Ignite, Innovate, Integrate Conference, August 14 2015

I asked to attend this ICT education conference after the advertising material landed in my inbox a while back. The promotional material made it sound like a big deal, but my natural skepticism ensured that my expectations remained low. I mean, for goodness’ sake, they had a magician on the program and were offering cash prizes on the day. I wasn’t sure how seriously to take the whole event.

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Very seriously, it turned out.

The event was held at Kingswood Primary School in the south east of Melbourne. As soon as I arrived I found my coworker, Tim, and picked up my lanyard. The day was organised into a keynote speech, two workshops that we chose from a selection on offer, and then three more speakers, one of whom was ‘COSENTINO! WORLD FAMOUS MAGICIAN!’, of whom I knew nothing.

We all filed into the well-appointed school hall and the first of the cash prizes was given to a random attendee. Most of the prizes were linked to giving feedback immediately after sessions via QR codes and it only occurred to me halfway through that trying to bribe people in giving feedback was probably a good idea. Teachers, after all, are busy people who rarely do anything they don’t have a very good reason to do, and filling out feedback after a long day’s PD is just not going to happen without a carrot on offer. Some of the prizes were up to $250 – pretty impressive.

The first speaker of the day was a man named Will Richardson, whose very readable blog can be found here. He is an American writer who is a proponent of education change to cater to the needs of modern learners. His speech was outstanding. This video covers some of the key points:

From my own notes, for those who can’t be bothered watching the video (although it’s only 14 minutes and you’ll love it, I promise!), here’s my key impressions from his talk.

  • Students have access to the sum of human knowledge on their phones and people who want to learn can do so anywhere, anytime, therefore this is the best time, in the history of the world, to be a learner. It’s also a very complex time to be an educator.
  • Schools’ responses to the wealth of technology and information have not been relevant. We limit and schedule student access to the global pool of knowledge. This does not reflect how their lives will be beyond school – and how their lives are currently outside of school.
  • teaching children information ‘just in case’ they might need it one day is a mistake because students (and adults) today learn information ‘just in time’ – right when they need it and for a purpose. I know that I do this in my own life. I want to change a fuse? YouTube. I wanted to learn how to crochet so I went straight to YouTube. We need to let students access the knowledge they seek.
  • the internet allows students access to millions of potential teachers and we all need a network of people who share our passions. How do we help students moderate those who will influence them, and connect with people who can help them?
  • what is an education? What will be most useful to students in the future, when it is predicted that a large proportion of jobs our students will have, haven’t been invented yet?
  • we have access to such a vast resource and wealth of knowledge, how do we decide what to spend our time on? Allowing students to studying a few things of personal interest deeply is more valuable than skimming many things because it allows students to experience what it is to become an expert, and they can apply that level of persistence to any new area that they wish to master.

Every keynote speaker on the day referenced Seymour Papert whom, after 5 minutes research, I cannot believe I had not heard of already.

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I enjoyed both the workshops I attended. The first was on the subject of iBook Author, an app that allows easy creation of iBooks. The teacher was quite dry in his humour and raced through his presentation but it was a good overview of the program.  The second was on robotic Lego. It was fun and I could see lots of great educational applications but the cost of Lego is just crazy. Perhaps a task for the Parent Committee, who do amazing fundraising at my school.

lego race1


interactive whiteboard

The next speaker was the AMAZING MAGICIAN COSENTINO! who, it turned out, was the son of the principal and was also actually pretty famous, having won Dancing With The Stars and quite a huge range of awards across the globe. Plus he actually was really good. Most of his speech was about how he educated himself to become a magician and how school didn’t work for him or help him in his life goals. He told us about his journey and it was really interesting, as were the magic tricks he did throughout.


The next two speakers, Chris Betcher from NSW and Lee Watanabe Crockett from Canada, were as informative and inspiring as Will Richardson. They followed the same themes of reinventing education to suit the digital age, and encouraged the audience to consider the purpose of education and their use of technology.

