Sh!t Classrooms: How to Troubleshoot Them!

Teaching Strategies, Behaviour Management, Troubleshoot classrooms, Engagement

Troubleshoot Classrooms

Challenging classrooms? Here, you will find innovative teaching strategies, preventative and restorative behaviour development (management) teacher tips. They're hands-on, fun and practical strategies for not only addressing behaviour in challenging classrooms but pushing the innovative envelope.

Please feel free to comment on the posts & share them with your friends.  We'd love to hear how you went when trying the teaching strategies, perhaps you could include how you modified the tip to suit your class.

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How to utilise the '3rd space' to get your appraisal reflections done!

Posted by Granted Education on November 19, 2017 at 9:15 PM Comments comments (0)

www.granteducation.org


Ok, breathe in and then out. This shouldn’t be too painful but I was thinking that some of you don’t know there’s an easier way to get your appraisal reflections done. Let me start at the beginning …


A typical day for me is to get up at 6am, hit the snooze button a couple of times before checking the weather for the day. After considering what to wear, showering, getting dressed, making a takeaway coffee for me and one for my partner for when she wakes up, I then drive 20ish minutes to work. Assume a hectic whirlwind day ensues until school finishes, at which point I start planning ahead, finding resources for lessons and mark shit! I leave work at around 6pm, come home to where, thankfully more often than not, I have dinner waiting for me. My partner & I watch our usual couple of tv soaps that have been recorded so we don’t have to watch the ads, we have a chat about life in general and I’m in bed by around 11pm-ish. Sleep, wake up and repeat!


Oh god, it sounds depressing when you put it that way but welcome to teaching. You know, no one tells you about this when you first enrol at university to take on this illustrious career. Anyhow, that’s a discussion for another time! I guess what I’m trying to say is that in a life that is already so damn busy, where do you have time to update your professional reflections to meet your appraisal expectations and inadvertently your teacher registration?? That’s where the 3rd space comes in!


The 3rd space is the time in between stuff. You know, when you’ve left home but not at work yet or left work and not home yet or you arrive early somewhere and trying desperately not to look like a loser with no friends. Eeek, quick childhood flashback, best repress that for a later date with a shrink! For me, the 3rd space offers me nearly an hour of time to reflect on my teaching practice for the day - what went well, what to never do again (and there’s always plenty)! Until recently, I have used the time to unwind, think things through but not really record anything - what a waste! Enter one of my most favourite and productive apps - Voice Record Pro!


I pop in my hands free, which allows me to drive responsibly and I think through what worked well. Appraisals are just about showing that you have reflected on your practice and showing your learning journey. I was so productive the other day that I knocked out 6 reflections on my way home from work! All you have to do is press record and then start speaking. Well, it sounds easy but I guess it did take a little practice to record my thoughts without coming off like a bumbling buffoon who struggles to string a sentence together. The more you practice, the easier it gets. The best thing is that if you don’t like it - delete it! It’s no biggie. Ah, the wonders of modern technology!


When you get a moment then, have a quick listen to the 1st 30sec and you’ll know what the general reflection was about, change the title, which changes the name of the recording (important when you download it to your computer) and then in the notes section, add the teaching criteria that the topic spans. This way, you don’t have to listen to the whole thing when you’re ready to upload it and you’re all sorted!


You are able to upload the recording as either a voice recording (MP3) or as a movie (MP4). Don’t stress, it doesn’t video record you, so you can do this even after a shitty day! Personally, I am using Google Sites to host my professional blog and I have found it so much easier and faster to upload the recording as a movie, so that’s the format I send it to myself in.


I think I have sensed more than a couple of you freaking out about the technical skills you think this takes but seriously, a little kid could do this. Just to ease your mind, I’ve created a quick video tutorial so you can follow along with it until you’re confident. Seriously, you’ll be wondering why it has taken you so long to do this! The awesome thing is that you can recall any of your parent conversations, professional development sessions (we have them weekly, so it’s easy for me) or just classroom planning/running.

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Before you know it, you’ll be a lean, mean reflecting machine! I can’t remember whether or not I had to pay for the app, but even if you have to, the value is so worth it - and tax deductible! I’m a musician too, and I find it super handy to record song ideas with lyrics/chords in the notes sections. You’re just limited by your imagination.


Here’s an example of one of my reflections, oh my goodness, I can’t believe I’m doing this ... *insert cringe!

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This recording meets the following criteria for my teacher appraisal: RTC 1 - Professional Relationships, RTC 2 - Wellbeing, RTC 3 - Bicultural Relationships, RTC 5 - Leadership, RTC 6 - Professional knowledge in practice, RTC 7 - Learning Environment, RTC 8 - How Akonga (students) learn, RTC 9 - Diversity.... Nailed it!


Well, there you have it, now there’s no excuses for not getting up to date with your professional blog/reflections. Good luck and I would love to hear how you go with it. Leave a comment in the section below with your experiences/frustrations around this process. Let me know if I can help and I’m happy to run a live session on it to help out if needed.


Happy recording!

 

Vikki Grant

Granteducation.org

Providing High Quality Assessment & Feedback

Posted by Granted Education on November 17, 2017 at 3:30 PM Comments comments (0)

www.granteducation.org


This year has been crazy busy. I’m sure every teacher feels that but seriously, I don’t think I’ve collected so much assessment in my whole life! Thankfully, this has not all been summative but I also feel like I’ve never had such a good idea of where my kids are sitting and how I can help them move forward.


As many of you know, I am working in a collaborative classroom and I am thankful every day for my teaching buddy Molly! We are mindful of working smarter, not harder, with our workload this year which has made a big difference when collecting formative info about our kids.


Some of the things we have utilised this year include:


Student feedback using Socrative.com - to survey the kids to find out what their personal learning goal will be for the term. This app/web (depending on the platform you’re using) lets you see answers in real-time and also collates the answers in a spreadsheet that can be copied and pasted into any other document. This saved us a whole heap of time this year and the kids love using it. I also used it to create a playlist of songs for the school disco and then just built the list on Spotify! That way I knew the kids would like the music (taking out any that were inappropriate for school of course!).


EdPuzzle interactive videos/flipped learning - create your own video or use an existing YouTube clip and embed your own questions, which include short answer or multichoice. The video stops where the question is and won’t let the student proceed until it’s answered correctly. You can track who has watched your assigned video, how many attempts they had at the questions and how far through they are with watching it. This would be primo for any topic. I used it in particular for working through Digital Citizenship. You can also import from Google Classroom which is quite handy!


Google Forms to survey kids about what workshops they would like us to run in maths. This helped hone their learning experiences during maths time and this strategy along with creating and utilising open ended maths problems have helped our kids accelerate in maths which is awesome! This is not the only way to use Google Forms, you can create your own online escape rooms where they need to crack codes in order to move to the next task. This helps gamify learning and is certainly food for thought when you’re talking about building collaborative skills and resilience. Here’s an example of one but you could also incorporate things like Scratch to get those coding skills honed!


Online university courses through Open2Study - yes, our Yr 7 & 8 kids were extending themselves by completing pre-university courses like: Basic Physics; Marine & Antarctic Science; Leadership: identity, influence & power; Water in a thirsty world and so many more! You should have seen the improvement in their vocab, summary skills and the level of conversations you could have with them! These courses (and many more through their platform) are free and the kids received certificates from universities including: Massey University, Griffith University, University of Tasmania, Swinburne University, just to name a few. Here’s more information about how we implemented this in our classroom.


Classroom discussions - in our reading groups I really had a good insight into who fully understood the main idea of the text and who could answer the questions fully. We used Here, Hidden and Head questions to check their level of understanding. Here’s an example from our class website. If you scroll down to the bottom (Week 3) it has a link to the text as well as questions we used.


Reviewing their books to ascertain their writing & maths stage. At the start of the unit, we gave them a ‘cheat sheet’ which outlined the skills we would be covering and what stage they were so that the kids could use it as a goal and where to work towards. They were constantly referenced by the kids and helped them create their own practice questions. Here’s our sheet for fractions, decimals and percentages:






Paper throw - where kids write down as many things they know about a topic on separate pieces of paper and then throwing them to another group. Sounds crazy but super effective

 

Drawing their answer - comics are an awesome and engaging way to do this. There are a heap of free creation sites but here’s one of my faves.

 

Creating a film clip for a story. We have subscribed our class to WeVideo which is pretty cheap for a 6 month subscription (I think it works out to be about $6.5/student for 6 mths). This allowed our kids to create collaborative video projects where all group members could upload the video clips into a shared media folder. This was awesome because it eliminated the issue of kids needing to have a certain device to continue their project, their videos being deleted from that device, someone being away and no one being able to work on it because they have all the footage … you get the point. This was probably one of the hardest things they did in their reading groups because they had to create most of the media that went into it and they needed to fully understand what the main idea of the song was. Here’s an example of what one of the collaborative groups completed.

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Oh man, the list goes on! It’s funny that you don’t realise all the things you do until you write them down!


It’s always good to know what tools you can draw on to help you give specific and timely feedback so that your kids can move forward with their learning in a meaningful way. I know that spending time looking through all these resources can be exhausting. I have created a course that runs you through some of these assessment strategies and gives you a Professional Development Certificate that’s linked to the Australian as well as New Zealand teacher competencies.

 

Full disclosure: For each person who pays for the course, which is only $20, I get a percentage. I just wanted to be upfront about that. If you have found any of my posts and links useful and you were wanting to share the love as well as getting some professional development credit for your time, then I would love you to check the course out. It credits you for 2hrs of PD and can be done at your own pace. It’s called Providing Highly Valuable Assessment and Feedback. This course is pitched with a relief teacher in mind but is relevant to every teacher. The course steps through a lot of these strategies above as well as some others, it’s interactive and you get to hang out with me! Could it get any better? *insert awkward laugh!


Thanks so much for your support and just remember to breathe and look after yourself as you head towards the pointy end of the year.


Cheers,


Vikki Grant


Teaching - are you ready for the future NOW?

Posted by Granted Education on April 18, 2017 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)

www.granteducation.org


You may not have noticed it, but how we teach is starting to change - thank goodness!


Look beyond the evolutionary hangovers of uniforms, school bells and rigid timetables and you will start to see something exciting that is bubbling below the surface - hybrid schooling. No, we’re not raising a new generation of half human, half machine (although the kid’s ability to quickly adapt to new technology may have you thinking twice), I’m talking about the ultimate in flexible schooling.


The emergence of Moocs (Massive Open Online Courses) put the education industry in a spin. Many futurists sensed the end of school as we know it and some even went as far to suggest that schools will become obsolete. Whether that prediction will come true, I’m skeptical but there is no doubt that it’s becoming easier to access quality education regardless of your financial status or location. So why the hesitancy to adopt and use them?


Since the industrial revolution, the education profession has remained largely unchanged. Sure, technology has had an impact, but despite that, many of the practices seen in today’s schools echo those of their industrial ancestors.



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Collaborative classrooms have had an impact on the how of teaching, with ‘Modern Learning Environments’ touting bean bags and other flexible furniture but are we going far enough? While held within the rigid rules of what schools ‘should be’, thinking that is as flexible as the furniture is notoriously difficult.


Let’s be honest, change is scary. How will you know that your school’s new, ‘hippy’ approach (I’ve heard parents say this!) will provide your precious little one with the skills to successfully navigate the world? Parents often hold tight to the notion that ‘it was good enough for them’ but did it really get them ready for the 21st century? Did your school arm you with skills like: new media literacy, design mindset, virtual collaboration, novel & adaptive thinking and cognitive load management? I doubt it! These are skills Forbes Magazine predict employees of the future will need.


As the forward thinking Thomas Jefferson toted “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you have never done before.” It’s time to be flexible with our thinking around how we teach.


I’ve been lucky enough to be able to teach in a school that encourages experimentation, a growth mindset and ‘hacking’ education. Certainly not what you would expect from a small school outside of a major city in New Zealand, but here it stands anyway. I share my day and working space with my teaching buddy and between us we have 58 (year 7 and 8) kids in our room. We’re still stuck in our traditional classroom space (for now), but we’re trying something different this year. We’re hacking our kid’s education.


In Aspire (our room), we have had a measure of flexibility around what the kids study. They complete an in-depth investigation into a range of topics that take into consideration the student’s interests. These topics build in collaboration, critical thinking, reading and writing skills and media literacy. I guess you could say they are a form of ‘rich task’. Here’s a link to our class website from 2016 so you can get a sense of where we’ve come from. This program worked well last year but we wanted to help extend our kids even further - let’s send them to university!


Initially, we selected our highest ranked kids for reading comprehension in year 8 and offered them a chance to complete a university course online through one of the major MOOCs - Open2Study. We really had no idea how they would handle the workload but supported them with an hour allocated during school time each day to work on their course. The kids were off and racing before we knew it and were so excited to share their learning and test scores. These courses run for only 4 weeks, with a new module opening up weekly. We incorporated their reading and writing goals into the course. This meant that they had to find the key points in each video and create a summary at the end of each module that included technical language and definitions where appropriate. Here’s a link to the marking rubric we’ve adapted from the New Zealand Curriculum Learning Progressions.


We weren’t sure what would happen or even if they would cope with the language and pace of the courses but at worst, their vocabulary and time management skills would get a good workout!


Four weeks later, of the initial 10 students (including a grade 6 boy!), all but one student had completed their course with overall pass rates between 70 and 90%. In order to get a certificate, you need to have at least a 60% pass rate. They were simply buzzing with excitement! The flow-on effect was even more unexpected. One of the students was so passionately engaged in the course that his mum also enrolled in a course (and passed). One of our teaching colleagues showed their high school child the site and they enrolled in a course. A number of educators I’ve spoken to about this initiative have also introduced this to some select students who need extending.


There was such a buzz in our team about these courses that lots of other students also wanted to come on board. We initially held them off until the 1st generation of kids had finished, as it really was an experiment. They were then able to share their tips and tricks with the next generation. We decided to open the courses up to any student in grade 7 or 8 who wanted to try a course. 


We are running a ‘Level Up’ program in parallel with the university courses which is a rich task, involving the upcycling of pallets. Here’s a link to our current site so you can see how it all works. If anyone was struggling too much in the university course, they could just jump back into the Level Up project without it affecting any of their reading or writing assessment. 


Nearly 30 students elected to do a university course when given the chance with only 5 dropping back into the Level Up project. Students who were enrolled in the same course were encouraged to work with each other and discuss concepts so they developed a deeper understanding. This was one of the tips the 1st generation of university students suggested. 


The quality of conversations we are having with our kids has skyrocketed! I am a high school trained Biology teacher, working in a primary school and you can imagine how excited I was to be able to have a solid discussion about marine ecosystems and the importance of keystone species like plankton, with one of our grade 8 girls! 


This initiative has really stretched our kids with their skills like - proactivity, time management, note taking, listening, researching (to understand technical language) and interpretation of patterns. They are well on their way to developing the skills businesses predict as important for the future. The kids already have their sights on the next course they want to complete and some even complete large chunks of their work at home so they can also build with the pallets. 


This project has really helped our students see that teachers are no longer the holders of all knowledge and that learning is by no means, limited to inside the classroom walls. 


