Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

Clay Cupcakes

For the past two weeks, my class and I have been working on an art project – cupcakes made out of clay!

Here is how we did it –

1. Make a ball of clay.

2. Turn this ball into a pinch pot (which will be the base of your cupcake)

3. Make another ball of clay.

4. Turn this second ball into a pinch pot also (which will be the top of your cupcake)

5. For the top, make a cherry or some twirly icing.

6. Make sure when you attach clay on clay, you rough up the surface so the pieces stick together after they have dried.

7. Leave the cupcakes to dry (make sure base and lid are separate so they don’t dry-stick!)

8. Once dry, paint with acrylics and add glitter if you like.

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The Best Job on Earth!!

This is the amazing place that I get to work at. Seriously, how lucky am I!

Can you spot me and my hubby? 🙂

iPad 2 – do I NEED one?

I think I need this – the iPad not the man.

I have been hearing more and more about these babies lately.  I am currently in the process of convincing hubby that I ‘need’ one, so if you could give me some reasons why I should get one then that would be most helpful 🙂

So far I have mainly been working my plea from this angle –

  • my students can use the iPad for their learning. There are so many amazing, PROPER educational apps out there.  Not just the game apps. I have been attending a Master Class run by Tony Ryan these past few months and he has been blowing my mind with the ways you can successfully use technology like the iPad to enhance learning in your classroom. I love how he says, “the iPad can be either incredible for learning, or a disaster. Depends on how you use it”. Very true.

Here are some great apps for educators who have an iPad (which isn’t me…yet):

  • all these ones
  • top 10 apps for teachers and students
  • and many, many more I don’t have time to hyperlink right now….maybe another post down the track when I have one in my hot little hands!

Using your iPad in class

Check out this little boy who has just turned two years old! My oh my how the world is changing! Can you imagine how his little brain is developing compared to when we were this age?

Before I get commenters comparing playing outside to being inside on technology, I want to make it clear that I am a BIG believer in fresh air, making cubby houses and being outdoors! That was how I was brought up and I am pretty awesome 😉 But for those times when your kids are indoors – this iPad would be amazing! Just think about the types of jobs the children of today are going to have in the future. The skills they learn with technology are going to be extremely handy!

I came across the video you just watched of Bridger and his iPad from this website, LEARNBOOST. Here they have listed some benefits and drawbacks on 2-3yr olds using iPads:

Benefits

  • Physical development. Toddler-age and preschool-age children often struggle to develop the small muscles in their hands. They work with play-dough, scribble, snap/zip/tie doll clothes and shoelaces, count with their fingers, and put together puzzles to get their little hands ready for all that the world requires of their fine motor skills.
  • Pre-literacy skills. With games like PBS KIDS’s Super WHY! and interactive story books, children play with letter sounds, letter forms, rhymes, and words. These exercise a child’s phonemic awareness, which is one of the best predictors of reading and academic success in later life.
  • Cognitive development. Puzzles are super important in children’s spacial reasoning, problem-solving, understanding of cause and effect, numbering and ordering, and countless other cognitive skills. Shape Builder is one puzzle app that I’ve worked with, and though it’s not wildly complex, it does enable really young children to explore with shapes while fine tuning their physical and mental skills.
  • Social-emotional development. Animated games and prizes are immensely gratifying, which gives children (even those less than 2-years-old) a sense of success and accomplishment. Studies have linked these affirmations to more confidence and more intrinsic motivation down the road. Plus, if a child has siblings, parents are bound to step in and work on negotiation and sharing skills, even if just because iPads are expensive.

