Life as a Teacher


Recently, I was contacted by The Footnotes, a website that strives to provide revolutionising career and study advice in order to help women to not only follow their dreams, but how to actually get there. I was lucky enough to be asked to join the conversation and share my thoughts on what it is like to be a teacher. Below is a snippet of the article, click here to read the entire article.

Teachers have it all. They only work from 9-3, get all those holiday breaks and play with kids all day, right?  Wrong. So, so wrong. It amazes me how many people seem to believe this blatant untruth.

Mark Twain said it best in his quote ‘teaching is like trying to hold 35 corks underwater at once.’ A teacher’s work doesn’t begin when the bell rings and certainly doesn’t end when the holidays start. Teachers learn to become experts at timing their toilet breaks and inhaling their lunch. They spend their free time planning engaging activities, scouring the internet to find useful resources, differentiating for each ability level, creating and marking assessments, setting homework, keeping up with countless emails and paperwork, meeting with parents and making displays. Not to mention running clubs at lunch time or after school, chasing students who missed assessments, attending meetings and writing reports … and that’s barely scratching the surface.     

Teaching is an innate desire. It isn’t just a job and you definitely don’t become a teacher for the money.

To keep reading, click here. Take a look at The Footnotes and share this great website with the women in your life


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Learning Intentions and Success Criteria

Learning intentions and success criteria have been a big focus for the staff at my school over the last few years and now that I have been incorporating them into my lessons, I can really see what all the fuss is about.

Learning intentions are brief statements that explicitly describe what students should know, understand and be able to do as a result of the learning and teaching (Catholic Education Office, Melbourne).

Success criteria describe, in specific terms and in language meaningful to students, what successful attainment of the learning intentions looks like (Catholic Education Office, Melbourne).

Learning intentions have great potential to benefit students and their learning significantly. They remove any ambiguity and help to keep the lesson focused.

When teaching and learning are “visible” – that is, when it is clear what teachers are teaching and what students are learning, student achievement increases – John Hattie.

Learning intentions encourage students to:

  • understand exactly what they are learning to do in that lesson and what is most important
  • articulate their learning
  • self assess their work
  • stay focused

Tips to help you incorporate learning intentions into your teaching:

  • State the learning intention early on in the lesson.
  • The learning intention needs to be visible. It may be on your interactive whiteboard or on a poster in the classroom (particularly long term goals).
  • The learning intention should be referred to throughout the lesson.
  • The teacher should ask the students questions about what they are learning/doing throughout the lesson.
  • Begin the learning intention with ‘we are learning to…’
  • At the end of the lesson, provide an opportunity for the students to reflect on their work in line with the learning intention. For example, students may record or orally state sentences using provided sentence starters and a provided key word from the learning intention such as ‘today I enjoyed using a 30 cm ruler to measure the length of objects in the classroom.’

Further Information


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3Recently, HistoriCool contacted me with the hope of a review on my blog. Since the email I learnt that HistoriCool is Australia’s only magazine to engage and entertain kids with stories from the past in a fun way and it is aimed for students in grades 3-8.  Through my experience, I know that it can be challenging to find content about the past that is kid friendly, interesting and relevant to the curriculum so I couldn’t help but feel intrigued. The founder sent me two past issues of HistoriCool and access to the additional teaching resources alongside each issue.

The highlights of the magazines are as follows:

  • HistoriCool is available both in print and digitally.
  • Single subscriptions or bulk subscriptions are available.
  • It is a quality glossy magazine.
  • Interesting articles about current events are included (issue 18 has a short article which outlines Australia’s last 5 prime ministers in the last 5 years with other interesting facts).
  • Interviews with celebrities the children may know are included about their life as well as their thoughts about history (issue 17 includes an interview with Nathan Bazley from Behind the News).
  • Interesting articles which provide information the students may not learn at school are included (issue 17 had a great article about ballet through the ages).
  • There is content directly related to the curriculum.
    • Issue 18 has a fantastic article about Peter Lalor and the gold rush which I would have loved to have had when I was teaching Year 5. The article features great detail about the Eureka Stockade in kid friendly language and fantastic coloured pictures.
    • Issue 17 has a great article about colonial cruelty which includes a fictional diary entry from a lieutenant – it brings the content to life and is a great prompt for students to write their own!
    • Click here to take a look at a fantastic outline of the issues with the content they cover and links to the Australian curriculum for each issue. 
  • Terminology is unpacked with the use of glossaries at the end of articles and fun activities such as ‘what’s this artefact?’
  • Articles written by real students are included. Great inspiration for other students!
  • Puzzles and games (crosswords, spot the difference, quizzes and mazes) are included at the back of each issue which require the students to use the content in the issue in order to solve them.
  • Fantastic and inspiring quotes are provided at the end of each issue titled ‘words to live by.’

