What do our students do when they get stuck?

Do we get our students to rely on us all the time?

Do we give students the opportunities to try by themselves and stuff up or do we catch them and get them over the line, every single time?

Do we over draft work for students so the line becomes blurred as to what is theirs and what is ours?

Do we keep tying those shoe laces because it is quicker or do we teach how to tie them?

Do we balance our support with times were we withdraw our support to allow a student to learn for themselves?

These are questions to consider, particularly in our school were we have the opportunity to save our students from experiencing problems daily. It is easy for us to ensure our students remain happy and feel secure within our small school community. As a staff we have acknowledged this issue in the past but how often do we set up our students to make really tough decisions and use their initiative? Is it something we should do more of within our teaching? We certainly don’t want our students to turn out as helpless as the two in the video below!

Australian Curriculum Geography Draft Curriculum F-12

Geography is a structured way of exploring, analysing and explaining the characteristics of the places that make up our world, through perspectives based on the concepts of place, space and environment.

Geography is broken into two strands. Geographical Knowledge and Understanding and Geographical Inquiry and Skills. There are seven major concepts in the draft Australian Curriculum Geography are: place, space, environment, interconnection, sustainability, scale and change.

Geography will be taught across two year bands, the same as the Arts.

  • Foundation–Year 2 Curriculum focus: Exploring local and more distant places.
  • Years 3–4 Curriculum focus: Investigating places.
  • Years 5–6 Curriculum focus: Analysing and managing places.
  • Years 7–10 Curriculum focus: regional and global places in an environmental and human geography context.


For more detail go to the link below to view the full draft curriculum including General Capabilities, Cross Curriculum Priorities, Content Descriptors and Achievement Standards.

The draft Australian Curriculum: Geography







Educational Apps Part 1 – Productivity & PE/Games

As iPads begin to become more popular amongst staff and the potential for iPads to be available to students (at some point in 2013) I thought I would try and regularly post about useful apps for teachers and students. If you want to access these posts in the future just go to the Catagories heading in the right hand column of the blog and go down to iPad Apps. If you click on ‘iPad Apps’ you will find all of the posts on educational iPad apps.

To view/purchase the app in the app store click on the image.

First up are a range of apps that can assist with your productivity. Record personal training and development, assess students work including notes, photo, video or compile digital portfolios for your students. Great for collecting formative and summative assessments completed by your students. All three created by PE teacher Jarrod Robinson.


Easy PD






Easy PD is the professional development record tool for teachers. A mobile and powerful way to capture and record both the professional development you complete. Never again will you need to keep extensive and confusing paperwork.


Easy Assessment






Easy Assessment allows you to create rubrics, takes notes, add an image or piece of video all linked to the specific rubric. Enter your classes and record assessments on your iPad.


Easy Portfolio

Easy Portfolio allows you to collect your students work all in one place. Enter your classes and then under each individual student name store photos of their work, audio of conversations, video, notes, upload Office documents and add web links. Great when it comes to report writing, talking with parents and feeding back to students.


Next up are a range of apps that all do essentially the same thing, provide you with a range of games and physical activities to use in PE. Great if you want some new games to play with your students or let your students investigate and select a game they would like to teach the class.


PE Plus






PE Games






Group Games







P.E. Games







TGfU (Teaching Games for Understanding) – This app is based on a pedagogical approach used by PE teachers that teaches skills and strategies through small games as opposed to teaching skills in an isolated way.


The Australian Curriculum – The Arts

For those teachers who will be teaching The Arts AC here is an overview from the Arts Draft  Curriculum document.  I have tried to put some key points in this post from the 150 page draft document.

Australian Curriculum: The Arts comprises five subjects:

  • Dance
  • Drama
  • Media Arts
  • Music
  • Visual Arts

The Arts in each subject has two interrelated strands:

Making – using processes, techniques, knowledge and skills to make art works.
Responding – exploring, responding to, analysing and interpreting art works.
In the Making strand, content descriptions focus on students:
  • Imagining and improvising
  • exploring the elements/materials/techniques/processes
  • shaping their art works
  • practising skills and techniques
  • communicating ideas through their art works
  • linking their art works to other Arts subjects and learning areas.

In the Responding strand, content descriptions focus on students:

  • reflecting upon their own art works
  • responding to others’ art works
  • considering the broader context of arts works, such as the social, cultural andhistorical context of the artist and of the audience/s.

The Arts curriculum in each subject is written in bands of year levels This is different to English, maths, history and science which are written to individual year levels.

Foundation to Year 2

Years 3 to 4

Years 5 to 6

Years 7 to 8

Years 9 to 10

The general capabilities and cross curriculum priorities are the same as for every Australian Curriculum subject area (for detail on these click on the link below to visit the full draft AC curriculum for The Arts.

Teachers use the Australian Curriculum content and achievement standards first to identify current levels of learning and achievement and then to select the most appropriate content (possibly from across several year levels) to teach individual students and/or groups of students.

Teachers also use the achievement standards at the end of a period of teaching to make onbalance judgments about the quality of learning demonstrated by the students – that is, whether they have achieved below, at or above the standard.

If you would like to read the content descriptions and view the achievement standards you will need to go to the link below to visit the full draft paper. If you are teaching in this area this will be a good starting point to begin familiarisation of The Arts Australian Curriculum.

Click here to view the Draft Curriculum – The Arts.

Minecraft in the classroom

Minecraft is a down loadable game from the Internet that costs around $40 for one license for a PC, there is a free iPad app (very basic, can’t save but good for learning on) or a $7.49 app for iPad (Phoebe assures me it is not as good as the online version but not bad).

