Let’s Get Real!

“When are we ever going to use this stuff?” Yeah, if you’re a teacher a question like this will definitely be one you’ve heard before. Well, LA14 have been putting their classroom learning to use and developing skills they can use throughout life. We’ve been learning a lot about area calculations on paper and took an opportunity to get out of the class. Due to a minor earthquake at school (not really) we need to replace some of the paving and grass. The students have to measure the areas, some of them very complex, and calculate the price of the replacements from real commercial websites. The students need to measure accurately, use their calculation knowledge, give reasons for their choice of pavers and grass and explain the process involved. Their work will be presented creatively in a hand-written project (a strange beast in our digital world) and the students seem excited and motivated by the project. Real learning, using real situations in the real world – can’t get any more real than that!

Below are some photos of the students measuring for their project.

Full STEAM Ahead!

As a kid I’d sit for hours letting my imagination run wild as I constructed all kinds of vehicles, bridges, cars and much, much more. Now, as part of our STEAM (integrated Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math’s) activities, we’ve been using Meccano in the classroom, the toy I enjoyed all those years ago. Meccano has strong connections to the topic of robotics and digital technologies, which some students will be choosing to follow in high school; in fact it’s such a fabulous tool with a huge educational value. Besides helping the students develop their problem solving skills and their construction skills, it is also great for their literacy development. The students are having to cooperate in pairs (boy and girl) as they attempt to read, decipher and follow the fairly complex instructions. The instructions are all visual, the type that Ikea tend to use, but a lot more detailed and complex with steps having to be followed in clear stages. As well as requiring good reading skills, the students have to use clear, polite and constructive conversation skills to overcome any difficulties they encounter. The instructions are very similar to an algorithm and must be followed closely. When finished they should have a great model with working parts and can post about their experience on their blogs, as long as they stay on track and don’t come off the rails!

 

Blogging Task #1

“Go back to where you come from!” Yes, we’ve all heard racist and insulting comments such as this all too often, sometimes even from those in authority and power. The irony here in Australia (and nations such as the USA) is that we’ve ALL come from somewhere else (except for the indigenous peoples). Australia is an immigration nation and this is reflected in my incredible, diverse, multicultural class. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a wonderfully mixed classroom, it adds so much to the richness of our day and is a real example of how we’d all like the world to be – accepting, equal and harmonious. The problem is, though, we sometimes lose those connections to our roots and our heritage and that’s a real shame. I’m from the UK and not long ago I took a DNA test to discover my ancestry. It turns out my ancestors were rather boring. My origins include Scandinavia, Northern Europe, the UK and Ireland, pretty much a reflection of all the nations which came together to form the British people over the last two millennia. Not quite as exotic as I’d hoped for; it seems my ancestors had an aversion to travel! For this Blogging Task I’d like you to talk to your parents (don’t panic) and even your grandparents to find out a little about your origins. Also, why did your family migrate to Australia? Were there “push” factors or “pull” factors which impacted your family and which ended with you sat in a my classroom? Have fun finding out all about yourselves.

Back At Last

It’s very unusual that anyone says their holidays seemed much longer than they actually were. More likely, complaining voices claiming that the holidays just “flew by”, or that they “just weren’t long enough” can usually be heard echoing around the staff rooms of most schools. However, my recent 6 week long service leave (explaining my absence from this blog) seemed, happily, to linger far longer than the number of weeks stated. The Covid related restrictions forced us to remain in WA so we took an opportunity to truly relax. While we did manage a few “mini breaks” in the capital city and along the southern coast, watching the days slide lazily by at home left the impression that time had really slowed down. It was bliss! However, all good things come to an end (so they say) and I’m back in class, working with a wonderful group of young people. Check out tree of my holiday photos, including one of a full size replica of Stonehenge.

Spot On!

