Sunday, 30 June 2013

July Wallpaper

A change is as good as a holiday. I love putting up a new wallpaper at the start of each month. It feels like a new beginning.

This is my first attempt. I thought I would stick with the blog's theme for the first time.

PS It looks great on an iPad too...


You can click on the image to go to the Flickr account to download the wallpaper or right click on the image and save to your computer.

This wallpaper was created using Stampin' Ups My Digital Studio, DSP Sweet Details - 4 and Storytime Embellishment - Owl. The font used is Janda Closer to Free.
Friday, 28 June 2013

Learning is Growing

My current job is not something I would have every imagined myself doing. It is quite different from my long term goals when I first started teaching.

For over a decade I've had opportunities to learn and grow. To be challenged by new policy or new curriculum. To get my head around change. To be stimulated by my students. To be exposed to new ideas. To engage with technology. 

I am not the same person I was when I started out teaching. And I'm glad about that. I want to be a different person. I want to learn new things. I want to grow.

I want to inspire my students to feel the same way too.


This poster was made using Stampin Up's My Digital Studio DSP Number One - 13, Stamp Creative Elements - flourish, Embellishment You're My Sunshine - large flower 2 and the Font Used is Never Grow Up.
Thursday, 27 June 2013

Design Ideas and Tools for the Classroom



Sometimes it can be the backgrounds we use or the clip art that make our classroom resources more visually engaging. 

There are a lot of free scrapbooking resources available that can be downloaded and used from the Internet.


Everyday Mom Ideas has many different packages with lots of clip art-type tools as well as backgrounds.
Sweetly Scrapped Art has lots of items you can access for your classroom.
Friendly Scrap has some very interesting school designs as well as much more.
Starsunflower Studio also has some freebies listed once a week from all over the Internet. 
Also, have a look at and follow my Pinterest Board for other ideas. I'm always adding to these when I come across something new.



Title designed in Recite.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Favourite Blogs #3 - Free Technology for Teachers

I have a couple of places that I go to to find out what is happening with new and innovative technology and how it can be used in the classroom.

The most useful one that relates the technology directly back to what you could do with these tools in the classroom is Richard Byrnes' Free Technology for Teachers.

This is a great blog that has many different tools that teachers might find useful in their class that will engage students. The best bit about the entire blog is that at the end of each post, when there is a new idea or tool, Richard provides an explanation about how teachers might use it in their classrooms.

There is a lot of great information about using Google and this has opened my eyes to how the different elements of Google can be utilised. There are some issues with school networks allowing Google so just try it first.



Finding Fonts

I was in a bookstore recently and came across a book called "Just My Type" by Simon Garfield. It is, in a nutshell, a history of type and fonts.

I am thoroughly enjoying reading it - the 'science' of type combined with the personal stories of those who have created the visual display of words that we see in our daily lives. Really the process of type and the creation of different fonts is something I just took for granted. But the work that is put into design and creation of fonts is extraordinary and time consuming. And who knew that Comic Sans was so controversial!

I like to use lots of different fonts. I like to have choice in what I use for the poster in the classroom or the information on the display when I'm teaching. It engages my students. It's new and it's different.

The more time that I spend thinking and reading about using fonts, the more complex it seems to get. There are lots of things to be aware of. And it's clear from simply looking at Pinterest that there are lots of people out there who are interested in fonts and how it all goes together. My Fonts Pinterest board has a great selection of these that you might want to look at.

As I continue on my 'font' journey, learning about what to combine together for the best effect, I'll share it with you.

But in the meantime, perhaps you'd like to have a look around and download fonts that interest you.

Here are my top 5 places to 'find fonts'. They are free but please read the licence if you would like to use them for commercial use. Generally this means a donation.



1. kevinandamanda.com Fonts; 2. Kimberly Geswein Fonts 3. Dafont 4. FontSpace 5. FontSquirrel

This was created using Stampin Up's My Digital Studio DSP First Edition - 3. Fonts used are Complete in Him and Set Fire to the Rain.
Tuesday, 25 June 2013

School funding matters...don't stay silent...

In Queensland, there is a battle being fought between those who want to see better school funding, more resources and support for kids in schools and those who want to see Tony Abbott as the next Prime Minister.

So what does it all mean.

The numbers are easy.

$3.6 billion for Queensland schools.
A 65%/35% split - Federal to State share.

87% of this funding will go to  Queensland's State (Public) Schools.

Why do they get the Lion's share?

