Category Archives: Uncategorized

Behaviour Management & SHIFT- One teacher’s perspective…


I’m frequently asked questions about behaviour management by graduate teachers. This is a huge issue for teachers and always has and will be. This post is not about students with disabilities.

There’s a lot of pressure placed on teachers to have students beautifully behaved and quietly working. 

Remove this from your mind and think long term because there is no such thing as the perfect student, perfect teacher or perfect classroom.

However, a teacher does need to have a strong set of values or beliefs about student behaviour which is supported by the school philosophy and that’s the reason I love working in IB schools.

Most classrooms are made up of students of similar ages but this does not mean they are emotionally or socially at the same stage in their development. As teachers, we know this! Classroom management is about knowing each student as an individual, including their background. Behaviour management is part of each student’s learning plan and there is no one method which will work with all students.

One size will not fit all!

Equally students need to be given opportunities to learn from their choices, even if those choices are not the best. Understanding this means you can start thinking about your impact as a teacher.

It’s also about the individual and not the whole class. Many students are managing themselves well. Identify those students and make sure they know that you know. This group may feel forgotten and they can be your greatest support.

Once you’ve identified those students who require support with their behaviour management you can start developing your strategic plan. I look for the behaviour which needs immediate changing first and this means you may have to ignore some other behaviours, but never ignore aggressive or antisocial behaviour.

My goal is for students to change their behaviour for themselves and not for me.

If it’s just for one teacher, it’s not sustainable change. The impact is low. Students need to own their behaviour and change their behaviour because they feel benefit and need. Changing their behaviour themselves will improve their self-esteem.

The Shift…

When a student’s behaviour starts to change I call this the SHIFT.

The shift is when the student starts to make appropriate choices in their day and this is when your quiet personalised feedback has impact. Making  note of any behaviour change or good choices made by a student is important for targeted  feedback to the student. This shows the student that you are really seeing the positive from the negative.

Behaviour change is slow, however, if you want behaviour change to be ongoing, sustainable and owned by the student, you need to be prepared for this.

It’s said that it takes six weeks to change a behaviour and form a new behaviour so don’t expect long term change overnight. It’s also much easier to establish this at the beginning of a school year.

What I don’t do…

  • I do not use stickers nor do I have a bag of goodies. I use feedback.
  • I do not put a misbehaving student’s name on the board.
  • I avoid disciplining the whole class.
  • I avoid keeping students in at recess.
  • I do not give learning tasks as a punishment. 

What I do and am…

  • I plan teaching and learning to meet the needs and abilities of individual students.
  • I do put a daily quote on the board and this might be something a student or teacher has said. It does not have to be a famous quote. I don’t draw attention to the quote but it always amazes me that the students do read them and comment. They will remind me if I forget to write one.
  • I do give feedback to students about their behaviour choices.
  • I have students set personal goals.
  • I am very resilient and patient.
  • I am an observer.
  • I am by nature a positive person. I believe all students can become responsible for their behaviour with support.

Cheers Nina




Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Working with Mark: Mentor Text- Be a Better Writer by Steve Peha

be-a-better-writer-2Last year I started working with Mark and I have to say working with a Year 11 student has been an opportunity to explore the secondary English curriculum. I chose to use Steve Peha’s Be a Better Writer as my mentor text. Steve’s book can be used from early primary to adult despite being recommended for Ages 10 to 16.

I’ve been working with Steve, who has shared many amazing resources with me which I have shared with others. Steve would like me to co-write with him as he believes this is the kind of book/paper teachers want. Wow… I consider myself a teacher not necessarily a writer but if I could contribute something to a paper which actually changes how a student thinks of themselves as a writer and reader then I should.

One year ago I started working with a very bright student who struggled to get his thoughts on paper and I am so pleased to share these results one year later.



I’ll be catching up with Mark next week to start breaking down Steve’s chapter on Better Sentences.

Cheers Nina

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

‘The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other. Without collaboration our growth is limited to our own perspectives.’ Robert John Meehan

My friend and colleague of many years Angela Stockman is now going to be working with teachers and communities to start their own Writing Studios. I’ve been learning from Angela for a long time and watched and read with great interest the work she has been doing with young writers. Angela shares her learning with all and that is special. Angela made an announcement today and I am delighted for her.

Well friends, I’ve been called to travel down a brand new pathway as I continue this writing studio journey of mine. The good news is that I’m beginning to realize the vision that launched the WNY Young Writers’ Studio ten years ago: starting this summer, I will be helping school districts, community leaders, and even nonprofit agencies launch and sustain their very own writing studios within and well beyond western New York.

Equally, Steve Peha has received another award for his book Be A Better Writer and once again I am incredibly pleased that Steve and his wife Margot are receiving recognition for their amazing work. I’ve been using Steve’s work for many years. Visit Steve’s site Teaching That Makes Sense.

