Thursday, 19 December 2013

Last Day

Today was the last day of term 4 and the last day of the 2013 school year and what a big year it has been. I made a roast turkey lunch for us ( Turkey, roast potatoes and vegetables) and we had chocolate mud cake for dessert.
After lunch we had a visit from Santa who handed out books ( chosen specially for individual children) and a Christmas stocking full of chocolates. My two grade 6 students who finish up this year also received an engraved pen and graduation certificate. I'll miss these 2 students in 2014 but I'm sure they'll have a great time in secondary school.
Reports went home. I reported using AusVELS for the first time following implementation of the national curriculum during this year.
I left as soon as the kids today so I'll need to pop in over the next few days and tidy up a bit but I want a nice long break for a few weeks. As this is not a private blog but one about Glen Park Primary School and state education in general there won't be anything to put up for a while.
So Merry Christmas and happy New Year to all those who have visited the blog and hopefully found something there of interest.

Tony Shaw

The photos below show the school this morning (another warm day) the kids eating their Christmas lunch and Santa handing out gifts.

Christmas Carol pop-up card

Today we made Christmas Carol pop up cards ( the scene in Scrooge's bedroom when Marley appears) refer to the photos below. It was the first hot day here of the summer (40 degrees Celsius) so we stayed inside in the air conditioning. Tomorrow is our last day of term. I have a turkey lunch to cook. ( crazy in this weather I know)
Below is also a photo of sheep wandering around after being recently shorn.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Christmas Carol unit plan

Refer to this link to access my Christmas Carol literature unit for free as promised.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

A Christmas Carol

We've just finished reading a Christmas Carol and we're watching the Jim Carey version of it.( I have a copy of the Mr. McGoo version which I might watch.....'ahh Mc Goo, you've done it again') and we've started some work on it. ( below is a photo of one of my students completing a literary sociogram) We completed a 'Y Chart' of Scrooge's bedroom when Marley arrives and a Venn diagram comparing Scrooge at the start of the story and at the end. The early years students watched the Polar Express ( refer photo) after reading it and then they designed a railway ticket for a trip to the North Pole and their first Y Chart about travelling in a steam train. (refer to Paula's Place blog and shop name on TPT for access to a terrific Polar Express unit -

Rubber Band Bracelets

As a treat I bought some rubber band bracelet looms for my girls yesterday. My daughter who is already on school holidays came up to school this morning to Glen Park with the girls to make bracelets today.
They caught on quickly and had a great time. Tomorrow they should be able to start making these and teach the younger girls how to make them by themselves without any guidance.
13500 views....yippee!

Monday, 16 December 2013

Start of Christmas

I stopped off on the way to work this morning and took photos of the Christmas display in the windows of the Myer Department Store. (They usually put on a massive display in their Melbourne store and send their old displays out to the provinces.) The window display is based on the story of Russell the Sheep who saves Christmas. Below is also a photo of the Christmas tree on Sturt St.
We've started our Christmas work this week. Tomorrow I'll finish reading A Christmas Carol. After Treasure Island I think it is my favourite 'read aloud' book.I'll put my Christmas Carol unit plan on TPT tomorrow.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Going into the last week

I have posted some craft activities for free on TPT for where the Wild things Are ( Refer photo of one of the activities below) from this LINK
Already (as of 14/12/13 I've had 500+ downloads)

My Peter Pan unit on TPT can be bought for a modest $2.00 from TPT if you go to this LINK

Another big day at the chalk face

Today the early years students finished off their 'Wild Things' and tomorrow we'll make Max and his boat.My grade 3s completed their alternative book covers for Peter Pan and the grade 5s have just about finished their study of The Railway Children.
This afternoon we started watching a DVD of Peter Pan ( not the Disney version) which is quite good.below are some of my girls who have been involved in a Monopoly marathon for weeks ( I Couldn't think of anything worse!)

Tuesday, 10 December 2013


My grade 5 and 6 girls were busy completing a timeline for The Railway Children while my two grade 3s created their timelines for Peter Pan. My grade 3 boy is having a go at making his using a timeline app. early years students are studying Maurice Sendak books starting with Where the Wild things Are. ( Photo below of a railway children timeline and Peter Pan timeline builders at work as well as making a 'Cockatoo Wild Thing' with split pin moving limbs.)

