Facebook – Connecting with students

Classroom Observations at PBAS

I hope that the Eudunda presentation achieved its purpose of getting us to start thinking about how we might go about developing quality teaching and learning through classroom observations at PBAS.

Key points that I got from the presentation were:

  • I like the concept of One in all in. Developing a whole school agreement through discussion will be important.
  • Time is required to ensure any process is effective. Time for both the development of the process as well as implementation i.e. Eudunda underloaded its secondary staff and provided release time for its primary staff. What would work at PBAS?
  • Eudunda embedded ‘Quality Teaching’ into their Site Improvement Plan. Where does improving quality teaching through classroom observation sit in relation to all the other things we do at school?
  • How do we embed aspects of the TfEL or the National Professional Standards for Teachers (or both) into a document that is then useful and easily used?
  • Staff familiarisation with TfEL and the National Professional Standards for Teachers will be ongoing. The hot dot task was a fairly easy simple way to get staff to have a look at and think about these.
  • The concept of deprivatising the classroom appealed to me. Broadening the types of pedagogy we are exposed to will be an important part of developing teacher quality.

This by no means exhausts the list of questions and issues that teachers may have about classroom observations at PBAS. They are just my initial thoughts after listening to Eudunda’s story.

Click here to read my first post on Classroom Observation written in early October.

Why school? Post 2

I was going to do a series of 3-4 posts about the eBook Why schools? by Will Richardson. See Why school? Post 1 If you haven’t seen this post or viewed the video in it I suggest you go back and view it before you view the video below.

I no longer have to do a series of posts because I have found a video of Will Richardson presenting at TEDxMelbourne, recorded only two months ago. The talk encapsulates his book Why schools? Hence the reason why I don’t need to do any more posts on it.

Valmai spoke to me about the key message she picked up from the first post which again is reinforced in this video, “we don’t have to do school better we have to do it differently”.

If I had to choose one video to watch from the wide range posted on this blog during 2012 this would be it.


Why school? Post 1

This will be the first in a series of posts based on the book Why school? by Will Richardson. If your interested it can be downloaded from Amazon to your Kindle or iPad Kindle app for $2.04 (at the moment). The reason for bringing this book to your attention and discussing it in further posts is to generate discussion on a topic that is current.

I came across the book Why school? on Twitter, it is an easy read and raises many questions about our students learning in 2012 and beyond. Its main premise is that teachers, knowledge, learning and getting an education are no longer scarce commodities that can only really be accessed through institutions but are now abundantly available thanks to the Internet.

“Today if we have an Internet connection , we have at our finger tip, on-demand access to an amazing library that holds close to the sum of human knowledge and, equally important, to more than two billion people with whom we can potentially learn.” Will Richardson, Why school?

The author does acknowledge that the Internet is not without its issues, both in equity and as a place that is difficult to navigate, “It can be overwhelming, distracting, nonsensical, and at times frightening.” He also sees schools as important places, “I believe there remains a great deal of value in the idea of a school as a place our kids go to learn with others, to be inspired by caring adults………..Communities built around schools are better for it.”

This video is a good introduction to Will Richardson’s views on education. It is a TEDxNYED talk made before the publication of the book Why schools?


The reach of social media

Below are the visits our site has recieved broken down by country. This is the information gathered by the ClustrMaps map found at the bottom right of the blog page. It is based on a persons IP address. Each time an IP address visits the site it is logged as one visit. If an IP address visits more than once in a day it is still only recorded as one visit. This is different to the Page Hits counter (found above the ClustrMap on the blog) which counts every visit and page hit hence why it is a larger number.

So far since January this year to the writing of this post there have been 1622 visits from people around the world based on one visit per day per IP address while page hits are at 3859. The reason I wanted to bring this to your attention was 1. purely interests sake but 2. to point out what we write, either as a post or as a comment is not just read by staff at our school but by a world wide audience. This blog has relatively few visitors compared with others but it does show the reach you can have when you put your thoughts and ideas online.

As professional development tools blogs, wikis, Facebook and Twitter (among many other Web 2.0 tools) are almost unlimited in their ability to offer professional learning. If you haven’t considered using them for professional development before you may like to in the future. They have certainly contributed to my knowledge and directly to my teaching in the classroom.

