Creating bilingual books with Book Creator

In term 1 Alison worked with the Year 5/6 Spanish class to create Spanish/English bilingual books.

The unit of work was titled las vacaciones – Que te gusta hacer? or holidays – What do you like to do?

Students learnt lots of pass time activities in Spanish such as dancing, playing  sport, swimming, singing etc. They learnt how to say whether they like doing those activities or not – me gusta  (I like)  or  no me gusta ( I don’t like).

The students assessment task was to design a bilingual ebook suitable for a preschool aged child titled What do you like to do? Que te gusta hacer? The books required  a repetitive sentence throughout  “do you like ………..? using the various activity words that they had learnt during the term.  The book needed to be colourful with large font suitable for a young child.  The text was required to be in Spanish and English with audio also in Spanish and English.

At the end of term 1 the Year 5/6 students shared their books with the Reception/Year 1 class.

This task  addresses TfEL Domain 4 Personalise and connect learning.
Element 4.3 apply and assess learning in authentic contexts
- Ensures demonstration of learning to real audiences (Reception/Year 1 class)
Element 4.4 communicate learning in multiple modes
- Encourages the use of a range of media for communicating learning (communicating through an ebook - this was something new and different to previous methods of communicating learning)
- Engages learners in practical activities to develop understanding (creation of an ebook)

Reflecting on TfEL and Classroom Observations

During the first days back this year we spent some time reflecting on selected Elements of the Teaching for Effective Learning Framework (TfEL). This document will be needed during the term so that we can complete the reflection process.

With professional development meetings occurring at the moment and teachers considering the focus for their first classroom observation it is important that we reflect on our teaching through the TfEL document. It may be useful to try and link our reflections with the four observation proformas. This may help teachers to select which observation proforma will best suit their professional development needs. Because we are required to complete a minimum of four observations it could be beneficial to stick with the same observation focus across all observations to get a deeper understanding of this area.

Observation focus areas:

  1. Assessment
  2. Being Strategic
  3. Classroom Management
  4. Communication and Engagement

Any feedback on these proformas would be most welcome, particularly the guiding questions that assist the observer.

It is important that we complete our TfEL reflections during term 1. The understanding we gain about our teaching through these reflections should help guide part or all of our professional development for the remainder of the year.  There will be time in week 5 (early closure) and week 8 (staff meeting) to allow this to happen.

Click on the image below to access the TfEL Reflection booklet.

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Continuing to develop our understanding of the TfEL Framework and understanding how it can assist us with developing our teaching practice is an important part of our roles as teachers.

The TFEL Compass Tool – Tutorial Videos

The Teaching and Learning in South Australia You Tube Channel has posted 3 videos on how to set up and use the TFEL Compass Tool. These videos were produced by the Teaching for Effective Learning Team.

We have discussed the TFEL Compass Tool before at PBAS and some staff have gone on to create surveys. What I like about these videos are the explanations given about the Polar Maps and Quality Tests within the Compass Tool. Both of these allow you to analyse your data. The Tool provides feedback for you based around the feedback you received from the students or observer.

Tutorial 1: Creating a survey

Tutorial 2: Polar Maps

Tutorial 3: Quality Tests

Learning Design – What do my students already know?

Tanya has very kindly allowed me to share her classroom observation which occurred in week 3. Tanya’s focus is around Finding out what students already know. This closely links with the Learning Design process and TFEL.

Domain 4 Personalise and connect learning. Element: 4.1 build on learners’ understandings
the teacher identifies students’ prior knowledge and cultural practices as a starting point for curriculum.

I have inserted Tanya’s observational notes based on our new 2015 observational proforma. Please have a read and hopefully it provides some help and inspiration with your own planning in this area.

Learning Design – very quickly, what is it?

One of the 6 areas of Learning Design, What do they bring? requires us to carefully consider the beliefs, misconceptions and experiences students have. “What students bring” should not only be considered in relation to the content being taught but also other experiences students have had that impact on their attitude towards learning and their relationship with the teacher and other students.

To become effective at finding out what our students bring we need strategies to help us elicit this information. I have provided some resources that hopefully give some practical strategies that can easily be used in the classroom to achieve the aim of finding out what students bring to your classroom.