Monday, 9 December 2013

Transition Day

My two new students for 2014 had their transition day today. Charlie and Leo came for half a day. We read The Very Hungry Caterpillar and completed some craft activities. We also did some name writing and counting ( They did really well at this which is great. Charlie in particular was very good at using scissors. Both did some water color painting and their efforts were terrific.) I sent home some information packs but gave out the wrong ones so they'll have to exchange their Christmas gifts when they come back to school.
I also took a photo of the 'floral reindeer' the Ballarat Council have in Sturt St. They look good.
Below are some photos of the new kids and also a photo of Steve McLaren my tech guy who pops in every Tuesday to make sure everything with out IT works well. Steve does a great job ( I took a photo of him at work because he wouldn't want me writing this)

Neverland Maps

Today the grade 3s created their own Neverland maps, There are loads of maps on the Internet with quite a few differences. I think it has been largely re-engineered by Disney) but I created my own map, as best I could using the descriptions given in the book. The kids did much the same. ( Refer photo below) We also watched a DVD version of the Railway Children.
I also took a photo this morning of the Christmas wreath on Ballarat Town Hall ( replacing the white ribbon- domestic violence awareness symbol)
Tomorrow is transition day. Preps will visit their school for half a day and the year sixes will visit their high school for a day. ( my year 6s are going to private schools so of course they have their own orientation days so they'll be at school for the day. I'll have 14 kids tomorrow.) I have planned a maths task, name writing activity and I'll read some Christmas books and get the early years kids to help the new kids to attempt some Eric Carle craft based on the very Hungry Caterpillar. I have also organised some treat bags for the new kids including some books, a water bottle and crayons. I'll also give them the opportunity just to have a play with our train set and home corner.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Working through the list

Santa isn't the only one with a list this time of year. I have a big list of my own this time every year that I need to work though otherwise I end up in strife. After a few more hours up at work this morning I've got through most of my list this weekend.
This week the grade 3s will be doing work on Peter Pan ( I've nearly finished the book as a serial) and the senior girls will be working on The Railway Children. ( We finished the book and We're half way through the movie) I always read A Christmas Carol (a bit of a tradition) so I'll read that as a serial when I finish Peter Pan and we'll have a week of Christmas activities to finish off the school year.
I took a photo this morning of the White Swan which is on the side of the reservoir near the school ( I'll try to take a better photo) and I also took a photo of one of the City's Christmas decorations which seems to be some sort of tunnel around the Burke and Wills fountain. That has always been a bit ironic given that Burke and Wills died of thirst. (For those who are unaware, Burke and Wills were inept inland explorers who wandered up the centre of Australia in the 1860s but actually died of exhaustion and starvation on the banks of Cooper's Creek.)
Now up to 13 000 views!

Saturday, 7 December 2013


I had a big day today for a Saturday!
I got to school very early and started on my reports. I haven't had to write 12 reports for quite a while and I was surprised by how long it took to craft the words exactly as I wanted. We completed On Demand testing on Friday ( The tests are now AusVELS friendly although there aren't as many as before at present. VELS tests I did at the start of the year I couldn't do this time around. The comparison would have been interesting to see but nonetheless I was pleasantly surprised at how well they did.)Combined with NAPLAN tests, my own tests and observations and student work samples ( I took down student work that has been on display this term and filled up their portfolios. I hope parents go through their children's portfolios as some of their school work has been outstanding, as readers of this blog will already know.) I had a wealth of data to use when making my teacher judgements.
Of course some of the reports didn't print ( What would it be like at this time of year if the reports printed off without a hitch!) so hopefully I can finish it off after some tweaking next weekend! I also took the opportunity to get enrolments kits organised for next years preps who are visiting on Transition day on the 10th.
They were burning off around the school this morning as a precaution for the bushfire season (Refer to the photo below) I also took some photos of the Christmas decorations down Sturt St in Ballarat. it was a lovely sunny day today and I also took a photo of the front of the school after our grounds were mowed on Friday.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

QR Codes

My grade 6 boy loves setting little tasks for his classmates to do using technology. Today he created QR Codes for his peers to scan using their iPad QR Code scanner app to solve little puzzles he created. He set up two teams and had them competing against each other. At the moment I've got him creating a ' How to do it' booklet for software and apps that he is an expert with so that his vast knowledge isn't lost to us when he goes off to secondary school next year.The pictures below show the kids scanning hidden codes that were placed around the room.

