This is a great link I found by following Kath Murdoch on Twitter. I have found many great articles through her and put them on my Delicious page but this one is pertinent in that I am figuring how to frame my class’s reflection for their Maths Talent Quest. This article asks the questions that I need my students to answer. Also, how to frame and then answer them.

We mean first of all that students should spend time in deep thought about their
own learning. They should think about what they have learned, how they have learned it, and the connections that exist between prior knowledge and new
knowledge, between information learned in different classes, and between learning
inside and outside of class.
Seeing Yourself:
We also mean that students need to look at themselves critically as students. To
look in the mirror to understand themselves as learners and to be critically aware of
both what they already know and what they still need to know.
One of the most important ways to learn about reflection is to understand the
crucial elements of a good reflection.
– A good reflection shows evidence of serious thinking and questioning
– A good reflection requires self awareness and honesty
– A good reflection is full of concrete and specific examples.
– A good reflection is thorough
– A good reflection is well organized and correct in terms of grammar and mechanics.
– A good reflection shows the ability to synthesize – that is , to pull lots of
different ideas together, to show the relationships between concepts, prior
and new knowledge, classroom and co-curricular work.
Students can be prompted with specific questions to answer about an
assignment. Some sample questions follow:
– What exactly did I learn?
– How have I changed as a result of this experience?
– How did I go about making sense of the information/situation?
– What parts of the experience were the most/least valuable and why?
– How does what I learned relate to what I already knew about the concept?
– How does what I learned relate to my other classes?
– How does what I learned relate to my co-curricular activities?
– How does what I learned relate to me as a person?
– What specific skills have I practiced/perfected in completing this assignment?
– What specific skills do I need to develop to do an even better job next time?
– What more do I need to learn about the subject/topic/concept?
These last questions give lots to ponder about and I am sure to be using them with my students this week……..


There is no pleasure to me without communication: there is not so much as a sprightly thought comes into my mind that it does not grieve me to have produced alone, and that I have no one to tell it to.”

Michel de Montaigne (French philosopher and writer, 1533 – 1592)

Interesting quote, of course ! It relates to a blog post from a teacher in England who has posted previously on what he believes to be the holy trinity of teaching: questioning, feedback and explanations. This post is about explanations and he posts his top ten tips for explaining:

1. ‘Know what the students know’ when planning your explanation, referencing Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development.

2. Use patterns of challenging subject specific language repeatedly, choose key words that stick.

3. Make explanations simple, but not simpler. Convey a key message, use compressed language.

4. Engage their hearts and minds, use humour and jokes but wary of ‘style over substance’, link to personal interests.

5. ‘Paint the picture’ – use analogies, metaphors and images.

6. Tell compelling stories, even dry statistics become enlivened when in the context of a story. Build narratives, with characters, conflicts and resolutions.

7. Make abstract concepts concrete and real, avoid abstract language and jargon.

8. Hone your tone, charisma without content is vacuous, but content without clarity and confidence is less likely to stick in the memory. Stress key words explicitly, use a tone that conveys enthusiasm and authority for maximum engagement.

9. Check understanding with targeted questions. Have a ‘no hands up’ policy – use the ABC FEEDBACK model: Agree with, Build upon, Challenge.

10…………and repeat. Knowledge stored in the long term memory is most typically revisited.

Core message = clear and effective explanations matter !



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I just love this link and what it represents, great for Inquiry, for smiling, for interest and a common theme amongst a few of my posts; introducing a sense of humour into the classroom. I love that the collective noun for flamingoes is a flamboyance, that the Beatles used the word love 613 times in their music and that there’s a type of jellyfish that lives forever…..mmmm….



“sapere aude” dare to know

Great article that I came across following a link from the previous post. Once again about lesson planning it provides much food for thought with regards what is important, or relevant, when planning. The images I have included here come from a slide show embedded in the article, these particularly grabbed me for their relevance and thought provoking. I love the planning principles, every point is relevant and simple and obvious.

Screen Shot 2013-04-28 at 2.30.53 PM

Screen Shot 2013-04-28 at 2.31.49 PM Screen Shot 2013-04-28 at 2.31.25 PM Screen Shot 2013-04-28 at 2.32.21 PM Screen Shot 2013-04-28 at 2.33.25 PMScreen Shot 2013-04-28 at 2.14.05 PMThis last image relates to the flow that can happen when students are in the ‘zone’. Hugh from the Resilience Project discussed this with staff and students, it is a concept I am interested in and will examine further, maybe following through on some of the links and suggestions from both these last two articles i have highlighted.



Great post from an English teacher’s blog that I follow. Known as the the head guru teacher, I also follow him on twitter and therefore read many of his posts. I find them also very valuable and informative with regards teaching and also what is happening with regards the education system in England. This article I found fascinating as it doesn’t tell me anything new but fills me with re-invigorated passion for what I am doing as a teacher/educator and also what I am trying to do. Outlined are 12 steps to a ‘Great Teacher’ reputation:

Part One: In the classroom

1. Teach great lessons consistently (Obvious of course and here are the essence of routine habits teachers need to develop to teach great lessons day after day – probing, rigour, challenge, differentiation, journeys, explaining, agility, awe, possibilities, joy)

2. Build positive relationships

3. Give effective feedback (Marking in perspective – selective, formative, effective, reflective)

4. Know your subject and use that to good effect

5. Lay a path to successful outcomes for your students

6. Embrace a total gifted and talented philosophy

7. Express yourself

Part Two: Beyond the classroom

8. Give time generously to students who need you

9. Engage with parents (Homework matters – great teachers set great homework)

10. Get involved in the school communiyt

11. Maintain high professional standards

12. Show initiative; offer solutions; be collaborative; be your own PD champion

These are truly worthy attributes and I will aspire to treat them with the same respect I hold the VIT standards for teachers.


The agile teacher….responsive, risk-taking, juggling continually.




Love this article and this image. Not that I need any encouragement to bring laughter into my classroom but this article does indeed outline 50 ways to bring it in !! And they are all viable and usable. “Inside a classroom, the air thickens with time and words and problems and thoughts, lots of thoughts. Sometimes, there’s a need to break the boredom. the best break is laughter.” There is even a link to a Stanford study showing how humour activates a child’s brain. Some of the suggestions are so obvious we may not even realise we are doing them most of the time, but it is vital to consider them. Examples include:

– Be you,

– Develop rapport,

– Be honest,

– Be weird, sometimes what’s normal to you may be weird to the younger generation,

– Use voices, that ‘special’ teacher voice,

– Tongue twisters,

– Music,

– Use irony,

The list goes on and provides fabulous opportunity for meaningful learning experiences beyond content.




Lovely website with many ideas and resources for use in Literacy sessions.The ‘sheds’ include: The Thinking Shed, The Picture Book Shed, The Fairy Tale Shed, The Inventor’s Shed, The Reading Shed, The Poetry Shed, The Adventure Shed, The Mystery Shed, The Sci-Fi Shed, The Ghostly Shed, The Inspiration Shed, The Fantasy Shed, The Other Cultures Shed, The Class Blogs Shed, The Images Shed, The Tool Shed, The History Shed, The Authors Shed, The Fun Shed, The Christmas Shed…… and so it goes on. I want to keep going into all the sheds to check them out.