Category Archives: Teacher frustrations

When will the needs of primary teachers go VIRAL?

PokemonSo . . . we’ve all seen the incredible impact of “Pokémon Go” in the past few weeks. It’s TRULY gone viral!

And we’re probably all familiar with that “Grumpy Cat” video on YouTube. Yep, another media success that’s gone viral.

And who can forget the image of that beautiful dog skateboarding at full speed, with full, precise control of his vehicle. Incredible. Viral!

So . . . why, on earth, isn’t that all-important “vehicle” that impacts so greatly on the students we teach — the curriculum — going viral?

Surely, it’s a motherhood statement, along with apple pie and cream. Surely we are all agreed that students should be given every chance to achieve success at whatever level of which they are capable.

Surely we should ALL be concerned when “the system” is actually PREVENTING students from, not only succeeding in learning up to their capacity, but also, preventing them from ENJOYING IT!

Two days ago, I purchased a book that set me thinking, yet again, along these lines. Titled “Beautiful Failures”, by author Lucy Clark, the back-cover blurb gives an genuine insight into the content. She begins, “I want to tell you a story about my daughter, my beautiful failure.”

POW!

And don’t we teachers know exactly what she’s talking about!?

I do!

Students sit before me who hate being at school, who couldn’t care less about what they’re supposed to be learning, whose minds are elsewhere (Pokémon, perhaps?), while I, the teacher, try in numerous ways to “win them over” to what we teachers are supposed to be doing — teach!

We need curricula to go VIRAL. Curricula that is interest-packed, relevant, worthwhile, practical in an age of technology that seems to add confusion and difficulty, when SIMPLICITY has a whole lot going for it.

Our own maths materials illustrate the point. Check out the graphic. Full of fun, full of interest. (You can trial this stuff totally free of cost or obligation by visiting our website at http://www.EdShop.net.au so you can get a sense of what WE are trying to do!)

But there are heaps of other truly worthwhile teaching resources available, many of them free, some of them costing but a little. But are teachers encouraged to use them? Are you?

So, let’s hope that curriculum will become the next VIRAL matter.

We can only hope!

 

 

Term 1 ends . . . or Term 2 Begins! But Maths goes on forever!

WOW! Primary Teachers . . . A new school week!
Be it the LAST week of Term 1, or approaching the FIRST week of Term 2, here’s an opportunity to WOW your class with some FUN Maths Worded Worksheets.

Written FRESHLY this week.

Questions about the new ANGRY BIRDS movie, the new 2016 Aussie Olympic Games uniforms, and heaps more!

Share these with your teacher friends!

Become a hero at your school! Delivered IMMEDIATELY!

For your FREE 3-WEEK TRIAL, go to www.EdShop.net.au

06-impossible

Teachers — the oldest trick in the book!

Back in the “olden days”, the Teachers’ Union used to give some sage advice to teachers just starting a new year in the classroom.

The advice was especially pertinent to teachers of Infant classes, but in reality applies to all primary school teachers everywhere.

And the advice is simple . . .

When a child gets home at the end of that first school day, the first question a parent will ask is, “What did you learn today?”

So . . .

EVERY TEACHER should ensure that the first day at school includes a song, a poem, a joke, a limerick, a simple maths fact — ANYTHING that will PROVE to a loving parent that school is a great place of learning.

And if you happen to be a bit short of ideas, then go to our website at http://www.Edshop.net.au and request our FREE 3-week maths worksheet trial, which we’ll deliver pronto to you via email.

Remember, first impressions are crucial! Make them GREAT impressions.

Have a GREAT first day at school this year — 2016!

Which is right? “BOMDAS” or “BODMAS”

Well, who would have thought?

There I was, asking a simple Maths question to challenge the Facebook masses.

And challenge the masses I did, judging from the kazillions of responses.

“What’s the question?” you ask.

Here ’tis . . .

6÷2(1+2)=?????????
ANSWER IT!

Is the answer 9, or is it 1?

There are strong feelings on both sides. Where do YOU stand on this important issue?

BUT, importantly, if there is some confusion in the teaching ranks (and others, too!) about such a seemingly straight-forward question as this, WHAT HOPE HAVE OUR STUDENTS OF GETTING IT RIGHT?

Now, I’m prepared to enter a discussion in favour of either answer. But the truth is, I’m quite certain that I KNOW the correct answer, whereas many others are — well — just a little less certain.

My main point, however, is that a curriculum that creates uncertainty about such a fundamental thing as BOMDAS or BODMAS (or BEDMAS, as some would have it!) is a curriculum that needs to be fixed. And NOT by the very maths geniuses that created the uncertainty. Rather, by those of us who want our kids to enjoy maths, to be fascinated by maths, to LOVE solving that equation, to actually ENJOY vulgar fractions.

Oh, by the way . . . what IS your answer to the question?????

 

Teachers: Johnny Depp’s Doggies make ideal maths teaching stuff

Sometimes the TV news brings great teaching opportunities.

Like Johnny Depp’s lack of obedience to Australia’s quarantine laws.

So, what have WE done?

We’ve created a maths worksheet that includes a problem or two about Johnny’s doggies. Yes, maths questions about something really topical, really funny, and really appealing to the very students you teach.

And that’s only ONE topic covered. There are heaps more!

Like the national Girl Guides’ Biscuit day fundraiser. And the Hamish Blake bikeride through some of Italy’s mountains, and Roger Federer being beaten by Aussie tennis star Nick Kyrgios.

Why NOT let kids see how maths works in everyday life?

NAPLAN — and why parents should LOVE it!

Yes, the controversy rages on!

But, the TRUE (but often-hidden) values of NAPLAN are often ignored.

