As we’ve been sorting out our junk and packing things to keep for an upcoming house move, I’ve come across all sorts of photos. This has had me checking out the Old Friends website – to which I’m a member – and attempting (and failing) to upload some of the school photos. (The site won’t accept any scanned photos from a mac!)

However that got me thinking about mum and her career as a teacher. Imagine how nice it was to discover today that she was well remembered – and in a good way.

I imagine she was a lot more patient than I am even though many of her classes were large. I also found this class photo from 1965 – (I’m the cute one!) – 38 students (~7 years old) – what a handful!

As we wind our way towards the start of a new year I’m constantly reminded of mum and the lessons she taught me. I want to be the kind of teacher she was – respected by both students and families alike.

In the raw – notes from James Nottingham PD session at school

James Nottingham

  • Many schools are about proving rather than learning
  • Gardner quote – teachers obsessed with categorizing kids
  • What is a holiday?


The Learning Challenge

  • The Learning Pit
  •  Curling parents/teachers – sweeping in front of the kids to make it easier for the kids (While we need to do some guiding I think we sometimes do too much for the sake of order & harmony in the classroom!)
  • Learning intentions – process driven rather than content driven (key to helping kids learn how to learn)
  • Job of teacher not to teach but to help kids learn how to learn
  • If teachers tell them/guide them through all the steps the students become dependent rather than independent
  • Create a learning journey – big LI/SC that we’re working towards (might be content based) but then the intermediate LI/SC could therefore be process driven
  • Generate/create the best learning opportunities for our kids
  • Questions for kids
    • What is learning about?
    • What are learners like?
    • What was it like when you learned how to …?
  •  ASK model
    • attitudes
    • skills
    • knowledge
  • Get the kids to clarify what exactly learning is all about
    • Derron Brown – youtube – don’t kill the kitten :
      • Show a kid something with a button and they’ll press it; show a adult something with a button they’ll ask what it does (cf DK)
    • What would an outstanding learner look like/be like?
      • Then create learning intentions (NO reference to content)
      • Today is about exercising our curiosity by using the most searching questions about …
    • Should we measure teaching or learning?
    • You get what you focus on or measure

How can we fit this in without being constricted by National Standards?

  • Don’t concentrate on what you don’t want the kids to do – rather on what things you want them to do
  • (From school in Sweden – Soderporten School, Norrkoping – high level of asylum seekers –
    • We are positive, enthusiastic and show joy
      • Write your aims and learning intentions as if they are happening right now
    • We celebrate each other’s differences
    • We treat each other with respect
      • Best exam results in 2010 since 1997; turned off video surveillance in 2010 because behaviour problems dissappeared

Demo Lessons

  • engage with each other
  • questions in each other
  • identify assumptions in each other
  • content driven by their questions

Why are you studying this? Because the teacher told us to!

The more we praise kids for getting the right answer the more desperate they get. It gets in the way of their learning. Praise instead for things like asking good questions …

When learning is hard it’s uncomfortable – therefore the pit. Need to change their notion of how to get out of and through the discomfort.

FOAFOY (F off and find out for yourself)

Blocking the kids normal “route” – making them find another way. Saying ‘well done’ for their correct answer stops them thinking any further about the question. The pit is not having ‘no idea’ – it’s having conflicts of ideas
Cognitive conflict is the key to ‘wobble’
(Stealing is wrong vs Robin Hood was right)

Teaching what to think vs teaching how to think.

Teaching what to think also teaches how to ignore the other side of the argument (ie Bullying is wrong & tell the teacher vs My dad says to hit them back)

kriticos ⇒ able to make judgements

When you listen to children are they making judgements or are they repeating learned reponses.

An ethos for learning

Not all of our questions answered … but all of our answers questioned!
If I question your answers it’s not because they’re wrong it makes you think more.

Reframing Questions

(My questiong from The Incredible Journey)
Is dog fighting okay? → Opinion
What is fighting? → Concept

What happens when you die? → Opinion
What is death? → Concept

Was the mouse telling lies? → Opinion
What is a lie? → Concept

Eureka ⇒ greek for “I’ve found it!” (not my teacher or my parent)

The eureka moment won’t happen unless they’ve first struggled. (Eureka the ecstasy of learning – if we are curling teachers our kids will never get the eureka moment.) The pit may start out as a puddle … becoming more challenging. The bigger the challenge the bigger the eureka.

No point to do research unless there is a question to be answered …

How to get kids into the pit


  • If A=B then does B=A?
    • If a friend is someone you trust then is someone you trust a friend?
  • If a friend is someone I play with then are the girls in the netball team who I play with my friends?
  • Not looking for a right answer – looking to block the ‘right’ answer so that they can come up with other answers
  • If A = B then if it’s NOT B = NOT A?
  • IF Real = See it then does Can’t see it = Not real?
  • If a friend is someone I play with then if I don’t play with them does that mean they’re not my friend?
  • Can anyone think of a time when your friend did not look after you?
  • Ok to rehearse with kids how to do this

Colliding Concepts

  • Similar/opposite concepts
  • Synonym or antonym
  • Because English comes from so many different sources we have a huge rich language (more synonyms and antonyms)
  • Lies and make-believe

Into the pit – fact → concept
Out of the pit – combining ideas (rank them/limit them/venn diagrams) → Eureka moment!

