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.

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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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Teach Tip Tuesday: Write a List

Are you feeling the pressure of the end of term starting to weigh down on you?

Are you anxiously trying to mentally sort through that massive to do list in your head? Prioritising on the fly to make sure you don’t miss an important deadline?

I can tell you that I definitely am. My to do list is never ending. Trying to prioritise is a nightmare and I could definitely do with a week of no students just trying to complete my list.

Let’s solve the mental anguish by WRITING A LIST!

6 Tips to write a list that helps not hinders. 

1. Write a list of everything that you need to do by the end of the term. 

  • This list will likely be very long but we are going to break it down.

2. Make up three lists: by end of week, end of term, beginning term 2. Add each of the items on the previous list to one of the three lists. 

  • If an item doesn’t make it to one of the three lists, it probably doesn’t need to be completed at the moment.
  • Make a new weekly list at the beginning of the week.

3. Prioritise each list. Use a column on the lists that you have already created to prioritise when tasks must be completed. Template here (coming soon). 

4. Calendar your major tasks for end of term. It is essential to know which tasks need to be completed prior to others. Example: 

5. Each new job that you get add it to the appropriate list.

  • This helps to re-prioritise your tasks as you receive new ones.

6. Pick at least 2 end of week jobs for each day and complete part of a end of term one. 

Are you using lists to help manage your end of term? Do they help to manage your anxiety? Please share below in the comments or post to our facebook page.

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Make a video in less than 10 minutes

I started flipping my class  a few years ago now and one of the biggest complaints I hear is that I just don’t have enough time to make videos.Whether you are wanting to make a video for your class, parents or colleagues all you really need is 10 minutes.

The big thing to keep in mind when you are making your video is that you are not a movie production studio and your students don’t expect you to be. Keep to the point and make sure it’s no longer than 5 minutes. If you feel like it needs to be longer than you need more than one video.

giphy (1)

What do I need?

  1. Your notes, presentation or a blank on screen notepad (like OneNote)

  2. Screencasting software.

  3. A mic if you want better sound quality (just a headset or cheap usb one is fine).

Now you’re ready to go.

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Teach Tip Tuesday: Plan a Strategy now to Conquer your Marking 

It’s week 7 in QLD and we are approaching the pointy end of the term.

For many of you, the mountain of marking may have already started to grow. This mountain can easily start to become overwhelming, and you feel the need to start working day and night to clear it.

Go digital to streamline your marking and save time.

While I dedicate part of every school holidays to planning and general school work this term I want to avoid marking in the holidays if possible. I want to be able to focus on developing videos and resources for my flipped classroom instead of the dreaded marking.

This year as part of addressing my work-life balance I’m heading into week 8 with a plan to manage my marking,  reporting and end of term management jobs. Read my post on work-life balance here. See below for my 5 Tips to plan to conquer your marking and an example of my planning.

Plan to fail.png

5 steps to a planned marking and reporting period.

1. Identify when each piece of assessment marking is coming in and any moderation deadlines and reporting deadlines that you must meet. 

2. Determine what time you can reasonably allocate outside of 9 to 3. Exclude days with extra curricula activities. Keep some of the weekend free. 

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Maintaining a Positive Outlook

As we pass the hump point of the term and look forward to the holidays, it can be hard on some days to continue to maintain a positive outlook about the rest of the term.

Right about now our students are settled in our classes; rules and routines have been established and maybe the drudge of daily school life is starting to settle in. Now is the time that some students to start to raise their heads, maybe make a lesson a nightmare or  with all the pending assessment they  just act out over their stress.

Stay positive.jpeg

I know that some days I find it hard to remember the positive parts of my day and I’m pretty sure everyday has some and that’s what this weeks post is about. Keeping your outlook positive even when it seems hard to remember those positive events in your day or week. This week we have 5 suggestions of ways to keep the positive things that are happening at work front and centre.

5 Ideas to Keep the Positives Front and Centre

1. Every time you have a positive thought or experience through the day record it and bottle it. This way when you are feeling down and having difficulty remembering why you do this job pull out one or two of your positive thoughts. 


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Teaching Students to Actively Watch Videos

We live in a society where we consume media and videos at an extreme pace. We passively watch, are entertained in the moment and then forget most of what we have viewed.

giphy.gifvia GIPHY

When taking the step into using videos to provide content to students to support flipped learning, we might make the assumption that students will be able to engage with the video and by the end of 5 minutes will understand what they have viewed.


Students have been trained to watch most media passively. Only the most extreme media is remembered for prolonged periods of time. Well I don’t know about you but I don’t intend to teach students about solving linear equations by standing from a sloped platform as a I balance between 2 thirty storey buildings.

So if students only watch actively the most extreme videos how do we get them to engage with probably pretty “boring” videos so that they can learn the content.

The answer just like anything else in education is that we need to teach them.

So how do you teach a student to actively watch a video? You use a coaching model like the “I Do, We Do, You Do” model. In this model you allow students to see how you can break down a video to extract the important parts that they need to know and what they should write. If you are using the right video 90% of the video should be important otherwise why is it included, videos don’t need padding.


This is the second year that I have used this model to get students actively watching videos and this year I’ve stretched it out a little longer and its great. True my students aren’t currently watching videos at home, in fact they have had very little homework. My thoughts are that a little time spent in class in these first few weeks is a worthy investment for the rest of the year.

Here is a summary of how I went about implementing the 3 coaching stages to teach my students to watch their flipped videos.

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