Who will pack your parachute?


I have stolen the title of this post from the person who wrote the post I am about to redirect you to. This post challenges percentage based grades and the way in which we present them to parents v skills based reporting. I thought that the example used in the post about assessing someone packing a parachute and averaging their grades was an interesting one.

Do the use of grades and percentages take focus away from what students can and can’t do? Does the grade take the focus away from the importance of the written feedback? I have heard of a school that sends home report comments first and then the grades a week later so that focus is on the students strengths and weaknesses rather than a single grade.

What do you think of the the following post by @cherraolthof (a teacher in Alberta, Canada)? Do you agree with the sentiment of the article? It would be great to hear what teachers think about the views expressed in this post. To read the post click here.



If have you haven’t noticed I have been playing around with the format of the blog. As well as changing the format and colours I have added something new in the right hand side bar, my Twitter feed. Every now and then I tell someone how awesome Twitter is for professional development and I have posted about it before. The ideas and resources that I get on an ongoing basis are not possible through any other professional development format. The reason behind adding my Twitter feed to the blog is so that other teachers who may not see Twitter as a PD tool can get a sense of what it provides me. The Twitter feed on this blog only shows what I post to Twitter and what I ‘Favourite’ in terms of other teachers posts, it does not show every tweet that I see in my account. My intention is to try and ‘Favourite’ a range of tweets across subject areas and year levels. The Twitter feed only shows about four tweets but you can scroll through as many past tweets as you like by clicking and dragging using your mouse. My Twitter feed is obviously tailored to me but it should give you a sense of what Twitter might offer you if you were to create an account.

Please note almost every tweet will have a link in it to a resource or article of some sort. The link my not be obvious within the tweet i.e. it won’t be blue and underlined.

Keeping Running Records – Record of Reading App

I am not familiar with how Running Records are used to assess student reading but understand it is a widely used technique to assess a students reading performance. I have come across an app called Record of Reading which allows teachers to keep their running records on the iPad and then email the document as a PDF or JPG for filing. As I have mentioned I am not familiar with how these records are recorded so I can only recommend that if you want to use your iPad to do running records that you check out this app. I have added some blog posts from teachers who recommend its use if you are interested.

Reading assessment on the iPad (Australian)

Record of Reading App: Love this! (Australian)

Running records on the iPads (American)

Click here to visit the iTunes store to view the Record of Reading.

PBAS Student Free Day – Friday 17th May

This post is for PBAS staff with regards to the student free day to be held on Friday of week 3, term 2 at PBAS. This day will be focusing on Learning Design and Comprehension (questioning & inferencing). Ali Newbold and Trish Boschetti have been a part of the planning for this day and will be joining us on the day to assist with its running.

The day will provide staff the opportunity to learn about how to improve their planning/programming process through the use of Learning Design and also give staff the opportunity to work with Ali on our Site Improvement Plan goal around comprehension (inferencing and questioning).

Learning Design – some teachers will be familiar with this process and used it to varying degrees to program and plan. It is something that is a Regional focus and it is my understanding that it will be a part of the Regional student free day to be held Friday 7th June. Learning Design is a process that assists teachers with their ability to program and plan effectively (a core part of the teaching and learning cycle). Last year I wrote a series of posts on Learning Design. Click here if you would like to scan through these to find out more about Learning Design prior to the day.

Comprehension – as part of our Site Improvement Plan we have made a commitment to focus on comprehension and in particular questioning and the higher order thinking skill of inferencing.

Structure of the day

Teachers are asked to bring the following on the day:

1. A program that you are very familiar with (preferably a program you are running or will be running this year). This could be a program you have used or are intending to use later in the term/year. You will be using the Learning Design process to redevelop or develop this program.

2. Any resources that you require to assist you with your planning for that program.

3. The appropriate year level content, elaborations and achievement standards for the Australian Curriculum. If your subject area is not finished yet bring the draft paper for your subject area. You can access these documents online on the day. However, if the Internet goes down you will not have a key starting point for your Learning Design program. Organising a hard copy or downloading the PDF version onto your iPad may be worthwhile. This is very easy to do just ask if you are not sure.

4. The programing proforma that you want to use to plan your program on.

I hope this clarifies the intention of our student free day early term 2. If you have any questions let me know.

What does it mean to integrate technology successfully into your classroom?

Effective integration of technology can be difficult. So when I found the table below I thought it was a useful resource to share with teachers that helped to explain the difference between merely using technology and fully integrating it into your teaching. The table was created by Aditi Rao and posted on the website Teachbytes which can be viewed here.

I think that the way that this table explains the differences between ‘just using’ technology and ‘integrating’ technology is very relevant at PBAS now. Sure we have had ICT’s at our school for a long time but with the inclusion of the iPads I think we need to carefully think about how we use this new (new to our school at least) technology.

There is no doubt the iPads are engaging, so how do we integrate their use so that the engagement factor is taken advantage of while ensuring student learning is front and centre?

  1. This will take time as the novelty of the iPad means focus is on the ‘iPad’ – for a while at least.
  2. When the novelty wears off hopefully the iPad becomes another tool with a powerful impact.
  3. Staff development is important. Staff knowledge of how to use the iPad to improve learning needs to be developed. Sharing is important.
  4. Ensuring that we treat the iPads as a tool for learning and that when we use them it is planned and structured in a way that tells students the iPad is for learning. It is not there to keep them quiet or to keep disengaged students busy while we work with the engaged students.

I think the days of ‘visiting’ technology, i.e. a computing suite are numbered. They don’t allow for true integration of technology in learning. With the correct infrastructure mobile technology offers a much better platform to support student learning whether this is via Chromebooks, MacBooks, iPads or iPod’s does not matter. Mobile technology allows the learning to be front and centre because the technology is more easily accessible as opposed to visiting a computer suite which often then dictates the learning i.e. lets learn Power Point, lets make pamphlets, lets learn how to copy and paste, so we work the learning to fit with the technology not the other way around.

How do you integrate technology and how will you integrate the iPads so that they improve student learning? Will you have lessons that are iPad lessons i.e. every Tues and Thursday in lesson 3 we will use the iPads? Or will you use the iPads as they are required, not as the focus, but as the tool that will engage, challenge and support student learning?


Australian War Memorial – Memorial Boxes


The following text is taken straight from the AWM website.

If you can’t make it to the Memorial or you want to get more out of your visit, borrow a Memorial box.

Each box contains artefacts that students can handle, as well as photographs, case studies, uniforms, a video, oral histories, teacher’s notes, and more. Memorial boxes can be adapted for use across many areas of study and are accessible to a wide range of students, from lower primary to senior secondary.

There are six titles in the series:

  • Box 01– Australia in the First World War
  • Box 02 – Vietnam: the Australian experience
  • Box 03 – Too dark for the Light Horse: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the defence forces
  • Box 04 – Australia under attack!
  • Box 05 – We want to do more: the experience of women and children during the Second World War
  • Box 06 – Our war in the Pacific, 1942

Each state and territory has a complete set of the boxes, with duplicates of the most popular boxes.

The use of a box in your classroom is free (the school may have to pay for frieght and handling).

Boxes are available for loan in South Australia through the following contact: Elspeth Grant Email: samemorialboxes@hotmail.com


Click here if you would you like to view/download a pamphlet explaining each of the 6 Memorial boxes?

Click here to vist the Australian War Memorial Website and have a look at these great resources.