Blogging isn’t easy, especially when the blogger wants to make it interesting. Anyone can tap out a few lines on a blank screen, but to make a blog so interesting that you want to keep going back to read more… Well, that takes talent. Hang on, though, that’s probably getting ahead of myself a little. I’ll rewind a tad and start at the beginning.

Why do I blog? At its basic level a blog is a replacement for the good old trust exercise book. No longer does the optimistic student sit quietly, pouring their thoughts, ideas and creations onto a waiting blank page only to have them received by just one, slightly critical reader – the teacher. Blogs allow the budding author to reach a much wider audience, the whole world (well, those with technology). Blogs can be read by parents, grandparents, distant relatives, other students and yes, the teacher. They allow creativity to flourish and ideas to be set free. Blogs allow the student who truly wants to write (yes, we still have them) the chance to be creative whenever they want. I could genuinely go on, but you get the idea.

However, to be creative a blog has to be varied, not just the same style of post each week, and wow, do we have great blogs. I don’t find blogging easy but these two students have made it seem simple, effortless. If you want a good read check out Grace’s and Elaine’s blogs and you’ll understand why I use blogs. These two girls are spot on when it comes to blogging!

Don’t Tell Anyone!

I don’t always like to repeat an activity year after year, indeed, some of the activities I do repeat get changed and updated on a regular and often substantial basis. However, this is one activity I am repeating – again. This year I have the siblings of students I’ve previously taught and, while I was ready for a change, I thought it would be nice for some of the mums to have a matching set. I can’t say what it is (I’ve already said too much) as I don’t want to give the surprise away, but you can check out the photos to see how busy and productive the students have been. By the way, if you do guess what it is, don’t tell anyone!

Fine Examples

The things which make us different are the things which make us great! We’re a mish-mash, a hotchpotch, a ragbag, a patchwork, a veritable quilt of colours and cultures combining to fashion the beautiful community we call Australia. This year, LA14 seems more diverse than ever and it’s so encouraging, when working with kids, that none of this matters in their eyes. There’s a genuine feeling (at least from myself) that not only are we richer in spirit for our differences, but our miniature model of multiculturalism is an optimistic example for all to enjoy. Kids may come to school to learn, but they have so much to teach the adults of the world through their tolerant and inclusive natures. Check out the image below of four of the students in their cultural dress.

Hey, Listen Up!

It isn’t for everyone but I love it! Poetry, one of the greatest forms of literature and one that can bring both pleasure and change to the world. My personal favourites would have to be Pope, Shakespeare and Hughes, a result of my literature degree. Oddly enough, it also seems to be ones of the forms that the students really enjoy too. This term we looked at personification and the students produced some wonderful examples, they also read them in very expressive voices. Have a listen to the one below from Jasmine and prepare to be awed!

So Much and So Little

This is such an unusual situation, but it’s one we just can’t do anything about just yet. The brakes have been well and truly slammed onto our technology. The Education Department is still undertaking its huge security review and we’ve lost access to all the applications and tools we usually integrate into our learning. Edublogs is one of my personal faves, but as yet I can’t enroll the students or publish any images of them slogging away learning all their cool new stuff. We’ve studied the Stolen Generation, the Vietnam War, personification, character analyses, decimals, digital art, played a cricket tournament… We’ve done so much but sadly there’s so little to show you.

Vroom, Vroom!

2021 may have started with a splutter and a misfire but we’re now off and running smoothly with all cylinders firing. The new students have settled in and a great bunch they seem, too, full of enthusiasm, positivity, beaming smiles and a real desire to learn. I’m not one to tempt fate (I know better that) but I think this year is going to be awesome. All our subjects are accelerating steadily and we’ve looked at character studies, place values, decimal addition, The Stolen Generation and we’re even squeezing in an assembly. I think my favourite, though, has been our iPad art, two examples of which you’ll find below. The momentum is gathering as we put the pedal to the metal so if you hear any screeching sounds don’t worry, it’s just us spinning our wheels as we “vroom, vroom’ along!