Writing LbDs in Scholar

I’ve now been writing LbDs in Scholar for about a year. The first time I used it I had some issues but after sorting those out, each time got easier and easier. Interestingly enough, I remember the first time I used the word document and CGLearner and both I found hard the first time and then adapted. Infact my first post about using CGLearner can be found on here ‘CGLearner‘. Using it the first time, we were hesitant, it was change. It was work. But it became easier. I think partly because of that, when the LbDs were moved over the Scholar it didn’t bother me to learn something new. I’ve enjoyed editing, as well as writing new units on Scholar. Our term 3 unit, is a novel study (Trash by Andy Mulligan) iScreenshot 2015-07-19 at 5.25.21 PMt was written by Rachael Radvanyi and Jennifer Nott as few years ago, since then Rachael has taught it a few times and worked to develop, edit and refine the unit. Over the holidays we typed it up in Scholar and adapted it to work for our current year 7 students. I’ve had negative feedback about the move from CGLearner to CGScholar but some staff, change is hard for some, but the change is for the better.

My aim is to document more this term our work with Trash in the classroom and using Scholar better with the students.


Using Google forms for peer-feedback in presentations

This is not innovative, it isn’t new but I thought I would share how we used Google forms as peer assessment during presentations.

I hate presentations. I know, I shouldn’t and if I do, then why am I doing them? And if they are so bScreenshot 2015-06-13 at 1.27.28 PMad, what am I doing to change that?

What I hate is the time, time to login, time to get students PowerPoint or multimodal feature up. Time when it doesn’t work. Time that is wasted.

This time, I didn’t hate it as much. Using Google Classroom, students completed their presentations and they were automatically shared with in one spot. All of a sudden, I had time, less ‘I don’t want to do it’ and more focus on everyone doing it.

Another thing I hate about wasting time is when the students aren’t learning from each other. In the past we have used rubrics/feedback sheets for students to give peer feedback. This has generally led me with the biggest pile of paper and not much else. Realistically my students didn’t care as much and it was just haphazard. I have had huge success with peer feedback through Scholar, so I know my students are capable of giving good feedback and applying this feedback, so I knew that technology was key.

We decided to experiment with Google forms. When we were looking at how to do this, we decided that we’d have each student focus on a different aspect as opposed to all 4 areas. We also decided that students would give feedback to all students.

Screenshot 2015-06-13 at 2.16.45 PM

In year 7 students were given a number and a few presentations they would change number. Each student completed all 4 areas. I thought this was important as it gaveScreenshot 2015-06-13 at 1.31.44 PM me more feedback about their understanding of ‘good eye contact’, as well as ‘effective use of visuals’.

We have trolley of iPads, so we used these for students to complete the form on. Some used their own device (iPad, tablet, mobile phone etc).

What I found impressive was the summary of responses, this data has helped inform my practice. I am able to look at the data and see where the strengths and weaknesses apply for year 7, as well as breaking this down by class.Screenshot 2015-06-13 at 1.31.59 PM As well as getting data that looks nice in graph, we asked student to comment on an area of strength and an area of improvement. Not only did they really need to think through their ideas, there was a level of accountability, they had all put their names to this and they knew it was going to the presenting student.

Screenshot 2015-06-13 at 1.50.46 PM

Another teacher who teachers year 10 has tweaked this for her class, she had 1 iPad at each table group (4 students) and they had to discuss, justify their answers and give feedback on at least 2 of the elements (their choice).

Here is an example of the survey – feel free to click through, this will not affect our results. Feel free to email me if you would like me to share the editable form.

While the students were completing the peer feedback form, the presenting student was completing a self-reflection form. This added another layer of accountability and information to help support our teaching. 

Screenshot 2015-06-13 at 1.51.43 PM

There is one more form that the students will do early next week after they receive my feedback. And this one will be really important for me.

Screenshot 2015-06-13 at 1.52.47 PM


Credit also goes to Jennifer Nott, Laura Hicks, Hayley Borg and Rachael Radvanyi.

Surely no working mother can be as competent in her career as she was pre-children …

Surely no working mother can be as competent in her career as she was pre-children – at least no working mother who still wants to see her children and doesn’t have a house-husband or live-in nanny.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/small-business/trends/your-works-not-up-to-scratch-20140702-3b728.html#ixzz36HoPiSxn

I might be feeling a bit ranty but that sentence makes me really angry. I think I was better when I returned after my first child. I still saw my child, yes there were times when I had to prioritise but I don’t regret that. I also don’t believe that being a mother is an excuse, I am paid to do my job and that is what I will do. The article might go and be something intelligent but I haven’t read one yet (in rant mode).

I find it offensive that my ability is questioned because I have had a child. And please don’t tell me it will be different when I go back next year, as I’ll have two to think of. Sure, yes, you are right, it will be different BUT it will not change my ability to do my job.

Collective practices for Engagement

I have a fairly addictive personality and I like to go all in at once and then I stop and then I go all in at once (again). So 3 blogs in 2 days isn’t unusual but may seem strange to some after so long.

Today I took part in the #SatChatOC it was about ‘Collective practices for Engagement’. The storify can be found here: #SatChatOc Collective practices for Engagement with @jca_1975 . The conversation was fantastic and really helped me to think through some of the areas I’d like to improve in my own practice but also areas that our school is doing well and can do better.

When we think of disengagement, we automatically think of students but I think we need to ensure that our teachers are readily engaged with what is happening in the school. We can talk about a shared vision, we can all participate in the Professional Learning but how do we ensure our teachers are engaged and feel supported in taking risks in their teaching? I am in no way saying I have the answers, I am just thinking aloud

I believe all classroom doors should be open, teachers and leaders should be able to walk in and out and share in the learning. Closing the doors seems to create a physical barrier to collaboration, it is unwelcoming. (Of course when its freezing and your heaters are barely working I understand the need to close the door).

