Miss Ash's Learning Journey

My personal reflections of teaching and learning today

Where We are Up to


Students at this stage need to be putting their work on line but they are not ready to publish.

We are working towards publishing in a class book first.

After that we will announce that they will publish this work on line. We want to see if they choose to alter their work, change or improve it before posting it on the class blog. This will tell us if they consider publishing onloine different to publishing for the classroom.

Hopefully they will then receive feedback from the blog post. We will then be able to observe if they make changes to their published work on line.

4SGK have told their students that they can publish at the AuthorCircle stage so that their feedback is given online. This gives us the opportunity for us compare student learning between the  working copy and the final published work when

a) The feedback is given in class with four other students through AuthorCircle


b) The feedback is given online hopefully from at least four readers (be they students from our school, others schools, parents or teachers.

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New Research Activity


Students are still working on the AuthorThink process for their Snapshot Writing pieces so we spent our time looking at other ways students could present work online.

Our best idea was to combine PARTs with our science unit and ask students to prepare an ‘invitation’ for their team inviting the staff to the three course lunch they will be organising. They could introduce their team, their theme, what the entree will be, the main and the dessert and explain what changes in states of matter their meal will include. Students will be allowed to present their ‘invitation’ however they like; it could be a video, a poster, a letter, a newsreport….

So far, I’m finding that the student learning is not directly improved by the ‘online’ requirement (although we haven’t actually told them they will be publishing online). Instead it’s the AuthorThink process that is improving student learning especially the way students are encourage to go back to ‘working copy’ regularly and the involvement of their peers before the teacher individually gives feedback.

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Draft Timetable


Week 6

Learning Intention: use a picture prompt to write a descriptive text.

Tasks: Powerful Paragraphs using a picture prompt (5 images across the level).

Students select what picture they will use for the task.

1)Challenge-option of choosing a picture with a set task or working independently.

2)Independent– picture prompt with matching written task already set.

3)Support- Using a picture prompt, writer’s notebook process(Think, feel, see, wonder).

Week 7

  •  Author Think Process based on their powerful paragraph.
  • Model a powerful paragraph with students and use the Author Think process with the students)
  • Ensure students have their own copy with correct colour codes.

Week 8

  • Importance of feedback
  • Brainstorm with students a variety of ways used to gather feedback. (Include the use of a blog)
  • Students pose questions about their powerful paragraph to be answered by outside sources.
  • Students create a post for the level blog including their powerful paragraph for feedback from outside sources (Quad Blogging).

Week 9

  • Students reflect on feedback from their post on the blog.
  • Students make changes to their powerful paragraph based on feedback received.


Reflection : Questionnaire/student survey on motivation and feelings towards writing?

Evidence: originally published piece of writing (after AuthorThink) vs. what is published to the blog vs. republished piece after online feedback

Feedback provided from outside sources in their powerful paragraphs (screen shot if using iPads to access blog or print screen shot when using a laptop or computer


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Powerful Paragraph (using an image for inspiration)


Week 6

Learning Intention: use a picture prompt to write a descriptive text.

This is the image I’ve chosen. I thought it might be interesting to see if students are more inspired by a moving/animated picture.


animated falling snow photo: falling snow tree 27488-snow-falling-animated-wallpap.gif
Image care of photobucket
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Updating the Student Blog to support our PARTs


During team discussions we realised if we wanted to publish student work we would need to dedicate a page to each activity and this meant we needed a theme that supported multiple page if not unlimited. We found a different style that we think supports the students better as more posts are visible at a time (rather than having to scroll all the way done). We helped each other to work out how to add pages which we have left ‘under construction’ because we don’t want the students to know that they will be publishing their writing online (yet).

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Creative Thinking


I had already identified that one of the problems with our question was going to be how to be show that ‘online publishing’ is what improved the student learning. Thankfully Rebecca Gage thought about it and came up with a solution. Which I guess just goes to prove the value of collaborative learning!