Drawbacks

  • Instant gratification. It’s a give or take on this one. Children’s attention spans are brief at young ages. The colors, awards, sounds, and movements on the iPad affirm a short attention span with instant gratification. On the other hand, tiny children can sit and focus on the same game for minutes and even hours on the iPad.
  • Near obsession. I nannied for a family with 3 children, ages 1 month, 21 months, and 3-years. The toddler’s first word was “iPad.” There was almost no motivation to play outside, imagine, paint, or get messy. The idea that this device could be so overwhelming as to limit a child’s desire and ability to pretend, is deeply unsettling. For more info on how dramatic play stimulates brain development, check out some scholarly articles on the subject.
  • The technological parent. Socio-economic indicators may negate this drawback, since affluent families are both more likely to raise children who succeed in school and are more likely to be able to afford iPads. There’s no doubt though that it’s really easy to let an iPad “babysit” a child. Unlike Bridger’s father, who coaxes him through the learning process, if a parent simply sets a young child up with a game without any scaffolding or personal engagement, we may see more negative repercussions.
I do think that some of those drawbacks are perhaps more parenting issues rather than iPad issues, mainly with the obsession one. Parents ideally should be balancing their child’s life with a mix of things – outdoors and technology (computers, TV, etc). Both have been proven to benefit their development! I have a friend who does this beautifully. She discovered this in a book – for every 30 minutes outside, her children can spend 15 minutes on computer/Play Station/etc. Very clever idea!

So other than the education point I am using with my husband so I can buy an iPad, what are some other reasons I need one? 😉

Homeworkopoly

I did a post here about my view on homework.

This post is all about what I do to inspire my kids to get their homework done and bring it in to school on time.

Homeworkopoly – which I found on Pinterest is the key to my sanity and has been very effective. I have only just introduced Homeworkopoly this term (Term 3 in Australia), when interest in homework was starting to wane and the students needed a bit of a pick up in their motivation.

The students need to bring their homework in on time and completed. Then they get to roll a dice and move their gorgeous laminated face around the board.

If they land on a Community Lunchbox space, they pick a card from here:

When they land on Chance, they choose from here:

The other places they can land on include:

  • Mystery Prize: Choose a prize from the special box where things such as notepads, smelly pens, rubbers, sharpeners, etc are kept.
  • Game Spot: Choose a quick max.15 min game that the class can play at some stage during the week e.g. bingo, buzz, etc.
  • Free Homework: Choose one item from the homework sheet that you would like to skip this week.
  • On the Bus: Do a job for the teacher to be able to move on e.g. wash paintbrushes or sweep, etc.
  • Brain Binder: using the teacher’s laptop, complete a brain teaser/puzzle online.
  • GO: When students pass ‘GO’ they can choose a sticker.
A whole lotta fun and very quick to set up!

The Homework Debate

Ah, the homework debate. Some parents love it and ask for more and more, others hate it and wish it was sent into space where it got sucked into a black hole never to be seen again. As a teacher, I don’t love it and I don’t hate it. I find it practical and beneficial though.

My class and I had a conversation the other day about why they think homework is important for them. This was not discussed previously or my words put into their mouths. We were actually discussing lots of things – importance of schooling, personal and class goals, how we could achieve them, what we wanted our classroom/school to be like, etc. For the homework question, points were raised such as: so I can learn more, so mum and dad know what I’m doing in school, so I can practice at my own pace and catch up if I need to, so I don’t fall behind, so I get good marks cause it helps my brain get smarter, so if I don’t understand something at the same time as everyone else I can spend more time on it at home and learn it then, etc.

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

The Queensland Government recommends:

Years 1-3: Could be up to but generally not more than 1 hour per week.

Years 4-5: Could be up to but generally not more than 2-3 hours per week.

Years 6-7: Could be up to but generally not more than 3-4 hours per week.

Years 8-9: Could be up to but generally not more than 5 hours per week.

Years 10-12: The amount of time devoted to homework and independent study will vary according to the student’s learning needs and individual program of learning, determined through their Senior Education and Training (SET) Plan.

So if every other student in every other school and state in Australia are doing this kind of work at home and we don’t think it is important so we don’t do it, then what happens when we are trying to get a placement in uni or more importantly a job in the workplace against all these other people? Or we are just simply struggling to understand a few things and as we go through the schooling years, concepts get built on top of foundational ones and so on….and we haven’t grasped the foundational ones yet. There is only so much a teacher and school can do. For instance, when I played volleyball for New South Wales our coach trained us HARD. But if I wanted to succeed above others (and to be selected for the NSW team) I had to put in an effort on my own accord. I had to practice by myself, eat well, exercised my body…all outside of the time my coach could practically invest in me. If I just relied on what my coach could give me, then I would have been the same as the others who did what he said. To get ahead, I had to do extra. It’s that simple.

