Year 1 & 2 budding news presenters

I have been wanting to get staff to share what’s happening in their classrooms via the blog for a while now. Kelly has kindly got the ball rolling and has shared her classes use of the iPads to record oral presentations, in this case news presentations. Below Kelly has outlined how this process began and the benefits she found using the iPads to do this process.

After seeing a student in our class pretend to be a weather presenter, several other students were keen to join in and this small idea soon evolved into our class presenting the news. Scripts were written, banners designed, props prepared and rehearsals began.

The convenience of an iPad meant I could easily film each segment. Using iMovie it took me no more than 10 minutes to edit each segment and put it all together with text and transitions. As a class, we then viewed each news programme on the IWB. Being able to watch themselves, allowed the students to complete both self assessments and peer assessments. This was particularly useful for several children who realised, for themselves, that they needed to improve their reading fluency.
All in all the process was quite simple and convenient and one that I would not have attempted prior to iPads. Kelly Heading
The video below is not the whole video which was made up of two presentations by different news stations, Channel 7 and Channel 10. I have edited it down to give a sample of what the students did.

The adventures of a cardboard box

How many ways can you use a cardboard box? Kids absolutely love playing with boxes creating everything from buildings, cars, planes, rocket ships and kitchen appliances. Some of you may remember the Cardboard Arcade video that went viral around the world and I posted on this blog back in April 2012. The video posted below is called, The Adventures of a Cardboard Box. Imagination and creativity at its best!

I found this video while looking through the Australian Curriculum Lessons website. The lesson is called, The Adventures of a Cardboard Box – 17 Activities to Inspire Your Class – 2/3/4. If you have not been to this website I suggest you do – a great range of lessons linked to the Australian Curriculum.


Google Search and Referencing

The purpose of this post is to:

1. Develop teacher knowledge of some basic Google Search tools so that you can show students how to refine and improve their searches.

2. Propose a consistent process and understanding of using  footnoting and bibliographies.

Google Search

Most of our students type straight into the Google Search bar and hope for the best, most of us probably do the same. To improve our students use of Google Search we need to make them aware of the functions available to them and how those functions can improve their searching.

For the purpose of this post I will just focus on Web and Image searches, being the two most common searches that students do. There are other search options which appear at the top of the Google Search page as seen below.

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Web Search

In the tool bar below there is the option to select Search Tools. This provides a wider range of options to help you improve your search. When you click on Search Tools while doing a Web search it will look like this:

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Any country – Select Any country or Australia to narrow your search to Australian information.

Any time – Select a time frame. Ideal if looking for information from a particular point in time. Also great for filtering out old information and getting the most recent articles on a topic or issue.

All results – Select from All results, Reading level or Verbatim. Reading level will break your search down into Basic, Intermediate and Advanced reading levels. Excellent for students looking for articles at their reading level.

Another tool is Advanced Search which incorporates all of the above and more. Advanced search can be found by clicking on the cog on the right hand side of the Google Search Page. See below.

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Once you click on Advanced Search you then have a range of options to narrow your search. Some of these are the same as above. Others included in this option are:

Exact word or phrase – Will search your exact phrase.

None of these words – Excludes any word you type in.

Language – Get articles in a specific language.

Region – Search articles specific to a country. Example – Find articles about Gallipoli from a Turkish perspective.

Safe Search – Filter explicit material out.

File type – Looking for a specific file? Example – only want JPEG images or searching for Power Point presentations. Narrow your search to the exact file type you want.

Image Search

An Image Search provides some similar tools as well as a few different ones to those found when doing a Web Search. See image below:


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Size – Select the size of picture from small ‘icon’ images to large images.

Colour – Select by colour.

Type – Select type of image, Face, Photo, Clip Art, Line Drawing, Animated.

Time – Select a time period.

Usage rights – Allows you to select images that have been labelled for reuse by the original owner. Allows user to avoid copyright issues.

The Advanced Search option can also be used when searching for images.

Please note that the above information is based on using Internet Explorer 10 and above. At the time of posting the library computers and Suite 2 have Internet Explorer 10 (except the teacher computer and the one near the printer). Suite 1 currently only has Internet Explorer 8 which means that Google Search looks different. For example:

  • some options including the ability to select Reading Level are not available.
  • Advanced Search is available but not in the same place. Scroll to the bottom of the Google search page to find the Advanced Search link.

Suite 2 will be upgraded to Internet Explorer 10 at some point.

Footnoting and Bibliography

It is important for students to cite references when undertaking research tasks or issues studies i.e. many Stage 1 & 2 subjects have Issue Study tasks.


When do I have to footnote?

You should use evidence (citations) any time you make a claim that is not based on a well-known fact or common knowledge.

  • You make a claim that could be challenged.
  • You quote somebody.
  • You make a specific claim that is not common knowledge.
  • You paraphrase information from a source (give the meaning but change the wording).
  • Offer an authoritative (expert) opinion.
  • You got an idea from somebody else, even through email or conversation.

