Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Something New Every 30 Days

I was searching the web for information and videos on goal setting for my Year 11 Pastoral Care class for 2012 when I came across a TED talk by Matt Cutts titled "Try something new for thirty days". The concept is interesting and could be applied to large or small goals. A person chooses something you would like to add or subtract from your life and then attempt to do (or not do) that thing for the next 30 days. For example I would like to improve core strength and could decide to do 50 sit ups per day for 30 days. Matt's idea being that if you can do something for 30 days it can become a habit and potentially something you will continue doing. He also suggests that it is a good short term way to achieve goals - at the extreme end Matt wrote a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. He just made sure he completed 1667 words per day!

My intention is that at the beginning of every month (starting March) my home group, including me, will attempt to try something new for 30 days. I will encourage my students to move between personal 30 day goals and school based 30 day goals. As a group we will reflect on this process throughout the year by blogging.

Friday, 23 December 2011

A Window on the Classroom

It is very easy in a lot of schools to turn up to school, go to your classroom, teach your classes and never have another adult sit in on your class for the entire year (teacher or parent). Sure other teachers will pop in and ask you for something or have a quick look at what your students are doing but rarely do they stay. This isolation that teachers experience is often fostered by teachers themselves. We feel safe in our classrooms teaching as we always have, we're professionals after all we don't need prying eyes looking at what we do and how we do we?

My answer would be yes. Having other staff observe our lessons, inviting the principal or line manager to see what you're doing in the classroom can be very beneficial for improving teacher pedagogy if done well (this is nothing new). Even inviting parents in to view classes has its benefits, including these three; firstly it can strengthen the connection parents feel with the school, secondly if done well can improve the school's/teacher's standing within the community (teachers can always do with good publicity) and thirdly gives parents a starting point at home for conversation about school with their children.

In a traditional sense i.e. having bodies physically in the classroom is difficult when time/work constraints hinder peers sitting in on your classes regularly and parents don't feel comfortable entering a classroom that has students older than nine years of age in it, and even then they can't stay because of busy schedules. To over come this I am going to create a class blog for my junior PE classes (Reception, Year 1 & 2). It will provide me with a platform to share student work and class activities with parents and other staff without them needing to be in the classroom. They can stay informed about what their child is doing in PE (taught by me to release the class teacher for non instructional time) and health (taught by classroom teacher). I know this is not a new idea but it will be the first time our school has done this.

An added benefit of undertaking this will be involving the junior primary staff (2 teachers) in the process. Blogs are not used by staff at my school and through my junior PE blog they will be able to see how I use a it to open up the classroom to parents and other teachers. I will also involve the work they do in health so it is not just me sharing. Hopefully this will be a practical way of developing the use of blogs in my school.

I know this is starting small in relation to what a lot of teachers around the world are doing but if successful I would love to see our students connecting with other schools from around the world and sharing their learning, ideas and culture.

Sunday, 18 December 2011


One of the newer apps I've downloaded recently is Educreations, a great tool for creating screencasts on the Ipad2. Simple to use much like the ShowMe app but with the flexibility of creating multiple pages easily. I have created some Educreation presentations for my Year 12 PE class next year around various concepts to support their learning and revision through the year. I have also been doing this through Screenr, Screen O Matic and the ShowMe app.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011



Tinkerbox is a creative tool that teaches basic engineering concepts and allows students to complete a series of tasks requiring problem solving. Students can invent their own problems to be solved as well.

Being the last week of school I tried it out with my year 9 English students who had finished their English tasks. I worked with 5 students who as a group went through the problem solving tasks on the whiteboard (connected Ipad2 with VGA cable), helping the person driving the Ipad2 to solve the problem. We did this for one lesson and the students were really engaged.

Their task now that they know how the app works is to invent their own engineering masterpiece. They were all give paper copies of all the tools available to them via screen shots I had taken on the Ipad2. In the help menu it shows all the tools and explains them. So armed with this they will be creating and drawing their invention on paper and then trying to replicate it in the Tinkerbox app in front of the class up on the whiteboard. The class will work with the student offering suggestions until the invention works.

We haven't finished this process yet but it has engaged the kids in a creative and collaborative process at a time in the year when most students find it hard to focus on anything.