Classroom management

    • Knee to knee groups (6-7 times over an hour) (fours)
    • smaller groups can’t discuss the bigger concepts so narrow it down
      • IE Truth & Opinion
        • “If I believe that the world is flat but I tell you that the world is round am I telling the truth?”

  • Introverted thinkers → need to think before they talk (if you put them on the spot they usually will say nothing)
    • start your sentences with : perhaps, maybe, i’m not exactly sure yet
  • Extroverted thinkers → talk to think – will often be the person who shouts out the answer
      • teach these guys to have the conversation in their heads with themselves
      • acknowledge them non-verbally when they’ve called out (maybe with a thumbs out)


  • Thumbs up rather than hands up (armpit sniffers)
  • What are we focusing on – quiet, well managed classrooms or kids thinking?
  • Larger class sizes – inner circle/out circle
    • inner circle taking  part in the discussion
    • outer circle taking notes
    • swap round
  • (P) Review (James’ classroom on Friday)
    • What attitudes have helped us this week
    • What skills have we used
    • Knowledge – a quiz – kids come up with the quiz questions
      • question that others got right 1 pt for grp that created question and those that answered the question
      • question that others didn’t get right 5 pts
    • Pre-view next week
      • Context set by teacher (ie Habitat) → Spider habitats
        • What do you want to know about ….
        • Kids come up with questions
      • Maths
    • Kids would spend weekend researching
    • (James’ story about stacking Trivial pursuit so he could win on Christmas Day)
  • Preparing kids for the lessons rather than making them a mystery
    • (James would send a letter home every Friday telling parents what the kids were going to be learning next week – that way the parents/grandparents could be included in the learning – Get dads onside by adding “…to give your child an advantage next week…”)


Alfred Binet – created first IQ test (

  • identify which kids the curriculum does not suit (not clever/stupid)
  • indication of what they’ve learned to this point

HH Goddard

  • translated from French to English
  • eugenics movement
  • put a intelligence spin on it

Stanford IQ test ( / (

  • skewed to prove that whites were superior
  • linked low intelligence with crime & anti-social behaviour
  • white came out top
  • black came out bottom

Mediation → encouraging children to focus → focal point for a newborn baby is the distance between their eyes and mothers eyes when breastfeeding

What do we get kids to focus on (ie on the right answer or thinking for themselves)?

Number of words heard by children
616/hour ⇒ words spoken by child by the time they are 3 ⇒ 500 – welfare dependent home
1251/hour ⇒ words spoken by child by the time they are 3 ⇒ 700 – working class home
2153/hour ⇒ words spoken by child by the time they are 3 ⇒ 1100 – professional home
(1995 Hart & Risley)

As adults we use Beginners, intermediate, advanced BUT we use special needs, Average, Gifted/Bright
(OR below, at, above!)

Self-fulfilling prophecies
Pygmalion in the classroom by Rosenthal & Jacobson :

Does our testing set kids up to come to school to learn that they are dumb? Testing doesn’t focus on learning it focuses on showing off.

Spelling testing (pre-testing and post-testing ⇒ progress score (post-test score minus pre-test score = progress score)

Plasticity of our brains (Video example of girl who had one hemisphere removed)
Just because kids arrive with certain dis-abilities do they have to stay that way?

Gardner – I wish teachers had never come across my theory because they’re all obsessed with categorising kids.

Look at what I’m strong or weak at and what I want to develop next.
Self-fulfilling prophecies – I can never be good at …
We have limited amount of hours in the day … how are we going to spend these hours with the kids …

de-motivational posters

Marshmallow experiment, 1972

Phrases/words that do more harm than good

  • gifted (suggests a gift)
  • clever
  • brilliant
  • bright
  • top of the class
  • by far the best

Carol Dweck – Mindsets

All children should hear process praise and process criticism
“Wow that’s a really good score. You must be smart at this.” (Intelligence praise)
“Wow that’s a really good score. You must have tried really hard.” (Process praise)

Great phrases

  • You figured it out
  • How extraordinary
  • Great discovery
  • Well worked through
  • You figured it out

Life in Room 12

This is just a catch-up of happenings in our classroom & school.

We had a special visitor to our class for 10 days – Rohi. Rohi has her own blog and is on an intrepid journey around New Zealand visiting a number of schools on the way. Here is a slide show of her time with us.

Rohi and Room 12 @ RBS on PhotoPeach


eLearning classrooms tend to use a lot of technology at different times. Here’s a slide show of some of the tech at use in Room 12.

Technology in our Classroom on PhotoPeach


And here’s a snapshot of life @ RBS – just a mixture of things.

Life @ School on PhotoPeach

better than a test …

found this whilst clicking links

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