Monthly Archives: January 2012

My Prep and Buddy Grade: Thinking about our new garden!

Last year my Preps had buddies in a 3/4 grade, and this  program will be continuing for my new Preps this year. The younger children welcome having an older child in the yard who is there to ‘drop in’ and check they’re enjoying their play time. This didn’t need to be structured by my buddy grade teacher or I, as the older children take on this role, after discussions with their teacher about the important role they have as a Prep buddy.

Our garden has been an important part of the buddy program. We grew vegetables throughout 2011 and when ready the children picked the produce for a food preparation – cooking activity.

Our last garden activity was during the last week of term. Each child made their own salad sandwich. Not pretty, but they loved making them. It amazed me that young children who often reject salad loved making their sandwich and ate everything. N.B Some of my 5 & 6 year olds had never made a sandwich! I think they will now….


Cheers Nina

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A different kind of post! Morning Of The Earth – the movie turns 40.

Last weekend I went to the Drive In (we have a few left in Australia) to see the film Morning Of The Earth with the sound track performed live.

What was the surfing scene like 40 years ago? Surfers did not have to wear leg ropes. Michael Peterson was the current Australian champion and Bali took off as a surf destination for many surfers. Let’s go back!

Morning of the Earth LIVE will bring together a veritable who’s who of Australia’s musicians to breathe new life into this classic soundtrack. Featuring Brian Cadd, Mike Rudd, Lior, and more.

Albe Falzon said; “Morning of the Earth has stood the test of time and perhaps is more important today in view of the increased number of people on the planet and the demands they are having on its resources and eco systems. We need more than ever to be reminded of this fragile system we have inherited and to a certain extent Morning of the Earth is a reminder that we are all truly responsible for our decisions and actions. It is important that we individually and collectively embody those qualities that will ensure that we live a sustainable life, not one based on over production and over consumption but one based on sensitivity to all life and on all levels on this Earth. Morning of the Earth reflects in a simple way how we can endure and sustain and enjoy our life here and leave a small footprint and a better world in our passing.”  (Press Release)

My favourite song and what a night!

And this one too….

Cheers Nina

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Nina Davis: Teaching & Learning in Australia

Respect:  What is it? How do we show it? Why do we need it? When do we use it? We have been looking at our school attitudes. One of our attitudes is respect and today we started unpacking what it is and how we show respect in our actions. We’ve talked about respect many times and used the word many times but we haven’t focussed on it specifically. The children worked in small groups to converse, collaborate and record their collective thoughts. Large sheets and textas were provided for the children to record ideas. Large sheets allow young children to have room to stand and work together.

After the groups were given time to brainstorm and record, each group shared their ideas with the class. Ideas were then noted as a class mind map. This helps the children organise their thoughts so they can clearly see how their ideas connect to each other. We then matched…

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Nina Davis: Teaching & Learning in Australia

Why? & When?

Last year, I decided to develop editing criteria with the children to provide them with a checklist to support their editing efforts. Editing should become a natural part of writing, not a completely teacher driven and controlled process. Writing is a process and there are many models used by teachers. I’ve discovered developing criteria with older and now younger children works best. It’s about handing over the responsibility to the learner.

Having developed criteria with older children, I decided to use the same process with my younger students. I’ve heard teachers talking about ‘dumbing down’ things. It’s not ‘dumbing down’, it’s making teaching and learning relevent the learner’s needs. The children have nearly finished three/quarters of their first year of formal schooling  i.e. half way through 2nd semester for international readers. They know a lot about writing, can write, can read and understand and use simple punctuation and audience. These initial concepts need to…

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Nina Davis: Teaching & Learning in Australia

Unpacking the International Baccalaureate Learner Profile and attitudes with Prep children (5 and some 6 Year Olds) is ongoing. I’ve been using all opportunities within and outside the Programme of Inquiry to unpack the Learner Profile and attitudes in context. Young children need context to ensure meaning.

This week we have had Kym Lardner, an Australian author visit our students. I have been introducing Kym’s stories to the children. Kym’s books relate well to the Learner profile and attitudes. Our favourite book is The Naked Penguin. This story is about accepting difference.

Linking the Learner Profile: Risk Takers, Caring, Open-minded, Thinkers
Linking the Attitudes: Respect, Tolerance, Empathy and Appreciation

After reading this story many times, the children and I selected the attitudes related to this story. They could relate these attitudes to the text. I’m impressed! We’ve been talking and living these attitudes for a while. It takes time…

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Sometimes, we’ve just got to have fun! Christmas Prep (5&6 Year Olds) Activities 2011…. A little bit late!

December is hectic in Australian schools. Christmas activities start on the first of December and are linked to the curriculum. My Preps are ready to move on to the next year level with all assessments completed. Christmas craft is something we all enjoy.

