Monthly Archives: June 2009

Play Based Learning – Sometimes children need to choose & that’s ‘OK’! :Self Expression & Self Choice!

The central idea of our current inquiry is ‘Creativity is an expression of self’. Sometimes young children need to be given the oportunity to play and create. Structured play in an early years classroom allows children to practise their social skills, challenge their ideas, experiement while developing thier confidence and oral language skills.


In our very full curriculum, ‘my choice’ play can become something that doesn’t happen very often, even though, as educators we know how important this is in developing many of the skills and behaviors we want young children to have. ‘Choice’ play allows children to choose what they would like to do. Just sometimes it’s nice to break away and let children choose, create and express themselves how they wish to.


What’s crucial to this, is providing ‘bits and pieces’ for those children who want to create a masterpiece, construction materials for those who want to build, instruments for those who want to create music and dressups for the children who want to be actors. And yes, there is always the shopkeeper, our future entrepreneur.

S5006103 - Copy

As a teacher, I learn so much about my students from listening to their conversations and from watching the types of play choices they make. How they coperate in a group and how they handle themselves when ‘things don’t go their way’.


I hope that this post encourages teachers to realise that it’s ‘OK’ to sometimes give children the opportunity to choose, relax and enjoy each others company. Friendships are broadened as they find other ‘like minds’ within the classroom.

‘Life can only be understood backward, but must be lived forward.’ Soren Kierkegaard

Ouotes are usually not my thing, but I like this one. One of the great things about being an experienced teacher is that I can see the ‘flowers from the trees’. I’m able to worry less about the ‘unimportant’ (is that a word?) because I know what is important! “Hmmm’ that was profound, I must be getting old!  I also know that I’m not perfect nor have to be!

Cheers Nina


Filed under Uncategorized

The New Victorian Kindergarten Student Report – The Victorian Framework 0 to 8 Years : Transition – A Positive Start to School Program

This is a summary of my notes from a recent Professional Development. If there is anything not quite accurate, I’ll apologise now. My day was very interesting, the presenters were of high calibre, and I was introduced to new acronyms, language and information about government projects.

Victorian Framework – Birth to 8

The government has been developing the Victorian Framework Birth – 8. As part of this groups have been developing the Transition – A Positive Start to School Program – underlying beliefs

  • A positive start is linked to positive school trajectories
  • Children’s images of themselves
  • Academic & social difficulties in early school years tend to continue throughout

A positive start to school is about:

  • Enhancing families to work in partnership with early childhood settings
  • Enhancing the development & delivery of transition programs
  • Collaboration – kindergarten & school
  • Developing a consistent approach to the transfer of information
  • Deepen educators understanding of effective transition practices & the use of transition plans

Discussion also included: Birth to 8 Framework for Victoria

  • Aligns the vision of the Blueprint with the EYLF
  • Describes common goals Birth to 8
  • Provides support and guidance for all professionals in all settings working children in this age group.
  • Establishing and giving common language & shared expectations of children’s learning and development
  • Recognises the central role that families and communities play
  • Outlines how to support transitions & build continuity of learning
  • Considers assessment from a health, learning and development process

Transition – Kindergarten teachers in all state settings will be completing a formal report. They will be reporting against 5 learning outcomes of the National Framework

  1. Children have a strong sense of identity
  2. Children are connected with and contribute to their world
  3. Children have a strong sense of wellbeing
  4. Children are confident and involved learners
  5. Children are effective communicators

 Each of these statements is being unpacked by all groups in the community- Primary teachers, Kindergarten & parent groups to ensure common language.

It became quite obvious that the language used and the interpretation of educational ‘speak’ is very different across all groups. The principles of assessment were also discussed and recorded to ensure commonality between all groups. Why do we assess? – List is as follows- This list represents both Kindergarten and Primary perspectives


  • Strength based – Kindergarten teachers see the meaning of this word as different to primary
  • Specific to child
  • Based on observation
  • Occur in a natural context
  • Considers confidentiality and privacy
  • Purpose
  • Meaningful to reader
  • Respectful of diversity
  • Highlights previous learning
  • Builds an understanding of how children learn and develop
  • Holistic picture of the child
  • Based on multiple perspectives
  • Professionally written

Writing comprehensive transition reports is very new to Kindergarten teachers and it was obvious that they are apprehensive. The report is very substantial- I have a draft copy and think it will certainly help the transition from Kindergarten to school and ensure that relevant information is transferred.  I found the Kindergarten teachers extremely knowledgeable.

It is interesting to note that the privacy laws are different for this sector. No information, verbal or written can be passed on without parent permission. For verbal discussion to happen parents will be asked to sign that they are happy for verbal discussion to take place between the school and the kindergarten. This does have implications to primary schools, although I’m sure most parents will ‘OK’ this process.  