The highlights of the teacher pack are as follows:

  • The teacher pack is easy to download in a PDF format.
  • Lesson ideas are provided which include inquiry learning activities (KWL charts etc).
  • Links to fantastic online resources are provided (e.g. maps of the route of the first fleet, books with convict themes and videos relating to convict Australia).
  • Literacy and other activities to bring the content to life and encourage empathy are suggested.
  • Proformas ready to be printed and photocopied for students are also provided.

I am quite impressed with this magazine and truly believe they are worth looking into. I am most impressed and excited about their kid-friendly and rich content which can be used immediately in the classroom.

Interested? Click here to subscribe or here for a hard coy of the order form to HistoriCool and join the many thousands of readers who are enjoying HistoriCool’s engaging articles, hilarious cartoons and fun activities. 

You and your students can also follow @HistoriCool on Twitter! 

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Back to School: Teacher Edition

2016.PNGAs the summer holidays come to an end, it won’t be long before we are back in the classroom with our new students. Take a look at the 7 tips below to give the best first impression and kick off 2016 to a great start.

#1 Clean out your emails

If you are anything like me, you probably have many unread emails sitting in your inbox. Take the time to sort through them and mark them as unread. It will help you to let go of last year and start fresh. Does anyone else love reaching inbox zero?? Click here for a useful article about keeping your inbox organised and here for a great Gmail tip   

#2 Organise your work space

Ensure your classroom is ready for the children and it feels welcoming, positive and inviting. There should be enough chairs and tables for the children and everything they will need should be there.

If you have a work space at home, clean it out and get everything ready for a new school year. Get rid of any clutter and dig out anything you need to start the year. Buy a pot plant or put up a motivational poster to brighten up the space and make it a nice place to be.

#3 Plan

Plan the first few days of school. Organise and plan all of the activities you are going to do in those first few days. Think about how you will set up the rules for the year, explain the behaviour management systems, set up a positive climate and what activities the students will complete.

#4 Buy a diary

Buy a diary and record important school dates to keep you organised. I just love the feeling of a brand new diary! Click herehere, here and here for some ideas.

#5 Rest!

Enjoy the holidays and truly rest. We all know that we could work forever and still never finish our work. Your students will know if you are rested and relaxed, so ensure that you take time for yourself, catch up with friends and family, read a book, take a bath, spend time with pets, go for a walk, go somewhere new – do whatever it is that you love to do!

#6 Get inspired

Learn something new! There are so many great books about education and a million interesting articles and blog posts on Twitter. Hop on and get reading to get inspired. I’m currently reading ‘Teach Like a Pirate’ – stay tuned for a blog post! Click here and here for more ideas.

#7 Set a goal and be positive

Were you feeling stressed last year? What wasn’t working? I always found myself feeling stressed on Sunday nights because I hadn’t prioritised well or organised my time very well over the weekend. This year I am aiming to set aside blocks of time during the weekend to get the important things done to avoid that horrible Sunday night panic.

I have also come across ‘Happify’. It has been scientifically designed to help people overcome negative thoughts and everyday stress through activities and games.  Click here or download the app today and give it a go!

Looking for more tips and tricks? Check out this fantastic article by Kris Carr – it’s a must read!

Enjoy the rest of your holidays and have a great 2016!

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Successful Technology Integration

IMG_8416.JPGMid last year, I wrote an article for ACEL e-Publications about the successful technology
In the article, I discuss the fact that there shouldn’t be such a huge focus on WHY technology needs to be integrated but a shift towards HOW technology can be integrated so that it is meaningful and successful in our classrooms.

In the article I go into detail about ten ways you can encourage technology integration in your school. The ten examples are listed below.

  • Quick tips
    • Think about sharing tech tips at the beginning of staff meetings.
  • Twitter
    • Get your staff on board and active on Twitter.
  • Modelling
    • Incorporate tech in staff meetings in order to inspire teachers.
  • Tech Tips For Parents
    • Add a technology corner in your school newsletter providing useful apps or websites for parents to download for their children.
  • Technology Lesson
    • Set aside some time to specifically teach your students how to use a tool.
  • Technology Needs
    • Identify the needs of each grade regarding technology. It should be a school priority to continue to provide devices in order to meet the needs of the students.
  • Genius Session
    • Consider implementing a Genius Session across the school where students participate in different activities which encourage creativity including a technology session.
  • ICT Resources
    • Consider creating a cupboard of ICT resources. E.g. headphones, iPad adapters, Makey-Makey kits.
  • Support
    • Foster a culture of sharing, support, trust and openness among the staff.
  • Staff Site
    • Develop a page on your staff site dedicated to digital pedagogy.

 Click here to subscribe ACEL e-Publications.

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Microsoft Interactive Education Experience

MicrosoftOn Wednesday 30th September 2015, I was lucky enough to be invited to the Microsoft Interactive Education Experience. The day included a tour of the Microsoft office and a look at the Surface 3.

It was nice to see Microsoft taking a real interest in education and adopting creative and flexible work spaces in their office. I must admit, I love my Mac and iPhone, however it didn’t take long before I was impressed with the new feel to Microsoft and the Surface 3.

Surface 3: Highlights

  • Digital pen
    • Easy to use and erase.
    • Highly responsive with no lag.
    • Palm block technology allows your hand to touch the screen while you use the digital pen.Surface 3
    • The keyboard was never designed as a thinking tool. The digital pen allows you to be more creative.
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Easily converted between a tablet and a laptop – quickly adapts to your needs.
  • OneDrive and OneNote
    • Easy to use.
    • Free app across all of your devices or use it on the web.
    • Share your notebooks with others for viewing or editing – online collaboration (just like Google Drive).
  • Power BI
    • Transform your company data into rich visuals.
  • Multiple desktops
    • Great for setting up desktops for individual students in your class.
  • Long battery life

I’ve really enjoyed using the Surface 3 and I’ve been pleasantly surprised. It has been perfect to take to PD sessions– it is the perfect size and easily converts between a tablet and a laptop. Click here for more information about the Surface 3 and check out #MSAUedu.

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R.I.C Publications

Another school year is done and dusted and the Christmas holidays are finally here! I love this time of year because I finally have the time to do all of the things I didn’t have time for during the busy school year and this long overdue review of products from R.I.C Publications is one of them!

R.I.C Publications is the largest supplementary resource publisher in Australia which aims to solve problems and challenges that teachers encounter every day in the classroom. They generously sent out a few products for me to use with my class this year and I was pleasantly surprised. Take a look at the products below.

Time MattersTime Matters

This book outlines how children may be taught time concepts, ranging from telling the time to the language of time and duration.


  • Useful background information and tips regarding the development of understanding time.
  • Issues that need to be considered are highlighted in order to help teachers to address any misconceptions children may have and unpack difficult ideas.
  • A list of time-related phrases that may benefit students and their understanding of time.
  • A list of children’s literature which introduce children to time.
  • Useful resources and fantastic lesson ideas, including:
    • The Calendar – reading calendars can be a difficult task for young children and this book provides fantastic lesson ideas. I love the blank calendar activity – it is a great activity to extend those children who are ready to create their own calendar and create their own questions.
    • Telling the time games, including ‘Clock Bingo’ and ‘Time Dominoes’. The children in my class absolutely loved playing these games and they reinforced the concepts taught in previous lessons!

Teaching Comprehension StrategiesComprehension

Comprehension strategies allow readers to understand the meaning of a text and they also enhance language and vocabulary knowledge. This book allows teachers to model each strategy, followed by the children practising as a group then applying the skill on their own using the same text.


  • A variety of quality texts which may be used in Shared Reading.
  • Questions which enable the students to practise each comprehension strategy.
  • The layout remains the same throughout the entire book which allows the children to become familiar with the routine.
  • The ‘on your own’ page may be used for assessment purposes.
  • Very easy to use.

English Skills PracticeEnglish Skills

This book helps to consolidate and develop the ability and confidence of the students in your class to use English.


  • Daily practice of spelling, punctuation, phonics, word knowledge and grammar.
  • Easy to use – whole class, small group or individual work
  • The children in my class really enjoyed completing the 10 questions and enjoyed discussing the answers within their small groups.

Reading for SuccessReading for Success

This book provides activities which are linked to the Australian Curriculum focusing on phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.


  • Background information for the teacher.
  • Activities specific to each key element of reading.
  • Detailed explanations for each activity.
  • Resources provided for each activity.
  • Assessment charts/rubrics for teacher use
  • Answers provided

Click here to visit the R.I.C publications website to view and purchase these great products and more today! These books have saved me so much time and have made planning lessons so much easier. You also receive a FREE BOOK of your choice for all orders over AUD $200.

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