The reach of social media is huge and linking to other teachers on it is easy. Here are some social media statistics to blow your mind:

Source http://thesocialskinny.com/100-social-media-statistics-for-2012/

  • There are 955 million active users on Facebook
  • Each day Facebook users spend 10.5 billion minutes (almost 20,000 years) online on the social network
  • On a busy day, twitter sees about 175 million tweets
  • One hour of video is uploaded to YouTube every second –  that’s 24 hours of video every 24 seconds
  • Instagram – more than 50 million users over past 2 years and 300 million pictures uploaded to Facebook a day (via Instagram)

PBAS R-12 Curriculum and Pedagogy – statistics

Sorry about the poor formating for the data below. Its the only way I could copy it from the ClustrMaps website.

The breakdown of the Australian numbers is SA 613, NSW 147, Vic 97, QLD 54, WA 46, Tas 10, ACT 8, NT 2, NA (unidentifiable IP address) 132.

                                                               Australia (AU)


                                                               United States (US)


                                                               France (FR)


                                                               United Kingdom (GB)


                                                               New Zealand (NZ)


                                                               Canada (CA)


                                                               India (IN)


                                                               Singapore (SG)


                                                               Europe (EU)


                                                               United Arab Emirates (AE)


                                                               Pakistan (PK)


                                                               Belgium (BE)






Getting Started – Classroom ideas for learning with the ipad

Click on the link below and have a look at the digital book “Getting Started  – Classroom ideas for learning with the ipad”. This was put out by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (Victoria) as one of the resources for an iPad trial in Victoria. Some good ideas about pedagogy and how ICT and iPads can be used. Click here to read the book “Getting Started  – Classroom ideas for learning with the iPad “.


Erica McWilliam article

As I said earlier last week I was really keen to locate some information regarding Erica McWilliam. Well, I’ve located the attached article which is absolutely AWESOME!


Entitled Personally Significant Learning it masterfully pulls together so many education norms we must get our heads around as staff in front of students as well as leaders in schools trying to move our schools to being fantastic, vibrant and relevant to students of 2012 and beyond. Would be interested in people’s feedback if they too believe this is where education needs to be or if the thoughts are she (and therefore me) are way off the track!


Check it out – I think you will find it interesting at the very least.


Ed Charlton

Skype – an amazing free tool

Firstly let me say that  I don’t mean ‘amazing’ as in ‘wow I’ve never seen this technology before’ rather here is a tool that allows you to connect with anyone in the world who is willing to talk to you or your class for free! It is one of the great things about Web 2.o – great tools, which if not free are cheap for what they provide.

On Monday my 10/11 PE class spoke with Olivia Warnes, a sports nutritionist who works for the Crows (she is actually quite nice), Redbacks, track cyclists and the Sports Med Hospital.

Students prepared questions based on work they had been doing in class and I emailed these to Olivia. The questions are below.

  1. What hydrates more effectively, water or sports drinks? (Kienan)
  2. How does the diet of an AFL footballer change from preseason, during the season and post season? (Rory)
  3. What types of foods and drinks do AFL players consume during games to keep their energy levels up? (Meghan)
  4. What is an example of a meal that an AFL footballer might have the night before a game and why is this a good meal to have? (Callum)
  5. Are the levels of carbohydrates required at an elite level different for male and female athletes? (Tyler)
  6. What type of diet does an AFL footballer have? What foods can they have a lot, moderate and small amounts of? (Courtland)
  7. How many kilojoules are used in a game of AFL football? How does this compare with other sports? (Brad)
  8. What is an example of a meal that an AFL footballer might have the morning of a game and why is this a good meal to have? (Madison)
  9. Do AFL players have much choice about their diet or does the club have total control over what they eat? (Nick)

Unfortunately the Learn Link system does not allow Skype to work on our network currently. So with the help of an iPhone hot spot we were able to connect with Olivia and spend about half an hour talking to her. The students took it in turns to go up and ask her their questions while the rest of the class took notes. At the end of the call students walked around and shared with each other their answers. This information will be used along with work done during the semester to complete their major assignment for the term. I also recorded the audio so that students could listen back if they needed more detail.

Click on the links below to hear the first 3 questions:

Olivia Warnes Introduction (audio recording missed start which is where she says that she works for the Crows)

Olivia Warnes Qu 1

Olivia Warnes Sports Qu 2

Olivia Warnes Qu 3

Taylor asking Olivia Courtland’s question (Courtland was away)

Skype is not without its problems. The video had to be cut because connection was weak which left us with a photo of Olivia and her voice (which was fine) and I had to use a personal phone to get access to Skype. Having said this these were the only two problems I came across and everything went quite smoothly. The benefit of having an expert in a field far and away outweighed any minor problems we encountered.

The great thing now is I have a contact who is willing to do this again and hopefully can link me with other experts in related fields.



New motivation + dabling in Edublogs with Year 9 maths

Over the holidays my sister was sent to a New Educators conference in Brisbane (ah to work in a big school!) and she stumbled across a woman by the name of Erica McWilliam. Anyway, it would appear (having read only a tiny bit of her work so far) that she may just replace my previous teaching mentor Guy Claxton…. maybe. Anyway, if you have time try and check out some of her work and in the meantime, I will endeavour to post some articles that ring a tune with me.


On another note, I’d encourage you to visit my blog I am trying with Year 9 Maths students, http://acharlton5.edublogs.org/ . It is my first attempt at using this medium in response to feedback sought from students in Semester 1. At that point I had surveyed students via Zoomerang. They had provided me two key themes in their feedback that I have attempted to focus on in improving my teaching.

The main theme I am trying to touch on by presenting learning to students in this manner, is in reponse to the feedback recieved: not enough choice in their learning, and Directed Investigations are too narrow and don’t appeal to them. I am also intending on enahncing their learning via:

  • Guy Claxton – Learning to Learn
  • Literacy focus – the great Ali Newbold!
  • Australian Curriculum
  • Bloom’s Taxonomy

It is audacious – we have had one lesson together today, and as enthused as year 9’s can get, they seemed quite receptive to what was presented to them. So fingers crossed it works well. I will update you on problems encountered or useful/useless support materials, and will also inform on student feedback as we progress. I would be really keen as well on your feedback or views if you have the time!

Classroom Observations

Research over a long period of time suggests that teacher quality above all other educational policy has the biggest impact on student learning. The following quote is from the AITSL website under the heading, The crucial role of the teacher‘The greatest resource in Australian schools is our teachers. They account for the vast majority of expenditure in school education and have the greatest impact on student learning, far outweighing the impact of any other education program or policy’.

Discussion has begun at Leadership around how we can structure teacher observations and processes at PBAS that allow for peer observation of our teaching in a way that is comfortable for staff & provides honest and targeted/useful feedback.

To help foster this discussion Leadership are trying to get Eudunda Area School to visit us in term 4 and explain how their classroom observation processes work (Clare High may also be a possibility). If these visits occur the purpose will not be to hold up any particular  model as ‘the best’ but rather use them as starting points to generate discussion and ideas for our own model.

Some considerations to be discussed by Leadership and staff through the remainder of this year and into next include:

  • Is this process part of the performance management system of the school (or separate)?
  • Do we have a whole school focus for classroom observations i.e. TfEl 3.2 Foster deep understanding and skillful action or do teachers choose specific areas they would like to focus on?
  • How will feedback be given i.e. informally, formally, notes, oral, video or a combination?
  • Guidelines for observing teachers will need to be clear and easily understood.
  • How will the observation proforma look and work? Needs to provide specific & useful feedback that is a easy to understand and use.
  • How do we provide time for teachers to:
    • meet with their observer prior to the observation
    • be an observer for a colleague
    • provide feedback from an observation session
    • reflect and act on feedback provided by the observation?

An article Denise gave me called ‘The Gentle Art of Observation: a small schools approach to peer mentoring and observation’ (Uradila PS) has a statement at the end of the article that summed up their purpose for classroom observations.

The goal at our school is not to have homogenous teachers but teachers who can argue their teaching practice and can honestly say what they are doing is effective teaching.

I look forward to any feedback that staff may have at this point regarding classroom observations either directly or by commenting on this post. The benefit of commenting here is that your peers also get to read your thoughts and ideas which can only benefit the discussion.

Hopefully any observation process we develop at PBAS doesn’t generate the following emotion from staff.