Where will we push into next? I have no idea but I can tell you, I’m looking ahead. It’s initiatives like these that help push the envelopes for schools, to embrace the future and give our kids the best shot at being successful. What are you doing?


Have a fantastic day.


Vikki Grant

GRANTED EDUCATION

10 Qualities of Great Teachers - are you one?

Posted by Granted Education on October 4, 2016 at 7:35 AM Comments comments (0)

www.granteducation.org


Build Rapport Quickly


Are you a great teacher? It's a question that we often ask ourselves, some more than others I guess, and it's nearly always the reason why we chose this profession. For some, it was the amazing teacher you had in school, for others, it was the distinct lack of a good teacher and recognising the qualities that teachers SHOULD have. For me, it was kind of a combination of both - there just weren't enough good teachers to go around.


What makes a great teacher could easily be a list of characteristics that look similar to what makes a good person - a sense of humour, the ability to feel like you're actually being listened to, flexibility, and consistency of personality and approach. With this in mind, this is a question that has driven educational researchers and the concepts lie at the core of the teaching professional development push of late. We want to know how to improve our teaching pedagogy in order to be making more of a difference on the educational outcome of our students. When you want to know how to be better, going straight to the source is the best option!


Here is a link to a research article where 1800 Australian school boys were interviewed and gave some frank feedback on the characteristics of good and bad teachers.


What is a 'good' teacher?


It's definitely an interesting read and should prompt self reflection. It's not surprising that the boys express that when they have 'good' teachers, they are more likely to work and less likely to be disruptive. That in itself should make you want to do everything in your power to be a 'good' teacher!


After much research, personal experience and discussions with students, here's my list of what makes a great teacher:


1. Listen

Most miscommunication occurs when people stop listening and are getting ready to defend their position. I should know, it's a constant struggle for me in my personal life! When you take the time to process and actually listen, a couple of things happen: 1. You give the other person the opportunity to put forward their point of view. Sometimes, it's just this process of being able to say what's on their mind that is important for them. 2. You get an understanding of their perspective so you don't waste your time and emotions talking about completely different things! Listen from their perspective and take your time to process it.


2. Have a sense of humour

The benefits of laughter are well documented. It lowers stress, increases endorphins which make you feel good, it helps minimise awkward situations (like when you accidentally run into a pole!), gives you a sense of commonality and helps lower your blood pressure. You would be crazy not to use it in your classroom! Even though the kids will rarely admit it, they actually like bad 'dad jokes'. One of my Yr 8 girls told me that my jokes were so lame and I needed to research to get better ones. Everyday she would check-in to see if I'd made any progress and would lecture me if I hadn't found any good jokes (actually this part was quite funny!). Through my 'lack of humour' (although I thought I was funny as hell), we built a strong bond.


3. Flexibility

Everyone can have a bad day but it's what you do as a teacher to recognise this, use empathy and show flexibility to get around it. I had a yr 7 kid in my class this year who was clearly having a bad day. He was moody, uncooperative and falling asleep instead of doing his work. My initial instinct was to get on his case to get the work done but I took the time to realise that this behaviour was out of character for him. I then crouched down to his level, acknowledged his unusual behaviour, asked if he was having a bad day and if I could do anything to help. He immediately opened up to say that he was up late because there was some family stuff going on that he was stressed about and he was really tired. I asked him if I let him have a lie down and a little sleep, could he catch up on the work later. He was so relieved and thankful, he actually guaranteed the work would get done and he could identify people who could help him do it. He kept his word and our relationship was strengthened by being flexible around when the work could be completed. 


4. Use respectful language

Noone wants to be spoken down to or made a fool of. Great teachers use inclusive language in the classroom and never use sarcasm. If you want to build a safe place where your students feel valued and ok to fail, you need to be respectful with your language. Find the positives even in incorrect answers, encourage your students to be their very best. Educator Rita Piersen demonstrates the power of this and you can see the benefits to relationships.

 

5. Consistent

You could be the coolest teacher on the block, but if you're not consistent with your actions, you lose standing as a teacher. Students appreciate when teachers are consistent because they know what they are going to get each time they are in your class. They know that regardless of who you are, if you step across the line, the consequences will be the same for all and followed through with. Although they hate it when they get into trouble, they respect you because you are clear and consistent (unless you are consistently mean or flakey!).


6. Know their stuff

Kids respect it when you are clearly knowledgeable about the topic. Despite the age of technology and the persistent access to knowledge, students want to feel like you know what's up. In a student centred context, you would be the one asking the provoking questions and encouraging them to seek further information but having an idea of the topic is still very important.


7. Activate curiosity

Back in the day, before we had caller ID, why did we answer the phone (stay with me on this ...)? We were curious who was on the other end and what they wanted. If your lessons have a sense of unpredictability, that anything is possible and things could get a little crazy, kids are intrigued about what could happen next. If you engage their creativity and aproach a topic from a unique perspective, students appreciate the effort you go to pull them in. I always use the litmis test of "would I be interested in doing this if I were them". If the answer is no, find another way to do it! Would you prefer to sit in a dead boring lesson where the teacher drones on in a monotomous voice, or in a lesson with engaging language and activities that you can relate to so that you can more easily retain the information?


8. Get to know their students

When people make an effort to know who you are and what makes you tick, you can't help but like them. Actually, it's biological! We have a primative drive that is part of our subconscious survival strategy to build communities because there's safety in numbers. When we take the time to find out about people, they see that we are actually interested and in that, you build a commonality and show likeness to eachother. In this exchange, we feel like we are being heard and when the teacher uses this information to tailor the learning experiences for that student, it's hard not to appreciate their efforts. If you are ever having a hard time getting a tough kid to come around and do the right thing in your class, find out what sport they play (because invariably these kids do) and get out to watch one of their games on the weekend. You don't even need to talk to them on the day but they'll see you there and appreciate that you took time out of your busy weekend to make them feel important. I did this with one of my more challenging yr 9 boys and the respect that was forged through that single act continued on through the rest of his schooling.


9. Effectively manage classroom behaviour

As was revealed in the initial article, when you have the respect of students, you use less behaviour management techniques in the classroom. However, students appreciate having teachers who are able to contol the class and focus learning effectively. This gives them the space to do their best and not be distracted by poor behaviour of other students.


10. Go above and beyond

Students really appreciate when teachers put in time outside of their normal lessons, to help them succeed. Tutorials, effort in building exciting lessons, watching their weekend sporting games, coaching  etc are all examples of this. If you ask a student who puts the effort in at school, they often cite the teachers who are going the extra mile to help the kids out. I distinctly remember my HPE teacher, who coached me on the weekends and always made time to explain concepts. He is one of the main models I use for my teaching philosophy and although I probably didn't tell him, I appreciated it more than he knows. That's the power of teaching I guess, the unseen impact of our actions.


I doubt this is a definitive list of qualities but if you are unsure .. actually ask your kids! It's really insightful when you ask for their opinion and in particular how to be a better teacher.


Click here for a free Student Feedback Form to use in your class!


You'll be surprised about their candidness and when you incorporate their suggestions, they feel like their opinion matters and it also gives you an insight into how to get them to connect with the content - winning!


Is building rapport with your students an important part of your teaching philosophy?


Here's a link to one of my online video courses.


How to Build Rapport Quickly


It's free if you are a member of Class Cover, otherwise it's $20! Bargain!


This course is hosted on the Open Learning platform and is a great way to drive your own PD. At the conclusion of the course, you'll earn a professional development certificate that credits you for the time in the course and you learn how to solidify relationships in the classroom. 


Thanks so much for hanging out with us and we look forward to seeing you again soon! Have a great week!


Vikki Grant

Fighting at school: Restorative Justice Intervention

Posted by Granted Education on October 2, 2016 at 9:30 PM Comments comments (0)

www.granteducation.org


Whack! Bang! Swoosh! It sounded like an episode of Batman, but the scene unfolded in the classroom. One of our boys had lost his temper and was acting out. I sent him outside to cool down, put on my detective hat and went about investigating what the hell happened here!

 

Have you experienced this heart-palpative type of moment in your classroom? Your mind races and thankfully I work in a collaborative classroom where my teaching partner was able to re-focus the class while I dealt with the situation.


It turned out that there was an incident in the playground that was unresolved and it came into the classroom after lunch was finished. Luckily for us, the kids are pretty good at filling us in on what had happened, or as the kids put it "narking", and the scenario became clearer. I asked each of the parties involved for their version of events ensuring each had an opportunity to express their point of view and feel like they were heard. This also gave me a good idea about what happened and "where their heads were at".

 

I asked each boy if it would be ok to have a restorative meeting with the other person so they could hear how you feel about the incident. They agreed and I also brought in the kids who gave recounts of the situation so they could be part of the resolution process. My Restorative Justice training helped ensure I had asked some key questions of each party. Here are a few of the questions I asked in this situation and I've included a quick reference card I have taken a photo of when I'm on the go in the glassroom.

 

To the person responsible

What were you thinking when *Angus asked you to leave him alone?

What were you hoping would happen after you pushed him?

Who do you think was affected by what you did?

What do you need to do to make things right?

 


To the person harmed

What did you think when it happened?

What was the worst of it for you?

What's needed to make things right?





This meeting was over and done in less than 10 minutes but each student had the opportunity to speak and respond (in turn). It resulted in the situation feeling resolved and a deeper understanding of how it escalated in the first place. *Tim apologised to *Angus (let's just use those names for the purpose of anonymity) for losing his temper and not moving away to calm down. Mutually agreed procedures were put in place to minimise or avoid the situation in the future.

 

If this was dealt with from a punitive standpoint, I believe it would have resulted in resentment and continued niggling from each party and the inclusion of parents.

 

It’s funny how the obvious solution is not always the selected one. I have been teaching for more than 13 years and this year is the first time I have attended a Restorative Justice PD session that really addressed conflict resolution effectively. I have used this technique every day since!

 

Have you ever been in a situation like this? How did you respond? Was the situation resolved or was there fall out? Often times, the inclusion of parents into the restorative justice conference helps them resolve how they have been impacted by the situation (as nearly invariably, they are!).

 

Here’s a super-handy link that gives a great overview of Restorative Justice. We did our training through Margaret Thorsborne and she was amazing! Here’s a link to her site for a heap of resources.

 

I love it when you take the time to find out what happened rather than just being ‘reactional’ in the classroom. I use this process in my classroom everyday and it helps the kids take ownership of their behaviour so that it’s not seen as the teacher who punishes. Give it a go!


Have a fantastic day!


Vikki Grant

GRANTED EDUCATION

Promising New Approaches to Primary Education

Posted by anonymous on January 2, 2016 at 5:10 AM Comments comments (0)

www.granteducation.org


Teacher collaboration.


I've been a teacher in a secondary school for all of my teaching career (13 years). This year, I have taken on a new challenge and teaching in a primary school and I have been blown away by my new school!


At Clarkville School (Christchurch, New Zealand), there are no walls in between classrooms. In the upper grades (5/6 and 7/8 ), students are given a timetable at the start of the week with blocks of time where they MUST complete set work but there are other sections where 'workshops' are presented and students can opt in or out (according to their level of mastery. Yes, mastery! Not just an average or basic level!) to work on particular weaknesses. Other time slots can be used to work on individual inquiry projects (that the students themselves identify) or other tasks that need to be done before the end of the week.


I have never seen this type of autonomy and choice offered in any school, regardless of its category, and the students are self directed! They appreciate having a choice about how they learn and it really moves away from the teacher-centered learning environment. The teachers publish their lesson plans using Google Docs and all teachers see the plans. Student work is also published in this way. This allows for any substitute teacher to come into the learning environment and know exactly where they are going and what is happening in the class. Year levels are joined for some activities and separate for others, there's just so much versatility with this teaching pedagogy. Parents can see what their kids are up to and are kept in the loop around educational experiences. They also acknowledge that a lot of learning actually occurs outside of school hours and this learning is acknowledged and accredited towards inquiry.


I have been in to school over the last couple of weeks to do some things (you know what it's like) and thought I would take some video of  a couple of the classrooms. Now, bear in mind that everything gets a good clean out at the end of the year. The spaces look pretty bare but it's a good insight into how the collaborative spaces link.


I'll be working in the Yr 7/8 space (we call it the Aspire group) and these classrooms haven't yet undergone the make over that the rest of the school have had, so it'll be good to see the difference between ours and the Yr 5/6 (Explore) classrooms.


Here's the Aspire classroom

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Here's the Explore classroom

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When we get in there and sort out the classroom format, I'll shoot a new video and share it with you so you can see how we're going.


So I guess, when you ask what are the promising new approaches to primary education, for me, collaboration holds the key. What new pedagogies are you excited about?


Thank you so much for your continued support, we really appreciate that you take time out of your day to hang with us. If you haven't already become a member, go on, give it a run! Don't stress, we don't spam the heck out of you and we are totally committed to providing quality, hands-on strategies that you can actually use! Worst case scenario, you can always unsubscribe (as if you would because you'll dig it). ;o) ... click here!


Have a great week and I'll look forward to hearing from you soon.


Vikki Grant x

GRANTED EDUCATION

Teaching: Are we doing it wrong?

Posted by anonymous on December 26, 2015 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (0)

www.granteducation.org


"What is one thing that should be taught in school that isn't already" asks Joshua Pang.


I have a bit of experience in teaching at a secondary school level and in my mind, we leave a number of gaps that could easily be addressed (if we wanted to, of course). At the top of this list would have to be resilience. There seems like there is an increasing pressure to reward our students often times for doing very little. What this type of mentatlity reinforces is that it's ok to underperform as long as you're actually doing something. Where is our reach for mastery or excellence? This also says that you will be rewarded any time you do something, which externalises any effort and minimises the chance you will do something of your own volition that has no reward associated with it. Recent studies have shown that students are less likely to do the right thing without recognition or reward. This is the problem, but how can we address it?


The Oxford dictionary defines resilience as "the ability to quickly recover from difficulties; toughness". This can only occur when kids are allowed to try and fail, correct and go again. Science seems to have the edge over other subjects (or is it just that I'm a science nerd?) regarding this approach, but too often, students are not afforded the time to reflect on their experiments and repeat them according to their recommendations for improvement. We need to be encouraging kids to try and be allowed to fail. Without a philosophy like this, perhaps we would never have planes in the air and basics like electricity! It's often seen that A students are prone to breakdowns when they get into university and experience their first poor results but lack the resilience to bounce back quickly from it. If we teach kids how to be resilience and give them specific strategies to help get them back on track without taking a mortal blow to their self esteem and worth, then we'll be heading in the right direction.


What are your thoughts? Surely someone is teaching their kids to be resilient ... what are the strategies you are using?


Thank you so much for your continued support, we really appreciate that you take time out of your day to hang with us. If you haven't already become a member, go on, give it a run! Don't stress, we don't spam the heck out of you and we are totally committed to providing quality, hands-on strategies that you can actually use! Worst case scenario, you can always unsubscribe (as if you would because you'll dig it). ;o) ... click here!


Have a great day!


Vikki Grant x



Top 3 inspiring Ted Talks on Education

Posted by anonymous on April 14, 2015 at 7:50 PM Comments comments (0)

www.granteducation.org


Who inspired you to become a teacher?