Because they are so dramatically underfunded. This money is only bringing us up to the OECD average. If that's what's required to bring us up to the OECD average, then which countries are beating us now! Mexico, Brazil, Denmark, Chile, Estonia, Ireland, Sweden, Iceland...

This is shameful. The Queensland Government need to think about what this means.

For teachers who are doing incredible things in schools - with drastically underfunded resources - imagine what you could be doing!

We can't let this continue. Other states are signing up. Why is Queensland ignoring the needs of students.

The Queensland Government talks about only finding the information about Gonski now. They lie. They have been in negotiations since September 2012. They have been talking to the Federal Government since 2012.

The State Education Minister said he'd sign up to Gonski if there was a 50/50 split. Well...it's a 65/35 split. They're better off! And they still won't sign up! Another lie.

The Queensland Government says that schools will lose under Gonski. The only way they could lose money is if the Government has plans to cut funding - so they are announcing to all that they intend to further cut funding.

We have to keep fighting. This is the biggest challenge Queensland's public schools have faced. It means 87% of $3.6 billion for our students in our schools. This is about giving them access to support staff, programs, time, resources, facilities...what they need to have the best education they could possibly have.

What are you doing? Are you involved in the Gonski Campaign. If you aren't get involved. It's so important. It's about the future of schools and students. Visit the I Give A Gonski website.

Sign up. Get involved. It's not too late.

Martin Luther King Jr said "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter."

Gonski matters. School funding is important. We can't stay silent about something this important  It's about our kids.


This poster has been created using Stampin' Ups My Digital Studio DSP: Back to School - 12 & Stamp: Autumn Elements Flourish - 1. The font used is KG Chasing Pavements.

Challenges and Rewards

I can't imagine myself doing anything that didn't involve schools, students and learning.

In my career I've taught students from Years 1-12, mentored pre-service teachers and worked with my colleagues as a peer and as a leader.

It's always challenging. It's always rewarding.

Sometimes we can get bogged down in the negativity just like all jobs. But teachers have the added bonus of working very publicly. Their work is constantly under the microscope, out of context, by the media. That makes it hard.

But when you have that student who comes up to you at the end of the lesson and says thank you, or the parent who calls just to tell you that their child is enjoying your class, you remember why you teach.

As teachers we are in the unique position of working with many children everyday. Some we get to know better than others, but the common denominator is that we affect all the students around us. They are learning from us, and we're learning from them.

When they see something in a way you've never thought of before. When you have to consider a point of view that you hadn't come across. When they've challenged you to step outside of your comfort zone...you're learning from your students.

And when you give them the same opportunity...they're learning from you. And it's more than just what's in the textbook.


This poster was constructed using Stampin Up' My Digital Studios' Designer Series Paper Back to School - 2 and Embellishment Back to School - Red Mixed Ribbon. The font used is Stacked.
Monday, 24 June 2013

Making Visually Appealing Quotes - Get your words out there.

Sometimes words are enough.

We need to get our message across. We have something we want to say. We need to engage our audience with our words.

But in today's world we need something that grabs our attention. Something that makes us want to read and look at the words before we think about their meaning.

I want to share with you some "Quote Makers" as I call them.

Online tools to help you make your words visually appealing. To help grab the attention of your audience.

Inspirably



It's as simple as typing in your quote, creating it, and then choosing your 'design'. Please note that Inspirably is currently in beta, and you need Facebook to login to use it. 



Recite



This site is quick and simple with pre-designed pages for you to use. Makes it clear and simple.

QuotesCover


Another beta phase Quotes Maker. Similar to Inspirably but with many output types including wallpapers and more tools to design the quote.


Pinwords


Pinwords is a very easy and quick way to create your words.


There are a lot of quote makers being built and on the way. I'll keep updating it when I find some more.
Sunday, 23 June 2013

Finding the right image...


As teachers we know how important it is that images are sources appropriately for use and that we have permission to use them. The sites below link you some easily accessible Creative Commons sites. My Creative Commons board on Pinterest has some great resources to give you a better understanding of what it all means.

Photopin - this site has images under a Creative Commons licence that you can use to brighten up presentations or on your resources.

CC Search - this is a library of sites of images that you can use under a Creative Commons licence.

TinEye Labs - this is a collection of Creative Commons images that can be sorted by colour/s. This is definitely my favourite place to look.

It's important to use the right licence with the image that you have used. At the following site Creative Commons Licence Builder you can utilise the tool to build the licence you need. We must set the right example for our students as well as recognising the work that others have done.

