My New Blog Location

I have moved my blog to .  Thank you to those who have followed me.  I would love for you to follow me on my new site.  


The Innovative Teaching Challenge

I came across this challenge by A.J. Juliani and thought I’d give it a go.  I am also currently following the #hackyrclass challenge by Claire Amos at Hobsonville Point Secondary School which I am also following closely.  Each have topics emailed to you to challenge your teaching and thinking in various ways.  The #hackyrclass first challenge is to look at the Growth Mindset idea.  So with this in mind I am trying to be more open to trying new ideas out in my lessons and trying to instill this concept in my students by getting them to try new things in our lessons.

Anyhow, my focus for this blog is the innovative teachers challenge’s first task.  Which is to look at how offering our students choices in their learning can be helpful in getting your students to be more innovative.

Choice in PE

So over the past few days I have implemented this in a couple of ways.  Firstly as a PE teacher, rather than giving a one sized fits all warm up at the beginning of my lessons, instead I offered three choices for my students.  I explained this at the beginning of two lessons with year 10 students over the past few days, and off they went.  What initially surprised me was that students chose an option which I thought they would choose the least.  The second thing I noticed was that there were a number of students participating in each of the three options.


So in the second of my two classes who I did this with today, I asked at the end what they thought about the warm up and about having choice.  They all agreed that they liked that opportunity.  They also liked that I had provided options with and without equipment.

Out of the three choices one was left open, in other words to get the students to create their own warm up.  There was one criteria that it must get their heart rate up.  Both times I have done this the students who chose this third choice showed at the very least understanding of the criteria, which obviously shows some understanding of the concepts around Heart Rate.  But more importantly I think it also shows innovation.  The two different groups of students who chose to create their own did so in very different ways.  The first went off and did something completely different to the other two choices.  The second group combined the elements from the first two choices.  I have found this really interesting.

Choice in Health

Over the past year I have been playing with PBL (Project Based Learning) and trying to implement this successfully in my classrooms.  In addition to this I have been working to increase the use of technology in my classrooms for everyday learning (not just assessments!), as my school is moving towards 1:1 devices.  I have had varying levels of success with this and am continuing to explore and develop my use of this further.

The way I have applied this idea of choice in my Year 10 Health class at present follows the PBL in many ways.  I have introduced my topic with a bit of a ‘hook’ and varying brainstorms to gauge current knowledge and now offered my students options for what they want to produce for this topic.  The mediums of presenting are their choice, however the topic I have left the topic itself fairly open for them to follow an aspect of that topic that interests them.  The options given can be seen below on our class page.  Further details on this mini unit lesson plan can be seen below.  So far I have done lesson one and it is interesting how the students have reacted so positively.  Will see how it goes!

Wellbeing Yr 10 – Self Esteem 3 lesson mini unit.

Lesson 1 – Brainstrom What is self esteem.

  • Create a table, what things affect self esteem positively/negatively.
  • Watch ad –  This is just being shown now
  • Discussion amazing for a 50 year old to look as stunning as that e.g. what photo shopping has gone on?  What messages do these adds give us as women?  Etc
  • Introduce task (not an assessment task for me but could be)  Focus is on health promotion, promoting positive self esteem in wGHS/wider community?   They get to choose from one of the tasks.  They can do as individual or pair or group but what is produced needs to be comparable to the number in the group.
  • I get them to choose which task and who they might be working with and start to plan what content they need to research/ or want to put into this product.

Lesson 2-3 – in computer lab if non byod or as per normal if byod in classroom.

