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:




Visible Learning

I was fortunate enough to have attended the second session of a three part Professional Development program entitled Visible learning on last week. I thought I might take the opportunity to reflect upon some thing that I took away from the day. This might re-ignite this blog a little bit. We will see.

Firstly Visible learning is based upon the extensive research of John Hattie which culminated in the publication of his two visible learning books which is available to purchase on amazon and other online locations. Some of the major messages behind his work seem to me as a transparency of the learning process so that everyone is aware of what is going on in the learning process. Students need to be aware of what they are learning (using learning intentions) and need to know how they will know when they achieved the learning intention (success criteria).

At the PD last week they showed a couple of clips from a Stonefields school a school outside of Auckland NZ and their school has been structrued heavily around what Hattie suggests are the things that make the biggest difference in student learning. ALthough this clip is not one they showed on the day I found this clip of some kids from Stonefield School. Check it out…




Stonefields has invested a lot of time into developing a shared language of what good learning is. The students are all fully aware of where they are at in the learning process and what is needed to take them to that next level. They employ a variety of learning strategies to help them achieve that next level and are supported by very purposeful and carefully considered feedback form not just their teachers but also each other.

We are now charged with collecting evidence in our school to investigate; if we have visible learners in our school, the degree to which we have passionate and inspired teachers in our school and to identify possible areas for improvement in our school.

I am sure we have many areas to improve but we have across the whole school in all classes the language of Learning Intentions and success criteria driving our teaching. I know that this approach is becoming ‘the norm’ in many schools.

Does your school use approaches from Visible Learning?

What impact has Visible learning approaches had on students?



Using Twitter for communication

Hello there readers (because I know there are a lot of you!)


I am trying again to get this blog up and running. I thought I would post something so here it is. Recently we set up a twitter account for our Primary School. So far we have found it a very useful tool for keeping parents and our wider school community informed of important announcements, events and just general news. In our area while the overwhelming majority of our parents carry around smartphones most of them have not been introduced to the twitterverse, we only have around 40 followers in a school of close to 600 students.

Despite this we think it has been very useful we setup a widet on our schools website so that all our tweets are sent straight to the homepage which is averaging about 150 unique views per week. So going by this we think that our tweets are getting read and appreciated.  Using twitter in this way also makes updating our website a slightly less daunting prospect. Our twitter ID is @bourchierps please feel free to follow if you would like to know what our school has been up to.

Do you use Twitter in your school?

If so, do you have any advice in successful implementation?



New URL= New Committment

Welcome to my latest attempt at starting a teacher blog.  I have tried before but because I lacked the comitment of maintaing it with regular posts etc it sort of fell by the wayside. I think I have become better at maintaining our classroom blog: so because of this I think it might be time to have another go at a teacher blog. If i can work out a way to get a lot of visitors I am sure that I will be motivated to maintain it.


Do you have any ideas about how to effectively  maintain a classroom and a teacher-centric blog at the same time? (I might need some advice!)

Class Webpages using Sharepoint.

Our School uses Microsoft Sharepoint to build it’s public website. Sharepoint also is used for our internal intranet and our class webpages. The advantage of Sharepoint is supposedly the ease of sharing documents. The ability to store large amounts of information on Sharepoint is primarily why we use it.

Once you get to use to the navigation and manipulation of it it can be easy to use. At the moment our class websites are setup so that they require student login and there is no option for parents to have their own log in.

Despite its limitations I believe that Sharepoint can be good way to communicate with parents and students, it is a matter of having content on the site to encourage students to log in and add value to the learning experience they have at school.  Sharepoint also has its own blogging function so it is perfect for practising blogging with students.

Does your school use Sharepoint, any thoughts?

Some thoughts on the Ultranet

I am in the middle of completing a glog about different ways that technology can help bring schools and homes closer together.  In this post I will comment briefly on the Ultranet. The Ultranet is a Department of Education initiative that is designed to be a complete secure learning management system for victorian schools and homes. Each teacher, student and parent is provided with a unique username and password and can login to the ultranet to find information about learning tasks, assignments, and activities related to the topics covered in class.

