Tag Archives: 21st century learning

GAFE In Action Keynote Speaker

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Guess who’s joining us as another Keynote Speaker at the GAFE In Action Day…

As Leading Teacher for Personalised Learning at JMSS, Chris Harte’s role involves the development of learner portfolios, team teaching, pedagogies for real and virtual flexible spaces and the formative use of data. He is also involved in the design and implementation of Emerging Sciences Victoria, a virtual science school serving Victorian students. Read more here…

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Put Your Mind to Mindfulness

To all the educators out there… Have you caught on to the newest craze yet? If you haven’t practised Mindfulness yourself, or used it in the classroom, it’s time to get onto it! I started using Smiling Minds in my classroom at the beginning of the year, and the level of anxiety and nervous tension around the learning space has decreased dramatically. With anxiety levels rising amongst young children, the least educators and schools can offer, is a safe and mindful place students can go when they need to escape.

Smiling Mind is modern meditation for young people. It’s a simple tool that gives a sense of calm, clarity and contentment. – See more at: http://smilingmind.com.au/blog/#!/category/background/what-is-smiling-mind

The way I introduced the idea of Mindfulness to my students was quite simple. I showed them an image of the brain, and what it looks like before and after meditation. They were blown away! This was as simple as using a google image. I also had a chat with the students about what makes us feel ‘nervous’ sometimes and what can trigger those ‘yucky feelings’ in the tummy. This was kind of like a ‘circle time,’ session. The students were open to sharing their thoughts and feelings, and this helped each of them feel comfortable, and most importantly, ‘normal.’

I then concluded the discussion with, “What are some things we could do when we feel nervous or anxious?” The typcial answers came up, and then I showed the students the Smiling Minds website. We spoke about the benifits of meditation and how it’s a healthy practise.

When we started our first session, students were settled within seconds. It wasn’t an expectation that they close their eyes, or lay on their back, all they had to do was ensure they were in a comfortable position. We now begin each day with a Smiling Minds session. The classroom climate has become much more calm and most importantly, positive. It’s amazing to see the students who would normally get ‘clouded thoughts’ slowly, think more clearly. The kids are now asking for it!

Smiling Minds is a fabulous web and iPhone/iPad App that follows a clear and sequential program, depending on age groups. Try it out for yourself! You won’t regret it. I know I love it… And so do my students!

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GAFE in Action 

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Watch this space! www.gafeinaction.com.au Details about how you can attend, workshops, dates etc coming soon! If you have any ideas or general inquiries about this event, please contact me at: smazzei@stmhadfield.catholic.edu.au #GAFEinaction

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The Power of Feedback

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The report writing period is almost over (for Australian teachers anyway!) Yipee! When I sit and begin to write student comments, I don’t know where to start because most of the time, I have too much to say! Anecdotal notes (see My Focusbook for ongoing reporting, anecdotal note taking, sharing and teacher accountability), feedback, rubrics, work samples, the list goes on. As teachers we’re inundated with all of the various forms of evidence we have. The most powerful though… I have to say is the feedback I leave on student work.

Using the Google Docs and Slide comment functions to leave instant feedback on student work samples, has empowered my students to take responsibility for their own learning. They have become independent, reflective learners by taking on feedback from teachers and peers. When they see feedback, they crave more! Crazy I know. My students have not only developed their skills in being able to take feedback on board, but have also become confident in providing their peers with feedback too. I have also noticed a growth in resilience. The most reluctant students have become more open-minded when receiving feedback.

Another benefit of using this function is that when it comes to writing reports, all of the feedback you ever left on a piece of work stays with that sample forever! Yep… Even once students have clicked ‘resolve’ and attended to the feedback, you can see how it was resolved and if was attended to or not. The video below explains how to use the ‘comment’ function.

By using instant feedback in the classroom, teachers can create active problem solvers, provide personalised feedback and empower students to be independent learners. Give it a go! It’ll change their perspective on feedback. I promise!

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A Sneak Peek into GAFE in Action!

So I promised everyone out there who was interested in my upcoming event, ‘GAFE in Action,’ that I’d keep you posted with any updates. Just this week, I had students complete the Google Basics Exam and I have been blown away! Kids in grade 3 have achieved as high as 93%. I’m so proud of them! I recently just created a Google Classroom group as well. This is going to be a shared space where the kids who are presenting can communicate and share their ideas.

Children are currently in the process of putting their proposals forward about the different Google APPS they want to share and teach teachers and children about on the day.

So here’s a sneak peak of some of the things you might find amongst our workshops… Along with all of the other exciting stuff we have in the pipelines. Genius Hour, Google Drive, Google Teach… Just to name a few.

