Question: What does learning Maths look like? How best will we learn? Visible Thinking & Learning!

I asked my students to write on sticky notes what they thought learning Maths looked like. After our poster was finished we discussed their ideas and related their ideas to our Learning Cycle. The children were able to talk about our learning cycle and relate our school cycle to numeracy.

The Learning Cycle enables me to reflect when planning. I need to be able to answer these questions!

What do I want my students to know / learn? How best will they learn? How will I know they know what has been taught?

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Making learning explicit to our students in all areas of the curriculum is essential.

Cheers Nina


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IB-PYP Inquiry: Relationships with each other affect how we feel and behave. Visible Thinking – Using Thinking Tools and more…

I’ve been exploring making thinking visible in all curriculum areas. Thinking tools and questioning are being taught and added to a collection of tools the children can choose from to develop perspective, vocabulary and an understanding of their world.

One of the tools I’ve been exploring with my students is Point of View. This tool can be used for all curriculum areas, whether exploring a character from a book, developing a character for a narrative, or to solve and explore a general problem. When children put themselves in the position of others, their empathy and understanding of a problem, situation or character deepens. Our inquiry for the first 8 weeks of the year has been about relationships.

Central Idea: The relationships we have with each other affect how we feel and behave.

What lines of inquiry will define the scope of the inquiry into the central idea?

  • Self Awareness (LP Attributes, Attitudes, Skills, Mission Statement, Essential Agreement, School Pledge)
  • How we develop relationships (What is  relationship? What relationships do you have in your life? What makes it a relationship?
  • Roles and behaviours within relationships (Scenarios, Role playing, Photos of LP Attributes, Essential Agreement)
  • How relationships affect us (Good, Bod, Reflections task board/Think board- develop their own)

What teacher questions/provocations will drive these inquiries?

How do we develop and maintain healthy relationships?

What makes a supportive relationship?

What/why do actions help to build healthy relationships?

My students have been exploring the relationships they have in their world.

Example: Point of View: Friendship and why we need to have more than one best friend. My role is to record my student’s ideas and not mine, but I think they covered all bases! :)

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Brainstorm: A good friend…

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The Point of View has been a fantastic tool to help sort friendship and playground issues which is part of building healthy relationships. Young children can be egocentric and developing their understanding that there can be other views has led to a very inclusive group of young learners.

The children have also used Point of View to understand the behaviours of a book character and to develop their own characters and plots when writing.

Cheers Nina

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The year of the circle, cycle or pizza! A common approach to learning, a common language and Learner Agency!

This year the class JD displays just happen to be circles or cycles. Young children make connections quickly when learning representations have a common theme and language. This year across my school and for all curriculum areas we have a common Learning Cycle which students know and use.

Photo 1: The IB Learner Profile

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Photo 2: The Fountas and Pinnell Reading Wheel

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Photo 3: My school’s Learning Cycle which is displayed in every classroom and part of daily teaching. Our Learner Cycle is developing its own look, but essentially it’s the same whether laminated or not. Each part of the Learner Cycle is unpacked with students … and when they are learning they need to be able to articulate (deeply) the following.

What do we/I want to learn?

How best will I/we learn?

How will I know that we/I have learned?

Learner Cycle

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Photo 4 & 5: How best we will learn? Unpacked by students

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Young children when exposed to a learning rich diet are able feedback their insightful and unique understanding without prompting. The language of learning has to be used authentically and lived through daily actions to become embedded in the classroom and students.

Photo 6: On its way… The Writing Cycle in four pizza slices! Each pizza slice will encompass one aspect of writing e.g. the writing cycle, word work etc… You can’t eat one slice at a time, you have to constantly nibble at each slice!

Cheers Nina


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The International Baccalaureate IB-PYP Attributes and ANZAC Day 2015

My school is an International Baccalaureate (IB – Primary Years Program) school. Every year we commemorate ANZAC Day in Australia and I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to link the Learner Profile and attributes of the IB authentically into our curriculum.  I teach young learners so I’m always looking for picture story books to help my students understand what this day is about.

This year I’ve gone back to explicitly teaching  the IB Learner Profile and attitudes. Reflecting with my students on the profile and attitudes when relevant has become part of our school day. N.B. I’m not teaching the Learner Profile and attitudes as I did five years ago when I segmented the Learner Profile into parts and focused on each part whilst trying to grasp what an IB curriculum is really about. If you are an IB teacher you’ll know what I mean. The Learner Profile was initially something to ‘hang my hat on’ back then as I unpacked the elements of a program of inquiry and what being an IB teacher meant. Now the Learner Profile and attributes are lived and naturally discussed by my students.

