Wednesday, April 6, 2016

What can children and educators learn from Willy Wonka?

Just to clarify this blog post was inspired from watching the 1971 film with Gene Wilder.

We all know the classic Roald Dahl story of the wacky candy maker and the one honest, thoughtful and well behaved boy.
We learn from the story that being greedy, demanding, not having manners and only watching television will not get you far in life. I would love to see a modern day spin where talking to people in real life rather than just online could have some interesting results.
It is then Charlie who keeps his promise that inherits the wonderful world of the Wonka Chocolate Factory.
What sometimes fails to be the focus is the visionary that Willy Wonka actually is. He is not only a dreamer but he is action man - he has an edible garden, a chocolate waterfall, fizzy lifting drink, Wonkavision and much more. Willy Wonka can be used to inspire us to create our own factory of dreams that we work to make reality.

I have to be honest here I am still trying to get my head around STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology and Maths) and how it can be incorporated in my constant classroom practice. I am also more a fan of STEAM (A for arts) as that acknowledges some of us creative types when it comes to performing and creating items that serve more of an aesthetic and social purpose.

I also think about how we as educators are using our classrooms as our own Wonka Factories - are we being risk takers? Are we exploring the different ways to teach, encourage problem solving and encourage our students to make dreams realities? Do we have our own dreams and what are we doing so that we have not completely let them go. This might sound a little too optimistic and I know there are some realities with some dreams but are we letting our students know that too soon?

There has also been a lot of discussion regarding the paradigm shift in education. Maybe if we consider the visions and dreams that Willy Wonka has and how he experiments and tries to achieve them - we too could make the changes that are need to suit the needs of the current world we live in.


Creating memes and being aware of what students respond to could be one way that we “Wonkify” our classrooms.

I had to of course create my own condescending wonka meme for this post. Keep in mind that inspiring isn’t always trying to change the world. We can inspire to read, inspire to travel, inspire to help others. As educators we should be inspiring students to solve problems, lead some movements and of course, most importantly, keep learning.

Saturday, March 19, 2016


The #aussieED team were very excited to team up with the Royal Agricultural Society and the Sydney Royal Easter Show to host an event where teachers could come along, connect with other teachers, get some teacher tips  about STEM and see what the Easter Show has to offer for education.
Brett kicked off proceedings by talking about the #aussieED online PLN and defining what is STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and the first part of what it looks like. Followed by Danielle Krix and Jenny Hughes from RAS sharing what the Easter Show has to offer.
It’s important to know that the Easter Show has many opportunities for both Primary and Secondary students to attend, engage and learn with links to agriculture, science and more. They have a Primary Preview Day (day before the show opens), Resources, Risk Assessments and an Assessment Competition every year.  A lot more can be found at this link here Easter Show – Teachers.
All this was shared to the close to 200 teachers who attended on Thursday 17th March.  The #aussieED team also got to share about how they have used a range tools and resources to restore STEM into their classrooms.
I shared how incorporating Minecraft can be used to engage students and allow them to show their learning and lead to many writing, talking and listening opportunities.
Zeina shared iSolve maths program, where students planned and calculated a full day at the Easter Show – using the website, timetables, a wide range of cost factors (down to the petrol) and much more.
Kelly shared how STEM is used in high schools by engaging the crowd with a fun Kahoot! It was great for teachers to realise STEM can be incorporated into all lessons and in all parts of a teaching program.
Rob shared about STEM in Rural areas, including the Digital Sparks Challenge & Expo a range of tools for getting students to code, including how clever his daughter was to program and create an electric guitar using Little Bits.
We finished off the session by allowing teachers to get moving with the Trident Challenge where all STEM ideas, learning and discoveries were put on Twitter using the #RASedu. All of this can be viewed in the storify created using the hashtag here aussieED Live RASedu.

Friday, April 10, 2015


As a teacher who loves maths and loves to teach maths I thought I would write a simple post about some practices, resources I use after attending an in-service about a maths project my school is going to undertake.

The day did discuss some important values to the project, not only are these important to the project and maths, they are important in all areas of teaching. We were asked share a sentence on what these terms meant to us.

Collaboration - working together, teachers, students, support staff and parents.
Inquiry - students need to be questioning themselves to make learning more relevant and meaningful
Feedback - needs to be timely, personal and relevant
Coaching and Mentoring - needs to involve trust, collaboration
Goal setting - SMART (see below)
Evidence based practice - good practice that has taken place and has results.


I invite yourself to think of these terms and what your understanding is.

Feedback continued to stick out and how important it for teachers and students. The following links and text was suggested.

We were asked to think and I encourage you to also think:

How often do you ask yourself:
  • How am I going?
  • Where am I going?
  • How do I learn what my students need?

The following is a small list of some sites that I use and my students really enjoy

IXL: Activities that match outcomes and is available in a wide range of countries. Gives explanations when errors are made. Site and App
Matific: a very visual and engaging site that relates outcomes to real life experiences. Site and App
Studyladder: Each student has their own account and teachers can set tasks that link with what is being taught in class. Resources include video explanations, interactive games and printables. Site
Sumdog: A fun interactive game that involves some healthy competition. Site

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

How can you use ClassDojo to enhance your maths lessons?

It was the other day when a student asked me “Miss, how many points till we get our class goal?” I looked up to see that they were on 893 and their goal was 2000. It was then I saw that same student think… “We need 1107” It was then I thought how else could ClassDojo be used for maths lessons.

Data - A graph shows how many points have been rewarded for each behaviour. Questions can be asked and observations can be made in order for students to interpret the data.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 8.09.25 pm.png

Representing data in different graphs - Students could see their scores and create a range of graphs to represent their points and the members of their class. From this average, range and median could be observed and then worked out.

Calculating difference till class goal - (like the students who inspired this post did) Each day students can see how far they are till they get their goal.

Calculating average for class goal - if you have a set goal of 2000 points, students can work out how much each student needs to get to equally contribute to the class reward.

Fractions, Percentages and Decimals - they can view the information on the spreadsheet, work out what fraction, decimal and percentage of their scores are for particular behaviours. They can also do with for the whole class goal as well.

What is great about this is that it’s information that is meaningful to students and they will enjoy working it out and finding out how much they have earned and how far they are away from other awards.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Good Job - Are we still allowing our children to believe that mediocrity is ok?

Upon watching the Oscar nominated movie "Whiplash" a quote stuck out at me.
"There are no two words in the English language more harmful than good job."

I was dumbfounded I think I say that every day! And it's not just because I have nothing else to say but if they have had a go- that deserves something? Right?

I can't help but think of games when score is not kept or there are no champions at cluster school sports- what are we really teaching students?

The fact is, in life there are plenty of losers, job interviews, dating, game playing, gambling. Eventually children will be learn the truth, why are we hiding it from them?

I know that what I am saying is nothing new but we do need to think as teachers of younger students in particular about the language we use when we want students to achieve better than a good effort. This post is not about making students realise there are losers in life, but what language and strategies are we using when we are trying to push them towards greatness.

I have looked at the importance of feedback- but how honest does our feedback need to be. Think about it- test scores can't really lie but when kids are having a go- we commend and sometimes reward them, but are we doing students more a hinder than help. Are we really pushing students towards greatness? Like the character in the movie says. Of course the character in the movie is an extreme example of pushing people towards greatness and I would never encourage others or display his tactics when educating , training or helping another. However, I can't help but maybe reconsider how I will be more honest with feedback and even though having a go is good it's not always a "good job".

Friday, January 16, 2015

Class Dojo Visit

On the same day I was again fortunate to be able to meet with the great staff at Class Dojo, more commonly known in Australia, Class Dojo is about encouraging students in the classroom and engaging parents. For those who are unfamiliar Class Dojo keeps track of student progress with awarding points for positive and collaborative practices. You can find more at their website here

I used it a few years ago but then found it difficult when awarding multiple students at one time, yesterday I found that this is now a feature of Class Dojo. It was also an opportunity to share some great websites that I use in class and hear about the new features that have been added over the last couple years. It was also the day of the new app was launched, so I was lucky to get a personal tour.

Here are a few of the features of the newly launched app yesterday (some have already been on a while).
Change avatar - Students are able to log into their own account and change the avatar to make it an image of themselves or an image that suits them. They are also able to log in to check and show their family what points they received on the day.
Award multiple students - (Love this feature) By clicking on the award multiple students button, you can then select which students to award.
Promote collaboration - a great task you can set your students is a class point goal and a reward e.g. If the class reaches 1000 points, they can watch a movie or order in pizza, even having extra sport or free tech time would work.
Send pics and messages to students and parents -  With Class Dojo you can send pictures of what students are doing to students and also parents during the day. This is a great feature that parents are loving as they can see what students are doing.
Share classes - For students that have multiple teachers, they can be shared so that each teacher can award points to students in their care on their own account.
Same student profile for multiple teachers/classes -  So once a student has their profile set up the same student can be shared with other teachers so that they can show all points awarded. It does then break down to points to show which teacher awarded points.

So hopefully these couple of tips will help you - the staff are very friendly and I have to say are awesome at giving teachers and parents what they want and can use. Another great office with friendly staff I would love to thank all staff especially Manoj and Jenna for setting up the meet and of course thank you for the delicious chicken salad!
Another office that is always happy to welcome in teachers, so again if you are in the Bay area, drop them a line.