How should we prepare for Senior ACARA 2019?

In 2012, QLD introduced the new ACARA syllabuses across all core strands and primary and junior secondary year levels. Many of us were excited by the challenge ahead and other more weathered souls were apprehensive of how we would face the many challenges it would present. I was lucky enough that my education department developed comprehensive resources to help guide us through our first year until we could refine based on what we had learnt. In 2017, we are still adjusting and learning how best to implement the curriculum, 5 years to achieve what is still not perfect and what will likely need further refinement in the years to come does not necessarily bode well for the further changes to high school curriculum. QCAA logo

In 2019, QLD will introduce the new senior ACARA syllabuses across all subjects. This time I am one of those apprehensive leaders patiently waiting to understand the full scope of how it will all work. ACARA

If you have been following for a little while you might have noticed that I like to plan and with so many unknowns planning is hard. With the introduction of these new syllabuses not only will teachers will be faced with a change in content breadth and depth in many subjects but the way that we assess our students and determine their exit scores is going to change from how it has been for the last 30 years (The OP system was introduced in 1987).

One of the most concerning changes for teachers in mathematics and science is that 50% of a student’s result will come from an external set of exams at the end of year 12. Unlike systems in other states this exam is not expected to be used as a scaling tool for the other 50% of a student’s result. While the emphasis placed on the mathematics and science end of year assessment is substantial, other subjects contributing to an ATAR will have at least 25% of their results determined by the final piece of assessment in year 12.

Why is this so concerning? In QLD students sit only one external exam in senior, this exam is the QCS (Queensland Core Skills Test). Where this experience differs from the new format is that how students perform on this test does not directly impact their individual achievement. QLD students have never been trained to sit for an external exam nor do they know how to prepare for it.

Even though the introduction of these syllabuses has been delayed by one year I am still concerned and have questions about the following 5 points:

1. Time

Continue reading

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Teach Tip Tuesday: 5 tips to complete that impossible task. 

Do you have a job that you keep putting off? It’s too hard, too complicated or you just never get around to it?

I get these types of tasks all the time.  I just can’t get started or don’t know where to start. This week’s Teach Tip Tuesday gives you my top 5 tips to getting that task off your to do list.

5 Tips to Completing Your Impossible Task

1. Break the task down into small task so that they seems manageable.

A task that you don’t know how to start is usually made up of many small task. Split your task in 5 smaller tasks so that  you can get started.

Each year I have to construct my departments junior profile database. It isn’t a particular hard task but it is time consuming. There are currently 5 of these that need to be done. Instead of trying to complete the whole database at once this year, I focused on completing small parts so that they task didn’t seem as overwhelming.

2. Work on the task with someone else. 

When getting started is too hard or the task is complicated, pair up with a colleague so that you can use your collective intelligence to make a dent in completing your impossible task.

I have a task that I have been putting off for months because it just seemed too big. I decided to form a PLC with a colleague of mine and we smashed out the first part in under an hour. Two brains (or more) are better than one. Continue reading

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Teach Tip Tuesday: 5 Tips to prepare for Parent Teacher Interviews

Due to the public holiday, this weeks Teach Tip Tuesday bought to you on a Wednesday. 🙂

It’s that time of year again when parents are receiving reports and consequently booking interviews to discuss the progress of their child.

Parent interviews can be a distressing time for teachers as they try to ensure that they will be able to answer any questions that they parent might ask and offer advice on how the student might improve.

Being prepared is the best thing that you can do to ensure that you can meet any expectations that the parent might have.

5 Tips to Prepare for Parent Teacher Interviews

1. Collate all student work and evidence used to determine the students achievement grade. 

  • Parents usually want to see examples of their child’s work.  Ensure that you can show the parent with the student work why they are achieving the grade that they are and how they can improve.

2. Have copies of your notes regarding homework, assessment drafts, attendance etc. 

  • These items facilitate discussion about students effort.
  • I use the app IDOCEO to keep these types of records during the year. The app allows me to export this data in an excel spreadsheet for ease of use.

3. Prepare your points for improvement. 

  • Where a student has achieved less than the top possible grade there must be room for improvement. Ensure that you have at least 2 practical suggestions for achievement, effort and behaviour that parents are able to followup with at home.
  • For example if homework is due on Friday, suggest that “student” should try to finalise homework by Wednesday. Parents can then check in on progress prior to the due date.

4. Take a notepad or note taking device. 

  • Often parents request certain tasks are followed up on after parent teacher interviews. Having a summary of these requests makes compiling your to do list much easier.
  • If you don’t have a parents contact email this is a good time to get it. A notepad can be handy to write these on so that you can add them to your contact lists.

5. Final Tip: Relax. 

  • You have worked with the student and know them. You have all the knowledge about how the student is going and the parents just want you to share that.
  • If the interview seems to be going awry simply ask for a moment and get a supervisor (HOD, HOC, Deputy etc)  to assist. If you foresee that an interview may be difficult organise for a supervisor to be available during that time should you require them. If interviewing in a large venue like a hall find out what the procedure is to get assistance, sometimes this can be as simple as a hand in the air.

5 Tips for parent teacher interviews.png

I hope that you have found a useful tip or insight that you can use in your parent interviews. You can find a copy of the template that I use to prepare for my parent teacher interviews Parent teacher Interview form.

Parent Interview Form.PNG

Do you have any tips for parent teacher interviews? Please share in the comments below or on our facebook page.

 

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Are you getting the most out of Word?

Like most of you I use Word to do the majority of my word processing. There are many other programs and apps out there that have similar abilities to type and format text. So what else can Word do?

Top Ten things that you might not know about Word. 

1. You can check the readability of text. 

  • This feature is especially useful to check how easy the text is to read.
  • To access this feature instructions can be found here or our video here.
  • Readability is given in two scales the first is the Flesch Reading Ease where the higher the value the easier the text is to read. The second is the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level where the applicable US grade level is given.

2. You should use Section Breaks

  • Many of us are familiar with page breaks but not so much with section breaks.
  • A section break is very useful when you want to change the margins on a page or the orientation of a page without affect the rest of the document.
  • Section Breaks are found in the Layout Tab.
  • Watch here to see how to insert a section break.

3. You can write mathematical equations

  • Under the insert function you can add numerous mathematical equations automatically or you can type your own.
  • If you have already typed a text equation and want it to look better convert it automatically by highlighting and selecting insert equation.

4. You can digitally inspect your document

  • As you put together your document details are stored by Word such as names of authors, locations, edit times, etc.
  • You may wish to consider this function when sharing documents to students, parents, other schools and even staff.
  • For instruction on how to inspect your document click here.

5. You can make comments and track changes

6. You can create Customised bullet points. 

  • Want to create a tick sheet. Create a customised bullet point.
  • Word allows you to use symbols or your own images to create bullet points.
  • Watch our short video to see how here.

7. You can Create templates

  • Word can be used to create templates to continually reuse by yourself or students.
  • When you use a template no one can alter the master accidentally or save over it. (Don’t you hate it when this happens!)
  • The template option is found in the save as menu. Simply save as a *.dotx type document and you’re set.

8. You can create a customised style. 

  • If you like to use a particular font and line spacing when you are writing documents you can create a style to suit.
  • Instructions here to customise your style.

9. You can add watermarks and backgrounds. 

  • Watermarks are especially useful if you want to highlight something about a document.
  • For example a document may be in draft, the answer copy, not for distribution etc.
  • You can insert a watermark that sits across the entire document but does not interfere with the reading of the document.
  • The watermark and background feature can be found in the design tab.
  • Instructions on how to add a watermark here and a background here.

10. Short Cut Keys!!

  • These are a must for all teachers and some of them I am sure you already know (some of them work in other programs too!)
  • Cut (ctrl+x) Paste (ctrl+v) Copy (ctrl+c) Undo (ctrl+z)
  • Line spacing: 1.5 spacing (ctrl+5) Double spacing (ctrl+2)
  • Font: Bold (crtl+b) Italics (ctrl+i) Underline (ctrl+u)
  • A full list of short cuts can be found here.

What are you Word secrets? Please share in the comments below or comment on our facebook page.

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Teach Tip Tuesday: Save on stationery this term. 

Hi guys and welcome back to Teach Tip Tuesday. Today’s post is addresses the large amount of money that teachers spend on stationery.

I know that I have an addiction to stationery, as do many of my colleagues. I have a storage box, draw and an enviro bag full this year and constantly have to resist the urge to buy more. I’m sure many of you can relate to that.

Half of Australian teachers spend more than $500 per year on stationery and other items for their classes, and one in 10 spending upwards of $2000 per year. (Published on sky news.com.au 2/4/17)

Why do we have this urge to buy stationery?

  • Students don’t bring anything
  • School doesn’t provide any
  • School doesn’t provide the nice stuff
  • Students borrow and don’t return

And the reasons continue.

Tips to save on stationery!!!

1. Have a lending register. 

  • This helps to track the student borrowing equipment and ensure it’s returned.

2. Colour code your pens and pencils

  • I use washi tape around the end of mine so that they are easily identifiable.

Washi tape.jpeg

3. Use the pen gifting method 

  • This method gets a student donate their own pencil to a student that needs to borrow one. The student that donates gets a new one from you and the borrowing student gets to keep the pencil for the rest of the day.
  • This method rewards the student that has the correct equipment and also means the student who did not have equipment for the day will now be prepared for the remainder of the lessons.

4. Have a stationery borrowing station

5. Buy the best whiteboard markers you can afford

  • While buying expensive markers at $3 a pen may seem counter-intuitive, they tend to last much longer than the cheaper ones and are much nicer to write with.

mark your calendars.png

6. Find out what the school provides and use it. 

  • Most schools provide a selection of stationery for both staff and students, don’t buy what the school already provides. Things like colour paper, pens, pencils, erasers, staplers, rulers, calculators, etc.
  • discuss with you head of faculty about class sets of equipment

7. Keep your receipts

  • Teachers can claim stationery purchases that are directly related to their job as a tax deduction. Keeping your receipt could increase your tax refund thus saving you money. receipt

What strategies do you use to save money on your school supplies? Please comment below or post on our facebook page.

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Plan to have a break this school holidays.

Here in South East Queensland due to a severe weather system some may say that we are lucky to be beginning our holidays two days early.

Starting holidays two days early has significantly disrupted my plans to ensure that all my marking and reporting was completed by the end of Friday before we went on holidays.

With littlies at home due to school closures marking is a bit of a pipe dream and therefore will now have to be completed in the holidays instead. After a long term I am mindful though that I need a break.

If your like me and have a list as long as you are tall then just like me you probably need a plan of attack. If I don’t take some time to plan when I will get my work done either it won’t happen or I will be thinking about it all holidays and therefore never really taking a break from work.

The holidays is a time for us to refresh and refocus by taking time away from school and for ourselves. If we don’t use this time to fill our buckets we will burn ourselves out through the next term.

This holidays I will be making time for self care, doing the things I don’t have time for during the school term like hair cuts, pedicures and eyebrow waxes.

After 10 weeks of teaching we all need that break from school. So here are 8 tips to ensure that you have a break this holidays.

Take a Break

1. Determine the work that must be completed before you return to school. Make a list

2. Determine the things that you would like to do for yourself.

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Teach Tip Tuesday: You’re not to blame! Probably.

It’s marking season. As countless teachers wade their way through the piles of assessment many of them begin to attack themselves.

Go digital to streamline your marking and save time.

What did I do wrong? What could I have done better? I didn’t work hard enough! I failed them!

These are common thoughts that swirl through the minds of teachers as they mark at least 125 pieces of assessment in one week.

Marking students assessment after finalising a unit with the final piece of assessment can be both demoralising and exhilarating.

More often than not this year I am hearing more stories of being disappointed with student results then I am about how thrilled they are with them.

As teachers we can be exceptionally hard on ourselves and take a great deal of responsibility for the results students achieve. We need to stop!

Meme: If you didn't get the grade you wanted it's highly possible I didn't get the work I wanted. Go digital to streamline your marking and save time.

Our students are between 5 and 19 years of age and their are many other factors that influence how they perform on their assessment. Many students contend with their own issues and this can be the sole reason that they didn’t perform. There are only so many things that teachers can control and many of the things that impact students results cannot be controlled by teachers.

Before you beat yourself up over your classes results use the checklist below to determine your level of blame.

Continue reading

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Why do I Blog?

I created my blog in 2015 after attending FlipCon and presenting. I was keen to share what I was doing in my flipped classroom with others so that they would be able to learn from me.

I wrote one blog and then couldn’t find the motivation to continue writing each week. Last year I restarted with the best intentions of blogging once a week with the intention of sharing my tech insights. For whatever reason I still found it hard to make sure I got to a blog each week and instead would maybe write once a month.

Blogging is lonely. If you are like me you think that you will find a heap of people that are interested in what you have to say and comment so that you can comment and a conversation starts. It is not like that. Most weeks less than 20 people view each of my blog articles. I think this lack of interaction was one of the reasons that I initially found it so hard to commit to writing a blog.

This year I decided I really wanted to give it a crack. I have a lot to share that people don’t know or have forgotten and I like to share. I talked to a friend of mine that runs a successful blogging business and she suggested making a companion facebook page.

Having this page has helped to keep me accountable and has many friends, family and colleagues that follow my work. My sister also advised that my pictures are too boring after seeing them in the facebook feed. Feedback is still feedback positive or negative.

Anyway, back to why I actually choose to blog. I blog because it is therapeutic. I am not a person that writes in a diary each day so blogging has become my personal reflection for me of what I do. Remember when you were studying to be a teacher and you had to write all those reflections? I finally understand their purpose, not only do we learn valuable lessons from them but they also cleanse us of the bad days and allow us to celebrate the great days.

Blogging has helped me this year to maintain my motivation, refresh and refocus and fill my bucket. I have always enjoyed writing and the idea that what I write to help me reflect and focus can help others to do the same and improve their practice or their everyday balance.

The last few weeks I have reiterated how important it is to find something to focus in on for yourself. Blogging is one of my outlets as weird as that might sound.

To help me maintain the consistency of my blog this year (Week 11 going strong) I created two categories a week which helps me find things to write about. Teach Tip Tuesday inspired by Tech Tip Tuesday @Joelsperanza and Free blogging Thursday. Having categories and assigned days has really worked for me.

Next week we celebrate 12 Weeks of blogs. Maybe we can reach 100 Facebook likes and 250 followers. We shall see!!

Out of all the fish inthe sea....png

Do you blog? Is it a secret? Share in the comments below or post on our facebook page.

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Teach Tip Tuesday: Refresh and Refocus

Last week in Teach Tip Tuesday I suggested that you should make some lists to help keep you sane as we approach the end of term. Keep doing this. I will definitely help maintain your sanity.

I don’t know about you but in the last few days I am already feeling tired by 10.30am trying to muster enough energy to complete at least 3 items from my lists seems almost impossible. If you are feeling this way you are not alone.

This week my tip is short and sweet.

Take 30 minutes to refresh and refocus. Do something that makes you happy and has nothing to do with school. Take a walk on the beach, go to yoga, read a book, listen to a pod cast, what ever it is that helps you. It is so important to fill your bucket.

I think that we all need this time most weeks but it is especially important when we are dedicating even more hours in the next couple of weeks just to get things done.

If you can refresh once a day that’s great, but just taking that time once a week for yourself could be just what the doctor ordered.

Keep Healthy and Sane Guys.

2 Weeks to go

If you would like to share how you refresh and refocus please comment below or leave a post on our facebook page.

 

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Changes to NAPLAN numeracy testing in high school

Depending on how thoroughly you read your updates from ACARA or QCAA you may not be aware that this year the numeracy test for years 7 and 9 is changing.

In the last 10 years since the beginning of NAPLAN in 2008 the numeracy component of the year 7 and 9 NAPLAN test has been divided into two tests. Each test is 40 minutes long, sat in consecutive sessions. There has traditionally been a calculator test and a non-calculator test.

On the 21st of February ACARA announced via their website that the year 7 and 9 numeracy tests would now be sat as one exam but still divided into 2 parts. The calculator section will be part A and will go for 50 minutes; students will then have their calculators removed and begin the non-calculator section which has an allocated 10 minutes to complete. The corresponding statement made by ACARA can be found here

According to the statements made by ACARA these changes to the paper version of the numeracy test are to bring it into line with the online version of the NAPLAN test with a total of 48 questions instead of 68.

In information provided by ACARA they detail that the removal of 20 questions from the numeracy tests previously conducted will have minimal impact on students results.

With NAPLAN being one of the two publicised high stakes data in education why was an announcement only made in February of the year that testing is to be conducted? This I think is a question that we should all be asking.

While ACARA is claiming the data will still be comparable, I still remain a skeptic about the sets of data comparability.

As well as these changes, schools are in for a roller coaster ride with the implementation of  NAPLAN online to be compulsory in 2019. This year ACARA expects that up to 10 % of students that currently sit NAPLAN will sit it online in 2017 and schools have the option to opt in until it’s compulsory in 2019. Once schools opt into NAPLAN online students will receive a tailored NAPLAN test which adjusts the level of questions depending on your previous responses.

The NAPLAN online format will have the benefits of a faster data turn around and also more in depth information about students. While these benefits have the possibility of being helpful to both students and teachers there is a need to ensure students have the appropriate skills to take an online test. There is a study here that looks at the comparability of students that take an online test vs the paper version, the results vary depending on the study however all study’s agree that there is a variation in results skewed towards the paper mode of testing. ACARA has also conducted research into the effects on online testing and tailored level tests, find the link here.

Teachers can now get an idea of the format that NAPLAN online will take through the Public Demonstration here.

The key skills that need to be addressed for students across the different tests include:

  • Typing speed and accuracy
  • Reading on screen for comprehension.
  • Working between paper and screen for Numeracy
  • Using an on screen calculator
  • Spelling correctly when typing (most students use auto correct and predictive text)

These 5 skills are only the surface aspects that schools will need to address. With the move to BYOD in QLD being able to regularly train students to be competent in these skills will be difficult with less than 10% of students in some schools bringing their own device.

What do you think about the current and coming changes to NAPLAN? How is your school planning for and addressing these? Comment below or on our facebook page.

 

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