Friday, 27 March 2015

April Fools Day Classroom Prank

This could be fun!

I found The Elusive Lirpaloof Bird courtesy of Sunny Days in Second Grade and I am thinking that it would be great to try this out on my class on April Fools' Day. I am wondering if they will fall for it.  I guess I'll find out on the 1st! That is if I don't chicken out. I'm not the best practical joker. I'll have to work on my poker face! I'll update to let you know how it goes.

Anyone else planning some Aprils Fools' Day pranks? Would love to know of any good ones!

Thursday, 26 March 2015

What Would I Do as a Teacher If I Weren't Afraid?

Reflective Teaching 30 Day Blog Challenge
Day 30: What would you do, as a teacher, if you weren't afraid?

And last but not least the final day! Just before the end of term too!

Just been chatting on Twitter about purposeful innovation in education (#edchatnz) and so this question comes at a time when I am thinking about if I am innovative enough in the classroom and how I could be more so. This leads to not being afraid because sometimes it takes more courage than you want to have to try new things and take risks. Especially when you are the newest member of an established teaching crew.

I would like to be more innovative in the classroom and I hope to take a small step towards that goal each day. I don't think that this means I will stop fearing the risk but I hope to be afraid and do it anyway!

First step: Be open to student suggestions and allow students to take the lead. Learn to say YES to these opportunities more! Let them lead me to a new and more purposeful way to be innovative in my teaching.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Twiiter Chat

Completed my second Twitter chat tonight!

#dojochatANZ Maximising student engagement

Love the energy and ideas from twitter chats. I learn so much. I must do more!

How Have I Changed as an Educator?

Reflective Teaching 30 Day Blog Challenge
Day 29: How have you changed as an educator since you first started?

I am a new teacher, so I have not had much time to grow but nevertheless I believe that I have changed quite a lot as an educator in the short time that I have been teaching.

This term in particular I feel that I have done the most growing and changing. This is because I have been in the same classroom at least three days in a row so I am better able to reflect and make changes as the students and the environment aren't constantly changing on me. Because of this I feel more confident as a teacher. I am also finding my personality as a teacher and trying to bring as much enthusiasm into the classroom as I can which I am finding harder and harder as we closer to the end of the term!

Something that I want to improve on in the coming months is to be more comfortable to take the lead around other more experienced teachers. It is sometimes too easy to doubt myself in their presence and let them run things.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Should Technology Drive Curriculum?

Reflective Teaching 30 Day Blog Challenge
Day 28: Respond: Should technology drive curriculum or vice versa?

I believe that curriculum should drive the use of technology not the other way around. The learning objective itself comes first and technology should only be used if it fits with the learning content and enhances it. As tempting as it is to choose technology over curriculum, especially when there are so much amazing new technologies out there,  it is the actual learning content that should be prioritised. Technology gives us great tools and skills for the future but if technology drives our curriculum we are losing sight of why we are at school in the first place.

The technology that I use in the classroom is minimal at the moment, mostly because I'm still trying to focus on delivering the classroom program. Having said that if I learn of a tool that I know would be useful to what the children are learning I am open to using it and I love learning about new technologies that I can use. Sometimes there are too many to remember!

I have recently been introduced to Kidspiration and have used it in a whole class brainstorm for writing to great effect. The kids were engaged as it was different to our usual brainstorms on the whiteboard and also because we could add pictures it worked well for the more visual learners in the classroom.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Role of Weekends and Holidays in Teaching

Reflective Teaching 30 Day Blog Challenge
Day 27: What role to weekends and holidays play in your teaching?

The weekends mean mostly rest and time away from being a teacher. Holidays are similar but probably end up being one week for holidaying and one week at school. I am yet to find out just how much time I'll have to put in for that week. I have only been into school one weekend so far but as the year progresses and I have more responsibility for my shred classroom then I imagine i'll be in a lot more!

Thursday, 19 March 2015

My Favourite Go-To Teaching Sites

Reflective Teaching 30 Day Blog Challenge
Day 26: What are your favourite go-to sites for help/tips/resources in your teaching?

*Pinterest - for ideas and resources for the classroom. I found some great stuff for our Around the World With the Gingerbread Man lastnight.

*Teachers Pay Teachers - for resources that you just don't have time to make yourself!

*Other teacher's blogs! - I have a bookmarked, pinned and put many blogs on my Blogger blog list that  go to for ideas, resources and tips.

If I need help or advice I use sites such as:

*Twitter - for education groups and chats

*Facebook - where I have joined education groups such the ones mentioned through this link and my own personal teacher network groups.

Does anyone have any go-to sites that they would like to share? I am always open to finding new sites.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

My Ideal Collaboration Between Students

Reflective Teaching 30 Day Blog Challenge
Day 25: The ideal collaboration between students, what would it look like?