It's hard to say for me, I had a few teachers I really respected when I was at school. Among them would have to be my next door neighbour and PE teacher, Mr Brown. You see, I never really saw myself as an academic student & I saw school as an opportunity to play sport and hang out with my mates. Mr Brown always went above and beyond his normal teaching responsibilities and was just a good genuine guy. He made me interested in the topic and somehow I managed to top the subject in Yr 12. All from a student who didn't consider themselves traditionally smart.


I was lucky and had a lot of good teacher role models, most of which didn't actually have me in their classes. They would give their time freely and be available to talk through issues. As with everything, I also had the teachers that themselves couldn't manage to pass on their love of the subject - if they indeed loved it anymore. Those teachers didn't let you ask questions or if they did, it seemed like it was to make you feel stupid. I can distinctly remember a maths teacher who, when it was time to give the results back to the class, called out everyone's result. I specifically asked for that to not happen but was shot down. I was humiliated, as maths definitely was not my strong point, and continued to dislike both the teacher and the subject. You see, she couldn't explain WHY the formulas were used but I was told to just follow it. Ah, the frustrations are still there after all this time. 


Often times, we don't realise the lasting impact we have on our students. We see them and interact with them every day but are often clueless about what it means for them. When I became a teacher, I wanted to be the teacher that I had always wanted. I tried to model myself on the conglomeration of teaching qualities I had noticed in the great teachers that I had experienced and had my own ideas of the teacher I'd like to be. Over the last couple of years I have become almost obsessed with Ted Talks and draw so much inspiration from them. I thought I'd share with you my top 3 talks, so here they are:


1.  Rita Pierson - Every kid needs a champion - oh my god! This talk would have to be hands down, my favourite talk across any topic. When I feel like I need a pick-me-up, I watch her talk (sometimes 5 times in a row!). It doesn't matter how many times I watch this, it always moves me and I can only imagine the impact that she has had on her lucky students. I was devastated to hear that she has passed away as I would have loved to have a few conversations with her!


2.  Stephen Ritz - A teacher growing green in the South Bronx - this guy just oozes energy! Can you imagine having him in your classroom? You know that a talk is good when it inspires you into action and that's what this talk did for me. It really made me think about how we are delivering information and connecting with our students. He also uses education to help cross over and change the community. Awesome.


3.  Kakenya Ntaiya - A girl who demanded school - holy crap! I was listening to this talk as a podcast on my drive to school and it was just playing through the list of talks that I hadn't heard yet. I was totally unprepared for the emotion that came with this talk and was in awe of the single-mindedness that this woman possesses. Her unrelenting drive for education in such dangerous situations makes you wish that the students in our classrooms were half as thankful for an education & not having to sacrafice body parts for it! 


I hope you take the time to watch these because they are definitely worth it. Do you watch Ted Talks and have a favourite? Add it into the comments below with a link.


Thank you so much for your continued support, we really appreciate that you take time out of your day to hang with us. If you haven't already become a member, go on, give it a run! Don't stress, we don't spam the heck out of you and we are totally committed to providing quality, hands-on strategies that you can actually use! Worst case scenario, you can always unsubscribe (as if you would because you'll dig it). ;o) ... click here!

Have a fantastic day and I'll look forward to hearing from you soon.

Vikki Grant

GRANTED EDUCATION 


How tech savvy are you?

Posted by anonymous on April 14, 2015 at 9:15 AM Comments comments (2)

www.granteducation.org


Do you know how to app-smash something?


How comfortable are you with implementing technology into your classroom? I'm not just talking about using a data projector, that seems like assumed practice, I'm talking about using apps, creating infographics, and utilising the power of Socrative (just to give a few examples) ... any of this sounding familiar? If you're asking yourself 'what the hell is she talking about', hold on and click on the link below. You see, I've been writing for a website called Lifehack and here's my latest article:


18 things a 21st century teacher SHOULD be able to do and HOW to do them!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on the article and other technology strategies that could be included.


Thank you so much for your continued support, we really appreciate that you take time out of your day to hang with us. If you haven't already become a member, go on, give it a run! Don't stress, we don't spam the heck out of you and we are totally committed to providing quality, hands-on strategies that you can actually use! Worst case scenario, you can always unsubscribe (as if you would because you'll dig it). ;o) ... click here!


Have a great week and I'll look forward to hearing from you soon.


Vikki Grant x

GRANTED EDUCATION

Super hero shenanagans

Posted by anonymous on April 13, 2015 at 8:30 AM Comments comments (0)

www.troubleshootingshitclassrooms.com


The K-12 Cultural Innovation in Australian Schools Conference was an amazing experience to speak at and I enjoyed every moment. I was lucky enough to have been put up in an awesome hotel that was in the same block as the conference. I was a bit stressed leading up to the presentation and it seemed that the practice & paring down of my speech definitely paid off. I was able to eventually get it down to a series of dot points that I remembered in sequence so that I could fill in the details as I flowed with it. 


This was my first time speaking at a national conference and I have already applied for more! I figured that since the conference was about innovation, they would be up for some out-of-the-box antics and I chose to do my presentation in my house captain super hero costume, complete with undies on the outside. I figure that there's no such thing as 'a little embarassed', so I might as well go the whole way! 


The conference gave me insight into how schools are addressing cultural issues and I'm working to implement some of those ideas into my current school. It was also a great opportunity to network and have those important discussions with professional colleagues about their philosophies and practices in their classrooms and schools.


My presentation was about how to implement 21st teaching strategies in the classroom. Here's a couple of pics to give you an insight into my crazy mind ... beware, you will see my underwear!


Getting my 'game-face' on



Changed & waiting for my presentation time



Mid speech ...



Full flight, with lapel mic and all!


I had to leave straight after my presentation and with little time to get changed, so I went to Sydney Airport on the train with my makeup mask on still. Actually, I flew home with it on too .. just to see what people's reactions were. My partner was horrified when I was picked up & I still had the face mask on! The amusing thing is that noone even looked sideways at me or even asked what was up with it! I guess that must happen all the time! 


Thank you so much for your continued support, we really appreciate that you take time out of your day to hang with us. If you haven't already become a member, go on, give it a run! Don't stress, we don't spam the heck out of you and we are totally committed to providing quality, hands-on strategies that you can actually use! Worst case scenario, you can always unsubscribe (as if you would because you'll dig it). ;o) ... click here!


Well, off to save another day. Have a fantastic week!


Vikki Grant x

GRANTED EDUCATION

8 Awesome websites for classroom games

Posted by anonymous on November 12, 2014 at 6:35 AM Comments comments (0)

www.troubleshootingshitclassrooms.com



Games, games, games

 

Why use games? Games in the classroom have led to the sprouting of a whole new educational research field over the last 10 years. They are often more complex than we give them credit for. In a Stanford report last year, it was cited that games teach children patience and discipline – 2 factors that can determine future success better than IQ. These are important skills that should be learnt during childhood (but often are not) and are not something we can directly measure on any of our beloved standardised tests. They will always have a place in my classroom and here’s just one reason why:

 

Today was an interesting lesson. Sometimes my kids (yr 8) are the funniest things on the planet! I just played a new game with them – Pass the Chicken. This game was suggested to me by a fellow member in a Facebook group called Relief Teaching Ideas (check it out for sure!). It was hilarious and they were so into it. Here’s how to play:


1. Take the rubber chicken out of the freezer - I’m not sure why it was in there, but you see some random things at school sometimes. You will probably skip this step, but that’s where I had to get my chicken from.


2. Get the students to form a circle


3. Choose your starting student to ask them a question based on the content covered in your lesson from the day before (or as a total revision of the unit). As soon as you have asked the question, you say GO and the students pass the chicken in a clockwise direction as fast as possible with everyone touching the chicken. If the student you asked answers the question before the chicken gets back to the start, the person holding the chicken has to answer the next question. If the person doesn’t answer the question in time, we made that person do a choice of 5 situps / 5 pushups and then the chicken was passed to another random person to start the game again.

 

It’s a very simple game & a heap of fun. The added bonus of our chicken was that it smelt quite bad & felt gross, so students didn’t really want to touch the rubber chicken for long. One of the boys in the class suggested that as a 3rd option, they could do 5 sniffs of the chicken. That was the funniest thing that has happened in my class all term!

 

Pass the Chicken is a great teaching strategy to see any gaps in knowledge for the class and if any recurrent problems happen, you can quickly stop the game and address them. By asking the same question a number of times, it also reaffirms the correct answer, helping low level students catch up. As always, the game uses a number of clever teaching strategies to engage its players; movement, patience, fun, memory, laughter, competition, risk, verbal directions, discipline, recall, evaluation, and higher order thinking. When put like that, why wouldn’t you use them in the classroom to help enrich learning?


Some people find it quite daunting to come up with games and cringe at the thought of where to start, so we’re here to make your life easier! Here’s 8 websites to get you started on some fun games to use as innovative pedagogical teaching strategies in your classroom to help foster learning in engaging ways:


1. Engaging classroom games for all ages – The thing I like about this site is that the games can be translated into any subject area. You will find 9 educational games here and a heap of other incidental teaching resources


2. Subject specific games - there are a heap of games on here that are broken up into their subject areas. Chances are, you are bound to find something to use here!


3. Educational games for high school students - this is a site that has already compiled some awesome educational games and resources, definitely worth a look!


4. A to Z teacher forum – this is a link to a forum where a number of people have added their favourite games to the list of available classroom fun!


5. 60 game sites you may not have seen – this certainly looks interesting and it seems like each link has access to more amazing resources!


6. English games – if you are teaching English, here’s a stack of helpful links/printables/strategies for your students. Knock your socks off!


7. Higher order thinking games – targeted at high school and university students, this site has some games for your deep thinkers. I have used Pandemic 2 in my Biology class to simulate the passing of disease – very cool to set game playing as homework!


8. Who wants to win a million dollars – this is based on the game show ‘Who wants to be a millionaire’. It’s a maths/science based game where you choose from 4 multiple choice answers. You have a few Life Lines to help you through the tough questions. I use this one all the time, love it!

 

 Now there’s no excuse, get out there and start playing games in your lessons!

 

Here's a couple of games I love to play as warm ups or when the kids just need to move - Bump & Maths in the Mud


Thank you so much for your continued support, we really appreciate that you take time out of your day to hang with us. If you haven't already become a member, go on, give it a run! Don't stress, we don't spam the heck out of you and we are totally committed to providing quality, hands-on strategies that you can actually use! Worst case scenario, you can always unsubscribe (as if you would because you'll dig it). ;o) ... click here!


If this was a helpful resource for you, I would be so appreciative if you would leave a comment or share the link so that we can help more teachers to be awesome in their classrooms. Thanks so much for your time and I can’t wait to hear how you go with this!


Have a great week.

 


Vikki Grant

 

15 Strategies for getting your marking done!

Posted by anonymous on October 31, 2014 at 11:00 PM Comments comments (0)

www.troubleshootingshitclassrooms.com


In my 1st year of teaching, I think that one of the most exciting things to do (in teaching of course!) was mark exams. I was so eager to get them marked that they were all done, put in alphabetical order and ready to hand back to my students the very next day. Oh, where did those days go?!  The thought of having to mark those damn things now prompts me to clean the house in procrastination! While that's a great strategy to get a sparkling house, those exams just don't mark themselves!  I know I'm not alone in this experience and have therefore put together a list for all of my fellow procrastinators and exam/assignment marking avoiders!  These are in no particular order despite some being used more than others and the ability to combine multiple strategies at the same time! If I've missed any, let me know!


Strategies to help you get through your marking


1.  Stand up while marking - it helps you stay focused and not be distracted by that mark on the wall.


2. Count down how many papers you have left to mark and say it out loud - it's more fun.


3. Play motivational music like eye of the tiger - but you'll probably want more than one song, that will get annoying after a couple of hours!


4. Give yourself small rewards for milestones - like getting yourself a coffee after 5 assignments. At that rate you may have the coffee jitters after you finish - drink coffee responsibly...


5. Completely mark whole exams. Don't be trapped into thinking that it'll be quicker if you mark the first 2 pages of each exam - it isn't. What you end up with is a whole heap of half-finished exams and you end up losing motivation because you don't get that feeling of satisfaction for completing some of the exams.


6. Clean you desk/area before you start. No, this is not one of my work avoidance strategies, but when the area is clean, you are less likely to be distracted and it helps keep your mind clear for the task.


7. Sit away from others. Not in an emo kind of way, but in an 'I don't need to be distracted by anyone' kind of way. It works.


8. Mark while you are on an exercise bike! I have put a small whiteboard across the handle bars of my exercise bike and slowly pedal while marking. It helps you keep focused on your task as well as keeping you fit! Winning! Here's my office ...




9. Have some brain-food snacks. Keep it light and although it seems against all common sense and general standard practice, try to avoid chocolate. I am one of the first people to say 'yes please!' when it comes to chocolate but not long after you eat it, your body freaks out and strips out all the glucose from your bloodstream and it leaves you tired ...  and off to sleepy land before you know it! Stay strong!


10. Put your marked exams in a separate pile so you can see how much you have done - marvel in it!


11. Have a positive attitude. I know, I know, it's easier said than done when you're talking about marking but 'Fake it till you make it'! Believe it or not, physiologically, your body doesn't know when you are faking it and you can trick it into doing the work!


12. Gamify your marking. Time how long it takes you to mark one exam/assignment and then try to beat that time for each one. Get excited about beating your time!


13. Wear headphones and listen to music. Headphones are a great way to tune out all external distractions and people are less likely to talk to you because they can physically see that you are listening to music. This strategy has the added bonus that if someone needs to talk to you, they need to go out of their way to get your attention, rather than just talk! Just between you and me, sometimes I put headphones on and don't even have any music playing ... or even have them plugged in - people just assume you can't hear them because of the music, rather than you ignoring them to get your work done! Great strategy when working next to an annoying desk mate!


14. Alcohol! No, I'm not advocating that you are drunk while marking! However, when I asked my fellow colleagues how they get through their marking, a glass of wine (or 2) was probably the top response. It helps some people relax and get into the swing of things. HINT: it never looks good when you spill your red wine on the exams! 


15. Mark with someone else. This is always more enjoyable but it can sometimes be a little distracting so choose your marking buddy wisely! It's good to get someone else's perspective on what grade to give a student, particularly if it's a borderline result. This strategy works best if you are teaching the same subject but if you're not, that's not a big deal.


Thank you so much for your continued support, we really appreciate that you take time out of your day to hang with us. If you haven't already become a member, go on, give it a run! Don't stress, we don't spam the heck out of you and we are totally committed to providing quality, hands-on strategies that you can actually use! Worst case scenario, you can always unsubscribe (as if you would because you'll dig it). ;o) ... click here!


So there you go, hopefully this has been a useful list for you. Now that you've finished procrastinating, get back to your marking with renewed enthusiasm! Thanks for hanging out with us and we will look forward to seeing you again soon.


Vikki Grant

Teaching Strategy #40 - Use technology to help drive engagement with spreadsheets!

Posted by anonymous on October 24, 2014 at 6:30 AM Comments comments (0)

www.troubleshootingshitclassrooms.com


Can you remember the first time that you had a play around with Excel? I can’t really, but I do recall a time when I totally geeked out while playing with the formula functions in it. Well, I have a year 12 Science In Practice (SIP) class who have chosen to do the subject because they are interested in Science, but don’t want to do the hard core work .. . just the fun. As you can imagine, it’s been an interesting ride, trying to get these guys to complete assessment tasks on time and staying on task during the lessons.

 

In a recent staff meeting, one of my colleagues showed us how to use conditional formatting (where the colour of the cells will change colour depending on the data entered) to help visually track improvements in student performances as they went through the year. Being a very visual learner (sometimes too visual!), I loved the idea and wondered how I could modify it and implement it into my lessons.

 

This term, my students have been studying stage lighting and sound mixing. Their assessment task was to create a user manual for the performing arts centre. I decided to break up the questions into tasks and set about creating a spreadsheet that was colour coded and also had a progress bar so that students could update their progress, in real-time, during the lesson.

 

Here's what it looks like ...




The difference in the students was phenomenal! They were focussed, on task and smashing through the tasks before I knew it! I have 2 Yr 12 SIP classes and showed each the other class so they could see how they were going in comparison. Before I knew it, students were racing each other to get the most points in the lesson (without any prompting from me) and to be the one to finish with the most points. Without even realising it, I’d gamified the unit (winning!) and provided them with a very visual method to track their progress. It’s been so successful that the assessment draft is due at the end of next week and it’s looking like the students will have it ready to submit at the start of the week … unheard of!

 

Another strength of the task was that it had to be authentic. This meant that any video or photo that was used needed to be taken so that the student was in the frame. This made them accountable for the work and less likely to copy from each other.

 

I seriously can’t believe the success this model has produced and even the lowest level of student is up to speed. Using this method, it’s a safety net to help ensure that every student has SOMETHING to show for their work. Students are teaching each other how to use equipment and helping with taking photos. This task has really brought the class together! When they are updating their progress, other students ask for their questions to be updated too and this gives them a sense of importance.

 

Do you think you could use this method to help you complete one of your assessment tasks? Could your task be re-jigged and broken into segments to help students track their own progress? It also made it easy to see who needs help and a bit of a chase up – making your job easier – now who doesn’t want that?!

 

If you would like a copy of my spreadsheet, click here. I would love to send you a blank template with the formulas already entered. All you would have to do is put your class names in and copy the formulas across. I have also included a quick video showing you how to easily copy & paste the formulas and modify the document specifically for your needs, to make it super easy to use straight away. You seriously need to try this out for your class!

 

So, help your class stay on-task by creating a visually appealing spreadsheet that the students themselves update. That means that you get to spend more time helping students and they get to take responsibility for their own progress, while getting immediate feedback – winning!


Thank you so much for your support and I can't wait to hear from you!


Cheers,


V

 

Teaching Strategy # 39 - How to remember names

Posted by anonymous on September 2, 2014 at 9:55 AM Comments comments (0)

www.troubleshootingshitclassrooms.com


Have you ever been at a party and recognised the person who you have just started talking to, but can't for the life of you remember their name? This happens to my partner all the time, to the point that we have a little system worked out, where I pretend that she's socially inept and forgotten to do the introductions and I introduce myself as I ask for their name. Thankfully this works when you have a 'wingman' to help you out of those situations, but when you're in the classroom and you're in front of new students, remembering their names can seem a daunting task!

 

There's such power in names and it seems like it doesn't matter where you are and what you are doing (even day dreaming), you always manage to hear your name. Here's a link to 6 Strategies to Help Remember Names. 

 

Have you heard of a memory palace? This is one of the powerful strategies to help remember information. I used this in my class to help students remember the pathway of blood through the heart. It's amazing how it works and the kids still talk about the crazy story! Here's a link to a fantastic Ted Talk describing how memory palaces work and the importance of memorising information, despite our almost perpetual connection to google!


Just as an interesting aside, here's a couple of pics that show the mean age of people with the 25 most popular names - does your name match up?


Thank you so much for taking the time to spend it with us! We are trying to build an online teaching community where members are supported, encouraged, informed and inspired to be the best you can be. We would love it if you could take the time to come and join us!  If you know someone who would be interested in this content, bring them along too, we'd love to meet them!  


See you soon!


V




Feeling inspired!

Posted by anonymous on August 29, 2014 at 7:40 AM Comments comments (0)

www.granteducation.org


It's been a busy day today! This morning I was feeling super inspired and made a couple of video tutorials showing how to use some features in a program called Turning Point. This is an Audience Response program that is an add on for Power Point. Check out the new Video Tutorial section of the website!

 

After I had well and truly bored the hell out of my partner while I did my nerdy school stuff, we took the dog to the beach. Despite running him for AT LEAST 3 hours, he still had energy enough to steal someone's soccer ball, run off with it (insert the mental funny picture of 3 people chasing a crazy little dog) and punctured it! He then spent the next half hour chasing a Frisbee, man that dog is like a little Energizer battery and I wish I had half his energy! Don't let his cute ears and puppy face fool you, this dog is a ball killer from way back! Ha

 

Clearly, I'm home and back into school work, well, I secretly love it ... actually, this is the internet, so I guess that's not much of a secret anymore! Small details aside, I've also created a YouTube channel called https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCU7svMmahEWR_GplIlsipcw?feature=hovercard" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Granted Education ... stay tuned for a name change. I'd love to hear from you about instructional videos that would make your teaching life easier!


Thank you so much for your continued support, we really appreciate that you take time out of your day to hang with us. If you haven't already become a member, go on, give it a run!  Don't stress, we don't spam the heck out of you and we are committed to just providing quality, hands-on strategies that you can actually use!  Worst case scenario, you can always unsubscribe (as if you would because you'll dig it).  ;o)  ... click here!


Come and play with us on Facebook and share your day! I can't wait to see you there!


Have an awesome day!


Vikki Grant


Comment below and help me, help you become more awesome! x

Teaching Strategy # 38 - How do I stop the kids' annoying fidgeting?

Posted by anonymous on August 20, 2014 at 3:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Does continuous pen clicking/tapping drive you batty?

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It was the last period of the day and I had a class of mainly boys.  The fidgeting was at an all-time high, as the class were supposed to go through their field booklets and source the answers for any questions that were blank. Thankfully I was in the Science block and had access to a myriad of cool things (sssh ... just between you and me) including modelling clay.  If you've ever used our 'ancient' modelling clay, you'd know that it was hard as a rock, but eventually, with enough manipulation, you could do anything with it.  I quickly sourced the clay (brightly coloured), cut a section of it and quietly gave it to the student who was incessantly clicking their pen and then told him to continue his work. You should have seen the instant transformation, amazing.  As I found the location of the other fidgeters, I did the same for them.  Before I knew it, most of the class had a small ball of modelling clay and they happily rolled it and manipulated it while writing in their books.  Some needed reminding that if it was too distracting, I'd look after it for them and I only needed to mention that once.


Have you ever had a class that this would work in? In a study, Stalvey & Brasell (2006) found an increase in writing performance when students were given a stress ball to work with. Lengel and Kuczala (2010) also reported that after 20 mins of inactivity, neural connection decreases. At our school, each lesson is 70 mins long!  Since we know that giving students an alternative activity to put energy (but not focus) into, helps minimise stress and anxiety in the classroom, I wonder why this is not done more prolifically? There's a tonne of research out there to back up this simple concept, so perhaps we need to take it out of the 'alternative' teaching methods category and shift strategies like these into mainstream teaching.


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While I was having a look around the internet about this problem, I came across this awesome website that caters for exactly this market - Silent Classroom Fidgets! I'd love to know if you checked it out and particularly if you have tried any of their products, they do look cool!

 


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What I learned while hosting my 1st Web Conference

Posted by anonymous on August 19, 2014 at 8:20 AM Comments comments (0)

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Hey guys!  This afternoon I conducted my first Web Conference and to be honest, it felt a little anticlimatic. I love creating an energy buzz in the room and feed off people's reactions and interactions.  Perhaps it was just how I was using it, but I felt quite alone despite having a room of about 20 people there! I think I was expecting to be hearing people and wanted them to be asking questions as I went through the conference and was not expecting the overwhelming silence!  There was some text dialogue happening in the chat window, but it's hard to convey emotion there.  Everyone was posting positive comments at the end, and from that it seemed like I hit the mark, thankfully! That aside, I think it ran quite smoothly, except on the couple of occasions where my voice was 'Chipmonk' style and one of my work colleagues was in stitches as a result!  Ah, the fun of trying new things!


Speaking of trying new things, the Web Conference today was limited to public school Education Queensland staff and we would love to open it up to EVERYONE!  We have been looking into AnyMeeting as a possible platform and have heard some good reviews on the web. Does anyone have any experience with this site or are you able to give us some suggestions for others that you may have used that would suit?  We're keen to open these workshops up and aim to have something in place for next month.


We really appreciate your support in here and have created some bonus material  just for you, to say thanks!  If you haven't already become a member, go on, give it a run! Don't stress, we don't spam the heck out of you and we are committed to just providing quality, hands-on strategies that you can actually use! Worst case scenario, you can always unsubscribe (as if you would because you'll dig it). ;o) ... click here!

 


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If you fail, does that make you a failure?

Posted by anonymous on July 3, 2014 at 11:50 PM Comments comments (0)

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Success is measured by how well we do in particular tasks, but is rarely measured by how many times we try things. Sadly, in science, we think we are encouraging students to critically analyse what went wrong in an experiment, but rarely do we 'have time' to test those theories by re-doing and trying again, allowing for a deeper understanding or re-evaluation of conclusions.

 

Have you ever taught students who wouldn't do tasks because they didn't want to fail? It seems like there's an increasing proportion of students who fall into this category - they think they're bad at Maths and don't want to do it because they get things wrong. Even at a yr 8 level, students are instantly expecting to be great at something without having to work hard to develop the skills. Perhaps we need to be rewarding for trying ... not as a watering-down strategy, but to help teach resiliency. This skill can't be measured on any standardised test, but is certainly worth teaching.

 

I like the flexibility that online learning often offers, where students can take a test as many times as they like, but the pass rate sits closer to 90% as a result. I'm setting up one of my yr 12 Science classes like this and am hoping that the 'try as many times as you like to get 100%' strategy will encourage students to work towards mastery instead of an ordinary pass. If it doesn't work, then at least I know one way not to do it! Here's a link that a friend of mine has recently passed on to me - https://edpuzzle.com" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">EdPuzzle.com - it lets you use existing video (or upload your own), record audio over the top, pause it and add quiz questions for your students to answer.  It looks pretty cool and I'll put a copy of the lesson I'm currently working on so you can see how I went!

 

A bit about me:

 

I feel very thankful that I had parents who encouraged me to try things more than once. I grew up in a waterskiing family, where every Sunday was spent at the waterhole. I was skiing before I could walk and every time we were behind the boat, it was a chance to hone our skills. I can distinctly remember a time when I had learnt to do a jump start (I was about 8) and made my way around the normal circuit & back to the bank without getting my hair wet. I thought I was soooo amazing, but dad added that if I wasn't falling, I wasn't trying hard enough. Being the competitive little chicken that I am, I made it my mission to never return to the bank again with dry hair! I'm so glad I had someone to help me challenge my self-imposed safety net so that I could be better.

Thankfully, someone also told these people that failure helps you succeed.

 

Thank you so much for your continued support, we really appreciate that you take time out of your day to hang with us. If you haven't already become a member, go on, give it a run! Don't stress, we don't spam the heck out of you and we are committed to just providing quality, hands-on strategies that you can actually use! Worst case scenario, you can always unsubscribe (as if you would because you'll dig it). ;o) ... click here!

 


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Teaching Strategy #37 - Musical Chairs

Posted by anonymous on May 16, 2014 at 6:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Half time, change seats!

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When you have long lessons and you want to break up the tasks, why not play musical chairs? This helps keep things interesting & students often end up sitting next to people whom they wouldn't usually choose.  This is a great way to get the class to know each other and can help with small group pairing.


Have the students stand behind their chairs, holding all their books & then play the music! When the music stops, they need to get to a seat ASAP. You can add the twist of - the last one sitting down has to do 5 pushups or situps, this really makes it a competition!  It's a bit of fun and helps re-activate the student's brains, particularly if they have been doing some mentally draining work.


This works really well for grade 10 and below but I wouldn't use it on the senior students.  They tend to view it as childish, as they like to think of themselves as adults who are beyond those types of games, and you are likely to loose rapport with them.

 


Thank you so much for your continued support, we really appreciate that you take time out of your day to hang with us. If you haven't already become a member, go on, give it a run! Don't stress, we don't spam the heck out of you and we are totally committed to providing quality, hands-on strategies that you can actually use! Worst case scenario, you can always unsubscribe (as if you would because you'll dig it). ;o) ... click here!

 

 

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Teaching Strategy #36 - What to do when your classroom is out of control

Posted by anonymous on May 14, 2014 at 4:05 AM Comments comments (0)

A change is as good as a holiday!

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Sometimes, you are faced with a whole classroom of students who have a mental block & as a result, struggle to focus & complete the work.  I ran into this problem this week during the last session of the day. We were supposed to be doing a math quiz of 20 questions & their results were to be recorded to monitor progress.  Heaps of students were asking me to repeat questions & explain what was being asked, despite being really simple (often me giving them the answer in the question!) & having done those styles of question all term. This was infiinitely frustrating & it seemed like the general vibe of it being too difficult was quickly racing around the class. 


This situation reminded me that you need to be quite flexible in the delivery of lessons if you want a positive outcome. Instead of showing my frustration, I calmly asked the students to close their books & stand behind their chairs.  They were a little confused, but I then asked them to go to the undercovered area that was near our classroom & get ready to play bump.  There was no point in continuing with the lesson in its current form because the students needed to kickstart their brains before any productive work could be achieved.


If you are ever in this situation, one solution is to change classrooms, but often this is not enough by itself. Like electric shock therapy (no, I'm not suggesting that here, but hear me out!), the shocks are to snap the brain out of its current funk & reset it to normal electrical activity.  You often need to couple a room change with a situation change - play a game (something physical would work best - like https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1EHMEckuvA&feature=youtu.be" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">bump) that challenges their brain to work in a different way.  When you have done that for at least 5mins, go to another room & see if you can go from where you left off.  Bring it to the student's attention to shake off how they initally started the lesson (actually, get them to jump up & down & shake if they are younger thaan Yr 10) and continue with a new attitude.


Sometimes you get curve balls thrown at you during lessons & just having tips like this in your arsenal can help keep your sanity!

 


Thank you so much for your continued support, we really appreciate that you take time out of your day to hang with us. If you haven't already become a member, go on, give it a run! Don't stress, we don't spam the heck out of you and we are totally committed to providing quality, hands-on strategies that you can actually use! Worst case scenario, you can always unsubscribe (as if you would because you'll dig it). ;o) ... click here!

 

Come and play with us on Facebook and share your day! I can't wait to see you there!

 

Have an awesome day!

 

Vikki Grant

GRANTED EDUCATION

 

Comment below and help me, help you become more awesome! x



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