I think all of our leaders in the school should also have their doors open. Teachers should be able to come and speak to the leadership team. This is harder than it sounds, we often lose time to our staff because of administrative tasks. I feel like our focus should be back on the teachers, as this will ultimately refocus the teachers back onto the students.

We need to take risks. If a teacher has an idea, they should try it. Yep there are lots of buts here – but why? Why can’t a teacher try it? It might not work, but what if it does? I was asked a question on twitter about supporting risk taking, isn’t the risk that you aren’t supported. I think we have brilliant teachers who have ideas but they are unsure how to implement them, unsure of how to start or try. Sometimes they just need the permission to try, to know that someone believes they can do it, someone will support them. And you know what, they might not work! But isn’t that they point, try and maybe/probably fail, fix parts try again, you might still fail. But what do you gain from not trying at all?

I think we need to look at our parental involvement. We do some great things but we could do better. Even by updating our social media more consistently, inviting parents into the school on a more regular but in a more informal context. This is one I want to focus on more – so some more ideas will be coming through and I’d love to hear yours.

There is lots more ideas running through my head but I need to think about how to put them in to a clear idea and I probably need to spend some time with my family.

Below are a list of the questions asked and again, I’d recommend taking a look at the chat and participating next time:

Q1: Disengagement from learning is everybody’s problem. How do we support practice changes & communicate it to our community?

Q2: How might students/teachers/families/community CO-CREATE learning that has relevance, integrity & quality? Please give e.g.’s

Q3: How might we provide greater choice & autonomy to PERSONALISE learning for S’s? How do we know it makes a difference?

Q4: When learning is CONNECTED to community & real-world contexts it becomes more relevant. How do you make this happen?

Q5: How might INTEGRATED, seamless learning between all subjects, students & learning contexts occur? Please give examples

Q6: If engagement is ‘mission critical’, what would success look like if the global education family deeply collaborated?

Thank you to Andrea Stringer, Holly Fairbrother and Jon Andrews.

#LanHS and #LanLead14 chat

Hi Lan-Leaders,

We tried to set this up last year but things just got busy and it never really happened. If anyone is interested, I’d really like to try it again this year.


I think we should have a #LanLead14 (or you can pick a new hashtag) chat. The Leadership class (or just a couple of students – again whoever is interested) create 4 – 5 questions that they’d like to discuss. One or two students will facilitate the discussion (ask the questions) and then we have students and teachers participating in the online discussion. At the end we would storify the discussion.

And if it was successful, we could do another one, they either become regular or they could be once a term, whatever you guys decide.

In a nutshell:

Pick a night, advertise on twitter, maybe give the questions a theme, get as many teachers and students on for one hour to discuss, share, collaborate and ultimately improve #LanHS.

So #LanLead14 what do you think? Is this a goer?



Student question

Students complaining about teachers. So this was a question posted on twitter from a student. Why does it happen? 

I think there are a few reasons. So I’m going to try and articulate it as clearly as I can. And remember context and tone, they can’t always be portrayed in writing. So talk to me. Talk to your teachers.

1. I think that teachers are working incredibly hard. I think they are changing the way education has been, changing the way topics are taught, changing the role of the teacher. And some students do not like this. Lets be honest, worksheets are boring BUT, you don’t have to think. And thinking is hard work. Some students want the easy way out. And its a combination of what they are used to and also what they are comfortable with.

2. There are ‘good’ teachers and there are ‘better’ teachers.  I can’t guarantee that all teachers care. But the majority do. And as students, as adolescents you don’t necessarily see everything, you see what is affecting you. A teacher is seeing what is happening throughout the room. And yes you might not see a student being dealt with, but a teacher picks and chooses our battles. Just because you as a student don’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

3. You are concerned with yourself (and possible your friends). I am concerned about every students learning. If that means you have to wait. Your perspective is your perspective. It is right because it is what you see. But it doesn’t mean that mine (or your teachers) is wrong or another students is wrong. What is difficult is making everyone happy and learning. Any ideas?

4. Honestly, people are going to whinge no matter what. Everyone does. You will see it in every part of your life. You rarely hear stories about how people are happy with a product. But you’ll always hear when they aren’t. We need to make sure we are sharing the positive stories more.

5. Teachers are people. I know that sounds dumb, but we make mistakes and we have lives. Forgive us when we make a mistake. Talk to us like people. I’m happy for you tell me I did something you don’t  like. But I am human, be constructive, use a ‘nice’ tone. Talk about making it better. Don’t accuse me, don’t yell at me, don’t get angry at me. Talk to me. And if you can’t talk to your teacher, talk to another one and we’ll help open up lines of communication.

#LanHS & #LanLead chat

So after @rosssutherland awarded the winner of the #LanHS twitter comp (oh by the way, I won) some of the teachers of #LanHS have gone suspiciously quiet. So as I was at the supermarket tonight I had a brainwave (it wasn’t what I was supposed to buy at the supermarket, that had left my head the minute I entered the supermarket). My brainwave was lets hold a #LanLead chat. Have the #LanLead class create approximately 4 questions, have one or two students facilitate the discussion and have as many students and teachers participating.

Pick a night, advertise on twitter, maybe give the questions a theme, get as many teachers and students on for one hour to discuss, share, collaborate and ultimately improve #LanHS.

So #LanLead what do you think? Is this a goer?