Information from: When to Cite a Source – Knowing When to Support Your Statements. Click here to see this full article.

How do I footnote?

Click on this sentence to help you understand how to insert a footnote in Word and what to include in a footnote. 

Creating a Bibliography using an online tool

Cite This For Me is an easy to use website that allows students to create bibliographies and then download them into their Word documents. Click on the image below to go to the Cite This For Me site.

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My suggestion is that we decide on some standard tools and information giving teachers a base to work from when helping students understand how to footnote and create bibliographies. It would be appropriate for this to be further discussed in a future staff meeting.


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Two useful options for all students but in particular special needs students

Carol Dweck – Fixed or Growth Mindset

“Praise for high ability is a common response to a job well done.Whether its on the sports field or in the classroom, nothing seems more natural than to commemorate individuals achievements by applauding their abilities in some way.” ‘Praise for inteligence can undermine children’s performance and motivation’, Claudia M. Mueller and Carol S. Dweck.

Carol Dweck’s research is well known and her findings have been used the world over with teachers when talking about how we praise our students. How do our actions impact on how our students see themselves? Do we encourage a fixed or growth mindset?

In a very simplified form Dweck’s research suggests that praising for intelligence and ability encourages a fixed mindset while praising for effort encourages a growth mindset. So knowing this how do we praise the students in our classes? If someone observed our classes over time what conclusion would they draw about how we offer praise?

Using QR Codes that display text

QR codes that display text could be used for:

  • QR codes could supply information about a particular topic
  • Answers to quiz questions
  • Clues for scavenger hunts
  • Direction information ie walk 10 paces due south
  • One QR code could provide a question and a clue to find another QR code that has the answer.
  • Create a walk around the school which can only be completed  by answering questions directing you to the next QR code.
  • Create a poster on a particular topic that asks a variety of questions and attach QR code to the poster that supply the answer.
  • Use to reveal information at a particular point in time. They can be up on the wall but not able to be read until a student is instructed to read the QR code with an iPad.

Create the QR codes in:

  • QR Reader app (on student iPads)
  • Read them through the QR Reader app or through i-nigma (another QR reader app also on student iPads).

QR codes are exceptionally easy to make. They literally take the time it takes to type in your text. Students as young as Year 3/4 could easily create, print and laminate their own.

Not sure what a QR code is? Well here is an example:


The QR code above, when scanned says, “You will find your next QR code on the corner of a building which encourages reading.” This could be a clue in a series of clues in a treasure hunt.

QR codes can also be created to:

  • Take you to a website when scanned.
  • Take you to a specific point on a map using Geolocation.

Professional Learning – Classroom Observations & Student Feedback

At some point this term you should be meeting with your Line Manager to talk about your professional learning. I must admit that in terms of professional learning their is a lot going on when you consider:

  • Australian Curriculum
  • Learning Design
  • TfEL
  • Professional Standards
  • Formative Assessment
  • Classroom observations
  • Organising and using student feedback
  • All the other things (outside of whole school & DECD expectations) that individual teachers have taken on to improve and develop their teaching including Anne Baker, literacy initiatives, developing the use of iPads, visiting other school sites, programming, record keeping etc….

Some of the above you will have engaged in deeply while other areas you will be aware of and consider from time to time while some you may not have thought about all year.

We can’t possibly be looking at all of these things in depth all the time but it is important that at different times through the year and in following years we continue to revisit and develop our knowledge of all of them.

If like me at times you are feeling overwhlemed with all the day to day expectations plus all of the above remember the following:

We should expect professional learning and changes to our practice to take time, it will not happen quickly if it is going to happen properly. The expectation is not that you master everything now but just that you continue to learn and move forward over time.

The purpose of this post is to revisit classroom observations and student feedback. As a school we have made a clear decision to undertake two classroom observations during the year (minimum) and receive feedback from students twice as well. This information can be found on page 2 of our Professional Development Foundation Document in your (white) Teacher Professional Development folder.

The remainder of the post will be split into two, 1. Classroom Observations and 2. Student Feedback.

Classroom Observations

Our observation process can be found on page 3 of the Foundation Document. Briefly though it looks like this:

1. Pre observation meeting – meet and discuss purpose of observation.

2. Observation of lesson (could be a part or whole lesson).

3. Immediate feedback if possible (that day). This is surface feedback focusing on what was seen to help student learning.

4. Follow up meeting. Within 1-2 days the observer needs to provide detailed feedback from the lesson. Discussions need to occur around how can this feedback be used to improve student learning and is there the possibility to expand knowledge in this area ie. visit another site, observe another teacher or attend T&D. Decisions about further observations also need to occur.

Observations may occur in one of 3 ways:

1. A teacher invites a peer to observe a lesson and provide feedback.

2. A teacher approaches a peer and asks if they can observe them teach a lesson.

3. A combination of 1 & 2.

Types of classroom observation

There are a variety of procedures for undertaking classroom observations including instructional rounds, learning walks, instructional coaching, videoing practice and peer observation. Each have their purpose but the one we have used to this point is Peer Observations (learning from each other).

