Monday, 5 October 2015

October Wallpaper and Positive Posters

We’ve hit October. Once again, I can go to work when the sun’s up and leave work with the sun up. Going to and from work in the dark always makes things seem so much harder especially in Term 3.

October Wallpaper

I purchased a range of resources from Creative Market and Design Cuts and was having a play around in Photoshop to create some positive posters for my office and to share with my staff. I’ve incorporated one into this month’s wallpaper so that I can continue to be inspired and reminded everyday.

Positive Poster 1

Positive Poster 2

Positive Poster 3

Positive Poster 4
All images can be downloaded from my Flickr site by clicking on the links above.
This month’s wallpaper and posters have been created using the font Manhattan Darling. The images of the animals are part of Lisa Glanz’s Magical Watercolour Animals and Flowers Volume 1 and Magical Watercolour Animals and Flowers Volume 2 and the watercolour texture is part of Nicky Laatz’s Give Me Some Watercolour Textures Quick. All resources have been purchased with a commercial licence.


I seem to keep having the same conversation with my students about drafting. Writing something and handing things in at the last minute doesn’t mean that they are handing in a draft.

A draft needs to be something that is carefully crafted and designed. It needs to be almost as good as a final copy and be created so that the teacher can provide feedback to help students to improve.

The message we need to get out is that a draft isn’t the first attempt at something; it needs to be editing, rewritten and edited again. The draft needs to be the fourth or fifth attempt at something. Students who want to do well are students who rework their drafts until they can’t do anything else to improve them. Then they hand them in to the teacher.

So this term, whenever I’m speaking with my students about their drafts I’m going to be using this image - on slides, as posters and on task sheets.

This Drafting Poster was created in Stamping Up’s My Digital Studios and a copy can be accessed through my Flickr account by clicking on the link above.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

September Wallpaper

This wallpaper has been designed using StampsBanner Blast/Banner Blast - triangle flag and Punches1.25 Square Punch. The font is Charcuterie - Flared.
Monday, 3 August 2015

August Wallpaper

A new wallpaper for August. 

Trying something new this time as I'm slowly working out how to get things to operate in Photoshop. 

The Roses have been purchased through Kelly Jane Creative and the Watercolour Patterns are part of the Watercolour Branding Kit by MakeMediaCo.

The font used is Manhattan Darling by MakeMediaCo.
Wednesday, 1 July 2015

July Wallpaper

Holidays are here...

Recharging the batteries and trying to catch up furiously on my own professional learning and projects for Term 3.

Hope everyone has a chance to relax.

The font used is Cookies and Cream by Nicky Laatz. The wallpaper has been created in Stampin Ups My Digital Studio using Stamps: Month by Month - July hand written, and Designer Series Paper - Storytime - 2.
Monday, 1 June 2015

June Wallpaper 2015

This wallpaper has been created using Stampin Up's My Digital Studios: Embellishments - Playground Project Life 4x6 -22; and fonts KG Grace of God and Catalina Anacaps.

Friday, 15 May 2015

May Wallpaper

New wallpaper..bit late...but on the bright side...NAPLAN is over.

This wallpaper has been created using Stampin Up's MDS using Designer Series Paper/_Designer Kits/Birthday Bash - designer series paper/Birthday Bash - 5; Designer Kits/Walk in the Park II - embellishments/Walk in the Park II - circle flowers (re-colored) Color = NIGHT OF NAVY 33,64,95; Stamps: Month by Month/Month by Month - may curls, Color = 0,0,0; Fantabulous You/Fantabulous You - i keep hitting escape, Color = 0,0,0; and Punch - Scallop Square Punch, Fill Color = 230,WATERMARK 255,255,255
Tuesday, 31 March 2015

April Wallpaper

This month's wallpaper...commemorating 100 years since the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli.

This wallpaper has been constructed using Stampin Up's My Digital Studios using  Designer Series Paper/_Designer Kits/Back to School - designer series paper/Back to School - 6.

The font used in Charcuterie Etched purchased through Creative Market and Wallpaper Poppies purchased through Creative Market.
Sunday, 22 March 2015

Keep Learning

Being open to learning is important.