So our first research activity is to have the students publish a piece of work using Lane Clark’s AuthorThink process. The students will not be told that it will be published on the blog until after the AuthorThink process is complete. If they make any changes to their work from then on then asking them to publish online will have challenged them further than the Authorthink process did.

The downside is that the better job we do of teaching the AuthorThink process and the better the student learning is during this process, the learning that occure between that and students publishing online may be limited. However, by publishing on the blog we open their work up to more outside feedback which then allows a much greater variety of feedback than from one AuthorCircle and one teacher doing the Outside Edit.

The greatest potential for learning may not actually be in publishing their own work but in having the opportunity be exposed to a variety of ideas that came from the same prompt and, having read these, not only in sharing their feedback but in being exposed to other students and other teachers feedback.

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ARM Goals – Learning Intentions


The goal we’ve set in our community is to state our learning intentions before every math lesson and to start doing this for reading and writing lessons as well.

It’s interesting that I was visiting a state school the other day and they state the learning intention and write it on the board before every lesson. I’m not sure whether this was something they built up to or whether they unpacked it but I do wonder whether writing it on the board every time might end up being over kill and disengaging some students.

Personally I like that we are stating our general learning intentions for the week and supporting the students to set their own goals based on this AND their own needs. For example, one of our learning intentions might be ‘to make our expositions more persuasive’. We then break this down with the student and brainstorm what makes a good exposition persuasive. Students are encourage to read teacher comments on previous writing tasks and set a goal for themselves. It could be simply to improve their handwriting so that the reader is able to easily read their work. It could be to use more emotive words in their writing or to make more careful selection of vocabulary (not just any emotive word but the most effective one). Other students may have decided that they can make their writing more persuasive by improving punctuation, completing more work, having paragraphs or writing topic sentences at the start of each paragraph. While it takes time and many students need support, this is one way that students are encouraged to be independent and take ownership of their learning, once all students are setting their own learning intentions it really is personalized learning.

From the focus we’ve done this year on breaking down the learning intentions I can see where eventually a capacity matrix would come in. It reinforces my belief however that introducing capacity matrices last year was not the best decision For my students. Now that the students are understanding learning intentions at a much deeper level and have a lot more understanding of the language of developmental Maths I can see the capacity matrix being a tool they could use independently and throughout the year to record their achievement.

Reading over last years comments I was disappointed and to be honest, quite disheartened, that a teacher feeling strongly about a particular tool being the wrong technique to take with their students is interpreted as the teacher being close minded and ‘blaming the tool’ rather than their teaching. Reflecting on these comments I question the validity of our research especially when the evidence collected that supported the negative impact of the tool is then reinterpreted as being a reflection on the students ability to use a the tool rather than a reflection on the tools suitability for that student at that time.

That’s not to say I feel negatively about research projects or that I’m holding on to negative feelings from last year. I’m simply doing as asked and reflecting on my journey. The fact is that it’s always going to be easier to agree with the majority and there will always be people who judge others for having a different opinion. It takes a strong person to take a different view and not be wavered, not because they are simply stubborn, but because they see something that everyone else doesn’t. And I suspect it these people who have the potential to be the innovators of the world.

So, what does this mean for this years project?

I’ve taken on board that I have to call the learning intentions ‘intentions’ rather than objectives which was frustrating since I’ve been stating the learning objective, the LO, at the start of a math lesson for 5 years now thanks to working overseas. And my students from last year were already in this routine. I do personally believe objective is a better word since it infers a goal that needs to be met where as intention indicates its only what you ‘intend’ to do. Nevertheless we have made the change to LI and if I sometimes say LO I think that’s fair enough!

I know the schools focus was to write learning intention but I think it’s a lot less effective to only state it at the start of the lesson than it is to right from the start have the students reflect whether on not they think they achieved it at the end of the lesson.

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1:World and the Frustrations of Technology


After a year of ‘playing’ with our iPads and now a complete term of the Level 4s having their own iPad there are still some reaccuring frustrations and of course lots of new learning and ideas for the future..