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Every Kid Needs A Champion

As a Primary School Teacher, I have the pleasure of meeting so many kids. The extroverts, the introverts, the bubbly kids, the class clowns… And the kids that fly under the radar. No matter who they are, or where they come from… They all need a champion. This video says it all beautifully.

After I saw this, I immediately thought, “How can I be a champion to my students?” I knew there were things I knew about my kids, and things I didn’t. I also came across a post where a teacher asked her kids to complete this sentence starter… “I wish my teacher knew…” I knew this would be the perfect way to be a champion to my kids. And it worked! Give it a go! I used a Google Form to do this. You never know what you might find out.

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GAFE in Action

A little while ago, I mentioned that I’m currently working on putting together a, ‘GAFE in Action’ day for teachers and students to attend! This process is well underway, and I can’t believe how much enthusiasm I have received from the students at school! I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have expressed your interest. Recently, I called an Assembly with my 3-6 students and presented a presentation to them. I wanted to get them excited about how they can take part in this wonderful opportunity! Here’s what I showed them: “> I want to keep everyone who’s inerested in this initiative in the loop! I now have 20 students who have successfully passed the Google Basis Exam. Students have one more week to complete this exam. Once all successful applicants have completed the exam, I’m going to meet with them and assist them in putting together presentations on their favourite Google App for you! Watch this space… I’ll be sure to upload and share some of the things their working on. If you have any ideas about things you’d like to see, let me know! Continue reading

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GAFE in Action For you and your Students!

Are you a GAFE (Google Apps for Education) school? Are you interested in GAFE? Are you currently in the process of adopting GAFE? Or do you have absolutely no idea about GAFE and really want to learn about it? If so, then this might be an oportunity for you and your students.

St Thomas More (the school I work at) is a Catholic Primary School located in the heart of Hadfield. At STM, we have been using GAFE for 5 years now and have changed the way we collaborate, assess and communicate with students, parents and colleagues. We would love to share our journey and experiences with you becuase sharing and learning is what teaching is all about.

Myself and some of my colleagues, are working together with Google, Source Central and the CEO Melbourne to put together a GAFE Summit. This event will be run by the students and teachers at STM, and hopefully some Google Certified Teachers. If we were to run an even like this, with the support from Google, do you think you’d be interested in attending? Please express your interest by completing the form below.Feel free to pass the link on to anyone else you think might be interested!


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What’s The Secret? It’s Their Curriculum

I’ve recently been hearing so much about turning the curriculum into ‘kids speak.’ In another words, showing the children what’s expected from them in their curriculum from the get go! This is probably the biggest revolution in eduation that I’ve heard since I’ve started teaching. It just makes so much sense. What exactly is the point of hiding the curriculum standards and expectations from children? How are we supposed to expect them to achieve success when they don’t even know what it is their supposed to achieve by the end of a school semester or year?

It’s logical to allow children to see and understand exaclty what they’re expected to achieve. Isn’t it? They should have the opportunity to question and analyse curriculum documents just like teachers do. At the end of the day it’s about them. Right?

I’ve had the opportunity to experiment with this concept. My first attempt was last year with my grade 5 students. I had the idea when I was having a conversation with my students about the kinds of things teachers report on when they write school reports. In this disucussion, I promised my students I’d never keep any secrets from them about what would be expecteded from them in order to achieve success. After such an open discussion, I realised behaviour towards learning began to change. The kids became so much more aware of what they expected from themselves. All because I was explicit about the way reporting worked. Who would have thought?

Not long after, I asked my students, “Have you ever seen the Australian Curriculum? Do you know what’s in it?” Obviously their answer was a loud and clear, “No.” It was then that I realised how ridiculous it was for educators to think that children could perform at full potential without having clear expectations about what was expected from them in a full school year.

So I tried it. I reworded the Maths curriculum (Grade 5 only) and generated rubrics with the kids. We broke down each Mathematical area and ensured that everyone understood each strand. From this, we decided to try it out. Children were required to carry out a Maths project through Inquiry based learning. It was fantastic. Every student had clear expectations and knew exactly what they needed to do in order to achieve success. The rurbics allowed them to self assess and peer assess. There were no secrets. That’s it.  They were completely engaged. They all based their projects on their own personal areas of interest. They were able to collaborate, research and understand how Mathematics is everywhere. It really worked.

Here are just some of the benifits:

  • children quickly identify strengths and weaknesess
  • no secrets
  • assess their own learning
  • expectations are clear
  • they can set goals
  • can be used as success criteria
  • forces them to provide evidence of their learning

I’ve shared the document I used with my kids on the link below. Please feel free to use it. I hope to do this with other areas of the curriculum in the future.


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