Homework isn’t meant to be about new concepts. It is supposed to be revising and going over things they have already been doing in class to concrete it in their brains, with maybe a few new challenges chucked in for good measure. We (teachers) do not have time to go back over and over and over the simple concepts we have already taught in class for the following days and weeks as we have a gazillion other things to cover in class as well. We hope that students are putting aside 15-30 minutes in the afternoon to practice it.

I don’t know about you but I still have ‘homework’ to do for my job. So do both my parents – a builder and a theatre nurse. Doing work at home is a good habit to get in to and is a part of life whether you like it or not. The argument that kids should just be kids is true and I agree – and part of being a kid is continuing your learning at home as you try to understand new things. After all, practice makes perfect right….or at least makes it easier for the kids as they go along.

In saying all this, I do believe that there is such a thing as too much homework…but that is a whole different topic! 🙂

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s off to work I go!

I’m just sitting here in my classroom while waiting for my next parent teacher interview (which is in 1 1/2hrs). I thought I would eat my dinner and write about one of my loves.

Some days I have to remind myself why I love my job so much. Mainly so I can smile and feel an immense joy in the amazing blessing God has bestowed on me – I work at a beautiful, caring school that is striving for excellence in all students. I work with a bunch of incredibly hard-working, devoted staff. Not many people can say that they work in a place that they are in love with. My class is close to heaven and I get to spend my day exploring the world and discovering new things with them. Not only do I get to teach them, they teach me – I love how we work together as a unit and are passionate about our learning.

My style of teaching is to gradually release responsibility to my students as they gain expertise, teaching a few strategies of great consequences in-depth over time, and giving children the gifts of time, choice, response, community, and structure. I try to explicitly teach concepts and balance that with inquiry, exploration and discovery. If you walked in to my classroom, you could catch us deep discussion with one another or moving about the room trying to achieve a goal we have set together or as individuals. I love my job!

One of my students and I during our class celebration of the 'Gold Rush'.

Working out some tricky Maths stuff in the 'Maths Zone' in our classroom before we go off and work in small groups.

Don’t get me wrong – I have my yucky days like anyone else. Those yucky days rarely are the product of my students or my environment, it is usually lack of sleep, too much to do in a short space of time, or purely just frustration with the direction teaching is headed. Teachers hands are being tied behind our backs more and more as we are required to push, push, push students to meet National standards at the highest end possible. It is so crucial to stay focussed on what education is about and not get caught up in all the politics that education is getting tangled up in – it is to instill a love of learning in your students so they can be the very best that they can possibly be. There is nothing more important than that!

Everyone Collects Something?

I have never really been one to collect things.  One exception would be when I was in primary school and my friend and I started to collect the coloured tips of pencils when they broke off.  We used to store our treasures in little Itty Bitty Bins and we would draw out mansion plans that we would live in together when we were older.  We had a whole room set aside just for these coloured pencil tips and we dreamed of filling that room up to the roof.  As you can see, I was not the best at collecting practical things.  My husband used to collect the old phone cards when he was little and we still have his quite substantial stash somewhere…..I have no evidence of my pencil tips.

Only as I have gotten older have I really begun to hoard certain things – journals and notebooks, diva earrings, cute stationary (don’t get me started on the Typo shop!), fiction books……  but my biggest collection frenzy are the Usbourne Art and Craft books that you can get through Scholastic or any legendary bookstore.  Whenever I come across a herd of these books in a shop, I have to really hold back from buying the lot.

Here are some of my that books I love collecting!

It is not just the pretty pictures and fantastic ideas, but I have a practical slant to my collection fetish. I use these books every week for Art with my Year 4 class, when I teach Year 5 art, and when I used to teach Year 7 and 8 art.  The activities are brilliant and easy and teach a whole range of techniques!

Here are a few samples of what my class has made so far this year –

Glad Wrap & Watercolour Paints

Magazine Faces

Food Dye, Crayon & Black Paint


What do you like to collect?