Collaborative Leadership @ BSPS

We have a great model of what we have always called ‘distributed leadership’ at BSPS. Our school recognises, celebrates and encourages people to play an active role in the leading of our school.

I saw this poster on a interesting post by Stephanie McConnell at Principal Principles. I believe the beliefs underpinning this sort of leadership approach truly have the ability to make a difference in schools.

Collaborative leadership gives everyone a voice and leads to greater sense of ownership in schools. This allows staff and students to co-create a vision for the school and once this vision becomes explicit for all because everyone contributed to it, it allows everyone to move in the same direction with purpose and a deep belief in what we are doing.

In Michael Fullan’s book ‘Coherence’ he discusses a school that had three distinct teams of which anyone could voluntarily involve themselves in. The teams had different responsibilities: 1. Data 2. Management issues and 3. Curriculum and Instruction. These teams sound to me like they have to very strongly linked and held together by a strong vision and principles but it allowed the school to develop a collaborative culture and steadily interest in involvement groups grew until the school experienced unprecedented buy-in and allowed to experience some fantastic results.

I would like to hear from more schools who are truly exploring different ways to become more involve students and staff in school leadership.

Making our mind smile…

At this afternoon’s staff meeting we had a discussion about mental and physical health. While most of us in general think we are ok mentally it was good to have a reminder that we need to regularly check ourselves for our own mental wellbeing.

It is easy to get overwhelmed as a teacher at this time of year, end of year assessments, reports, transitions and preparations for next year are all pressing issues. We talked about some cues that we should look for that might signal we need to take a little time out for ourselves. Everyone might have different signals and also might like to deal with these signals in different ways. Some people thought that exercise, eating healthy, being in friends, family and being in nature are great ways to de-stress and feel better about yourself.

We were also introduced to a great website with some excellent relaxation techniques and strategies that allow ourslef to really aprreciate the moment.  One of which was the deliberate slow, touching, smelling and tasting of a mintie to really appreciate the moment. We also did a 5-minute relaxation session from the  It was a good session and something that you might be able to use with your students as well.

Here are some positive words for you to consider…

What are your favourite things to do to relax?

Check it out!

Evidence: Let’s make it easy!

We have heard a lot over the last few weeks about collecting evidence of learning and achievement in our classrooms. I want to spend a little bit of time explaining how technology can help in collecting evidence. In our school we all Professional Development folders in which we need to keep various forms of evidence of our teaching. While the uploading of documents every time can seem like a cumbersome task there are ways around this that can make the process as painless as possible. I utilise Evernote to make it easy for me to upload documents from any device, anytime, anywhere. Also the possibilities of using Google tools to help collect evidence are virtually limitless. You could use Google to complete pre and post testing, surveying your class about your teaching and anything else you want to collect information on.

I will be going through skills like

  • Basic uploading of documents.
  • Creating an evernote account and notebooks and linking notebooks to a folder online
  • Logging in to your google account
  • Creating google forms, sharing the form and collecting responses.


If you have any questions, concerns or comments please leave a comment in the comments section below. Or even easier to is just to write your thoughts on the wall by adding a sticky note below.




Literacy PD: Classroom Libraries

Tonight we will be delving into the world of classroom libraries. This post includes some resources that might be handy for tonight’s meeting. The main thing you will need to do is to record some of your learning using the form that has been created using google forms below, you just have to click on the blue sticky note below. (We are doing our best to save paper!)


samp8819523aa44a73d9Check out this fantastic presentation:


Check out our pinterest page:
Visit Bourchier Primary’s profile on Pinterest.

Here is the Independent reading at Bourchier Street document.


If you would like to view the responses to the survey you can find them here


Grammar does matter!

Fresh off the heels of a regional PD our schools literacy team returned with lots of information about the teaching of grammar in a primary classroom.

At first we closely looked at the Ausvels curriculum to familiarize ourselves with all the grammar components of the curriculum. In teams we had a healthy discussion on what needed to be taught at each level.

The team also showed us a few ideas for introducing grammar realted topics to our classes and ways to improve their sentence writing.

We talked about subjects, verbs, simple sentences, complex sentences. Please check out the presentation below for details on what was covered in the session.

Shepparton Grammar PPT by gjdarma


The team showed us quite a few classroom games and activities that re-inforce the teaching of grammar in the primary classroom. Some of these included the (Break- sentence) down language experience where you think of a thing like a person or an animal then write a small list of adjectives, places or settings and actions. The students can then play around with these words to create sentences. The example we used in the staff room was frogs.

Adjectives- Croaky, jumpy, smelly, large

Settings- Swamp, pond, lilypad

Actions- Vigorously,

Obviously your list you create would be dependent on the age group of your students and their abilities. This activity could be varied in a number of ways.

Another activity we had was ABC writing. This is to get students thinking about different ways of starting their sentences. We took a familiar fairy tale, like Cinderella and had to then re-write the fairy tale starting each sentence with a new letter of the alphabet. For example the first word of the first sentence started with an a, nest sentence b and so on. I think this a clever idea and something I will be using in my classroom.

A lot of the ideas in the PD came from this document a language strategies document. Check it out below:


Buckets, counters and the maths curriculum…

Our latest whole staff professional learning was based around mathematics. Our amazing maths leader introduced to a place value sound count activity. The activity involves using a tin bucket and some heavy counters (heavy enough to make a noise). First using three different colours of counters you create

sound count

 three separate stacks and give the counters different values. The idea is then that the students have to closely look at the stack of counters and (without counting) make a reasonable estimate of the total value of counters. We instruct the students to estimate using a range which really gets them to think about upper and lower limits of what they are looking at. We used the estimate-calculate-evaluate system for students:

Estimate – to form an idea of the range of the answer.

Calculate – to discover the exact answer.

Evaluate – share reasoning and effective strategies.


After estimating the count is then made. The counters are dropped into the bucket and students choral count the running total into the bucket. After some healthy discussion each year level in our school had a close at look at the Ausvels curriculum maps for mathematics. You can download any of the primary school standards below:

Curriculum Map Foundation

Curriculum Map Level 1

Curriculum Map Level 2

Curriculum Map Level 3

Curriculum Map Level 4

Curriculum Map Level 5

Curriculum Map Level 6


We then made adaptations to this activity to suit all levels of the maths curriculum from foundation to year six (and a bit above!) Below is a list of the some of the ideas we came up with. What this session really highlights is the incredible ability of open ended tasks to be adapted for all levels of the curriculum. With just one activity in less than twenty minutes we had an abundance of activity’s suitable for all levels of kids.

Some of the ideas:

  • Basic estimating and counting by ones.
  • Counting by two’s, five’s and tens
  • Counting by 50’s, 100’s and thousands.
  • Assigning counters financial value and counting with money.
  • Counting with decimals, fractions and percentages.
  • Assigning some of the counters negative values to help students understand the concept of negative numbers.
  • Using the activity to reinforce, measurement concepts, length weight etc.
  • Even measuring angles by assigning each counter a degrees value.

What other adaptations could you make to this activity?

Do you know any other open ended tasks that you have used that could be adapted to all levels?

Using technology to inspire writing…and more!



This post is just referring to an a Professional Learning session our staff attended recently on using ICT in the classroom. The session was primarily about using technology to inspire writing in the primary classroom. A lot of the ideas were taken form Lee Parky’s excellent blog  I am a massive fan of Mr Parkinson’s work. He writes simply and his site is filled with imaginative ways to ‘camouflage learning’ as he puts it. Some of the ideas were also mentioned on particularly the stuff about using music to inspire writing, which I believe Mr Parkinson also contributed to. Here is the presentation that was used during the session our staff attended:


Feel free to check out the two great sites I mentioned above and or use the presentation above for ideas.  I would love to hear from anyone that is using any of the ideas above or has any other great ideas as well.


Leave a comment below…Please.

Circle Time at B.S.P.S

We have known about the benefits of Circle time for awhile and like all the great things we learn it is important that we regularly have revise and refresh on the things we have previously learnt. That is why today’s session with Marg was so great. She took us through the benefits of circle time and then outlined a couple of really useful activities that can be conducted in circles.

Why Circle Time?

We discussed that many of of our students have hectic mornings, with the rush of getting to school every morning some students never even hear anyone say the simple words of “good morning” said to them. By starting the day in a circle it gives everyone a chance to be both heard and acknowledged.

The circle is a great tool some of the key features of a circle that we came up with as a staff were:

-It allows really good eye contact, everyone can see everyone else.
– Everyone is equal, there is no front, back or middle.
– it encourages everyone to get involved, there is much less opportunity for kids to opt out of an activity or discussion.
– Less opportunity for distraction, when you are in a circle the is no desks, or supplies to play with all that is in front of you is everyone else in the circle, your chances of engaging everyone are greatly increased.
-There are no corners!

