Wednesday, 31 July 2013

In My Classroom



This poster was created in Stampin Up's My Digital Studios with Embellishment Back to School - Ribbon Mix. The font is KG Be Still and Know and the Chalkboard Texture is from MediaLoot.
Monday, 29 July 2013

Failures are really learning opportunites


AITSL Learning Collective 2013

The AITSL Learning Collective is happening right now. 

I feel inspired after listening to Tony McKay and Bill Shorten, that all is not lost and that there may be recognition at a national level, that teachers are undervalued and that they aren't the problem; that instead they are the solution.


Quotes created in Recite.


Thursday, 25 July 2013

The great teacher inspires - William Arthur Ward

This quote always gets me thinking about what it means to be a teacher. 

Unfortunately those who are narrowly focused on teacher quality conversations forget this and the worst thing is that the data-focused world we're in only looks at the first two.

How do we change the debate and get it focused on what it should be so our students have the best learning opportunities available?


This poster was created using Stampin' Ups' My Digital Studio. The background is Chalkboard Gray 5 purchased from MediaLoot; the Frame 4 is purchased from PinkPueblo; and the font is MrChalk purchased from HypeforType

Where to find more free fonts

One of the most pinned of my posts was my first roundup of where to find free fonts.

I've put together another list of places I go to find the many hundreds of free fonts I love to have a look at.

Click on the links below to go the sites.


Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Welcome to our Classroom


What happens in your classroom?

We all know that the most important thing is for our students to learn.

But what does that look like?

Is it test scores?
Is it levels of engagement?
Is it checking for understanding?
Is it the questions you are asked?

What is learning? How does it happen? Who promotes it?

For me, the most important indicator in my classroom was engagement. The students were interested. They were curious about finding out more. They were asking questions and looking for answers. They were working with each other.

It wasn't about the test score. Not everything we learn can be 'tested'.

The questions that's been bugging me for a while now is this.

If we are being told, so specifically what to teach, where is our professional judgement? How can we make sure our students are learning? Why aren't we allowed to tailor the learning - while meeting the learning outcomes in the curriculum - to our students?

I have had one opportunity in my career to teach the same unit to two classes at the same time. But I quickly found out that the way I taught the first class, was not what was needed for the second group. I had to dramatically differentiate my pedagogy to meet their learning needs. And guess what. That's what I am supposed to do.

If one test has become so important, to the extent that our focus has to be about that and that only, how are we going to keep our students engaged and interested.

I fear that we are going to pump out kids on a conveyor belt who aren't interested in learning, because they lost their love for it when it was taken over by other things.

We can't let our classes be places where students are not engaged, interested, asking questions, working in teams and curious. These are lifelong learning skills that they will need well beyond their time in school.

Teachers in schools are finding their way around the rules and regulations to make sure that their students learn and I can only wish my colleagues all the best as they do it. We have to keep our students wanting to learn. Otherwise our society will suffer for it.

This poster was made in Stampin Up's My Digital Studios using DSP Storytime 29 and Embellishments Back to School - blank note and mixed ribbon. The font used is KG Next to Me Sketched.
Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Favourite Blog #7 Smart Classroom Management


This week's favourite blog is one that I was recently reminded about.

The comment made to me was, "when I read the posts, they just make sense".

I totally agree. The posts on this site are just common sense strategies about behaviour management that resonate and make sense. I've had a bit of a look back and seen a lot that I think my colleagues would like as well.

There are books by the blog's author Michael Linsin available on Amazon too if that's something you'd like to look at further.
Monday, 22 July 2013

Just one of the reasons performance-based pay won't work...

In my career I have been lucky enough to have worked in five schools in 12 years. One in remote Queensland, one in rural Queensland, two in Metropolitan Brisbane, and one in the Bayside.

I have had many opportunities in these schools to work with different staff. I have enjoyed working with such a wide range of different teachers and Administrators, while working with hundreds of students.

This experience has taught me that each school, each group of students, each staff are so different in many ways. But, the staff are there for one reason - to help students learn. That is the most important thing.

That is the job they are there to do. That is why they chose this profession.



But what doesn't seem to be widely understood is that teaching isn't a job that gets done well if there is someone alone in a room who doesn't talk to anyone about their practice.

Good teaching occurs when there are opportunities for teachers to learn and develop their practice.


