Thursday, 30 January 2014


Prior to the Christmas holidays staff at our school were given some PD options, 2 - 3 different things with most people & needs catered for. I was intrigued by 2 of the options and a solid recommendation from my colleague @Generalrudd had me signing up for a Learning Network session with Dr Rich Allen.

I was sculpted into a 'Female' pose,
thanks @General Rudd for the photo.
Its too early in the year to be getting all reflective on this session, suffice to say that I enjoyed the PD and the day flew past. There was plenty of music, movement and laughter, some even captured on camera.  So instead, here is one of the great ideas/resources discussed today. Given that are some of my readers maybe a little longer in the tooth, if this is not 'new' I hope that my enthusiasm may renew your acquaintance with the tools.

The principal of creating 'Intentional Doodles'. As someone who fidgets, I could instantly see the benefit of these. There is plenty of time when someone is talking that I start doodling on a page, but I had never considered using these as a teaching tool. I imagine that the more artistic children or those ESL kids who are still trying to create their own understanding of some words may find this beneficial. Here's one of my own from today, as well as a video from the professional.

A wordtoon of cat 30/1/14 by R Walker

It is a technique that I know will be successful in my room as it alters the recording of learning  and it allows students to personalise their learning. I can visualise it being used successfully for adjectives, action verbs and areas like the PB4L programme our school operates. Dr Allen had seen it used as an effective end of unit assessment and as a supplement to traditional note-taking (where students are able to add intentional doodles in the margin to aid retention.

Hope you enjoy the tool and try it out in a classroom sometime soon.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Blogging Meme

Thanks to Marnel van der Spuy for tagging me initially, but I also got tagged by Monika Kern. About time I completed this meme although the pull of my 16 month old has me rather distracted. I'm using Marnel's questions as she tagged me first.

The blogging task includes:

  • Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  • Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  • List 11 bloggers.
  • Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated.  Don't nominate a blogger who has nominated you.

11 random facts about me:

  1. My first name was my mothers maiden name.
  2. I grew up in Queenstown.
  3. I play off an 10 - 11 handicap.
  4. I wish I was about 1 foot taller so I could have been a medium fast bowler.
  5. My favourite band is U2, favourite album is Achtung Baby and once waited in line 14 hours for one of their concerts.
  6. I once talked to a girlfriend on the phone for 8 hours! Thankfully she became my wife.
  7. All Blacks, Highlanders, Otago, Southland and then where ever I live at the time.
  8. Spiders scare me senseless
  9. I was born in Invercargill, the maternity hospital eventually became a McDonalds restaurant.
  10. When at a restaurant I try to be the last one to order so I get something completely different to everyone else.

Marnel's questions to me:
  1. What Inspires you? People who are passionate about ideas, topics, other people and who stand for something.
  2. What are you reading now? Neil Gaiman's 'Neverwhere'
  3. If you weren't a teacher, what would you do? Manage an independent bookstore or run a golf course (I'm not good enough to be a professional golfer!).
  4. If you could change something about the education system, what would it be? More funding, higher wages and require teachers to schools regularly.
  5. When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper and mailed it? 4 years ago, after my mother died.
  6. Android or iPad tablets? Why? iPad - because everything else in my life is an Apple device.
  7. What do you find hardest to teach your students? Music - I love music but don't have a semblance of rhythm or beat personally.
  8. What will you be doing differently this year? I'm trying the 40 book challenge with my class and working harder to promote reading.
  9. If you could be fluent in any other language, what would it be and why did you choose this language? Japanese, my brother lives there, married a Japanese lady and they have two gorgeous kids. What more reason do you need?
  10. What is your favourite way to waste time? With daughter - reading books; with wife - cooking; with mates - golf/bbqs/beers
  11. What is your life motto? Be happy, be honest, show integrity and if you don't like something  change it or move on.
I tag you....
@missdsciteacher @mattynicholl @chambersjohanna @katesmith99 @dsmithnz @mrsreevesp @generalrudd @missmatich @nickitempero @spotter07 @helenoftroy01
My 11 questions: 
  1. Who would you invite to your dream dinner party? (8 invites & they can already be deceased)
  2. What is the first LP/Cassette/CD that you purchased?
  3. What concert would you most love to go to? (Past or future)
  4. What is the one piece of equipment you can't go without in your classroom? (Computers or devices don't count!)
  5. What is the one piece of advice you wish you had received in teacher training?
  6. What was the most important thing you learned from your first principal?
  7. How long should teachers stay at each school?
  8. Vegemite/Marmite/Neither?
  9. Star Wars or Star Trek?
  10. What would be your super power?
  11. Kid President tells us to be more awesome as teachers. What will you do this year to help your kids be more awesome?
As an added extra, here's my answer to the questions I received in my 2nd tagging from @beLchick1
1) What do you remember about your first day at school? Not a thing!
2) What made your favourite teacher your favourite? Outdoor Ed teacher in 6th form was amazing, he'd spent time as a rafting guide, ski instructor and worked in Antarctica, the fact that he was an awesome economics teacher also was just a bonus.
3) Which skill you learnt at school do you find most useful? Apart from reading, writing, maths - I learnt to be a fairly handy typist - invaluable skill in this world.
4) How do you switch off from work?  Golf 18 holes = 4 hours in beautiful environments with people who have nothing to do with my job as a teacher. It also teaches me patience, tolerance and humility.
5) Think of your most memorable students: What is the gender balance between those you remember for good and those you remember for less good reasons? Only entering my 3rd year so difficult to say, but my stars each year have been girls, however my boys have been memorable for all sorts or reasons.
6) What advice do you give a young person at the verge of choosing your profession? Pick up some handy IT skills, it isn't being taught as part of pre-service but is incredibly important. 
7) What can you do to overcome your currently greatest challenge at work? Placing the problems into perspective often helps, nothing is insurmountable and those that are can sometimes not be as important as they first seem.
8) Why do you tweet and blog? I find it very useful to share my successes and challenges with others, while I value the opinions and experiences of my peers at my current school I believe that by increasing the number of people that I share with I am increasing the ideas and experiences that I can draw on. Therefore I'm more likely to find the right answers, or at least, find a meeting of minds with people who have the same challenges.
9) What is the most important thing you learnt from using social media for professional purposes? Where to start - #Edchatnz is a content source of ideas.
10) If you went to Mars, which 3 people would you take?  My wife, my daughter and one of my golfing buddies.
11) Please share a book title you are currently reading and give it a rating out of 10 (1=awful, 10=awesome) Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere - 9