I've just got back from a concert put on this evening by the Intermediate Band at Phoenix College ( formerly Sebastopol Secondary College) made up of grade 5 and 6 students from a variety of Ballarat schools and schools from around Ballarat including one of our students. The performance was excellent. I was very impressed with the dedication and commitment of the students. My grade 5 student's performance was superb. She is a very talented clarinet player. I was very proud of her as was her mother. I hope she continues with it next year as she showed great poise and proficiency.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Professional Learning

Moorabool Network Small Schools Conference 2013
Bungaree Football Club Oval

Leading and Managing a whole-school culture of high expectations
Geoff Fleet and Brian Wheeler
Workforce Management Strategy and Support
( Workforce planning and management)

Setting a framework to a support professional development culture in schools

School Vision
Should be expressed in layman's terms, included in the strategic plan, regularly articulated by the principal, shared and reflected in all performance plans.( At Glen Park it is on our newsletter, school signage, student reports and displayed in the classroom.)

Role Clarity
Builds understandings about work relationships and responsibility. Role descriptions should be discussed from time to time. deep conversations needed across the school. The principal should also share their role with the staff. Develop understanding across the school of roles.

Accountability and Feedback
This is a necessary component for staff performance process and for a whole-
school culture of high expectations.

Developing Performance Plans
Have to be developed in May and have to correspond to the ATSL standards in 2014-15.
(We completed a workshop activity looking at principal expectations for graduate teachers and a 2-j6 teacher using the Standards)
We talked about the value of feedback to ensure that teacher's are 'growing'
Also the need to inform staff of their roles and responsibilities. (some staff may be surprised to know about the detail and depth of their role whether they be experienced or graduates) We discussed ES staff review professional standards and expectations.
You need to act promptly to address short falls in staff expectations not wait for formal reviews.

Not Meeting the standards and Unsatisfactory Performance
Anecdotal evidence need to move to more structured audience and observations which can be used as hard evidence in unsatisfactory performance situation with staff.
Staff need to meet the expectations as deemed by the principal using the standards
Unsatisfactory performance is where a staff member fails to meet their duties repeatedly. Conduct and Ethics need to be involved in this process.
The process is designed to help staff to meet your expectations. Termination of employment is one of the tools that the Secretary can use. Underperformance relates to employees are not performing all of their duties and responsibilities. They could be doing their job but not as well as they should/could.
Reviews need to show RIGOUR- defined as being; thorough, consistent, precise,accurate,care,objective, meticulous and attention to detail.
It should occur toward the end of April. It is the teachers role to provide the evidence supporting the contention that they have met the standards. ALL standards need to be met in order to achieve a satisfactory assessment.

Peter discussed the origins of the emblem for our group. ( The Red Ribbon Brigade from Bendigo who supported the Eureka rebellion) and thanked our 2 presenters.

Second session
'Waving Not Drowning'
(Guiding Collegiate Conversations. By Muffy Hand)
Objective of the session:Offer opportunities for rigorous and relevant conversations within the school
'The job of school leaders is to ensure high within school quality and low within school variability in the quality of instruction for every child.'
we are looking for high quality and low variability.
Muffy discussed Marzano's impact on learning.( Their data showed how important it was to have highly effective schools. These schools impact significantly on student learning even with an average teacher.) Highly effective teachers depend on how effective their school is.
Leadership is critical.Highly ineffective teachers cannot improve enough even in a highly effective school.
Day says that up to 40% of teachers can become less effective with experience?After 5 years of experience there is a critical point where teachers have to consider whether they will stagnate or self- select into improving and learning. They will plateau after another 5 years when continuous learners will again engage in new learning and improve.What happens at these critical points? Leadership has a critical impact. Leadership need to help expand teacher's professional repertoire. Intervention could be adding additional responsibilities or that staff take on roles that will expand teacher self improvement.One third of teachers in school needs guidance to keep continuously improve. One ninth of them will never improve.( This research is inter-systemic)
What the system needs is an approach to employing teachers that are constantly improving and fulfilling their roles. Schools need to lead this approach. We need a framework (We have knowledge and intention) that will help us to deliver this improvement.

