Does ‘Hands Up’ in a classroom have a negative impact for some?

Love the faces of the teachers in the video when Dylan Wiliams is talking to them about ‘hands up’. I can’t believe how worried they look and apprehensive they are to something as small as using a different method for getting students to answer questions.

It would be interesting to hear what staff think about the concept of ‘hands up’ being detrimental to student learning (for those that don’t engage). I know Ed is having a go at this so it would be interesting to hear his perspective on how he thinks it is helping (or not) in his class.

Part 1

Part 2

AC/TfEL Staff Meeting Wednesday Week 9

Just a reminder about our Australian Curriculum and TfEL meeting coming up next Wednesday (week 9).

Again we will just go straight into these meetings and if time is required afterwards for a short admin meeting (10-15min) you will be notified.


If staff looking at TfEL could meet in the staff room at 3:30pm. Staff in this group will be at one of two points – 1. Still undertaking the ‘Personal Reflection’ pg 10 and the ‘Self Review of Practice’ pg 11 OR 2. Based on your reflection you have decided on what one or two  Elements you would like to investigate and improve as part of your teaching. If you are at this point you will need the DVD. Download the resources for your Element(s) and start to investigate what these resources are about and what they have to offer. Remember there are PDF files (articles, questions etc) and MP4 files (video) which often link back to a PDF file. It is also important that you are documenting some of your progress (dot points?) as it should be forming a part of your performance management process.

Australian Curriculum

R-6 Maths -Meet in Kim’s room? I am assuming that primary staff are now looking at the Australian Curriculum: maths. I had a meeting with Trish Boschetti, one of three district Australian Curriculum officers in our area, and she is willing to attend some of our staff meetings where possible. She committed to come to this meeting in week 9 and also the first AC/TfEL meeting in week 2 term 2. I have suggested to Trish that she has a general discussion with you in next weeks meeting to find out where you are at and what your concerns are. Hopefully the next meeting in term 2 she can structure something useful for you based on your needs and bring along resources (she did mention she was keen on doing something around assessment and moderation).

My intention is to try and access Trish for the primary staff initially as they are on the tightest timeline having to plan, assess and report in semester 2 this year. My hope is that as we move into the end of term 2 and start of term 3 Trish will be available to work with secondary staff.

8-10 History (Justin, Rosalie and Nick) – Meet in library. My understanding from our last meeting was that we wanted to try and design a proforma that allowed for a more user friendly version of the Achievement Standards in history.

8-10 Science (Allan and Tanya) – Depending on where you are at maybe having a look at the portfolios of work for science at Years 8, 9 and 10. May be useful. Would be interesting to get your view point on the standard expected at a ‘satisfactory’ level at each year level.

I have not got around to staff to ask where they are at with the AC/TfEL over the last fortnight as it has been quite busy. I feel like I need to know where people are at so that when I am looking at resources or talking with district people like Trish I can access relevant and appropriate resources that link to where staff are at at that point in time. So if you get the opportunity to let me know where you or your group is at either face to face, email or even a comment to this post that would be great.

The Australian Curriculum – What is the latest?

Today I went to a T&D run by the Primary Maths Association. The T&D was led by Lisa Jane O’Connor. I thought I would share with you some of the interesting and relevant information that I gathered, a lot of which is information relating to the AC in general, not just maths.

Reporting and Assessment

1. The new “Reporting Guidelines” will be out sometime this week or next through Info Connect (not sure who gets this – Denise?). This is the document that describes what an A, B, C, D and E grade is. It also gives the language to be used if you want a word equivalent. This wording by the way is non negotiable. There were also supposed to be reporting proformas with this but they are not ready yet. They should be out by the end of the term and hopefully will be useful when we look at our R-6 reporting through this year.

1.1 An interesting point made by Lisa was about grading. She suggested that a lot of students may now get ‘D’ grades and not ‘C’ grades based on the word descriptors. For example:

C Grade : “Apply …………. in new contexts

D grade; “Apply …………. in familiar contexts

This is only a part of the descriptor obviously but it was a key part. How many of our kids can apply concepts from any subject in new contexts? If they can’t they are a ‘D’ student!

1.2 All students will be assessed by the Achievement Standard that they align with i.e. a Year 4 is graded against the Year 4 Achievement Standard (regardless of ability). There are two exceptions to this; 1. The student has an IEP. Only those subjects mentioned in the IEP are exempt from grading against the Achievement Standard and 2. Individual negotiation with the students parents.

1.3 Reports must state if the subject is aligned with SACSA or the Australian Curriculum.

1.4 Lisa made it clear that reports should not only cover content but the 7 capabilities as well. How/where do we fit this in?


