Literacy Teaching Toolkit: Foundation to Level 6- Victoria, Australia.

When I find a resource that’s easy to use, succinct with examples and video… I’m sharing. Toolkits are useful as they provide the overview teachers require before delving deeper. Click on the screen-shot and view this excellent resource hub provided the Department of Education Victoria.

Practical advice and high impact teaching practices that improve outcomes in reading, writing and speaking and listening. Victorian State Government: Education and Training


Cheers Nina

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Learner Agency & the Instructional Core

Learner Agency is widely discussed in education circles with growing numbers of educators producing articles on the benefits of building the capacity of learners.

What is necessary to develop a sense of agency?


Emirbayer, M., & Mische, A.(1998). What is agency? American Journal of Sociology, 103, 9621023.10.1086/ajs.1998.103.issue-4

Three main ideas which enable agency appear to be consistent across all articles I’ve read:

  1. Is in the present- the now
  2. Personal experience and the importance of a wide variety of experience
  3. Setting goals and knowing how to achieve these goal

At my last school we investigated Learner Agency and how we could develop agency within the school program. Equally, around this time I was fortunate to be invited to participate in the Southern Metropolitan Region Principals’ Instructional Rounds program. Whenever discussing learning in schools we referred to the Instructional Core. The Instructional Core is: Student-Teacher-Task and Interaction. Understanding the core and using Instructional Rounds protocols highlighted the importance of  planning to enable agency.

The Instructional Core is very relevant to agency. Learning experiences need to be designed to promote agency.

Agency IB

The above IB document is an excellent place to start as it encourages schools to look at their current practice. When we know where we are, we can plan how we move forward.

Cheers Nina

Next Post: Writing strategies which promote learner agency.


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The art of play and the importance of play!


Peter Brugel painted the above picture in 1560.

The painting provides a window into amusements and recreations in the past in its detailed depiction of some 200 children engaged in nearly 80 different games and play activities. Many (although not all) of the outdoor activities included in this visual compendium of 16th-century children’s play will be recognizably familiar.

Source: “Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s “Children’s Games” [Painting],” in Children and Youth in History, Item #332, (accessed May 25, 2018). Annotated by Miriam Forman-Brunell

This painting is amazing and would be interesting to use as a provocation task for a related inquiry. 

Cheers Nina

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IB-PYP Attitudes & Workplace Attitudes: How do you ‘grow’ attitudes?

workplace-bullying-1057606I’m a member of a number of teacher forums and have been surprised by the increasing number of teachers looking to leave our profession. Some of these teachers are still in their first years of teaching and some are very experienced. What I found confronting was… that it is not always the classroom, students, work load or parents creating issues, it is the behaviour of other teacher colleagues and the employment process!

Some comments I’ve received have come from teachers who have been through a competitive employment process within their school. Most have been retained by their respective schools, however, the process has left them feeling over whelmed, isolated and criticised.

Can you build a team environment and promote collaboration when the system of employment is ultimately competitive?

Please email me your thoughts. I receive more emails than comments on my blog and I’m hoping this will bring about future discussion.

How would you change the current system of school employment and is it even possible?

I  recently received a detailed comment from a teacher feeling bullied and isolated. How can this happen in an organisation and world which openly states bullying is not OK? Programs are in place to teach children that we do not tolerate these behaviours and there are consequences. What do you do if the behaviour is coming from a colleague?

All schools have beliefs/attitudes promoted within their community. When walking into a school or classroom these attitudes are clearly displayed for all to see and are crucial to the ethos of the school.

mile shoeThe IB -PYP has attitudes which are essential to the programme. They are: appreciation, commitment, confidence, cooperation, creativity, curiosity, empathy, enthusiasm, independence, integrity, respect and tolerance.

These attitudes are taught, valued and embedded within the school curriculum and should be the ‘heart’ of the school. So how do educators ‘grow’ these attitudes in their students and within their community? How can schools insure and assess that these attitudes are embedded, valued and exhibited in the everyday actions of all community members.

How do educators ‘grow’ these attitudes within themselves?

Lots of wonderings here…but I think as learners teaching learners, we should all reflect on our interactions with others and hope that we have been the best we can be.

Maybe, before we think and say something, we should put on someone elses shoes on and go for a walk. Just saying…

Cheers Nina


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The ADHD Iceberg: Understanding the learner leads to better learning…

ADHD Iceburg

Cheers Nina

P.S I’ve started to finish my draft posts. Thanks Angela Stockman for motivating me to get back to my writing. The new posts will be building on my published learner agency posts.