When teachers have real opportunities to talk and plan with their colleagues, when they are sharing resources, when they ask questions if there is something that they don't understand and when they can make decisions about their professional development by themselves.

But this is in threat.

Performance-based pay isn't about collegiality. It is about competition. It's about teachers suddenly not sharing their resources, not talking to each other anymore, being forced to do professional development that is not relevant to them and staying silent when they aren't sure about something. That's performance-based pay. 

Simply put it will set teachers up against each other. Competition between teachers doesn't have a place in our schools. It belongs on the sporting field, not the classroom.

Student results are the most important thing, but they can't be the basis of any teacher's salary. Teachers need to work with their students and their parents to have the best outcomes for learning that they can.

Other circumstances need to be taken into account. What curriculum teachers 'have' to teach without consideration for what will interest and engage students. What testing 'has' to be done. When decisions are made by people who have never been in a classroom. When the backgrounds of students aren't taken into account. And when funding is being ripped out of schools.

Performance-based pay doesn't have a place in our schools. Ensuring students have the best resources and the best learning opportunities does. Putting teachers in competition with each other will mean failure.

But maybe that's what the politicians really want...

The poster was made in Stampin Up's My Digital Studio using Vintage Overlays texture 3. The font was Quirky Notes and kFon. The background is orange chalkboard.
Sunday, 21 July 2013

Subway Art

Have you noticed the Subway Art on Pinterest. Yesterday I jumped the gun a bit. I began writing this post, but became a 'bit' upset with comments made by Queensland politicians about Gonski, so the Subway Art I was making morphed into yesterday's post.

But what I was going to do was look at Subway Art.

Subway Art is typography, or a way of arranging words into a visually stimulating piece of work.

I really like words. I guess that's because I'm an English teacher.

I think sometimes that using a few words to describe something can be really effective when you're getting your words across. It can't be cluttered. It needs to be clear and succinct.
So as time goes on you might see me playing around with some Subway Art.

I have a few examples on my Pinterest site on my Printables board and on the Posters in the Classroom board.

The first place I ever saw Subway Art was the site, Eighteen25, which has a huge range of Subway Art for important dates as well as other topics. They are all free and might be something that inspires you.

I have also noticed that it has been used in a number of places as a way to present classroom rules. So I've had a go at doing something for my classroom. I always have the same set of rules.

To make these pieces I use Photoshop CC.
  1. I open a new document, using the A4 layout.
  2. Then I insert a text box to the size of the page. 
  3. I then justify the text in the paragraph.
  4. Then...it's a bit of playing around to get the size of the text right. I'm still working on the colour schemes...it is something I need more practice in.
  5. I then save it as a .jpeg.

Next, I then import the image into Stampin Ups' My Digital Studios where I add a mat and a drop shadow to the image. I think it makes it stand out.

The fonts I have used are KG Next to Me Solid and KG Next to Me Sketched (I'm kind of in love with these fonts at the moment...)

There is also an app that makes Subway Art as well. It is an iPhone/iPad app called Textagon. You can make something on your device and save it as an image. I use Textagon for my Favourite Blog titles so that the post can be pinned on Pinterest.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Queensland Kids Need Gonski

I simply can't understand it. 

Surely there are some things that as a society we have to get behind. 

Public health, so everyone has access to health care.
A safe working environment so they go home at the end of the day.
Well-resourced schools, so students have the best opportunity to learn.

Aren't these basic human rights.

So why can't Queensland sign up to the best school funding arrangements in Australia's history.

New South Wales signed up.
South Australia signed up.
Tasmania signed up.
The ACT signed up.

Independent schools have signed up.

They have put their students first.

Why can't we? Aren't our students worth the best.

Queensland is playing politics with our student's future. Why? Because they obviously don't care. They don't care if students are better supported in the classroom through more human and physical resources.

Extra literacy and numeracy support. More teachers who are specialists in English as a Second or Additional language. Smaller class sizes. Better classroom resources.

What a difference Gonski would make for our students.

In Queensland we're going to have a two-tiered system. Independent and Catholic schools will have Gonski. The majority of Queensland students in State Schools are being punished by an elitist, uncaring Government.

What schools do the majority of LNP politician's children attend? 

Good governments look after their people. 
Bad governments attack their people and destroy the public service. 
The most vile and despicable of governments neglect the children in their care for the sake of petty political posturing. 
The Queensland Government is the latter.