What is Minecraft? Wikipedia explains Minecraft as an open world game that has no specific goals for the player to accomplish, allowing players a large amount of freedom in choosing how to play the game. The game world is essentially composed of rough 3D objects—mainly cubes—that are arranged in a fixed grid pattern and represent different materials, such as dirt, stone, various ores, water, and tree trunks. Players can gather these material blocks and place them elsewhere, thus allowing for various constructions. The game primarily consists of two game modes: survival and creative. Unlike in survival mode, in creative mode, players have access to unlimited blocks, regenerate health when damaged, and can fly freely around the world.

I’ve actually never played Minecraft but we do have an account that Phoebe and Lucy use. The more I watch the girls build and create worlds the more potential I see for use with students. Without any personal experience using the game my first thought is to use it to engage students to design and build historical locations, buildings, statues and artifacts. It would be a brilliant tool for this purpose. Click here to visit a teachers example of how he used it in an Ancient Greece unit (see photos of the student’s structures). Another use could be to design scale models. As everything in Minecraft is built with blocks students could convert measurements into blocks and replicate an object i.e. a building (Phoebe worked out to scale the height, width, lengths of arms and legs etc of one of her dolls in blocks to recreate it in minecraft).

If you where looking to engage students in learning I think this would be an ideal tool. Of course their are many blockers to using something like Minecraft to engage students and the list probably looks something like this:

  • It costs money.
  • I don’t know how to use it.
  • It will be too much extra work to organise it.
  • I don’t have time to learn something new at the moment.
  • It looks great but it is not for me.
  • and so on …..

But also consider:

  • There will be a child in your class who can show others how to use Minecraft (give students leadership). Jump in and learn as you go, you don’t have to know everything before you start.
  • It is a way to differentiate the curriculum and make it accessible to students who find watching a video or creating a poster dead boring.
  • It allows for higher order thinking skills to be used including Analyse – investigate, examine, Evaluate – decide, justify, Create – construct, design, invent

With the potential to save multiple worlds on one iPad ($7.49 app) it may be an engaging tool for teachers to use in the near future at PBAS.

Below I have added some video and images of creations built using Minecraft.

The video below is of a students work. He had to design a structure from medieval times and decided to do it in Minecraft instead of building a traditional project.

Here are some images of things people have created using Minecraft. It is amazing what you can build out of blocks!

Staying Relevant

When your computer goes down or the Internets not working you might ring a help desk for assistance. This video is a humorous take on what happens when someone can’t get their ‘new book’ working. They have been used to working with scrolls and this new technology has them confused!

When your viewing the video pretend the person learning to use this new book is a teacher. If he gives up because it is too hard/frustrating will he continue to be an effective teacher? The answer of course is no. Books will soon become common place and scrolls will disappear. He will no longer be able to communicate with his students effectively as schools will no doubt be using the new technology with students.

What is our understanding of how: 1. children use the following (in and out of school) and 2. how can we use the following for teaching and professional development?

  • The Internet beyond a google search (web 2.0 tools)
  • Programs beyond Microsoft Office
  • iPads and the thousands of apps available for education
  • Social media such as Facebook and Twitter (how do students use these? what are their pitfalls and benefits?)
  • Blogs (your own or professional reading)
  • Wikis
  • Gaming i.e. Minecraft, which by the way I think has great applications in the classroom
  • Smart phones
  • Creating a YouTube account
  • Being responsible for and maintaining our online footprint
  • BOYD programs (Bring Your Own Device)
  • Mobile Learning

Do we risk becoming obsolete over the next 5-10 years if we do not embrace and embed technology as part of our pedagogy beyond the twice a week visit to the computer suite? (note I said as ‘part of’, we should never throw out old still effective pedagogy just because something new comes along, we should however be adding to our pedagogical content knowledge).


While you ponder this question enjoy the video, it is very funny!

Do schools kill creativity?

This talk by Sir Ken Robinson at the 2006 TED Conference is a fantastically entering and funny but more importantly thought provoking talk. It is one of if the most watched TED talks ever with 3,974,014 views. I have seen it a few times over the past couple of years and it makes me think about how a pedagogical scaffold like Blooms, which places creativity at the top of higher order thinking skills, is often at odds with the way schools educate students. Ken Robinson’s talk is about how he believes schools kill creativity.

Why is it that every education system on earth has the same hierarchy of subjects, mathematics and languages at the top and on the bottom are the arts? Ken Robinson 2006

Could you use Khan Academy in your classroom?

I won’t explain the history of Khan Academy here other than to say that it is a series of video tutorials on maths, science and history that are free on the Khan Academy website and can be searched and viewed on You Tube. If you would like to learn more about Khan Academy click on the link below:

One Man, One Computer, 10 Million Students: How Khan Academy Is Reinventing

If you teach maths, science or history at any level ask your self the question, can you use Khan Academy to help your students understand concepts? I don’t mean replacing your teaching with the use of Khan Academy videos but assisting your teaching. Below I have included 3 videos (math only) at different levels from basic addition (1 + 1) to higher level maths. Before viewing one or all of these videos consider that there is a khan Academy iPad app that would allow students (or the teacher) to access these videos on iPads or alternatively students access the videos in the computing suites or in the classroom on a laptop. The videos could be used individually (iPads, laptops, PC), pairs, small groups (on IWB). If you wanted to work with a small group of students you could do this while the rest of the class was accessing a video at an appropriate level on an iPad.

Basic Addition

Level 4 Subtraction

Level 1 Multiplying Expressions