Activities to lift the mood!

As discussed earlier many kids are coming to school after the craziness of getting dressed, gobbling up breakfast, packing their schoolbags, dropping siblings off at schools etc. Many students can turn up at school feeling pretty flat and not necessarily excited about coming to school. We practiced quite a few different activities that have the potential to lift’ students in the morning. Here is a summary of some of the circle activities that we were shown:

The name game: A really simple activity all that is involved is students saying their name and we go around the circle, this can then timed to add a little bit of a competitive nature to it. It can be reversed etc. This activity allows all the students to hear each other’s names regularly it was remarked that there is times where students actually have been around each other in classes etc and that still they don’t know each

other’s names, this game eliminates this.

Change spots if…
An old BSPS favourite you simple sit in a circle and start with a a statement, for example: change spots if you play a musical instrument. It gets kids sharing information about each other without even thinking about it. After you have done this a few times all of a sudden everyone in the class knows heaps about each other, helping to build a great classroom culture. Take a seat away and leave a student in the middle for a friendly competitive edge.

Wilson McCaskill Games

Marg also mentioned some of Wilson McCaskill’s great work on using games to promote social and emotional wellbeing in students. Here is a video of one of Wilson’s games (Picadilly Circus) that can be used in a circle:


Good morning and high five!
This one allows everyone to be acknowledged by someone in the morning, quite simply all you do is to turn to your neighbour say good morning followed by their name and give them a high five. This pattern continues around the circle until it gets back to the start. The high five component encourages eye contact, because quite often high fives are conducted at eye level.

Ways of ordering the circle.
If there are no directions as to how to sit in the circle what we will find is people sitting in friendship groups, this has the potential to devalue the circle. There are different ways you can order the circle, these are some of the ways we can come up with:

  • Hair colour
  • Size of shoe
  • Distance from the home to school
  • What time you went to bed and stayed there
  • Distance from birthplace to current location
  • Birthday

There are probably hundreds of other ways you could order children in a circle, ones we probably stay away from are height and weight as some kids are a little sensitive about these areas!

People Dominoes
This activity involves finding connections with each other. So if two people find a connection with each other for example they both play soccer then they can stand next to each other, then one of the two must find a connection with someone else in their group. At first you are likely to get a lot of physical attributes like we a re both wearing a blue jumpers, after doing this activity a few times kids will open up and start to form deeper connections with each other.

Great Texts for Circle time:

Marg went through some great texts to use when teaching social and emotional wellbeing in students and suggested that circles are great places to share these texts.

How to lose friends

lose friends


Teacher Resources:




Understanding Feedback: The 4 Levels

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’s idea is something that our school has become very aware of over the last two years and we have started to embed what we think are some really fantastic practices all aimed at making all of us teachers really aware of what and when learning is happening, making it ‘visible’.

We have studied Hattie’s work on the factors that make the biggest impact on student achievement. One of these high impact factors has been feedback in the classroom. (Read an article by Hattie on feedback here) More specifically feedback that students and teachers are recieving whether it is from the teacher, from fellow students or even feedback that they are giving themselves. The feedback that the teachers is recieving is vitally iomportant here as this sort of feedback is the feedback that is informing teachers whether or not their students are learning and or what areas they are lacking in.

Today we have taken a close look at some of the work from Hattie’s excellent book “Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning By John Hattie (Routledge, 2012)” on feedback. Hattie talks about 4 levels of feedback.

It seems that there is a time and a place for all four levels of feedback (self feedback or praise is questionable though, Hattie discusses this form of feedback as having virtually zero impact on student achievement). But generally it is desirable to move from task orientated feedback, to process to perhaps the most effective form of feedback being self regulation.

Here is John Hattie talking about feedback in the classroom:

We had a chat as a staff and came with some examples of the different forms of feedback, check out some of the things we came up with:

2014-04-30 18.10.28 2014-04-30 18.10.36 2014-04-30 18.10.39

We are now going to use our discussions as a springboard to take our knowledge into the classrooms and be very aware of the feedback our students are recieving. If you would like to explore feedback with some reading here are some fantastic resources for you to have a look at:

enriching feedbackvvl hattie

Further Reading from the Review of Educational Research on Hatties work available here

What sort of feedback do you see and hear the most?

What are some of things that you can do in your classroom to enhance the effectiveness of feedback that students are receiving?