This subway art was created in Photoshop CC with the font KG Next To Me Sketched.



Friday, 19 July 2013

Favourite Fonts #5

Here are some more of my favourite fonts. Just click on the link below to be taken to the site where you can download it onto your computer. Have you used any in your planning to brighten things up. A unit plan can have a real makeover if you've used a different font than normal. Sometimes a change is as good as a holiday.


1. Black Casper; 2. Covered By Your Grace; 3. Janda Romantic; 4. Just The Way You Are; 5. Set Fire to the Rain; 6. KG Lego House; 7. Coffee House; 8. Follow You Into the World; 9. Learning to Trust; 10. From Where You Are.

The image was created using Stampin Up!'s MDS Embellishments Sweetly Nested Framable Bird 1, 2 and 3.
Thursday, 18 July 2013

Dreams


There was a new app that I found the other day called 'Over'.

It has pre-populated ArtWork that you can put 'over' your images.

During the Supermoon a couple of weeks ago, I was playing around with my newfound camera skills to take a photo of the moon at night. I have never been able to work out how to take a photo at night without lots of blurriness. 

I am so very proud of this shot. There is a clear picture of the moon and because the sky around it was so black, on its own the photo looked like a poster. I have used 'Over' to add the word 'Dream' to the image.

Putting it together it got me thinking about my dreams. Why I became a teacher? What my dreams are now. What's interesting is that my dreams are still the same...I want to teach.

When people ask me when I wanted to become a teacher I think back to sitting in the spare room, little blackboard in front of me while my brother and sister sat on the floor following my instructions. There was pen and paper involved, but other than that I can't remember what I was asking them to do.

I always wanted to be a teacher. During high school I swapped and changed a few times, but it was teaching that I always came back to.

In high school that was because I wanted an excuse to teach Shakespeare.

Today, it's because I want students to have the best opportunity to learn. To be challenged. To reach their potential. I'm constantly learning new things and am never bored. There's always a new challenge.

It's still my dream. I want to teach. I want to be involved in education. I want to support students to learn. 

I can't imagine wanting to do anything else.
Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Favourite Blogs #6 Larry Ferlazzo

Another blog I recommend having a look at is Larry Ferlazzo's websites of the day. It has a strong ESL focus, but it has something for everyone.

There is information about current issues in the US, many, if not all, that are playing out in Queensland and Australia. There are links to Education Research. There are many technology resources and links, but my favourite part,  is The Best of Series.

Here you will find links to just about any topic you'd be interested in whether it's Education Issues, curriculum, assessment, research, resources...you name it, it's pretty much there.

You'll need a bit of time to navigate it properly so set aside an hour or two to really have a good look. It's worth it. I recommend the resources under "Classroom Practice", "Reading", and "Teacher Resources". There really are some hidden gems.



Tuesday, 16 July 2013

What happens in your classroom?

Teaching is so much more than someone standing in front of a group of students  and talking. Everyone sitting in neat rows, pen in hand, listening attentively.

Things don't ever work like that. There are so many variables to keep track of. And you know what, really, that kind of scenario would be boring.

A teacher does so much more. For a class to be successful, the students need to be engaged. They have to want to learn. They have to be interested in the work.

When our curriculum is managed by others, and we have to 'fit' a mould, it can so be so much harder to interest and engage our students.

So how do we do it?

What do you do with your students to get them interested in the work? 
How do you make it relevant? 
What does your classroom look like? 
How would you describe it to another person? 
How can you make explicit what is happening in your room? 
How do you use technology?

Why? If we don't as teachers tell the world what it is we do on a daily basis, they'll continue to believe that all we do is stand in front of students and talk.

Let's tell the world what we really do!



This poster was created using Adobe Photoshop CC.
Monday, 15 July 2013

Flipping the Classroom


I have been playing around with Flipping the Classroom and have seen some positive results.

It has been a bit haphazard in its delivery, and I have made the decision that next year, I will Flip the Classroom for one class I am teaching and to do it effectively and well for the whole year. I know I will need to spend a bit of time in my preparation and planning for that lesson.

There are more and more resources available to help you to design your 'flipped' lessons.

I thought that if you hadn't tried or heard of a flipped classroom, you might find these interesting, and that you might want to try it yourself. For those of you who are already flipping, there might be some new ideas.

Like all new pedagogical methods, it needs time and planning before you can implement such a new idea, but here are some places to get started.

But before you do, have a closer look at the infographic below to give you more of an idea about how a flipped classroom works. Click on the image to enlarge it. I have embedded it with permission from the site.

Flipped Classroom
Created by Knewton and Column Five Media

TED-Ed




Ted-Ed allows you to find a video and then to flip the video, adding activities for your students to complete when they're viewing the video. They can 'Watch'; 'Think'; and 'Dig Deeper'. You can differentiate the activities to suit the needs of the students in your class.

Here's an example for you to get some ideas..."How Did English Evolve?"

YouTube Education




YouTube Education provides you with links to appropriate videos that you could use to support you to present concepts to your students. You can build a classroom channel for students to access from home.

Khan Academy





What I like the most about Khan Academy is the ability for students to watch and re-watch concepts that they might not have previously understood very clearly in class. That they can go back and watch it until they have a better understanding. And the other side of the coin, they could move through concepts at their own pace. What a great way to support differentiation.

It would also help in some subject areas to support students who have high rates of absences, especially due to illness, to keep them engaged.

Powtoon


My personal favourite though, and the one that has given me the opportunity to be the most creative is Powtoon. 

Powtoon allows you to utilise themes and characters to create videos to support your lessons. They now also have a Teacher's Version. This does have a cost, but there is a free version, if you want to try it out first. It is simple to use and allows you to present information in a fun way.


But...

It is important to consider what students can and can't access.


Who has access to technology to participate in 'Flipped Lessons'?
How can you support students to access this technology outside of class?
What sites aren't accessible at school?
How do you teach the skills to ensure students can engage properly in Flipping the Classroom?

To access further resources to help you to decide if flipping the classroom is for you check out the following:

Flipping the Classroom - Education Vodcasting

7 Things You Should Know About Flipping the Classroom

27 Simple Ways to Flip the Classroom

The Flipped Learning Network

Books


Flip Your Classroom ( a great read that helped me to better understand what I needed to do to make things work effectively so all my students were engaged and learning; it also made me question the traditional way I had been teaching).

The Flipped Classroom: The Full Picture (one of the first resources I used, which give s a really good overview and some ideas to try).


Sunday, 14 July 2013

Chalkboard...it's all the rage




I have to admit it. I only spent the first 6 years of my career using chalk and a blackboard. After that it was a quick change to whiteboards and data projectors and markers.

I know the reasons for the change, but I don't think I'll ever be able to disassociate from the idea of a teacher, blackboard and chalk.

I like to think of teachers as being at the chalkface...affecting society through their students.

If you've seen anything with design or had a look around Pinterest, you would have seen how popular the chalkboard or blackboard effect is.

I wanted to share with you a couple of my favourite chalkboard resources in case you were feeling inspired.

There's a lot available that you might want to access and have a play around with. The designers and creators who have constructed these resources, or brought the lists together deserve our thanks as our job is easy and we can find what we're looking for more quickly.

Fonts


There are a few bloggers and designers who have pulled together font lists of their favourite chalkboard fonts.

Check out


Inspiration ~ Chalkboards and Chalk from the Shabby Shoppe blog for a list of free chalkboard fonts;

Lil Blue Boo has a post with a list of their Favourite Free Chalkboard fonts. (For those of you with some skill...this post also has links to instructions to make your own chalkboard effect jewellery.);

The German blog Dreierlei Liebelei has a list of her Favourite Chalkboard Fonts as well...;

My Scrapbook Art provides another list of Free Fonts to use with Chalkboard effect;

The Nest of Posies blog provides you with a list of Free Fonts and Dingbats that look great with a Chalkboard Effect as well;

Carrie Loves provides another list, and with it illustrates the effect that different colours has on her choice of Chalkboard Fonts;

Lisa Moorefield also uses colour to present her fonts to the best advantage with more Free Chalkboard Fonts and further down her post is an explanation about how to artistically present your words..; and

But the motherload comes from The Scrap Shoppe Blog with has a Mega Chalkboard Font Round Up.

There really is something for every need in these lists and on these sites. Have a browse. Pin them and bookmark the pages for later. Download the ones you like.

I also want to mention another font I came across recently. This one does have a cost attached, but it is really lovely and I've used it on the images in this post. It is called MrChalk, and until August 2013, it is available for $10 (normally price is $29). It can be found at Creative Market and is created by HypeForType.

Chalkboard Backgrounds


Do you want to make your own. Sweet C's Designs has instructions for how you can Make A Chalkboard Effect in Photoshop;

Need something pre-made that you can use for your projects? I have three favourite Chalkboard Effect backgrounds that I like to use the most often.

The first is from the blog Foolish Fire which has different coloured chalkboard effects;

The Scrap Shoppe Blog has 8 Coloured Chalkboard Backgrounds...no black included;

The Latest Find though has my favourite favourites with all different designs, some with borders to enhance your work with Chalkboard Papers.

A reminder to acknowledge the resources you use appropriately if requested on the blog. It's always a good idea to mention where you found the resources.

What are you going to make? I am going to make some certificates for my colleagues as thank you's for their work. I think a a Chalkboard Effect will be perfect.

I'll share them when they're done.

The image above was made with Stampin Up's My Digital Studio DSP Back to School - 3; Stamp Autumn Elements - Flourish 1; and Font "Mr Chalk"
Saturday, 13 July 2013

I learn from my students everyday...


Isn't it so true. 
I don't go a day without learning something new from my students. 
I wouldn't want to either.

This poster was created with Stampin' Up's My Digital Studio DSP Nursery - 9 and Embellishment Storytime - abc. The font used is Elephant Hiccups.

Friday, 12 July 2013

My Ideal Bookshelf

I was recently in a bookstore and saw on a 'discounted' shelf a book called "My Ideal Bookshelf". The price was too good to pass up, and thinking it might give me some guidance about getting my own bookshelves organised I bought it.

I was pleasantly surprised when on arriving home and reading through it, that the book was actually "My Ideal Bookshelf" from a range of contributors who provided the names of books that had inspired and influenced them.



But it gets better. The artist who has done the illustrations for the book, will prepare a handpainted print of your bookshelf. There are some prepared on their website. I think they should have a bookshelf for teachers. I think that would be popular. Go to their website and have a look to see if anything takes your fancy.

So it got me thinking.

What's on my bookshelf? What are the books that have helped develop me into the person I am today.

This is the list I came up with:

"Tell Me No Lies" by John Pilger
"The Great War for Civilisation" by Robert Fisk
"The Hitler Book" by Herik Eberle & Matthias Uhl
"1001 Places To Visit Before I Die" by Patricia Schultz
"Crimes Against Humanity" by Geoffrey Robinson QC
"The Short History of Private Life" by Bill Bryson
"A Problem from Hell: America in the Age of Genocide" by Samantha Power
"To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee
"Complete Works of William Shakespeare" by William Shakespeare
"Persuasion" by Jane Austen
"The Book Thief" by Marcus Zusack
"Mothertongue" by Bill Bryson
"12 Books that Changed the World" Mervyn Bragg
"Macquarie English Dictionary" by Arthur Delbridge

After compiling the list I was quite surprised to see how much of my English/History teaching areas have come through in this. I wonder what it will look like in 10 years time?

Now, just to save up and get my own print...just have to save a couple of hundred but well worth it. What a great gift to myself. When I look at a title of a book it means something to me; a moment in time and a memory; an effect on my teaching practice or a choice I made.

But, what a great idea for my English class. At the start of next year, I'm going to ask my students to create their own Ideal bookshelf. What are the texts that have helped shaped them. I think I will need to allow for more digital media texts than simply books, but what a great activity to get to know about the students in your class. Here's a link to the template so you can give it to your students...

Another idea....what a great way to get to know the staff your work with as well!
Thursday, 11 July 2013

The Lighting of a Fire

What a great quote! Something that reminds us why we do what we do everyday. When the changes are coming down on high without any consideration for our students and what they really need. When it's all about data, this is a reminder of why teachers are important. We light a fire everyday.



This poster was created in Stampin' Up My Digital Studio using DSP Downtown Grunge - 4, Embellishment Storytime -parade and Back to School - Blacknote and the Font Lavender Lime
Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Favourite Blogs #5 The Psycho-Educational Teacher


One of the most complex areas of a teacher's work is behaviour management. Working with all our students to ensure they are all learning, and we can do our jobs effectively as well.

