Monday, 26 November 2012


TES is a UK based website that links teachers and educators from all around the word in one place. One of its main focuses is that it enable collaboration and sharing of resources for a range of subjects and age groups.

Its free to sign up and I have already used many resources in my lessons - generating new ideas, activities, PowerPoint presentation and worksheets. One that I have already posted about is "Roll a Dice - draw a cell".
All I can say is....Go check it out!

Friday, 23 November 2012

"Success Protocol" for discussions

The Success Protocol was used in a PD recently as a strategy to discuss findings.

At first I thought it was a bit strange to have an outline about how to run a discussion - especially with adults! I soon discovered there were some great positives to this routine - rippling into the classroom and personal arenas.

If you haven't already opened it, you can open an electronic version of the Success Protocol here.
In our scenario we had 3 people, each reporting on a different experience they have had in their classroom and used the above Protocol to discuss.

1. Each person got to speak about their experience or what they had found or the successes that they experienced. This is uninterrupted  - no one should butt in (it's harder than you think actually!!). A guide time is about 5-10minutes
2. Others in the group can ask clarifying questions, or ask the speaker to elaborate. Here is where all you questions that you wanted to ask before can come out! :)
3. Addition insights and general discussion is encouraged. The group can analyze what they have heard and summarise positive or important points
4. And as they say "Take a moment to celebrate the success of the presenter."

It was very empowering to have a time where you could fully explain yourself uninterrupted. It occurred to me how often we are interrupted and do it to other people - it's almost second nature to us. The power of not being interrupted and giving the speaker time to talk is so valuable. This would be great to allow students in our class who often get overshadowed in normal class discussion a time or at least a chance to shine. Now I am making a more conscious effort not to interrupt others while they talk - as I know how good it feels (and as I said its not as easy as it seems!)!!

Late Project Slip

Trialed using a late slip for students who couldn't hand in assessment or a project on time. I find that you can spend much time in conversation with students explaining why they cant hand a piece of work up and when they will be able to hand it up.

I came across this idea many years ago - I believe maybe at a Bill Rogers talk....or some other PD I went to.

If is a small form that students fill in stating their reason and when you expect to receive it. The pros about this is that it is like a receipt. It also means their explanation is in writing and this can be referred to in Parent Interviews. I haven't really had an opportunity to use them before, but have found it useful recently. They are handy just to have some blank copies in your folder ready to go.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Science Posters: Psychological Disorders

My Year 10 Science class did posters on types of Psychological Disorders during their unit of Psychology. I was so impressed with the way they worded and the end product I decided to upload some photos!
When I told them why I was taking photos of their posters - they were so proud of themselves. What great positive feedback!
Will be showing these photos to my next years Year 10s to show the type and standard of work I will be expecting. Nothing like leading by example and having high expectations! Bring it on!! :)

Fraction, Decimal and Percentage Numberline

From SINE  (Success In Numeracy Education) conference run by the CEO
This activity is sooo easy to prepare. Best to have an example or IWB file to guide students on what to do (see screen shot below) to get them started so you can focus on individuals that need more help
Pre-warn them to bring their glue sticks - but have sticky tape on hand as back up!!
I got students to highlight or colour the common percentages (10%, 20%, 25%, 50%, 75%, 100% ) which they should of memorised. I also get them to simplify fractions if possible and write it in brackets next to it.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Questioning questions in maths

"I teach high school math.
I sell a product to a market
that doesnt want it
but is forced by law to buy it"
- TEDxNYED video - Dan Meyer
What a great 12 minute clip looking at the way math is presented in most classrooms. It explores how textbooks sets out and communicates problem solving questions to our students and how we can engage, stretch, question and make real life links.
He talks about removing information and presenting the problems as basic as it can be, to engage students in dialogue about what information is necessary and hence what is actually important. It strips away the "math" or "formula" and gives everyone a chance to link with the problem and connect with solutions, and more importantly problem solving.
In particular I enjoy his version of the steepest slop introduction to gradient.
He uses multimedia to demonstrate real life situation - all filmed with a phone or similar.

Monday, 29 October 2012

New Pins!

New Pins on Pintrest! Read my post about it here
Check them out! Search for MissM or click here to go straight to my Pintrest Page

Roll the dice - build a cell!

Not my best lesson, but definitely had potential. Aim was to introduce the parts of the cell to my Year 7 class. I was looking for some interactive and fun stuff on the internet to use with the IWB. I found it difficult to find the correctly pitched (main parts not all the organelles) and something other than a simple drag and drop IWB interactive.
I found this "Game" on the TES website - Cells Beetle Drive (by gregodwod).
Beetle Drive... yes, I thought it was a strange title too.... supposedly it a British Thing. According to Wikipedia "it is a British party game in which one draws a beetle in parts. The game may be played solely with pen, paper and a die or using a commercial game set, some of which contain custom scorepads and dice and others which contain pieces which snap together to make a beetle/bug", or well in this case a cell.

I used it "as is". Will use this again for sure, but with some minor changes. One to include the mitochondria as part of the role. Definitely change the title and images to fit the Aussie audience. I might also tweak the instructions as my students are not as familiar with the concept as the authors class. Other than that, really impressed with the idea and how well it went in the class. Who would have thought the old dice and some friendly competition would work in todays tech obsessed world!
Lets hope this will prevent any of my students answering like this, haha

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Visual Vocabulary

Glossaries are great way to help explain or give meaning to a term.  In the past I have made students create their own glossary to explain scientific or mathematical terms. This has worked for some students - and hasn't for others.
I came across this image on Pintrest recently.
It inspired me to try a visual vocabulary. I trialled this in my Year 7 Science class in the unit of Ecology. This unit used and exposed students to many different terms - producer, consumer, biotic, abiotic, ecosystem, population, community, food chain etc. I thought this idea of a visual vocabulary was a great way for students to not only recall but to also apply their understanding in a different way (referring to the Blooms Taxonomy) as well as catering for the visual learners in the class (Multiple Intelligences).
My criteria for their Visual Vocabulary consisted of three parts - the term, a definition and a picture of or illustrating that term. Summarising the term or creating a diagrammatic situation challenge their thinking and hopefully in turn made the word easier to remember.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

"Fill in the blank" worksheet

I used this a bit in my Year 10 Big Ideas in Science Class. It was the first year this course was running. It just so happens that there was quite a bit of supplementary material and sheets. At the conclusion of the topic, this "Fill in the blanks" worksheet was a nice way to encapsulate main points and give some structure to their revision.
It was a way to reflect on their learning and make connections back to the content. It acted as a simple summary where students could collaborate and refer back to their theory notes to bring together all the things thay had been learning.
The sheet prompted them to go back to their vocabulary and see what they knew about the missing words and definitions. In the process it also made students re-read over parts of sheet to trial their missing word - this reption in turn could help commit some of these understanding to memory more easily.
Overall, this proved to be a quite successful. Students reation to thus activity was very positive. It also proved to be a good activity for students to collaborate, share knowledge and discuss their understanding.
How to create one??
This type of sheet does require a bit of preparation. I found it easier to write it all down as a paragraph. Save that version as my solutions. Then open it up a new document where I would take out the words, create a list of missing words, do some formatting etc and saving it as the student version. After my first few attempts I had the process down pat and didn't take much longer to produce one that it did to type it up.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Don't let the maths stop you from doing the physics! Speed and other physics formulas untangled

Our unit was on Physics is Sport (perfect timing with London Olympics and the Paralympics!). We were working with formulas, such as the speed formula:
Having taught both Year 10 Science and Year 10 Mainstream Maths course, I was well aware of the variety of maths skills in y classroom. Usually maths isn't too much of a hurdle in science - but with rearranging and substituting values into formula I thought this might be one of those cases.
What could I give these kids who were getting tangles in the maths a straight forward method?
The speed equation can be translated into a triangle:

Use your finger to cover up what you are trying to find, which shows you what you must do to calculate it. This can be seen below.
Image from here
Students received this alternative really well and were grateful I understood their difficulty with maths. They too in the end believed my motto of "Don't let the maths stop you from going the physics!" :)
This was subsequently used for other equations in physics like acceleration and velocity. In mathematics this can be applied to the Trigonometric Ratios.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Teaching Channel

