Government Testing in Australia: A letter from a principal to students who sat NAPLAN tests this year!

I’ve listened to Steve Jobs’ address many times, so what have I learnt? Reflect to ‘connect the dots’, reflect to learn, leave a footprint you will be proud of, reflect to set goals,  except your past, learn from life’s experiences, but most importantly move forward to achieve your dreams.
The principal of Beechboro Primary School Len Christie  adapted a letter written to students in the US and UK and gave it to his students with their NAPLAN testing results.

A Letter to all students who sat NAPLAN this year

This week you would have received your NAPLAN test results. We are pleased that you tried your very best in these challenging tests and during the weeks and months leading up to them. I’d like you, your family, friends and teachers to remember that these tests are unable to measure all of what it is that makes you the valued person who you are. The people who have created these tests and those that mark them don’t know you as well as your teachers know you, to the extent to which I know you and certainly not the way your family and friends know you. They don’t know that many children at Beechboro Primary School speak one or more languages other than English. They also don’t know that you may be a great singer and dancer or that you can play a musical instrument really well. They also don’t know how well you can draw beautiful pictures. They don’t know that you have a sense of humour which can bring a smile to your friend’s faces and make them laugh or that they can rely upon you to support them when they need a kind and encouraging word. They wouldn’t know that you can write poetry and stories, play all types of different sports and have interesting and enjoyable hobbies. They also don’t know that you probably accept responsibility for taking care of your brothers or sisters from time to time. They don’t know that you have travelled to or come from fascinating places and had amazing experiences. They don’t know how much you love spending time with your family and your close friends and they won’t know how much you are appreciated and loved by them. You are trustworthy, kind and thoughtful and you try to do your best every day. Do they know that? The NAPLAN test results give you some very specific information about yourself but it can’t say everything about who you are and what you have achieved. I hope you are happy with your results and that they inspire you to do even better in literacy and numeracy. Just remember that there is so much more to describe who you are that can’t be shown in these scores.

Len Christie Principal

Cheers Nina


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My response to the Herald Sun article today – Listen up teachers

‘HOMEWORK has almost no benefit for primary school pupils, a parliamentary inquiry has found.’

This headline on the front page of the Herald Sun caught my interest today. Something about ‘Listen up teachers’ instantly made me cringe. Homework has always been a topic debated in primary schools and is often instigated by parents. Surely the journalist could have used a headline less condescending!


I recommend parents read 201 Literacy and maths tips to help your child published in 2011 by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (Melbourne) Victoria, Australia. This is an excellent collection of activities parents can use at home to foster learning beyond the classroom.

Document Link Here

Cheers Nina



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Procedural Text: The fun genre… How to make a paper plane!

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My students have been learning to write a procedural text. Using the PM Big Genre Books is where we start. These exemplars enable learners to pull apart a text and develop criteria. After pulling apart the PM exemplars it was time to write their own procedural text armed with their understanding. Topic: How to make a paper plane. Off they went with ‘gusto’ to make a paper plane and write a procedural text.

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Once finished, I asked for volunteers to share their procedural text with the class and invited the teacher next door to use one of their procedural texts to make a plane. The first photo is a picture of the plane made following one of the procedural texts written by a student. My young learners learnt quickly that ‘whoops’ they may have missed a few steps and their instructions needed reviewing. The next step was to write a procedural text as a class on how to make a paper plane.

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My young learners then wrote a procedural text for making a Chatter Box. Procedural texts are fun!School 2014 252

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Have a go! See if you can make a Chatter Box.

Cheers Nina

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6 & 7 Year Olds – Setting Personal Learning Goals

Young students require guidence to select learning goals. Setting goals when listening to a student read or conferencing a piece of writing is where conversations happen naturally about learning. It takes time for young learners to develop these skills. My advice is to keep it simple when introducing goal setting and it is the student who sets the goals!

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These goals have been written by my students after a conference. They understand what each goal means to them and what they need to do to achieve their goals.

I used the Reading Hand prompts to initiate discussion (on the back of their reading log). Some students have now made their own Reading Hand prompts.

Cheers Nina


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Fellowship Program: Western New York – Angela Stockman

I’m very excited to take on a fellowship program under the guidence of Angela Stockman. Victorian teachers have a new Performance Development Plan as part of our teacher review process. My study / project has to be relevant, challenging, inspire me, and provide an opportunity for me to improve my teaching, and share my learning with colleagues.

September: Idea Development for Action Research Project
October: Organizing Your Process and Work Using Grounded Theory Methodology
November-February: Investigation and Inquiry Work, Data Collection, Analyses, and Hypotheses
March-May: Preparing to Publish Your Work
June: Publication and Celebration

Cheers Nina

Next Post: My Writer’s Workshop program and my Writer’s Tool Program.


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The Education Review- May issue: The Education Blogger Nina Davis by Cathy Weaver

I was contacted by Cathy Weaver, a journalist earlier this year who was writing an article for the Education Review.

Not a minute to spare. How much of teachers’ precious time should be spent on non-teaching activities? A new report explores the question and industry leaders respond.

I was pleased that Cathy had found my blog so easily because I don’t use SEO or key words. I write to reflect on my teaching and to share my learning and experiences with teachers. I’ve recently (yesterday) finished draft one of my reports so will spend some time during the next few days sharing here.

Education Review

I sent a couple of photos for the article and this is the less formal one. I’m actually hugging a baby alpaca.

Cheers Nina


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ANZAC DAY 2014: JD – 7 & 8 year old students reflect through writing and creating

Understanding the meaning of ANZAC Day is important for my young learners. Our school has a special assembly which all students attend. Using picture story books is the way I build their understanding of this day. As Australia is a multi-cultural nation I prefer to recognise all soldiers who served for their countries.
This year I’ve read a number of books to my students with our main activity based on My Grandad Marches on Anzac Day by Catriona Hoy and Benjamin Johnson.
Each year I try to do something a little different. I love the simple illustrations in this book and use them to inspire a creative activity. My students wrote about ANZAC Day, with a number of examples posted below.

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My students are in the process of self -editing their writing.

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Lest we forget!

Cheers Nina

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