I really enjoy the collaborative nature of the Ultranet. Teachers can share activities, lessons and ideas with each other even if the two teachers have never met and are teaching somewhere completely different.  The department website has some useful information on the Ultranet

I would love to hear your thoughts about the Ultranet and it’s future in Education in Victoria.

Connecting with Edmodo

I really like Edmodo. The user-friendly interface is something that will appeal to a lot of educators and I like the idea that students do not need an email address to to join your group.

The idea is that you, as a teacher create an account. Once you have done that you can create groups that you manage. I have created a group called SGD 2012. Edmodo then creates a unique code for you group. You pass this code onto your students they enter it into the website, they fill in their name and some other really basic details and voila! You have a secure way to communicate to your class online. Using Edmodo you can send messages to students assign homework, learning tasks etc.  This is a great way of ensuring that the learning can continue whether at home or school. If you put classroom tasks onto Edmodo and use you interactive whiteboard to display the material you ensure that you can revisit previous material easily and any students that are away can log in and catch up on anything they might have missed.

This a great video outlining some ways to use Edmodo in your classroom


Have you used or do you intend to use Edmodo in your classroom?

Class Blogging

Regarding blogging with students, I have to say that I am very much a beginner. I have started a new class blog for my grade 5 class in 2012.  This will provide a great opportunity for our class to connect with home. I plan to share classroom news via the blog and share a lot of the learning that is happening in the class in 2012.  This will hopefully provide an easy way to communicate with the homes of students and build a bridge between home and school.

Kath Morris’s Blog is an excellent source of information about classroom blogging and I have gained a lot of ideas from her work.  Her class has connected with classes from the other side of the world and it has provided an excellent source of authentic reading and writing tasks.

She has written a couple of great posts on the benefits of blogging and getting started with classroom blogging.

Do you have any experience with educational blogging? If so post a link to your blog I would love to check it out.

Do you intend to start blogging with your class in the future? What platform will you use?


Blogging from an iPad…


Another post. Another first. This time it is my first post using an iPad. I like the idea of being able to post something anywhere and anytime(that my iPad is on) but my typing speed is cut down by at least three quarters when I  am using this thing, so I guess they won’t be super long posts.

Anyway, I would just like to go on the record as saying some kids seem to have stopped. I feel as if they have already started to get themselves into holiday mode. They are still busy with relevant work but they seem as if they are losing focus at the slightest of distractions.

I know that at this stage no one is reading this blog (I hope this changes soon) but I will ask anyway, what strategies can I use so my students have their blinkers on all the way till the end of the year?

Hello Grade 5! (again)

Well, this is my first attempt at creating a blog to record thoughts on my own ideas of teaching and learning. I think blogging is a very powerful to connect with others and I am hoping that it provides a great incentive for me to get a little more systematic in reflection. In this blog I will hope to reflect on ideas that I try in the classroom, reflect on my own classroom practice and also reflect on how I try to integrate technology into the classroom to enhance the learning experiences of my students.

In my school teachers were allocated classes for 2012 today.  Next year will be my third year teaching Grade 5. While I love working with kids of all ages I particularly like Grade 5′s as at this age you can have grown up conversations with them and in general when you treat them with respect then they will give it back to you (although this might go for kids of all ages). I liked a quote I heard once and I can’t remember where I heard it (so sorry and kudos and a big shout out to the mystery person), it goes, talk to students like they are 5 years older than they realy are, and listen like they are 5 years younger. I have remembered this while teaching grade 5 and I think it has sevred me well.

While this is my first attempt at blogging for reflection I also once read on Kathleen Morris excellent blog that good blog posts should ask the reader a question to encourage responses, so here it is:

Do you have a preference for what grade level you teach? If so why?

I also read that you ahould always reply to comments left on your blog so if anyone does take the time to respond I promise I will do my best to lave a prompt reply.