Mindful moments

Mindfulness is crucial to student learning and in our school, we have agreed to begin three out of six daily lessons with a mindfulness exercise. I have been trying different ways to do this in French.

Here’s my latest experiment, a few short Videoscribe movies. I hope that they will enable us to take a breath at the beginning of the lesson, put all thoughts of breakfast, recess and lunch break behind us and focus our minds on and in French.

Transforming learning. Note to self: keep asking questions, we are all learners.


Of course, developing the best possible learning experience with, and for, students is a key goal for the learning community.

The pursuit of this goal is bringing about great change for many of us, many of our children and many of our students. This change does not feel gradual.

This is a version of ‘Shift Happens’ that was updated last year. It’s worth the 5 minutes it takes to watch.

Did you know shift happens, 2014 remix

Marketers can read an audience of 50 million people in 35 days through Angry Birds? What does this mean for students who are planning careers in marketing and communications? What do they need to know?

It has never been more crucial to teach students how to curate knowledge, to teach students how to learn, unlearn and relearn.

A look at this youTube clip, created around 7 years ago, before iPads, before iPhones, makes me think about how much has changed over the last 7 years and about what I can do in my classroom, and beyond my classroom, to prepare students for the future …

An Australian version of ‘Shift Happens’ from 2008:

My to do list for transforming learning in my classroom:

1. Share ideas, resources and energy.

2. Focus on skills and not content – can it be true that for students completing a 4 year technical degree, the content they learned in their first year is outdated by year 3?

3. Personalise the learning experiences of students. Awake in them a love of learning that will inspire them to become lifelong learners. Ask questions, engage, listen.

4. Always teach within an environment of multiliteracy. Digital literacy is critical and is a learned skill. School-based learning has a massive role to play.

5. Keep an open mind, keep trying to improve and keep asking questions.



One of the key skills that we need to help students to develop is that of curating knowledge and Sway is a useful tool in this space. With ‘Sway’, we can easily curate multimodal content. It is free and it doesn’t need to be installed. I read a fantastic blog post about it on the ‘Australian Teacher’s Blog’. There are loads of ideas for ways in which it can be used across the curriculum.

My year 9 students have enjoyed using Sway recently to create brief multimodal ‘portfolios’ about their favourite poets and poems. Thanks to Mr G for introducing me to Sway in the first place and for coming up with great ideas for ways to use it in class!

7 familiar classroom practices that we sometimes forget!

wordle 2

1. Write up learning objectives and refer to them throughout the lesson.
2. Encourage mindfulness from everyone in your classroom, yourself included. (get some ideas from Smiling Mind)
3. Base all learning on student outcomes. Start with the desired student outcome and plan backwards from that.
4. Be at the classroom door to welcome all of your students in. It helps to establish a positive tone for the whole lesson and helps build a feeling of connectedness.
5. Don’t skimp on your warm up routine. After a mindfulness activity, introduce a task which builds on prior learning and acts as a warm up for what you are about to cover in the lesson.
6. Don’t skimp on your plenary. We need to help students to realise how much they have learned in the lesson and to send them away feeling happy and positive.
7. Share. When you have had a great lesson, share what you have learned. Share your resources via your blog, twitter, tes or one of the other sites. Alternatively email them to your colleagues or give them a photocopy. Everyone loves the gift of a great idea!

New AIMs

Well, in February 2015, I moved to a new school, where I have been focusing on learning, and teaching with, AIM.  AIM stands for Accelerated Integrated Methodology and focuses on dramatically increasing the rate at which students achieve fluency in their chosen language.

As a result of my new learnings and the new shape of my classroom, I put all thoughts about blogging on the back burner, but I recently attended the 2015 Annual AIM Conference and have been inspired to rethink.  So, here’s to new beginnings!

Finding our tribe, helping students to do the same?

Googling ‘Finding your tribe’ nets over 9 million hits, many of them (and I only scrolled through a few pages), focus on how to build your tribe.  Why is it important?

“You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. Jim Rohn

“You are the average of the five people you associate with most, so do not underestimate the effects of your pessimistic, unambitious, or disorganised friends.  If someone isn’t making you stronger, they’re making you weaker”, Tim Ferriss , The Four Hour Work Week

“You are the average of the five people around you. This isn’t quite true but you get the idea. Be around people who love and inspire and respect you and who you respect. Every moment otherwise is a waste.” James Altucher

Not sure that I like the idea that anyone is average, certainly not my colleagues, certainly not my students, certainly not me, but I do like the gist of the idea.

Surrounding oneself with optimistic, enthusiastic, kind, grateful, caring, energised people is clearly positive.  We all want to connect with like-minded people and this is so important when creating a culture of respect and care.

This has massive importance in our classrooms.  If we are part of the same tribe as our students, doesn’t it mean that any learning experience is better?  If we are of the same tribe as our colleagues, doesn’t this mean that our interactions are more powerful?  Doesn’t this lead to better outcomes for all students.

Twitter is a powerful tribe-finding tool.  We can listen, learn and share with like-minded others.  Helping students to develop meaningful online connections is crucial if we are to help them to begin to find, or even to develop, their own tribes.

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