You image, when used, would look something like:

photo credit: kevin dooley via photopin cc


Title created using Ampergram iPhone App.
Saturday, 22 June 2013

A moral crisis

I'm a fan of audiobooks. They give me an opportunity to and from school to defragment and to get ready for the next task ahead, whether it be at home, or at work.

This week I began listening to Dan Brown's Inferno. It starts with the following quote from Dante's "Inferno".


I immediately started thinking about all of the things going on in education at the moment. The things that are impacting on my work, on the work of my colleagues and on the students. Things that aren't educationally sound, but are about running a business. 

The things that are about compliance not education. And the things that are dumped on us without any consideration to what we should be letting go to get the new thing done. No...it's all add ons.

For me this is a moral crisis. It's about how we are behaving. Are we doing the right thing by our students and our schools?

So what do we do about it? Do we, as the teaching profession, just let it keep happening? Do we stay on the fence and hope that if we close our eyes it will go away? Or do we stand up and say enough is enough. 

There has been so much change in schools whether it be professional standards, curriculum, assessment, testing, compliance...and there seems to be something new rolled out when we least expect it.

What do you do to have your say?

Do you write to your local member? Do you write a letter to the editor? Do you talk to your colleagues? Do you talk to your friends and family? Do you talk about it on Twitter? How are you raising awareness about the issues in education?

Or do you sit on the fence and hope it goes away?

By the way...I had to go back to the beginning and start the audio book all over again...

This poster has been designed with Stampin Ups My Digital Studio DSP Downtown Grunge - 4 and Stamp Vintage Overlays - Texture 9. The font used is Pineapple Delights.

Friday, 21 June 2013

The perfect world...

Created using Inspirably Beta

Favourite Free Fonts #2

More favourite fonts...



Frangipani Rose, Janda Quick Note, KG Eyes Wide Open, My Lucky Penny, PP Handwriting, KG Party on the Rooftop, Later Allie-gator, Lavender Lime, Pineapple Delight, Written on his hands.

This has been designed using the above fonts plus KG Alphabet Regurgitation and Stampin Up's My Digital Studio Designer Series Paper Number One -13.
Thursday, 20 June 2013

Favourite Blogs #2 - Schoolgirl Style

Classroom design is something that as a secondary teacher I have done haphazardly or just didn't consider carefully.

This was partly because I was never in the same room. I jumped around the school depending on timetabled classes. I tried to make the room suit the class, putting up their work and posters etc about the topic they were studying, but sharing the space meant that I had limited room to accommodate other teachers and their class in the same room.

Recently I have spend more time in the same room with more than one class of students. I stumbled across the Schoolgirl Style blog early on as I began to develop my knowledge about technology and design.

Quite simply it took my breath away. What great ideas to bring structure and beauty to your classroom. This blog also has designs that would suit all age groups. In 2014 I look forward to utilising the Chalkboard Charm Classroom design. I know it would suit all ages up to Year 12.

This blog began a few years ago, and the creator's profile developed so widely that she now works for a supplier in America instead of in the classroom, and can devote her time to creating wonderful classroom designs. What a cool story.

Have a look around her blog and get inspired. The Schoolgirl Style shop is available from the blog itself. For a small amount you can really set up your room...start thinking about what your room would look like next year now...


We're not making robots...

One thing that really concerns me is the international discussion about teachers being paid or assessed simply based on their student results.What frightens me is this idea that schools are simply a business - an enterprise where students are churned out at the end attached to a test score.

None of it takes into account what teachers actually do and what students do while at school. Sure, if we were making robots, then paying teachers on their ability to build robots might be suitable.

But we're not making robots.

We're helping young people to grow and develop. We work with our students to give them every opportunity available so that they can do what they want to at the end of their time at school.

And it's not easy. Family circumstances, learning styles, interests, backgrounds, personalities...they all play a role. They can't be ignored.

What needs to keep happening is simple. Teachers need to work with their students so they can achieve the best results they can.

There is no right answer here. There is simply what is best for our students. Nothing else matters.



This poster has been created using the Stampin Up' My Digital Studio. The Designer Series Paper used is Storytime No 30. Fonts used are KG Primary Penmanship Lined and KG Behind These Hazel Eyes.
Wednesday, 12 June 2013

The whole point of education is to get people to learn...

