Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Growing Techno Kids- Selwyn House Takes a Risk.....

Yesterday I blogged about the way schools can share and collaborate to support one another. Today I'd like to share something we tried at Selwyn House.

I asked you to think about something your school is doing well; something other schools would enjoy hearing about. At Selwyn House, we are deeply committed to the growth of computer science and makered programmes. This is a legacy left by the incredible Jill Pears and her work is now being continued by Liz Fairhall, our awesome eLearning Director and my co-teacher.

As programmes like robotics and computational thinking become more and more widespread, we've had many schools contact us wanting to visit which is fantastic and we love visiting their schools in return. As interest levels have gotten higher and higher, our principal, Lyn Bird called us together to pose the question, "How might we share our Makered programmes to benefit other schools in Christchurch?"

We decided to gather together the awesome people who have inspired us and continue to support us on our Makered journey by holding a professional learning day for interested educators. This was a big undertaking- we'd be responsible for 7 hours of learning! How would we ensure the day was worthwhile? How would a school offering PD be perceived by others? Would it be seen as thinking we knew it all? After all, we don't by any means believe we have all the answers; we just really wanted to share what we've learned and showcase the people that have inspired us.

We were so thrilled when our our inspirations/speakers jumped on board. We eventually settled on a format which involved three keynotes spread throughout the day interspersed with four workshops; attendees selected two of these.

Our keynote speakers were:

Professor Tim Bell of University of Canterbury

Tim was really excited to be involved and started the day with an interactive keynote using resources from the incredible CS Unplugged which has had a great deal of influence over the way Computer Science is taught at our school.

Tim is deeply passionate about the teaching of computer science principles from a young age. He shared how the technology industry is thriving in post-quake Christchurch and talked about the opportunities programming skills give our learners to really follow their passions and make a difference in their world. He shared activities from CS Unplugged which is used worldwide and showed us how to use this resource to teach CS principles without even laying hands on a device.

The ever-inspiring Bridget McKendry

You may know her as @pixelbrid on Twitter. Bridget and Carl Pavletich are the founders of Fabriko and together they started the Christchurch Makercrate soon after the earthquakes, bringing making to the Christchurch community in a container! They also run the incredible Christchurch FabLab in Cathedral Junction.


Bridget epitomises a maker. She is deeply committed to creating a community of makers through open access to the necessary tools and ideas. Bridget's spirit of generosity and her "girl power" attitude has made her a real favourite of Selwyn House learners. She is adored and respected and is a fantastic mentor to our learners. We are so grateful to have Bridget's support.

Bridget talked about the role making has played in life and how important makered is for developing problem solving skills, perseverence, creativity and a sense of fun!


Michael Trengrove and Caitlin Duncan of Code Club Aotearoa

Man, what a team these guys make. Michael is such a genuinely nice guy whose heart's desire is to ensure that all New Zealand intermediate-aged kids have equity when it comes to learning coding. He has always whole heartedly supported Liz and I and the direction we wanted our Code Club to take. He didn't flinch when we insisted it was for girls' only and was fully on board when we insisted that our club be opened to all girls in the Christchurch community; not just those within our school. He has listened to our numerous irate rants about the lack of women being encouraged into Computer Science and has taken our thoughts on board. We feel very grateful to have his enthusiasm and support for what we do.

Caitlin is the cool computer chick our girls all want to be. She is passionate and inspiring and so, so knowledgeable about teaching coding in schools.

These two showed us exactly WHY it is so important that we teach our learners to code. Here's why....


There are over 600 thriving tech firms here in Christchurch and we're a small city of around 400,000 people! We can all imagine the opportunities that creates. Caitlin informed us that for each University of Canterbury Computer Science graduate there were TEN attractive jobs. Most UC comp sci students had good jobs by the end of their first year of their undergraduate degrees! It is our duty to ensure that our learners aren't excluded from these opportunities.

Michael and Bridget offered coding and 3d printing workshops while Liz Fairhall offered a robotics workshop and I offered a workshop on 5 Tools for Connecting Your Class (not exactly computer science but the theme for the day was Growing Techno Kids so it kind of worked!) I have never run any sort of teacher learning before so I was petrified. I needn't be- the attendees were so lovely and so appreciative. I loved meeting them and starting a conversation with them around connecting our classes.

Here's my google pres. As you can see, I packed far too much in for a 55 minute workshop but somehow it worked! I could have explored any ONE of these tools for the full 55 minutes but never mind.  That's the beauty of giving a link to a google pres.....participants can explore at their own pace in their own time. (Some of you may see tweets from your own classes! Thanks so much for connecting with us!)



We had more than 40 teachers join us for the day and the evaluations suggest it was a great success. There is so much passion around this topic and the teachers were fired up, ready to learn and share their experiences and this made for a really great atmosphere where we were all learning together alongside one another. Another thing that helped enormously was having our Y8 students on hand to support teachers in the workshops. Our students really are pretty phenomenal and this came up again and again in the evaluation sheets.

Creating Lego Balloon Car Racers in Liz's Robotics Workshop
Our primary goal for this day was to SHARE the Makered love. We had no desire to make any money from the day, hence the small fee of $60pp to cover the speakers' time/ donations to their causes and lunch/ morning tea. The rewards were definitely not financial but the benefits for us at Selwyn House were huge. It was so wonderful to meet so many passionate Christchurch educators. It was a great day to be part of.

Thanks to everyone who came with open-minds to learn with us. Keep in touch!



By the way, if you are interested in Makered, here's another opportunity in Christchurch. 
The Chched Maker Event- Register by Thursday 23 July- I hope to see to you there! 

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

How Might We share our schools' strengths so that others might benefit?

And by we, I mean the "royal we"; I'm talking about your school, my school and schools throughout our community? How might we harness each school's strengths, their point of difference if you like, and share their collective expertise so that rather than competing against each other, we are all benefitting for the greater good, ensuring quality learning for our children?

Think about it; what makes you proud to work at your current school? What things is your school doing really well? Every school has its unique culture, the things that are really important to them, the things that give a school its special flavour. Is it a wonderful kapa haka programme, exceptional pastoral care, a Dance Academy or a highly innovative mathematics programme? What is it that makes you proud of your school? Maybe there is one area where your place is a shining light for other schools; perhaps there are a number of areas your school is focusing on? What do others in the wider community perceive to be your school's strengths? What are you known for?

