Archive | Professional Reading RSS feed for this section

Internet Smarts

14 Aug

This particular article really made me think. Are we really that smart? 


Professional Reading

10 Dec

A blog post from Bruce Hammonds’ blog “Leading and Learning”. The post is titled “Who am I?” and provides lots of reflective material for us about whether or not the classroom experiences that we provide for our students contribute to their development of a positive sense of self. This could be useful use in your department at the start of 2015.

Professional Reading

28 Nov

I love summer. It is a time to spend with family, time to relax, rejuvenate, reflect and learn. It is time to up my ironman training. Training really gets sorted and my goodness I do feel unfit at present. I so enjoy learning in the summer. It is learning at my own pace, and in my own direction. Learning that is blissfully all for me. It truly is a “choose your own adventure” kind of time.

For the past few months I have been placing books on myself to be read when I have a moment and those moments have been few and far between. The stack of promise titles continued to grow and grow holding within them my wonderings, curiosities and interests. Now as the summer is so very close at hand I have pulled them off the shelf and placed them in my book bag ready to accompany me on my summer adventures. Don’t get me wrong these titles do not represent the whole of my reading plans for this summer. There are many personal, just for fun books that I plan to devour. However, I really do enjoy reading professionally over the summer as well. Summer reading usually takes place on a beach, on my deck overlooking the pool, or curled up in bed long after the house is quiet. Reading in these places inspires me to savor the ideas, make connects, and stop to dream. No other time for reading gives me such joy.



You’re the Voice

28 Sep

At my school we use student voice a great deal and very effectively I must say. At the end of every topic I send a survey out to my students. On one level it’s fantastic to get feedback from your learners about what is going well in class and what needs tweaking but on the other there’s the realization that my students are grading me.  Was I too grumpy yesterday when student A hadn’t finished work? Could I have done a better job of talking to Student B about their draft? Did I let an administration problem affect my teaching?

The evaluation is done in class but I am considering doing it via Google forms or 365 and the results then get shared with my HOF. Most of the questions are agree/disagree questions like ‘my teacher treats students and their ideas with respect. There is also the room for comment. It is something our students love.

I tend to prefer qualitative feedback that quantitative. A number of my students have talked about wanting more challenging work so I will work with them to look for projects that they can sink their teeth into for the rest of the year but more importantly for the 2015 cohort. They love my eLearning format and some students have requested to go fully online in 2015 without being in my class. This will be something I will have to put a great deal of thought into. As I have written here before the I have had great success with.

Cooper (2001) noted that a blended learning environment, one in which the traditional classroom and the online classroom complement each other, gives the best outcome. “Online instruction can offer new challenges and opportunities to both students and instructors. Most students do not view online instruction as a replacement for traditional classroom instruction. However, with the right subject matter, with the right instructor or facilitator, and for the right student, Internet or online classes can provide an effective educational environment and offer a viable alternative to traditional classroom instruction” (Cooper, 2001, p57).

Singh recommended that the blended learning environment was the next wave for E-Learning and that it would feature rich media content. “Blended learning combines multiple delivery media that are designed to complement each other and promote learning and application-learned behaviour” (Singh, 2003, p52). Investigating the idea that has serious results for teaching online, Singh goes onto mention that the online learning component within a blended learning environment, should be self-paced. This raises the apparition of the teacher being at best just a facilitator and at worst, a spectator (Singh, 2003, p58).

Another thing want to get better at before the end of the year is getting my students to work on managing self. This something my learners are not good at. Perhaps this could be a PLG study in 2015?

Professional Readings:

Cooper, L. W. (2001) A Comparison of Online and Traditional Computer Applications Classes. T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education) 28 (8) 52-58

Singh H. (2003) Building Effective Blended Learning Programs in November – December 2003Issue of Educational Technology, Volume 43, Number 6, Pages 51-54 Retrieved 9 August 2009 from

A Powerful Lesson

3 Sep

Thanks to for this great piece I found this week.

One day, three blind men happened to meet each other and gossiped a long time about many things. Suddenly one of them recalled, “I heard that an elephant is a strange animal. Too bad we’re blind and can’t see it.”

“Ah, yes, truly too bad we don’t have the good fortune to see the strange ani­mal,” another one sighed.

The third one, quite annoyed, joined in and said, “See? Forget it! Just to feel it would be great.”

“Well, that’s true. If only there were some way of touching the elephant, we’d be able to know,” they all agreed.