I manage with Steve Australia Writes with Steve Peha Facebook group where Steve shares his work and responds to questions from members. To access the group you will need to request membership.

Steve Awards.GIF

Cheers Nina



Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Steve Peha: Integrated Literacy – Love this! Please read… ‘Integrated Literacy is a framework for K-12 instruction that leverages the complementary nature of reading and writing to make learning easier for kids and teaching better for teachers.’ Steve Peha

This document is excellent and one I think teachers should read. The diagram is simple, yet very effective. Reading and writing are being taught separately and I understand why this is happening, but believe there’s a real need to make links between reading and writing explicit and this document does. Steve’s headings below are fantastic and headings I would introduce to students.

  • Writing Community – Reading Community
  • Writing Process – Reading Process
  • Writing Strategies – Reading Strategies
  • Writing Applications – Reading Applications
  • Writing Quality – Reading Quality
  • Writing Connections –  Reading Connections

Steve Peha Integrated Literacies.JPG


Link to full document above… Integrated Literacy is a framework for K-12

Steve has a Facebook group called AUSTRALIA writes with Steve Peha. Steve is sharing many wonderful resources and answering teacher questions. He’s also working with teachers in Australia and actually visits classrooms via Skype. It is a closed group so you will have to join. Here is the link:

Cheers Nina

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Hand over the control! PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing: June 2012 – (5&6 Year Olds)

This post has been read many times recently. This is a wonderful strategy and can be used by any age. All contribute, it’s student led and encourages all writers to have a go.

Nina Davis: Teaching & Learning in Australia

PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing sessions enable me to roam, listen to conversations and question my student’s understanding of concepts and skills. I’m able to question individuals and groups about the strategies they are using to compose their text. Their feedback is enlightening and I’m always surprised by how well they articulate what they are doing, the strategies they are using and their collective knowledge of punctuation and composition is evident. I’m always looking for the transfer of explicit teaching foci.

Recently my students took their parents on a Student Led Tour of their learning and we decided to write about the tour.

I’ve written about this strategy numerous times in my blog. To read more simply type PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing in the search box. I firmly believe this strategy scaffolds, supports and accelerates my student’s writing.

Cheers Nina

View original post

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Week 8 – PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing: The strategy which supports and accelerates the writing development of young writers!

Sometimes a post gets read more than others. This is an oldie about a fantastic strategy which I would start week one of Prep/Foundation. Student Led Interactive Writing for all ages and stages.

Nina Davis: Teaching & Learning in Australia

The key is students working collaboratively, sharing their learning, prompting each other and using skills and language used by teachers. Each student is engaged in the activity and committed to contributing with the support of their peers if needed. Groups can be structured to support children if needed or to extend children.

The Process:

Each child is identified by a color and all are given the opportunity to lead a group. Teaching leadership skills concurrently is essential. The children are given poster sized sheets to write on and colored markers. All students record their name down the side of the paper in their chosen color. This enables the teacher to assess the writing development of individual students.

I use PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing to assess and plan my weekly writing foci. It’s interesting to note that my students’ independent writing improves rapidly.  As with independent writing I’m looking for…

View original post 284 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Working with Mark to Be A Better Writer – Year 12 Essay Writing

Working with Mark is an absolute pleasure.  Mark is doing Year 12 Philosophy within his Year 11 program. He’s a very able student who has struggled to get his thoughts on paper. Last year he made great progress with his writing using Steve Peha’s Be A Better Writer.

One of Mark’s big issues is ORGANISATION! Today we got organised. Mark printed off a calendar and we put it up on the wall and started recording important dates e.g. tests, due dates and  Common Assessment Tasks. When asking Mark when something is due, a couple of weeks is probably not the best answer. The beauty of this wall is he can’t miss it. My advice is place it near the kitchen or better still, the fridge!

Calendar .jpg

Mark needs a visual timetable/calendar clearly displaying key dates and we’re using different coloured highlighters for each subject. We use these in primary classrooms but they just look different. Next week we’ll put all assessments on the calendar for this term and then it will his responsibility to keep it up to date.

Today we revisited the structure of a philosophy essay and looked at a possible essay topic around what he has been learning. We pulled a topic apart and placed each part of the topic on sticky notes using the prescribed structure.

essay structure

Possible essay based on classroom learning:

essay .jpg

be-a-better-writer-2Teaching genre is crucial for all ages. Structure helps the writer keep on track. We also revised Steve’s chapter on better sentences or what we have covered so far and listed three key points to keep in mind while writing.

organisation .jpg

Mark’s task was to independently write an introduction paragraph on the topic Mark chose. Next week we will build on this. Mark will be working on his handwriting with me but I can see enormous growth in his writing. He wrote quickly because we are looking at timing in preparation for exams. Structure has given Mark the confidence to start immediately. We will also be looking at a narrative letter response for Year 11 English.

essay start

This is a snippet but I’m very pleased with this.

