Home learning

I’m a teacher. I can tell you from experience that forcing a child to learn is fruitless. All this does is stress you out and the child. In the end both you and the child will see learn as a chore and not what it should be an enjoyable journey. Learning should take place naturally when there is curiosity and wonder.

The best times are those teachable moments, those moments when a child shows an interest in something, anything. While you have their attention it is then that you are able to teach them to read and comprehend, do math equations, draw, build or cook because they are curious about the subject.

They want to learn, they are interested. When their curiosity fades the learning should stop until next time. When curiosity is apparent learning can last for hours and the recall of information is embedded into long-term memory. When learning is a struggle the learning is lost quickly.
So enjoy you child and learn with them when they are ready. Don’t worry about the worksheets and activities, they will get done. They are ideas for later. Get your child interested in learning with you. Get to know them, let them get to know you. Above all else have fun. Learning should be enjoyable not a chore.


Other mini projects

To help me to know if my students were up for the challenge of project/ challenge based learning I started with mini projects.

I used math as my base for the mini projects. The first project dealt with the concepts of money. We needed to understand giving change and adding money amounts. To do this I chose to use a pizza restaurant s my project base. The details of the project were that the students were to create an online pizza restaurant presence. The online shop was to have a name, a slogan, and a menu for customers to choose from. Once this was set up students were given an amount of money. They were to visit a restaurant, order and pay for a meal. The owner of the restaurant was to process the order and give change to the customer.

Students learnt the skills of adding and subtracting money using real world examples. When we reflected on our process and skills it was interesting to note that the students noted the real world links to the project, such as creating menus, dealing with customers and understanding how to give change.

Creating a garden

Our next project will involve the grounds keeper talking to us about developing a garden bed in the school. We will be helping him to plan this.

Stay tuned for the outcome of this project.

The students and I learn alot through this project. I learnt that this project was a lot bigger than I first believed. The students discovered that designing a garden involved a lot of work Just to plan it.

The students began to realise where math is used in real life. They have enjoyed the real life application of math, in particular measurement.

The students also realised that using a tape measure is not as easy as it seems. They didn’t realise that they all could get different measurements. Upon reflection they realised that they needed to cheek their measurements by measuring twice and paying attention to the tape. They discovered that a longer tape measure was more accurate.

In the end they were able to accurately design a nice garden site, that included planting diagrams and a watering system.

Thanks for joining me for another up date.


Mantle of the expert journey

This is another of my ventures in my classroom. A little while ago a colleague asked me if I would be interested in the mantle of the expert. At this time I had no idea what he was talking about. He showed me a book I could read if I was interested and then left me with it.

I started to read “The Mantle of The Expert” and the more I read the more interested I was in this process. A few weeks later my colleague and I met up again. I began to question him in relation to this concept. The more we talked the more I wanted to try this out. It sounded like a very exciting and engaging way to introduce topics to the students and get them engaged.

The simple explanation for this process is that we harness the students ability to play. We recognise that students often pretend to be adults when at play. Mantle of the expert capitalises in this concept by introducing students to the world of the adult under the umbrella of being experts in a given field. In our mantle of the experts the students have been employed as a development animation team. They are to create an animated advertisement for the book Rowan of Rin by Emily Rodda.

I decided to give no warning of what was happening. I turned up to pick up the students in role as a recruitment HR personnel. Who invited the students into a group employment information session. I had set up my classroom with the chairs in rows and moved the tables to the back of the room. When I spoke to the students I treated them as adults ie calling them ma’am and sir. As the HR personnel I gave a quick run down of the company and the reason they were there.

The students were confused at first as this is not what they would have ever expected from me. I gave out employment application forms to those that were interested in being part of the company. Those who chose not to be, I had other work for them to go on with until they decided to be part of the game. (which they eventually did)

I came out of role to explain to the students we were pretending but would have a real job to do. We set about developing the rules for the game. At this point I took on an advisory role so the students could take ownership for most of the game.

My colleague and I met to discuss the first session. We were team teaching this from two different aspects. Mine was from the content and company and his was the arts professional development. We discovered the lack of organisation and group management skills the students had. You could be forgiven to think that students in year 4 would be able to organise themselves and manage a group, had they not been doing this in rotations activities else where in the classroom for the past 3 years?

Once past the social justice, group management and time management skills we are now onto the nitty gritty of the mantle, the commission or job. The students will be introduced to the task they must perform. We chose to use another staff member to help us out with being the face of the client. They will pop in from time to time to get an up date on our progress.

Stay tuned for more on our mantle as we progress.

Thanks Tammie

Another week of mantle.

The students recieved the comission for their first job. The way that I set this up was I organised with another coolleague to deliver a letter from another company to the secertary of our company. The secartary opened and read the letter. I also organised with the same colleague to have copies of the letter ready for each section of our company.

Each group got a copy of the letter and examined it in accordance with their groups prospctive. They then got to work on the Professional Development needed by their group. I took on the role of creative consultant and trainer. I would in hindsight got some of the team leaders to seek out Professional development for their team.