Value 1: NAPLAN gives at least SOME structure to a curriculum that, at the very least, leaves much to be desired. It actually suggests standards at which students at Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 should, or could, or maybe are within arms reach of, attaining in the areas of Maths, English, spelling, grammar and written expression. Yes, admittedly it’s only a “suggestion”, a “hint” if you like. But at least it’s SOMETHING!

Value 2: NAPLAN gives a simple, straight-forward, one-page report. Big on graphics, small on text. Not that 15-page mumbo-jumbo, copy and pasted school report that numbs the imagination and provides little in the way of factual reporting on student progress. Now, no-one should be mislead into believing everything showing on the NAPLAN student report sheet. But, by golly, it’s a good start for parents to check it out, and then ask some truly meaningful questions of teachers and school.

Value 3: School comparisons. Some of us are not too sure of the value of the ranking of schools in accordance with NAPLAN results. So many variables, so many value-related implications!

So, there it is. A defence, sort of, of the TRUE VALUE of NAPLAN testing, from one who sits on the edge of the world of schools and observes parents, teachers and students as they prepare for the 2015 week of NAPLAN.

Have a good one!

Oops! I forgot to teach that!

With technology in everyone’s pocket these days, it’s a temptation to think that children know far more than they actually do!

Mr Google, that wonderful machine, is never far away.

And Cirri is there, ever present, to answer their every need. Well, almost!

But we teachers have to see through this mist, this subterfuge, and use our special “teacher-detector-facility” to get to the bottom of the reality — that many children these days can cope with the superficial stuff — the research (copy and paste), the investigation (group work and so-called “teamwork”), the tests in which students can take in with them texts, cheat sheets, calculators that have the capacity to land a person on the moon . . .

And yet they can’t give you change from $10 without a machine telling them how much to give.

Yes, sure, things have changed. But is that change better?

To be sure, in some ways it is. The English curriculum has done it well! It is a prime example of an approach, relatively recently adopted, that GENUINELY teaches students how to express themselves, how to identify manipulation in texts and newspaper columns, how to present their arguments in public in a competent, interesting and fluent manner.

Great! But, Maths?

Are we preparing our students, not just for a career, but for a life in which calculations are a daily necessity?

Maybe not!

Another look at the curriculum, perhaps?

Here’s hoping!

Who Teaches Maths Best — Schools or McDonalds?

Sometimes the so-called “experts” get in the way.
And that’s ESPECIALLY true in education.
Spelling standards? Out the window!
Grammar? What’s that?
Tables mastery? Oh, so boring!
Automatic response? Why? We have calculators and iPads to do that!

Well, some of us think that this is a tragedy! A REAL tragedy.

We’re TRYING to do something about it through our website.

But, really and truly, it’s up to “the experts” to reverse the trends, to remedy their ways, to reform the curriculum so that it actually addresses some of the weaknesses that are so GLARINGLY OBVIOUS to anyone who cares to check.

SO . . . Good on McDonalds for training the teenagers working for them. For enforcing standards of work and efficiency and honesty and reliability and . . . I could go on!

May our schools take on some of the McDonalds attitudes and values. Not a popular thought, but a GREAT one!

Thanks, McDonalds!

Rote Learning — The old way, or the NEW way? A Mentor, please!

These days in schools, it’s cool to be cool.

It’s GREAT to be up with the latest IT, the software that promises so much.

But, DOES IT DELIVER?

So many valuable educational dollars spent on so much fantastic-sounding technology.

So many valuable educational dollars spent on the promise of software that will deliver great outcomes.

So few teachers who are in a position to capitalise on all this “promise” that surrounds them.

So, what is a school administrator to do?

Look good? Appear progressive with government and with peers?

Or SLOW DOWN, and bring along the teachers in an orderly, sensible, encouraging manner?

How about, then we all slow down, take a well-earned, much-needed educational “deep breath”, so that some of the proven teaching and learning methods of the past aren’t “lost” in the “promise” of the new, state-of-the-art technologies and hardware that at the moment seem largely a diversion, rather than a valuable teaching tool.

The old ways, like rote learning. Getting number facts and functional vocab into the long term memory of students.

Like, “automatic response” development, such as the teachers of old used to learn their tables, their spelling, their — lots!

And, how about we encourage each and every teacher to find their own teaching mentor — someone whom they trust, respect, “worship” and can easily learn from as they seek to improve their own teaching performance.

Too much to ask?

Too much NOT to ask!

“Wot? Me worry?”

Alfred E Neuman’s (MAD Magazine!) famous slogan seems totally appropriate.

This morning’s “The Age” newspaper (26/4) carried an article titled “Asia holds maths key”.

There has, over the past couple of months, been a succession of articles and opinion pieces in the Australian media, all bemoaning the fact that standards of maths and literacy in Australian schools isn’t what it should be.

Here’s yet another indication that something’s wrong.

And, as noted in a previous blog, the answer doesn’t seem to have a strong correlation to “money spent” on education. No, far more important are curriculum-related matters, and teacher training and support.

SURELY the time has come to admit past failures, and to at least BEGIN the path back to sensible, planned curriculum reform. And surely, the place to start is to dialogue with the very teachers who are at the moment attempting the impossible. An impossible curriculum, impossible expectations of educational administrators, the authorities (whom-ever they are!), Principals, NAPLAN test results, parents and the general community.

So, according to the quoted article, “Asia holds the maths key”. Does it just?

We in Australia have the capability to be streets ahead. All we have to do is put our funding where the teachers in our schools need it to be spent — on a curriculum (in maths and literacy) that will “deliver the goods”, and on teacher salaries. They deserve better!.

Wot? Me worry? You bet!