This I Believe Project

This is a really neat idea that I came accross through an Edmodo webinar that I watched recently.  The “This I Believe Project is an international organization engaging people in writing and sharing essays describing the core values that guide their daily lives.”   Basically the project gets the students to write a short essay on a belief that they have. One of the things we are wanting to improve in our Physical Education students are their literacy skills, written and verbal and this task seems like a nice way to work toward that goal.  Also what I like about it is that it is meant to be a positive belief, which keeps the focus a happier one.  Here are the project guidelines the website suggests which can easily be put into assignment instructions.  The project could be completed in written form or as a podcast and uploaded to a class website/edmodo group.  For those of you integrating technology into your lessons, there is a lot you could do with this to help students explore their beliefs. ( eg online surveys, brainstorms etc)

And so my initial thoughts were that this would be a really nice task that would fit into our junior health programe in the Wellbeing module. Then while trying to get to sleep last night I kept thinking that it could be used in so many other topics that we teach in both Health and PE.  Not only that, I thought surely it could be linked to the English department so it becomes a cross curricular task.  That would be really awesome.  If doing it on a PE topic obviously it is complimentary to your practical and doesn’t need to be done in class time.  It could be done as an assignment over a module or a term, with brief discussions during class.


I think its really important to give students an example.  You could give them the link to the website for them to read or listen to others or you could do one yourself, maybe this would help to build a really positive relationship with our students and it also gives us a really good understanding of the tasks difficulty. 

So here are some possible topic ideas for this project.

* Wellbeing – What is a positive belief you have about wellbeing/health?  Nutrition/Exercise/Spirituality etc
* Sexuality Education – What is a belief you have about love? / Relationships / Friendships

Physical Education
* General – What is a positive belief that you have about Physical Education in school? / Physical Activity in general?
*Fitness – What positive beliefs do you have about fitness?
* Team Building – what positive beliefs do you have about how teams work? Or more specifically about communication/leadership etc.  This almosts links well to senior PE for Achievement Standard 1.7.

With the topic choice you could be as general or specific as you want.  I think I would leave it broad and then for those students who are struggling to get started you could give some more specific sub topics.

I would love to gather more ideas and thoughts on this.  So please share with me by adding a comment.

Get to Know Your Class Using PechaKucha

Have you ever had the situation where halfway through the year you are talking to a student and they reveal an amazing fact about themselves that you didn’t know e.g. that they are a black belt in karate or they love to go fishing or something equally unusual, and you suddenly realise that you don’t know your class very well at all? Well, when this happened to me this year I decided to try and do something about it, in a way that wasn’t teacher time intensive and that was interesting.  So I implemented my Form Class PechaKucha Project.  

 So I explained to them that they all had cool talents that I am sure I didn’t know about and wanted to them to share these with their classmates and I.  I asked my form class to do was to create a 2min presentation on themselves that they could show to their class in form time. (I adjusted the time constraints of a traditional PechaKucha to make the task as easy as possible.)   I suggested they used PPoint but they didnt have to.  In my instructions I said they could include things like: Family photos, baby photos, crazy photos of themselves, their goals this year or long term, their hobbies, favourite foods etc, but I emphasised the fact that these were suggestions.  Before they began, I did a presentation on myself so that they could get a better idea of what I was wanting.  We spent our form time for two weeks in a computer lab and then they were ready to present.    

What Was Surprising?

  • Because it wasn’t a graded assignment the students seemed more interested in completing it.
  • They revealed a lot about each student.
  • Students were not embaressed to share info about their families and themselves, right down to their own baby pictures and even more personal, their goals both long term and short.
  • For some students it was the first time they had used ppoint and they were excited to learn this new skill.  

Other Benefits

  • It was a great opportunity to practice speaking in front of their peers before their speeches in English.
  • Learning where to stand and how to talk while using a ppoint.  We had informal chats about some of these things as we went to help them improve their presenting skills.
  • The opportunity to share funny things about themselves that they normally wouldn’t.
  • Some students learned new computer skills such as emailing attachments etc. 
  • It was a great opportunity for students to help one another create interesting presentations.  Particularly for skilled students to help those with little experience.  

Key Things About Doing This Project

  • Do in term two.  The students said they wouldnt have wanted to do it in term one as they would have been too self conscious in front of new classmates, but they would be fine by term two.
  • Do one yourself and present it to them first to show them how it could look.  
  • Dont limit the info that they can share.     