I came across the blog The Psycho-Educational Teacher: Helping Students with Recurrent Behaviour Problems a couple of years ago and have enjoyed getting the many links to articles about behaviour and working with students to help my own practice. Sometimes a link comes through - 'working with a resistant child' - and I think, yep, I have someone who fits in that category. The links are common sense and at times rewarding as you read through and go, "I'm doing those things, but I hadn't thought of that" and it gives you another place to go for help. 

There are lots of resources attached to the blog, and I recommend you have a look. Who knows, it might be what you're looking for.
Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Learning never stops...

When I look back over the past 3 years of my career, I feel like I have had opportunities to learn more than in the 8 years preceding them.

Actually at times I feel bombarded by new knowledge, and have had to make some tough choices about what's important. I have had to ask myself what do I need to know about to support me in my work now?  What can wait until later?

That might be why I'm only just recently jumping on the social media bandwagon. Why Twitter is starting to feel more familiar, and blogging is a way I have found to share ideas.

Thinking back though my choices about what I've focused on in my own personal learning have been impacted on by context and time. I have worked on:

  • conflict resolution;
  • becoming a moderator for running webinars;
  • Adobe product usage through the Creative Cloud;
  • social media;
  • pedagogical frameworks;
  • a new national curriculum;
  • teacher induction;
  • how the media works in Australia;
  • typography;
  • design;
  • classroom management;
  • behaviour management....

Now that I think about it...how am I fitting it all in. The thing that most interests me as a teacher is how I have engaged with this learning. It hasn't been face to face instruction. Most of it has been self-directed learning. I have found the book, website, YouTube video that I need to help me develop my skills. I have read, searched or watched. 

More often than not now, if I don't know how to do something, I turn to Google. I'm not sure what that means about my own learning, but it does make me think carefully about how I need to work in a classroom with my students. If finding the information is as easy as typing a question into a search engine, then is my presence required.

And then I realise. To search for help I need to know how to read. I need to know what to ask. I need to be able to find the right website by skimming and analysing through the information. I need to be able to follow instructions. I need to be able to make links between the information I'm finding out and the information I already know. I need to be able to take the new information on board and act on it.

I didn't learn any of that from the Internet. I learned that from my teachers and working with my peers. I learned that from the support and time of my parents in my early years.

And I've made decisions about how I have wanted to build on this. The important thing is that I want to keep learning. I want to find out more about things. It's like finding pieces of a puzzle and putting it all together so that there is something complete...but there seem to be more puzzle pieces to find. I find something I'm interested in; that I want to know more about and go from there.

As a teacher, I need to help my students have knowledge and skills so that they can do the same. I need to keep them engaged and interested.

We never stop learning. 



This poster was created using Stampin' Up!'s MDS DSP Back to School - 3 and the font Learning to Trust.
Monday, 8 July 2013

Favourite Fonts #4 Dingbats



Dingbats are a particular type of font. They are images, not letters and give you a range of tools to help to design your work. There are heaps of free dingbats. And there are some for just about everything. Including my favourite character...Mickey Mouse!


Sunday, 7 July 2013

Data has a place, but...


Data has a place. It can provide us with a guide about our students.

But it shouldn't just be a single test like NAPLAN.

It shouldn't be out of context like MySchool.

Data is part of a really big picture. It can't be seen in isolation. A student isn't just the data we have about them. They are an individual who is influenced by and comes from things we can't see.

If we were to concentrate on one exam on one day to make a determination about a student, we are failing the students and we are failing our profession.

Good teachers go past the data. They ask questions. They learn about their students. They connect with them beyond the data.

Now...if we could just get policy makers to realise that data isn't the only thing...actually there are more important things.

This poster was created in Stampin Ups My Digital Studios with DSP Storytime 4 and Font KG The Last Time.
Saturday, 6 July 2013

How we work...how is technology changing my practice...

Have you noticed a different way you operate as a teacher?


Things have changed dramatically in the last 10 years, since I first sat around school meetings with staff with a pen and paper.

I have a MacBook Pro, iPad 2, iPad Mini, iPhone...yes it took me until last year...but I'm now Applefied.

My To Do List is electronic. It is based on the app Todist which syncs across all of my devices. I can pick up any device I'm using and add to the list, (which keeps growing and growing).