Cheers Nina

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

7000 hits and going strong- AMAZING!

When I started this blog, encouraged and mentored by Jenny Luca, I had no idea where it would lead and I still don’t. I do know that my ‘learning curve’ has been epic. Professionally, I have grown and my understanding of  ‘how’  and ‘what’ learning will look like in the future is becoming clearer. So thanks for visiting and corressponding! Cheers Nina


One day… My favourite shop in Paris. Sorry everyone, I can’t help myself!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Journal Writing: Our journey so far…

I always get excited when I see my students writing eagily and with confidence.  Today, they typed their journals into a word document and I have included their typed journals in the photos below. We reflected on what we know about writing and will soon be developing criteria for a checklist which be used when writing. I did this last year and it was very successful. I’ll include ‘how’ and ‘what’ in a future post.





Once again a random selection from my class. We’ve nearly completed two terms ( approx -19 weeks of formal schooling ) and all my students are moving forward. Each journey is different, but I know each student is proud of their achievements. How do I know? ….from their personal reflections!

Cheers Nina

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Student Reflections: What does principled really mean? Preps and a Lotus Chart.

The IB aim is to develop ‘internationally minded people who, recognising their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet help to create a better and more peaceful world.’ Source IBO

The IB Learner Profile – Students strive to be: Inquirers, Knowledgeable, Thinkers, Communicators, Principled, Open-minded, Caring, Risk-takers, Balanced and Reflective.

This post outlines the journey it has taken to get 5&6 year olds to understand what principled means.

The IB states: Principled-‘They act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness, justice and respect for the dignity of the individual, groups and communities. They take responsibility for their own actions and the consequences that accompany them.’

Whoa!’ Unpacking this with Prep students (first year of formal schooling in Australia) has been a challenge. Separating the principal of the school and the word principled has been difficult. In the end I decided that I had to work the principal (school) into the unpacking.

Conversation: As a class we have been discussing the questions below for a number of weeks.

What is a school principal?

Prep Answer: The leader of the school.

What is a leader?

What does a good leader do?

A good leader is principled.

What does principled mean?

How does a principled leader act?

And …it worked. After grappling with this concept, I think (hesitantly) that my students are ‘getting it’.

How do I know? Reflection Activities – What do I know?  The children were put into mixed ability groups to talk about and record their thoughts (words & pictures) about the following.

 A good leader is principled.

How do they act?

We used a Lotus Chart tool. The children and I completed a whole grade Lotus and then  students were asked to complete an individual Lotus. They could use words, pictures or sentences to show their understanding. The photos below show, not only their ability to successfully use a lotus chart but their developing understanding.  I scribed after my students completed their reflections.




This is an example of thinker’s writing. It’s not safe like a journal, new words are recorded and true risk-taking is evident. This is a small selection of my grade and I have selected examples across displaying a range of abilities. Hope you enjoy reading their ideas.


P.S The beauty of the Lotus is, that any of the filled squares can become the centre of a new lotus and be unpacked again and so on….

Cheers Nina

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Interactive Writing- 5 & 6 year olds are teachers, learners & leaders!


‘Interactive writing involves the teacher and small groups of students jointly composing a large print text on a subject of interest to the students and sharing responsibility for the recording at various points in the writing. Teachers quickly record the words that students know how to write, and engage students in problem solving and recording the words that provide challenges and opportunities for new learning. This eases the transition to independent writing by: · making explicit how written language works · constructing words using orthographic and phonological knowledge · producing a text that can be read again.’ Sofweb

Language Experience: This week we had a snowman visit our grade, we observed, measured, wondered and recorded our snowman’s visit. Our shared experience became the topic for our Interactive Writing session for this week.  Group leaders were selected and total control was handed over to the children. They had to negotiate and form their own sentence/s for the first time. I am thrilled by their development as writers. My role was to observe, listen and stay in the backgound. The childen were the teachers, learners and leaders.






Cheers Nina

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Everyday Science: How long does it take for a snowman to melt?

One of my students decided to bring a surprise and new friend back from Mount Hotham. He packed him in an esky,  put him in a fridge and brought him to school. Here he is!


Many of my students have not seen or felt a snowman, so this was very exciting. They touched him and talked about how cold he was, how solid he was and how long it would take him to melt. Student Question: How long would it take for our snowman to melt? We took photos every hour and recorded  how he changed.


First he lost his arms and an eye and started to shrink. He was still ‘hanging in there’ at 3.30pm when the children had to go home. They said their goodbyes to our snowman and we think he disappeared.


The children discussed a number of science concepts and new language was discovered!