Today I got on to Teaching Channel. I watched a few short clips on different areas of teaching. One thing I liked is the clips were short. And when I say short I mean 1 minute (some are longer). How much can be said in one minute? Well, quite a bit. These clips a straight to the point and highlight main points or rationale.
With its motto Teaching Channel: Great Teaching, Inspiring Classrooms, I hope to explore and utalise this resource a lot more.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Linear Equations Graphing: Stained Glass Window Activity

This ready-to-go activity was from "Love Maths" website called "Stained Glass Window - Graphing" (you might need to scroll down a little bit to find the Word Doc) or via Scribe here.
This was a great activity to practise drawing straight lines in the form y=mx+c. My class really enjoyed it and they looked great hanging in our classroom (bonus that it was colourful AND maths related!!! :) )
As I wanted them to take it seriously and do it well, I coloured in the solution to visually show them what kind of expectation and standard I wanted the work to be. This was good as it really motivated the kids to take pride in this activity, but also the weaker ones who wanted to "get it right".
Here is my example that I showed the class. It also doubled as the heading for the display on our classroom wall!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012


Not very educational but I enjoy playing around with it anyway. Can be quite soothing making your own "mix" or see what a picture sounds like.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Wrap Up Activity: Exit Pass

A simple and effective strategy to wrap up a class and summarising main points. This can be done individually or as a class. You can get students to write it down or verbalise it as they walk pass you out the door. I like this strategy as it makes EVERY student accountable - no student could slip though the cracks.

 The Exit Pass.

1. Preprepated Exit Pass Template. Some may prefer a creative and realistic approach where students are given a "exit pass" and have to hand it up as they leave. These templates can be created using word or bought.
2. In Class. No reason you cant do it even if you have no cards ready! . I made my own version by drawing it on the board and getting them to respond in their Summary Book. These are examples from my Year 7 maths class
3. Verbally. I usually only do this after the class has seen this strategy a few times. Where as they leave the classroom they have to give me an example or fact or idea from the lesson.
Image from here

Monday, 1 October 2012

Arvind Gupta

WARNING: Prepare to be utterly inspired.

By chance I clicked on a link that took me to an article about Arvind Gupta in the Economic Times. Please have a read of it here.
Quicker that the speed of light I was looking up and reading the Matchstick Models and Other Experiments as referred to in the article. Next click of my mouse I was on INK Talk watching Avind Gupta talking about Toys from Trash and Learning.

Pictures worth a thousand words...

We have all heard the saying "a picture is worth a thousand words..."

There are a few programs out there that can help us take words and make pictures with them. This can be great to highlight important words in a unit, different themes in a text, a way to summarise, an opportunity to connect with an image and a chance for our visual learners (or a students who likes big ideas broken down) to connect with text in a meaningful way.

This post was inspired by Wordfoto. I got really excited when I stumbled across it. I was attracted by the vivid colour and photo presentation. I was then quickly disappointed that it an iphone and ipad app (good news for ipad and iphone users though!). There seems to be an Android version called Word Cam that looks similar.

But not all schools (students or teachers) have access to this technology, so what other web based programs are out there?

The follow do not require downloads, emails or log ins to be used.


The first one, which I am sure most people have heard of or seen is Wordle. It can take slabs of text or a website (can copy and paste a url) and creates a word cloud. I decided to copy and paste my final year teaching philosophy essay from uni in it as an experiment. You can see my cloud below. Wordle is very straightforward to use. You can change font, layout and colour schemes. It's easy enough to take a screen capture like I did below or there is the option to print it (you cannot directly save it :( ).

The next one I have come across a few times was Tagxedo. As you can see from my screen captures I had a bit of fun playing with it. Tagxedo had a very user friendly interface (image below left) and users can choose design shapes (speech bubbles, animals, shapes etc); as well as font, layouts and colour schemes.
Yes, I got carried away....

TagCrowd Beta
I am not sure if I am using this right, but this is what I got using TagCrowd Beta

Things I didn't know about Adobe Acrobat

Most people know PDFs to be an alternative document type compared to Word etc. Most of us know PDFs as the type of document that is not easy to change or manipulate. Its the type of document we open for newsletters or published works.

