My blog has moved

Folks, I have moved this blog over to

All the posts from this blog have been copied across to the new site and all new blog posts are over there. If you’d like to subscribe to the blog, feel free to do so over at

Thanks for reading and sharing comments,




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Teachers and research – the paradoxes

While completing some study on ‘Teacher Growth and Change’, we were asked to read an article about some seeming paradoxes around the idea of teachers conducting research. Here they are:

‘Paradox  #1: It must be mandated; it can’t be mandated’

‘Paradox #2: It must be championed by a strong principal; it can’t be owned by the principal’

‘Paradox #3: There must be an outside actor; the outside actor’s role is questionable’

‘Paradox #4: Teachers must learn research skills; teachers must trust their own knowledge so as not to be overwhelmed by the things they need to learn’

‘Paradox #5: Teachers’ teaching changes profoundly; teachers say their research confirms things they already knew’

‘Paradox #6: For it to work as a whole school reform, teacher research must be woven into the fabric of the school culture; teacher research is contrary to the culture of schools’

…from ‘Teacher research and school change: paradoxes, problems and possibilities’ by Jennifer Garvey Berger, Katherine C. Boles and Vivian Troen, pp 93 – 205 in Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 21, Issue 1, January 2005

Having undertaken a few Practitioner Inquiry projects, I find all of these ring true, with perhaps the exception of paradox 6. For several years, teacher research was woven into the culture of the school and I find this makes a positive difference to what a school thinks is achievable in teaching and learning.

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1:1 Coaching, collaboration and PLN building

This year, part of our professional learning plan offers  a coaching model. A teacher can choose to work with a colleague who takes on a coaching role, helping the teacher to achieve their professional learning goal for the year. I’m working 1:1 with some teachers who have goals related to to their integration of ICT into their teaching or another aspect of their role.

I’ve chosen Edmodo as the tool for us to record our progress through the year. A couple of reasons guided this choice. Some of our students will be using Edmodo for class activities this year, so it will be beneficial to have a number of teachers familiar with its use. Also, I’m asking the teachers involved in the coaching if they are willing to share their ‘journey’ with others who are also involved. Edmodo facilitates this easily by being able to form a group where they can see each other’s posts. So while the coaching sessions are 1:1, Edmodo provides a facility for collaboration.

This then leads on to the idea of the coaching sessions having some part in building our professional learning network (PLN). It will be good to see how this way of working will help teachers achieve their teaching goals, and together, build our PLN’s.

I’d suggest a great start to seeing how a teacher incorporates Edmodo into her teaching and learning is this blog post by Bianca Hewes.


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Teachers starting with Twitter

Some teachers have used Twitter for years and have posted thousands of tweets and gathered thousands of followers. Some have heard of it but never used it. These notes are for some colleagues who are new to Twitter and want to start using it.

So you’ve heard of Twitter, may have opened an account, but it really hasn’t gone anywhere useful. Maybe followed a couple of people, ‘posted’ once or twice and then left it because it seemed useless. I did the same when I started. Twitter is a tool that relies on ‘following’ enough interesting people and being ‘followed’ by enough interesting people… and having conversations with them and sharing useful information and links.

It’s been suggested that there are 4 main stages people go through in taking up Twitter.

So why should teachers use Twitter? Well, simply…

– To be connected to other teachers around the world who share a common interest and expertise. You may have great colleagues at the school where you work, and there are thousands more around the world.

– And because of that, you can develop a Professional (or Personal) Learning Network (PLN) where you can get help and feedback, and provide it for others.

The 4 Corners program on 6 Feb 2012 ‘Revolution in the classroom’ provided a spark for a great Twitter conversation for people following the hashtag #4corners  (What’s a Twitter hashtag?). So if you’ve been tentative and want to start, grab someone you know who uses Twitter, and start following (and tweeting). And when you’re stuck and no one’s around, tweet for help or go to Twitter support!


Wikipedia’s entry on Twitter ‘Twitter Guide Book’

Twitter basics – help from

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PrimaryWall – Web based sticky notes for schools

PrimaryWall – Web based sticky notes for schools.

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Like many others, I noticed a few tweets coming through yesterday with the #pencilchat hashtag. Then more, and more. Educators chiming in with all the ‘problems’ that pencils are causing in our schools – a great play on the negative perceptions of some about the ‘problems’ ICT and social media are causing in our schools.

It was great fun with many comments both perceptive and hilarious at the same time. Here’s a description of how it began. Some of my favourites:

‘”How do I stop my child penciling?” Answer: take the pencil away.’

‘Pencils – what about their CARBON FOOTPRINT?’

‘Any teacher that can be replaced by a pencil, should be!’

‘But each year there are new pencils! And now they’re talking pens next year! You expect me to redo all my notes in pen?’

‘What about equity issues with schools going #byop Some kids may bring pencils that are bigger than others.’

‘Rewriting programs to integrate pencils more effectively for 2012’

‘I am seeing lots of anecdotal cases here, but WHERE IS THE EVIDENCE?’

‘Pencils are causing the re-wiring of children’s brains’

‘How will kids know what end to write with if it’s not specifically taught? How will I ever learn all teh things a pencil can do?’

‘Has anyone considered the possibilities of graphite related bullying? Think of all the policies that will need rewriting?’

And many many more which seem to have flown by – did anyone catch them all? 

And I had to throw one in too:

‘Just spent megabucks on a pencil filter which stops the chn writing inappropriate words. Some get around it by using crayons.’


And of course people are blogging about the #pencilchat phenomenon already, like: Cat’s Pyjamas, Iowa Transform Ed (lots of good quotes there),  The Contemporary Educator, and 10 mins



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The backlog…

Going through that time when there is so much to blog about but because I want to do each one justice, I don’t get around to finishing them! John Hattie’s seminar at Southern Cross Vocational College, IWB Solutions Conference at Carriageworks, AIS ICT Integration Conference at Knox College, TEDx Maquarie Uni (brilliant…). Maybe blend the Twitter idea with the blog idea…. a few hundred characters on each? Gotta get ’em out soon…….

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