Archive | November 2012

Goal 9: Teaching Ourselves and Them to Overcome

Goal 9 asks us to share a lesson or idea that has helped students to overcome negativitiy.

Reflection Rocks

Reflection rocks are something that I first saw on Laura Candler’s Blog. I found the post by chance at a time when a number of my students were feeling very negative about themselves. I knew that I needed to help my students feel positive and these rocks seemed like a great place to start. I found the website where you can purchase happy thought rocks: We Originals, but I wasn’t sure if they could ship them internationally.

I decided to try and make my own reflection rocks. I collected some rocks from the backyard and bought the paint I would need. It did take a little bit of time but I was really happy with the results.

I placed the finished reflection rocks into a special box and they are now kept on our class prayer table.

We use them for morning prayer and part of meditation. Each student takes a rock and holds onto it during meditation. They silently tell the rocks some good thoughts and the idea is that each good though the rocks are told helps keep them smiling. It is a lovely way to start the day and the students love sharing some of their good thoughts with the class.


Goal 8: Share an Activity

Well after quite  a long break I have decided to resume the 30 Goals Challenge. After some reflection I decided that the 30 Goals Challenge allowed me to reflect on my teaching and although it takes some time to complete the tasks and prepare posts I feel as though I gained a lot from the tasks I have completed so far.

So here goes…

Goal number 8 asks  me to share an activity that I believed worked well with learners. The idea is to create a community of collaborators. This could be within the school setting or online. I think this is a very valuable goal.

For me sharing successes and things that haven’t worked so well is an integral part of teaching. Within the school setting sharing lessons helps to lighten the load but more importantly promotes collaboration and helps to build a team. I believe that schools that are the most successful have strong teams of teachers who work together to plan and have a shared understanding of all students in the level. At times this can be challenging.

Some questions to ponder include:

  • Are all teachers on the same page?
  • Do the teachers value each others opinions?
  • Is time provided to support collaboration?

If the answer is yes to these then I think successful teams can be developed and sharing of ideas will develop naturally.

Teachers can also look outside their school for places to collaborate with other teachers and get ideas. There are many websites and blogs where teachers share lesson ideas that have worked well for them. One of my favourites at the moment is Runde’s Room. This site is run by Jen who has a 5/6 class. I really love the maths reflections that she uses and the way they are explained on the site. I have even bought things from her Teachers Pay Teachers site and I have found the products very useful.

Teach Meets are a fantastic place to find enthusiastic teachers who just by their presence at the meet show their commitment to sharing ideas. The idea behind teach meets is for teachers to gather and listen to each other share things that have worked well for them. Presentations can be 7 or 2 minutes so you get a taste of the idea and can then explore it further later on. Often there is a “teach eat” afterwards allowing for further connections to be made. I have developed some friendships with educators all around Victoria from the Melbourne teach meets that began last year. The next Melbourne teach meet is next weekend on Saturday 17th November and is being held at the Gould League in Moorabbin. Visit the Teach Meet Melbourne Wiki or follow #TMMelb on Twitter for more information.

Twitter is another great place to find teachers to collaborate with. By developing a personal learning network (PLN) on Twitter you have an instant network of people to share ideas with as well as take support from. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had a question, posed it on Twitter and had the answer in a matter of minutes. Twitter chats is another way to not only share ideas and learn from others but also grow your PLN. Two of my favourite twitter chats are #ozprimschchat and #globalclassroom. The #ozprimschchat runs at 8:45pm (edst) on Thursdays and the times for the #globalclassroom chats can be found here.

Mini Inquiry Project

The lesson that I have decided to share is my mini inquiry project that my students have been working on independently as part of their reading contracts. They check in with me for one to one interviews so I can see how they are going and offer support. I wanted to give my students an opportunity to investigate something that interested them. I was thinking about how when I want to learn something it is usually because I want to, not because I am told to and I wanted to give my students the skills they need to do their own research and find their own answers. I often have students emailing me in the early hours of the morning or in the evenings asking if we could please learn more about a particular topic. I thought this could be a way to nourish their enthusiasm for learning.

Here is the contract that I used. My students just worked through each of the steps. They haven’t presented their learning yet but are almost there. They have been extremely motivated during this task and even those students who usually try to avoid reading tasks have been caught up in the excitement of choosing their own topic.

Download a MS Word version here:
Mini Inquiry Project

November #globalclassroom chat

This month I was asked by Michael Graffin (@mgraffin) to provide the topic for the global classroom chat that takes place on Twitter. The chat is held at different times to cater for a worldwide audience. To take part all you need to do is be on twitter at the appropriate time and follow the #globalclassroom hashtag. Remember to include the hashtag if you want to comment throughout the chat.

The overarching question that I settled on is:

How can we support students to inquire into global issues that help develop empathy and compassion?

You can read more about the chat and find the dates that suit your timezone on the Global Classroom Project blog.