Resource 1: Click on the diagram to go to the Cornell University Centre for Teaching and Excellence website

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Resource 2Strategies to find out what students know

How is your professional learning going?

I don’t think that anyone disputes that to become better teachers we must engage in professional learning. How we go about engaging in that learning will have a significant impact on how effective that learning is. Some professional learning provides little support after the learning is completed while other professional learning allows for ongoing support. Below are some examples of types of professional learning. This list is not exhaustive but does provide a variety of types of professional learning:

  • Conferences
  • Workshops
  • Professional learning communities (face to face)
  • Professional learning communities (online including Twitter, Edmodo and Facebook)
  • Professional reading (education publications)
  • Professional reading (online including blogs, Twitter, education publications)
  • Classroom observations (peer to peer)
  • Student feedback
  • Visit another school

All of these forms of professional learning can be effective (assuming they are quality opportunities in the first place). Some provide more ongoing support than others which can impact on our ability to follow through with implementing real change in our teaching. However if we have a strong desire to change and develop our teaching then we will find a way regardless of the type of professional learning we have undertaken.

If, as I said at the start of the post, professional learning is so important it should not be seen as “the extra thing we need to do” or “the 60 hours we need to keep our registration”. It should be seen as a part of our job that is central to our role as educators.

So what is it that we could be doing over the remainder of this year to improve our teaching?

1. A lot of us have attend workshops and conferences this year i.e. Anne Baker and Dylan Wiliam. Trying to implement our learning from these events is ongoing and important. Can we use the next two things to help us determine how well this is going?

2. Classroom observations. As a teaching staff we agreed to have trusted peers come in and observe our teaching to provide feedback. How is this going? Personally I have not got there yet but have decided to stop procrastinating and get organised. Below is my information to Denise who will be observing 2 lessons over the next three weeks for me. Pick a time/class, a peer and a reason for your observation and jump in. 

  • Friday 22 August (week 5) – Lesson 2 9/10 Pastoral Care. Focus of observation is: Do I engage all students and levels of ability or are there students getting left behind?
  • Friday 5 September (week 7) – Lesson 3 R/1 PE. Focus for observation is: Do I provide feedback to students in relation to skills being developed and behaviour?

3. Student feedback. As a teaching staff we have discussed the use of student feedback and from year 5/6 up have had the opportunity to learn how to use the Compass TfEL survey tool. Have we implemented this with our students? My goal is to implement surveys for Domains 2,3 and 4 at the end of terms 1, 2 and 3. I will complete Domain 4 at the end of term 3 which will provide me with a range of feedback from my Year 9/10 class about my teaching.

The above three forms of professional learning should not be overwhelming. Don’t try to do to much with each of them.

1. Dylan Wiliam formative assessment – we all came away from this excited. Have we tried to implemented too much? Have we let it drop away? Have we embedded strategies or just tried a range of things without genuine persistence? Focus on one thing and do it well was Dyaln Wiliam’s advice to us.

My focus – develop feedback processes

2. Classroom observations – select one simple aspect of your teaching. Don’t be too broad. This will assist your observer and you in making real change in your classroom.

My focus – providing feedback and catering for all students

3. Student surveys – read your students surveys and highlight one or two items that are more common across the surveys. Again don’t try to take on everything, select one thing to focus on.

My focus (from feedback so far) providing students with some choice.

Remember that change takes time and commitment. Our professional learning should be continually evolving, not quickly but gradually over time.

PBAS Student Free Day Term 2 2014 – Compass Tool and AC

As there where a number of staff not at PBAS for the student free day for a range of reasons I thought I would share the Power Point presentation that we went through in the morning session.

Our discussion centred around the TFEL Compass tool to provide student feedback to teachers and using the Achievement Standards and Content Descriptors to plan units and assessment tasks for term 3. After our morning discussion the day was spent focusing on these things. Teachers then met at the end of the day to share what they had been able to achieve during the day.

As part of the presentation we also revisited the DECD policy regarding A-E grading. I will be printing a copy of this to put in trays in the coming days. A copy is also in the presentation below.

It would also be great for the JP teachers to share any useful resources that they found during their time at Moonta/Kadina looking at moderation and Learning Design. Ange has already approached me with what looked like a great resource for keeping track of the Australian Curriculum developed by Adele Kehler.

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?

Dylan Wiliam – Where to now?

I really enjoyed Dylan Wiliam’s presentation on Wednesday and we have been very lucky to have all our teaching staff see him at the same time. It gives us a rare opportunity as a teachers to discuss formative assessment and how it can be done better at PBAS in a way that had only 3 or 4 attended would not be possible.

Some of the things that I got out of the day that were new or reinforced beliefs I held included:

  • It was great to hear Dylan acknowledge how hard the teaching “game” is and how no one ever perfects it.
  • Pedagogy trumps curriculum every time.
  • Focus on the things that matter.
  • We fail all the time and that’s ok as long as we avoid repeating mistakes and strive to improve.
  • We should worry about growth mind set in teachers. There is no place for teachers who think they can’t get better.
  • Formative assessment is most effective when it is used every day in every lesson (at least once every 20 minutes).
  • Always ensure students understand the learning intention and direction of the lesson.
  • Planning questions is important and using statements rather than questions can promote deeper responses.
  • Dumbing things down does not help our students.
  • Questioning should cause one of two things or both: 1. The student to think and 2. produce data that informs teaching.
  • Hard work and practice can trump talent.
  • Grades do not contribute to improved learning.
  • Comments do contribute to improved learning.
  • Combining grades and comments do not contribute to improved learning. Once a grade is seen the comment is ignored.
  • A great range of strategies to improve formative assessment.

Now that we have heard Dylan Wiliam’s research and classroom strategies and have his book as a resource we should discuss the “where to now?”.

Proposal – Formative assessment

My initial reaction is to take on formative assessment as a focus for 2014 (and maybe 2015). When I say focus I mean as part of our personal development plans where every teacher commits to improving an aspect of formative assessment. Team meetings will provide time to discuss formative assessment and allow staff to share what they are doing in terms of improving formative assessment in their classroom. I also believe there is plenty of scope for choice within formative assessment for teachers to select what they think will help improve their teaching and student learning.

My proposal is that all teaching staff select at least one strategy around formative assessment to put into their performance development plan.

Formative Assessment also allows us to engage in sections of TfEL and the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers as well as giving focus to classroom observations if a teacher chooses.

How does Formative Assessment  link with TfEL and Australian Professional Standards for Teachers

By focusing on formative assessment we will also be covering part of TfEL Domain 2, Element 2.4 and the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers Standard 5.1 and 5.2.

TfEL: Domain 2 Create Safe Conditions for Rigorous Learning

Element 2.4 Challenge students to achieve high standards with appropriate support.

  • (Teacher) Teach students how to seek feedback and offer timely feedback to move their learning forward.
  • (Teacher) Engineer learning conversations that extend students thinking.
  • (Student) Look forward to getting feedback from others to help take the next step.

Australian Professional Standards for Teachers: Standard 5 Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning

I have only included the Proficent and Highly Accomplished levels below. To view Graduate and Lead descriptors go to the AITSL page at the top of the blog. 

Assess student learning


Develop, select and use informal and formal, diagnostic, formative and summative assessment strategies to assess student learning.

Highly Accomplished

Develop and apply a comprehensive range of assessment strategies to diagnose learning needs, comply with curriculum requirements and support colleagues to evaluate the effectiveness of their approaches to assessment.

Provide feedback to students on their learning


Provide timely, effective and appropriate feedback to students about their achievement relative to their learning goals.

Highly Accomplished

Select from an effective range of strategies to provide targeted feedback based on informed and timely judgements of each student’s current needs in order to progress learning.

I believe it is important that all teaching staff who attended the day contribute a comment about where we should go now with Dylan Wiliam’s work. What are your opinions/thoughts around PD, classroom observations, TfEL and the Australian Professional Standards and using formative assessment to tie them all together? Can we make this work?

Learning Design – What do the students bring?

Having looked at Learning Design earlier this year it is important that we continue to work with, explore and discuss this process as a staff. My intention is to have 15-20 minute spotlights regularly (semi-regularly) at staff meetings to allow for some discussion and develop our knowledge of the Learning Design process further. The information below is from our staff meeting (2/8) this week when we looked at and were reminded about the importance of considering what the students bring and how this should influence our planning. The key points for this presentation were taken from the TfEL Framework in particular 4.1 build on learners understandings.