is to be vigilant.

Here is the easy way to check your settings….
  1. Log into Facebook
  2. Go to Privacy Settings, through the cog at the top right of the page.
    Facebook Settings 1
  3. In Privacy edit each of the settings by clicking on the edit button. (see below for recommendations)
    Facebook Settings 2
  4. Check your timeline and tagging settings by clicking the edit button. (see below for my recommendations)
    Facebook Settings 3
  5. After changing your settings review what other people can see on your timeline by clicking “View As” in the timeline and tagging settings.
    Facebook Settings 4
  6. To change Views select at the top of the page who you want to view the page as.  The default option is “Public”
    Facebook Settings 5


Here are my recommended Privacy Settings and Tools:
Facebook Settings 6
Facebook Settings 7
Here are my recommended Timeline and Tagging Settings:
Facebook Settings 8
Facebook Settings 9
Facebook Settings10
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Real Life Vs School

I’ve recently been thinking about real life compared to school… This was spurred on by a YouTube clip about learning through games.   The tipping point for me was the statement made by James Paul Gee that we trust learning through games more than we trust learning through school.  This was explained by the example that children learn algebra a school and then we test them to find out if they learn anything however children will spend hours learning to play Halo (or any computer game for that matter) and we don’t give them a test on Halo to find out what they learnt.  We trust they learnt it because they finished the game. Where else in life do we shut the the book or turn off the internet to prove we know what we are doing or to complete a task.

Here is my look at how school is not real life

  • Test vs Learning
  • Set break times vs chosen break times (doesn’t apply to all life situations)
  • Due dates set by others vs negotiated due dates
  • Repeating tasks even though you know how to do it vs mastery and only repeating as required
  • Learning occurs in 70 minute blocks vs life long learning

I’m sure there are many others feel free to add the in the comments…

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End of Year Exhaustion

Well…  I made it… JUST… to the end of the school year…

2013 has been yet another busy and satisfying year. However my question is how do you avoid the end of year exhaustion?   I know I should sleep more and probably not cram so much in…  Would love to hear how others avoid the exhaustion or have some recommendations on how to minimise it!


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Foundations of Teaching for Learning…

I recently started a Coursera course entitled Foundations of Teaching for Learning.  I have to admit that I signed up because I was interested in unit 3, 6 and 8 of the course (I’ve only just started unit 2) and felt that I’d struggle with those units if I didn’t complete the other 5.  I have finished unit 1 and was pleasantly surprised.  While the course presents itself as a an introductory course to teaching (i.e. you have never taught before) I found that I still learnt a lot.

Gold key

The key was “for learning”.  This isn’t a course about teaching.  It’s a course about learning and how to teach for learners.


Some of the “keys” I took away….

  • Students learn through different contexts allowing them to be individuals and as a teacher I need to differentiate more to cater for this
  • I need to incorporate more social, contextual learning
  • Teachers need to use social, contextual learning for their own PD
  • If you nurture teachers you nurture students
  • Understanding the concept of nested contexts (school is a context within a students life context)
  • Me, You, Space, Time learning
  • To be a teacher is just as important as being a teacher
  • Make thinking visible
  • Asking students and yourself “what did I learn in school today?”
  • Learning to read the room
  • The purpose of assessment

I look forward to the Key learnings from unit 2 to 8….

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Game On!

Gamification  is an interesting concept that if implemented well can chanage the way your classroom works.  Below is the resources I have put together for my presentation at #ELHst13.

At a time when we are all trying to provide individualized and differentiated courses for our students finding ways to engage and give our students choices about their learning can be difficult.  Gamification is a great way to offer choices.  This session will focus on the who, what, when, where and how of Gamification in the classroom.  Software, options, set up and how to find the resources you need to get started.  The session will set context, work through examples and start you on your own design process for how you could implement gamification in your classroom, past just gamifying classroom management.  Come and try your hand at gamifying your next unit or lesson.



Game On

Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5 Level 6 Level 7



School is a Game… So What are the Rules? (Part 1 Research)

School is a Game… And the Rules have Changed… (Part 2 Action)

Gamified World (Part 3 Research)

Coursera Gamification Course

Class Dojo

Image Maps

Dreamweaver CS5

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One Device, Two Devices, Three Devices, More!

Managing Multiple devices is not an easy process and on last count I have a crazy 6 mobile devices (iPad 1, iPad 2, iConia A700, iConia A500, Nexus 7 and an iPhone) I use them all every day because they all have a different purpose for me.

So how do I manage them. I choose apps that are cross platform.  Below is the resources I have put together for my presentation at #ELHst13.

The number of devices we all carry on us is on the increase.  Our students and teachers are using phones, tablets, notebooks, and laptops throughout the day.  Whether you are an Apple Fanboi or an Android Junkie managing all your devices can be challenging or for some mind boggling.  This session will focus on productivity, record keeping and setting up the devices regardless of the one you choose to operate.  Software, options, set up and how to find the resources you need to get started.  The session will set context, work through examples and start you on your way with a suite of tools that will help you and your students in the classroom.  Come and explore your device in more detail and find a better way to manage your multiple devices.





Recommended Apple Apps

Recommended Android Apps

Workshop Sharing and Caring Session


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It’s Hard to be a Kid!

I didn’t realise until the last few weeks just how hard it is to be a kid in High School.

I know as an adult I would love to redo high school and with all the knowledge I have now.  Life would have been very different I am sure.  My 13 year old was ill and landed in hospital.  While she is getting better now it did require surgery and two weeks off school.  It has also meant a third week with part days as she regains strength to go back to school full time.

I forgot how much the social aspect plays in a teenagers life at school.  Its hard to try and catch up the number of assessment pieces, homework and class tasks for 3 weeks without adding the missing social information.

A lot happens in a teenager’s life in a day.  Friends break up, get together and break up again…  I know that in the grand scheme of things not much really happened however the affect on the teenager doesn’t reflect that.  Its like the world fell apart and they need to bring it back together again.

Maybe the key to getting better is the social…  Maybe the key to catching up the academic is the social…  Maybe the key to success is the social…  and Maybe the key to learning is the social…

Random thoughts!

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