My ideal collaboration would look like a group of students engaged in a task together and communicating about that task. They would be asking questions, thinking critically, sharing ideas, discussing alternatives, making decisions and giving and receiving instructions.

Ideally this would be evenly spread throughout the group of children with them all contributing. However in the real world we often see the same children talking and the same children listening. This is something that I would have to scaffold in my classroom as their are 1) children of varying ages, 2) some shy students that are to unsure to contribute and 3) some students that tend to dominate if allowed.

Would love to do more of this collaborative learning in the classroom and I think I might try it tomorrow. I have five Year 3 students, three of which could use a push to collaborate. It would be nice to show them a task and get them to teach it to other students rather than it being me that does all the directing!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

My Favourite Learning Trend

Reflective Teaching 30 Day Blog Challenge
Day 24: Which learning trend captures your attention the most and why?

I like this prompt today because it made me actually go and research the learning trends as I wasn't immediately able to identify which trend I was in interested in. The trend that I was the most excited about, although not new, was the focus on being creative maker and problem solver rather than a passive learner of facts.

Make a wish upon a star

This term our class has been reading the novel Tale of a Tail by Margaret Mahy, which is all about a dog with a wand for a tail that grants wishes. Therefore, my colleague suggested that for writing this week they can write a story about what three wishes they would like to make.

Being a Year 0-3 class, I am sure that you can imagine the kinds of things that they wished that they could be, have or wished existed. On the board were written three starter sentences: I wish I could be..., I wish I had... and I wish there was. Under each heading we wrote what the children wished for. The main themes were: princesses, mermaids, fairies, horses, lego land, superpowers, magic and the list goes on.

As inevitably happens, especially when children have been out of class for swimming and other events, some were finished or nearly finished while others had only just begun. Therefore I decided that I needed to have something for the fast finishers to move on to that wouldn't leave the others behind but also might be an incentive to finish their writing. I designed a template of a wishing star after searching all over the internet and not finding what I wanted. On the template children will choose one wish and write it in the star. They will also draw a picture of their wish in the star behind their writing.
Here's the template we used

The display on the classroom wall with the star light star bright poem
We're still working on writing big enough so that their writing can be read from a distance but I'm really proud of he effort they put into these. Next time I will have to watch them like a hawk when they get to the glitter though as some went overboard (see stars on the right!).

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Involving the Community in the Classroom

Reflective Teaching 30 Day Blog Challenge
Day 23: Write about one way that you "meaningfully" involve the community in the learning in your classroom. If you don't do so yet, describe one way you could get started.

This is something that I don't do in the classroom yet. So far I have been concentrating on getting to know the children in my classroom, school and their parents. I haven't branched out much into the wider community.

Also our first few weeks focused on Myself and at the moment our learning focus is centred on the theme of 'Around the World with the Gingerbread Man', so we are thinking bigger than our community at the moment and branching out to other countries and cultures. However we have children from the Philippines and children with ancestry from India and Germany so there is a possibility that we could use their parents to teach us about those cultures in the classroom and perhaps there are other members of the community that might be able to come in and share their culture with the children as well.

Next term we could do find a way to bring in a member of the community that fits in with our learning so that we can use our community knowledge in a meaningful way. Maybe also we just need an open community day where we can invite the wider community to interact with the students and share their work with them.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

My Professional Learning Network

Reflective Teaching 30 Day Blog Challenge
Day 22: What does your Professional Learning Network look like and what does it do for your teaching?

I consider myself lucky to have a access to a broad professional learning network of teachers and educators in many different shapes and sizes:

  • Twitter - chats, hashtags and contacts
  • Open educational Facebook Groups
  • Closed Facebook Groups e.g. my cohorts from teaching college (I have access to two cohorts as I did my course part time)
  • Teachers from professional placements
  • Teachers from schools that I have received at
  • Teachers from the school I work in currently
  • Beginning teachers and mentors from my PRT/Mentor workshop

What this means for my teaching is that I have several people from many different stages of teaching an/or education service that I can call upon if I need some advice, guidance or fresh ideas to use in the classroom. It also means that I can use this network of people to discuss and reflect on my teaching practice and and further my professional development in more informal ways than on an official course or workshop.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Bringing Outside Interests into the Classroom

Reflective Teaching 30 Day Blog Challenge
Day 21: Do you have other hobbies/interests that you bring into your classroom teaching? Explain.

As a lover of literature I am constantly bring the enthusiasm I have for both reading and writing into the classroom. I enjoy sharing stories with the children in my class. I think it is great to be able to share my enjoyment of these subjects and hopefully infect the children with my enthusiasm.

