Mrs A's Blog

My Rambling Thoughts on Teaching and Learning

Tick Tok Tick Tok


Tick tok tick tok…

As educators we seem to always complain that we don’t have enough of it.  Between marking, planning, teaching, administrative work, tutorials, duty, parent meetings, co-curricular, phone calls, meetings, email, observations, professional development…

Times 6 (or the number of academic classes you have!)

Tick tok tick tok…

I often hear the excuse but you only have one academic class those of us with full loads don’t have time to do what you do.  I wonder if they realise that I too don’t have “time”.

Tick tok tick tok…

My days are often filled with back to back meetings which involve several items being added to my to do list for each meeting.  I would sit in my office to attack this to do list for less time in a timetable cycle than a teacher with a full load.  My role includes research, resource development, product testing, student workshops, staff workshops, professional development.  And yet I still manage to find the time to complete the things I need to complete for my academic class including the list above.  Usually in my own time after hours.  My work day is for doing my “day” job, my elf role.  Not my classroom teacher role.

Tick tok tick tok…

Part of my job is about finding better ways to teach, better ways to use technology.  Why is it when I find a way to make a teachers life easier most don’t want to know.  I do understand that to begin with it might be a bit harder there is always a learning curve. However ultimately the job will become easier.

Tick tok tick tok…

Ultimately time is relative.  We all have 24 hours in a day and how we choose to spend it is up to each individual.  With technology changing the landscape we will always find something else to fill the “free” time.

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#FutureSchools Day 3

After 3 days of conference, my brain reached capacity today!  It was day two of the Future Schools Future Leaders Conference.  (If you want to read, my ramblings from day 1 click HERE)

There were a number of ideas that I connected with…

  • Pedagogy before technology – always!
  • Fitness coach instead of a HPE class
  • Teachers provide feedback on mastery
  • TtDESC and ISDCN Project are important – keep sharing the love
  • Positive Education is going in the right direction at our school
  • Wellbeing is like the weather
  • The need to inspire staff
  • Clean the fish tank don’t just treat the sick fish

The following extended my thinking…

  • Fixed time vs flexible time vs independent time
  • Gant charts for the students to manage their time
  • Go back to the rational of the DigiTech curriculum documents – remember the purpose don’t just be a check list of yes we have done this
  • Realise the potential and the ideas behind the DigiTech curriculum
  • Introduce more brain breaks – Thumbs – if same clap if different continue
  • To move forward we all need purpose – why am I doing this?

Lastly, I am being challenged by the following – perhaps it just needs more research…

  • Use icons to indicate the type of task – visual aid to assist students
  • Need to contact Melbourne Girls Grammar to find out more about their flexible time and independent time
  • Being prepared enough for students to select their own due dates
  • Read Purple Cow by Seth Godin
  • How can we connect more projects to cover the content areas and give more time to go in depth into the curriculum instead of just the surface
  • Time to Audit and Reflect the use of STEM
  • My own negative bias
  • Me TV/the school show
  • Disrupt the model of education
  • Need to contact Templestowe College to find out more about their flexible learning programmes

Would love to hear your feedback.

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#FutureSchools Day 2

I often walk away from conferences exhausted.  My brain is full, ideas are slowly forming, and I usually have a long list of things I want to try or at least research a bit further.  I wonder if this is how kids feel at the end of the school day.  Exhausted, brain full and a long list of homework…

Today has been no different.  I attended the first day of the Future Schools Future Leaders Conference.  (If you want to read, my ramblings from the masterclass click HERE)

There were a number of ideas that I connected with…

  • The learning Eco system and needing to remember it is extensive (school, home, work, uni, church, library, maker spaces, nature, museums, etc)
  • Change the mindset students will lead a life of learning rather than be a lifelong learner
  • Creating learning communities instead of just having cells and bells.
  • Needing to build from the imagination instead of from the known
  • Having permission to innovate
  • The reminder that “Together we Grow”
  • Personal Based assessment when the student is ready