For a teacher it is even more so.

I can get so passionate about the topics that I am teaching and want to share that with my students. I want the, to be as passionate as me.

But that isn't always the reality. My students aren't always as passionate as I am about what we're studying.

And they don't have to be - I know there is a lot that I can learn.

Today I visited the David Lynch exhibition "Between Two Worlds" at GOMA.

I always attend the exhibitions at QAG and GOMA because I like to learn about different kinds of art. I remember first seeing Ai Wei Wei's work and falling in love.

I was so excited when I was in Washington years later and saw an Ai Wei Wei exhibition. I really grasp what is happening with his work. I am fascinated by how he portrays our devaluing of history.

Personal Photograph - December 2012

But the most recent exhibition at GOMA...not so much.

But it isn't about not is about not understanding.

I know I have students who would take one look at a drawing or mixed media piece by David Lynch and grasp what it was all about. They would clearly understand his message.

I know students who I sometimes have difficulty engaging with, who I can now begin a conversation with, I can ask them their thoughts about the exhibition and how they relate to it. I can start a conversation about filmmaking, design, art and music.

And I can learn from them.

I didn't walk away from the exhibition thinking - I didn't understand that; it was a waste of time. Instead I walked away from a new experience and an open mind - to learn what I could about different mediums and a different artist. I am happy to learn what I can.

Because really that has to be the first rule of teaching - to keep learning.

This poster was made using Stampin Up's My Digital Studios using Embellishment Playground Project Life 3x4 - 114, Stamps Playground Project Life - apple and 1.25 square punch filled with DSP My First Day - chalkboard.
Friday, 20 March 2015

Queensland Senior Assessment - One Teacher's Thoughts

When I was at school, something became very clear to me - I'm not good at exams. I remember my first experience with block exams - I got a rash all over the right side of the body which the doctor attributed to stress. Medical Certificate in hand I returned to school on the Friday of exam week to sit my Biology, English and Maths B exams in the space of 4 hours. Not a good introduction to exams.

Currently in Queensland, exams aren't the most important piece of assessment for students. They complete exams of course, but it's within a range of other tasks. This allows them to have multiple opportunities to show their learning, but in different ways.

I value the opportunity that I have as a HoD English and a teacher to develop work program within a school context that will engage students. I have taught in a number of schools in my career, and in no school have I done the same thing.

Each context is different. 
Each group of students is different. 
We are able to choose texts and tasks that suit their learning needs and abilities. 
We tailor the opportunities to meet our students needs.

There is a debate in Queensland about the way that we do things. A debate about school-based moderated assessment versus externally-marked assessment.

What's the difference? 
What is unique about Queensland?

In Queensland schools, a work program is designed based on a syllabus. This is put together based on stringent criteria. Each school is in a district and in that district there is a panel of teachers of that subject. They receive the proposed work program, make sure that it meets the criteria outlined in the syllabus and approve or ask for changes. Within a school, after assessment is collected and marked, teachers work together as a team to moderate the assessment. They discuss the pieces, they question each other, they make sure that the mark matches the criteria and standards set out in the syllabus document. In Term 3 schools send a sample of student work to the district panel. Independent panellists examine this work, discuss it, make sure that it represents the standards of achievement and provide advice back to schools. If they don't agree, they ask the school to adjust their result. This is a comprehensive process, and the work is done by teachers who are in schools and working with students. They are the experts.

We don't send our work away to be marked independently. We don't devalue the work of our teachers by telling them that they don't know what they're doing and that someone else needs to mark their work.

Instead we value the professional judgements of our teachers. We value them. We trust them.

We have a test that provides a balance - the Queensland Core Skills Test. Has it been manipulated in recent years? Yes. I've been in schools where an external consultant has come in and demanded students not be allowed to sit the test so that other students can achieve higher results. Is 'gaming' happening - absolutely. But if we are going to rely on data for everything in education, this is inevitable, not matter the testing system. We are naive to think otherwise.

