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November, 2013

  1. My Journey

    November 5, 2013 by Mrs Hurley

    Recently, I have been extremely lucky to participate in a program run by the Department of Education and Early Childhood entitled ‘Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century’

    The following is a post that I wrote, taken from the collaborative group blog.


    In less than a month, the ‘Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century’ program will come to a close. Of course, this doesn’t mean our learning will stop, nor that I will no longer communicate with my wonderful group.

    I thought I’d take the time to reflect on where I’ve come from and what I’ve changed as a result of being a participant in this program.

    I am a very impatient person, which can be a bad thing in terms of progress, but a good thing in terms of gaining knowledge. I have been teaching for 3 years now and I won’t ever be happy with my teaching skills. Which is also a good thing because it means that I am constantly striving to improve my skills and knowledge to benefit my students.

    I began this program expecting to be taught some whiz-bang exciting ways to integrate technology and make learning better for my students. Was this naive of me? Probably. Lack of confidence in my own skills possibly lead me to that expectation.

    In the beginning (or BTL21C – Before TL21C)
    Here is a list of stuff I’d “done” or trialled – successfully or not – in my own classroom or for my own professional learning:

    • 2011: Ultranet – mostly for activities found on FUSE. Couldn’t work out the calendars or anything the students were supposed to be doing.
      Vokis, Wikis (not very successful – still learning)
    • 2012: Introduction of 1:1 Netbook program at school. Introduced Edmodo, Studyladder, online interactive learning tasks. Still no way to share learning.
      Microsoft Sharepoint – for shared planning documents (Syncs between computers – still only 1 person can have document open at a time)
    • 2013: Global 2 Class Blog (
      Personal Global 2 blog (
      Joined Twitter – currently still building PLN and sharing
      Class Twitter Account
      Mystery Skypes
      Guest speakers via Skype (Teacher in Japan while we were studying Asia)
      Monster Global Project – worked with a class in New Zealand on our descriptive writing
      Sporadic use of Evernote for anecdotal evidence on students
      Attending TeachMeets – which I wouldn’t know about if not for Twitter!

    Just from looking at that list, I really like that it gets bigger each year. Not only with the activities listed but also my understanding and successful implementation.

    As a result of joining TL21C, here is what I’ve learnt:

    • Google+ Community
    • Google Hangouts – within the classroom and for personal use (Education Book Club, Planning with TL21C Group)
    • Importance of building PLN – continuing to do this every day
    • Google Docs – encouraging collaboration with students
    • Google Apps for Education – Have sought permission from leadership team and am in the process of setting up and organising for whole school implementation. I still can’t believe that they’re actually letting me be in charge of this!

    I still have many goals for technology integration in the classroom (such as Minecraft) but I’m also the type of person who bites off more than they can chew so I think I’ll focus on GAfE implementation for now.


    What have you trialled in your own classroom? Have you set up Google Apps for Education with your own school (or have some knowledge about it)? Please share your own experiences!

  2. Holistic Writing

    November 2, 2013 by Mrs Hurley

    Recently, I have been lucky enough to attend a 2 day Professional Development opportunity run by Ann Angelopolous about her writing model.

    Teaching writing is something that I’ve never been great at. Yes, in my placements at uni I was exposed to a number of different programs, but in all of my placements I’d never been given the chance to actually come up with a writing program. Nor did I ask! I didn’t know any better and it’s not something I really thought about. Kids could just write, couldn’t they? All my job was, was to teach them the different genres, wasn’t it?

    It became very apparent when I started teaching my own class and this year particularly, that no, kids could not ‘just write’.

    What has really sold me on the writing model is clear progress shown by students in such a short amount of time. Ann’s most reluctant writers, who would write 2 sentences in an hour in barely legible handwriting could now write 2 pages of quality writing that followed a correct structure in the most beautiful handwriting! Don’t get me wrong, I know that handwriting isn’t everything but when I still have 11 and 12 year old’s in my class who have to read their writing to me because it’s scribble on the page (and even they struggle!) then handwriting becomes important.


    How are these reluctant writers achieving so much in such little time? Well, a combination of different reasons but here are the reasons why I think:

    1. All writing from the beginning of the year is broken down to sentence level and explicitly taught. Simple, compound and complex sentences are explored.

    2. Writing devices are explicitly taught. Students know what the difference between a simile and metaphor is and can tell you what Power of Three is AND use them all in their writing.

    3. Students write every day and have achievable goals – For example, today we are all writing the orientation of our piece. Achievable for all!

    4. Vocabulary is differentiated and a list is provided for all students – brainstormed by the students and added to by the teacher. Maybe there are particular words you’d like your students to include? Maybe you want to expand the vocabulary of your more able students? Providing a vocabulary list also helps with the spelling of words which takes the pressure off those less able students.

    5. And most importantly, you don’t teach Persuasive text for a whole term in preparation for NAPLAN!! The Writing Model is all about teaching kids to be storytellers and writersnot teaching them how to write particular genres.


    There are a couple of essentials for each writing lesson (unit?) See, instead of expecting kids to write something new every day, after the introduction and vocabulary brainstorm and all, you should have a complete writing piece about every week. Each writing piece should include;

    • Pre-writing strategy: What will you focus on this week? Practising similes and metaphors?
    • Supportive stimulus
    • Supportive plan: include your expectations for each section of the text. What needs to be in there? Approximately how many sentences?
    • Supportive text: Give examples! Write one yourself!
    • Supportive vocabulary
    • Share time throughout


    I’m really looking forward to implementing the strategies that I’ve been taught and I am looking forward to improving the writing quality of my students.


    What framework do you use for writing? How did you get taught to teach writing? How do you raise expectations of your students’ writing?


  3. Sat Chat: Blogging

    November 2, 2013 by Mrs Hurley

    The following is a Storify that I created from the Twitter chat on Saturday, November 2 2013. The hashtag is #satchatoc and the chat occurs every Saturday morning at 10:30am AEDT. The topic for today’s chat was ‘blogging’ – something that I have become extremely interested in, in the past year.

    There were some great side conversations happening in the chat too! Thanks to everyone involved. Don’t forget to check out all blogs mentioned – some great learning from there. And those who have yet to start a professional blog, I know you’ll be inspired after today’s chat. Good luck!

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