Friday, April 10, 2015


As a teacher who loves maths and loves to teach maths I thought I would write a simple post about some practices, resources I use after attending an in-service about a maths project my school is going to undertake.

The day did discuss some important values to the project, not only are these important to the project and maths, they are important in all areas of teaching. We were asked share a sentence on what these terms meant to us.

Collaboration - working together, teachers, students, support staff and parents.
Inquiry - students need to be questioning themselves to make learning more relevant and meaningful
Feedback - needs to be timely, personal and relevant
Coaching and Mentoring - needs to involve trust, collaboration
Goal setting - SMART (see below)
Evidence based practice - good practice that has taken place and has results.


I invite yourself to think of these terms and what your understanding is.

Feedback continued to stick out and how important it for teachers and students. The following links and text was suggested.

We were asked to think and I encourage you to also think:

How often do you ask yourself:
  • How am I going?
  • Where am I going?
  • How do I learn what my students need?

The following is a small list of some sites that I use and my students really enjoy

IXL: Activities that match outcomes and is available in a wide range of countries. Gives explanations when errors are made. Site and App
Matific: a very visual and engaging site that relates outcomes to real life experiences. Site and App
Studyladder: Each student has their own account and teachers can set tasks that link with what is being taught in class. Resources include video explanations, interactive games and printables. Site
Sumdog: A fun interactive game that involves some healthy competition. Site

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

How can you use ClassDojo to enhance your maths lessons?

It was the other day when a student asked me “Miss, how many points till we get our class goal?” I looked up to see that they were on 893 and their goal was 2000. It was then I saw that same student think… “We need 1107” It was then I thought how else could ClassDojo be used for maths lessons.

Data - A graph shows how many points have been rewarded for each behaviour. Questions can be asked and observations can be made in order for students to interpret the data.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 8.09.25 pm.png

Representing data in different graphs - Students could see their scores and create a range of graphs to represent their points and the members of their class. From this average, range and median could be observed and then worked out.

Calculating difference till class goal - (like the students who inspired this post did) Each day students can see how far they are till they get their goal.

Calculating average for class goal - if you have a set goal of 2000 points, students can work out how much each student needs to get to equally contribute to the class reward.

Fractions, Percentages and Decimals - they can view the information on the spreadsheet, work out what fraction, decimal and percentage of their scores are for particular behaviours. They can also do with for the whole class goal as well.

What is great about this is that it’s information that is meaningful to students and they will enjoy working it out and finding out how much they have earned and how far they are away from other awards.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Good Job - Are we still allowing our children to believe that mediocrity is ok?

Upon watching the Oscar nominated movie "Whiplash" a quote stuck out at me.
"There are no two words in the English language more harmful than good job."

I was dumbfounded I think I say that every day! And it's not just because I have nothing else to say but if they have had a go- that deserves something? Right?

I can't help but think of games when score is not kept or there are no champions at cluster school sports- what are we really teaching students?

The fact is, in life there are plenty of losers, job interviews, dating, game playing, gambling. Eventually children will be learn the truth, why are we hiding it from them?

I know that what I am saying is nothing new but we do need to think as teachers of younger students in particular about the language we use when we want students to achieve better than a good effort. This post is not about making students realise there are losers in life, but what language and strategies are we using when we are trying to push them towards greatness.

I have looked at the importance of feedback- but how honest does our feedback need to be. Think about it- test scores can't really lie but when kids are having a go- we commend and sometimes reward them, but are we doing students more a hinder than help. Are we really pushing students towards greatness? Like the character in the movie says. Of course the character in the movie is an extreme example of pushing people towards greatness and I would never encourage others or display his tactics when educating , training or helping another. However, I can't help but maybe reconsider how I will be more honest with feedback and even though having a go is good it's not always a "good job".

Friday, January 16, 2015

Class Dojo Visit

On the same day I was again fortunate to be able to meet with the great staff at Class Dojo, more commonly known in Australia, Class Dojo is about encouraging students in the classroom and engaging parents. For those who are unfamiliar Class Dojo keeps track of student progress with awarding points for positive and collaborative practices. You can find more at their website here

I used it a few years ago but then found it difficult when awarding multiple students at one time, yesterday I found that this is now a feature of Class Dojo. It was also an opportunity to share some great websites that I use in class and hear about the new features that have been added over the last couple years. It was also the day of the new app was launched, so I was lucky to get a personal tour.

Here are a few of the features of the newly launched app yesterday (some have already been on a while).
Change avatar - Students are able to log into their own account and change the avatar to make it an image of themselves or an image that suits them. They are also able to log in to check and show their family what points they received on the day.
Award multiple students - (Love this feature) By clicking on the award multiple students button, you can then select which students to award.
Promote collaboration - a great task you can set your students is a class point goal and a reward e.g. If the class reaches 1000 points, they can watch a movie or order in pizza, even having extra sport or free tech time would work.
Send pics and messages to students and parents -  With Class Dojo you can send pictures of what students are doing to students and also parents during the day. This is a great feature that parents are loving as they can see what students are doing.
Share classes - For students that have multiple teachers, they can be shared so that each teacher can award points to students in their care on their own account.
Same student profile for multiple teachers/classes -  So once a student has their profile set up the same student can be shared with other teachers so that they can show all points awarded. It does then break down to points to show which teacher awarded points.

So hopefully these couple of tips will help you - the staff are very friendly and I have to say are awesome at giving teachers and parents what they want and can use. Another great office with friendly staff I would love to thank all staff especially Manoj and Jenna for setting up the meet and of course thank you for the delicious chicken salad!
Another office that is always happy to welcome in teachers, so again if you are in the Bay area, drop them a line.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

I "remind" my class.

Today I was lucky enough to visit the HQ of the great Ed app remind.  It was a good opportunity to share what happens in my class as well as the great things that are happening in Australian education. It was also nice to be helpful to the staff so that they can see what teachers need and want from such an app.
Firstly, what is remind?
Remind (in a nutshell) is an sms service and app that teachers can use to safely send push notification reminders to student and parents.
Please find more information on their website
I got to meet and have lunch with Clara and Rachel, Clara introduced me to other staff, including one who is originally from Australia in Melbourne. 
The conversation over lunch included sharing other back channel sites and ways of communicating with students and parents in and outside of the classroom. Such as Today's meet, Google sites, blogger and Twitter.
Some of the questions I was asked included how else would I use remind to communicate and what do I do to make sure such tools are used correctly. Some questions I would invite you to consider.
I shared about ways of dealing with behaviour and how promoting positive behaviour on and off line is essential. This includes identifying their digital footprint, how everything they do and say has an impact on individuals, places and themselves. I included the example of handing out plain piece of paper and instructing students to crumple it, tear it, stamp on it and ruin it. Then try to return it to its original condition.  I then relate this practice to how they treat others.
We also continued to discuss how communicating online in a classroom setting can give students a voice and then you can keep record of what students have said and shared.
I would encourage others to check out remind and see how you could use it for your class or even school. I am hoping to use it at our school as we do not have a school app but this is a cheaper and efficient way to remind parents about notes, change of dates and items that need to come into school.
Thank you to Clara and all he lovely staff at remind for making me feel so welcome and the delicious cob salad for lunch!
Another thing they also said is that they are always trying to get teachers to stop by so they can hear more about classrooms and how remind can help, so if you are ever in the bay area, I highly recommend you get in contact with Clara.