All systems can be improved. Of course they can. Anyone who says that nothing has been done to change the system we currently work under is wrong. In my 14 year career I've seen syllabus processes developed and syllabus documents changed; I've seen tweaks to the assessment regime to meet the needs of our students more widely and their needs. Changes are important and necessary to any system. And they have been happening and will continue to happen.

The ACER Review (click here to read more) has a number of recommendations that I believe should be enacted e.g. pre-approving assessment items - who can argue with that?

However my personal belief is that what we do in Queensland works. How do I know? I'm a panellist. I'm a HoD and I'm a teacher. I work at the chalkface and see this process in all it's forms. It is transparent. It it stringent. It has checks and balances.

I shudder and question my place as an educator if we have a system where the knowledge and skills of our students is reliant upon an externally marked piece of assessment that devalues the work students are completing in schools, especially if one task is worth 50% and school-based assessment, which may be three tasks is worth the same. How is this equitable?

Not all students are good at exams and we would be disadvantaging them. We don't currently have a system of exams and if what is being stated anecdotally in other states is true, we would need to train our students to complete a test. How does this prepare them for real life?

School-based moderated assessment has some exams and some assignments (both written and spoken) in English as well as, in other subjects there are pracs, performances etc. Students complete a range of tasks to best illustrate their strengths and weaknesses. This is valuable. This is real. In real life, in the workplace, students have opportunities to continue to learn and develop their skills. How often will they sit a test for knowledge? And lets face it, if you don't know something, you look it up. You use the skills you've developed through school and life to evaluate the information to find what you're looking for.

These are my thoughts. They don't belong to anyone else but me.

I love the system we have in Queensland and would hate to see it disappear because of misinformation in the media which has rolled out into our wider society. Our system is robust and accountable. Can we make changes to improve it - absolutely, but let's not throw it out altogether. That would be tragic - for our teachers and our students, and in turn our wider society.

If you're a teacher in Queensland and value the system we have, please have your say. There is a survey on the DETE website here and the QCAA will be releasing a survey soon. I will link back to it when it is live.

If we are to have change, let's make sure the teachers of Queensland are heard. You may not agree with me, and that's fine. Have your say too.
Monday, 2 March 2015

If I could visit any place I've read about in a book...

I'm very proud of my new display.

I completed a warm up activity with my students a few weeks ago to help me build this display. Students were asked to take a post-it as they came into class. I made templates that asked the question

"If I could visit any place I've read about in a book it would be?"

Students entered the room and wrote their answers on the post it. Once they had completed this task, they put them on the whiteboard, collecting them in groups where there were similarities. 

I have used their answers to create the display. This was a Year 9 class, and I admit that the one that surprised me was Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, but I guess that is somewhere I'd also love to visit.

You can find a pdf copy of the template here. To use the template, print off one copy of the document. Attach six post its by placing them directly over the top of the box. Place this sheet back in your printer. Print the pdf again. The borders will print out as well. Redo until you have enough.

You can find a copy of the arrows used in the display here. I printed in colour and as A3 so that they were a bit larger.

The quotes can be downloaded here. The banner can be downloaded here.

The fonts used in the arrows for the display can be found below:

The wood photographs used for the background of the signs come from a collection by Dustin Lee, purchased through Design Cuts with a commercial licence.

The banner was created using Stampin Up's My Digital Studios using 
    Extras/Build A Banner Simply Created - punches/Build A Banner Simply Created - 2,  Filled with: Designer Series Paper/_Designer Kits/World Traveler - designer series paper/World Traveler - paper 8;     Basics/1.25 Circle Punch, Fill Color = 175,190,174
    Alphabet & Numbers/Timeless Type Junior Letters/Timeless Type Junior Uppercase - i, Junior Lowercase - w, a, n, t, o, v, i, s.

The quote posters were created using wood backgrounds from a collection by Dustin Lee, purchased through Design Cuts with a commercial licence. The font is Castor One, purchased with a commercial licence.

March Wallpaper

4+ weeks to the end of the's time for rest and reflection...somewhere in there with the marking and reporting.

This wallpaper has been created using Stampin Up's My Digital Studios using fonts AZClaire and Brave, both purchased with a commercial licence.


     Designer Series Paper/_Designer Kits/Hello Perfection - designer series paper/Hello Perfection - 1

    _Designer Kits/Hello Perfection - embellishments/Hello Perfection - tape and paper 4
    _Designer Kits/Spring to Life - embellishments/Spring to Life - bird

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Grammar Posters

My "Ideas for Grammar and Punctuation" board on Pinterest has been growing and growing.

Recently I had one class of my students write a practice narrative for an upcoming exam. We had concentrated on how to use descriptive language, dialogue, paragraphing, character development. It was evident from the drafts that they had generally utilised these appropriately.

What they didn't do well, was use appropriate grammar.

When asked about it, common responses included

"We know we should have used a capital letter at the start of the sentence but.."
"I can see that I should have used three sentences there instead of one big long one but..."
"Full stops? Yes I know where they go..."

However they didn't do it. They knew about it, but couldn't be bothered.

In a real assessment item, this means significant problems as the meaning of the students work is affected, and can be difficult to read. Without clear grammar, punctuation and spelling, it doesn't matter how wonderful the descriptive language is - you can't see if for the errors.

So I went back to Pinterest. What could I use that had been shared to support my students. There are some very clever people around who have distilled some complex ideas into easily understood concepts to allow students to access the information more easily.

Key websites that I have used to build my Grammar Tips Posters included the following:



These posters can be downloaded as a PDF from my Dropbox.

Visit my Flickr page for images that can be downloaded in various sizes.

They have been created using Stampin Up's My Digital Studios with the font Castor One.

It hasn't been my intention to breach copyright or the intellectual property of any person or site. If you have any concerns, please post a comment below and I will rectify the situation immediately. 

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Promoting Reading

Promoting a love of reading among my students has become a primary project of mine.

I currently have a range of student-friendly posters up around classroom from a previous post.

Now I would like to have some specifically to share amongst my staff, with key messages. I want them up in our resource room, not only to brighten the space, but also to remind them that we need to promoting a love of reading with our students.

Each of the posters below are available as .jpeg and .pdf files.


Click on the image above to download from my Flickr account. Click here for access to a PDF copy.

The font used in this poster is Cucho Bold. Images are from a Kelly Jane Creative collection. Both have been purchased with a commercial licence.

While these quotes are focused on books, my message to students through my staff is that that our students just need to read. It doesn't have to be a book.

It can be anything: a magazine, a comic book, a newspaper...whatever is going to spark their interest. We have to be explicit about finding the right text for them to read. We need to talk to them and find out their interests. We need to find ways for our students to share their interests and recommendations.

I will be sharing some of the strategies I'm trying out in future posts.

As a start though, I'm having the poster below put up in classrooms. The four simple steps to reinforce what they need to do to "read for pleasure".

Click on the image above to download from my Flickr account. Click here for access to a PDF copy. 

This poster has been created in Stampin Up's My Digital Studio. Fonts include KG Alphabet Regurgitated and KG Primary Whimsy. The embellishment is from the Storytime collection.

Friday, 6 February 2015

February Wallpaper

February's wallpaper...better late than never...

This wallpaper was made with using Stampin Up's My Digital Studios:

     Designer Series Paper/_Designer Kits/Love This - designer series paper/Love This - 1

    _Designer Kits/Love This/Love This - heart with triangles, Color = TANGERINE TANGO 243,114,82
    _Designer Kits/Love This/Love This - love, Color = GUMBALL GREEN 105,132,51
    Copyright Stamps/Copyright Stamps - brackets, Color = 0,0,0

    1.25 Circle Punch, Fill Color = 230,WATERMARK 255,255,255
    Rounded Corner Punch, Fill Color = POOL PARTY 169,221,199     

Catalina Script

Sunday, 11 January 2015

I Cannot Live Without Books --- Thomas Jefferson

I fell in love with this quote when I visited Washington and The Library of Congress and wanted to design a poster so that I could put it up in my office.

Click on the image to get a copy of the image and the PDF version can be accessed here.

I have used Nicky Laatz's Stringfellows font and watercolour styles purchased with a commercial licence. I have also used digital papers from Pixel Scrapper and Janet Scott's Reading, Writing and Artithmetic Paper Kit.