Our first activity is the class advent calendar. The children paper fold little pouches and these are numbered. Each day a child is selected to pull a name out of a jar.  The child who has their name taken out removes a card from the date pouch, writes their name on the back of the Christmas tag and places it on our Christmas tree. They love this activity.

The Advent Calendar Christmas Tree.

Our snowman …. and so cute. These are easily constructed by this age group. It’s summer in Australia and the children understand this.These were made by the children as part of their Visual arts program. Our Visual Art’s teacher provides our students with an exceptional program.

The ‘please stop here’ Santa sign which will be put into the front lawns of my student’s homes.

Our Christamas stars – beautiful!

Reindeer Candy Canes: A striped square is colored and rolled corner to corner. A nose and eyes are glued on with a Christmas pipe-cleaner twisted and bent into reindeer antlers.

Our Christmas bags: Each child has a large Christmas bag to put their decorations in and for safe transport home. Each side is decorated. The little stars are punched out using Christmas hole punches.

The Christmas tree cut out: The children stick patterned  paper on the back of their trees which become baubles and a painted gold star is added to the top.

Painted gold wooden decorations, rainbow florist wire hangers and a jewel.

These Christmas trees and Santas were made by children in our 3/4 buddy grade. The detail and construction is amazing.


The bag, packed and ready to go home!

Cheers Nina


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2011 – Me, Australian teacher, the constructivist, learner, seeker of answers and maker of questions – One year on….

And there goes another year! I’ve had many emails and best wishes from colleagues locally, across Australia and globally. The end of the school year in Australia is frantic with not enough hours in the day to get everything done. Hence, my lack of posts….

I hope everyone who reads my blog has had a wonderful year and put a ‘feather in the back of a colleague so they can fly’…. and have been ‘courageous’. (Anthony Semann)

I find it interesting that so many people read this post each year and look forward to my reflections of ‘my year that was’. 2011 has been my year of challenge, watching my son navigate his final year of school, and for a constructivist and IB educator, I question the purpose of these final years. Jenny Luca wrote an excellent post airing her thoughts. Well written Jenny! And just so you all know I have ‘dibs’ on 2012, it’s my year, but I’m happy to share!

As a constructivist I can look back, learn from, move forward, improve, and re-learn. Experiences (good and not so good) are gifts and should be treated as such. Experience and constructive feedback is important for educators, for people and for the children we teach. Admitting you don’t always have the answers and exploring to find answers is part of education and life. Being a learner is important to me, as it allows for foibles and that’s important.

The world lost a ‘new age philosopher’ this year in Steve Jobs. I’ve read much about his life and have selected the following quote…. Reflection, personal and professional growth is important!

I’ve adopted Steve’s attitude to life, professional and personal as my mantra for 2012.

‘You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.’  Steve Jobs 2005

With the support of my school, my Teacher Professional Leave (TPL) partner and I have continued to research ‘best practice’. Being able to spread our allocated professional development days over what will be three years has meant our professional development has been relevant to what we now know, and what we need to learn. When you start a project such as ours ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’. Research and discussion has led us to be knowledgeable about what we don’t know. And that’s a great place to be…. we’re still in the learner’s seat.

The Instructional Rounds ning is active and has continued to grow. This space has now 291 members from across the globe. Collaboration and connections are being made throughout the world within the ning.  Education has no borders, wherever we are on the planet, educators are working to engage and provide students with the life and learning skills to navigate this century.

This year I completed the Leadership for Community Engagement Program as a member of the region pilot group. An opportunity to learn from, and listen to leaders in a small forum from different fields was something built into the program which many of us wouldn’t normally have exposure to. These leaders talked about building the capacity of others, being open to new ideas and courageous when undertaking change. The accompanying project completed has led to a new model for one aspect of community education in my school. I’m providing links within this post, if you’d like to read about the project.

Continuing to refine and develop new or improve existing teaching strategies has continued in 2011, with excellent results. Recognising education is about relationships, whether it’s with students, parents or peers and intrinsic for effective constructive feedback. An exploration of educational feedback will be a priority for 2012.

My Blog: Writing my blog is cathartic and my space to reflect, share,  connect and learn from others. This post is an opportunity for me to thank my colleagues for sharing here or on the web in one of the growing forms of on-line connectors.

Yearly Stats not reported by WordPress:


Instructional Rounds SMR Pilot – 843 views

Instructional Rounds Part 1 – 1302 views

Instructional Rounds Part 2 – 527 views


Central Peninsula Instructional Rounds Evaluation – 535 views

Preparing Staff for Instructional Rounds – 3210 views

Finally, thank you for your comments, emails and support in 2011. I wish everyone a well-managed and successful 2012 – ‘Stay hungry. Stay Foolish’.

‘Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. … Stay hungry. Stay foolish.’  Steve Jobs 2005

Cheers Nina

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2011 in review – from WordPress

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 38,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 14 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Cheers Nina

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