Category Archives: Uncategorized

Seating Arrangements with Work Stations

Seating arrangement of desks in a classroom can have a big impact on the environment and student behavior. Here is one seating arrangement idea that works great for group learning and instructional time.


This video series takes you through classroom organisation, teaching practice and curriculum. This particular one discusses the design of your classroom for learning. While it’s target audience is primary teachers there are still some features of good learning design that are more universal.

See on Scoop.itEdumathingy

Do soundtracks improve reading comprehension?

A platform that pairs e-books with movie-style soundtracks is gaining attention in the K12 realm for boosting reading engagement and comprehension. But some researchers remain skeptical of its claim o


Studies have shown for some time that music can make the brain more receptive to remembering and learning. This takes it a step further. Students reading ebooks can have a soundscape that links to the story including music and background sounds. It is believed that this will aid comprehension. 

See on Scoop.itEdumathingy

Finally! Record the Screen of Your iPad in Any App, with Narration.


A better way to create guides and lessons using the ipad. Douchy discusses the X-Mirage application which allows you to create audio and video screencasts.

Originally posted on Douchy's Blog:

Yesterday X-Mirage added the ability to record not only your iPad screen and audio via Airplay, but also your voice narration.  I’ve been waiting for someone to implement this for ages.

First, Before we get to the details, here’s a little video I made to demonstrate how good the result is.

I’m a fan of iPad screencasting apps like Educreations, Collaaj and Explain Everything, but the limitation on all these apps is that they can only record within the app itself, due to Apple’s sandboxing policy. In other words you can’t use Explain Everything to make a video tutorial about how to change settings in the Settings app, or how to create an eBook in Book Creator or how to write a formula in Numbers or Excel.  Nor can you use them in combination with a content-based app to make a screencast explaining a topic.

X-Mirage is not the first computer application to…

View original 408 more words

10 Reasons Why OneNote is the Ultimate Note Taking Tool for Schools


One Note has been used extensively in our school since the laptop program was implemented. I have to say that the last six months I have really begun using it more thoughtfully. It was really only when I installed the Outlook tool and rearranged my folders that I saw how much more powerful it really was. It allows for excellent meeting notes to be taken with todo tasks that you can sync with Outlook. The clipping tool is fantastic and allows for a much smoother workflow.
It is a great way to mark student work using the voice recording tool and sharing work with them that includes hyperlinks, media and can be annotated.
Simply a great tool.

Originally posted on Jonathan Wylie: Instructional Technology Consultant:

Microsoft OneNote

It may just be the best thing you have never heard of, but if you take the time to learn how to use it, Microsoft’s free, multi-platform note taking tool will surprise you with how powerful it really is. So, here’s why OneNote is great for the classroom and beyond. (Note: Not all features are available on all platforms, or in the free apps, but all are available in the Office 2013 desktop version)

1. Availability: OneNote is a free download for Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Phone, Mac, iPads, iPhones and Android devices. You can even use the online web app, and of course it comes with all paid Office subscriptions. So, no matter what device you use, there is a OneNote version for you. You don’t get all the features on all platforms, but you get most of what you need. What’s more, your notebooks are synced…

View original 762 more words

Featured Image -- 7039

You answer: What were you like as a teenager?


More information on adolescent brains. Sarah Jayne Blakemore’s TED talk is fascinating.

Originally posted on TED Blog:

Teenagers can sometimes feel like a different species. According to neuroscientist Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, who gave this fascinating talk at TEDGlobal 2012, this isn’t a coincidence. While 15 years ago it was assumed that brain development was completed in childhood, scientists now know that the brain continues to develop through a person’s 20s and 30s. The adolescent brain is still a work in progress.

“Teenagers are often parodied, sometimes even demonized, in the media for their typical teenage behavior — they take risks, they’re moody, they’re very self-conscious,” Blakemore says in her talk. Even Shakespeare, she says, made jabs at teens. “But what’s sometimes seen as the problem of adolescence shouldn’t be stigmatized. It actually reflects changes in the brain that provide an excellent opportunity for education and social development.”

So what exactly is different between the teenage and adult brain?

For starters, the limbic system — which gives…

View original 673 more words

Flash Drafting

I am always searching for ways to make writing more engaging and yet still clear and thorough. This idea wins!


Friday June 27, 2014 by Stacey Shubitz
How long do your students, typically, spend on drafting? A few days, right? If you’re like I was when I had my own classroom, then you know drafting could go on for a few days. It’s no wonder many students are hesitant to revise! When one invests a lot of time (e.g., four – five writing workshop periods) crafting something, they don’t want to make changes by seeing their writing again with fresh eyes.