I’ve already noticed how frustrating it is that I have multiple passwords, and not because of security reasons but because different websites and apps have different restrictions (case sensative, more than 8 digits, no punctuation etc). I find it challenging to manage these myself so why are we so surprised and frustrated that the students are struggling with theirs? The school that came to visit us had already started a spreadsheet to record all their students passwords to counter this – students then had to tell the teacher if they changed any of their passwords. This is one solution and a good backup but if we are working on developing student independece this isn’t good enough.

So… I can’t believe its taken me this long to see it these was ‘an app for that’! Of course there is, so tonight’s job is to find all my passwords and use ‘Password’ a free password managing app that allows you to lock your passwords away on your ipad with one 4-digit password. I love the fact that this password is then backed up by email (someone made this just for me I’m sure). If it turns out to be a good way of managing my passwords it will be fantastice for our students especially since it is free!

New Learning – only three passwords are free then you need to buy the app! However for $10 I’ve gone ahead because I need this app.



The open learning spaces are great but make it difficult for recording and having the students record explanations of their own work is so powerful that its been driving me nuts but it took me explaining this to visitors before I realised we could use iPhone microphones on the iPads. Tried it and it seems to work a lot better. Students don’t have to talk loud for their voices to be picked up and background noise is reduced. Just need to source them for a good price!

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PARTS 2013


What happens to student learning when they publish/share online?


PARTs Project – Professional research


This had some great ideas for how to use technology as learning tools including using online polls so students can answer difficult question or give controversial opinions without having to put their hands up.

I also thought it was important to not assume our students were ‘digital natives’ they DO need to be explicitly taught how to use different apps. Yes, they will learn lots of things about the app potentially more quickly than we will however we need to teach them how we want them to use the app in the first place.

Probably the most relevant part of this article for me was ‘Blogging to Improve Student Learning’ and I can see how posting working copies of student writing and asking for students to comment  using the Author Circle would be beneficial.

I do have a big concern with our question in that to provide evidence that ‘publishing online’ improves student learning we would need a comparison group where students didn’t publish online. But that is not something I want to do within our school so really we have to look at whether publishing online improves student motivation.

Technology is a learning tool. At a very very simple level it’s kind of like saying writing on a whiteboard  (in comparison to a blackboard) improves learning. It’s certainly more practical and mor enjoyable to use. But does it actually improve the learning?

So, do we need to change our question to
How does publishing online improve student motivation and engagement?

This would link in really well with publishing working copies of narratives online and asking for feedback.

Our data then needs to be a survey of how students feel about writing. And our questions need to be very specific and possibly with a scale for students to answer.


Do you like writing?        No      Sometimes      Yes

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Why I Teach


Teachers have the greatest opportunity to make a difference in this world by educating the leaders of tomorrow, the students of today. I hope to inspire in my students an enthusiasm for life-long learning and a genuine love of the world so that they are better able to understand their world and, above all, to influence it.

Throughout my life I have had so many opportunities that I am grateful for. This started with my parents exposing me to a range of people, places and experiences but even more importantly it was my exposure to learning that inspired me to continue to push myself beyond others, and often my own, expectations. My sister recently remarked that I live life ‘head first’ and because of that mentality and belief that anything is possible, I have travelled the world and seen so many amazing things and met so many amazing people. When I tell students, and even many adults,  about some of my experiences many of them see these as being out of their reach. I want to change that for the children I teach. I want them to know that they are in control of their future and it is only limited by themselves.

I strongly believe that we need to look after the world we live in and that if we learn to love the world and it’s people that we will be more passionate about doing so. For me, being told to do something doesn’t work. I care about rubbish going into the sea because of how I feel and what I see when I scuba dive, I feel strongly about global warming not because I ski but because of the way falling snow makes my soul sing. If my students can experience something similar (because they were inspired to believe they could) then hopefully they will want to look after the planet too.

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