PechaKucha’s for PD

Edu ignite is run by the NEAL group in auckland.  They host a PD night once a term and they are run in basically the same way as a PechaKucha, which is where I was first introduced to this style of presenting.  Teachers register for a PD night where they can go and listen to other teachers present info on something they are doing in their teaching that they are really inspired about e.g. Using facebook or setting up specific programs in their schools.  The topics are so varied and really interesting.  The second time you go, you have to either present yourself or bring a friend.  The ultimate goal of course is to ignite our passion for teaching and in doing so in our students.  I recommend attending these at least once, you will be amazed at what other teachers and educators are doing and you will be inspired to try new things yourself.  I myself am aiming to try to do a presentation at one of these next year when I return from my maternity leave.  So go ahead and get inspired.

Want free PD with No Reliever Costs, Answer=TWITTER!

The are a number of ways you can use twitter in education. My focus for this blog is specifically designed to help teachers use twitter to get the most amazing professional development at their fingertips, anytime, anywhere and for free!

I must confess before I signed up with twitter, I really didn’t get it. Why would I want to follow celebrities writing about what their doing all day. And why would I want to tweet about what I am doing? However after an inspiring pd course given by Billy Merchant (HOD PE at Pakuranga College) I thought I’ give it a go. Basically all I did was sign up and follow Billy! I had no idea how to use it, but figured I wasn’t loosing anything by having a go! Wow, my perspective on this has changed 360°. I have had more PD in the past 6 months from twitter, and the best thing about it is you can pick and choose what you read about. No sitting in a courseall day and then figuring out it really doesn’t have anything new to offer you! I now find myself sitting on a Saturday morning with a cuppa in hand, scrolling through to see what amazing things other teachers are doing, not only in NZ but all around the world. Once signed up, you can access your twitter account from the internet, a tablet/ipad, or a smart phone. So I have put together a few notes on how you can do exactly what I have done.

Here is where you sign up to get a twitter account and here are the step by step instructions on how to set it up. Do consider what email address you want to use with this. I personally use gmail so that I don’t clog up my school email. I do this for all the elearning links or blogs etc that I follow.

Secondly, think about what your user name is going to be. If you are using it for PD purposes in many ways you want it to reflect who you are in the professional world, as this is how people online will remember you. And obviously great networking can be done with them in the future so you don’t want it to be too obscure. If you decide you want to use twitter with classes in the future you can create multiple accounts with different user names.

It is important to put some info in your profile so that people can identify you if they are searching to follow you. It also helps differentiate real people from spam profiles.

Here are some things below to help you start using twitter.

Basically the way twitter works is you choose people you want to follow. Then anything they tweet will come up on your Home tab. So to see what people are saying you just scroll through this.  To follow someone you know or have heard about, click on the @ tab along the top. It will allow you to enter their name and then search for them. It will bring up a list, you will need to click on the one you think it is and have a look at their profile description to see if it is the person you are wanting to follow, if it is click follow (usually a blue button). If not keep looking on the list.  To widen the number of people you are following you can choose to follow everyone that person is following. This way you get a wider range of info to read. You can delete anyone off this list at any time.

If you are wanting to find info on a certain topic, you will need to use a hashtag. For example #edchat. Most people when tweeting will put a hashtag on the end that describes what the topic of the tweet is. So to then search you click on the #discover tab along the top. Type in the hashtag and then you can read the tweets that come up and if you choose to you can follow the authors of good comments. Below is a list of common education hastags. But before you read on, good luck, learn lots and of course have fun. 🙂

General Education



Specific to PE

Subject Specific This list comes from Edudemic website

Extra Curriular Topics ( may be useful in curriculum classes ( also from edudemic)