2 When programing in maths teachers should look at the Content Descriptions, the Achievement Standard (I think most knew this) and also the Numeracy Capability (which I didn’t know) when working out what content to cover at a particular year level.

2.1 Lisa described the Numeracy Capability as another list of things to cover in maths. On the AC website go to General Capabilities – Numeracy – Learning Continuum. This shows what students need to know by the end of Year 2, Year 4, Year 6 and Year 8. Lisa described the 3 areas in the following way – Content Descriptions and the Achievement Standard are used to generate the A-E grade while the Numeracy Capability is tested by NAPLAN explaining why it says by the end of Year 2 etc…..

2.2 The Australian Curriculum (can’t remember if Lisa just meant maths or all areas) is at a higher level than most students work at now. Considering what I said above under Reporting and Assessment 1.1 this implies that students grades will fall across the board. How will parents react to this? How will students react to this? It was mentioned that the Minister needs to come out and publicly say something like, “Implementing the Australian Curriculum requires schools to work towards the Achievement Standards over the next 3 years.” Schools should not be left to justify to their communities why students results have dropped i.e. due to a new curriculum and grading system as this will just sound like we are covering our backsides.

Programing and Planning

3. Lisa talked about ‘Learning Design’ being the term now used across DECD as the term for planning. She said that the backward design process is now not used. This was just one example of many conflicting messages seemingly out there at the moment. The process of Learning Design will be out as part of a Leaders resource coming out in week 10 this term. It is more detailed than what follows but to give you a basic idea of the Learning Design process you would ask yourself these three questions and undertake your planning based on those questions in this order:

Step 1 – What do I want them to learn?  Step 2 – How will I know they have got there?  Step 3 – So how will we get there?

3.1 The issue of legality around programing was raised.

  • Evidently programs are the property of the Minister of Education and are to be archived by the school at the end of every year and kept for seven years. There have been court cases where these programs have been called upon.
  • The department requires that all teachers have a written detailed program.

I hope this information has been useful and generates some discussion (anger, confusion) amongst staff. Maybe even leave a comment so others can see your thoughts encouraging them to add their own.




How do we measure the value of a teacher?

Since standardised testing has made its way into the national spotlight through NAPLAN and the MY School website teachers have continued to discuss the issues of using these test results as a measure. Currently NAPLAN compares schools in a very public way. What would you do if that comparison was no longer the school but you? What if your name was published alongside your ‘value’ ranking (percentile) which was determined by how well your students did on their annual standardised test? What would you do if this result impacted on your job security and could get you fired? Would you narrow the curriculum to push your kids to achieve in the areas to be tested? I think I probably would! This is the case in some US States and educational districts. Below is a link to a thought provoking and emotional article by a teacher named Maribeth Whitehouse who ranked in the 99th percentile based on her students doing very well in the standardised tests.

Click here to read Measuring My Value.

More autonomy in schools

Inept teachers face axe in $7.5m deal

In return for signing up to the Federal Government’s new teacher-hiring policy, aimed at improving standards, the Bligh Government will be offered a handout of $7.5 million.”

“POORLY performing teachers could be sacked by their principals in a landmark education reform to be announced today.”

“Under the current proposals, school management could be given free rein to take over the recruitment and management of teachers and support staff.”

Click here to read full article – Queensland education trialling autonomy model.

Reforms will help reduce spending, says report

“An interim report on staff costs by PricewaterhouseCoopers,  which was  commissioned by Treasury under the previous government and presented to cabinet  in December 2009, strongly supports increased power and responsibility for  principals.”

“But instead of framing this devolution in terms of improving student  performance, it says  increasing the responsibility and accountability of  principals can save the government money.”

“The report accuses principals  of failing to use existing staff,  including  deputy principals and head teachers, to fill in for absent teachers and suggests  sick leave entitlements are being abused by teachers.”

‘The report also says there should be more emphasis on commercial and management  capabilities when choosing principals rather than educational leadership. The  current selection process is ”heavily oriented towards educational  leadership”

Read full article here.

Wow some really scary statements in this article. PricewaterhouseCoopers report on education reform (commisioned by Treasury) = How to save money, How to shift costs away from Government and How to increase workload of principals. Nothing about actual education reform and improving teacher quality and student learning!

Australian Curriculum – Draft Shape Papers Technologies and HPE

These Draft Shape Papers in Technologies and Health & Physical Education have just been released and should be of some interest to primary teachers and specialist secondary teachers in these areas. I have had a quick glance over them and put some information below taken directly from the Draft Shape Papers.