I’ve come along way as an IB teacher, because I now know what I don’t know and also now know the next part of my journey. Phew!

This year I started building a display with my students showing the Learner Profile and attitudes.

Photo 1– The beginning.

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Photo 2– March

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Sticky notes will now be used to record (as we’re learning) anything which relates to the Learner Profile and attributes. My students have started inquiring about ANZAC Day and our thoughts/new understandings will be placed on our display with connections made to the attitudes and profile.


Once again, I’m using the wonderful picture story book My Grandad Marches on Anzac Day by Catriona Hoy and Ben Johnson as my launch story. I’ve included prior student’s responses to this book in this post. Their Anzac portraits are beautiful.

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This year our inspiration has once again come from this picture story book.

Activity: Two of my students have drawn the outline for our Anzac portrait inspired by the portrait photos in the book. Other students have painted our Anzac soldier. We haven’t finished and have just began our display which will include a grandparent’s precious items she acquired from a visit to Gallipoli.

Photo: The start of our display. A very large portrait (now in base colors) which will have a grey background and painted bright red poppies. My students and I aren’t quite sure how our portrait will come together but it will!

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I’ll keep you posted.

Cheers Nina

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Something controversial: Are great readers better writers OR is being a great writer making you a great reader?

Child writingThis is a little controversial but my data collected for the last three years supports the following:

1. There is little correlation between reading and writing when young children are beginning learners. They can’t always read what they have written.

2. When children start to understand the purpose of writing and the purpose of reading, a correlation between reading and writing develops.

3. The correlation is not what I expected: The research is saying that better readers are better writers, however, my student data supports better writers become better readers!

Any thoughts?

Cheers Nina


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Aunty Arty and the Disquieting Muses Written by Rowena Wiseman, illustrated by Narelda Joy

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Rowena Wiseman has a student in my class. How lucky am I? Rowena is a published writer and is a shared organizer  of our Writer in Residence program, even though this maybe new news for her. I have many ideas for our program this year and one is to really target our aspiring writers in years 5 and 6. Rowena is excited to share that her first Aunty Arty story is finally out in the world.

Jet Black Publishing is a new children’s ebook publisher based in Melbourne. Their mission is to publish inspirational and creative stories for children and young adults and they are donating 20% of the sales to children’s literacy charities, such as the Australian Children’s Literacy & Numeracy Foundation.

Who is Jet Black Publishing?

Jet Black Publishing is developing a range of teacher resources to support the series e.g. write a book review, text structure and Narrative writing plan, colouring sheets and printable classroom posters featuring an inspirational quotes from famous artists.

If you would like to know more, there is a 10-minute YouTube video where Rowena and illustrator Narelda Joy talk about how they created Aunty Arty. Discover where ideas for a book come from and how an illustrator creates rough drawings and turns them into finished artwork by clicking this link.

MP News Jan 2015 (1) This is an article from the Mornington Peninsula News about Rowena.

Book information: Aunty Arty and the Disquieting Muses written by Rowena Wiseman and illustrated by Narelda Joy $11 Available exclusively as an ebook

Cheers Nina



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The Studio Teacher Fellowship Program – WNY Education Associates: What have I been learning?

In 2014, I was given the opportunity to complete a Fellowship project under the guidance of Angela Stockman. I’m currently writing a paper summarizing what I’ve learnt. Initially my project started with a simple question:

What are the key ‘bump up’ indicators which should be on a student continuum?

Sounds simple! Well, that’s an understatement… I decided to start by looking at the continuums we have in place at my school, which are based on Fountas and Pinnell. How could I make these usable for my young writers? Then I started asking my young writers…

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Photo: This student was in their second year of schooling in Australia (Year 1). The student is in control of all aspects of their writing from the beginning. I presented the topic for this piece of writing but that’s it. I’m teaching this student again this year and many others, and I’m wondering what their writing will be like at the end of this year.

My project changed many times after exploring current research, speaking to other educators and most importantly my students. How could I nail down a topic or could I?  The very action of looking at my student’s writing and speaking to individual students about what helps them to be the best learners and writers has guided my project. My paper will finish with a list of recommendations largely created by six, seven and eight year old students and I’ll share those here.

Cheers Nina


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