Monday, 23 September 2013


I really hadn't quite realised how much of a slave I had become to my phone. When an email came through I would hear the alert on my phone and drop everything to go and see what it was. Sometimes it was important and sometimes it was the latest deal on at KikkiK.

So one day, I made the decision to turn the alert off my phone.

And let me tell you what a difference that made to my life. I still check my emails - about 20 times a day; not the 75-100 times whenever an email came through on my phone.

It is freeing actually.

So I started to think about where else I could free myself.

Do you notice that little message at the bottom of emails? Please click here if you want to unsubscribe. Well...I've started clicking it.

I am actually surprised at some of the emails that I have been subscribed to that I don't know anything about. It's easy to make a decision about which ones I want to keep and which ones I don't. My work inbox is also not filling up as fast and that's always a bonus.

I am choosing who I want to receive information from. I am taking control back.

So I made a decision - if it doesn't add value to my day, I'm going to click unsubscribe.

And that got me thinking. How much of our day are we dealing with things we'd rather not. Being given a task that has absolutely no real use except a compliance test. Getting stuck in that conversation with a colleague who sees everything as half full and never wants to see another point of view. When you're losing control because you have lost focus of what is important.

So I realised, I could unsubscribe from that too...I could make a decision not to engage in that conversation; to not put all my effort and energy into the newest compliance measure because I know I'm already doing my job well. I can take back control.

This poster was made in Stampin Up's My Digital Studio using the Embellishment What A Day - apple and fonts KG Beautiful Day and KG Flavor and Frames 1.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Wisdom from Twitter and TED Talks Education

Sometimes we just can't say things as well as others. That is why there is such a huge following I'm sure on Pinterest for Quotes and Sayings.

Reading through my Twitter feed this week I came across this tweet from @venspired who is someone who I love to follow.

And I realised that it wasn't enough to retweet this; I needed to do something bigger. I wanted to share it so that it could be spread further than the followers I have on Twitter. It needed to be on the blog; it needed to be on Pinterest.


It says everything that I'm feeling. I, like many teachers, can't understand why our classrooms are having creativity, problem solving and learning removed and replaced with strict processes and curriculum that leaves no room for the things that create life long learners.

I've heard reports that our new Federal Minister of Education thinks we should go back to textbooks and just ignore this technical stuff; that kids should sit in their seats and learn while the teacher teaches.
We know this doesn't work. We know that the best classes are the ones where the students are engaged and thinking for themselves; the worst classes (hmmm Yr 11/12 biology when I was at school) are when you have to sit and copy things down off the board, there's no discussion, no explanation. The attitude that if you write something on the page you'll learn it. 

Haven't we moved past this attitude yet?

Our classrooms need to be places where we're engaging our students in learning. They have to want to learn. And we have to want to help them learn.

I recently was shown the Rita Pierson TED Talk "Every Kid Needs A Champion" which I've embedded for you below. If you haven't seen it, please watch it. It hits the nail on the head. As teachers we know what works; we know why kids don't learn. But we have to put up with decisions about education and schools being made by those who only worry about the bottom dollar or who aren't interested in education.

I was really inspired by Rita Pierson and saddened earlier this week when I saw that she had passed away. Your influence will continue through your TED Talk and I know that I will continue to share your words with my own world. Thank you.

There is an essay by Rita that is also powerful. Have a read.

The poster was created in Stampin Up's My Digital Studios using Embellishment What A Day - paper airplane and font KG Alphabet Regurgitation.
Thursday, 19 September 2013

I really love the MDS Software that Stampin' Up have released. There is so much potential for its use in schools by teachers. It is very reasonably priced and the stamps and other resources you buy are also good value and you can use the resources on programs multiple times.

This stamp was this week's purchase. I want to frame it in my office...yep I love coffee.

Click on the image above to download the poster from Dropbox. 
This poster was made in Stampin' Ups My Digital Studios using DSP Back to School - 3 and stamps Perfect Blend - cup and Perfect Blend - rule the world temporarily. 

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Twitter as a Search Engine

My search engine of choice is Google - basically because my browser of choice is Google Chrome.

But in my learning journey with the use of Twitter, I have found that I am starting to use Twitter more to search for things.

An example would be the school closures announced yesterday. I wanted to know as soon as possible which schools were going to be closed. It was on Twitter very quickly and I was able to get the list which was then verified in the online newspapers.

You know how much I like free fonts. I have now taken to using the hash tag #freefont when I've read all the Twitter posts on my homepage. A list comes up from a range of sources, many who I don't follow, and I can go from there to the links that are being provided to find out new things. 

It's definitely another way that people are marketing themselves online and trying to get their products out there.

You get some hits that aren't useful (kind of like any search engine really) but there are always a couple of gems.

Other search terms I'm using are:

- educational technology

- #designresources

- #educhat

What I am finding really interesting is the idea of hashtags. People actually identify as the person who came up with the hash tag. How cool is that!

In the learning journey I have been on I keep finding new things I haven't engaged with before on Twitter. After this post I am going to go online and look for more resources about how to use Twitter. My learn how to use twitter in 10 minutes book didn't go past what I needed to begin using it. And that's all I needed at the time. 

I think Twitter has a lot of potential to engage and collaborate with others. There are pitfalls, but if we are careful it can help us to engage with a much wider audience. That has to be a good thing.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

TeachMeet Brisbane - What works in Education?


Today I'm presenting at a TeachMeet session being held at QUT Kelvin Grove. I haven't come across TeachMeet before but the concept really interests me - educators interested in education talking about education and networking and meeting new people.'s all about collaboration.

The topic for the TeachMeet session is "What works in education?" The answer for me was quite simple - collaboration.

When we collaborate we get more done. We find out new things. We learn from each other. We work as a team, and aren't isolated. We make networks. We get outside our comfort zone.

I started to think about all of the things that I do to collaborate with educators outside of my workplace through Twitter, Pinterest, the Learning Place, blogs, YouTube etc and realised that without planning to, I have created my own Personal Learning Network (PLN). My ideas and strategies that I have for developing as a teacher and working with my students are better because I am looking for new ways to do things, because I am willing to be open-minded and see what is out there.

So...I came up with this infographic. This is how I see collaboration. Why I think it's important and how we can do it.

What do you think about collaboration? Leave me a comment and share your ideas.

This infographic was created using Piktochart.
Monday, 16 September 2013

Famous People Fonts

A few days ago I came across a font that mimicked Jane Austen's handwriting.

As a fan of Jane Austen's novels, most especially "Persuasion" I had to download it to use on my computer.

But it got me thinking about what other fonts were available that mimicked the handwriting of famous people.

There are quite a few that you can access for a fee, but there are some that are available for free.

I am aware that the Shakespeare font is the typeface of the published manuscript not his handwriting. If you are interested in looking at what other famous people fonts are available you can have a look at the following sites, but there they have a cost attached:

Friday, 6 September 2013

Myth #3 "Those Lazy Teachers"

No matter what your job, when you do it well, you work hard. You make sure everything is on track, that all the i's are dotted and t's crossed.

I don't pretend that I can understand what it is that a doctor does, or an architect, or a bank teller. They aren't jobs that I have had personal experience in.

What do I know? I know what it's like to be a teacher.

This week's myth (and apologies that it is a couple of days late - things have been a bit hectic) is about the attitude that exists that teachers are just lazy.

"Teachers don't do anything...they just stand at the front of the class and talk".

Where does this come from? It comes from a perception with the media and society that all at teacher does is stand in front of a class and talk; maybe ask a questions and then have a students say something; and then it's back to talking again.

Yeah right!

That in no way resembles what happens...and even if you're what has so politely been described as a 'chalk and talk' teacher (although we may need to rethink that with the number of blackboards in schools disappearing) there is still a lot more that you do.

Let's think about this sensibly for a minute. Let me give you a window into what a teacher may be doing while there standing at the front of the room just 'talking' and being lazy-like.

A new unit has started and with the changes to the curriculum coming again and you've been up late at night reading to make sure you're on top of everything that has changed before your class. It's straight after morning tea (yay, you had 5 minutes to go to the bathroom) and you have already had to address an issue as students have lined up outside. A quick look at one of the students you have been keeping a close eye on shows that once again, they don't have a school bag with them, but they've bought their tattered book. You smile as the student beside them passes takes it upon themselves to lend a pen to them. While there are some up the front of the room - paid for by you - you've been encouraging students to share with their peers when needed and it's rewarding to see that happen. You will need to chase it up with the Office again to make sure that everything at home is OK.

The unit is about the media. You start the lesson by asking students to work as a class and brainstorm the different types of media that may get the news from. Hands fly up; examples are called out. You remind the students, that in this class we respect each other and raise hands; and ask for a student who has sat with their hand raised for the first example. "Twitter" you're told and you write it on the board. "Do many of you get your news from Twitter?" you ask. Lots of hands go up. "What's another example of where we can find media?". "The Internet" another student who has their hand up states when asked. And it goes on until the board is filled with ideas. You consider what it means that older versions of mainstream media 'television' or 'newspapers' were the last to be raised. While asking students for contributions to the discussion you have asked students with their hands up, students who aren't contributing and students who look a bit off task to get more engagement in the room and make sure everyone understands what is going on.

So far, so good. Then it comes. The knock on the door. You're 10 minutes into the lesson and a member of the Administration is at the door. You ask students to begin to write up the list from the board in their books as you walk over. You are asked if a student is in your class. When you nod in the affirmative, the Deputy Principal asks to speak to them. You go over to the student and ask them quietly to go out to speak to the Deputy Principal. The class starts to chatter. You hear words from them like 'what did they do now' and quickly pull the students back to their task by talking to them about the different types of media that they have identified from the board. The Deputy knocks on the door again and you make your way over. The student is struggling not to cry and the Deputy simply tells you that they will be fine and can go back into class. You acknowledge the Deputy's words but stay blocking the door so that other students can's see what is going on. You quietly ask the student if they are OK and they shake their head. You ask them to go over to get a drink, take a few deep breaths and then to come back into the room when they're ready. 

Your lesson needs to move forward. The data projector is set up, and you are planning to show the students a YouTube clip about how teenagers engage with media. As you press play the data projector doesn't turn on. It was working earlier. You check the cords and they all seem to be where they are. You go back and check the cable to the computer and unplug it an replug it. The students are starting to get restless. What started off well is quickly going off the rails because of interruptions. You notice two students who are shoulder-bumping and ask them to stop. You unplug the cable again. The data projector comes to life. You quickly press play on the clip asking the students to watch it through the first time. You go back the door as the clip plays, noticing that the students are settling down again. The student who has gone to collect themselves is standing by the door. You smile and they re-enter the room and take a seat. 

The clip ends and you ask for some thoughts about what was seen. One student raises their hand and says "Miss why are we learning about this? Doesn't the media lie about things?". And there it was, the question that just threw your lesson plan out the window. Quick thinking and a new activity to come...and it's only been 20 minutes.

Is it physically exhausting like what I would expect a builder would be doing on a work site? In most cases no, although I'd like to point out that there are teachers on hot ovals with students...

But it is exhausting. The specific focus that needs to be paid to what is happening, the quick change in activity when there is a change in circumstances. That is exhausting. And the whole time you need to have a smile on your face. You need to be aware of what every child is doing. Class sizes at 25/28 still mean that there are a lot of bodies in a small space that need to be supported. The example above doesn't even begin to look at what goes into the differentiation so that all student learning needs are catered for in the lesson. It's just a very 'normal' start to the lesson. The rewards are the students. Their support of each other and their curiousity to find out more.

A teacher is on show. A teacher has to always be alert and focused about what is happening in their classroom. That includes what happened at lunch, what you need to be aware of with students and what's happening at home. 

Do you know how to manage more than 20 people in a small setting at a single time? Do you know how to keep them interested and engaged in the lesson? Do you know how to support their individual learning and social needs?

It's not easy. That's OK because we're there for the students. We're not there for anything else. 

But some respect for the genuine complexity of the role; the many facets that make up a teacher's role need to be acknowledged.

And for those who simply sprout up with the line, "Teachers just stand there" I say this to you. 

If it is so easy...why don't you do it?
Thursday, 5 September 2013

Design Resources #1 - Creative Market

There is so much out there and available for us to access to 'pretty' things up or to make a statement with our work in classrooms. I think I'll take a break from blogs of the week to share some design resources for a while...

This year I have fallen in love with "Creative Market".

Why...well for starters they release 3 freebies per week. In Australia, they come through early on a Tuesday morning. The best for me are the free fonts and the images/backgrounds. This week they have "Groovy" font...nice.

But there is so much more. I've said it before; we have lots of very talented people in the world. 

On "Creative Market" designers share their products, and they aren't all that expensive. So why is this good for teachers.

They have lots that will interest you..

I love Mr Chalk. I've used it on designs before.

Today I saw their "Back to School" range (obviously in the US...we're getting closer to our holiday break). There were some fantastic items.

Check out these when you go to the site.

Hand drawn book clip art...lots of potential there - $5
Back to school cute characters - $8
Mr Chalk (of course) $19

And the best part is that they come with a "Creative Market" simple license. You need to read the fine print, but essentially this means you can use them in products you create. 

And once you've bought it, then it stays in your account.

They give you the opportunity to make your own stamp on your work - just keeping things that bit different...
Monday, 2 September 2013

Favourite Fonts #7

There are lots of very talented people who create fonts for us to use, and many who generously create them for free for us to use.

Have you ever thought about making your own font?

Below are a list of sites that allow you to create your own fonts, whether it be based on your handwriting or completely from scratch.

To make something that you're happy with takes time and a clear idea. You need to strategise and design.

What do you want to make?

A font...letters...images...dingbats?

This image was made in Stampin' Ups My Digital Studios using DSP Old School - 2; Font KG Primary Penmanship and KG Empire of Dirt and Embellishment Back to School - mixed ribbon.
Sunday, 1 September 2013

Teacher Print

There are so many ideas around. So many really clever people with creativity oozing from them. I don't work like that. I need to see something and be inspired and interested. I need to then have a go myself.

This project might be quite simplistic, but it was what I was going for.

I think, as teachers, we should be proud of the work that we do. It affects lives.

These prints are something that you can frame for yourself or give to a friend or colleague.

I will be working on them to turn them into cards too. They will be great for thankyou cards that I can give my colleagues. Once I have worked that out I will share it with you.

There are nine colours to choose from. The prints were made using Stampin Up's My Digital Studios with the word window punch and colours as outlined below. The font is "Outstanding"