I took more notes throughout the day than I’ve ever taken at a PD previously and it’s very difficult to condense three hours of wisdom into one digestible blog entry. Alongside the points I mentioned under Will Richardson’s talk, Chris Betcher made a number of excellent points and I particularly liked his quote from Douglas Adams. While I don’t think it necessarily applies to everyone, it certainly does help explain why teachers can lack an understanding of the way students view and use technology.

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He also made the excellent point that yes, there’s so much stuff out there that learning about new technology can seem like the labour of Sisyphus, but it’s not like that at all, because teachers don’t need to know how to use all the apps in existence, because students teach themselves – and they’ll teach you too, if you let them. Really, the role of teachers is to help students discern what is good quality, how to extend themselves, how to communicate clearly through whatever platform they choose, how to present information effectively, how to do all those things that are the reasons why we use technology.  He said to think about the verbs in the curriculum – create, consider, describe, explain, elaborate. We still need to teach students how to do this. He made an excellent point with an example about making movies. He asked a group of adults, after a quick introduction to iMovie, how difficult they’d rate the process. They said that it was easy – maybe a 3 out of 10. But then he asked how difficult it was to make a good movie? Well, that would be more like a 9 or of 10. Teachers are needed to help students understand and create quality work and make good decisions based on common sense.


Lee Watanabe Crocket was the final speaker. I had not heard of him, but a small amount of googling revealed his great devotion to creating digitally literate students. He has a foundation that promotes what he calls ‘digital fluencies’ that he believes should be at the core of all curricula.


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I won’t try to elaborate on the diagram above, but I encourage you to watch this video in which he talks about his ideas on the future of education.

He generously offered his book, Digital Literacy Is Not Enough for free from iBooks for a short time for conference attendees and I look forward to reading it.


The entire content of the day was valuable and the overall message was ‘change or fail’, when it comes to traditional education. I do think that Australia is generally on a more dynamic path than the US. All the speakers I’ve heard from the US give the impression that classrooms there still operate on an extremely rigid model – and in the forums I read that have US teachers in them (Class Dojo, primarily), those teachers are only just starting to move away from individual desks in rows to groups of tables – quite mindboggling to me, when I haven’t seen a classroom like that in Australia for decades. But different table arrangements is only one tiny indicator of vast systemic problems. One of the speakers said something along the lines of ‘students today are the best  prepared students for the industrial revolution’. We need to think about, and discuss, what we can do for students that will best prepare them for the unknowns of tomorrow.

We were left with the question – what should education actually look like?

PD Can Change Your Life

Ok, I’m being a tad hyperbolic (and btw, ‘PD’ stands for ‘Professional Development’ and not, as one of my friends suggested on Facebook, ‘Panda Disco’… although that would definitely change your life) but I’ve been to a bunch of great PDs this year and they are changing my professional and personal perspective. Being reminded repeatedly that it’s not just the students who are learners in the classroom –  I need to get with the technology program in order to do my job effectively and relate to this generation.Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 12.01.41 pm

I’ve always enjoyed learning new things, but I’m coming to see that being a teacher in the modern age is about learning with or from the students as much as teaching them. Perhaps more than teaching them, particularly when it comes to technology. My students this year are thrilled to be teaching me how to play Minecraft. We have skyped from home while playing in the evening so that they can give me instructions. Well, I say ‘give’ – really they shout each other down to have the honour of teaching me how to do something new. I have never seen some of my students so excited, so thoughtful, as when they are trying to explain a Minecraft skill or concept to me and I pretend I don’t get it. Well… sometimes I’m pretending.

In this post I’d like to try to cover some of the key concepts of one of the PDs I’ve been to recently, so I’ll start small with the one hour session some coworkers and I attended at Canterbury Primary.


