Mrs A's Blog

My Rambling Thoughts on Teaching and Learning

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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Do I Need to Know This For The Test Ma’am?

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about assessment in the classroom lately.

And I’m trying to get my head around how much especially in the Senior Years (11 and 12) we bombard kids with formal assessment.    I’m talking about the assessment that we give at the end of a topic or unit.  The assessment that doesn’t allow for reflection because we are moving on to the next topic or unit…  The Summative Stuff…

I don’t think it is necessary.  All it does is push students to only learn what they need for the test instead of gaining a love of learning and actually making the learning long term.

Now don’t get me wrong there is a place for pre-assessment, there is a place for showing mastery.  I’m just not sure a 2 hour exam shows mastery.   Nor do I believe that memorising the answers is useful.  There are very few (I can’t think of any) situations in real life where you need to memorise the answer and if you don’t know the answer then you lose your job.  In most jobs if you don’t know the answer you go and Google it!

Maybe we nee dot move summative assessment away from your final exam or assignment to observations, task, presentations, checklists or portfolios.

Once a child achieves mastery of a skill we tick it off and say great job move on to the next skill…

If nothing else it would remove that annoying statement at the beginning of a topic or unit “Do I need to know this for the test Ma’am?”

De Cito Eindtoets Basisonderwijs.

De Cito Eindtoets Basisonderwijs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Quiz Me!

Question Mark Graffiti

Spent some time investigating Online Quiz sites over the last week – for an idea I’m having for differentiated learning…  While I haven’t worked out the fine details I thought that I would share what I discovered on Quiz sites.  Here are my favourites from my investigation…

eQuizShow (

Create and browse quizes. Set out in a grid, students select from the grid. Once the question is answered verbally, students can then check the answer and click if the question is correct or incorrect. There is a choice of 2500 templates.

ImageQuiz (

Using a single image you can create a quiz by labeling the image. Choose from a number of already created quizzes on topics from Maths, Geography, Languages, Music, Science, History, IT.

Classmarker (

Online tests and exams. Easy to create quizzes and questions. Allows for randomized questions and answers, time limits, images, documents and YouTube clips. Quizzes can be embedded into your workspace/site. Choice of multiple choice, short answer, or essay style questions. Requires registration which is free to create the quiz.

Testmoz (

Quick quiz generator which doesn’t require any registration. Allows up to 50 questions including true/false, multiple choice, multiple response and fill in the blank, automatic grading and password protected.

QuizSlides (

While I think this would be easy enough to pull off in PowerPoint I do admit the self marking is a great option.  Simply upload your PowerPoint slides and tell the site what the correct answer is and off you go.  There is a choice of exam or quiz mode.  The difference is in quiz mode students have multiple chances to answer the question while in exam mode there is only 1 chance to answer.


Would love to hear what your favourite sites are for online quizzes!

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Flippin’ Over…

This year we are being challenged as a staff to take on three goals.  One is based on the Strategic Directions, one is a team goal and the other is a personal goal.  My personal goal this year has been to

Increase my knowledge and challenge my understanding of the flipped classroom to support teachers to improve independent and personalised learning so that I can support differentiation and personalised learning experiences in the classroom.

I had many years ago, when the Flipped Classroom concept first appeared, written it off as a phase, a fad of teaching.  Just the latest buzz word.

The main reason for this was because I didn’t think sending the “lecture” home was good practice.  Maybe this is because I have never been much of a lecturer I much prefer to let students explore knowledge and spend my time answering questions and working with students in a tutorial style lesson.

Well that belief has been challenged this year…

…this was due to a classroom observation.  They had flipped the classroom without sending the work home.  Students watched the videos and took notes within the lesson time.  And the videos were then available throughout the week.  What hit me the most was the teacher didn’t just offer a video.  The students had readings, examples, videos, podcasts and websites which they could choose from.  They all had the same activities to complete they just had a choice of how they could investigate the concept (which in this case was graphing and manipulation of data).

I am still thinking about how this could be applied in my classroom…  And how I can support differentiation and personalised learning with the staff I work with through the “Flipped Classroom” but at least I have not written it (the flipped classroom) off as an unsound teaching technique!


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