#mathchat – mathematics#scichat – science

#engchat – English

#artsed – the arts in education

#musedchat – music

#eltchat – english language teacher

#STEM – widely used for posts and resources in STEM education

#SSChat – social studies    chat

#RETeacher – Religious Education

#HistoryTeacher – History

#GeographyTeacher – Geography

#ASEChat – Association of science and education weekly chat Monday 8-9pm GMT

#PhysicsEd – Physics


#pgce – this is a widely used hashtag and is a great way to share ideas and support#gtchat – for tweets related to gifted and talented education

#esl – English as a second language, this seemed to have more relevant tweets than


#Bullying – especially good for finding bullying resources or help and support if bullying is an issue though it is not confined to school bullying

#cpchat – connected principals discussion

#ntchat – new teachers, (#nqtchat seems to have lapsed)

#spedchat – special educational needs. Live chat every Tuesday night at 8:30 EST for special education related topics

#homeschool – everything related to home schooling, seems to be far more widely used than #hsc

#playoutdoors – outdoor play and learning ideas

#TLChat – is the hashtag for Teacher Librarians’ discussions/resources

#ESDGC – Education for sustainability and global citizenship

Edudemics website also has a full list of 400 educational hashtags!!!!

First Vodcast Ever – Training Zones in PE

This is my first attempt at creating a vodcast/screencast for my students.  Please let me know what you think.  It is designed to be used with my year 11 Physical Education students who are working towards a 6km race at the end of their running module (A.S. 1.9)

It was created with the Snagit program, which was a little tricky at first but I think I now have the hang of it!!  This video is designed to be viewed at home (to achieve the flipped classroom model).  I have put it up on youtube as an unlisted video.  This means that only people that I give the url to can view the video.  I have also pasted it on my classes private facebook page and that also works.

If you have any suggestions or tips for creating vodcasts/screencasts please let me know and any feedback on the video would be appreciated via this blog.  Also if you can tell me how to embed the video in my blog rather than just the url that would be fantastic!

Flipped Classrooms

This blog on the edutopia website is awesome.  It pulls together the pro’s and con’s of a flipped classroom model, gives examples of how to flip your classroom and tools and strategies that may be useful, all developed by people actually putting it into practice.  A great place to start, will take me a while to get through it all, but I think it is really worth the time spent to get ideas rather than reinventing the wheel.

As I am just beginning to see, there is loads of information out there on how to, and why flipping your classroom could be beneficial to your students.  I intend to start small and build my way into this concept.  Essentially I have already begun this process by some of the ways I have used Facebook outside of the classroom (see my first blog).  You don’t need to go as far as podcasts and vodcasts initially if you are not ready for it.  And I do think it takes a bit of getting used to for students also.  But the possibilities are endless and so to are the benefits to students.

For those that have begun down this path, here are a couple of neat strategies that I have come accross so far.

I also really like what NZ PE Teacher is doing with flipping the classroom.  In particular the WSQ sheet (pronounced Whisk).  This is a task that students complete after watching a vodcast (video) at home.  It requires students to Watch the video, Summarise its content and then create a Question that they want answers to on the topic.  A great way to easily see the next day in class which students are completing their homework.  Which if not completed can then be done in class or lunchtime (if prefered by the teacher!), or if your lucky enough to be a BYOD school already, they can watch it then and there on their own device without further disrupting your lesson.  Click here for a screencast of this strategy.

Another little tip I just picked up from Katie Gimbar’s Flipped Classroom clip on utube was when creating a screencast/vodcast/video, you can use the term VIC which stands for a Very Important Concept.  When students hear this they know they need to listen more carefully!   She produces her video’s for her flipped classroom using a basic flip camera and whiteboards.  Then uploads directly.  This is also an easy activity for students to learn to do, as a way of presenting information back to the class or teacher, either in groups or as individuals once they have gotten used to the idea. She has a range of video’s on flipped classrooms on youtube, here are some of them that I found interesting:

Why I Flipped My Classroom?

What if students don’t watch my video’s?

What if students don’t have access?

Huge thanks to teachers and educators everywhere for sharing their work is such a wonderful and easy to access way.  Here are some other sites I have also come accross.

Educational Vodcasting

The Flipped Class Network