It so happened that a merchant with a herd of elephants was passing, and overheard their conversation. “You fellows, do you really want to feel an elephant? Then follow me; I will show you,” he said.

The three men were surprised and happy. Taking one anothers hand, they quickly formed a line and followed while the merchant led the way. Each one began to contemplate how he would feel the animal, and tried to figure how he would form an image.

After reaching their destination, the merchant asked them to sit on the ground to wait. In a few minutes he led the first blind man to feel the elephant. With outstretched hand, he touched first the left foreleg and then the right. After that he felt the two legs from the top to the bottom, and with a beaming face, turned to say, “So, the strange animal is just like that.” Then he slowly returned to the group. Thereupon the second blind man was led to the rear of the elephant. He touched the tail which wagged a few times, and he exclaimed with satisfac­tion, “Ha! Truly a strange animal! Truly odd! I know now. I know.” He hur­riedly stepped aside.

The third blind man’s turn came, and he touched the elephant’s trunk which moved back and forth turning and twisting and he thought, “That’s it! I’ve learned.”

The three blind men thanked the merchant and went their way. Each one was secretly excited over the experience and had a lot to say, yet all walked rap­idly without saying a word.

“Let’s sit down and have a discussion about this strange animal,” the second blind man said, breaking the silence.

“A very good idea. Very good.” the other two agreed for they also had this in mind. Without waiting for anyone to be properly seated, the second one blurted out, “This strange animal is like our straw fans swinging back and forth to give us a breeze. However, it’s not so big or well made. The main portion is rather wispy.”

“No, no!” the first blind man shouted in disagreement. “This strange animal resembles two big trees without any branches.”

“You’re both wrong.” the third man replied. “This strange animal is similar to a snake; it’s long and round, and very strong.”

How they argued! Each one insisted that he alone was correct. Of course, there was no conclusion for not one had thoroughly examined the whole elephant. How can anyone describe the whole until he has learned the total of the parts…?


I have been reflecting about having high expectations of our students. This article spoke to me.

  • It is important to have high expectations for our students. Expectations are different from standards. The standard is the bar and the expectation is our belief about whether students will ever reach the bar.
  • Expectations are based on our beliefs and values. We can only have high expectations of our students if we believe it is possible to help our students and if we believe that it is important to do so.
  • We also need to examine our expectations of ourselves. If we believe that we can reach a student we do everything that we can to ensure that the student is successful. However, if we tell ourselves that there is no way to help a student, we stop trying. If we are not confident in our ability to help students, we lower our expectations to goals that we feel we can comfortably achieve.
  • It can be disheartening when students arrive in our classes without the basic skills that they need to succeed but instead of focusing on what the students can’t do, develop ways that you can teach them the skills they need as well as get through the curriculum.

eLearning Framework

26 Aug

Core Education, TKI and the VLN will help no end with your own individual and school plan. The popularity of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, coupled with high-tech video games and 21st century entertainment for our students outside of school is necessitating a change in the way we as educators prepare and present information to our students.  Gone are the days where we can get away with 50 minutes of lecturing.  However, elearning is not PowerPoint. Googling is not eLearning. So here are some tips I found.

1. Get comfortable with one piece of technology at a time.

Your PLN is probably already inundating your Twitter feeds with more Web 2.0 tools than you know what to do with.  Pick the most relevant tools and get comfortable using them at home. If you don’t feel comfortable using technology, you will be even less comfortable teaching it to your students. 

2. Involve students in your planning.  

With eLearning in class, I introduce the technology to a few of my students and get their opinions on it.  I ensure they know the rules of being digital citizens. The students know what they like and what will hold their interest.  If they like it, I make that piece of technology a priority in my planning, but if they appear uninterested, I toss out that idea and revisit my Twitter feed looking for something new.  Ask your students what technology they use on a regular basis.  If all of your students use Facebook, make it a part of your class. 

3. Lean on colleagues.

Meet with colleagues in your building or call on your PLN for assistance when you start integrating technology into your lessons.  Most teachers are more than willing to share their successes and failures with interested colleagues. You will be able to learn from their mistakes and not have to deal with some of the growing pains your colleagues had to go through.

4. Don’t get discouraged if your first attempt doesn’t work out as planned.

More on this next week.

5. Technology integration may be extra work on the front end, but it’s worth it.

Trying something new as opposed to going with the tried and true lesson always produces a little extra work. However, the long-term benefits of engaging your students far outweigh the cost of spending a couple extra hours in front of the computer after school.   As I have learned, the extra effort goes a long way to engage the students in your lesson and leave them wanting more. 