Cheers Nina

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Communication & Leadership-Revisited

LeadershipRecently I’ve noticed that one of my posts is receiving many views. The post is about communication and leadership which I wrote after attending the Leadership for Community Engagement program. One of the program leaders was Dr Elizabeth Mellor and I wrote a summary of her ideas in a previous post which I have reposted below.

You, as a leader, will be different to a manager, you will be finding solutions, you will use your courage and confidence to influence others, you will speak a common language and find that common language so you can move forward. You will empower others and be an enabler so you can shift barriers. You will encourage others to ‘think big’ and work towards delivering transformational change. You will coach others on how to measure change, be respectful and a listener so you understand and collaborate.

You will not shy from anything and you will get in and learn. You will empower others to solve problems because you can’t fix it all. You will take risks and from taking risks you will gain experience to put into other aspects of your role. You will give others a voice and act on what they want and work side by side with them to achieve your common goals. You will be capable of ‘unlearning’ and not be judgmental. You will build a ‘treasury’ of good practice to help you evaluate actions and capture what has been learnt so you can measure the impact of changes and improvements.

And finally, you will deliver to every child and family. Your flexibility will be key to you being a leader, as without flexibility you will impede innovation. You, as a leader, must leave the profession in a better state and by building the capacity of others you should do yourself out of a job!

Cheers Nina

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Australia Writes with Steve Peha: All welcome to learn with Steve. This is an wonderful opportunity! How to join the group-read on…

Steve Peha.jpgA Message from Steve Peha

Hi, Friends! Thanks for coming on board. We’re going to do some fantastic work together. Start posting about the kids you teach, the writing challenges you have, what you want help with, etc. I will start loading up resources. We can start talking about Skype visits to your schools, our Be A Better Writer book and Classroom Program and other books and resources we can help you acquire. Big thanks to Nina for bringing us all together. Kind regards, Steve

What an incredible opportunity for Aussie teachers of all year levels, Foundation – Year 12 to work with Steve. Steve has had such strong support from Australia that he decided he wanted to do more. Teachers from other countries may certainly join and I’m sure you’ll find it valuable.

Steve will be working with the Australian and IB-PYP curriculum.

I’ve been working with Steve this year, but have been using his material for roughly ten years. This is my opportunity to give back to Steve and to work with Steve and teachers across Australia and other places.

Here’s the link to join the group. Visit and join us for a year of learning how to teach our students of any year level to BE A Better Writer.

LINK to join Australia Writes (with Steve Peha)

Cheers Nina

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Conferencing a piece of writing: What I do…

12439093_10153689901384132_8793394185808958194_nI’ve been asked to explain how I review a piece of writing with a student. This is an interesting question. When conferencing a piece of writing,  I’m not giving the writing a mark against standards. I’m looking for how to help the student be a better writer. I like to call it taking a global close look at the writing with the student. There is a risk of becoming too micro driven when teaching writing. This is one reason why I love Steve Peha’s book Be a Better Writer because Steve talks about the things which matter most.

And yes, I took those words from Steve Peha’s book Be a Better Writer.

be-a-better-writer-2Secondly, when a student gives me a piece of writing to review the first thing I like the student to do is read their writing to me. This often prompts the student to make initial corrections and pose questions about their own writing. This is where I start asking the student simple questions. Why did you write about…? What structure did you use?

I never write on a student’s piece of writing. I will either write the whole text out if really needed or ask the student to make corrections using notes we have made. Ownership is very important!

My purpose is to collect information around what the student knows, understands and can do.

What does the student’s writing tell be about their understanding of:

The Text:

Have they written for a particular audience? Do they know the purpose for their writing? Does the student have an understanding of structure and organisation? Has the student used a taught genre structure? What language choices has the student made?

Text Features:

Has the student used paragraphs? What knowledge of sentence structure does the student have? Is there a consistent tense throughout their writing? Are they aware of pronouns and conjunctions even if they cannot articulate why?


Is the student using correct sentence punctuation? Is the student using articles, plurals, prepositions, subject-verb agreement even if they cannot articulate why?


Has the student used correct grammar at the word choice level? Is the student using verbs within their text? Is the spelling reasonable?

When working with a student, I am looking at how to improve their writing at their point of need. At this stage, the student and I will look at their personal learning goals and set new goals. Goals are set for text, text features, sentence structure and word choice.

A formal assessment of a piece of writing is a different process and I will share how I do this in a future post.

Cheers Nina

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized