Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Big Questions

When I ask the young IT guys where I work how to do something, they answer patiently and politely but I can tell they are thinking, "Why don't you google it?". That is the world they have grown up with. It would have been hard to imagine this 15 years ago. Students now need to be able to sift through the information mountain, process it and use it to answer meaningful questions. I always try to make this job easier for students and teachers with my website, but ultimately, students need to be able to do it themselves. Think of my links then as scaffolding in this process.

I feel that asking the big questions can really enliven your lessons and motivate students. Take our recent Australia day Celebrations as an example. Is it Survival Day or Australia Day? Is it a commemoration or celebration? Was it Settlement or Invasion? At first you get their parent's answers, but after digging deeper, even young students can form their own answers.

When you want a cake recipe you google it. Soon, and I mean soon, all students will have a netbook or notebook on their desk and they will be able to immediately find information. 3 years ago I was advising teachers against using Wikipedia. Not now. The skill set we give students is different. Will you be ready for it soon?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Reading Interactives K-2

Welcome back to all the Australian teachers who are back at work this week after the summer break. This is the 9th year that I have sent out this free newsletter in much the same format. With 22,000 subscribers it seems like a winning formula, but I am asking each of you to let me know what direction you would like both the newsletter and website to take in the future so that it can best serve each of you, my faithful friends. For example, I cannot possibly find all the really good websites you need for each theme and there must be so many you could add to my lists. So please email me at and speak your mind.
The links I have compiled this week are aimed at K-2 but I am sure you can use them in a variety of ways. I need to make special mention of the Adrian Bruce website which has some great free reading interactives. Also, there are resources that are only available to Australian and NZ schools via the Learning Federation that are excellent.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

School Food Resources

This week I have collected resources related to school canteens, school lunches and growing food at school. You could argue that it is none of our business getting involved in what students eat at school. I disagree. We know the statistics. Australians are fat and our children are going to pay for it, if not though their own illness, then indirectly through taxation to support an ever expanding health system that is needed for coping with obesity related disorders like diabetes. Teachers need to get involved. Probably like you, I ate too much during the festive season and it is showing. Shedding the extra kilos is not easy. I also have no idea how to grow my own food. Better to teach students good food habits as early as possible and I believe students learn best by doing. Just out of interest you may also like to look at have a look at this video . It gave me something to think about.