E-learning: Professional Reading & Strategies

20 Aug

This week some notes from the vault on eLearning.

• How to model technology use in the classroom – Veteran teacher Heather Wolpert-Gawron offers 20 tips for using and modelling the use of technology in the classroom. Teachers should involve students in setting up new technology, use digital tools — such as document cameras, videoconferencing and interactive whiteboards — throughout the school day and use tech-inspired vocabulary, even when talking about offline activities, she writes.

• Google for Educators: The Best Features for Busy Teachers – An article which explores user-friendly Google tools which will keep you and your class inspired, inventive, and organized. I can see that giving students time to explore these tools within your subject context could keep juniors on-task and interested in learning as the term and year comes to an end.
• Fostering Student Creativity and Responsibility With Blogging – When sixth graders enter middle school, they are masters of some aspects of digital technology and lost when it comes to others. Despite their familiarity with some digital technology, they often lack specific skills needed for interacting with particular digital tools and interfaces. Many of them also lack the perseverance necessary for troubleshooting tech issues. This blog post also has links to other readings and resources about using blogs in education.

• Summer PD: Web Tools Collectives Part 3 — Collecting, Organizing and Making Sense of Information – Access to the Internet brings an almost unlimited amount of content to our fingertips. Effectively collecting, organizing, and making sense of this information is critical to learning. Ubiquitous access to information provides many opportunities and challenges for “formal” education systems. After all, what good is memorizing the atomic number for Iridium when you can just text Cha Cha?

• Edutecher newsletter for July 2011 – This “Mega-Newsletter” is an oldie but a goodie. It shares some great new tools and resources.

Parental Engagement

8 Jul

In “Visible Learning”, John Hattie says that the inability of parents to ‘speak the language of learning’ can be a major barrier to student achievement.

If we are adopting new ways of learning and teaching, then perhaps we need new ways of engaging parents. If we were to develop some universal protocols then my top five would be :

  • engagement with parents from the beginning. I found sending a letter or a phone call can make a huge difference.
  • regular community forums and walk-throughs (parents need to see learning in action) – what about the use of blogs as a way of educating and engaging  parents in the conversation. Our own Open Day this year was an example of this success.
  • involve students in giving feedback to their parents on their learning. Student voice is always a valuable tool.
  • demonstrating the difference new approaches to learning are making
  • finding ways of celebrating good learning and teaching
  • ensuring an outlet for parent feedback

Learning in today’s world is a journey, not a destination. As we build on what we know works and respond to teacher ingenuity and innovations from their own learning we need to ensure that the whole school community is on the same journey.

Know Thy Impact Teaching, Learning and Leading


15 Jun

No school or school system has ever become great without great teachers, but what can an excellent teacher do about a child who needs glasses, has cavities or is hungry? To say that teacher or school quality is the most important variable in education is at best naive. Education historian Ravitch writes “Reformers tell us that teachers are the most important influence within the school on student scores, and that is right. But the teacher contribution to scores is dwarfed by the influence of family and other out-of-school factors.”

Professional Reading

Here is a link to an NZEI site with a video that goes some way to explaining the Governments $359m initiative for school leadership.

Professional Reading

2 Jun

This is the link to the UGR (Unwritten Ground Rules) website with a four minute movie on its introduction:

About Unwritten Ground Rules

There is also a 2 minute movie on the website under “culture movie”  – which summarises fairly well.  It concentrates on the culture in a corporate workplace.

I include this week one other reading regarding culture.

What is our School Culture Like?

A school_culture_checklist for evaluating a school’s culture: Adapted from work by the Quality Public Education Coalition.


Thoughts and Observations from Edward Roads

Danielle Anne Lynch

Music, Theology, Religion, Education

Learn To Love Food

Food Fun For Feeding Therapy and Picky Eaters


This site is the cat’s pajamas


Meaningful learning and effective teaching with a Finnish twist

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

karen spencer

Let's talk about learning.

Education in the Age of Globalization

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

Teaching & E-Learning

Learning in Today's World

A View from the Middle

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

Powerful Learning: It's a Digital Thing

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

Search Msdn

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible


where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

Mike's Blog

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible


Technology lessons from the classroom...

Welcome to the Frontpage

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

Mark's Learning Log

Director of Learning Inquiries Pty Ltd (an experienced educator from Principal to Coach)

Mal Lee

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible