Exciting Times

What exciting times these are! We are now down to our last days of the school year and the place is buzzin’. The students are all over the place visiting their prospective high schools for February. Most students will be attending the local government high school but others will be travelling a little further afield. One day this week I was left with only 6 students in my class – bliss! It’s a tricky one for the students, though. I find that those students who move with many of their classmates sometimes face friendship dilemmas, especially when trying to balance their relationships they had with their old friends with the time they need to spend with the new friends they make; this can become tricky to do without upsetting someone or sacrificing the student’s own needs. Often, the students who move on their own simply make new friends with no issues about keeping up with their previous friendships. They seem to find the transition that much easier; it’s a brand new start with brand new friendships. Whichever situation a student finds themselves in it becomes so important that they receive the comfort, assurance and support they need from home in order to make this stressful change more manageable. In my opinion, friendships become a student’s mortgage – it’s that big. As an adult, paying the bills, especially the mortgage, is the biggest issue we face, the one which causes us the most stress. Kids, obviously, don’t yet have a mortgage, their friendships and relationships are the biggest issues they face and can result in great joy or immense stress – this is their mortgage. However, with the right support it’s possible for the students to successfully pay off their mortgage and reap the emotional benefits for years to come.  Despite the challenges that lay ahead, these truly are exciting times!

Virtual Holidays

As we fast approach what we teachers call the “pointy end” of the year I’m finding it increasingly difficult to hunt down, and snare that most elusive of beasts – time! I know I talk about time a lot, but it’s possibly the major factor in a teacher’s every waking second; any teacher will tell you, we always want more, we never have enough!

In time we’ve had this last few weeks we’ve been looking at creating virtual tours of our holidays, like a digital alternative to doing the usual boring recount. I tried one first as a trial (this is easily the worst of the class) and the students followed suit. Their creative instincts kicked in immediately and the result was a fun activity (with lots of memories) and some great work. With the 360 vision you can scroll around the image for a great view. Look out for photos, points of interest and read what the students have written. Check out these from Mia, Ruby, Iman and Alyssa (best to ignore mine).

Cross Curricular Creativity

Hollywood here we come!

Anyone as old as me (very old) will recall the old stop-motion special effects in movies such as Jason and the Argonauts by the legendary Ray Harryhausen. As a kid, these movies were thrilling, state-of-the-art masterpieces that wowed audiences and had us mesmerised. Following these early great movies came the likes of Nick Park’s Wallace and Gromit, still created using the “old”, hands-on process, handling and moving the modelling clay in slow, step by step movements to create a smooth animation. The kids of today are probably more familiar with animations created digitally such as the Toy Story movies, amongst many others. This term, as part of our design and technology learning area, the students of LA 14 have begun work on their own stop motion animations: they’ve collaborated in groups to make plans based on the school values; they’ve used their English knowledge to create scripted, sequenced storyboards; they’ve used their artistic skills to make the characters; now all they have to do is integrate their digital skills and begin filming. Who knows, we may yet have another Ray Harryhausen or Nick Park just waiting to take the movie world by storm. Below you can see Mya concentrating on her characters, keeping them simple to make filming easier.

If You Can’t Beat Them…

I don’t want to worry you, but in the not so distant future the machines will rise up and replace us! You’d have to have been hiding in a cave to have not heard about the way technology is going to replace us in the workforce. Some research estimates that around 40% of the jobs we have today in Australia will be lost to automation within the next 10 to 15 years. Already robots make cars, cars can drive themselves, trucks are already autonomous, plows use gps to plow fields…  However, we have to plan for such a future and what better way than to provide students with the skills which they may need in our ever increasingly technological world.

This week we started working with Dot and Dash. We’ve already used coding in other activities but working with the robots has a little more appeal for the students. They are able to construct blockly style code in order to make the robots move, light up, speak and even communicate. We’ll be doing this for a number of weeks throughout the term. You never know, your child may just be the one who programmes the machines that put the rest of us out of a job. Not to worry, though, I always fancied having more leisure time – I seriously need to work on my tan.

The Final Countdown

I hate to sound like a typical oldie, but this year has simply flown by. It’s already mid-October and we’re heading into the final term for this crop of year 6 students in LA14. In less than 10 weeks their primary school adventure will come to an end and they’ll fly from the familiar surrounds of this school and head out in different directions on new adventures. Before then, though, we need to squeeze in so much that 10 weeks starts to seem like way too short a time and I’m sure that, just like the year so far, it’s bound to fly past and leave us breathless as we race to try to keep up. This is the most exciting time of the year for our year 6 students and I’m sure this blog will be busy recording their final journey.

One more thing – did you sing the title? If you did then congratulations, you must be a typical oldie like me!

