Category Archives: education

Ramsey Musallam: 3 rules to spark learning


It took a life-threatening condition to jolt chemistry teacher Ramsey Musallam out of ten years of “pseudo-teaching” to understand the true role of the educator: to cultivate curiosity. In a fun and personal talk, Musallam gives 3 rules to spark imagination and learning, and get students excited about how the world works.





What do you think?
How do you spark learning in your classroom?
How do you share your learning in your school?



Image by Jonathon Potts


Tech tools I like to use


I have been reflecting on my blog journey and my learning journey with regards to incorporating technology and web tools into my teaching. Incorporating technology has proven to be engaging for my students and myself, whilst also practicing a safe online presence. Having returned back to a Foundation grade after teaching Grade Six for several years, I needed to brush up on the web tools I regularly used when I taught a Grade One class in 2010. You can see this post by clicking on this link Web tools I like to use


Soon the schools iPAD’s will be ready for our Foundation students to use. I am quickly compiling a list and a short review of recommended apps to share with staff and parents.

What apps do you use in the classroom?

What numeracy apps do you recommend?

What literacy apps do you recommend?

What handwriting apps would you recommend?

Using data to drive achievement not to compare schools


How can we measure what makes a school system work? Andreas Schleicher walks us through the PISA test, a global measurement that ranks countries against one another — then uses that same data to help schools improve. Watch to find out where your country stacks up, and learn the single factor that makes some systems outperform others.

What makes a great school system? To find out, Andreas Schleicher administers a test to compare student performance around the world.

Script and video Courtesy of Ted Talks



Homework…To set or not to.

I recently had a parent ask me about Homework and when it was going to be set for my Grade six class.

I am been teaching now for 18 years and I am also new to this year group. I have to say I should have done this sooner. I am really enjoying the conversations and level of discussion I am having with the students in their last year of primary school. However I am digressing.


I have always found that it takes a lot of time to set tasks and then more time to check it has all come back and mark and feedback. Times are busy and this in the past has always eaten into my time for planning and reflection.

Last year when I had a grade two class I set open ended projects around current events for the students to complete. They choose when they wanted to complete a project and everyone must have completed one project per term. The results where fantastic. Well presented projects with headings, layout, images with correct attribution and information. We had projects and posters ranging from The Royal Wedding to football to crocodiles to pet dogs.

I want to do something similar in terms of its open ended element. However I am thinking that one project a term will not be as regular and in-depth as I would want from a grade six student. I started to think about the Reading Response quilt and the Free Choice Friday quilt that has a range of open ended activities for the students to complete. I also had a read of Mel Cashen’s Blog and discovered her brilliant homework grid.

Just what our class are looking for. A range of open ended tasks for students to use throughout the term and an expectation that one activity is chosen a week.

I will adapt Mel’s Grid with some Ultranet and Blogging task to get the conversation going outside school hours. I am encouraging learning outside of school hours and beyond the 4 walls of the classroom.


Image: ‘The Joys Of Homework’ 
The Joys Of Homework

What do you think about homework?

Do you like the idea of Mel’s’ Homework grid?

How do you manage homework?

How do you incorporate the use of ICT?

Careers Education


Passion and Pathways.

I am lucky to be involved in a pilot project in Bendigo that involves kids from Lightning Reef and Eaglehawk Primary. It aims to get kids thinking about jobs and careers when they are in Grade Six and expose them to the many opportunities that are available right here in Bendigo. I’m learning that there is much creativity and innovation happening behind the scenes and it has been great to learn about this with the kids.


What are your thoughts?

Image courtesy of

Skype in the classroom


Skype in the classroom

Having family overseas I am not new to using Skype to connect and stay in touch.

However I am new to using Skype in the classroom and what a great tool it is to collaborate and connect with others outside the classroom.

Some of the benefits are:

Learning takes place outside the four walls of the classroom

The preparation and planning in the build up to a Skype interview.

The roles allocated to students such as transcript recorders, welcoming the guest, asking the questions and photographers to name just a few roles.












Skype is such a great tool to use and now there is Skype in Education. Skype in the classroom is a great way to connect with other classes around the world.