Did you know there is more fun to be had?!?!? :)

I have slowly been expanding my skills with Adobe Acrobat. Originally when I first used Adobe, I just thought it was a platform to open my pdf documents, and that was pretty much it. I have by no means know all the hidden tricks, but have been pleasantly surprised every now and then when I discover a nifty little function I never knew existed.

1. You can create your own PDF files from Word.

Yep, that's right. You too can create your own worksheets (or anything) as PDFs. This might be important when sending a document containing format you don't want changed, or a file that should be read "as is". Bonus to this is it is SOOOO easy.
How do you do it? Well, open your finished document - lets say its a Word file. Go to File, then Print. This will open a pop up box. From the list of printers choose "Adobe PDF". This will not print a hard copy, but a digital PDF version for you to save. How easy was that!

2. Extract Pages

The was an instance where I wanted to send a friend of mine just one page of a document and not the whoooooole big document. After a Google search (thanks Google!), I found that you can "extract" pages from an existing PDF document and save them separately. There is much scope how this can be used - especially in teaching.
How do you do it? Open you PDF document. Go to Documents along the top. Select Extract Pages and a pop up box will appear. Unlike the image below, mine also has the option of saving as a separate file. Now that I know this little trick I use this a lot to extract parts of documents - very handy!

3. Type on to PDFs

This one was only a recent find. A colleague found that he could type on top of a PDF. Out of all the people in our office - no one knew this!
 In our office we have mainly used it to add a textbox containing extra instructions to a worksheet. Today I used it to "black out" sensitive information on a document. I am applying to work overseas and had to show proof of my current address. The last bill I had was my credit card bill and I didn't want to send my account number. So I edited my scanned copy by putting an opaque textbox over the numbers and then created a new PDF (File - Print - Adobe PDF) to ensure the boxed couldn't be moved! VoilĂ !!! :D
How do you do it? Open your PDF document. Select the "Review and Comment" tab at the top right. You can select to "Show Markup and Comment Toolbar" or just go straight to "Markup and Comment Tools" and select Textbox. This now enables you to essentially create a textbox on the PDF. The properties of the textbox can be edited (border, transparency, size, etc).

4. Review and Comment Toolbar

After today's success with th textbox, I realised there were other features in the "Review and Comment" tab I haven't used (sticky note, text edits, stamps, highlighters, call out tool, pencil tool, shapes and arrows). A snap shot of there can be seen here. As you can see in the image below I have had a little play already :)
How do you do this? Open up a PDF, go to the "Review and Comment" tab to the top right and have a play!! The INTRODUCTION TO ADOBE ACROBAT PDFs is a good spot to start with examples and know how.

5. Merg more than one document to create one PDF

While in my Google search travels I also learnt that it is possible to merge files to create one file. I have yet to do this - will pop it way as no doubt it will come in handy soon.
How do you do it? When the time comes around for me to give this a go, I will be using How to Merge PDF Files
Refernces and resources:
Maggie DeBaldo, INTRODUCTION TO ADOBE ACROBAT PDFs from the University of Texas – Austin, School of Information, Fall 2006. This is an online tutorial broken up into topics. At the bottom is a PDF file covering the tutorial.
WikiHow, How to Extract Pages from a PDF Document to Create a New PDF Document
WikiHow, How to Merge PDF Files

Friday, 21 September 2012

What better was to explore screencasting but with an actual screencast!!
There is an example of what screen cast is, what programs I use to create one and how I use it in my classroom.
Apologies, I quickly recorded it during recess - you can tell as you can hear the end of recess bell at the end!!

Run Time 4.07mins. Click on the word "screencast" above to open. The file will open up in a new window. Please wait until the video is loaded - this can be seen via the little blue bar along the bottom :) Happy watching

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Miss M is on Pintrest!

Pintrest is one of the most amazing discoveries this year for me. A big thank you must go out to my lovely friend and fellow educator who introduced me to it, the amazing Hayley. :D
The best way to describe Pintrest to those who have never heard or used it is your own virtual pinboard. You can "pin" interesting site or pictures you come across on the web to you electronic board. Pintrest allows you to create multiple boards (ie one for work, recipes, craft etc), follow fellow Pinners (a term used for other people who use Pintrest) of interest and keep up to date with recent new pins.
I have found it to be a really positive experience. When Pinners share, like and repin images and links you have posted you get a little kick. Even bigger one when you recieve a notification that someone is following you! It a gives a positive feeling and confirmation of what interest you. For me it has been great PD. I have seen inside other peoples classrooms, been exposed to new practises and continually be inspired.
Get on it! Feel free to follow me on Printrest! Search for MissM or click here

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Biotechnology and GMO's

In my Year 10 team we have been developing new applied science topics. The current one we are doing is around Biotechnology.

