Paul's Place of Musings and Insights

the journey of a techno-meddling teacher


NAPLAN tomorrow!!!!!!

Said no one ever.

Yeah, not so much excitement at my end, I’m afraid. While I’ve got the inevitable opinion on NAPLAN and standardised testing in general (I’ve put some fun memes down below), I don’t want to soapbox (on this occasion), suffice it to say that my class and I are missing two Maths lessons, a Science lesson and an Inquiry session this week. And that means… well not much really. It’s not such a big deal given sports days, excursions et al that consistently push aside the ‘already overcrowded curriculum’ and add to the hidden curriculum that is so meaningful for students. Alongside things like life lessons learnt during schoolyard fights and social development and whatnot. The real parts of life that happen alongside formal education.

That’s what I’ve come to see NAPLAN as – an experience for the students. Like it or not, success in formal education means testing and ranking. If you do well in Year 12, you’ll get into uni and have options. Of course you can be extremely successful without a uni experience, it just gives you options. If that’s what you’re after.

We give our kids formative assessment before giving them summative ones – I see NAPLAN (in one way) as a formative experience for students, in preparation for the higher stakes tests, the ones that actually count, in high school. Sure they also provide valuable information to stakeholders about the standard achievement levels of students and schools, but we all know they are a snapshot, through a narrow lens, of just one part of the educational experience.

So with the talk around staff rooms this week on why NAPLAN is <insert opinion here> I like to think of it in a positive light and let my students enjoy the ride.

and just for fun…


Jumping up the ladder

So this post title is a play on my jumping back into both integrated ICT use in my room as well as blogging but also a play on the name of the tool I am using – Studyladder.

First about me – after a hectic year of ICT use in 2014 involving a new 1:1 iPad program at my school, I’ve taken a real step back from ICT integration this year, and gotten back to the basics of teaching. I won’t lie, there were students in my new class disappointed about this, with my reputation as the techie teacher preceding me, but I’m a firm believer in tech use not being tech-centric. That is, the tech should support the learning and if it doesn’t , it shouldn’t be used. I felt with the iPads last year there was a pressure to show that they were worthwhile and some of what I did pushed into the ‘using tech for its own sake’ field and that made me uncomfortable. So this year I have consciously tried to use ICT only if there is a clear advantage for the students in doing so. Its been a bit of a reset, really.

So this study ladder thing. I am using it as a basis for Mathematics homework. I can set modules for different students and monitor their performance in those modules. I can see how many times they have attempted their work, and how their results have changed through these attempts. It certainly fits my criteria of tech use as it allows functionality that would not be possible without it.

I have also started developing individual blogs for my students and through those will start delving back into more regular tech enhancement.


Start of Year excitement?

In the spirit of me finding balance in my life between school and home, I have undertaken to scale back my blog posts from a place of detailed reflection (often stressful to manufacture when one is super busy!), to a place where I share thoughts, classroom tidbits and given the rebranding of my site’s title, a place of musings and insights.

I have just started the year here in Australia with a Year 5 class. Very exciting for a few reasons; I started my career with a Year 5 class; after three years of Year 6 I was ready to change things up a bit; and after three years of teaching MYP I will now be teaching PYP, something I have never done before.

For now, I am happy just to say I am excited about the year ahead and that I’m looking forward to using this blog in a way that benefits me rather than causes me stress. So, in keeping it light, here is a photo of my new room.



Fun Play

I’ve just acquired a box of Lego for my classroom. I’ve always been jealous of classes in huge younger years who have access to these little blocks and I’ve always thought about how I could use them in upper primary. Through a discount website (the kind that sells you stuff you generally don’t need) I picked up a box of 500 assorted bricks for a decent price.

This is the result:


The kids rushed to my side and the end of individual reading became a hub of creativity. Lines of conversation included
– make the pictures on the box
– no, make whatever you want
– let’s make the characters from Animal Farm (our novel study)
– gee, Mr Huebl, your building thing is amazing (I might have heard that in my own head)

I’m happy with the attitude the kids have had towards the blocks. I am mindful now of how to maximise the benefit if their use as well as making the use of them equitable.