Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Our Genius Hour Adventure Begins

There has been a lot of discussion and enthusiasm amongst our staff around Genius Hour this past week. After our first session yesterday there is a lot of excitement from students as well.
One of the things I have heard a number of times from my colleagues is that they are taking things slowly and allowing students to absorb a little bit of inspiration and information at a time.  As teachers, we tend to always be in a rush to get through the huge amount of content we have to teach each day.  But the value of going slow can not be underestimated when beginning Genius Hour with our students.  Being free to take the time to inspire, wonder, ponder and develop thick questions is so worthwhile as it gives students, who possibly have not had much choice in their learning up to this point, a chance to slow down and wrap their heads around this new freedom to choose.
The adaption of blogging to reflect on learning by both teachers and students will be an integral part of Genius Hour but my hope is that we wont just be blogging about Genius Hour but all of our learnings, thoughts, ideas etc this year and beyond. It has been wonderful to see staff and students becoming excited about sharing their learning and ideas with others and looking for feedback in the comments on their blogs.
We are at the very beginning of our Genius Hour adventure and I cant wait to see where it takes both staff and students this year!

The following video is one of  a few that with our Yr5 students this week.  I love the enthusiasm and excitement of this 7 year old.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Genius Hour

Well, it has been a long while since my last post but here I am again, ready to share my thoughts and inspirations at the start of a new school year. 

I am excited and also a little trepidatious about introducing Genius Hour in our Yr 5 learning space this year. 

Excited about the possibilities:

  • building relationships
  • developing curiosity, creativity and critical thinking
  • questioning and solving problems
  • exploring and innovating
  • developing Habits of Mind
  • following our passions and heartbreaks
  • making and creating 
  • engaging all students
  • student centered, personalised learning
  • blogging our thoughts and reflections
and trepidatious:

  • how will it look?
  • process vs product
  • what about those paralysed by too much freedom?
  • how much scaffolding is needed?
  • thick vs thin questions
  • letting go of 'control'
I have spent many hours reading blogs, books and tweets on the subject of Genius Hour/20% time/PBL/Mastery Hour/Passion Projects etc and have found some valuable sources of inspiration and practicality, just a few of which I am listing below. Hopefully others may fib=nd them useful as well.

I am excited to see how Genius Hour unfolds not just in our Year 5 learning Space but across our school and elsewhere this year!


Sunday, 23 June 2013


Change is Good

This week I have been reflecting on change.  I often tell myself that 'change is good, don't be afraid of change.'  I find myself becoming frustrated with those who resist change and had thought of myself as being open to change both in my personal and my work life.

So, when faced with sudden, unexpected change in my workplace this week I have had to force myself to live out this mantra.  My initial reaction was 'oh no this is very bad (with some expletives thrown in).  But on thinking and processing I have refocussed my thoughts to 'it will be OK even if it is not my ideal.'

In times of change we need to lean on and support those around us, acknowledge apprehensions, take things one step at a time and focus on the positives of the new situation with which we are faced. This can be easier said than done though.

Whist processing this change I have been faced with this week I've done some Googling (as you do) and found some great pics and quotes on change which helped me in my thought process. My plan is to stay focussed on the positive and perhaps inspire others to refocus their thinking around change by sharing some of these gems here. 

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Google Apps For Education

So, here I sit in the Blogger session at the GAFE Summit Brisbane. What an amazing two days of learning we have had.  My brain is suffering from information overload but I am keen to get back to our classroom and implement some of the fantastic things I have learned about.
The scope and possibilities for using Google Docs in our Year 4 learning space are endless. One of the first things to introduce will be Simultaneous Writing Activities.  Setting up a class blog will be a priority during these school holidays. Discovering and using the Chrome Store has been an exciting revelation and, I fear, could become my newest distraction.  I'm going back to the classroom with valuable new Google Search skills to share with our students.  Above all it has been so wonderful to listen to keynote speakers and presenters whom I've been following on Twitter.  A short and sweet post today but once I have digested and sorted through the brain overload I'm sure there'll be much more to share.

Monday, 25 February 2013

The Importance of my PLN

As we complete the fourth week of our new school year I have been ruminating on the importance of my PLN in relation to my role as a classroom teacher.  As I stated in my last post I am starting this year on a new grade and one that I haven't taught in the last 15 years. My PLN both within my immediate school context (PLC & PLT) all the way out to the twitter sphere and beyond has been so important in so many ways so far:
- I have relied on my collaborative teaching partner's experience of teaching our grade for the last four years to help me through these first few weeks in relation to where our students have come from and where we are headed.
- I have drawn from the experiences and advice of others at my school who have previously worked with these children and on this stage.
- I have revisited posts from blogs on technology, blogging, inquiry learning, The Daily 5 and more for inspiration and innovation.
- I have been followed by and have followed educators who have so much to share.
- I have also been lucky enough to attend an inservice on educational coaching and high impact instruction with the great and inspirational Jim Knight where I have gained valuable insight and learning for my role as mentor to our school's newest graduate teacher. At this inservice I also met some of the educators I have been following and who are following me on twitter which is always a great moment.
- I am also looking forward to attending the GAFE Summit in Brisbane at the end of this term where I can connect with and learn from others and continue to build my PLN.
So how have I built my PLN over the last year?  By far the best thing I have done is to join Twitter.  I have found it invaluable for practical & innovative ideas and advice (some of which we have successfully implemented in our own learning spaces). One of my colleagues said recently that twitter levels the playing field so that everyone has a voice and is a valued educator. We have access to the advice and wisdom of experts in the educational field from all over the globe.  We can ask a question and receive answers and share knowledge and experience from and with anyone who sees our tweets be they the teacher in the learning space next door or a professor on the other side of the world whom we probably would never meet in person.

Attending our local Teach Meets has also been a fantastic way to build my PLN as has reading various blogs and joining social networks such as Pinterest,!, and Learnist.

I look forward to continuing to build and learn from my PLN this year and encourage anyone reading this to get out there and do the same.  It has definitely reinvigorated and enhanced my enthusiasm, learning and practice.


Tuesday, 22 January 2013

These Are Exciting Times

As we count down the remaining days of our Christmas holidays I have found myself collecting my thoughts and experiencing many pangs of enthusiasm and ideas for the new school year.  Whilst it is a little daunting going back to teach a new year level (Yr4) for the third year in a row, I am looking forward to the challenge of teaching a grade that I last taught in 1998.

When people say to me that they could never be a teacher I find myself replying that it is an exciting time to be a teacher at the moment what with the fast rate of change and challenges in education.  Some of these include the explosion of technology, a move to collaborative teaching and learning methods at our school, personalising learning for all students and developing our PLT.

Some of the things I am excited about for this new school year and have set goals around for these exciting times include (in no particular order):

  • starting my own blog (tick)
  • sharing our work and learning with my teaching partner and with our PLT
  • continuing to build my PLN
  • getting our students blogging and making writing fun
  • using Edmodo with our students
  • incorporating The Daily 5 and The Daily Cafe into our literacy blocks
  • personalising learning for all students
  • introducing BYOT in Stage 2
  • inquiry learning
  • Maths 300
  • having our students share their learning and make global connections via our class twitter account

No doubt this list will grow and change as the year progresses and I am looking forward to ruminating(hence the blog title) on our experiences through this blog.  For  those still on holidays, enjoy it while it lasts.  Eight days and counting down...