Enter flash-drafting. If you have a copy of the TCRWP’s new units of study, then you’re familiar with this concept. If you are unfamiliar with it, then here’s what you need to know:

Flash-drafts are written in one writing workshop period.
Students write a draft “fast and furious” during independent writing time (~45 minutes).
Writers work to get all of their thoughts down on paper. If they need to research more, they can make themselves a note, but they keep writing.
Kids use what they know about the genre when they are flash-drafting.
You can read more about flash drafts at Moving Writers.

I’ve been at the TCRWP’s June Writing Institute this week. Kelly Boland Hohne has been my section leader for “Raise the Level of Literature-Based and Research-Based Argument Essays.” In the past week, I’ve written two flash drafts, one literary essay and one research-based essay. I have found the process scary and liberating all at once. Here’s why.

Continue reading

Grammar. Can we all teach it?

Grammar matters and should be taught – differently

By Misty Adoniou, University of Canberra

We need to bring back teaching grammar, but not how it used to be

I’m going to put it out there – most teachers don’t know enough about how the English language works [aka grammar], and this inevitably impacts upon student literacy outcomes.

There are grammar pundits who love their knowledge about the language for the haughty power it affords them: the ability to write corrective letters to the editor and the certain belief there is one right way to write and speak – their way.

This group gives grammar a bad name.

Grammar isn’t about linguistic straight jackets and rules; it is how creativity manifests itself in language. Grammar is how we organise our words and sentences to communicate with others and to express ourselves.

With grammar knowledge you know what is possible in English; you know how you need to speak and write to get the job done in different situations. You know when you can push the envelope with language, and how to do that.

Speaking and writing are not the same

What we can do with written language is very different from what we can do with spoken language. When we write, we have time to hone and craft our language, and so the grammar of our writing is very different from the grammar of our speaking.

When we don’t teach grammar we stifle creativity and limit possibilities for many children. We leave them to fall back on what they intuitively know about language, and as a consequence they simply write like they speak.

Subsequent teacher comments on their writing are vague and unhelpful – ‘too informal, too colloquial, too chatty, rambling, repetitive’. Kids need more direction than this; they need someone who can show them what is possible in written language and how to achieve it.

All children deserve to be able to use language with intention and effect, for any purpose and in all circumstances. Indeed their capacity to do so is what they are assessed on everyday at school, so if teachers don’t teach what school is assessing we are being negligent.

If the only language resource kids have is what they hear in their everyday lives, then we leave behind the children who need us most.

So – why don’t teachers teach grammar?

If you went to school any time from the 70s onwards, you probably didn’t get much grammar instruction at school. Some large scale research studies in the 60s, replicated over the decades, concluded that grammar instruction didn’t have much impact upon reading and writing, so why bother with it.

But the problem wasn’t grammar, it was the way it was being taught. Grammar was a standalone subject where random sentences were divided into their constituent parts (parsing or diagramming) – grammar teaching was not a means to an end (improved literacy), it was just the end.

The disappearance of grammar from schools – and most teacher education faculties – for decades means many of today’s teachers have no subject knowledge of grammar, nor any idea of how to teach it effectively. And publishers have stepped in to fill the gap.

Teaching grammar

Publishers also have no idea how to teach grammar, but are happy to sell hundreds of thousands grammar workbooks to insecure teachers and parents – tedious, out-of-context grammar exercises that urge children to underline the adjective and circle the noun on page after page of pointless, time-wasting work.

This work doesn’t uncover the beauty of the English language, nor does it it unleash creativity in our children. It does the opposite. These workbooks are the epitome of bad writing; writing that serves no expressive or communicative purpose.

The best way to teach grammar is through exemplary literature. This is where grammar is real. This is where we understand the ways in which we can play with language to achieve our intentions.

In great writing we can notice how the author uses their language knowledge and how they organise their words and sentences to make us notice, feel, see or imagine something.

But for that kind of teaching to happen, teachers need grammar knowledge.

Building teachers’ knowledge about language

Many great writers probably have little explicit knowledge of how the language works, but intuitively they play with grammar all the time. They can dip into a broad repertoire of implicit language knowledge, and make deliberate choices in their writing.

For example, they know when they start their sentence with words about where (adverbial phrases) rather than who, that their reader will be pulled into the setting rather than focused immediately on the character. They know that describing a character through their actions (adverbials) can sometimes be more evocative than describing their appearance (adjectivals).

Most of our kids neither know these things, nor how to organise their writing to achieve them.

So whilst great writers can get by with an intuitive understanding of English grammar, teachers need an explicit knowledge. They need to able to understand how effective writing works, so they can notice language and teach it to their students.

Testing teachers won’t build this language knowledge. What is required is carefully considered pre-service and in-service professional learning for teachers where language knowledge is built inside great teaching – rather than some disconnected sideshow.

Reading is a good way for kids to learn grammar

Time for a grammar revolution

If we are happy with the status quo – where the power of writing is enjoyed by the intuitive few, or those from very specific home backgrounds, then we could do what we’ve been doing since the 70s.

If we want to return to the ‘good old days’ of the 50s and 60s where grammar instruction thrilled a few, bored most and made no difference to reading and writing outcomes then we could continue down the current track of meaningless grammar teaching from workbooks.

Or if we’d like to do something powerful for our children – and close the achievement gap whilst we’re at it – we’ll ensure all teachers have grammar knowledge and fill our classrooms with great literature where the power of sophisticated language knowledge is both evident and inspiring.

The Conversation

Misty Adoniou does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

Homework, who is it for?

Homework – what’s the point of it?

By Misty Adoniou, University of Canberra

The best place for homework? In the classroom

A middle school student I know came home from school with the task to recreate a medieval fort out of cake. I expect the History teacher thought this was a creative and engaging activity. This particular student, from a refugee background living with his single uncle, first had to figure out how to make a cake and spend scarce money on cake tins and ingredients.

Even putting aside the cultural and economic challenges the task presented to this boy, what was the point of that homework?

What is the point of any homework?

Who likes homework?

It’s a question I pose my preservice teachers and the responses always fall into three categories, which I suspect are also reflective of the broader community.

There are the righteous supporters – they tend to be swats whose memories of gold stars give them warm feelings to this day. Who wouldn’t want to do homework, they wonder?

There are the vocal opponents – they tend to be parents who have wasted too many evenings trying to figure out how long division is taught these days, and too much money on sheets of coloured cardboard.

Then there’s the rest – they think you should do homework, because well, they had to do homework at school. They are the status quo majority. For some of them, the idea of setting and marking homework is inextricably tied up with the vision they have of themselves ‘doing’ teaching – but they’ve not really thought much about what homework achieves.

Does homework improve learning outcomes?

Research finds that homework doesn’t improve learning outcomes in primary school, and has a weak link to improved outcomes in junior high school. Those improvements are connected to parental involvement – but parents who are keen supporters of homework may be disappointed to hear that their positive contribution is largely just ensuring their children hand in their homework.

Parental involvement in the homework itself can actually reduce the child’s success at school. Parents rarely have the expertise to fill in gaps in their children’s understandings of concepts, and the predilection of some parents to take over the homework reduces the autonomy of the children, leaving them less able to work independently at school, and less confident of their own abilities.

There are many parents, dedicated and desperately interested in their children’s education, who cannot involve themselves in their children’s homework. They may not have had schooling opportunities themselves, they may speak English as an additional language, they may work long hours or shifts, or they may just be like most of us, and simply can’t remember what a quadratic equation is.

Those with spare cash buy the homework support, in the form of after hours tutoring. In high school, where homework tasks contribute substantially to the course grade, homework is the great unequaliser, contributing to the achievement gap.

Busy work

Homework generally falls into two categories: practising or catching up on work done in the classroom, and creative extensions of work being done in the classroom. The latter – like making a fort out of cake – is really just busy work.

There are children who enjoy this busy out of school project work, but they don’t need a teacher to set a project for them. Kids find projects everywhere: they build the birdhouse they saw on the lifestyle channel, they create complicated archives for their card collections, they make shields out of paint can lids and they create secret languages for their secret clubs. Or they would, if they weren’t busy trying to make a fort out of cake.

Homework that involves practising or catching up on what was missed in class simply exacerbates the challenges those trailing students are already facing. If there is a child who is behind in classwork, an untrained parent is not going to achieve what a teacher is failing to. If success at school is dependent upon the work being sent home, then the work should be done at school.

There are enough hours in a school day to teach the curriculum. If a school thinks there aren’t, they should audit their use of the school day and teacher expertise. Colouring in, show and tell, roll call, whole school assemblies and assigning and marking homework during class are all examples of ineffective use of teachers’ skills and student learning time.

Homework does not enhance connections between home and the school

Perhaps the most beguiling of contemporary arguments for homework is that it provides the connection between home and school.

The raised voices and tears around the homework table suggest this particular home-school connection is rarely a productive one. Tired and emotional parents, feeling inadequate about their knowledge of improper fractions, helping tired and emotional children, feeling inadequate that they can’t understand what their parent is saying – and anyway it’s not what Ms J said in class today.

A recent photo story of a young child crying as she struggles with her homework makes a compelling case for how damaging homework can be for some.

Better connections between school and home are important, but homework seems more likely to kill the connection than build the connection.

So what should parents do?

Spend those precious after school hours talking to your children about anything and everything, reading to them and with them, loving them and being interested in them. It’s not work, but it is what home is for.

The Conversation

Misty Adoniou does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.