The focus of this PD was to make connections and expand our PLNs (Professional Learning Networks) and look at what Canterbury were doing with ICT in their classrooms. The presenter, Matt Forrest, made an excellent point about the great value of social media connections, but the far greater value of face to face connections, and encouraged everyone there to get into a conversation with another teacher, swap details and talk about common interests. I struck up a conversation with a teacher from Greythorn who happened to be part of a team who had instituted MinecraftEdu at their school. Score! It felt good to have a contact at another school and someone to ask about my new interest – even though I feel as though I only know one percent of one percent of what the game has to offer. I don’t even feel ready to describe Minecraft in a post yet, let alone try to go into the educational advantages. However,  if you’re interested this isn’t a bad gateway to some useful sites.


Along with the chance to talk (you don’t need to tell teachers twice) there were also stands set up so we could see what students at Canterbury had been doing with all their ICT equipment and skills. It was pretty impressive, to say the least. They have a radio station, for one thing, and they were using QR codes like they were going out of fashion. I particularly liked the ‘Genius Hour/Passion Projects’ that were on display, as I’ve just started a small scale of this concept in my classroom.



Matt had started a hashtag for the event (#BoroondaraNetworkPD) and it got me thinking about ways to make stronger connections with teachers in my area who would be an invaluable source of ideas. Not just that, but if I knew someone local was doing something I wanted to learn about, I could actually go see their room, their work, and have a much deeper conversation than would be possible online.


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After coming home from the PD I decided to create a ‘Boroondara Teachers’ Facebook group. I immediately signed up everyone I could from my school, hoping that would make it look like the group was already popular and cool 😉 and then asked Matt to promote it on Twitter. It’s only been going for two days and I’ve had a couple of requests from new people. Hopefully it grows and can become a useful resource for local teachers – so if you’re reading this and you’re involved in education in Melbourne’s East please join – even if you’re not actually in Boroondara. The more the merrier!

Next: The Ignite, Inspire and Innovate Conference at Kingswood Primary.



Word Nerds, Part Three.

If you’ve come across this entry without reading the others on explicit vocabulary instruction, please start here for the first entry on this subject.

It’s week 5 and my class and I are now in a routine with our explicit vocabulary instruction.

Monday: word introduction with a ‘guess the missing word’ cloze on the board, followed by a reveal of the 5 words of the week and a discussion of which goes where. This takes about 20 minutes.

Tuesday: filling in the week’s entries in our vocabulary books and discussing synonyms and examples, and antonyms and non examples. Students write a 7+ word sentence and I mark their vocabulary books overnight so that alterations can be made promptly. This activity takes about 30 minutes and includes discussions of parts of speech, prefixes, suffixes, plurals, etc.

Wednesday: group cloze activity that includes words from previous weeks. Students work in pairs to discuss their answers while they work. This takes about 20 minutes.

Thursday and Friday: word games whenever we can fit them in.

In Word Nerds the authors finish each week with a ‘party’ that has a theme (pirate, Hawaiian, etc that relate to given activities) and involves students walking around and talking to other students or doing particular activities as a given word. They also have students wear lanyards in class with a focus word on each so that the teacher can use the words throughout the day – for example, they might ask for the person with a synonym for ‘flood’ to do a particular task. I don’t feel quite ready for parties and lanyards yet, but I thought I would devote this week’s entry to games we’ve played so far and ideas I’ve had for activities.

Articulate: a game where students are divided into two teams and have to explain a word without using any of the synonyms or antonyms on the word’s anchor chart. Their team have a limited amount of time to guess the word then the listening team also gets a guess.

Pac Man: as discussed in the last entry, a game where everyone spreads out around the room and if students answer a question correctly they get to take a step. If they can touch another student, that student is out, unless they can answer a question that has stumped all the standing players. Questions can be anything to do with vocabulary – giving synonyms, antonyms, spelling, cloze questions, etc.

Memory: I make up pairs of cards using words from our lists and their synonyms then the class play. Sometimes I include synonyms that are new and this raises discussion.


I’ve been very much enjoying the routine of this program and the students seem to be genuinely excited about learning new words. No part of the instruction is laborious – once the students had a little practice drawing up the frames for their vocabulary books it all flowed very smoothly. Last week I chose words from the comprehension text we’d be using in our literacy groups and the students couldn’t wait to tell me when they found some of the words from the current list – they were excited about it!

Aside from Word Nerds I’ve also been studying Bringing Words To Life, by Beck, McKeown and Kucan, which gives a more academic insight into explicit vocabulary instruction.

In their book, Beck, McKeown and Kucan write:

Less than interesting instruction is not a concern of merely wanting students to enjoy classroom activities. Rather, students need to develop an interest in and awareness of words in order to adequately build their vocabulary repertoires. Among what needs to occur is that students keep using new words so that they come to ‘own’ the words. Students need to notice words in their environment whose meanings they do not know. They need to become aware of and explore relationships among words in order to refine and fully develop word meanings. Indeed, being curious about the meaning of an unknown word that one encounters and intrigued by how it relates to other words is a hallmark of those who develop large vocabularies.

bringing words to life

I’ve ordered a couple of books that I’ve found on websites about vocabulary instruction and asked for my school’s Literacy Leader to order a number of books that were recommended in Word Nerds (thanks Glenda!). I’m very much looking forward to reading these and I hope they instigate more of the fantastic discussion my class has enjoyed so far this term.

Next week I am going to do a ‘quick write’ with the class using a photo of submerged cars in a flooded street as the stimulus and hopefully the work we’ve done so far will be reflected in the students’ writing. The other Grade 5 classes, who have not been doing the same activities, will be doing the quick write also. Hopefully there’ll be a noticeable difference in the quality of vocabulary. Fingers crossed!


edit: here’s a link to a short and interesting article by Robert Marzano, one of the leading researchers in the field of explicit (sometimes ‘enriched’) vocabulary instruction. Worth a read if you’re thinking of following this process.

Word Nerds, Part Two

If you’re reading this and have not read my first Word Nerds post please do go back and read it because I’m going to refer to things here that are explained there.

So, with week 1 of our explicit vocabulary instruction under our belts, my grade 5 class were hopefully ready for me to introduce five new words: satellite, inundate, hypothesis, distraught, and impact. Two of which are from our Science topic list, not just from the resilience list. I left last week’s word cards on the board and hung up some anchor charts for those (more about that later) as reminders then began as I’d begun the previous week, with a cloze activity.

Lesson 1, week 2.

We discussed possible answers and what type of words we were looking for. Sometimes it wasn’t clear in the sentence what word type was required. For example, one of the sentences I’d written in week 1 was:

The firefighters moved ……………….. to get to the trapped people.

In my mind the answer was clearly debris, but most of the student’s suggestions were adverbs, such as quickly and carefully.

The students did exceptionally well with guessing the words this time, listing three target words in their guesses and they were all rather chuffed when I revealed the list words. This meant the session went very quickly and finished on a very positive note.

Lesson 2

We managed to get all five words into their vocabulary books in half the time it took last week, although some students forgot to write their sentences. Doing this on Tuesday meant plenty of time on Wednesday to go over misconceptions, correct spelling, and add missed sentences. When students looked for dictionary definitions to support their guesses at word meaning it made it really clear that often dictionaries are obfuscatory. I don’t really like child-level dictionaries for upper primary because they never have difficult words in them, but adult dictionaries are impossible to interpret – sometimes even for adults. However we shared ideas, read what we could and came up with sensible definitions. Using google also provided plain-word definitions that were much easier to understand. Thank goodness for the convenience of iPads!

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I particularly like the drawing for ‘impact’.


Lesson 3

Game time!

We played Pac Man, which is a very simple game that can be used in  any subject area. Students spread out around the room so they can’t touch anyone and they stand still. I ask questions, if they get them right they get to take a step, if they can reach another student they tap them and the student sits down. I asked questions like:

what is an antonym for ………..?

what is a synonym for ………….?

Which word would fit in this sentence: ‘I was …………………… when my house was destroyed.’

Students love this game, and having the words on the board was good for reference. I used words from both the first and second week and plan to add on as we go through the term. The more students hear, say and write new words, the more comfortable they are with using them independently. In the Word Nerds book the authors recommend getting students physcially moving through a range of activities as this helps students retain the words. We’ll see!