 Schools are by definition places where we grow talents. Our purpose is to help our learners thrive and we work hard to help every learner on our roll be the best version of themselves. But what about our duty to other schools in our communities? Do schools have a moral obligation to support each other, sharing strengths and encouraging growth? I'm not sure of the answer to this; after all ensuring our own schools are thriving is a big ask, let alone supporting others. Having said that, I have seen many times in recent years the power sharing between schools can have.

Social Media has enabled us to share and collaborate in ways we could not have imagined 10 or 15 years ago. But what about face to face? Is a reliance on social media, subconsciously excluding members of our school communities? How can we reach these people? Is there still room for doing things "old school" and sharing face to face?

I am fortunate to be one of the Te Kahui Cluster Digital Leaders here in Christchurch, lead by the incredible Cheryl Doig and Donna Frame. This experience has been inspiring and has convinced me of the incredible power collaborating in a cluster can have. I am surprised to learn that clusters are not prevalent throughout New Zealand.

I am unsure of the "history" of clusters here in Christchurch and a google search is not shining any light on this. I suspect they were a structure put in place to provide support to schools when they were suffering post-earthquakes. Belonging to your designated cluster is optional and each cluster has its own unique make-up depending on the types of school in the area. The direction the cluster takes is determined by the members of the group depending on the needs of the schools in the area. Our Digital Leaders group is currently organising a Digital Citizenship Evening for parents in our area while another Christchurch cluster recently held an unconference which was highly successful judging by the twitter feed!

I'd love to see more visits to each others' schools. School visits are so powerful and benefit both the visitors and the hosts as we see our school through fresh eyes. Taking a whole staff to a neighbouring school during a school day is obviously a logistical nightmare but why not an after school shared afternoon tea complete with a smackdown or perhaps some eduignite talks from volunteers from both schools? After all, its highly likely that both schools are facing similar challenges.

I'm not a school leader so perhaps this entire blogpost shows my naivety around issues of schools collaborating rather than competing but it seems to me the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.  

So how does your school collaborate and share its strengths with other schools in your area?  





Lost my blogging mojo.....

I am so convinced of blogging's power to make me a better educator. Blogging is the most powerful tool for reflection. When I craft a post for my professional blog, there are enormous benefits for me and in turn, my learners.

  •  Blogging makes my thoughts and beliefs about teaching and learning clearer and helps me see what I need to do to improve my practice. 
  • Feedback from others is enormously beneficial and the quality of the conversation has real impact on what happens in our classroom.
  • Blogging makes me a better writer and writing teacher. Sharing my personal blogging experiences with my students has had real impact on their view of blogging as a useful learning tool. 
And there's always the possibility that what I share on my blog might benefit someone else. I really do believe in sharing and collaborating but I often have that nagging thought, "Who would want to read this when the interwebs are full of the blogs of truly phenomenal teachers, contemplating deep philosophical ideas about learning and doing incredible things in their learning spaces?" 

But then my growth mindset voice kicks in...... my posts are not of the quality of those rockstar teachers YET! 

And so I persevere, not because I'll ever be a rockstar teacher but because I blog for me; I blog because of the benefits I get from sharing and being part of a PLN. I blog because I encourage my students to create content to give back to our online community, not just take.  

But recently, I lost my blogging mojo. I hugely missed the benefits of blogging but couldn't bring myself to blog about anything.

I had lots of questions about the purpose of my blog but the biggest was this........... 

What is the role of my school in my blog? Where does my school end and Bridget start? Are we too heavily entwined meaning my blog has simply become a collection of recounts of things that happen at my school?


Over the weekend, I read two posts from two of my favourite bloggers; posts that cemented my ideas about MY purpose for blogging. 

The first was from Stephanie Thompson. Stephanie is the most incredible teacher and when my class first started blogging in 2013 (yes we were fairly late to the party!) I was teamed in an amazing quad which included Stephanie and her class for Aotearoa Quadblogging. 


It reminded me that blogging is about sharing the ups and downs of life in our classrooms. It is not about having all the answers and its value is in the conversation it inspires. Yes, I've experimented with writing posts that sound like I think I have all the answers but I can assure you I don't! 

Another post that reminded me of the value of sharing was this one from the amazing Silvia Tolisano of Langwitches. 


What struck me most was the idea that even the most mundane things should be documented. I can do that! 

And then she shared the link to this oldie but goodie.......




So thanks to these two amazing bloggers, I'm going to get back on that blogging wagon.....here we go......


Thursday, 9 April 2015

Year 8's Top Ten Reads of Term 1, 2015

Our Year 8s are prolific readers thanks to Donalyn Miller's 40 Book Challenge.

Term 1 of 2015 has seen this particular group of students really flourishing in their reading and I'm sure its because they have really embraced the concept of building a reading community across the Year 8 team. It is exciting to hear girls chatting excitedly before school about the book they finished the night before. It is exciting to see them bringing in piles of their own books to share with their friends. It is exciting to see them rushing to sign up for our daily Booksell roster. It is exciting to be part of the #kidsbookchat they lead fortnightly for readers around New Zealand. The reading community they have formed is undoubtedly contributing enormously to their individual growth as readers.

Last week, I surveyed them about their Term 1 favourites. Here are the results.





Sunday, 22 March 2015

A Beautiful Mash-Up



On Friday, 250 Year 5-8 students, their teachers and more than 20 mentors from the technology industry experienced the magic than can happen when education and industry work together.

The first ever Christchurch Mash Up for primary schools was initiated by Michael, Tim and Bryn from Code Club Aotearoa and many other parties with an interest in getting young people into technology and design thinking. These included Bridget and Carl from the FabLab, Caitlin Duncan from UC and a huge number of a volunteers from technology firms around Christchurch. The format was based on the highly successful High School Mash up held last year at the EPIC Hub.

250 students filled the Selwyn House Atrium

What is a Mash Up you might well be wondering?

Well, I'm still not entirely sure of the strict definition myself(which is probably slightly alarming given that I played a small role in helping to organise the event!) but one thing I know for sure is that this Mash Up event provided rich, authentic, highly engaging, real world learning experiences for the 250 students lucky enough to be there.