Simply create a class profile and search the directory for classes to connect with.

I love this blog by Rob Sbaglia. Have a look at how his class use Skype to connect with experts.

Also have a look at Kathleen Morris’ post on Skyping in the classroom

Have you used Skype in the classroom?

How do you use Skype in the classroom?

Creative Minds No #3


N0 #3 Roald Dahl






Courtesy @Hugok

I came across the Roald Dahl website celebrating 50 years since the release of James and the Giant Peach. This got me thinking about the magical world of Roald Dahl.

Many have tried their hands at writing childrens’ books, what may look easy is indeed a complex genre to get right. Roald Dahl’s stories are a favourite with his intended audience and his peers, and is often referred to as being  ‘one of the greatest storytellers for children of the 20th Century’.

I think his greatest strength, and thus his greatest appeal, lies with his ability to write absolutely from a child’s point of view. Welcome to Dahl World where:

  • Nearly all grownups are, at best, boring or (more likely) evil. Being a standard grownup means telling you what to do and insisting on order and discipline (for grownup convenience). The only good grownups are the ones like Willy Wonka who know that having fun and exploring are the things that life is all about.
  • Bad people get what they deserve, often in suitably gory ways. Overweight people in particular, are guaranteed a delightful demise tailor-made for the greedy.
  • Conforming to a Disney ideal of beauty doesn’t give you a “get out of jail free” card. In “Revolting Rhymes” the notorious housebreaker and vandal Goldilocks gets eaten, as she should be. On the other hand, some villains do look suitably villainous, such as the Child Catcher in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, who was the scariest thing ever when I was young.
  • Dirt is good and bodily functions are hilarious, as seen with the BFG’s wind problem. Flatulence is always funny and scabs, pus etc. are described in the language of the true connoisseur.

Dahl’s stories are deeply (and often brutally) moral, but never preachy. They have a great balance between the real world and the magical which makes them engagingly believable and fantastical at the same time. As texts they are so beautifully written that film adaptations have never captured even a fraction of their true essence.

It is rare for an author’s work to be considered “timeless” so soon after that person’s death but it is obvious to even the most casual reader that there is something that sets Dahl apart from other twentieth century children’s writers (let alone his adult fiction which deserves a completely separate post). He was a creative giant in an area of literature that many intellectual pygmies have tried, and failed, to master.

What are your feelings around Roald Dahl and his creativity?

Do you have a favourite children’s author?

Digital Portfolios


Digitial Portfolios.

I have been thinking  about the upcoming 3 way conferences that our school will conduct on the first day back of term 3. I am looking forward to my students sharing their achievements, reflections and goals with their parents and families.

This got me thinking about the portfolios the students use in class.  We have copies for display in the classroom and they include students goals, reflections and work that has been chosen by the student to share with family and others.

This year is also the first year I am attempting to create digital portfolios. As I work in Victoria, these portfolios are  saved on their Ultranet Express Space. They include goals for each term, a record of how they have achieved these goals and any reflections on the learning.

So this got me thinking…if we use digitial portfolios do we need another portfolio for the classroom?

I see the portfolios as a place for students to share and reflect on their learning. It’s also an opportunity and a place to keep hold of drafts and changes made along the way as we reflect on the learning journey.

We also have a class blog that we visit daily. This blog is used to share our work with parents, families and anyone else who happens to come across it. We use the blog to reflect on our learning daily by posting comments. I have also just started to get the students to start to write their own blog posts.

The class blog is a collective way to show parents of our  learning and achievements and we visit the blog daily. Our cluster map isn’t very high but we like looking at it every morning.

This blog is  used to share our work with parents, families and anyone else who happens to come across it. We also use the blog to reflect on our learning.

As part of reflecting and sharing our learning we have:

A class blog

Student blogs (in the process of establishing)

& Digital Portfolios

I have found some wonderful blogs that discuss portfolios .

Dr Helen Barrett Blog on e-portfolios.

Peter Paapas‘ thoughts on the reflective student and teacher.

Langwitches extensive post on Digital Portfolios.

What do you use in the classroom to reflect on the learning journey?

What are your thoughts on portfolios?








The House of Blogs, after Jean-Baptiste