Just Before We Go…

Okay, disregard my previous post, this is now the final one of the term. Sometimes something comes along and we’ve just got to share it. This time it’s an incredibly talented young lady called Erin. For quite a while now Erin has been doing art classes and she constantly brings in her new creations and each time I’m left in awe. Check out the examples below.

Phew!

“Utterly exhausted, the frail old man gasped for air. His thinning, greying hair clung to his scalp, soaked in sweat. His face contorted with pain. His bones ached and his withered muscles shook in a vain attempt to wring out every last drop of energy. Desperate, delirious and with a wilting determination he dragged himself along on bleeding hands and knees towards the finish line. He was there! His breath was weak and wheezy, but he was there. It had seemed so far – he would soon be able to rest, his final marathon over.”

Okay, a bit dramatic, but it’s still a pretty close reflection of myself right now. It’s the end of term 3 and what a term it’s been. I’ve got vague memories of a movie I saw when I was a kid, where a super-fit milkman was persuaded to run a marathon, but at a sprint. I can’t remember the name of the movie, but I can remember the ending as he collapsed exhausted at the finish line. Okay, still a bit dramatic, but it paints a clear picture. Don’t get the wrong idea, though, whilst it’s been hectic and very hard work it’s also been fun, exciting and very rewarding.

If you’d like to know exactly what we’ve been up to just ask your child. In the meantime check out the photos as they’ll give you a fair idea. Oh, and by the way, enjoy your holiday time with your amazing kids! All that’s left to say is, “Phew!”

Who Am I? (Blogging Task #4)

Check out that title! Woah – pretty deep stuff huh? Do any of us really know? It’s a very complex topic; the perception we have of ourselves can often be very different from the perceptions others have of us. All year I’ve been lecturing the students (“Oh no, here he goes again!”) on the values I hold dear, on the principles I live by and the things I stand for and would never compromise. The only way anyone can get a clearer picture of exactly who we are is if we tell them. So, this is where this task comes in. Who are you? What do you stand for? Do you think you’ve developed your ideals and beliefs at all over the year? We’ve completed so many activities and discussions on equality and many other similar topics, but what do you really think?

I want you to really get your teeth into this task; don’t just give a list of things, instead, say what really gets you going, say what you really believe in, tell us all about you and how you want the world to act and behave. I’m really looking forward to getting to know you!

“On your marks…”

Ask the students and they’ll tell you, the faction carnival is one of the best days of the year – and who am I to disagree? This incredibly exciting day, organised by our awesome sports specialist, Mr. Jones, is always a great day and one we celebrate together as a whole school. This was the last ever faction carnival for the students in LA14 as, being in year 6, they’ll be moving on at the end of the year. The day takes a lot of organising and all the staff take part with specific roles throughout the day. However, it couldn’t run at all without our fabulous faction captains helping to run it. The girls were truly amazing (as usual), and some who weren’t faction captains took it upon themselves to also help out and organise the younger students – it was genuinely great to see. We really do have some outstanding young ladies who consistently leave us feeling proud and lucky.

This year it was the red faction who took out the honours, but the photo’s below are of Olivia, the captain of the yellow faction (with thanks to Olivia’s mum for the images).

Hurdles

Champion Girl

My Favourites

The complexities of teaching are rarely understood by anyone who isn’t a teacher themselves. There are the usual technical aspects of teaching which are themselves complicated: the comprehension and delivery of the curriculum; the design and integration of topics; motivating and challenging the students and much, much more. However, the most misunderstood part of teaching is often the essential aspect of the relationships a teacher builds with each and every student.

Students are individuals, human beings (yes, you read that right) with their own needs, problems, worries, dreams and hopes and they need to be treated as such. There’s a whole complexity of humanity which walks through the door each morning and each individual is worthy of our time and support. It never surprises me that the accusation from students that someone in the class may be our “favourite” arises every year. However, they may not see the girl who started the year without friends and who needs a little more attention and more of a teacher’s time; or the student whose friends have found new pastures and who also needs extra support, a few words and a few smiles to rebuild their confidence; the student who is so independent and confident they rarely need any “targeted” time but who can be pushed and prodded to rise even further; the student with an outgoing sense of humour who can take the jokes that we would never say to a more sensitive child; the student whose desk we crouch at each day to check they have understood and are okay with an activity because we know they feel anxious when putting their hand up in class; the student who doesn’t speak often and needs more one-on-one attention to draw themselves out of their shell. The lucky ones, those who don’t need or want any added support, may view this as some sort of favouritism. But we know they’re okay, they are, as I said, the lucky ones.

I suppose the fact that some students think we have our “favourites” means that our classroom skills, the way we give “extra” support to some students, is actually working. It may be misunderstood by many in the class but that’s okay, as long as each and every student gets what they need in order to get through their day and has a chance to learn like everyone else.