Cheers Nina

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Linking Science to Literacy: Primary Connections

‘PrimaryConnections: Linking Science with literacy is an innovative programme linking the teaching of science with the teaching of literacy in primary schools. The programme includes a professional learning component and curriculum units. The PrimaryConnections units span all years of primary school. Topics are drawn from a summary of the curriculum documents of all states and territories. The outcomes are based on the National Scientific Literacy Progress Map. Each unit may be used individually or as part of the full suite of PrimaryConnections materials.’ Source: PrimaryConnections- Department of Education, Science and Training

Primary Connections uses the 5Es teaching and learning model. Students progress through 5 stages within each inquiry- Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and Evaluate.  


Great resource: Follow link for more information: PrimaryConnections. I think there are 19 topics covered with each book reasonably priced. Cheers Nina

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Planning Science : The Sustainable Curriculum – What does that mean?

Today was Day 3 of my Primary Science Matters PD. What was memorable?

The Brief: Presentation to group- you could present in any form e.g. song, poem, video, PowerPoint etc… on a lesson, how you reflect, basically ‘something’ related to science teaching and learning.

I chose to create a wiki for our staff to share their science ideas and needs. Having never created a wiki, it was a great opportunity to learn something new with an authentic purpose and a knowledgeable partner. Will it be used? I can’t say yet. Will I create wiki’s for other purposes? – definitely!

The feedback I received was, that before teachers share ideas, they need to be teaching science. Well, I can’t disagree with that! Am I teaching science?-Yes! Are my colleagues teaching science?-Yes! Can we do it better? Yes!  

Wiki address: If you want to have a peak. It’s only in its infancy, so ignore the errors. When I work out how to fix them, I will.  Hmmmm!

 The point of this post!

I can enthuse, promote and model science, but if it’s not planned and embedded thoroughly into the curriculum, it will not be sustainable. Planning is the key!

 Discussion notes for wiki:

Purpose: Planning a Cohesive Science Curriculum.

Teaching & Learning Outcomes:
Accountable to the VELS in terms of assessment
Embedding – PYP Scope & Sequence
Awareness of the resources required for future budget considerations
Strategic approach towards implementing a whole school approach to Science teaching through the PYP.
Assessment schedule and protocol
Whole School Science Professional Development
Create a culture of collaborative teaching of science, to impart ownership of the science curriculum to the teachers

School Program Implications:
Explore science in everyday life
Engage boys, and encourage girls by using science as a tool to build interpersonal skills
Science to be ingrained across the school profile
Improved understanding of science concepts and applications
Continual monitoring, though analysing ongoing data including VELS ratings, student perception surveys, PoLT surveys, etc.

Future Directions:
Develop a cohesive science curriculum
Meeting the PYP accreditation standards
Science integrated into all Domains
Teachers to develop their skills, in teaching practice and content knowledge
Raise the profile of science
Develop a resource plan as a part of the whole school budget
Explore the ICT applications

 I would like to thank the presenters (Amanda & Emily) for three enjoyable and ‘awakening’ days.

Where to from here? Not sure yet! Cheers Nina

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Primary Science Matters

Am I teaching science? The question should be: Am I teaching science well? At present, I am teaching science, but within a rotating inquiry structure. I’m now keen to extend this to everyday teaching and learning situations. I know my students are naturally curious and will enjoy learning more. Finding the science in everyday situations will be a focus.


Linking to literacy, particularly to book selection will be the key. I know there are books on bubbles, making volcanoes, floating and sinking   and I’m sure many more made up as Guided Reading sets.

Source: Monash University/Faculty of Education – Primary Science Matters Handout

The handout states that ‘the Science Continuum identifies a range of pedagogical purposes, ones that may involve practical investigations include:’

‘Bring out students’ existing ideas

Open discussion via a shared experience

Provide an open problem to be explored via play or through problem solving

Challenge some existing ideas

Share intellectual control

Focus students’ attention on overlooked detail

Practise using and building the perceived usefulness of scientific models

Helping students work out some of the ‘scientific’ explanations for themselves

Collecting evidence/data for analysis

Promote reflection on and clarification of existing ideas

Promote reflection on how students’ ideas have changed

Clarifying and consolidating ideas for communication to others’

When reading the above, the links between the teaching of literacy and science stand out.  I am now confident that I can teach more science within my existing program. When learning about a science concept, saying it’s science is important, so that my students understand what science is and that they are actually learning science. Often, as teachers we come up with exciting names for our units or lessons to draw our students’ attention, but the flip side is that they may not realise what they are actually doing!

TWITTER UPDATE: 66 followers & following 73! I’m impressed by how many educators share their knowledge.

Cheers Nina

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized