In terms of world opinion, 2016 hasn’t really been a winner, but as far as I’m concerned it’s been an incredible success and that’s all because of the wonderful students who I’ll be saying my final goodbye to on Thursday. This class has been very special, indeed the whole year 6 group, 90 students in all, have got along so well together that 2016 has been a breeze. In particular, the students in LA14 have been so good and so close with each other that I’m expecting quite a few tears as they walk out of the door and wave their final goodbye to each other. They’ll certainly be missed by myself and the school, but they’ll also be very warmly remembered.
Today I tried my first live Skype with the students as part of our Health and Geography studies. We were incredibly lucky that Victoria from the amazing people at the charity Plan International took the time to talk to the students and answer their questions. The work they do is incredible and so inspiring and with a bit of luck the message of helping others less fortunate than ourselves had a lasting impact on the class. Some of the students were awesome and showed such maturity in the way they listened and asked questions. It was my first Skype and I’ll have to admit that if I was to do it again (which I will) I’ll take a little longer in the preparation of the students regarding what to expect. I need to say a huge thank you to Plan International and Victoria for giving us such an inspiring insight into their organisation.
Different to many other countries, Australia’s educational year runs from February to December, which means we are closing in on our final 4 weeks! Yes, very soon our year 6 students will be walking out of the school gates for their final time to embark on a whole new chapter of their lives. However, that doesn’t mean the pressure’s off; as any final year primary school teacher will know the opposite is much closer to the truth. Lately we’ve been very busy getting to grips with an assortment of technological challenges. We’ve experienced coding with Lego, used the activities on the world renown Code.org, created podcasts about the great work done by charities around the world and we’ve been making stop-motion style animations with I Can Animate on the iPads. So much done, so much to do, so little time!
As far as I can remember I don’t think another election anywhere in the world garnered as much attention as the recent one in the US between the Democrats and Republicans. My own Twitter and Facebook feeds were constantly full of the often hostile debates between the two presidential nominees, along with their opposing stances. But the interest wasn’t restricted to adults. The discussions amongst the students showed that this particular election had reached places usually reserved for sports stars, pop stars and friendship chatter to a level never achieved by our own home-grown politicians. The conversations were serious, the opinions well thought-out, and the concerns genuine. As the results came in, the discussions flowed and the students proved they are a generation with their own beliefs, their own values and a depth of hopes and fears for the future that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Have you ever had a great idea for an invention that could make a massive difference in the world? Well, one company has not only had a fabulous idea, this idea will soon be in the shops. Waverly Labs have created an amazing new gadget, a gadget that I reckon just about everyone will want to rush out and buy; they’ve created a language translator that fits in your ear. I know, this isn’t a new idea (if anyone has read The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy they’ll recall the Babel Fish) and that Waverly Labs aren’t the only company with the idea, but it’s one with the potential to bring the people of the world much closer together. If you had the chance, what would you like to invent that would be of great benefit to mankind? What would your invention do and how would it make a difference? While you’re thinking, check out the translator here and be sure to read the whole article.
Last week the year 5 and 6 students took part in the regional cricket competition. Last year we did so well in the same competition that the girls’ team won a trip to the national finals in Melbourne; unfortunately this year we didn’t quite make it. Strangely, the girls’ team was technically better this year than last year, but the standard of girls’ cricket has risen dramatically and we missed out by a frustrating ten runs. The boys also missed out, despite having some fabulous individual cricket players. Check out the photo’s below of the girls (unfortunately I don’t have photo’s of the boys as I spent the day helping coach one of the girls’ teams).
In today’s competitive education market it falls on schools to try to demonstrate to the community what makes them different or better than their competitors. Schools become businesses, competing for customers (I like to call these “families”), not dissimilar to the price-wars at the local supermarkets. This is an unfortunate aspect of modern education, although the teachers who work in the schools generally ignore all this and simply carry on caring for the personal, social and educational development of the children in their charge. However, the competition can stimulate some incredible creativity, as happened at Fallingbroome Academy in the UK. Fallingbroome is just a normal, local high school, but what they produced will surprise you. Check out their video here, but make sure you watch it to the end.
Tuesday was an incredibly busy and productive day this week. The students buddied up with the year 4s to help them with their IT development and showed amazing patience when things didn’t go quite right (as happens with technology). An hour of Science saw the students return with their experiments which they had to observe through the day. They also completed BODMAS in Maths, the order of operations and learnt how to draw triangles with a ruler, compass and protractor from specific measurements. Finally they continued their work on their animations with I Can Animate on the iPads. A busy, busy, busy day!
Blogging has been such a great tool for me over about the last ten years of my teaching career. I’ve spoken before about the many educational benefits of blogging in the classroom (check them out if you wish) and I’ve always been pleased when students take to their blog with enthusiasm. No-one I’ve taught has demonstrated more enthusiasm than Demi. She actually left our school two years ago, but she chose to keep her blog and post occasionally to let us know how she was going. It’s been great to get her perspective on starting a new high school, getting to grips with the work and routines and making new friends. To read about Demi’s journey take a look at her blog here.
This task is all about our recent animation activities and comes in two parts. For the first part you need to explain what we’ve been doing in our animation project. First, write a brief explanation of what stop-motion animation is and how it’s done. You can also mention the app you are using. Next, explain the steps you’ve gone through to practice, plan and storyboard your project and say what your animation is about. The second part is a little trickier; you need to write an exciting blurb for your animation to advertise your final production. Hopefully you will complete your project and upload it to your blog and your blurb will act as an advert, tempting people to watch your movie when you publish it.