All my files are in Dropbox. Again, I can access them anywhere at anytime, even when it's not on my own device. I have had a couple of occasions in my career where my computer or hard drive has crashed, and I've lost all my files that weren't backed up. Dropbox has helped me to alleviate this - as long as they don't crash...

Recently I transformed all my unit folders into computer folders. Everything was scanned and filed under headings on my computer. It was quite distressing actually to see 10 years of teaching become a folder on the computer - 16 packing boxes turned into 1 packing box of things I just couldn't let go. Now if I need something I can look it up and print it only if it's needed. I can provide it to students electronically if required. I have got more space in my office, and not as many boxes in the garage.

My professional development record is now a blog. I can take photos, type notes, and always be able to access the information anywhere at anytime. It's made things so much easier as I can always have notes, and not be looking for them in last year's diary. When asked what I've done...I can easily track it. I keep my blog private...no one needs to know but me. They're my thoughts and inspiration from what I've done.

And at conferences we're faced with hashtags and Twitter feeds to interact with and share our thoughts in real time. To comment on what's happening.

I attend a conference or  meeting with at least one device (usually two). Lots of power cords. Lots of backup hard drives.

It's a new way of operating. It's a new way of thinking. It's a change.

So how does this impact on what I'm doing with my students? Does this way of working mean more to them? Can I engage with them more effectively? What happens when there is something new on the horizon?

I'm a different person now than when I started. I don't work with students in the same way.

What I do need to do though is set up boundaries in my classroom. Guides about how technology is used. I was always adamant that I would never let students have mobile phones in the classroom. I don't  know who is sending them a message; I don't want them checking their messages...I want them engaged in my learning. That means it's up to me to keep them engaged. It's up to me to make sure they use the technology appropriately. It's about having opportunities for all students to engage with technology in my class with the resources that exist.

It's food for thought...I want to learn more about how to do this. I need to spend time on it. I need to ask my students what they want to do.
Friday, 5 July 2013

We need to talk it up...

There seems to be a larger conversation going on at the moment amongst teachers. Teachers who are starting to stand up and say enough is enough. To policy makers and politicians and the media. 

There is a place for a public debate about education. Education affects all of us. But denigrating teachers. Threatening teachers. Belittling teachers is not useful. 

Instead talk of performance-based pay and teacher bonuses set up a competitive work environment, where the collegiality of teachers, something that makes schools work, is being challenged and in time, will be destroyed. When your pay is dependent on your work, why would you share?

We need to change the conversation. We need to talk it up. We need to influence the conversation about education, schools and teachers.

We need to take our place in the debate. Teachers are the best people to ask about these things. Why...because they actually know what happens in the classroom, in the context.




This poster was made using Stampin Up's My Digital Studio DSP Back to School - 3, using the Fonts Graphers Blog & KG Chasing Pavement.
Thursday, 4 July 2013

Using Twitter

So...I'm new to Twitter. I'm trying to find my way with it as a social media tool. It's something I have a lot to learn about.

I went out and bought Lynn C Schreiber's "learn twitter in 10 minutes: The quickest way to learn to tweet". It did take 10 minutes on the bus, and I find I keep going back to it...

Currently, I find I'm using Twitter for two things.

The first is to keep up to date with things that are going on. The latest AFL scores. What is happening on the political stage. What announcements have been made. 

The second way I'm using Twitter is to make comment during meetings and conferences (where appropriate) and to make comment about politics and education in general. To tap into what Education Ministers are saying, what's happening at #Gonski. I'm using it to have a voice in education debates and policy.

What I'm noticing is the immediacy of Twitter. I find myself 'in the moment' and using my 140 characters only to think "should I have said that". Twitter is quite reactive for me at the moment and I'm trying to be more strategic about what I'm using it for. I'm thinking that being reactive is quite dangerous. I don't want to regret something I have said.

But what do you use Twitter for?

From looking at the people I follow, I can see that there are a range of things that Twitter is being used for.

They tweet their blog post links, (something I'm trying out). 
They retweet things that they have come across and found useful.
They make a memory by tweeting about where they are and what they're doing. 
They tweet a photograph to share.
They link to a news article that they think is important.
They recognise someone's work.

How would we use Twitter with our students? How do we protect their identity and make sure that they are using the social media appropriately in their class?

Do you have any ideas you'd like to share? I'm asking for your help. I haven't really started to think about Twitter use in class yet - I'm a real newbie.