It started with an exploration of Ethics in Biotechnology. Are genetically modified organisms (GMO) good or bad? Initially I posed a few questions and scenarios for them. What a debate erupted. It was great to see students questioning and wondering what repercussions could unfold. This lesson students came out with more questions than I could (or they could suggest); but what a great way to get them thinking about the future and the decisions their generation might have to face.

It raised questions about what we have been doing for centuries. We selectively breed animals or plants based on the best chances for the next generation to be favourable - isn't that a type of genetic manipulation?
Students were amazed at the wild corn - the black kernels (we were lucky enough to have demonstration cobs). Purple carrots have a bitter taste compared to the orange variety we now see everyday in supermarkets and kitchens around the world . Genetically engineering rice to contain extra nutrients such as zinc, iron, iodine and vitamin A as a possible answer to reduce diseases and death caused by poor diet or lack of access to resources.

Our prac is a very exciting one. We are genetically modifying bacteria to fluoresce. We use a gene from a jellyfish and insert it into a bacteria cell using plasmids - see below
We did a run though of the prac last week as a team. The prac was a lot more daunting (and wordy) than when you actually did it. It was such a valuable experience in this case. It made me really step into the shoes of student. Here I was doing a technical prac outside my field of expertise - I was the one posing the questions to the other biology teachers and questioning why or how we do things. Coming in with fresh eyes was a good learning experience for all!!
I gave a lot of thought about the grouping, set up, flow and pase of the lesson. I recognised the protocol might be the thing that could trip students up. Understanding I have visual learners  and students who like straight forward directions I created a flow chart as a supplementary reference along with the protocol. With one student being the "captain" who reads, checks and ticks off the protocol steps on the sheet while the flowchart is up on the board for addition focus and "what to do next". This worked really well, witch the groups on task working autonomously and collaboratively.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Changing Challenging Behaviour

Watched an interesting clip on Teacher TV today on Changing Challenging Behaviour. There was a poster that caught my eye developed by Science teacher Kathryn Forster in the UK. It is a Rewards and Consequences Poster that outlines clear and progressive scale. This is a whole department approach, but could easily be adapted for any subject or school. A thumbnail of it is below. The poster and evaluation form can be found on the Teacher TV site.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Meditation in the classroom

I am currently in the process of getting my Accreditation to Teaching a Catholic School. For this I have to attend a set number of hours of PD. One of my most recent ones I elected was “Meditation in the Classroom”.

I was drawn to this one for a number of reasons
1. Who wouldn’t want to go to a PD on meditation?
2. I believe meditation has benefits on emotional and physical health and was interested what evidence, case studies that would be bought up
3. Personally interested in how mediation might help me be a better teacher outside of school.

The last point may sound a bit selfish, but if you want the best outcome for your students, then you wan the best teacher in front of them. If you don’t believe me ask Hatti….Ok I have taken some liberty and taken him out of context, but teacher influence is important in the classroom
This is a two part PD. This session focused on showing what meditation looked like in a classroom in a very clear and implicit scenarios – like in a RE class or primary setting. It explored the use of journaling, use of bells, finger labyrinths and mantras. For meditations they used the TIME (transition, intent, medication and engage) scaffold.

The ideas presented were good and informative. It left with another problem. I could see how I could incorporate this into my extended Pastoral time, but what about my other classes?
Coincidentally a colleague was trying a new idea in her classroom. She eagerly pulled me in to show. While her Year 8 class was working she had put on some “chill out” music on in he background. The class had a lovely calm about it. She said she wants to use this with all of her classes – creates a relaxing environment where she and her students are relaxed while also being on task and a low noise level.

If you cant fit in the "TIME" to do formal meditation, maybe give this adaptation a go - YouTube clips, like this one.
Search for Chillout Music