Category: General Musings

From my front deck

Today it’s magic…the water is like glass.

Two people are sitting in a red canoe, fishing. Occasionally a boat goes by rippling the glass-like finish of the water, and slowly, slowly the ripples expand until the surface becomes like “ice glass” and then the water becomes still again.

The peaceful silence has just been interrupted by the noise of a whipper-snipper…a shame but just one of the sounds of a Saturday afternoon…an outboard motor, some cicadas and the man next door working on his car.

I can see people walking along the boardwalk. Some have dogs, some have friends or children. Every now and then a group of cyclists spin by and some kids on skateboards.

The sky is amazing today. Still lots of clouds around, but all different types, with the blue sky showing in just the right places!

Magic! God is good.


IF YOU LIKE THIS POST AND WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT MY FRONT DECK…YOU CAN FOLLOW MY OTHER BLOG…  I decided it would be more appropriate to put non education things elsewhere. I’m still working on that blog, but you can still go there now and comment.

As I have been driving around during our summer school holidays, I have been interested to see the signs outside schools.

Some are really clever and some are just giving information. It makes me wonder who decides what will be put up and what type of person they are. It’s interesting to think about what the underlying message might indicate about the school.

  • Some have phone numbers telling you who to contact if there seems to be some problem with the school buildings.
  • Others tell you the date the teachers will return and when the students return.
  • Others give you a little cheery thought to send you on your way.
  • Some boast of their successful students.
  • Some are wishing farewell to teachers or students who are moving on.

But there has been a sign I have seen outside a few schools that has intrigued me more than the others, telling everyone that “Quality teaching resumes here on 30 January”. When compared to the other signs, it’s as if the only place to go for “quality teaching” is to these few schools. We might question just what goes on elsewhere.

So what is Quality Teaching? The NSW Department of Education quality teaching model is focused on pedagogy and has identified three dimensions that contribute to improving student outcomes – intellectual quality; a quality learning environment; and, significance. You might like to read up more about it on the DET website.

But quality teaching as described in the quality teaching model isn’t restricted to public schools. (This link takes you to a Youtube Video by Ken Robinson, which is really thought provoking.) Having worked in both public and independent schools, I have found a commitment to the above three dimensions by many teachers. Those teachers who work at developing their programs to include the three dimensions have great and exciting classrooms to be in.

Students are the focus of quality teaching, rather than the content being the focus. Quality teachers get to know their students well. They know the syllabus well and adapt to suit the needs of the individuals in their classes. A quality teaching program will not be the same year after year, it goes beyond the “basics” to stretch students to achieve beyond what is expected and to encourage them to think for themselves.

Here we are at the start of a new school year. Do you think the call that we hear from many about going “back to basics” is in conflict with the philosophy underlying the concept of quality teaching?

Is this going to be a new beginning for you?

If you are going to try something different this year to stretch yourself and your students can you share with us? I would love to know and encourage you in your endeavour.

Hours of Fun Playing Skylanders Spyro's Adventure

Image by BenSpark via FlickrImage via WikipediaImage via Wikipedia

There’s an XBox 360 in my living room connected to my TV.

So what? As of this January, 66 million XBox360s have been sold worldwide. There must be millions of living rooms with XBox 360s connected to their TVs. And maybe millions more with Playstations and Nintendo Wiis, not to mention handheld games, like DS’s, etc., etc., and so on.

But maybe it is a little unusual for a retired school teacher, a grandmother of eight and a lover of reading to be one of the millions.

For years I have seen my children and grandchildren playing video games and especially role playing games( RPGs). The latest to visit my lounge room, Skylanders, an RPG with toys, has fascinated all from my three year old grandson to my eldest son.

When my children were still in primary school we bought a VIC 20. With only 5kb of RAM it was one of the first little home computers you could buy. Incidentally, ours was one of a million sold. From then my boys were hooked.

Computers are very important in their adult lives both at work and, at home , where they play games.

Reading is also a very important part of their lives.

Every book and author I come across and suggest to my eldest son has already been read by him. My second son reads and re-reads fantasy novels. And my youngest son will read just about anything. They all like fantasy, and sci-fi.

And it’s not just my boys, many gamers are also avid readers.

So what came first, reading or gaming and is there a connection?

From the little research I have done on this subject, there does seem to be a connection between gaming and the genre of novels being read. Most RPGs are fantasy or sci-fi based. Playing the game allows the fantasy or sci-fi reader to extend the experience of getting lost in a good book, to becoming part of a story. So it may be that reading fantasy and sci-fi gets readers into playing.

As a teacher, I see many students eager to develop their reading skills so that they can begin borrowing books such as those in the Beast Quest series. There is a huge variety of fantasy and quest novels for young readers and they are often connected to something else, like cards and online extensions and additions to the stories. Scholastic’s “39 Clues”, for example.

Great reads, such as Lewis’s Narnia series,  Rowling’s Harry Potter, Tolkein’s The Hobbit, Paolini’s Eragon, Garth Nix‘s The Keys to the Kingdom, etc., encourage the excitement of the quest and heroes. Something the reader can live through vicariously. RPGs then give these readers the chance to live them out, to problem solve, to be the hero, to make their own story.

So, can video and/or role-playing games get players into reading? I certainly think there is much more to be said and debated on this topic. What type of people play RPGs?

What do you think?

My first post

Hello there, it’s nice of you to drop by.

Let me first tell you a little about myself before I finally get into the business of blogging. I have been privileged to spend the last 20 years of my life as an educator in various educational settings. The fact that I was a mother and a grandmother before I started teaching only enhanced my understanding of children and their social, emotional and educational needs. It seemed that this prior experience gave me a different slant on what is important.

I have taught in primary schools, in both the public and private sectors, teaching children from Kindergarten to Year 6. I have also had experience with secondary students and more recently the Professional Development of teachers.  My experience has encompassed general education, TESOL and Gifted and Talented Education.

And now I am setting out on my newest venture and want to take some of you with me.

In this blog spot I will share my thoughts about things that are close to my heart or that stir me so that I just need to say something.

EDUCATION topics, such as:

* reading  and books

* teaching and learning

* creativity in teaching

* gifted and talented (including gifted learning disabled students)

GENERAL topics, such as:

* my personal reading

* movies I’ve seen

* parenting, grandparenting and family matters

* my new ventures


* just general day to day thoughts and experiences that I would like to share.

I hope you will join me and make comments when you see something you like/don’t like. Or add your own thoughts to mine. It would be nice to know that you have been here.