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CRT (Casual Relief Teacher) Part 1: So what’s it really like? Maybe I should call this post… its not personal!

thB0875SHDHaving left fulltime service (teaching) with the department and moving to a new area, I wondered if I would find being a Casual Relief Teacher (CRT) satisfying. I have the energy, passion and drive but was initially concerned about being a CRT. My concern arose from joining a number of CRT forums and reading numerous and I mean numerous posts from dissatisfied and disheartened teachers.

I’m one of the fortunate ones because I’ve found being a CRT far better than the reviews. The role is certainly different. CRTs develop a new range of skills… and just maybe, all teachers would benefit from spending time in this role.

I don’t have permission to name schools I’ve worked at here, so I won’t. Having said that, my writing is always about the positive influences of schools, programs, teacher learning and student learning. Not being with the department has enabled me to work in different education systems within my home state Victoria. I’ve been able to experience working in specialist school settings, state schools, private system and even delivered some presentations.

There are a number of challenges faced as a CRT and I’ll give my honest assessment of these challenges here! This is not about positives and negatives, just challenges.

The Challenges:

Finding a school which you love working in is a priority. Having a school where you can build relationships with teachers, students, parents and administration staff helps give that continuity most of us want. Getting to know a school, its routines, programs, who to speak to and its teaching philosophy takes away that ‘unknown’ at the beginning of the day. Equally, if that school shares your philosophy of teaching and learning then you’ll be happiest in that setting.

The trade-off… and it’s real! Your availability to other schools is minimised and schools will stop ringing. It’s not personal!

Availability is a huge factor…even at your regular schools. Once again, it’s not personal! If you are constantly unavailable, they will stop ringing. Schools also have to share employment days around so they keep a bank of CRTs.

Colleagues will make judgements about you, your teaching and student management. So prepare to be assessed! Once again, don’t take this personally. You will have fantastic days, good days and not so good days.

There are amazing educators who really do support you as a CRT. Tip: If you are unsure of something… don’t ask the same person twice. Spread your questions around, and I do have a sense of humour. Also, some teachers are struggling themselves, so it’s best to ask the person in the room next door to them. BUT… remember, there is no such thing as a ‘dumb’ question! So ask away!

When you teach a group of students, be prepared to be tested. It’s not personal and most CRTs experience this. As a CRT, you don’t know the students like their teacher does! Schools do leave notes and these are very helpful, but even with this knowledge things don’t always go to plan.

Flexibility is definitely something to pack each day. As many new teachers are about to become CRTs, I’ll keep adding here. I’ve also had some excellent material shared with me which I’ll share in the next post.

Cheers Nina



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DOES flipping reading and writing strategies lead to improved reading comprehension and writing? DOES linking punctuation symbols to movement, colour and emotion lead to greater use of and understanding of punctuation? I’m flipping…

A number of years ago I started thinking that having a dedicated reading block and writing block could encourage students to make less connections between reading and writing. Challenge me on this!

I would conclude that flipping reading strategies to writing and writing strategies to reading does build stronger connections between both. I  also wanted to combine visual and emotional links to explored strategies. Would this enhance student writing and reading? This initially came from a discussion I had with a psychiatrist who specializes in dementia.

The psychiatrist said that people with dementia often remember events if they are linked to an emotion. I already know that movement triggers memory, so why not combine emotional, visual and colour cues and flip strategies to enhance connections.

It makes sense… because if emotion can enhance memory in people with memory loss, surely this would enhance learning for all. Thinking…

Questions, questions and more questions…

  1. Does combining flipping with emotion & visual  strategies enhance learning? When inquiring into punctuation as a reader and punctuation as a writer, will students better understand the power of punctuation to create meaning?
  2. Will enhanced use of visual cues, hand movements and colour/emotion linked to punctuation symbols, paragraphing visuals and visuals for simple and complex sentences lead to greater transfer of each into writing?

FPwheelThe Fountas & Pinnell Network of Processing Systems for Reading became my guide for flipping strategies.

For example: The narrative writing genre strategy ‘Somebody, Wanted, But, So, Then’ was flipped to become a reading strategy for summarizing (Thinking Within the Text). When reading a text students used SWBST  to retell what they had read. Using short sharp narrative texts also enables students to unpack and explore a text within a timeframe.

Analysing (Thinking About the Text) was flipped to explore craft and text structure across reading and writing. I know the notion of flipping strategies is not new, but its worth exploring further.

Something to think about…

Cheers Nina


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