Purpose of Peer Observations (excerpt from Looking at classroom practice – aitsl)

The purposes of peer observation include the development of self-awareness of one’s own teaching and the opportunity to gain feedback on one’s teaching.

The practice also supports the sharing of ideas and expertise and the discussion of challenges and concerns. Peers can provide an objective view of the practice, gather information that the teacher who is teaching the lesson might not otherwise be able to do and provide feedback on identified areas. It can also be designed to support the school’s instructional framework by establishing a focus for peers to observe and be observed.

Focus of Peer Observations (excerpt from Looking at classroom practice – aitsl)

A teacher or other observer watches a lesson in order to gain an understanding of some aspect of teaching, learning or classroom interaction. Context will always determine the specific approach. This can range from a non-judgemental process involving two or more peers who mutually benefit from the dialogue that takes place to more formalised approaches that connect to teacher performance processes. The data gathered and process undertaken can also be used as evidence in teacher performance and development processes. 

Observations can work two ways.

Click here to view the entire Looking at classroom practice document.

Student Feedback

If we are expected to seek feedback from students about our learning are there expectations about how we do this? The answer, yes and no.

Yes in that whatever method you use to get feedback from your students it needs to target specific aspects of your teaching and is important to student learning. Suggestion – use TfEL to help you design a question or questions or design your own questions to get specific feedback from your students about an aspect of your teaching, i.e. formative assessment. And no in that there is no expectation to use a standard proforma, the TfEL surveys or the TfEL Compass tool.

I will share with you two methods that I have used this year with my Year 9/10 HPE class. One is very formal and provides more in-depth feedback (the TfEL Compass Tool) and one is less formal and provides limited but targeted feedback (two questions relating to a peer feedback task we did in PE).

Less formal student feedback – two questions targeting a specific aspect of my term 1 9/10 HPE course

Below are to examples of feedback that I sought from students regarding the use of peer feedback and if they found this useful for their learning.


More formal and detailed feedback – TfEL Compass Tool

There are 6 different surveys that you can use within this tool. Most are structured with the ability to focus on one TfEL Domain or Domains 2 – 3 all in one survey. Each allows you to add one personalised open ended question. One survey allows you the flexibility to pick and choose what Elements and Domains you would like covered in the survey. Once a survey is created a Code and web link is created. These can then be used by students to access the survey.

The Compass Tool collates the information and will continue to collate all information together as more surveys are completed. Surveys can be sent to and come under the following headings – Teacher self reflection, Observer trusted colleague, Observer line manager, Students older, Students younger, Students early years and Observer researcher. My survey data reflects only two of these areas, Teacher self reflection and Students older.

The Domain I chose was the following:

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My results in the Quality Tests view looked like this:

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What are Quality Tests?

Rather than just test how often something is done the questions and surveys are designed to dig deeper into your teaching. My results above are in a very basic form on a sliding scale. The survey however lets me view my results against four quality tests. These tests are:


This item assesses your clarity about what you want students to learn and your clarity about how you will help them learn it.


This item assesses how effective your strategies and approaches were in achieving your intended outcomes for all students.


This item assesses whether you act consistently with everyone, whether you are consistent in what you say and do and whether you apply your approach consistently across all aspects of the learning.


This item assesses whether you are responding to what’s happening and adapting accordingly. It assesses whether you are reading the cues when there is understanding/misunderstanding, engagement/disengagement and whether there is an appropriate level of challenge for each student.

Below is my data for 2.1 Developing democratic relationships using the four quality tests. The Compass Tool has provided me with suggestions for improvement in each of these areas.

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The Compass Tool provides some fairly explicit feedback providing us with plenty to consider in terms of improving our teaching.

So prior to meeting with your line manager this term you may want to strongly consider:

1. When do I want to do my classroom observations?

2. How will I get feedback from students?

3. When will I get feedback from students?

4. In what areas do I want feedback from my students?

5. How do I intend to use my feedback?

Teacher Personal Action Plans: Formative Assessment

After seeing Dylan Wiliam in term 1 and making a commitment to develop formative assessment as a site it is great that we can now share our formative assessment goals (via Personal Action Plans) on the blog. This gives us the opportunity to see what others are doing in their classrooms. The benefits of sharing our formative assessment goals include:

  1. We have publicly displayed our goals and therefore much more likely to go through with them.
  2. We can see what others are doing, hopefully generating more professional conversations away from staff meetings.
  3. We can select teachers who are using a particular technique and ask to sit in and observe their use of the technique broadening our understanding of its application.
  4. Teachers can use the Personal Action Plan as a basis for their observation lesson(s) with a peer. Have someone observe and give feedback on your formative assessment strategies.

Below are the Personal Action Plans of teachers at PBAS which outline how they have used and will continue to use formative assessment strategies based on Dylan Wiliam’s book Embedded Formative Assessment.


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