The following extended my thinking…

  • The 6 edges of innovations (youth, Co-teaching/co-learning, time/place, technology, curriculum/assessment and thinking)
  • The idea of Place-Based Learning
  • Implementing Ipsative (personally based) assessment in the curriculum
  • Innovative Thinking Skills

Lastly, I am being challenged by the following – perhaps it just needs more research…

  • Where do I learn best…  Not at work…  I learn best at 3am in the dark by myself and online
  • Perhaps school is not the place to learn anymore and we need to be adaptive to this as educators
  • The need to do a SAMR Analysis of our teaching staff
  • Complete a Digital Distractions Census
  • Minecraft possibilities
  • Why can’t we have a Genius bar in the back of our classroom?
  • Contact

Would love to hear your feedback.

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#FutureSchools Day 1

Today was a whole day master class in Teaching Kids to Code.  I have dabbled in code in the past.  Tried scratch, tried Bits Box, tried various iPad apps, learn to code sites and it just never seemed to make sense.  I find drag and drop programming frustrating partly I think because I lose track of where I am up to in the process and struggle to debug the issue, as I can’t always find the logic. (Perhaps it isn’t logical!)

Today something was said that made it make so much more sense…  In an explanation of how programming works for an Arduino board, the presenter said two things…

1.       If you open the door you must close the door

2.       When you write in English you finish the sentence with a full stop when you write in code remember your full stop (;)

3.       English has millions of words coding only has a thousand

Three strange statements if you just read them as they stand, however when you look at the conversations around these they start to make so much more sense.

The idea of opening and closing a function in coding is not new to me I’ve always understood when using html code that if I start with <> I have to end with </>.  If you open the door, you must close the door.  So why did I not ever understand this with C programming or python programming?

The second statement was like a duh tip.  I think that I have always seen code as a list not as prose.  Remembering that if I’m going to write lines I have to remember to end with a full stop or at least the equivalent.  The idea of it being its own language makes it make sense.  English language needs full stops so coding language needs full stops.

The last statement I think was more about taking the impossible out of it.  I always feel stuck when coding that I don’t know the language.  What do we do when we don’t know a word in English?  We grab the dictionary and look it up.

With that, I’m off to find the dictionary!

Happy coding!


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Personalised Pathways Take 1

2016 was a difficult year.

It was one where I have questioned myself on a number of levels including professionally.  I have doubted my abilities, and even my career path.  I have wondered if after 12 years in the classroom that perhaps it was time to leave.  The pressure and the stress got to me.

During 2016 I had a full time academic class for the first time in 6 years.  And while I had missed the student relationships I had built up in the past by having my own academic class (rather than team teaching in multiple academics classes) the one thing I didn’t miss was parents.

I am not your traditional chalk and talk teacher, I don’t do death by PowerPoint, I don’t give worksheets, I don’t allocate homework (students set their own by answering “What am I going to do before the next lesson to ensure that I retain what I have learnt this lesson and further my learning in preparation for the next lesson?)

In fact at times I can have 28 students doing 28 different things.  At our school there is only one supply teacher who will cover my class as the instructions left are “numerous”. (Sample lesson plan below)  I plan the course and then help students work their way through it at their own pace.  Adding additional support materials as a student needs it.  I aim to individualise.

Every parent’s dream right their kid gets a personalised path through the course.  Nope apparently not…  I had more parent complaints than I thought even possible.

  • Why don’t you teach?
  • My child is missing out on vital information if you don’t explain in a PowerPoint.
  • Why do students get to opt in and out of your lessons?
  • You better make my child opt in to every mini lesson.

2017 is a new year.  I’m going to try this individualise the course thing again and see if the parents react the same way.