I have been reading about habits of the mind and realised that these habits along with mindseting are very important to the process of mantle of the expert. Without these this process could fall flat. These habits and mindsets provide for a rich experience for both the student and the teacher.

Thanks for joining me for another update.


Another week of mantle of the expert. We have moved to working on the skills needed to compete the commission. What is expected, deadlines and organising the workloads in the project groups.

The groups are finding it challenging to organise themselves and work productively. We have introduced a work diary where the team leader writes notes of the achievements of the group. This is then fed back to the group in a staff meeting. We discuss ways forward and impending deadlines.

We have modelled what happens when a team is ineffective. This was very powerful for the students to see the frustration of others when they are not doing their job. We also watched a YouTube video called the cart. This showed the different types of people in an ineffective team and the impact they have on the overall performance of the team.

We have set up a calendar of events so that everyone knows when things are due and what is coming up. The students are responsible for making sure the events are up to date and they are consistently checking the calendar.

Students have been advised to report unsatisfactory work ethics to ‘HR’ via email. This is then investigated and discussed. This has seen the students take the mantle more seriously and understand the real life implications.

Thanks for joining me for another update.

Another week of mantle

This week seen some unrest in the company with the impending visit from the commission author. The students realised they were behind and could not see a way to resolve the issue. We had s staff meeting to discuss the issues and come up with a solution. It was discovered that some teams had created a competition for their part of the process. They discovered that this was holding up the rest of the company. They discussed what could be done. This resulted in a new department being created. The animaters. The groups started to work together instead of as separate entities.

It was hard to stand back and let the students fail, knowing what they needed to do. However after allowing this to happen it was more powerful for them. They were able to use problem solving, critical thinking and higher order thinking to look at the issues and arrive at a possible solution.

In one of our episodes the power went out. It was interesting to see the students cope with this. It meant they needed to work on the paperwork. They all decided to help out the storyboarders. This moved the project along.

Thanks for joining me for another update.


Another week of Mantle.

After the power went out and the impending visit from the author of the commission, the students have begun to look at the problems, issues and goals of the company and work groups differently. They have begun to see how they have been unsuccessful and are now trying new ways to meet the goals and expectations of the mantle. They have realised that each group is not able to work in isolation but rather as parts of a large group. They are slowly beginning to re-organise themselves and communicate in other ways.

Thanks for joining me for another up date.


Another week of mantle.

The commission has really taken off this week. We have made a lot of progress. One of the groups have split in two. They decided they needed animators as well as Model creators.

The story boards have begun to communicate more with the modellers and animators. They have realised that they need to add more detail to their storyboards.

Having the team leaders feedback to the class about their progress for the day and Where they are going next has been very powerful. This has sparked discussion amongst the class to assist each group when they are having issues. The development of a shared calendar has helped the groups with deadlines and Knowing when they are scheduled to meet with HR.

Thanks for joining me for another up date.


Another week of mantle.

The mantle is drawing to a close. Most of the work has been done on the sample animation. The students are feeling very proud of their work and the effort they have put in.

The students have asked to take the project an other step further by producing an advertisement for their animation.

Thanks for joining me for another up date.


The end at the mantle.

The students finished polishing their work and presented it to the Commissioner. They were very pleased with the out come. They were also able to produce a draft of a trailer for the animation.

They used students from the class to play the characters added music and dramatic effect. The draft was very impressive. what was more impressive was the way the students took control of their own learning. They required no prompting from me and could articulate the features used in the trailer and why they used them. Very little explicit teaching was required.

Are we dropping the ball

I recently attended a myth busters show. I was inspired by comments made by Adam when he was telling the audience about how he learned to juggle. This caused me to reflect on what I do as a teacher and péhaps we all do.
As Adam was regailing us all with this story it occurred to me that perhaps we are not doing the best for our kids in the classroom. Adam explained the process he under went learning to juggle. He would spend hours practising to perfect his skill, much to his parents chagrin. He explained that the dropping of the sacks was all his parents heard. They knew though that everytime he dropped them he was learning something, they left him to work it out. Eventually he was able to throw two sacks in the air and catch them. He then added a third. All the while following the instructions given to him. He told us how no matter how many times he did this he persevered until it was confident and bored with what he was doing. He then used what he had learnt in a new way to make it entertaining. He realised that this is an excellent way to learn and that from that point on he learnt the basics and found a way to apply this to other situations.
It was this insight that got me thinking. How many times do we give students only one opportunity to perfect a skill? How many times do we move on before students have grasped the basics?
Do we celebrate the small steps and improvements in all students?
Are we encouraging students to use their knowledge in other ways or how to apply their thinking to other areas?
Do we tell our students its ok to not get it right the first time and this is normal?
I remember my son coming to me one day very upset because he was trying to create a paper mache figure. He was having trouble getting it to look right. His issue was that this was the first time he had tried and he felt it was not perfect the way he had seen me do it. He said,’But mum when ever you do anything it works out perfect every time you never fail’ No matter what I said to him he didn’t understand that the process he was going through was normal. He couldn’t understand that I had a lot of practice to get it right. He had not seen this and thought I just got it right first time everytime. From that point on I made a consious effort to show him that I do make mistakes and I do practise. I also do this in my classroom.