A Learner's Journey

September 25, 2013
by 34mk2012

Aitsl’s 360 Feedback – an initial response

AITSL recently offered principals and teachers holding leadership positions the opportunity to participate in the 360 Reflection Tool process. I jumped at the chance! This involved me filling in a questionnaire and writing two narratives, one about my school context and one about how I perceived my strengths and challenges. I also asked each member of the leadership team and my current and former level leaders to complete the questionnaire. This involved both a scale rating in response to statements and the opportunity to write some anecdotal comments.

My initial response to receiving the report from AITSL was one of excitement –  I could not wait to find a few moments to sit and read it through quietly. There were two things that stood out for me as I read through the graphs and comments:

I was significantly harder on myself than were my colleagues. I have observed this same phenomena when students write self reflections or self assess their work and I am frequently commenting to them that they should not be so hard on themselves!! It is interesting that we seem to find it so difficult to really acknowledge what we are good at.

When I read the areas for improvement, it was confronting in some ways and I did reread them several times! Interestingly, when I decided to compare what the group had identified as my areas of challenge, they were virtually identical to the areas I had identified for myself. This made the groups’ comments far less confronting and I realised that it is actually a very positive thing to know that I am perceived by my peers in a way that aligns with how I see myself as a professional.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will digest the report further and mull over the opportunities it has presented me for learning and improvement. Stay tuned for another post … AND … if the opportunity to participate in 360 Reflection comes up, I would heartily recommend taking it up.


photo credit: aguscr via photopin cc

May 5, 2013
by 34mk2012

The Evidence Inquiry Cycle

The Evidence Inquiry Cycle guiding our work

As part of our REL Network, each leader has taken on an Inquiry project. Mine is centered around student thinking. I have observed that many of my students are fairly happy to give the ‘stock standard’, expected answers in RE discussions and I would really like to see them pushing their own thinking more deeply and make those connections that will make their faith relevant to them in their lives. Our current unit is about the concept of relationships and whether having a  relationship with God impacts the world.

To stimulate the students to think about how relationships work, I used the following clip:


Students were asked to post on our class padlet their thoughts on where God was in this clip. This is what they came up with;

There were some interesting thoughts posted but most were fairly predictable. I wanted them to go further so I grabbed my copy of Visible Thinking and looked for a thinking protocol I could use with this clip. I decided to use I See, I Think, I Wonder to see where that would take my student’s thinking. This routine prompted some really meaty discussion in the class as each student responded to the prompts. The wonderings were the most interesting with students coming up some surprising and challenging statements. We then got into groups and students collated their responses and came up with their top ‘see, think, wonder’ statements. The groups then set about creating posters. One student asked me “What should the title of the poster be?” to which I initially replied not to worry about a title. Then I realised that creating a title would make their thinking even more visible to me and the other students. Some of the titles they came up with were great!

So having stretched the students thinking, what next? I know I want to go further with them, and having had a conversation about this with our RESA, Deirdre, I have been challenged to now put something provocative before the students to challenge them to think about the situations where God is not so readily visible. As we are doing Natural Disasters at present, that should tie in quite nicely. I think I also need to go back to Visible Thinking and find some other thinking routines that will enable students to view the stimulus in a different way. And I also need to check in with the students again. I wonder if I used the initial video clip again, whether their responses may be deeper already having thought about it in a different way??


March 15, 2013
by 34mk2012

How Evernote Works For Me

This year, I have attempted to streamline my record keeping and note taking in the classroom. I am sharing the grade with a new partner who has very willingly come along on this journey with me. We are both finding Evernote INVALUABLE for keeping anecdotal records, work programs, communication notes, testing results etc accessible and up to date for both of us. Here are some of the ways we are using it:

  • Communication – we record notes for each other on how our days have gone, issues or follow up needed for particular students and where we are at in curriculum areas. Although we still see each other often, the ability to quickly add a note to our communications folder no matter whether we are in the classroom, the office or at home has streamlined our communication. And it also means we have a record of it for future follow up or perusal.
  • Student files – we have created a notebook for each student and are filing all anecdotal evidence, test results, scanned rubrics, parent communication and work samples in them. Regardless of which of us has completed a specific task with the students, we are both able to see how he/she has understood and progressed with it. This will be an excellent, detailed resource for report writing and we have already started to write some summary statements about student progress in particular curriculum areas.
  • Work program – it is stored in an Evernote notebook and is truly a working document. Both of us can update and amend as we go so it  reflects not only what we have planned but what we have actually achieved – often two very different things!
  • Links – I store any links that I plan to use with our students in the appropriate folder in Evernote so that I can access them quickly at school. So easy!

I am sure that this is just the tip of the iceberg for the potential use of Evernote in our professional lives but what we have achieved so far has been great. I feel like Evernote helps us to work smarter, not harder – and that must be a good thing! Miss Spink on Tech is a fantastic resource for all things Evernote related for teachers and I am very grateful to her for her assistance and inspiration in getting myself organised … check it out!

What suggestions do you have for the use of Evernote in your teaching life?

August 20, 2012
by 34mk2012


On Friday 17th August, our whole staff headed into the city for the 9th of our PD days as part of the Contemporary Teaching and Learning in Mathematics project. This has been a two year commitment from our school to work towards improving student outcomes in Maths. The day was focussed on student learning in the area of Space and as usual, we came away with many practical ideas about how to lead learning in this area.

Doug Clarke from ACU talked about how to enable students to answer their own questions and ask the really important ones. He gave us a couple of really useful statements to respond to the often heard “I don’t get it” and “I don’t know.” We can encourage our students to reframe the question in a different way and encourage a curious mind by having them ask “Can you help me find out?”

One of the greatest things about this project has been the fact that the learning for me from the PD and mentoring sessions has crossed over from Maths to many other curriculum areas. We have done lots of work on creating great pre and post assessments and the understandings underlying this have been truly helpful in designing rich assessment tasks for Integrated units and RE. It is obvious to me that time spent developing such tasks is  well spent as it gives our teaching direction and context, and enables it to be more focussed on  specific outcomes and understandings.

Our Maths units are now far more hands on and this has seen greater engagement amongst my students and has been particularly good for some of my students who struggle with pen and paper tasks. This style of teaching is certainly more challenging in terms of record keeping but I have been able to gain deeper insights into how my students are thinking by observing them as they investigate a particular idea or tackle a challenging problem. One question I struggle with is that many of our pre and post assessments are still pen and paper tasks yet during the actual unit, this is rare. It seems to be a bit of a mismatch and I think is in part, due to the difficulty of consistent record keeping when there is no ‘hard copy’ evidence. I think this is worthy pursuing however to ensure we are giving our students authentic ways to show us what they know and understand.

As a team, we have had the opportunity to spend quality time with our own Maths leader and two Maths leaders from the CEO on a regular basis over the past 2 years and this has been invaluable. Having a decent period of time to devote to planning is a luxury and has resulted in some great, gutsy, lively conversations about Maths issues including assessment, activities and key understandings.

We have only 4 months left in this project and the challenge will be to keep up the momentum. I think this will be achievable though as the project has built skills, knowledge and understandings that have transformed the way we all lead learning in Maths.

And finally … a photo of some of our fabulous 3/4 team at the recent PD day having worked together efficiently to complete a task – before any other group!!

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