I'd like to see what others do to get a better idea before I take off with Twitter in my classroom.

I am going to spend some time researching what's online about using Twitter in class, but I'm more interested in the real stories. What teachers are already doing and how effective it is.

Share your own practice by leaving a comment below or getting in touch with me @nvrcease2learn. 

I want to learn more about Twitter and how it gets used in class. Are there teachers you know who are doing great things with Twitter. 

I know that Venspired is a place I'm going to look at. Krissy Venosdale discusses in a number of her posts how students in her class engage with students in other states and countries through Twitter. That sounds like a great idea.

I'm looking forward to broadening my knowledge about Twitter so I use it more effectively.

Follow me at @nevercease2learn and I'll follow you. Let's keep the conversation going.


Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Favourite Blog #4 - StarSunflower Studio



Every week the Starsunflower Studio blog releases a long list of 'freebies'. There are fonts, backgrounds, clip art, images, vectors, and heaps of things to use in photoshop.

These are usually listed so that I seen it on a Sunday here in Australia. I recommend it to you as a place to look for a 'collection' of resources once a week to give you some inspiration.

In addition, the blog has other freebies that are released including labels, borders, backgrounds, designed by the blog owner. They are always free and great for your own use.

Be inspired. Change things up. See what's out there.
Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Favourite Free Fonts #3 - Fonts for Maths

When we think about fonts, we usually think about letters.

But there also fonts you can use on your computer to help you in a Maths classroom or wherever you need symbols and numbers.

This post links you to fonts that are Maths specific.



Use the links below to access the fonts:
Monday, 1 July 2013

Pinterest 4 Teachers

I love Pinterest. I enjoy looking at what other people have found on the web and thinking about how it could impact on and influence my own teaching.

That an idea someone has had can be so relevant for something I am doing with my students. Or an idea that could influence me to change what I'm doing; to make things more engaging for my students and ultimately for myself.

Teachers are so creative. We bounce our ideas around to come up with new ones. Most of all I love how collaborative we can be. We share with each other. Lots of our ideas and the resources that are attached are being shared at no cost. When people are charging for their resources to supplement their incomes, they aren't doing so at outrageous prices. We don't work in isolation. We work together to get the best results for our students.

Teachers are collaborative.
Teachers are creative.

It's great to have such a great tool that can really build on these characteristics.



So how do you use Pinterest?

When I originally started with my Pinterest account it was to identify resources that my students could use. That I could share these with them to support their learning. I knew they would then be able to take the next step and build upon these, pinning new ideas that I could then grab as I followed them, and that ultimately we'd all share.

Then, I had over 500 pins and not many boards. I remember sitting down one night and editing all my boards to come up with a new approach. More boards, more specific categories that I could use so that it would be easier in the long term to find what I was looking for.

Now I'm constantly looking for new ideas for classroom design, classroom resources, technology, literacy...as well as things for myself. There are boards I have created that won't be relevant for everyone. This works in the reverse as well. I noticed this most clearly when I saw that I was getting lots of wedding dresses and hairstyle pins in my home feed. You can still follow people, just not all their boards, (unless you want to).

The thing I've noticed is how important it is for me to have a clear idea about what I want to see in my home feed. I've tailored who I'm following to support that.

But that's not everything there is to find on Pinterest. Using the search tool, I like to look for boards around the topic I'm looking for e.g. Printables. When I type this in I select the option boards, not pinners or pins. Other people have already done a lot of the work, putting relevant items on their 'Printables' boards, so it is easy then to identify those that look interesting, and to go in and repin the items that are relevant for me.

Every now and again I also go in to look in one of the categories e.g. Design or Education. Here you can find other resources that you might not have come across before by people you don't follow. It can really broaden your mind and you understanding of what's available.

With my blog I make sure that I am able to use an image for each post so that it can be pinned. It is so exciting when in my notifications I can see that someone has pinned my resource or poster. I am please that it is useful for others. That perhaps they can take something away from it, that they can learn from it. Because that's what it is all about. It is about sharing our knowledge, our resources, our ideas to learn from each other.

It's because as teachers we can never cease to learn.

Now I have 48 boards with 2405 pins. I have some great resources that I will always be able to find, and there are some items that are there for a rainy day.

The background in the image above is from Inspiration Hut and the font used is KG Payphone.