Archive for the ‘learning’ Category

I am learner.

Just as no one can see the colours I see, just as no one can hear the music I hear, just as no one can feel what I feel when I hold something in my hand, and just as no one can sense the world as I perceive it around me, no one can teach me.

No one can teach me.

To read the rest of John Connell’s post go here. So apt for today’s teachers and all learners.





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I was at a school in western Sydney yesterday. It has a large number of refugee students mainly from Africa. Many of these students came from  Sudan. Three of these students, Theresa, Nebol and Dut, spoke to a group of  us (8 adults – scary!) about their achievements since they arrived in Australia.

I only wish Julia Gillard and Tony Abott had been there. Perhaps then they would stop all the mischievous rhetoric when they speak about  refugees…   “illegal refugees”…”boat people” and  “border protection” .

Theresa, Nebol and Dut were refugees. They did not come to Australia illegally. They did not come to Australia by boat. They came via the UNCHR refugee resettlement program. Their life in a refugee camp prior to this, is another story.

Theresa, Nebol and Dut were stunning. They said it as only young students can. To the point. Blunt. Truthful.

They have learned a lot since they came to Australia. Not just how to read, write and successfully engage in learning. They have also learned what it is like to move from house to house as rents increase. To share a dilapidated house with two or more families.

Theresa, Nebol and Dut have learned about taking on family responsibilities at an early age. Translating forms for their parents from English into Dinka or Arabic. Communicating for their families at school, with landlords, at Medicare…. and so it goes on.

They have also learned how hard it is to negotiate a totally different society, with different rules, laws, different customs, and a different language (Theresa said she still struggles to understand the Australian accent because we speak so fast!!).

What they didn’t say, but was so obviously evident, was how each of their families was still struggling with the horror they witnessed in war-torn Sudan.

But Theresa, Nebol and Dut were all in agreement. They love it here. They appreciate the opportunities they have. They recognise the importance of learning, of knowing, of having a future. And they know they still have a lot to learn, and more struggles ahead.

Even listening to their stories, I found it hard to comprehend just what they have been through – and are still  experiencing.

So to the lady in Shepparton who, when being interviewed by ABC radio, stated that Australia should stop the “boat people” taking  houses that Aussie battlers need, I say………well, I can’t really type it!

I will say…take time to get to know some of the Iraqi refugees in your community and just listen to their stories. Maybe, just maybe, you will see things differently.


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Tests that have the biggest impact [on learning] are those that urge teachers to change what they are doing in the classroom.

John Hattie has some interesting things to say about what impacts on learning, based on data he has collected for many years across Western educational settings as found in his book, Visible Learning

  • Do computers and technology make a difference?
  • What about classroom design?
  • Or high stakes testing like NAPLAN?

With the controversy surrounding the Building Education Revolution program in schools, Hattie has found that changes in classroom design don’t have a great impact on learning. Nor does technology per se…..it’s more about how the technology is used, that makes the difference. And guess what? It’s students rather than the teachers that seem to be using technologyin the classroom!

As for testing such as NAPLAN, unless teachers change the nature of what they do in the classroom based on the data they recieve – 4 months later!!! – then this testing doesn’t have a great impact either. His point here is that teachers need to be proactive in using effective formative asssessment so that instead of being surprised by NAPLAN data, they are actually ahead of it and are making changes to their teaching.

As for the Myschool website, Hattie re-iterates what we all know as educators that the greatest variability in student  achievement and teacher capacity lies within a school NOT between schools. So the data provided by MySchool, in his opinion, is not really that helpful.

I was intruiged by his comment that those teachers who make the biggest impact on learning are those who see themselves as making a difference not those who see themselves as a facilitator of learning or constructivists of learning. Teachers who view themselves as change agents regularly reflect on their practice to consider if what they are doing is improving student learning. These teachers ask themselves……

Are we learning this as opposed to are we getting through the material?

 That’s what makes the difference!

Thanks for the heads up on this podcast, Michelle!!!

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Yesterday I visited two Catholic Education Office, Sydney schools, Immaculate Heart of Mary Sefton and St Brendan’s Bankstown. As  schools located in low socio-economic areas, they are participating in the National Partnership Agreement program. 

We have designed an implemented a teacher educator model in response to this program. This allows an “expert” teacher to work in each of the NPA schools (there are 20 such schools, some being system not government funded) to focus on building teacher capacity. After only two terms, I can already see the huge impact this model has had in building teacher and school capacity to improve student learning.

My visit to the schools was primarily to collect film and photo footage for our upcoming elearning professional development program, ESL Matters. What a great experience this proved to be!! Here are some of the fabulous learning experiences I witnessed.

  • a highly differentiated Yr 5 maths lesson with the students using a variety of elearning tools in small groups
  • an engaging multisensory exploration of a Yr 2 HSIE unit, Past and Present, with children directing and negotiating their own learning through structured investigations
  • a group of students participating in a hands-on intensive ESL lesson that was linked to the mainstream program about Australia’s history (their understanding of how language works, at their stage of second language acquisition, was phenomenal!!)
  • a Teacher Educator modelling a shared reading lesson in Yr 3 with students engaging in richly designed, academically challenging learning tasks
  • a vivacious group of kindergarten students, new to English, who were happily participating in a variety of songs and language games
  • a primary group of students having great fun negotiating a moving parachute – so much fun!!

So thanks you to the teachers and students of both schools. Brilliant!!!!!

To the TEs I have worked with this year – congratulations on a job well done. We have more to do next term so rest up!

To Monica at Sefton, thanks for your generosity yesterday during my visit. If your keyboard is anything to go by, you surely deserve a good holiday!!!!

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Go Michelle!

One of the fabulous Teacher Educators that I am privileged to work with, has begun her own blog St Mel’s TE blog. Michelle’s role as Teacher Educator, is to focus purely on building teacher capacity in the school she which  is based. This is a multi-faceted role, a first for our system thanks to the federal government’s National Partnerships program.

One of the initiatives we are encouraging is for the TEs to engage with web 2.0 tools in networking with each other and the teachers at their respective schools. Putting aside the frustrations we all experience with infrastructure for technology, many TEs are taking up the challenge.

So Michelle, Go Girl!

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I recieved a Prezi today created by Nola Jacobs. I love Prezi’s! A colleague sent it to me. It is about 21st century learning. Take a look!

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That’s a fair question that Ben, aged 5, asked his teachers Romina and Nicole.

I have written before about the wonderful work Nicole Kolibac and Romina De Grazia do in bringing out the best in their students- and I continue to be in awe of the new and exciting learning that evolves as a result of their enthusiasm, commitment and boundless energy.

Loris Mallaguzzi’s poem The Hundred Languages of Children is often the inspiration behind the stunning teaching and learning that occurs in Kinder at St Peter Chanel, Regents Park.

No way. The hundred is there.

……..a hundred worlds
to discover
a hundred worlds
to invent
a hundred worlds
to dream………

They shared their approach to early learning with a group of teachers today. Here are some highlights!

They created their own learning cycle (very clever!!) to help explain their approach to early learning.

  • Exploring – multiple hands-on learning experiences across many days are provided for the children in learning centres allowing them to explore the major concept that is being studied, in this case, Physical Phenomena

  • Investigating – using their “I wonder” boxes, the children pose questions and/or hypotheses to decide what they will investigate (because now the children have explored – they know exactly what they want to find out about!!)

Helicopter: “it flies because it has a propeller” Lee


Earth: “ it moves round and round and that’s how we get night and day” Jessica


Sound: “ How does a Lions roar go so far?” Ben

  • Talking & Listening, Designing, Researching, Writing and Making – Nicole and Romina provided a variety of teacher-led and student-led experiences to find out more involving YouTube, Google Earth, VoiceThread, literature, construction, building, joint construction, mapping….and use this to help develop language structures and vocabulary required for future oral and written tasks.

  • Consolidation and Practicing – By making short movies (thanks Animoto!!) about their findings, the children re-visited their learning and developed a greater understanding of concepts related to Physical Phenomena and greater control over academic language to express these understandings. Brilliant!
  • Explanation of their investigation – the children were excited to write explanations about their object that moved, and use that writing as a script for their clay animation. The Clay Animation provided an authentic purpose for writing their explanation. Not to mention that the students LOVED clay animation!

AND they did this mainly independently as most students helped each other out with the technology. Not bad for kids who don’t have a lot of access to web 2 technology outside the school.

If the teacher feedback from today’s Language Features of Text Types for ESL Learners professional development is any indication, Romina and Nicole will be responsible for some great changes happening in the early years across many of our schools.

exciting and energising…..

just brilliant!

WOW! I have learnt so much from these two……


I love what they are doing with the learning…


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