At some point education has to change.  I’m trying one class of parents at a time…





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It’s Time to be Cyber Savvy Citizens…


I am often asked how does one keep up with the pace of the online world and make sure that I really am safe online.  Reality is – no one can.  Every other day we hear a story in the news about another cyber issue we need to keep ourselves and our kids safe from.  What we can do is teach ourselves and our kids to be Cyber Savvy Citizens.  Being a Cyber Savvy Citizen involves remembering to follow six simple principles:

  1. Remember to protect private information for yourself and others.
  2. Use your heart and respect yourself and others online.
  3. Stay safe online by listening to your gut feelings.
  4. Stand up to cyberbullying when you see it happening.
  5. Balance the time spent using digital devices with other activities.
  6. If in doubt seek help from a trusted adult.

As students get older they do tend to need a reminder about what this really means, especially as they get caught up with the excitement of social media and keeping up with their peers.  How as parents or teachers can we help our kids be safe online?  Here are a number of suggestions:

  • Ask the child to show you what they have set their privacy settings to
  • Ask the child to help you set your own privacy settings and use it as a conversation starter about what are the good choices to make
  • Talk as a family or class about the importance of your online digital footprint
  • Google yourself and ask the children to Google themselves and talk about the results which come up (ask them if they are embarrassed that Mum or Dad saw the photos they had posted or what if the teacher saw it or even the principal)
  • Remind them to think before they post, as once it’s online it’s always online and you never know who is going to save, copy, forward or post your photos, videos or even words
  • Use articles in the newspaper or news to start conversations about current cyber safety issues

In 2016, digital citizenship is not a once off check-in to say: yes, I’m a Cyber Savvy Citizen.  It is a mentality that I’m a Cyber Savvy Citizen 24/7, 365 days a year.

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Learners and Learning


Last year I was at a two day workshop looking at the future of education…  One of the first series of questions looked at…
Who are you as a learner?
What is learning?
How do you learn?
Define it…
This is was my rough as guts response….
Learning is the acquiring of new knowledge or skills and the cementing of old knowledge or skills.  It is challenging the existing knowledge and then adjusting it to meet the requirements.   I learn best by having a go.  I can read or hear about a topic however until I implement it or try it I cannot see how it will work for me.  I am a learner who wants to try new things, to think and mull and find what is going to work for me.  I inhale and breath…  I want to play and move, hear and see…  I need space…  I want to talk with other people I want to build on the ideas generated.  Shared knowledge is important to me.  No one person can ever know everything.
Learning must be…
Continual, Experiencing, Meaningful and have Purpose, Formal and Informal, Holistic, Individual and Communal, Able to be Applied, Challenging, Engaging, Authentic, a Failure, Lifelong, Interests, Passion
After revisiting the notes this week it resonated with me again so I thought I’d post it.
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Department of Me…

Due to a restructure for a part of 2015 I have been a department of ONE (and a bit).  This last 15 weeks has really taught me a lot.

I have to admit I do like to say “yes” when someone wants me to help them.  I feel it is part of my job.  As an ELF I’m there to help.  That’s ok when you have a teaching partner and you can spread the love.  However when there is one of you and a new system has been implemented you really can’t say “yes” to everyone.   The thing is I actually started to say “I’m sorry however I can’t help you at this time”.  I was surprised at the effect.  With most staff it resulted in them trying to solve the problem themselves and coming back with a more pedagogical question.  A question which I definitely had time for.

There was that small group of staff who just threw up their hands and said I won’t do it.  When I asked them a few weeks later their response was I don’t like the system so I’m not going to use it.  An offer of lets sit down and look at it next term I was met with a you won’t have time for me.  It had become personal.

Realising I am going to be a department of me for around another 4 weeks I decided to look at ways I could effectively expand my reach without stretching myself to the limit…  I discovered a webinar entitled exactly that “1, 2, 3 S-T-R-E-T-CH! Expanding Your Reach as a Department of One”.  And I have learnt that I need to have my own mission statement and priorities in order to effectively do my job.  So while not perfect I have decided Term 2 is about meeting my own mission statement and priorities so I can do my job…

To provide quality and innovative learning programs, ICT and pedagogical tools and ideas, which are in-line the college’s strategic directions.

Wish me luck

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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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