Draft Shape Paper Australian Curriculum: Technologies click here to access

“This paper proposes that the Australian Curriculum: Technologies comprises two strands for the Foundation Year to Year 8 and two subjects for Years 9 to12 namely, Design and technologies and Digital technologies.”

“The now ubiquitous nature of digital technologies resulting from digitisation, the miniaturisation and embedding of microelectronics into a range of products, and wireless networking, means that students of all ages and abilities expect to be able to play, learn and study anytime and anywhere, and to design and produce solutions using design and computational thinking and traditional, contemporary and emerging technologies.”


Draft Shape Paper Australian Curriculum: Health & Physical Education click here to access

It is proposed that the Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education has two integrated strands for F–10:

1. Personal, social and community health

2. Movement and physical activity.

“Traditionally, Health and Physical Education curricula in Australia have adopted a risk-based model focusing on when and how young people experience risky health behaviours and exploring reasons why and how they could change these behaviours. The emphasis on risk factors and groups at risk (for example young people, Indigenous Australians, ethnic minorities) has been widely criticised for unnecessarily alienating young people, and frequently laying blame on them for their failure to meet expectations of self-management. By taking a strengths-based approach the Australian Curriculum: Health & Physical Education will prioritise the questions – what keeps people healthy? and what helps people to be active?”


The Khan Academy/Flipped Classroom

The Khan Academy: The future of education? American 60 Minutes did a piece a couple of days ago about Sal Khan and The Khan Academy. The Khan Academy has inspired a whole new way of thinking called the ‘Flipped Classroom’ where students get the information at home through video and do their homework at school. The reasoning being that if students are accessing well thought out explanations about concepts and topics at home they are then prepared to do more activities and tasks in class with teacher help as opposed to ‘passively listening’ to the teacher explain concepts. I know Ed is using the Khan Academy videos with some of his students in Year 9 maths.

Here is the 60 Minutes segment. An amazing story of what one person has achieved (some of the software being trialled looks amazing).


Inspiration and Motivation

I really enjoy motivational quotes/events from history. They can remind us of concepts, ideas, beliefs and values that we know to be true but don’t always live by. On Friday’s pupil free day I was reminded of one of those when looking at Element 2.4 of TfEL, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same results” Albert Einstein. Often quotes like these can be timely reminders of what we need to do as opposed to what we actually do.

As teachers and SSO’s part of our role is to motivate and inspire our students (there are few occupations that get to do this on a daily basis). If we want our students to be passionate life long learners then we must be passionate life long learners. Unfortunately it works both ways, we can inspire but also uninspire. If we can’t exhibit the qualities we want our students to have how can we inspire our students to exhibit them?

As a teacher I have to believe that we motivate and inspire our students, it is just that most of the time we never know when this occurs. How do you motivate and inspire the students you work with?

Everyone needs inspiration and motivation at different times. Below are some of my favourite motivational videos that have inspired me. I can credit Ed with introducing me to the Nick Vujicic video and Dave for reminding me about a clip from The Office (US version) that gives some great advice.

Randy Pausch – The Last lecture Reprised (Click here to see the original lecture which goes for around 1 hour and 16 minutes – it is worth watching if you can spare the time)

Ric Elias had a front-row seat on Flight 1549, the plane that crash-landed in the Hudson River in New York in January 2009.

Volunteer firefighter Mark Bezos tells a story of an act of heroism that didn’t go quite as expected — but that taught him a big lesson.

Nick Vujicic and his attitude serve as a great examples of the celebration of life over limitations.

When you don’t give up..You cannot fail.

Here’s the thing that makes life so interesting. The theory of evolution claims that “only the strong shall survive”. Maybe so, maybe so. But the theory of competition says, “just because they’re the strong doesn’t mean they can’t get their asses kicked”.

The Office (US version) – great advice

Life should be fun.

“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other peoples lives”

Jackie Robinson

The first black American baseball player to pave the way for the intergration of black and white professional baseball.

Want a short cut to this site on your desktop?

Ed wondered the other day if he could put a short cut on his desktop to this site. If you would like to access this site often then it is a good idea to have easy access to it. Either through your desktop or by adding it to your favorites. I think most people now how to add a site to their favorites so here is how to put a link on your desktop.


1. Right click on your desktop.

2. Scroll down and select New.

3. Then select Shortcuts.

4. Paste in the website URL and click next.

5. Give your short cut a name.

6. Done


A Fear of Failure

Last week I posted about Assessment, Grading and Learning and got some responses from Ed, Paul and Kim discussing their thoughts on these things. Some of this post talked about failure and its links with to learning. To add to this discussion I have found two videos by Dan Haesler that discuss failure. Feel free to add your comment/views on failure and how you see it’s relevance in a classroom.