Archive for September, 2009

It’s hip to be square

With the Digital Education Revolution and the Laptops for Learning program putting laptops into the hands of every NSW public school Year 9 student next term, we ‘techies’ are finding ourselves very popular indeed.

There’s just not going to be enough support – tech support or curriculum/pedagogy support – for everyone to get it right straight away.  The laptop program can work in spite of this…in fact, it may even work better because of this.

The L4L program seems to many in schools to be a radical and dramatic project.  So radical and dramatic, in fact, that teachers seem to be happier than usual to admit they don’t know everything, and actually ask their colleagues for advice and help 🙂  Teachers in my faculty have started acting far more like a ‘community of learners’, rather than an ‘office of colleagues’ – people are motivating each other, praising each others achievements, and mentoring as much as they can.  Power relations are being disrupted as principals and head teachers are being mentored by classroom teachers; parents are having to concede that teachers have a level of knowledge and professionalism that deserves more respect than is usually see; students are realising that access to ‘technology’ means higher expectations, not more ‘bludge’ lessons.  Many are happy with this, and are rising to the challenge.

It is a Revolution indeed…one where it’s hip to be square!

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New Class Rules

In preparation for leaving my classes to another teacher, I was trying to work out how to explain to her, and to the class, what was important about our classroom management.  In particular I have been thinking about my Year 8 class, who are a relaxed and cheerful bunch, with a lot of energy (no, I’m not being euphemistic here…not entirely anyway!), and although at times they could probably work harder, students are almost always engaged, happy, and trying their best.

So, I have made this new set of class rules to hand on to the next teacher, and also to give the kids before I go, so they know what they can expect to stay the same.  Of course, the school has it’s own set of generic rules, but my management style with the class has kind of evolved over time, without us explicitly talking about it.


  1. We promise to sit quietly and pay attention to instructions, as long as the teacher doesn’t take too long to give them.
  2. We always try to put our hand up before interrupting others, and to save our questions until the end of the teacher’s explanation, unless it is important.
  3. We promise to work hard in class, as long as the teacher promises to encourage us and to help us to improve and do our best.
  4. We always try to do our homework, because if we don’t, we might fall behind in class or slow the class down, which disadvantages ourselves and others.  We can always ask for help.
  5. If one of us is unsettled, or is a distraction to others, we know the teacher might move us to another table, or to a table outside.  We know this is only to help us do our best, and that after half a period we can ask to return.
  6. We always try our best to help each other learn.

Does anyone out there use something similar (i.e. with teacher expectations woven in as well)?



…today in an undisclosed faculty room.

Teacher 1: (cleaning kitechette)  There really was a lot of washing up in there.

Teacher 2: (at desk)  Well, yeah – but did you see we started putting the dirty cutlery in that bowl of water?  That was helpful, right??

Teacher 1: Umm, kind of, yes, except that the bowl was half full of left over jelly…

Oh dear 🙂



Workshop #2 with Lachlan and Year 10 tomorrow.  We will be discussing Suburbia, and how to see the suburbs (and other ‘ordinary’ things) through the eys of a poet.

To begin the workshop, Lachlan and I will both be showing a series of photos of the local area.  Mine are mostly of local gardens, skyscapes, and motorways.  I’m hoping to inspire the students to find unique and affective imagery in the world around them:

A great resource has also popped up this week – the youth current affairs program on Triple J’s 5.30pm radio show ‘Hack’ is focussing on the SUBURBS.  Throught the week they will be discussing Australian Suburbs: Paradise or Prison?

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Papercuts Poetry Project

(Don’t you love the smell of alliteration in the afternoon?)

Today I taught my first lesson with Lachlan Brown, a poet that is going to be working for the next three weeks with my Year 10 class on a poetry workshop project, run by the Red Room Company.

Last week Lachlan and I came up with a program for my class, designed around the Toilet Door Poetry project.  In today’s introductory lesson, Lachlan spoke to the students about being a poet and writing poetry, and showed an accompnying slideshow of photos from his time writing in the crowded lower class suburbs of Paris.  Using examples of his own work, and some of his own favourite poems, Lachlan explored the rich inspirations for poetry that can come from our everyday lives and experiences.  To conclude the lesson, I gave the students a copy of Bronwyn Lea’s ‘Mineslec‘ on Poetry and Space and read this to them, leaving with the following questions for homework:

  1. Bronwyn Lea suggests that poems in public spaces can “deliver what we hadn’t thought to ask for”.  Come up with three ideas for what this might be.  Could our poetry aim to deliver a certain theme?  A certain form?    Other ideas…?
  2. Looking back over this reading, what points does Bronwyn Lea make that interested or surprised you?  Find something that you strongly agree or disagree with and explain why.

Day 1 edited

Next week the students will bring their ideas, as well as a photograph or an object that represents their everyday lives, and this will form the basis of our first poetry writing workshop.  Lachlan and I will also be taking the students on a ‘Poetry Walk’ around the school and nearby local street to practice ‘seeing the world like a poet’.  I can’t wait!