One of the great things about the Internet is access to ideas and thoughts. TED Talks are a great source for a teacher's professional learning, for use in our classrooms and to widen our own personal understanding. If you haven't had a look, check out TED Talks.

Ken Robinson's latest TED talk "How to escape education's death valley" has once again had me thinking about how we perceive teaching and learning. Watch it and see what you think.  Interestingly, he mentions Australia as a school that recognises that professional development for teachers is an investment not a cost. What do you think?


The Chalkboard Background is courtesy of The Latest Find and the font used is Coming Home.
Sunday, 9 June 2013

Favourite Free Fonts #1

One of the things I've fallen in love with is fonts.

There are many designers who provide their fonts for personal use free of charge. They make such a difference to our classrooms and...they make things look nice.

So I'm going to work on providing my favourite free fonts. This is something I have seen lots of people do on their blogs, and it has become a board on my Pinterest.

Here we go...

1. Janda Elegant Handwriting; 2. KG Ten Thousand Reasons; 3. Love Ya Like A Sista; 4. Little Days; 5. I Missed You; 6. Over the Rainbow; 7. Scrabble; 8. KG Alphabet Regurgitation; 9. English Essay; 10. Complete in Him

This image was created using Stampin' Ups My Digital Studio with Designer Series Paper Cottage Wall - Pattern 3.
Saturday, 8 June 2013

Favourite Blogs #1 - Venspired

About 2 years ago I was using Google to look for inspiration when I came across a blog by Krissy Venosdale, an American teacher.

Her blog is Venspired.




What initially grabbed my attention were the posters that were on the blog.

All her posters are generously available for teachers to use in their classrooms. Take advantage of this. They are fantastic. The posters are inspiring and resonate with you. Sometimes they provide you with the words you're looking for to speak to students, or about teaching generally.

You can access the posters at the following link: 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/venosdale/sets/72157626804996389/ 


I worked back through her blog posts and was encouraged by her writing. She speaks to teachers across the world; teachers who seem to facing the same problems about policy and change while trying to do the best and what's right for the students in their classes.

Some of my most recent favourite posts include:

You Just Can't Put a Price On It

What Powers Your Classroom?

We may not really wear capes, but...


This last post has my favourite posters ever - I Teach: What's your superpower?

Venspired is a blog worth following for many reasons. Add it to your feeds.

To Krissy,

Thanks for being the catalyst that started me on my journey with technology and design. Your inspire me and I love seeing that there is a new post from your blog. I never know what you're going to say next, but I know that I will either always agree with you, be inspired to try something new or think about something differently. Your posters adorne my office and classroom and have been used as gifts for many of my colleagues when they need inspiration or a pick me up.

Thanks.


Friday, 7 June 2013

The Learning Journey

During the past two years, the way I think and work as a teacher has been changing. Not due to the implementation of numerous policy changes on the way we work as teachers, but by a decision I made myself. So much of what we do as teachers is dictated by policy and Government decisions. It's great to have a say about something.

So, I have engaged with and tried to better understand the technology that is available to me. We live in an exciting time, when there are new things coming out daily and new ways to interact.

As teachers we need to carefully consider how our interaction with and use of technology is done in appropriate ways, especially when we are working with our students.

And it's also about making things nice. We can design in ways that we never have before. We have so much at our fingertips. And we can learn from others who share their skills on YouTube, their blogs or on other social media and Pinterest.

I have been on a technological journey. To those who have shared their knowledge and designs, I want to say thank you. You have supported me on a very exciting learning journey, and I'm a different person for it.

And now I want to try to give something back to the teaching community as well (and to anyone else who might be interested). I want to provide resources, ideas and links to those who have provided me with inspiration and advice, as well as skills and techniques so that others don't have to start from scratch.

"Who dares to teach, must never cease to learn" - John Cotton Dana


John Cotton Dana was an American librarian and museum director, and his quote has become my personal mantra.

I firmly that as teachers we need to be open to learning to be effective in the classroom. That we need opportunities to engage in opportunities for learning to be able to relate with our students; to understand what our students are doing in the classroom with us every day.

I had to ask for help to find ways forward. I had to go looking to find out how to do things. It's how we learn. It's how we grow.

I hope that this blog provides you with new ideas and gives you the confidence to try new things.



You can get a copy of the poster to use by clicking on it. It will take you to a Dropbox folder where you can download the PDF. Please use for your personal use only.

The poster was made using Stampin' Up's My Digital Studios (A is for Apple stamp) and uses a Chalkboard background and Janda Elegant Handwriting font