The game was fitted into a spare 15 minutes before recess – these vocabulary sessions might sound long in my descriptions but they’re quite quick in reality.

Lesson 4: quick revision

I typed up a cloze passage and asked the students to work in pairs to list the words in order of use.

cloze activity on tv

There was lots of really good discussion. Although I made this activity up on the spur of the moment, I think it worked really well because it was short and the students really talked about their choices with their partner and had to go back over the sentences several times because a few of the words were quite similar. We marked as a group, shared ideas then chucked the scraps of paper in the bin. So easy! I was particularly excited to see students getting out their vocabulary books for reference and drew attention to this by rewarding students who took the initiative with Class Dojo points.

So that’s most of what we’ve done so far, the only thing to add is the anchor charts.

These are an idea from the book but I changed it slightly. They recommend putting lots of words on a poster to keep the vocab within view. I thought I’d make one small poster for each word and show the synonyms and antonyms but I’m starting to think I’ll end up without enough room on the walls. We’ll see I guess.

On a personal note, this focus on vocabulary has made me more aware when I’m reading. On the weekend I started reading The War of the Flowers by Tad Williams. It’s a fantasy novel and I wouldn’t have said it had particularly challenging language in it, but when I paid attention I found seven words I didn’t know in the space of perhaps 10 pages. Coincidentally, one word, Cibola, was also part of the title of my current audio book (Cibola Burn by James SA Corey) and I’d assumed it was a made-up word. Turns out it’s the name of one of the seven legendary cities of gold in South America, which include El Dorado. Seriously – wow! By looking up just one word I’ve discovered meaning in two places at once, that there were seven cities and I’d assumed there was only one, that it’s really worth finding out the meaning of new words and also I’m a doofus. Clearly I’d been skimming over these sorts of words most of my reading life – or hoping the meaning would become obvious at a later date – which admittedly it sometimes does. There was another word (noun phrase?) Tir na nOg, I’d seen quite a few times but never looked up. Turns out it’s a fabled faerie land of  eternal life. And Broceliande? A gorgeous-sounding forest of French legend, possibly where Merlin was buried. Such richness! Such depth! As a word nerd myself, I really welcome the reminder that words are beautiful and clever and that choosing not to expand one’s vocabulary is like choosing to paint with only half a palette.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments and here’s the next post on this topic.


‘Word Nerds’ and Explicit Vocabulary Instruction

I came across the ‘Word Nerds’ book on Pinterest. Immediately caught by the unashamedly dorky title and the joyous cover photo, I did a little research, liked what I read, and ordered the book.

Word Nerds

I’d always had a niggling thought that what I was doing with words wasn’t helping to building vocabulary. I do spelling, I encourage kids to look up words in the dictionary and online, but my vocabulary instruction was lacking. My main activity revolved around one session: letter writing to our ‘Student of the Week’. The students enjoy the task and are really comfortable with the letter genre, which then means they can use some mental energy to include some more interesting vocabulary in their writing. I’ll pull 10 words out of the dictionary, talk about their meanings and then the students choose which to use in their letter, getting a Class Dojo point for each one.

But even though there was clear enjoyment in the use of new and fancy words, they rarely showed up again in student writing, and certainly never in their dialogue. Disappointing.

So Word Nerds arrived in the mail. It was easy to read and clearly laid out a plan for a deep and cohesive way to build vocabulary. Research, experts and results were quoted so I spent my holidays taking notes and then, first week back in term three, I started implementing the scheme. So far I’ve finished the first two weeks of the program but I’ll cover just the first week in this post. I haven’t had a chance to get to all the activities, but I thought I’d explain what I’ve done so far and how it’s going.

Before I do, let me lay out some information from the book.

1. Students from underprivileged backgrounds can enter school with half the vocabulary of students with middle class backgrounds.

2. Vocabulary knowledge is a reliable indicator of future academic success.

3. Children need to learn between 4 and 8,000 words a year to build a vocabulary necessary for tertiary and white-collar pursuits.

4. Most teachers (surveyed by the authors) report that they do little, if any, vocabulary building, or that they felt that what they did was ineffective (that made me feel a bit better).

Now, clearly teaching even 2,000 words (let alone 4,000) a year seems like a hill too large to climb, even with my middle/upper-socioeconomic group. Fortunately, Isabel Beck, in her book ‘Bringing Words To Life‘ (which I am in the middle of reading now), divides words into 3 tiers and explains the best group to focus on.

Tier 1: words that are ‘everyday’ – children come to school knowing many of these. Words such as look, party, sometimes, blonde.

Tier 2: words that are less frequently used but add colour, detail and nuances to communication across the board – words such as resonate, impartial, despondent.

Tier 3: topic specific words, such as carbine, isotope, stamen, camber.

Here’s Isabel Beck talking about the first two tiers.

The aim is to focus on tier 2 words and to use tier 1 words and the experiences students already have to create strong and numerous connections to new words. To build their vocabulary schemata so they have a stack of words to draw on in any situation, so they can understand authors’ intent and increase their reading fluency so that decoding creates fewer speed bumps on the road to enjoying reading, creating powerful writing and learning from texts.

So, where to start?

This term our Grade 5 concept is ‘Resilience’. We’re exploring this through drawing on our prior studies of migrant experiences (term two) and life on the Australia gold fields (term one). We’re also studying bush fires and floods to cover our geography component and talking about personal resilience – how to develop it, what it looks like, why it matters.

Before the holidays we (there are three Grade 5 teachers at my school) sent home a list of topic words for students to discuss with their families. When we came back from holidays I gave pairs of students a fresh copy of the vocab sheet and told them that Carlos (the class teddy bear – often used as a thinking tool for identifying problem areas) and I had been discussing the word list over the holidays and he thought there were between 10 and 15 words on the list that were very difficult. I asked the students to highlight those words in orange. Then, in yellow, the students had to guess and highlight Carlos’ 15 – 20 moderately tricky words. Words that maybe Carlos knew but couldn’t explain. The rest of the words were highlighted green. We then discussed our choices as a group and came to a consensus on which were the most challenging words. Voila! There was the list we’d be using to start our Word Nerds lessons.

One pair's sheet.

One pair’s sheet.

Lesson One

I chose 5 words from the list:

unprecedented, debris, deluge, embankment, and havoc.

I wrote the words on cards and put them to the side, then wrote some cloze sentences on the board.

The students discussed the sentences and which words they knew that might fit. Then we talked about what those words had in common.

Then I revealed the words and we talked about the meanings – did we get any clues? Then we tried to fit each word into a space.

If I'd known I was going to use this for the blog I'd have written a lot neater. Like I *normally* do. I assure you.

If I’d known I was going to use this for the blog I’d have written a lot neater. Like I *normally* do. Ahem.

The last step was to get a few students to do dictionary research and we wrote the definition on the board. Unprecedented raised interesting discussion about prefixes and suffixes. We removed ‘un’ and ‘ed’, but one child said ‘pre’ was also a prefix so we looked up ‘precedent’ and also ‘cedent’.

I took a photo of our thinking then put the word cards at the top of the board, ready for the next session.

Lesson 2

In this lesson I introduced the vocabulary books. I’d taken the time to pre-draw the frames for the children with speed/fine motor issues so that they didn’t spend all lesson ruling, plus they then had a neat version to refer back to in future. I don’t have a photo of the empty frames but on the board it looked like this:

Next time I'll use a ruler, I promise.

Next time I’ll use a ruler, I promise.

I have six EAL (English as Another Language) students, so I thought the definition would be best in their own language.

In Word Nerds they give their students photocopied sheets. I’ve always disliked the idea of sticking things over blank, perfectly useable pages. Plus I think it takes no time to teach students to rule neatly and is good fine-motor practice. They also used a projector to create far neater frames on their board, which I’ll get around to. One day.

For the second lesson we focused on just two words, unprecedented and debris. We talked about the meaning from the dictionary and students could either copy what I wrote or put it into their own words. Then we listed synonyms and examples, and then antonyms and non examples. The students were really creative and I was impressed with their thinking. This part is where the explicit nature of the instruction really come into its own, because obviously some students have broader vocabularies than others. So when someone says rubble as a synonym for debris we get to discuss the nuances in language and so, with at least 3 synonyms and 3 antonyms copied down, we now have 7 words instead of 1 and 14 instead of 2, and when we’re done we have 35 instead of 7. Of course not all are new words but to some (and especially my EAL students) quite a few are.

In the margin column, after they have filled in the boxes, each student writes their own 7+ sentence using the focus word. This lets me check their understanding. I encourage them to say their sentence to the person next to them and see if it sounds right before writing it down. Making the students use seven or more words mean they hopefully create more detailed and expressive sentences. Not just I saw some debris, but I saw some debris after the flood.

I looked through their books that afternoon and gave stamps to students who had used the words correctly and whose sentences were seven or more words and left a little sticky note in the books of other students. Being vocabulary books, it’s pretty important to correct all spelling errors since the whole idea is that these books are used for reference throughout the year. Knowing that there might be a stamp next to their work also encouraged students to really look at the feedback and read it. I also think that writing comments on sticky notes is easier to read, plus then students can pull them out after they have made the correction, leaving their book clean and tidy. We completed the remaining words in the next lesson.

This is what it looks like in a student’s book. This photo was taken in week 2 so the words aren’t from the first list.

Probably the worst example I could've chosen to photograph but just look at the surface details, not the actual content of this one.

Probably the worst example I could’ve chosen to photograph but just look at the surface details, not the actual content of this one.


I didn’t get to any of the games in the first week as it was only a 4 day week and we’d taken a long time to write everything down. But the good news was that on Monday in week 2 students told me they’d already started noticing the vocabulary words in their personal reading. A good start!

If anyone reading has any questions, comments or advice please leave below. Thanks for reading! The second part of this reflection is here.


In The Beginning…

there was the Test Post. Generally the most dull post in an entire blog’s catalogue.

I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to be using this blog for – perhaps just a place to keep a record of my forays into digital literacy. Perhaps just so I can say ‘of course I blog about teaching!’ when I go to ICT PDs and meet ups. I know that having a blog is a great way to extend a friendship network – I’ve been blogging since 1999 (dear god, when I write that I realise that my first blog, which I still regularly use, could almost have a driver’s license by now), have developed friendships all over the world and a deep comfort with putting my thoughts into type. I’m hoping an education blog will extend my PLN and expose me to NS*.

This ease with long format internet communication (I will always resent Facebook for drawing my friends away from their midnight heartfelt rambles on their blogs) and my recent excitement about ICT integration in the classroom means an edublog seemed a good direction to head in. Plus Twitter was recommended and it really does my head in. I mean, who can communicate anything of value in 140 characters? Links to articles are great, but trying to get useful ideas and discussion out of people in an hour’s scheduled chat always makes me feel like I am running a race in the dark – always rushing to keep up and missing half of what’s going on and getting quite lost. I think I’ll save a proper rant discussion about Twitter for another post. Really though, it boils down to me not knowing what I’m doing. To this end I’ve offered to host a ClassDojo (great behaviour monitoring app – and free! Get on it!) meet up in Melbourne on the 30th of July. Hopefully at least 3 people turn up and they know more about ICT than me.

Anyhoo, this is me. A 39 year old, Grade 5 teacher at a middle class school in a leafy inner eastern Melbourne suburb. I’m looking to connect and share ideas. I plan to post about the things I’m learning. It’ll mostly be ICT, Literacy and Numeracy. Some rants, some lightbulb moments, some funny stuff kids say. So before I sign off, here’s an example from just this week.

The RSPCA will be thrilled!

I can’t believe this has never occurred to me as a fund-raising possibility.


*New Stuff. How annoying are acronyms? I hate having to break out of articles 20 times just to find out what a PBIS or GAFE is/are. There, now you’ll have to do it too. See? Annoying!