The challenge was to work in teams of 5-8 students to identify real world problems, gradually whittling down their list to one problem that really bugged them. They had to work to find solutions eventually planning and designing their best idea. There were mentors for each team who were industry professionals and there were pods of "pros" such as Bridget and Carl with their 3d printers for prototyping, Bryn with his incredible array of sensors and Esther with her marketing skills so teams could get feedback on their logos, company names and guidance with their pitching.
Bridget McKendry from The Fablab prototyping with teams

There were many steps to the process and the students were learning all sorts of new terms including-

  • Ideation
  • Market Validation
  • Solutioneering
  • Curation
  • Pitching

This was a very intense and exhilarating three hours and the learners were so engaged from the get-go; the atmosphere was electric! 

One of the many highlights of this event was the arrival of Claudia Batten, kiwi entrepreneur. She had a very powerful message for us all.

"You only fail if you give up. Keep trying." 

What a great message; have a growth mindset. Her message was empowering and inspiring for the young Christchurch learners. 

A highlight for the teachers was being able to leave the students with the mentors to attend a workshop led by Caitlin Duncan from University of Canterbury. Caitlin shared her research findings around primary school children learning to code and Initial Learning Environments such as CodeAcademy and CodeAvengers. It was a great chance for teachers to chat about the computer science in our schools and what our next steps are. 

The afternoon drew to a close with selected teams sharing their pitches with the three judges, followed by a question session a la Dragon's Den. 

Finally, a prize giving. Prizes were then awarded for a range of things including Best Pitch, Best Solution and Best Teamwork with prize money from the Christchurch City Council. 

Cobham Intermediate pitches their virtual pet with emotion sensors

It was an amazing afternoon and I feel grateful to have had a small role working with the industry professionals to bring Code Club Aotearoa's dream to fruition.  I learned lots from working with this amazingly dedicated group of people who want to see young people have the opportunity to join the thriving technology industry. Their belief in the ability of the children of Christchurch to achieve amazing things in such a short period of time was a reminder to me that we should never underestimate young learners. Huge thanks to Michael Trengrove and Tim Hatherley-Greene and also to Bridget McKendry for your unfailing belief in and dedication to New Zealand's young people.  

Amazing things can be achieved when schools work with professionals to solve wicked problems. How can our schools benefit from this model? How can we create more opportunities for education and industry to create magic together? 

Caitlin Duncan talks with teachers about teaching coding at primary school

Here's an article about the event from Stuff.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/67464535/The-squiggly-path-to-tech-success



Saturday, 28 February 2015

What Jessie J has taught me about growth mindset!

Last night I was reflecting on my 28 days of writing efforts and feeling pretty embarrassed about my dismal attempt. This is the last day of 28 and I've managed to publish just 18 posts including this one.... a.bys.mal.

As I was sitting staring at my laptop in front of the tv waiting for inspiration to strike for another post, I was beating myself up about my very disappointing efforts. 17 posts in 28 days? How come so many other educators managed to write 28 posts...and not just good posts.....phenomenal, inspiring posts, all 28 of them with new insights and challenges and beautifully crafted. I was deeply engaged in my own negative self-talk; "I'm not good enough" I told myself as that great philosopher of the modern era, Jessie J came on to perform on the Graham Norton show.

Apparently this image has a "Creative Commons" licence.

Next thing she was singing these words.....


Wow! Just what I needed to hear.......the great Jessie J was singing right to me! ;) As an aside, this is a great song for teaching growth mindset or would be if I could work out how to beep out the nawty words! 

What a great lesson in growth mindset "28 days of writing" has been. Our Year 7/8 team is currently fully immersed in a Unit of Inquiry on mindset for learning. We've been really exploring our own self-talk and I've come to the realisation that I can be incredibly hard on myself. The girls in 8CF inform me that the biggest challenge for many of them is going to be changing their self-talk when faced with the success of their peers and I know they are onto something. At times during the month, the incredible quality of others' posts took my breath away. Rather than being inspired though, I let it totally get the better of me, becoming quite intimidated and giving up. But I need to take a leaf out of Jessie's book and hum this tune....... 

"I wanna hang with the greatest, gotta way to go but it's worth the wait......." 

She's right you know, old Jessie J. Sure, I have only managed 18 posts in February but that's 17 more than January! And yes some of them were pretty light and fluffy about extremely important subjects like whether schools should send out class lists at the end of the year or allocate desks in class! But in others I really put myself out there which is quite an achievement for someone who is scared of conflict! That's growth, right there. 

Yesterday, I read my girls this beautiful book from the ever- amazing Mark and Rowan Sommerset. 

Just like Jessie J, these little bugs have lots to teach us about the power of optimism and having a growth mindset. I could choose to be like the blue bug, blown away and allowing myself to feel intimidated by the many talented writers in my PLN, eventually giving up. Then again, I could choose to be like the red bug, proud of what I've achieved and facing towards the sun! I could read the posts of others and be inspired by them, asking myself, "How does she do it? What can I learn from her?" Being the blue bug can sometimes be the easier option; it needs less courage and effort and its safer....no risk of failing. But boy, what a miserable way to live.........

For the month of March, I choose to be the red bug.



Thank you so much to Tom Barrett for starting the 28 Days of Writing adventure! I'm so glad I joined in. 













Thursday, 26 February 2015

Why a Girls' School?

Ok, deep breath....I know its an educational hot potato but I'm going to blog about why I teach at a girls' school.

There's been a bit in the media recently about how boys and girls learn differently. I know we can agree that all individuals learn best in different ways; whether that is gender-based is harder to agree on but there do seem to be some general trends in the way many boys and many girls learn.  As a teacher at an all girls' school, I can assure you that these are just trends and there are many, many girls who buck every single one of them (just as there are with boys!)

In my class of girls, there is every type of learner. There are girls who benefit from constant movement and there are girls who like to sit still when working. There are girls who love loud rambunctious music when they learn and there are girls who like it to be quiet. There are girls who love to talk ideas over and there are girls who love to be quiet and listen. There are girls who prefer to lead and girls who prefer to follow others. I believe it is my job as an effective teacher to 

a) cater to these differences and
b) encourage my learners to not let these preferences "define" them.

I want them to be aware of their strengths and learning preferences but not use these as a crutch or an excuse for staying in their comfort zone. I encourage my quiet girls to try being the noisy one every now and then and my super chatty -girls to try being the quiet one on for size. Likewise, I expect all learners to be leaders in some situations and followers in others. No doubt the local boys' schools has just as many learning styles in each class and I have no doubt that the same can be said of the local co-ed school.

I am quite sure I have no fewer learning styles to cater for than my friend who teaches up the road in a co-ed class. So if it is not about the learning styles of boys and girls being different, why do single sex schools exist and why am I teaching in one?

I teach at a girls' school, not because I believe girls learn in a completely different way to boys and should be taught different content, that's just silly. An effective teacher can manage many different types of learners in their classroom.

I teach at a girls' school because I see the differences in the way girls and boys experience society. Despite all the great work done by women such as Kate Sheppard, the world is far from being a level playing field. I teach at a girls' school because as a community our school is deeply committed to discrediting all the myths that girls are consciously or sub-consciously fed out there in the wider world. We work so hard to empower our girls and ensure that before they leave us and move into high school they know they can do anything! They leave us believing that being a girl is completely and utterly awesome and that they have the power to achieve whatever they want and really make a difference in their world.

In our school, girls are never inadvertently given messages that any field is best for boys or even "off limits" for girls. They participate whole-heartedly in a huge range of activities and are surrounded by fantastic role models; inspiring women and men.  I am proudly feminist.

That is not to say that we are anti-boy. Not at all. We are simply pro-girl. Our culture is very "Girl Power" and our girls are thriving! As a Year 8 teacher, I get lots of feedback from parents and students who have moved on to co-ed high schools. They consistently tell me that their daughters were very well-prepared for a co-ed world and their girls are confidently giving the boys a run for their money!

I know there may be readers out there who are reading this and shaking their heads. Of course, there are co-ed schools which are mindful of the messages their girls are receiving. That is fabulous! Sadly, for many girls the message isn't getting through and the statistics are available to prove that girls are not feeling empowered, wrongly or rightly to participate in many fields. In many cases, when they do they are not paid equally and their contribution is simply not recognised in the way it is for their male counterparts. Put simply, we should not tolerate the status quo.

Our school and its "girl power" culture empower girls to meet their potential. They know there is power in being a girl and they have the confidence to use it to make a difference in our world.







Monday, 23 February 2015

Home, Sweet Home! Loving Where You Live

15 Things that will make you smile in Christchurch


Ok, so for the second day in a row, I've been thinking about something seemingly unrelated to educational pedagogy; the importance of loving where you live. I guess that's because my love for my hometown is always strong around the anniversary of the quakes; that's what's on top for me at the moment. I promise to blog about something with a less tenuous link to education tomorrow.

But of course you guys are a smart bunch; I'm sure I don't need to point out the connection between being happy in your life to being an effective teacher. Yesterday after attending the River of Flowers, my husband, children and I were feeling sombre and reflective and we ended up in one of our favourite Christchurch cafes eating curly fries.  My eight year old son, probably sensing my sadness, suddenly reached for my hand and said, "I love Christchurch, Mum," which cheered me up no end.
"Me too!" said his big sister. "Its amazing!"
We then dug out my phone and made a family list of things we love about Christchurch. I've left off the things like "playdates" and "the friendly people" because I'm pretty sure your city has those too.

So without further ado, and in no particular order, here's the Compton-Moen family list of 15 things that make us happy in Christchurch. It should be noted that this is just half the list and also, not all members of the whanau agree with every item! ;)

1. The Street Art- amazeballs! Wander the CBD and be blown away by the some of the most incredible and uplifting street art you've seen. The Spectrum Streetart exhibition is really wonderful and was LOVED by each of my family for different reasons.



2. Hagley Oval- seriously, what's not to love? Sitting on the embankment is like being at an English boutique cricket ground. Lovely even if you are not a cricket fan.

3. The Fablab XCHC- this place is just incredible. A real playground for all ages.  If you like making stuff (and who doesn't?) this is the place for you. Take the entire family and spend time tinkering and creating together. Fun!

4. The Beach- Sumner, New Brighton, Taylor's Mistake, Waimairi.....all are fantastic places for fish n chips, an ice cream and a a swim if you're brave! And all are so close to the city.



5. Taking in a Crusader's game at the new AMI Stadium- even if you hate rugby, go for the horses! Just awesome. And you are sooooo close to the players, you could give them a few tips and they'd hear you. And believe me, my son does.

6. The Tannery- this "boutique shopping emporium" is so well done. Even the gorgeous toilets will make your jaw drop.  Great coffee, awesome craft beers, beautiful shops and the most delicious retro cake store. Love it.

7. Biking/ Jogging/ Walking/ Scootering/ Walking the dog in Hagley Park- 165 hectares of pure bliss right in the centre of the city.



8. CBD adventure- A ride on the Tram, punting on the Avon River, visiting New Regent Street and Restart- This is the best way to really see what is happening in our city in transition. I am a huge fan of the tram and always learn something new despite having lived here for 75% of my life! New Regent Street is just gorgeous and Restart is a must-see; a shopping precinct created from shipping containers at a time when containers really were the only option! Very cool and I desperately hope it will always have a place in the New Christchurch.

9. Drink goooooood coffee. Having lived in all of NZ's main centres(Between us) and being somewhat coffee connoisseurs (or perhaps just addicts!), my husband and I know for sure that Christchurch coffee is amongst the best. Try quirky C1 with its curly fries which arrive in pneumatic sliders or Black Betty with its range of different coffee methods such as Coffee Syphon. Brick Farm has amazing coffee and grows its own delicious organic produce right on site.



10. Or perhaps you're after something stronger than coffee! Visit one of the many new bars in Christchurch; Engineers and Merchants has a fantastic roof top bar; Strange's Lane has a collection of great bars including Vespa which I love for its delicious street food inspired menu and its quirky musical offerings. Burt Bacharach anyone?!

11. The Antarctic Centre is an oldie but a goodie- so much fun. Ride the Hagglund (unless like me you get motion sick!) meet Little Blue Penguins and experience the power of the storm. My kids' favourite.

12. Visit Gapfiller Sites- these are changing all the time so check the website. Our family's favourite is The Dance-o-Mat....if its good enough for Charles and Camilla, then its good enough for the C-M family!



13. Mountain Biking at Macleans Island or Bottle Lake- the boys in our family LOVE doing this. The girls are happy with a lazy walk before beaching in the park with a good book. Either way, this is a fun family activity and the tracks really are great for a range of ages and abilities.

14. Christchurch Farmers' Market at Riccarton Bush- this is just such a fantastic and delicious way to spend a Saturday. And what a beautiful setting. The hardest part is deciding what to eat for lunch. YUM.

15. Day trips- one of the most fantastic things about Christchurch is its proximity to a huge variety of locations for amazing day trips. In around 90 minutes, you can be on a ski field at Mt Hutt or in hot pools in Hanmer Springs. You can be whale watching in Kaikoura or dolphin watching in Akaroa. Only got half a day to spare? Lyttelton and bays such as Diamond Harbour or Purau are stunning and a trip to Quail Island on the ferry is a great way to get out on the water.

Hanmer Thermal Resort- Magic

Ok, like I said that's only half our list but creating it was such a mood enhancer I just had to share. What do you love about your hometown?

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Four Years On.........

Today it is four years since the day that Christchurch and Cantabrians were changed forever.  It is so hard to believe that it is 1461 days since that horrific day that not one of us will ever forget. In many ways it feels like yesterday......and in others it seems like a lifetime ago. The scars are so deep and Cantabrians are a changed people. It is impossible to go through such tragedy and be untouched by it.

Having said that, I feel like a fraud writing this.  I feel like I don't have the right to comment. You see, I know that I'm one of the lucky ones...the very lucky ones. I didn't lose any whanau or close friends, none of us suffered horrendous injuries that changed the path of our lives and force us to live with daily pain, we didn't lose our home and our house's structural damage has now been fixed. We didn't lose jobs or equity in our home or business.

My heart goes out to all those whose lives have been changed irrevocably....to those who have lost, arohanui.



Today, as in previous years we marked the anniversary by attending the River of Flowers. We bought flowers for Christchurch, red of course, and stood on the banks of the Avon River. As a family we were quiet and still for a minute at 12.51 before a lone piper played Amazing Grace. The tears flowed as I suspect they will for many years to come. Yes, I am one of the lucky ones but the hurt and sorrow I feel for Christchurch and our people remains raw.
I still find it hard to accept that so many in this city are suffering so much after all this time. I still struggle to come to terms with all that we've lost. The shops where my mother took me to buy school shoes and a brownie uniform as a child, the tea rooms where my grandparents took me for lime milkshakes, the Town Hall where I sang in numerous music festivals and attended my first rock concert, the City Mall where we used to sit on Friday nights as fourth formers outside HMV in our kungfu shoes, every single bar and nightclub my friends and I frequented as uni students, the restaurant and movie theatre my husband took me to on our first date, the church where we were married, the hospital where my son was born, the list goes on and on......the special places that mark the passing of my life are gone; only rubble, road cones or bare land remains.

But these are only buildings; though it is sad, I can accept their demise. What is harder to accept is the loss of innocence and the new found realisation that life can be taken from us at any time. I feel such anger at the quakes and I hate that I am now so desperately frightened of Mother Nature's ferocious power. Like many Cantabrians, when we suffer aftershocks it takes me a long, long time to recover. My heart races, my mouth is dry and my mind jumps straight away to mentally locate my children. It is hard not to think back to that horrific day at school and not hear the screams of 250 terrified children or picture their petrified faces. I hate that Christchurch people now live with a fear in their hearts that is so hard to shake.

And yet, today I look forward with hope. I believe strongly that there will be a better future for our city. I love the creativity that is such a part of the new normal in Christchurch. I love that we are more grateful and able to find joy in the little things. I see changes in Christchurch's children and feel proud of them for their resilience and compassion for others. This generation of children will be a force to be reckoned with, of that I am sure.

Today is a tough day; tomorrow will be better.



Saturday, 21 February 2015

Making Class Blogs Authentic- a cry for help!

Today's post is a cry for help of sorts. I am hoping that all you blogging gurus will read this and weigh in.

We've had a class blog for two years now. Starting 8C Happenings in 2013 was so exciting. Our learners were completely and utterly on board and practically fought each other to get blogposts up. We formed many connections and spent lots of time reading other blogs and writing comments. We took part in International and Aotearoa Quadblogging and other projects including the Global Read Aloud. In 2014, we did a Unit of Inquiry around digital citizenship and sharing in online spaces. The unit was called "Straight to the Blog" a title which was kind of a sad in- joke between those of us old enough to remember the "straight to the poolroom" quote from that classic piece of Australian cinema, The Castle. We got all classes in our team blogging and making global connections. We even started a New Zealand-wide kids' book chat on twitter via our blog. I had endless enthusiasm for blogging as a class.



This year, I've got to be honest, I don't seem to be able to rekindle that fire! I am not sure why this is but I think its because our blog has really become a sequence of recounts. There seems to be an absence of the higher level thinking that my girls are so great at. We are documenting the events that punctuate life in our classroom but I have this question in my head that I just can't shake. 

So what?

I need to think back to my original learning intentions when we started our blog. I had three goals for 8C Happenings. 

a) Document life in the classroom for our whanau

b) Flatten the classroom walls so we could connect with and learn alongside others

c) Develop our skills in writing in online spaces and maintaining an engaging blog


We are certainly working on Purpose A but I'm not sure parents and family members are reading it. When I surveyed parents via google form last year, I got a lot of mixed responses. Most loved it and checked that they would hate to see us abandon the blog but many confessed that rarely read it, even when I emailed out links. Hmmmmmm......how do I address this? How do you encourage parents to engage with your class blog? Any suggestions? 

Purpose B is the one that I believe provides the greatest rewards and I always feel the greatest enthusiasm for blogging when we are right in the thick of connecting and forming relationships with classes around New Zealand and the world. I am deeply committed to giving constructive comments with wild abandon as a class; giving others feedback and helping others learn if we can. Our greatest challenge is time. I am wondering if the best way to give real impetus to commenting is to incorporate blog reading into our reading programme. I wonder if there is some way to bring blogs into the 40 Book Challenge? How do you make time for reading and commenting on blogs in your classroom? Is it timetabled? A Must-Do? Homework? 

Purpose C brings in those ideas around blog management. My learners are good writers and can create posts with visual elements with independence. The challenge for me is to hand some of the initiative needed for blogging over to them. I don't want Liz (my co-teacher) and I to be the ones who initiate every post. The girls will blog at the drop of a hat if we ask them to but we need a better system for getting them to take charge. Do we need a job list around this? A daily reporter? A photographer? A videographer?  A tweeter? Should a small team be blogging every day or just when there is a special event? (I am pretty sure I know your answer to this!) How do we get our posts out there for others to read? And how do we create posts that make others want to comment? 

