2018 Classroom Set-up (Part 1)

As 2017 comes to a close, I have been planning what my 2018 classroom will look like. I have moved across the corridor and now have to wait til school reopens to get in and sort out my stuff.

In the meantime, I am using Pinterest to gather ideas and plan.

2017 Classroom

My 2017 Classroom board

My 2017 classroom was Harry Potter themed, and my class were The Wizards. Searching through my photos, I realised that I have no decent photos of my class set-up for 2017. (I need to rectify this for my 2018 classroom!)

For our HP theme, we created self-portraits as wizards and witches, I had flying keys hanging from the ceiling, 'Scabbers' was hidden throughout the room (the kiddos loved finding him and returning him to the whiteboard), there were owls, Hogwarts teachers (Pop Vinyl figures of Dumbledore and McGonagall), and Fluffy made an appearance at the end of the year. I also had fairy lights around the ceiling which made the class sparkle!

As much as I loved the classroom theme (not so much the notoriety of being 'the Harry Potter teacher'), I felt it was time to try something different.

Which is where my other love comes in: LEGO!

2018 Classroom

My 2018 Classroom board

The plan for 2018 is to do a LEGO themed classroom, along with minifig self-portraits which my new class have already started during their transition session with me in Week 10 of Term 4.

I have got a Classroom Decor LEGO Theme bundle from TpT that I absolutely adore.

Get this from Print Designs by Kris

It's on SALE at the moment (which I missed by a day...) so snaffle this one up quickly. I am planning on using a lot of these resources in my new classroom, from the calendar to the table group signs to the welcome banner.

This one is also from Print Designs by Kris

I also picked up this one, in order to create my own signs and labels not covered in Kris' extensive classroom decor bundle.

My intention is to take photos of the classroom set-up before the kiddos arrive, but then also what it looks like when they have added their personality to the room.

Here's the blog post that inspired me to give this theme a try. Celeste has some amazing ideas that I am planning on stealing and modifying for my classroom. It looks fantastic - you should check it out!

Happy New Year to everyone. I hope you all have a safe and relaxing break, making sure you are recharged and energised for an incredible 2018.

Thanks for dropping in,

Arts Fest 2017

This year's Arts Festival went off with a bang! We had gorgeous weather (unlike the storm of 2015) and so much more to share. Along with the usual outdoor stage, the indoor stage, the Art Gallery, lantern trail and sculpture garden, we included a photography competition. We had performances from every year level, as well as Year 5 & Year 6 bands,  Year 3/4 recorder ensemble, Rock Band, senior, junior and Japanese choirs, Dance Nation and the teaching staff even got up and performed their rendition of the classic, MMMBop.

As always, I was so busy through the night that I didn't get many pictures. The photos I did get were taken before everything got started!

Art Gallery

This year, I was responsible for collating, collecting and displaying the hundreds of artworks created by students for our Art Gallery.

I am consistently impressed with the creative and gorgeous art that my colleagues support their students to make. Here's a sampling of over 1,200 artworks that I, along with a fantastic group of Year 6 students and some staff, displayed in our school's gym.

Artworks along with Kindergarten rainmakers 

I sneakily added one of my artworks. Can you spot it? 

A close up of my artwork

With events such as these, it's hard to adequately recognise everyone who helped out - there were so many people who worked so hard. We had staff cooking and serving hundreds of sausages, staff hanging lanterns, bunting and lights, staff helping students to practise and refine their performances, and creating costumes/props. 

Thanks must start with the Arts Fest coordinator, Kell, who managed the event so capably. Also to the Arts Fest committee, Rach, Rachel, Aimee and Mari, who not only helped with the million and one things needed to pull off this event, but also made it FUN to do!

My teaching partners, Dan and Rach, who stepped up to make sure the Year 3 performance was polished and incredible as I was busy focusing on the Art Gallery component of the event.

The wonderful support teachers, Maggie, Allison and Mel, who covered our classes so that the Arts Fest committee members could spend the day setting up, preparing, rehearsing and generally getting things done!

Our amazing BSO, Roch, who went above and beyond with everything leading up to the day, as well as staying back late on the night, then back early the next day. I'm sure he thinks no-one notices, but I did. You're amazing, Roch!

And finally, thank you to all the staff at our school; the classroom teachers, support teachers, LSAs, and executive teachers. Without everyone's help and support the event wouldn't have happened.

Thanks for dropping by,

Acting Exec. and my Google Project

Acting Executive Teacher

I have been teaching for over 10 years now. Never in all that time have I seriously considered becoming an executive teacher, mainly because there are so many more capable and qualified people surrounding me that I never thought I'd be considered. In late Term 2, I applied for an acting executive position at another school, which focused mainly on ICT, Google and Chromebooks (one of my passions).

Later, in Term 3, my principal asked for expressions of interest for acting in an executive teacher role while our exec teacher was on long service leave. I was hesitant to apply, as my last application had not been successful, but was convinced by an enthusiastic colleague to put in my expression of interest at the eleventh hour.

To my utmost surprise, I got the position. Three weeks of acting executive teacher, working with the Year 5/6 team, supporting staff with Google and Chromebooks AND staffing. I was responsible for making sure all the classroom teachers who had called in sick were covered by a relief teacher.

As the complete and utter Google nerd I am, I created a Google Sheet to document all the absent teachers, the types of leave they were taking, the relief teachers who were covering their classes, as well as any playground duties that needed to be covered. It worked well for me, being a Google Sheet, as I could work on it at home, and know it was up to date when I got to it at school.

Completely out of my comfort zone, I launched into the first three weeks of Term 4. Getting up at 6am (I am not an early riser), taking calls and text messages to say people couldn't come in to school and cold calling people I don't know were quite a challenge for introverted, anxious me. I'm proud to say I managed it. Not as proud of the way I managed it at times... 

A week later, caught up on sleep and no longer dreaming about the intense puzzle that is making sure the entire school (including preschool) is covered by competent and capable staff, I can now reflect on what I have learnt.

  1.  No matter how hard you work, how amazing you are, you will NEVER please everyone all at once. Aim for pleasing most people, most of the time.
  2.  Rely on others. You are not a miracle worker, and letting others help you isn't a mark of weakness.
  3.  Relationships matter! So many of my colleagues helped me out, in so many ways, throughout my time as exec. I was amazed at how many thank you cards I wrote (over 30!) to all the people who supported, guided and helped me.
Lastly, a HUGE shout out to the three other people who also applied, Kell, Ry and Dan. All three supported me in my very first experience as an acting executive teacher. I would not have got through without their unwavering support, guidance, incredible advice and hugs.

Google Project

As part of my acting executive role, I initiated a Google Project. I wanted to be in classrooms, showing other teachers how we could use Google to enhance student learning. Two amazing teachers volunteered themselves and their classes to be my guinea pigs in this project.

Year 6

My first group were Year 6, led by the amazing Kell. They are currently learning about refugees and wanted a way to recreate the journey of the Tu Do Boat refugees. I've never taught Year 6 before, and the curriculum was a complete mystery to me, but Kell and I team-taught (she had the content, I had the ICT) and we used Google Tour Builder with the class.

I started them off by showing them Google Voyages, specifically the Harry Potter voyage (as Kell and I are massive HP fans), and let them explore Google Earth using this as a tool.

Then I showed them a Google Tour Builder I created for my Year 4 students about the voyage of the First Fleet. Using this model, the Year 6 students started creating their own tour to recreate the journey of the refugees they were learning about, using images, videos and text to enhance their tour.

The Year 6 students were amazing! They came up with so many incredible tours, filled with information they synthesised from their learning with Kell.

My biggest surprise, and most heartwarming moment, came yesterday. After Arts Fest (post to follow) I was delivering artworks back to classes. I walked into Kell's class, and noticed they were working on their tour builders. I had a sneaky look at their Chromebooks over their shoulders and was so impressed with what I saw. Then I got back to the task at hand - apologising to one of Kell's students that his artwork had been damaged while it was being taken off the wall.

I was completely taken aback, when I realised (Kell had to point it out, I am so vague) that this wasn't her class at all! She had used what we team-taught to her class, and was teaching her teaching-partner's Year 6 class. It's a testament to her skills and adaptation of what we did together that I thought they were her class! I felt so proud of her, and so glad that something I did was able to support her to teach it herself!

Thank you, Kell. You have no idea how happy that made me feel!

Year 5

My second group were Year 5, some of the kiddos I taught last year, and led by my former teaching partner, Craig. It was great to be able to team-teach with Craig again, and I loved working with my old students (who have matured significantly in a year).

We did a variety of different Googley things - Sheets to create graphs with multiple data sets, Drawings to create images with multiple layers and text and Slides to create linked presentations about the students' preschool buddies.

Bouncing ideas off each other, as well as the students worked well in this case. There were a few more technical difficulties in this class, as I was flying by the seat of my pants in several instances, but we muddled through.

The Year 5s were capable and managed all the crazy things I threw at them. I loved working with Craig and was sad that I couldn't manage to get in there yesterday for a sneaky 4th session.

Thanks Craig for all your support and for rolling with the ICT glitches that seemed to constantly come up!

Sorry for the long, rambling text-heavy post. The next one will have so many photos!

Thanks for dropping by,

Harry Potter and the Myers-Briggs Personality Types

I have mentioned this once or twice before: I work with an amazing bunch of educators. They put up with my crazy ideas and plans with aplomb and grace.

My latest crazy obsession was finding out which Harry Potter character reflected my teaching partners' personalities. Because, internet procrastinating is where I'm at!

Source: Pottermore

If you know your Myers-Briggs personality type, check it out! The Harry Potter Character For Your Myers-Briggs Type.

If, like me, you have done the Myers-Briggs test so long ago you have forgotten your letters, have a go here: 16 Personalities

What I really liked about this one is the holistic approach to the character profile. It absolutely can be used to discover more about your colleagues and their working habits and preferences. It can also be helpful for understanding your partner, friends and family.

I made a lot of my colleagues, my prac student, friends and my husband do the test, and discovered that I have many a "Remus Lupin" in my life, quite a few "Molly Weasleys", two "Fred & George Weasleys", two "Ron Weasleys", and a few others. 

Even though it looks like just 'internet procrastinating' and silliness, I am glad my teamies are awesome sports and had a go. It's helped me see a different perspective and understand the underlying motivation for my colleagues and their reactions to situations. It also helped me identify my own strengths and weaknesses. 

Plus, it was insightful and fun!

Thanks for dropping in,

RoboCup Junior

This Saturday, my school participated in the regional competition for RoboCup Junior. This was the first time in quite a few years that the school has been involved, and we were living up to some incredibly high standards - in the past our school had brought back trophies for their impressive efforts.

My school decided to participate in the Rescue division based on advice from Jim Riley, the ACT RoboCup Junior Chair. This involves following a line through obstacles to rescue a victim in a 'chemical spill'.

Both Caren and myself, teacher-mentors for our three robotics teams, went into the competition with the expectation that we would have a go, have fun and learn a lot about how the competition worked for future improvement. And that expectation was fulfilled! We. Learnt. SO. Much!

We discovered that students in Years 3-6 can persevere and problem solve. We also found out that children get hangry and need regular feeding (who would have thought?!) in order to be able to cope with adversity. Our teams weren't as prepared before the event as we were hoping, but in the end, we all managed some success. One of my favourite moments was when a Year 5 student finally got his robot to line follow (something he'd been working on ALL DAY) and the absolute joy on his face when he proudly showed me will be something that sticks with me for a long time to come.

Unsurprisingly, we didn't win any awards at the end of the day, but we did come away with the generous donation of a set of rescue tiles that the ACT RoboCup Junior committee gave us to help us develop our programming skills.

It was definitely a worthwhile experience, and we all learnt a lot. A huge THANK YOU and shout out to my fellow teacher-mentor, Caren, who worked hard to get the teams as prepared as possible, our STEM executive teacher, Lynne, who came and covered the 2 hours I needed to pop out and attend an engagement party, and Chris, our new principal, who brought his family out to support our teams.

Another thanks goes to the parents who supported us in dropping off and picking up children for the Friday evening workshop, and the Saturday competition. Some parents even stayed and helped out with programming robots and problem solving while Caren and I were busy with the other teams. What a great result!

The biggest THANK YOU needs to go to the ACT RoboCup Junior Committee, who worked tirelessly up til and during the competition, and who supported our little teams to go as far as they could. Thanks so much!

Thanks for dropping in,

Google Drop-in Sessions

Google Educator Level 2

I have recently completed training for my Google Educator Level 2 certification. After two weeks (in stand down) of hard studying, I was #superexcited to pass the exam and get my next Googly certification!

I took five pages of notes while studying and I have actually referred back to my notes when trying something out at school.

Google Drop-in Sessions

To make the most use of my new knowledge, I have volunteered my time each fortnight to help my colleagues with their Googly questions. So far I've hosted three sessions, and have shared several apps, extensions and websites.

The idea behind the drop-in sessions was that people could pop in, ask a question and go (as I am acutely aware that we are all time-poor with a million demands on that time).

Session #1

In the first session, I had 5 people come in and chat. It was a great experience for me, as I was asked questions I didn't know the answers to and had to learn on the fly. I also loved how collegiate the group was, helping each other out while I was supporting another colleague one on one. 

In this session, I shared Alice Keeler's website, and her Chrome extension "Open Side by Side". I also shared "Classroom Screen", which my students enjoy.

This session also made me aware of a small group of staff who were finding access to ICT difficult, and a request was made for them to have an iPad each. I followed up immediately, and set in motion a project that the ICT coordinator and I have worked on to solve this problem. (Which, as an aside, has also set in motion an entire re-imaging project for ALL the iPads in the school - whoops!)

Session #2

Before the second session, I was emailed by the Japanese teacher at our school about how to record her voice so students could review lessons and listen to the correct pronunciation of the Japanese words they were learning.

I did a bit of research and playing, coming up with these three:

Our amazing ICT coordinator also suggested Soundtrap for audio only.