I also share stories of my travels with children and relate them to relevant class discussions. It is great to share my experiences with the children and help them learn about places beyond their knowledge.

It is also good for the children in my class to see me as more than just a teacher. Therefore, where appropriate, I share things that are happening in my life. For example, my sister had a baby and I became an aunty for the first time and I shared this moment with the class. It was special to be able to tell them things about my life and let them get to know me more as a person outside of the school.


I do think this is something that I could do more as a teacher and bring in my interests and hobbies into the learning in the classroom as my excitement and passion for things are what make learning more interesting and engaging.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Curating Student's Work

Reflective Teaching 30 Day Blog Challenge
DAY 20: How do you curate student work - or help them do it themselves?

Most of the work that we curate is displayed on the walls of our classroom. This is mostly art work or writing with art work and it is placed on the wall by the teacher or teacher's aide. What is curated is usually decided by the teacher.

Friday, 6 March 2015

3 Powerful Ways Students Can Reflect on Their Learning

Reflective Teaching 30 Day Blog ChallengeDAY 19: Name three powerful ways students can reflect on their learning, then discuss closely the one you use most often.

  1. Written record
  2. Whole class/small group/buddy discussion 
  3. Conferencing
The form of reflection that I use with my students most often is discussion, either as a class, to a buddy or in small groups, depending on the subject and the organisation of the lesson. I think this is a powerful way for students to reflect on their learning as they can share how they feel their learning went. I might give a guiding question for students to answer or children might have to share what they have learnt or not learnt as the case may be. It is also powerful tool for me as a teacher to reflect on how I am teaching as their reaction will help me to gauge how successful I have been.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

My Teaching Philosophy

Reflective Teaching 30 Day Blog Challenge 

DAY 18: Create a metaphor/simile/analogy that describes your teaching philosophy.

Here is my teaching philosophy as best as I could make it. A bit cliche really!

Growing a forest of unique, creative, independent, caring, resilient and community minded individuals.

I've added a picture I've been developing too that shows my teaching philosophy. It is still a work in progress as I have had several attempts at how to do the leaves. I have done words that would stem from each root (though some overlap) but I am still trying to get it looking right. I need to experiment with colours and organisation a bit more before I attempt to do it on the real thing. Has anyone else drawn their teaching philosophy rather than just written it? I love to see what other have come up with.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Most Challenging Issue in Education Today

Reflective Teaching 30 Day Blog ChallengeDAY 17: What do you think is the most challenging issue in education today?

For me, the most challenging current issue in education is getting some people to see that education is not all about making children fit into the cookie cutter of expectations (i.e. National Standards)! Parents, (perhaps spurred on by the media hype) seem to be anxious that their children are meeting the standards as set out by the government. I understand their worry as every parent wants their child to do well but the problem is how do we define what is normal progression and what isn't? It seems that such thinking could lead us back to the bygone days of rote learning i.e. your must know this, this and this to pass school. It takes away all the little skills that people use in everyday life to get to the answers. I am equally interested that children know how to take the journey to find the answers than have all the answers.

Monday, 2 March 2015

My Second Run of the Year

This year my New Year's Resolutions are to try to keep a healthy work life balance as I begin my career in teaching and also to exercise more. after all doesn't the saying go, "healthy heart healthy mind."

My Top Edtech Tools

Reflective Teaching 30 Day Blog Challenge
DAY 13: Name the top edtech tools that you use on a consistent basis in the classroom and rank them in terms of their perceived effectiveness.

The top edtech tools that I use as a teacher are:

1) Apple iPad - these are used often in my classroom with children using apps as part of the rotation for numeracy and literacy. They are great at engaging children in their learning in fun ways.

2) YouTube - great to bring a visual or even just aural component into the classroom that gives variety rather than just me talking!

3) Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers - I use these tools often to plan my lessons/units and get new ideas.

4) Twitter- I love this tool for networking with other teachers and for reflecting (what I also use this blog for!)

Just to add to this an edtech tool that I think would be great but haven't had the chance to use yet is Ted-Ed. I hope to be able to use this one in the classroom soon!

Please comment if you have any you would like to share.

How Will My Teaching Change?

Reflective Teaching 30 Day Blog Challenge
DAY 12: How do you envision your teaching changing over the next five years?

Quite a lot will change for me over the next five years in my teaching career. Firstly I imagine (hope!) that I will be fully registered by then. 

I think I will have moved schools at least once by then to find a full time position.

I imagine that I will more easily be able to plan and recall activities that work well with students. I will also be more practised at transitions and keeping the students occupied in meaningful work so they don't become bored or distracted. 

I hope that I am still learning something new about my job everyday and that I am still enjoying being a teacher.