Food Additives Project Based Learning

In fourth term last year I had the opportunity to work with David Price to look at Project Based Learning. (Check out the Buck Institute for Education to learn more). While looking for ways to engage my Stage 1 Chemistry Students with Organic Chemistry I hit on the idea of a PBL looking at Food Additives. These students have been involved in a number of project based learning opportunities during their high school years. The idea of this project is to have students creating information presentations to help reduce misinformation about food additives amongst the student and school community. While I am still in the planning stage I am excited to see how well it works. If you have any thoughts or ideas let me know.


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WWI Science

This term the Year 9 students in my school are studying WWI as their Australian Curriculum History depth study. For science we are looking at Physical Sciences. This is my attempt to link the two.

Students will undertake a practical lesson for five of the six weeks of this course. In the sixth week they undertake the research task. Each week they will also undertake one of the video comprehension question sheets. There are 3 sub topics, Electricity, Light and Waves.
We are trying to move away from the “science lecture” that I have observed in other schools and I was taught with in the 1990s while still covering the Australian Curriculum outcomes. In my opinion it is especially important to link to outcomes about Science as Human Endeavour and Science Inquiry, not just the Science Understanding.

The files for the unit are here.

If you have any questions or thoughts let me know. I will also accept suggestions for further resources.

If you want to use any of the files or modifications of them please let me know.

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Creativity on iPad for Early Childhood

A presentation from my son and I about Creativity on the iPad for #CEGSA 2013

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July 16, 2013 · 11:02 pm

Thoughts on school vision/principles

At a workshop with David Price OBE on education engagement my table were challenged to come up with 6 values for our school from a selection of 12, we summarised them in two.
1. Our school will become a community focused on the students who will known as individuals in their own family and social context. We will involve and encourage teamwork between staff, students, parents and community mentors.
2. Our school will integrate curriculum subjects through rigorous project based learning incorporating objective real world assessment.
So what do you think?


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A little pain


Teeth by the follands cc by-sa

It is interesting what thoughts go through your mind at 4am after being woken by a teething baby. One of the key thoughts I have had over the past few weeks is sometimes a little pain can lead to some amazing experiences (like bread). She may not realise it at the moment, and I need to remind myself at 4am, but teeth lead to the ability to eat so many different foods. So a little pain can lead to some amazing experiences?

But Lordfolland, you say, this is an educational blog, why are you writing about pain and teeth?

It is a metaphor dear reader, educational pain can lead to significant changes and improvement in learning outcomes for both teachers and students. Let me elaborate.

I had a student in my information processing class who is comfortable using to design documents, as he has been using it for many years. When I explained that to make website he should use dreamweaver he was fearful. “I don’t know how to use it, I won’t be able to do it” he told me. After a few days of discussion and encouragement he gave dreamweaver a go. He has since discovered that he has been able to create a good website with all of the features he wants, even if it was a little more difficult then publisher.

To be even teaching this class was a challenge not without mental anguish for myself.  I have three university qualifications; a chemistry degree, a teaching degree and a teacher librarianship degree. As part of each of my studies  I have looked at computer technology. With this background the knowledge and skills required to teach science, research junior high ICT and junior maths were never something that I was worried about having. Information Processing and Publishing was another matter.

IPP is part of the Business and Enterprise learning area in our states curriculum. Last time I was involved in a business enterprise it closed after one year with losses of 10000′s  of dollars. Information Processing and Publishing also has artistic undertones, in the design process. Art was one of the subjects at school that caused me the most fear, worse than PE. With these fears behind me it was with trepidation and a lot of research that I took on teaching of year 11 and 12 Information Processing and Publishing (in one class another first) last year.

I am pleased to say that I have greatly enjoyed teaching this subject and that my current year 11 class may be my favourite to work with. So when teaching or your own education throughs up something that looks hard and may give you some pain, give it a go, you just might have an amazing experience.

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Four types of teacher

I have been thinking about teaching and sharing over the past few weeks. This post has been inspired in part by this thinking and in part by George Couros and his DECD workshop. My thoughts have lead me to think there are four key groups of teachers.

Teachers who do not investigate new ideas
To me this is a problem, life outside of school is constantly changing we need to be changing our teaching to help students connect with this world.

Teachers who learn new things and keep them to themselves
Learning new ideas is easy. There are blogposts, twitter links, professional journals, other teachers, trying new ideas in the class room based on inspiration from students or life.

Teachers who share the new things they learn with staff at their school
Once teachers have found a new idea what makes this powerful is when they share the idea with other people. Many teachers work in a school where they share new ideas with the teachers they work with. This is a good thing as it can help other teachers to improve their teaching too. The feedback from the other teachers can help refine your ideas too.

Teachers who share what they learn with anybody they can via blogs/twitter etc
When we work in the school we can connect with between 2 -100 teachers. Using blogs and twitter I have connected with over 300 Australian teachers. This has helped me further refine my ideas beyond what the teachers in my team can give me. I think this is an excellent way to work and how I hope to work more.


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Growth Through Student Teachers

I think  having student teachers are one of the best thing that can happen to a teacher. Let me explain. I have my fourth student teacher this year, an undergraduate High School IT and PE teacher. There are also a biology teacher a history teacher and a tech studies teacher at our school. She has reminded me how useful to an experienced teachers development working with a student teacher can be. I see four big areas that having a student teacher helps me.

1. Reflection – Student teachers ask questions. This is a good thing. Unlike students who ask questions about how to do something or what is the answer, student teachers as why questions. These why questions cause teachers to reflect on their practice. Some of the questions I have been asked this year have made me consider my planing of my units, and how they fit with the curriculum I am using. I have also had to think about the explicit reasons behind some of the teaching practices I use with my students

2. Enthusiasm – Student teachers have enthusiasm, after 10 years of teaching I must admit there are days in which I just go through the motions. These days are rare, but they do happen. Often talking to another teacher or checking out what exciting educational things are being shared on twitter can help this mood. Having a student teacher, who is still fresh and enthusiastic can rub off and help to renew that enthusiasm in teachers. My student teacher has made me think about some new things I can try with my class.

3. Organisation – Student teachers are required to present lesson plans as part of their course work. I must admit my lesson plans have in many cases degenerated to a few dot points on my note pad (in addition to my list of resources such as weblinks and videos). My student teacher has made me think more about this.  I have also been required to plan my semesters in more depth as my student teacher wanted to know which topics I wanted taught next term in the middle of this term, this is a good thing too.

4. Helping Others – One of the keys of education (as I see it) is to help others to develop their understanding of the world. By helping new teachers we can help many students in the future, increasing our reach. The first student teacher I worked with (in my second year of teaching) will next term become a principal at a country school. I feel honoured to have worked with him and think about how many students will be impacted in the future by his leadership. Not all student teachers will have such an influence but they will help some students in the future.

So have you had a student teacher in your class? Are there other ways having a student teacher helps you? How many are in your school this year?

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