Speaking of our incredible ICT coordinator; without his support, I wouldn't have felt confident in my ability to be able to pass the exam for Google certification. I wouldn't be offering support sessions for my colleagues and certainly wouldn't be providing the odd bit of tech support. I feel lucky to have the support and guidance of someone who is so knowledgeable and willing to mentor others in their ICT learning. Thanks Ry, you DO make a difference!

Session #3

This week, I hosted the third drop-in session. This was a bit of an odd mix, as I was mostly spruiking the newly re-imaged iPads (not my area of expertise) and helping a colleague with a Chromebook issue involving Flash player. I had several people pop in to check out the iPads, and just to chat ICT in general.

I did do a bit of research this time around, thinking that I might need something interesting to show (just in case no one had questions), and coincidentally, this came up in my feed - a well timed post by one of my favourite techie teachers, Matt Miller from Ditch That Textbook. I didn't use anything from this post for my session, but I am absolutely trying out the new Kahoot features, using our newly re-imaged iPads with my class ASAP! #superexcited

I already have a bunch of questions lined up for the 4th (and penultimate Google Drop-in Session) for next fortnight.

Thanks for dropping in,

Hallway of Happiness

Hallway of Happiness
I am very lucky to work with colleagues who are amazingly supportive.

This is the Hallway.

It's the Year 3/4 corridor in my school, and it has 5 of the most incredible, inspiring and innovative teachers I have worked with. Here's a sneak peek into our corridor and the people who work here.

As a typical Aussie, I rarely refer to my friends or colleagues by their proper names, instead, they all have shortened versions. I also rarely acknowledge when people call me by my full name, but that's mostly because I don't think of myself as a Rebecca.

Instagram for Teachers

In this heavily connected social media world, it is too easy to see other people's photos and posts and compare yourself to these lovely, shiny people who seem to have it all together.

Teaching is like this, too. I see other teachers, in a seemingly effortless manner, do things that I find so difficult. It's these moments that make me want to share the small victories I achieve.

I started an Instagram account specifically for sharing school photos. I wanted to keep my home life separate, but also to use that account to curate a list of my most inspiring teachers to follow.

Here are a few of the inspirational teacher Instagrammers that I love to follow:


and another Canberran local,

Thanks for dropping in,

Teach Tech Play 2017 Recap

The Star Class

I haven't posted on this blog since 13 December 2015. I lost my confidence in MY teaching. I felt like what I was doing in the classroom was just keeping my head above water. So I stopped sharing my ideas and thoughts.

On April 3-4, I attended the Teach Tech Play conference at Ivanhoe Grammar School in Melbourne. After 2 days of professional learning, my mind was buzzing! 

...and I got my teaching mojo back! 

Teach Tech Play 2017 Conference Recap

I missed the opportunity to attend the 2016 conference, so when it was announced that there would be a 2017 conference, I jumped to it! 

This is a one page overview that I created from my notes to share with my colleagues at my school. It's full of links to the people and sites that I learnt about. 

Click on the image to get a larger view

These are the notes I frantically scribbled down as I was listening to keynote speakers, and presenters during the sessions.

Notes (Page 1) from #TTPlay 2017
Notes (Page 2) from #TTPlay 2017

I tried to cram as much as I could into my notes during each session. Some sessions were really hands-on, so I couldn't write as much.

The NoTosh Curriculum Kitchen was a fun and engaging session, combining collaboration with creativity. We used these 'ingredients' to create a structure for lesson design and delivery. 

The ingredients - NoTosh Kitchen

The meal - NoTosh Kitchen

I also checked out 3D Printing. There were several printers situated throughout the conference, set up so participants could have a go at printing something. It took a while, but I managed to squeeze in a small print job - a pencil holder like the one pictured below. I needed a bit of help to make my print job manageable (it was originally going to take 4 hours to print!), so a HUGE thank you goes to Chris Ly, the 3D Printing Guy. He reduced the design of the pencil holder to hold 12 pencils, and the print time to 2 hours.

3D printed objects

3D Printer

If you look carefully at my notes, you may notice that a lot of the sessions I attended were presented by Matt Miller. I'll admit, I really enjoyed listening to him, and if a session I wanted to go to was full, I'd find another of Matt's sessions to attend. I also grabbed a copy of his book, Ditch that Textbook, which he autographed for me!

Matt Miller co-hosts a podcast called The Google Teacher Tribe alongside Kasey Bell. I have loved listening to Matt and Kasey, their podcast is informative and hilarious. They have even inadvertently coined a new hashtag #superexcited, and I am super excited to hear more of their podcasts. The final episode so far, Staying Productive with Google Chrome, was recorded just after Matt Miller got back from the #TTPlay conference!

I learnt so much from my time at Teach Tech Play, I am still trying to process it all. Hopefully, you might get something out of my notes that you want to try out!

Thanks for visiting!