As you can see, I have highlighted my questions. I am really hoping to hear about the systems you have around blogging in your classroom. Our goal is that our blog will be more authentic and chronicle our thinking and learning, not just the "big ticket" events.  I'm really hoping that this blog and your feedback will help recapture my blogging mojo! 

Thanks in advance! 

   


   

Friday, 20 February 2015

A Must-Read: Book Love by Penny Kittle

There are a number of professional books that have had a profound effect on my teaching. Their content has resonated so strongly with me that it has transformed my practice. Sometimes it is not that the ideas held within are radical or completely new to me, but rather that the book's author has given me the courage to follow my instincts and abandon ineffective classroom practices.

Penny Kittle's Book Love is one such book. Reading it was strangely comforting, like spending time with an old and dear friend; a friend who makes you feel good about yourself and empowered to change! Penny Kittle is inspiring and passionate and a great storyteller; Book Love really is a great read. 

The full title is Book Love: Developing Depth, Stamina and Passion in Adolescent Readers and the book is chock full of strategies that seek to do just that. It is a great companion to Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild. It is aimed at High School English teachers but as a teacher of Year 8s was still very relevant to me. A lot of what Kittle has to say applies to educators working with all ages of learners although many of the strategies would work best with students about Year 6 and up.

One of Kittle's strategies that worked very well for me in 2014 was calculating personal reading rates and using these to measure one's progress and increased stamina. I used this strategy once a term and it was hugely popular with those learners in my class who liked to see numbers or data as evidence of their growth. It also makes weekly goal setting very easy as students can choose to read more than their current reading rate.

Another strategy I found very helpful was the term reflections. This involved listing books read in the term from most to least difficult. This strategy was powerful because it created in my students, a mindfulness around the challenge level of their reading material. This is turn had the effect of pushing many of them to ensure they had included some challenging books in their reading plans for the following term.

Here is an example that I created. You may or may not agree with the order I have chosen to list my reading material in (and in fact even I now disagree with my own list) but that's actually not important. What is important is this process made me aware of the challenge level of my reading choices. This in turn helps to create depth as learners try to raise their own personal challenge bar. And yes, it became sorely apparent as I created this, that I should probably read more books intended for adults!

I loved this quote that reminds us of the ultimate goal.

 "We have to commit to helping students choose texts they can navigate alone, then teach the skills needed to unravel more difficult texts in class, so that their skills increase while they experience the pleasure of reading. When skills and pleasure align, students begin to choose more difficult texts to read independently." (p. 14) 

I have read the chapter "Creating a School Community of Readers" numerous times. This chapter tells the story of the author's own school's journey to create a lifelong love of reading in every one of their students. There are lots of practical suggestions to help nurture a school-wide reading culture. This section shows what is possible under visionary leadership even if not all are on board.

My principal takeaway from Book Love is that any educator who teaches reading has a duty to read themselves. That sounds incredibly obvious but since reading this book I have heard and read of an alarming number of teachers who comment that they are not readers.  Kittle shared this great quote from Jim Trelease;



Which professional books have you loved? I'd love to hear your recommendations!

 

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Leaders; born or made?

What is your school's view on leadership training for your learners?

I always love hearing how other schools approach student leadership. A recent #bfc630nz chat on student leadership confirmed that there are amazing things happening in student leadership in New Zealand schools. There are many, many ways to "skin a cat" and a school's student leadership culture is undoubtedly shaped by their beliefs about one simple question: are leaders born or made?

Our school leadership programme hinges on the beliefs expressed here by Warren Bennis.



Every single one of our Year 8 students participates in our year long Leadership Academy, not just a privileged few. Surely eleven or twelve years old is to young for us to dictate who is a leader and who isn't it? We frequently hear from former students of our school who contact us with the exciting news that they have been selected as Head Girl of their high schools. Sometimes we are surprised and delighted by this news. Girls who at 11 years old as brand new Year 8 students may not have displayed enormous confidence, are flourishing in their leadership roles five years later. More and more frequently, these girls have had to apply for the job of Head Girl- would they have had the confidence to do so if five years earlier at primary school they had not "made the cut" for Leadership Training? Would they have felt that they had been subtly labeled "not leadership material" and quietly have slunk away with their tail between their legs? Perhaps they'd have bounced back and shown the resilience and determination we hope to instill into our students but what if they hadn't? What if they had simply decided that they had unfortunately not been born with the personality traits and characteristics necessary to be an effective leader as determined by us, a small group of teachers at their primary school? Perish the thought! So we continue to be firmly committed to developing the leadership skills of all our students.

Our Year 8 Leadership Academy kicked off for 2015 last week with Leadership Week- a five day
programme of activities designed to give the girls the skills they will need to experience real success in their leadership roles for the year. There were workshops on skills such as gaining and maintaining a group's attention, communicating (emailing, writing items for the newsletter, notices etc) creating a run sheet etc. There were activities that pushed many learners right out of their comfort zones such as the dance routine the girls were taught by Miss Gemma from Impact Dance school which they then performed for the school in a spontaneous flashmob.   There was rock-climbing and belaying one another at the Christchurch YMCA which meant our learners had to use their risk-taking skills and learn to trust others.  




And there was lots and lots of philosophical discussion about what makes a good leader.




Most importantly, there was the opportunity to put into practice what they had learned by running events in their leadership group for our youngest learners. This opportunity was hugely successful for the Year 8s as they practiced creating run sheets, collaborating and identifying the types of things that will keep young children engaged. It was also a highly successful event for the junior girls which had a positive flow-on effect for their teachers. Win Win!

These activities have served to confirm our belief that leaders are made not born as there are many girls really thriving in their leadership roles now that they have been given the tools and are working on the skills and attitudes of effective leadership. Many of these girls may not have been appointed to leadership roles if they were in another situation as they might be deemed as lacking in confidence or perhaps even too disorganised.

We believe that all learners, (incidentally including ourselves as educators) are a work in progress. We want to empower them and give them the tools to thrive; not clip their wings before they have even had a chance to fly.

What do you do at your school? I'd love to hear how this works at your school?






Friday, 13 February 2015

Gettin' Girls' Geek On- 6 ways to get girls into Computer Science

There's been a lot in the media recently about the massive gender imbalance in the computer science field. As the Mum of an 11 year old self-professed "computer geek" and a teacher of twelve year old girls, this is more than slightly alarming. I could link to hundreds of articles discussing the fact that computer science is one of the most segregated and "undiverse" fields on the planet but I wont because I'm sure like me, you've seen them on an almost daily basis coming through your twitter feed. But I will share this preview with you.......



Yep, this is a very real problem for many reasons but the one that concerns me the most is that women and girls, whether intentionally or inadvertently are being excluded from the amazing opportunities that working in computer science offers. This problem is prevalent in all STEM fields and it bothers me (that's a polite way of putting it) that girls are somehow getting the message that these fields have nothing to offer them.
So what can be done to ensure that girls know that computer science is a viable and attractive career option? Here are six things we are doing at our school. I am not a Computer Science guru at our school. That would be the amazing Liz Fairhall, but as an educator and even more so as a parent, I am deeply passionate about eliminating gender inequality in the job market. So I write this, not as an educator but as a Mum who is enormously grateful for the opportunities and gorgeous people in my daughter's life, people who tell her everyday to embrace what she refers to as her "geekiness" and help her to nurture her gifts and passions. What a lucky girl.

So here are six things that I believe need to be happening if we have any hope of addressing gender inequalities in the tech field.


1. Start 'em young- 

It is obvious that young girls need exposure to technology from the early years. Computer science needs to be normalised and seen as fun and creative. Never assume a child is too young to learn the basics of coding or robotics. Our preschoolers joined us for Hour of Code and were so engaged and worked so well with their older buddies on some fun challenges. Young girls need tools that given them instant gratification so look for tools where they'll see the fruits of their labour immediately.

Year 8s help preschoolers during Hour of Code

2. Be mindful of the messages girls receive-

My daughter is very lucky to attend the girls' school where I teach and now as she enters Year 8, I can honestly say that she has never been exposed to the idea that computer science is "for boys" as our school is all about "Girl Power" in all fields. Gerard MacManus, a digital technologies educator who is doing awesome things, shared this clip with me last year. It is Mona Akbal from Code.org speaking at the itx2014 conference. At 5 minutes 30, she speaks about the fact that at her girls' school she was completely protected from any of the stereotypes about what girls should and shouldn't do and be.



For the girls at our school, depending on the messages they get at home and in their wider community, it is the same. Our girls are never exposed to that hidden curriculum stuff where the male teachers teach computer science while the women teachers send for men to get rid of the Spinning Wheel of Death or fix their broken apple tvs! Our Makerspace and Elearning director is actually an ex-pupil of our school and the girls really do want to "be" her!
Needless to say, girls at many co-ed schools are also getting strong messages both girls and boys can do anything. Woo hoo!


3. Give girls the option to share learning using computer science skills-

Be creative and allow plenty of choices when sharing learning. Instead of using drag and drop website creation tools to share learning, using HTML/CSS. Create games and animations; Scratch is awesome for this and is one of those tools that never gets old as the list of things that can be done with it is endless. Here's an animation made by one of our learners for her soon-to-be married teacher.



Think outside the square. Find ways with your learners to integrate computer science learning into all areas.

4. Use a mentoring system-

Mentoring is a very big part of the life of our school and it plays an important role in our computer science programmes. Older girls support younger learners in numerous ways, particularly with coding. Older girls are supported by staff mentors and expert mentors in the community.
We also strive to providing mentoring from women "at the coalface" in the Computer Science field. A recent field trip for passionate Year 7/8s was to the EPIC Hub an awesome tech and innovation hub which was created after Christchurch's earthquakes. This was a brilliant way to meet and talk with women (and men) about the exciting work they are doing. The girls were really inspired and the women they met were so encouraging and supportive of their passion to enter the Computer Science field. Despite their enthusiasm, the girls were alarmed at the overwhelming gender imbalance. To see what I'm talking about, watch the clip I've linked to and play "Count the Women! But the bottom line is the trip was incredibly worthwhile and the girls left even more determined and convinced that computer science is an exciting career option.

Some passionate students at the EPIC Hub, Christchurch

5. Give girls cool tools-

With the plethora of coding tools that have exploded onto the market recently, this shouldn't be a problem at all. Try apps such as Hopscotch, Daisy the Dinosaur and Kodable. Try online tutorials such as those on Khan Academy or Code Avengers or visit HourofCode.com for some fun and creative ideas. Use tools such as MakeyMakey, Little Bits and Raspberry Pi.

Here in this clip from #educampchch, Liz demonstrates how to turn your Christmas Tree into a piano using a MakeyMakey; such a fun way to learn about circuitry.



6. Give girls the time and space to "geek" out with like-minds-

Robotics clubs, passion projects, Code Clubs, Make Clubs...all of these give girls the time and space they need to explore ideas with that social aspect that many girls crave.  A huge love of my daughter's is spending time at the Christchurch Fablab. She loves spending time there creating and working with digital fabrication techniques. Bridget McKendry who runs the Fablab is a fantastic mentor. My daughter is enrolled in the Pixel Girls club and this provides another opportunity to spend time socially while engaged in the activities she loves so much.

Girls loving the chance to "geek out" together at the Fablab, XCHC, Christchurch

These six steps won't be an overnight fix for the gender imbalance in technology but they are certainly a good start.


Disclaimer: it goes without saying that these activities are great for boys too! ;)

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

5 things I couldn't teach without

Ok, so of course if push came to shove I could teach without these tools.....but I'd really rather not have to! ;)

1. Post-it notes- Is there no end to the wonders you can perform with these babies? I have a special softspot for those ones that come already concertina-ed? Do you know the ones? Those are awesome.



2. GAFE- Gosh, I don't want to be one of those educators who is the equivalent of a Crusaders supporter! (You know the ones.....who won't have a bad word said about their team and are so loyal to them that when anything goes wrong it is the ref's fault?) Those people exist in education too, don't they? They are so loyal to their chosen product that nothing else comes even close and they won't entertain the thought that something better might be out there. Like I said, I don't want to be like that but I feel like I just might be that person when it comes to GAFE! I just couldn't love google apps any more if I tried. GAFE should really just pay me for all the promotion and fangirling I do over their products!



3. Picture Books- There really is the perfect book for every learning experience. My current favourite is this.


This is just must-have if you do any iteration of passion-based learning such as Genius Hour, Passion Projects or 20% time.


I was going to use it for Passion Projects but have absolutely zilch self- control when it comes to sharing great books with my learners so I just couldn't wait a whole week and shared it for Leadership Week instead, the day it arrived. There's a reason why my word for 2015 was Patience. (Boring I know but I just couldn't shake it!)


4. Apple TV- Oh my goodness! I feel so grateful to have this in my classroom. This tiny little black box, costing a relatively meagre $149, enables my learners to share so easily with the whole class via a television, straight from their device. So many uses for this (DING! Blogpost idea) but my favourite is Student Led Conferences when the learners display their eportfolios through the apple tv. Seeing their pride and joy's hard work on a big screen does something funny to parents- its just lovely.




5. My PLN- After a move to Year 8 from Year 5, I joined Twitter because I was terrified and hoped it would help me find some answers to burning questions. It helped me more than I could ever have imagined; mostly to feel confident and trust my instincts about things I wanted to change in our classroom. I "met" some amazing people and took part in some incredible twitter chats and suddenly I was hooked. Now I couldn't be without twitter and my PLN and would be devastated if I was working in a school where Twitter isn't allowed. Blogger is another tool that connects me....and my learners to a huge learning network. My PLN also includes the amazing teachers I am lucky to work with and others who I connect with Face to Face over a coffee or wine .... when time allows!
I might be able to survive in a classroom without items 1-4......for a little while! But I know for sure, I would seriously struggle to do the best for my learners without my PLN and the ties that bind us, Twitter and Blogger.....and the occasional Sauvignon Blanc!  


So, what tools do you love? Are there any tools you couldn't live without? I'd love to hear your recommendations.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Are you wondering what #bfc630nz stands for?

#bfc630nz stands for Breakfast Club, 6.30 NZ

This is a new "sparkchat" started by Kerri Thompson from Tamatea Intermediate in Napier and Surin from Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Whanau Tahi in Christchurch.  "What's a spark chat?" you might well ask........I asked exactly the same thing!

It is a 15 minute, one question twitter chat which kicks off at, you guessed it.....6.30am, every week day. Kerri and Surin post one question at 6.30am, ONE provocative question designed to challenge us and most importantly get us "sparking" for the day ahead. We share, chat, favourite, retweet and like any twitter chat are hugely inspired by other educators. This "small but perfectly formed" chat can really get us pumped for the day ahead.

Kerri and Surin decided to introduce this concept to New Zealand educators after being inspired by
Image from the #bfc630nz blog
the US version, #bfc530! And you thought 6.30 was early!!! And 5.30 may be early in the US but its LATE here in NZ- 11.30pm in fact, so I have completely failed in all my efforts to take part in this chat, often failing asleep with my phone on my face and waking when the chat is well and truly over. Kerri and Surin insist it is amazing, that the BFC530 community is amazing.....and I believe them. So I'm very grateful to them for taking the initiative to bring the sparkchat concept to Aotearoa.

Yes, its true, 6.30am is a very busy time in many New Zealand households, including my own. In the last week, I have tweeted with my phone in one hand while making a school lunch with the other, I have tweeted while scrambling eggs, I have even tweeted in the bathroom straight from the shower......and it has really been worth it. I find myself feeling invigorated and fired up for the day ahead. There is no way I can make the chat every day but Kerri and Surin's motto is
* WHEN YOU CAN * WHEN YOU NEED* so I like that I can join the chat when I can and when I need some inspiration to get me through the morning. I love that it's short and sweet and cuts straight to the point. Perfect. 

You can read more about #bfc630nz on the Breakfast Club blog and also check out the storify archives of previous chats.

Here's the topic for tomorrow's #bfc630nz chat-



Sounds inspiring to me!

Thank you so much to Kerri and Surin for all your hard work to bring this to NZ! You're amazing!





Sunday, 8 February 2015

What would you do if you weren't a teacher?

Yesterday's post about helping our learners find their element challenged me to consider this question.......


Hmmmmm......... this is tough. I LOVE being an educator. I love the learners, I love the creativity, I love the variety, I love the changing technologies, I love constantly learning and I love the relationships that we work to form with our learners, their parents and with other educators.

So, what would I do if I chose for some reason to give up my role in the classroom? I have been thinking a lot about finding one's element. Sir Ken Robinson describes your element as the place where your aptitudes or talents and your passions meet.

Image by D.Richards, inspired by Sir Ken Robinson's, The Element


What would "the element" be for you? I find this question very, very difficult to answer. The irony is that I can see exactly what my family members' elements might be......

My daughter is deeply passionate about computer science and animated movies. She has a real thirst for learning more about animation and story creation. She gets on lynda.com and works through tutorials to teach herself Blender in her spare time. She watches Disney movies in a very academic way, passionately pointing out where both hand-drawn and computer-generated techniques have been merged. She even tracked down an animator from Dreamworks on my twitter account and quizzed her about the software she uses. I can see if she continues on this track, she'll end up working for an animation company and I wouldn't put it past her to start her own storyboarding and animation company.

Heroes/ Mentors are so important for following our dreams.  
My 8 year old son LOVES rugby the way I love dark chocolate! He is also very passionate and good at maths and spends a lot of time making books of statistics in the rugby season...things like who carried the ball the most during a game and who achieved the longest drop kick. Totally beyond me. He is also mad keen on geography and I think that his current dream job would be as a travelling statistician for the All Blacks- even better would be if he could also play First Five! That'd be perfect for him! He'd be in his element!

My husband is incredibly creative, a very talented artist with a deep passion for healthy city building (how ironic that we live in Christchurch, a city desperately in need of people just like him) Exactly six days ago, I think he found his element when he moved from working with engineers and people who look at the world in a very different way to working for a new firm of urban designers and landscape architects- people who care deeply about creating a vibrant and dynamic city with the well-being of its people at its very heart. It is truly awesome to see him having found his element. His enthusiasm for his work has increased exponentially and it's wonderful to see and be part of that.

So, what is my element? When I asked my family what they thought I'd do for a profession if I wasn't a teacher, my husband answered that he thought I'd either own my own florist shop (hmmm....not a morning person so that's probably NOT going to happen!) or open a children's bookshop, matching children to the perfect book. That sounds very cool- I would LOVE that! My son answered that he thought I'd be a person that helps people or perhaps a lawyer- he and I are quite skilled are arguing our points! My daughter answered that she thought I'd have a job helping people identify their passions....how ironic that I can't identify my own element but can clearly see possibilities for others.

So what would you do if you weren't an educator? Hmmm.....I don't have the answer; perhaps that's because I've already found it.....in my classroom.

Leave me a comment, I'd love to hear what you'd do if you weren't in education.