What sort of performance process can manage ineffective teachers?
Principals need to be able to describe positive school culture by highlighting non- negotiables in the school.
School focus needs to have a moral purpose. We need to be clear on that and leverage that. Values and beliefs we live every day and vision is in effect what we are trying to achieve.The School strategic plan and AIP is a vehicle for fulfilling our moral purpose! achieving our vision and living our beliefs? Project Plans are needed to enhance our accountable performance improvement.
Everything in the AIP and Strategic Plan are non-negotiables. The agreed processes like an agreed curriculum and assessment, moderation are also non- negotiables. It is also a non negotiable that teachers collaborate and not opt out of team structures in schools and we as leaders need to explain that.The language about non-negotiables need to be embraced.
Team plans are essential. How can that be reflected in teachers individual plans. We need a whole school framework and detail/ leverage the non- negotiables. How is this going to work in one-teacher school? Networks can support this.
Some Non- negotiables could be:
curriculum- AusVELS ( Cohesive F-6 narrative of learning)needs to be explicit (Refer School Improvement Plan) Needs to be aligned and have explicit learning intentions and instructional strategies, assessment moderated and informing learning
Staff agreements
Moral purpose
Instructional framework and strategies- scope and sequence with units of work.(E5 is an criteria for an instructional framework.)Schools need a curriculum model and delivery vehicle.Has to be part of the schools strategic plan.Refer GANAG
Professional standards
Informed planning
Positive classroom environment
Health and well-being.
Code of conduct and professional standards ( order 199)
key school policies.

Notes from Muffy's afternoon session

Leadership matters. Highly effective schools and teachers are what our kids deserve. We need to be clear about our non- negotiables in our SST and AIP.

Creating a PLT (Professional Learning Team) amongst our network schools.

Muffy introduced a variety of frameworks to help us to support each other as a collegiate group to implement the new performance and development structure.Don't ask for unstructured feedback.Principal should use an explanatory voice.

Muffy talked about first and second order implications (How stakeholders perceive change) she discussed Bridges Four 'Ps' Framework of a new beginning.
We also studied a framework for a PRP conversation.
it was an excellent session with a lot to think about ( At Glen Park I would like to elaborate on and be explicit about non- negotiables across the school, the further development of AusVELS scope and sequence statements and the need for detailed role descriptions. As a one teacher school without full time staff a lot of what I heard today is not applicable but it was still of interest and may be of use to me in the future.) Muffy said she would be prepared to come to a Network meeting early next year to help us as a Network/ PLT to support the development of a P&D Framework for us.

Monday, 2 December 2013


A few warm summer days and the kids are into the sandpit.( Photo below) I was at school very early this morning and caught our resident ducks strolling across the oval ( the photo of that isn't too clear) We read Eric Carle's 'Pancake Pancake' today and made some pancakes? the photo below shows the early years students eating them up. I've started reading Peter Pan of an afternoon and the grade 3 s will start work on it this week. ( Photo of the theme table below)

Jenna Finishing Up Today and an Education About Face

My student teacher, Jenna Smith finished up today. She completed her work with the grade 3 students and had a sharing session along with an Alice and Wonderland Tea Party.
Children shared their stories, projects, models, poems, newspaper stories and comics.
( Photos from the Tea Party below)

The Prime Minister and his Education Minister announced another u-turn on school funding and will be working assiduously to dig themselves out of the arrogant hole they dug themselves into over the last few weeks.
Today Abbott said he'd go back to the 4 year funding deal he said he'd agreed too before and during the election.This is his third position on this in a week.This was a breach of trust. He keeps talking about $ 1.2 billion taken out of Gonski but that was money allocated to the states that didn't sign up. If they didn't sign up they simply don't get the money. How is that a spending shortfall? He also talked about the Labor South Australian Government taking $200 million out of education but didn't discuss the Victorian Liberal Government taking out $600 million dollars from education and over $1 billion from TAFE!
They are making up their policy as they go along. They have no clear purpose of what they intend to do because they never really had an education policy. They simply grafted themselves onto the previous government's policy.
The Minister was on the 7:30 report tonight and looked far from convincing. We have a 2 tier system with some states getting a better deal than others.Under his plan some of the states won't have to put in their own extra spending on education while others do.
Hopefully they won't botch the implementation of their version of the Gonski reforms. Public school teachers, principals, students and their families will be watching them carefully to ensure that there are no further backflips.