Monday, 12 December 2011

My Work Hours

After reading some letters to the editor bagging teachers and the amount of time off we get I decided to work out how many hours I work a week over 48 weeks. This leaves me with 4 weeks annual leave 'just like everyone else gets' as the not so subtle letters to the editor reminded me. The article that attracted so much attention was in The Advertiser and was informing the public about SA teachers getting two more student free days to help implement the Australian Curriculum. The Advertiser is very good about writing these sort of articles in an even handed way so as not to generate public backlash against teachers (it's hard to be sarcastic without the appropriate tone).

Now I know these hours are very approximate as I have not kept records but they are fairly accurate. I am also aware that some teachers work a lot more and some work a lot less. So.....

40 wks @ 50 hours = 2000hrs
40 weekends @ 1 hour = 40hrs
2 camps working extra hours in am and pm. 4 days @ 7 hours = 28hrs
2 days prior to school starting mandated by government = 18hrs
Week 10 term 4 kids off - teachers off in this week if 37.5hrs T&D completed in own time during year or supposed to work = 37.5hrs
Term 1, 2, 3 holidays. 3 @ 15hrs = 45hrs
Xmas holidays = 30hrs

Total = 2198.5hrs

Equates to:
2198.5hrs/48 weeks with 4 weeks annual leave (normal)= 46hrs per week.

I'm not sure what this achieved but it was interesting to work out. So in the end to compare myself to the 'average worker' I do 45.8 hours per week for 48 weeks with 4 weeks holiday in a job that regularly makes top 5 most stressfull career lists.

Data from TimeMotion App

Here is a graph of the data from my 8/9 Volleyball class. This was just a test run and only focused on each student for 2 minutes. The girl who stood still (did not move!) for 93% of her two minutes instantly tried harder the next game. In the future I will use the data to generate discussion about movement and does this corallate with those who are successful in sports as well as being able to investigate energy systems used.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Drop Box

I have been looking for something that will allow my students to present their work to me and allow me to draft or mark this work online. I've decided to try Dropbox which also has the added benefits of me being able to add and access my own files from anywhere there is internet access. Students will need their own Dropbox account for this to work. I have not used it yet so not 100% sure of its potential yet. Certainly everything I have read suggests others think it is a very good web 2.0 tool. Also a bonus that there is an app for my Ipad2 which adds more flexibility.

Watch introductory video.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Blooms Revised Taxonomy and apps

What a great resource. Handheld Learning in Physical Education has a post talking about Blooms and apps. What apps apply to which components of Blooms. The post links to the Edutopia site which has articles in a series looking at apps that fit each of the six areas of Blooms.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Time Motion app for Ipad2

Today in my 8/9 PE class I used the Time Motion app to collect data on student movement during their volleyball games. The time motion app allows you to record (for a single student) the % of time spent standing, walking, jogging, fast running and sprinting. Normally you get the data and then email it but as there is no WiFi in our gym I copied the data from the Ipad2 against the students name on a piece of paper which was fairly painless. Each student that I observed was watched for 2 minutes. It then took ten minutes to enter that data on a spreadsheet and produce a graph that showed my classes movement intensities. Today was just an experiment but in the future this data will be excellent for students to analyse and make links between those who are successfull in games/sports and the amount of effort (movement) they put in while older students can look at which energy systems are dominant during a particular sport based on movement intensity. Such a simple app providing powerful data!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Putting students images on a class blog

I've created a class blog for two of my PE classes in 2012 (reception class and 1/2 class). The purpose of this blog is to provide a window on the classroom for parents. It will be private and show images and video of students as they participate in my PE class through the year. It will include my program and curriculum outcomes (SACSA Framework). I am still yet to run it past parents at a meeting at the start of next year and hope that no one has reservations about their child being put on a private blog and probably on YouTube, also private. I see it as an excellent way to connect parents with their child's classroom and what happens at school.

What I'd like to know from others who have created class blogs is how you go about having a class blog that is not private yet still put student images on it. How do you convince/get this past parents and the school? I view class blogs that are open to anyone on the net and wonder what type of processes the teacher and school has used to allow this to occur. I ask this question because in the future I'd like to have blogs that are not private and that enable collaboration for example with another class somewhere in the world. I would love to hear others opinions and thoughts.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Always Learning

There is a great analogy used by my Deputy Principal who borrowed it from a Principal that was at our school for a short time. "You would not want a surgeon operating on you who never updated his/her training, learnt new methods or consulted with colleagues and so it goes that you would not want a teacher who never engaged in these things educating your child".